What do you guys think of the new album artwork??
The majority of these songs were written in a small jungle hut in the northern mountains of Thailand, during our 2015/16 sabbatical.
When it came time to come up with new album artwork I couldn't think of a better person to ask then Mr. Saard Nilkong at (Pittalew Art Gallery) - he is the artist who owned the property we lived on - and the man (who with his beautiful family) endured hours and hours of listening to these songs looping from a small box amp while I wrote the music/lyrics. :)
ขอขอบคุณ (thank you) P. Art for the beautiful painting. Also thank you to James Proust for taking the pictures and Emily King for the graphic design and layout. #ItTakesAVillage
"Be Set Free" the album is coming soon!!
I hope you love it!!
Presale - brianernstmusic.com/store1.html
Check out the Brian Ernst Music and Journey4YOUth page(s) for more music/tour/nonprofit updates.
Check out the drone footage/new promo video for the Loveland Frog Music Festival on June 10th - at the Historic Loveland Castle. Live Music by: Mike Perkins, Brian Ernst Band, and The Whetherman. Local artist showcase by: Jeff Organ, Parrish Monk Arts & Jamie Anton. We'll also be raising support for Journey4YOUth, The KOGT and other non profits.
RSVP here - Loveland Frog Music Festival - Event Page
Tickets and more info - www.LovelandFrogMusicFest.com
On a personal note - I am super excited about this festival. It will be the debut of my full band. We'll be performing songs from the new album as well as a few old ones as well. Make sure you get your tickets before the prices go up.
This past October John Kasich (Gov. of Ohio) deployed 37 Ohio Highway Patrol Officers to Cannonball, North Dakota to "help" the state forcibly remove Native American's (and their allies) off treaty land. Kasich has been pressured by both the Enquirer - Cincinnati and Kentucky and the The Columbus Dispatch to be honest and transparent about what exactly the Ohio Highway Patrol was doing at Standing Rock. Despite these requests - Kasich refuses to disclose what exactly our boys were doing in North Dakota.
On Nov. 2, 2016 - Katie and I participated in a non violent, direct action protest with the goal to help First Nation People and their allies protect (what is known as) Turtle Island - a sacred burial site - at Standing Rock. While peacefully and prayerfully protecting the sacred burial site, water protectors were shot with pepper spray and bean bag bullets (by Ohio Troopers). Instead of being able to peacefully gather and worship protectors were arrested and thrown in jail. Some were even ripped out of prayer circles, stripped down to their undies and thrown in dog kennels before being rushed away to Morton County jail.
Because Kasich is not disclosing the incident reports - I decided to provide the press with video evidence showing Ohio State Troopers violently clashing with peaceful water protectors. I do this not out of disrespect to our men and women in blue - but for the sake of freedom, truth, transparency and justice - I feel it is my duty as a citizen to provide the press/public with this evidence so our leaders know that they cannot use our police officers as soldiers to break treaties and protect the profit margins of private corporations.
Thank you to Carrie Blackmore Smith for this wonderful article. Thank you for holding the highest standards of journalistic integrity and for keeping pressure on our elected "leaders."
Democracy dies in darkness.
Read the article here (my video is on top) - http://www.cincinnati.com/…/kasich-sent-ohio-troo…/99487224/
In my personal opinion. Kasich sent our troopers to ND because he knows he sold out all of Ohio's protected land and water to gas and oil exploitation. Standing Rock is coming to Wayne National Forest - and he wants to be ready.
I hope someone gets a laugh out of this...
So, it's our last day in Africa. We're chasing another sunset and all of a sudden, on the side of the road, we see some locals filming a music video.
Katie and I get out of our car to watch from a distance, but they immediately tell us to come be part of the video. (We tried telling them that their music video would probably be way cooler without us in it) but they really (really) insisted... So.... there we were... dancing and trying to lip sync in Zulu... while trying to avoid traffic. Sure, we felt a little awkward at first (who wouldn't right)? But then it just sinks in... You're in Africa, filming a Zulu Gospel Music Video... Just go with it... #TIA #ThisIsAfrica
After it was all said and done, we made some new friends. I can't wait to see what the final cut looks like!! Hopefully they edit out some of my 'dance' moves...
So I got pulled over for “speeding” – which here in South Africa – is usually just a quick way for a police officer to make a few extra dollars. The policeman asked for my papers. I give him my Ohio (USA) drivers license and immediately he is like “we got problems.”
He told me it was going to be a fine of R1000 ($74) (and that I have to pay it on the spot). I told him that I don’t have R1000 on me. He smiled and began telling me how I am making even bigger problems for him by not having an "official" South African document that he could then "charge."
I just told him, “Well, whatever we gotta do officer because I don’t have the money on me.”
He asked me to get out of my car and come back to his police car. They started talking about South Africa and Donald Trump and what I thought about it all. I sat on the hood of his police car, made myself comfortable and began chatting it up with these guys.
We were all laughing and having a good time, but I knew what was coming next.
Finally he got serious and said, "I don't think you will be allowed back into America because you have to pay me first." (It's obvious now that all these guys want is a bribe).
I smiled and told the police officers “You know, I think I have an idea. Can I have my passport back? I have to go talk to my wife.” Which he obliged and gave my passport.
I walked back to my car – Katie’s watching us all laughing and is like “what the heck is going on!?!” – “Just give me R100 ($7) and I think this will all be over.” I slip two R50 bills in my passport, walk back to the police (still sitting at their car) and gave them my passport. The policeman opens it up, takes out the R100 and asks “only one hundred rand?” I told him “Yeah – you don’t have change do you?” We all laughed and he said “Have a nice day - and don't speed!” :)
Thank you so much to our friends and family who have been supporting this project through the album presale. This has been such a humbling album. I'll try to make some time to write about it later. We'll be releasing more videos soon.
Thanks again for your trust and support.
Brian & Katie.
I just wrote a new song yesterday. The song is only 24 hours old - and it's really really rough, but I like it. Normally, I would go and take a song like this on the road for a year or so. But, I had to put it out there. This song is not going to be on the upcoming album. I have more updates coming soon.
Volunteering in Greece and Turkey will forever be a polarizing moment in my life. Think pre 9/11 and post 9/11. Just the way you see life is completely changed - again.
I personally apologize for the delay in sharing more about this trip. To those who supported us - financially, emotionally and spiritually - thank you. Thank you so much. Working with refugees - in the sort of environment we served - really impacted us a lot. It's something that I have trouble writing about because it's a traumatic thing that is still happening right now. Not only inside me, but in the living hell that many many people call life.
We volunteered on Lesvos, Greece and Izmir, Turkey. These are two of the main transit point on the refugee route. Refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria (as well as many other war torn areas) risk their lives leaving their country - with or without their family - to find a safe place to live until the war ends.
Refugees come through Izmir to get connected with a smuggler to get them into Greece (European Union) (aka the EU).
Due to blanket passport restrictions from war torn countries - refugees are not allowed to overland or fly into the EU. Denying safe passage is a direct violation of their rights as refugees.
Refugees have to spend up to $2000 per adult and $500 per child to illegally cross in dangerously overcrowded rafts, boats and dinghy's in dangerously treacherous water (the Aegean Sea). This journey, by the way, costs $15 on a normal ferry - only for those us with passports from western countries.
We worked in the Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, Greece. This was where refugees who survived the sea would go to get registered with the EU and transferred to another camp.
This video was filmed on Lesvos. This is the island where we volunteered. Once people came in from the boats they would come over to Moria or Afghan Hill.
Working in Refugee Camps is something that is hard to put into words. One of my fellow volunteer friends said that every day feels like a week, and a week feels like a month, and a month like a year. I think there is a lot of truth to that. Especially in the emotional energy expenditure department.
We got thrown into a dramatic - almost chaotic environment. Despite the craziness of the situation we saw some of the brightest light and hope in those that you would think should be hopeless. We met thousands of people who risked their lives - and the lives of their children - to cross the Aegean Sea. (A journey that tens of thousands of people have drown taking).
We danced and sang with people who made it safely across the sea. We cried with those who saw truly terrible things, both at home and at sea. We endured the smell of rotting corpses, as volunteers we dug graves for an unknown man, just a day after burying a young (8-10 year old girl). Both bodies were found on the beach. The dead are nameless and faceless. Nobody knows who they are, nobody claimed their bodies and since all the graveyards on Lesvos are full, the unidentified corpses are being buried in makeshift graves on a donated piece of farmland from a Greek local.
None of us have ever been to a funeral of someone we didn't know. Surely, not anyone who didn't have any friends or family to also attend their funeral. That was another really sad thing. Was knowing that the people we buried have are not nameless or faceless. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. They all have family somewhere that may or may not know they are dead.
The one thing all these people had in common was the hope for safety and freedom. And there are tens of thousands of people every single year who pay the ultimate sacrifice for the simple hope (not the guarantee) of freedom.
Every single day you wake up knowing that you'll probably need professional counseling after this is all said in done. Every single day, you're faced with the cruel reality that this world is not fair. Every single day, you look across that 8-15 mile straight - right over at Turkey - knowing that someone is looking right back at you from the other side, saying they're last prayer before making a life or death choice to take to the waters.
After a few weeks of being in Greece, we had to move over to Izmir, Turkey. We volunteered with a small NGO called ReVi. They worked with Syrian Refugees in the Basmane Village on Syria. Basmane has been known as "Little Syria" as the neighborhood (pictured above) is mostly inhabited by Syrians with poorer Turkish families living among them.
Working in Turkey was something else. Katie and I would team up with someone from our team as well as a translator (which almost all our translators were refugees themselves). We would visit refugee families in their "homes" and get to know them on a one on one level.
Officially, our work was to learn about them and figure out how we can help them get their kids in school and if there is any skills they have that we could help them make money from - similar to our work in Kenya, Africa.
We were personally invited into the homes of over 150 Syrian Refugees and many we got to see multiple times and few are now life long friends.
I'm still at a loss for words, even 7 months later. I still cannot put this whole experience into words. There are stories and things that we saw, things that we still haven't fully processed internally. Some things, I don't know if I have the capacity to process yet.
I will say that no matter where you stand on the political spectrum - if you saw what we saw. Which is just a small small glimpse into the living hell that these people have had to endure - you would see that things like religion and politics should never come before our humanity. Making sure that even if we can't actively take care of the least of these, the orphans and widows, and treating others like we would want to be treated - that at the very least believe and support it.
One thing I learned about this crisis is that is absolutely for real. These are real people just like you and I. You cannot sit with a family of 7 (who more or less adopted you) just hours before they risk their lives on the boats to Greece and not think about what it would be like if you were in their shoes.
We stood on both sides of the Aegean Sea. We saw what happens there, and nobody should have to be forced to do what these people have had to do. Nobody.
The people we served are now our family. Some people can understand that, and some people can't. Despite everything that is going on, we met some of the most beautiful people we've ever met in our lives.
The Muslim men, women and chidlren treated us like family. And that is one of the saddest misunderstandings about their culture. How peaceful and welcoming they are.
During our time volunteering, I filmed a small film that has turned into a full on documentary. I was able to edit most of it down and have it roughly half way finished - unfortunately I wasn't able to work on it at all during our summer tour. Hopefully we will get it finished before we go back to Greece and Turkey.
There is much more to be learned from this and we will be releasing more pictures and video soon. Thanks for understanding the sensitivity of all this. And thank you for all of you out there that support this.
I feel like I live a lifetime each year. One lifetime ends and the next one begins and I’m left trying to catch my breath. The things I leave come back in my dreams, my heart is in 100 places at the same time. I am floating in the vast ocean, a speck, but the water around me connects it all. At times I feel small, at times I feel as though I am the water myself and all these experiences and all the people I know and love are me and I am them and we are one.
How does one cope with war? I have fallen in love with the victims. 100s of them.
On one side of the Aegean Sea I gave to them a water, a smile, a hot meal, shoes, dry clothes, a ride to the ferry, stuffed animals. I looked them in the eyes and tried to communicate the inexpressible. The eyes have their own language, connected to the heart, the more time we spend with people who don’t speak English the more we learn about this universal language.
How can you hate someone you don’t know? You haven’t looked in her eyes and if you walked into her neighborhood she would invite you into her home, trusting you even though you are different from her. She would teach you about humanity as everything has been taken from her, but she is still the same. The war has not taken her soul; her love, her trust, her compassion, her ability to put others before herself. You would learn so much from her in just ten minutes.
On the other side of the Aegean Sea these people known as refugees invited me into their homes, they treated me as family, they gave to me as if they had everything to give; they kissed me as if I were their daughter, they gave me their trust, they showed me the depths of their humanity. They told me their stories, we laughed as the children chased bubbles, we sat comfortably as life felt normal for a moment. They invited us to come visit them in Syria when the war ends. They said we would have a feast. A mother told me everyone would be welcome in her home, even those who hate her. She’s heard about people hating her on the news. Hating her because she is a Muslim.
Inside of me is a well of tears. I hate war. I want peace, I long for peace. I want to see these families again, I want to see them in Syria. I want to join together again with volunteers from all over the world to rebuild Syria. But the old men will tell you this war isn’t going to end soon. Many men and women have asked us ‘why are they bombing civilians, they can see who they are bombing and it’s not the rebels, it’s not ISIS, it’s the people. The schools, the homes, the hospitals.” They don’t ask because they think we know the answers, they ask to make us think. From what they’ve told me it seems as though this war isn’t really about one group vs the other it’s all the groups’ vs the people. The children haven’t gone to school for over 5 years now. What will happen to this generation? Many haven’t heard from their family members, they are fleeing as their homes crumble down upon them, they are crawling through smugglers tunnels to get to northern Syria safely.
They are leaving behind everything, well almost everything. One woman proudly showed us her tea cup from Syria and another father gave Brian the watch off his arm. Now the borders are closing. People are trapped in war. Life as they knew it is no more. Resources are few, many have starved. Macedonia closed its border a few weeks ago and many who thought they were on their way to Europe where they could seek asylum and become legal free citizens again are stuck in Greece. 2 men hung themselves in Athens. Children sleep on the streets.
These people don’t want to come to Europe or the States and take our jobs, they don’t want to change our culture. They want to be free. They want to know their children are safe and can go to school. They want to be able to feed their children and give them all they need. They want to make new friends, they want to be listened to. Their dream isn’t to come to Amercia or somewhere in Europe, their dream is to go back to Syria because they all say, “there is nowhere like home”. The people I met and I met thousands are peaceful, humble, generous, giving, grateful.
If you treat someone with dignity they will be dignified. If you show someone kindness they will give you even more kindness in return. You would think that war has the potential to strip away humanity. But I have found the opposite and it makes me hate war even more. Perhaps when all the things that are temporary are taken from us we realize what truly matters and we value not just our own lives more but the lives of everyone else as well.
We have this amazing ability as people to find hope. Perhaps it’s planted in us from the beginning, this inner knowing that there is more than this life. Walking away from this time this is what comforts me. There is more than this life, I have no proof or logic to offer you but I know this in a way I cannot explain, it’s the language of the heart that has no words.
For some this life is nothing but suffering but somehow this suffering refines them, strengthens them, and brings out the best in them. But one hour of pain can feel like a lifetime so I cannot ignore suffering, I cannot dismiss it even though I recognize it as a teacher. Too many genocides have happened even in our lifetime and too often the world has remained quiet. Please don’t be quiet. Speak out against hate, speak out against prejudice, challenge people who may be trapped in fear, help them realize our shared humanity. It’s these attitudes of prejudice and hatred that lead to the mass suffering of so many innocent people.
Prejudice and hatred is where it starts so when you feel like you can’t do anything to end this present war or help the millions who are now displaced teach tolerance, teach compassion and don’t just teach it, live it. If you don’t know where to start spend time with the poor, spend time with the marginalized, they have always been my greatest teachers.