From the Archives - Lessons from Life and Death

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One magical evening in Santa Cruz, CA back in 2009, we met John Somedy and Kate Kelly. The two, both in middle age and single, were on their first date. After that night, the two fell deeply in love and our music became part of their incredible story: two lovebirds who came together late in life to complete each other.

John and Kate got engaged in 2010 and soon thereafter, John was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given just months to live. 

With John’s health deteriorating quickly, they were forced to move up the date of the wedding. Fortunately we were in town and able to surprise John and Kate at the reception, walking in mid-way playing one of their favorite songs, “Gift.” 

A few weeks later John passed away, peacefully in bed, wearing his Alma D t-shirt and with a smile on his face.

John had many things say in his life. He was a guy who knew so much about so many things, and was willing to have a deep conversation with you in a heartbeat. His final message for all of us was to cherish the gift of life and make sure to love. 

Your spirit lives on, dear friend! 

Enjoy this video from the wedding ceremony (John is in blue, and Kate is the beauty dancing with him).

Special thanks to John’s niece, Nicole, for her help with the video.

October 22, 2013 VIEW POST

Baby on Stage!

There we stood, on stage, midway through our Peace Festival set at the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas in Arlee, MT. A beautiful day had graced us, filled with inspiring speakers, artistic performances, and martial art demonstrations. The sun had just crested when we took the stage, outside, in the middle of a sacred valley that has been inhabited by Native Americans for centuries.

We were lucky enough to be the headlining act of this wonderful gathering of heart-centered, inspired beings. After the stage lights came up, we soon found ourselves amidst a sea of bouncing, tapping concert-goers, including, to my pleasant surprise, Tulku Sang-ngag, one of the head Rinpoches of the ancient Buddhist tradition. Boy could he dance!

In between one of our songs, we noticed out of the corner of our eyes, right in the front of the crowd, the epitome of a naked soul…a baby, not more than 2 years old, stark naked save for a necklace worn snug around the neck. Smiling, tapping, curiously appreciating the music, and very very interested in becoming involved with the live show. Without apprehension, he hopped right up on stage with us, stopping the show with his preciousness. It felt so very good for everyone to see such a pure display of unabashed soul. We decided to let him stay up on the stage with us, with the approving nod of his nearby mother.  And we struck up for our next song. The baby then proceeded to dance, to pick up a shaker, to tap (in time!) to the music, and even hold one of the mics, which as I bent down he held up to my mouth, encouraging me to speak. And he stayed on stage with us for the rest of our set, adding that perfect touch of sweetness to an already sweet day. And there, right in the front row, was Rinpoche, rocking out, smiling, loving every moment of it.

It was a precious moment, a moment when music, nature, good people and the intention of peace all coalesced into an understanding of the yes of life. 

-Chris

September 18, 2013 VIEW POST

A Rocking Show and Controversy at Rickshaw Stop.

We regularly try out different ways to put on the best show possible, which is one reason why we began incorporating costume themes to our big shows, like the our August show at San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop.

This show’s theme was inspired by Tony’s long-standing desire to perform the theme song from his favorite movie, “The Last of the Mohicans”. The day of the show we were still scrambling for costume items, and in the crunch time we had to settle for anything that appeared somewhat Native American. We were happy to pull it off, thanks to the help of our friends, however were completely unaware that we would incite a negative reaction.

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After the show, it was brought to our attention that many Native Americans are hurt and offended by costume “Indian” headdresses like the one I wore during the show. We of course meant no disrespect. We wear costumes for the intention of enlivening the audience and adding color to the performance, not to be controversial. I personally enjoyed the symbolism of being “The Chief” and felt proud to stand tall as leader of the NAKED SOUL tribe. Had I known that the act of wearing the headdress could be so strongly offensive, I would have figured out another option for costume. 

I sincerely hope that anyone who was offended will forgive my ignorance. I appreciated the much needed lesson.

Thanks to all who spoke up after the show and on Youtube. If there are any other perspectives out there that can further enlighten and inspire me to be more respectful of other cultures, please reach out to me and let’s talk! 

Joe

joe@4nakedsouls.com

September 18, 2013 VIEW POST
Show schedule for our Montana Peace Festival Tour 2013. Can’t wait to be back in Big Sky country to support the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas. One love!
September 4, 2013 VIEW POST

TOUR DATES

Tour dates

August 10, 2013 VIEW POST

Juvenile Hall performance

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The twenty or so youths walked into the sterile multipurpose room in single file, hard faces, hands behind their backs, wearing identical uniforms, an armor of attitude, and what in other circumstances would be some pretty fly velcro sneakers. We were the only white guys in the room, aside from one of the Staff, lots of tattoos for kids who were only 15-18. Everyone wore the weight of the Hall, the suppression of their expression, and any deviation from the Program was quickly halted and reformed. 

As the second group filed in, we had a chance to chat with some of the boys, it was clear pretty quickly of our difference in upbringing. Later, one of the guys told me how intimidating it was at first, but I just reminded myself of what I experienced while teaching in inner-city Los Angeles: Kids are kids are kids. Sure there are differences, but ultimately they all want to have fun, even amidst the control of a juvenile hall setting. 

My goal was to, if only for an hour, get them to drop their guard, relax, and feel love through music. Recognizing this challenge, we started with the funk, a universal ice-breaker to show we got skills, as if saying to them, “It’s cool, you can like this and relax.” The older boys in the group were bobbing their heads, feeling it, perhaps giving the ok to the others, hard to tell how the peer pressure system worked, but I know we relaxed watching them get into it.

Over the course of the hour we got them singing, clapping, stomping, snapping, laughing, smiling, questioning and thinking, although one kid was silenced for whistling, which is prohibited. It was my bad since I told them to do it with me during Colette. And yes, we played silly songs like Colette with success. 

We talked about choices, one’s inner guidance system, and they shared their thoughts and understanding through the lyrics of Fork in the Road. They loved our beat-boxing and freestyle raps, especially when we passed the mic to some of the ‘hot shots’, who immediately froze. Music truly is a universal language, and we found the common ground. They asked a lot of questions and were great listeners, better than what you’d find in what is often borderline chaotic public school settings. 

The show ended abruptly, the staff saw the kids getting excited, which typically leads to fights and outbursts. I didn’t sense that coming, but regardless, the kids were ushered out quickly just as they came in, in a line, hands behind their backs, but this time I like to think with a bit more glow on the inside, because that’s how I left. 

Tony

And a special thanks for Francesca and Bread and Roses for this enriching opportunity, and also to the Alameda Juvenile Hall staff. 

August 9, 2013 VIEW POST
July 29, 2013 VIEW POST
July 1, 2013 VIEW POST
June 26, 2013 VIEW POST

Video: Live @ Hopmonk Tavern!

Special thanks to Sam Jones of IIIE Productions for putting this show together and Joe Wilson of Bulldog Media for the sweet video!

May 16, 2013 VIEW POST

Ticket discount for upcoming show at WitzEnd (Venice, CA)

Hey SoCal! Print this coupon for 50% off the cover at the show in Venice Beach on May 24th! 

May 14, 2013 VIEW POST

NAKED SOUL — Acoustic

We are working new material in preparation for our first album released as NAKED SOUL. Here’s an excerpt from a recent acoustic performance @ The Lost Church, San Francisco on 4/11/13 (w/ complete audio below):

Two Bay Area shows coming up: 

5/2 @ The Boom Boom Room, San Francisco, CA

5/4 @ Hopmonk Tavern, Sebastopol, CA

April 29, 2013 VIEW POST

Affirmation: We are NAKED SOUL

Our band has evolved many times over since it began. It is time to reaffirm who we are…

Alma Desnuda was born in 2002, on a park bench in Salamanca, Spain. It started out as an affirmation, “I WANT TO LIVE WITH MY ALMA DESNUDA!” It was like being baptized by our own souls. The world would never be the same.

In 2008, Alma Desnuda became a musical project— three best friends pouring their hearts out on stage at an open mic in Berkeley. The community rallied around us, giving their love and support, encouraging us to keep going. We made a recording of three songs with Tony on the upright bass. Wide eyed and bushy tailed, the four charged forward.

By 2012 we had achieved notable success. With multiple albums under our belt, we toured near and far with the reputation of one of the top bands in the Bay Area. But despite the success we had achieved, it still felt as though we were chasing an elusive dream. We reaffirmed that our success would not be measured by money alone, even though money was the symbol of a more prosperous life. We grounded once again in our mission to awaken souls and bring people into connection with their inner sense of self. It was a fearful time of self-doubt and resentment. It was a time of healing, of shedding layers of ego and self.

In 2013, when things finally felt that they were back on track, our founding member Paul abruptly left the band the night we recorded a live album in Berkeley. The initial shock was painful, but quickly the pain was tempered by faith and trust in our mission. Robin entered the picture. The future took new form. Our sound matured. Our resolve turned to steel.

Today is April 3rd, 2013.

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WE, THE FOUR, ARE NAKED SOUL. Our community is NAKED SOUL. We are all beings of light and energy, here to shed light into the world. We strive to let go of the things that prevent us from growing into our fullest potential. We live with our soul naked. May our path be blessed.

- Joe

WE ARE NAKED SOUL
Afrikaans: naakte siel Albanian: shpirti zhveshur Arabic: عارية الروح Armenian: մերկ հոգին Azerbaijani: çılpaq ruhu Basque: biluzik arima Belarusian: аголеную душу Bulgarian: гола душа Catalan: ànima nua Simplified Chinese: 赤裸的灵魂 Traditional Chinese: 赤裸的靈魂 Croatian: gola duša Czech: nahý duše Danish: nøgen sjæl Dutch: naakte ziel English: naked soul Esperanto: nuda animo Estonian: alasti hing Filipino/Tagalog: hubad kaluluwa Finnish: alasti sielu French: âme nue Galician: alma espida Georgian: შიშველი სულის German: nackte Seele Greek: γυμνή ψυχή Gujarati: નગ્ન આત્મા Haitian Creole: toutouni nanm Hebrew: נשמת עירום Hindi: नग्न आत्मा Hungarian: meztelen lélek Icelandic: nakinn sál Indonesian: telanjang jiwa Irish: anam nocht Italian: anima nuda Japanese: 裸の魂 Kannada: ಬೆತ್ತಲೆ ಆತ್ಮ Korean: 벌거 벗은 영혼 Latin: nuda anima Latvian: kails dvēsele Lithuanian: nuoga siela Macedonian: гола душа Malay: jiwa telanjang Maltese: mikxufa ruħ Norwegian: naken sjel Persian: روح برهنه Polish: naga dusza Portuguese: alma nua Romanian: liber suflet Russian: обнаженную душу Serbian: голе душе Slovak: nahý duše Slovenian: gola duša Spanish: alma desnuda Swahili: uchi roho Swedish: naken själ Tamil: நிர்வாண ஆன்மா Thai: วิญญาณเปลือยกาย Turkish: çıplak ruh Ukrainian: оголену душу Urdu: ننگی روح Vietnamese: khỏa thân linh hồn Welsh: enaid noeth Yiddish: נאַקעט נשמה

* Special thanks to Sandy Calman for inspiring me to write this blog, and to her son David for compiling the list of translations.

April 28, 2013 VIEW POST

From the OM Room to the Boom Room - by Chris

Last night, I went to a 2-hour meditation. After sitting for 2 hours, interspersed with kirtan, and joining with other people, the energy gets really still and peaceful. A lot of stuff gets put into perspective. Insights, revelations, reconnecting with the heart, all the stuff we are trying to desperately find and cling to in this life…meditation helps contact that juicy stuff more frequently.

Right after the sit, I hopped in my car and drove over the Bay Bridge to go to the Boom Boom Room, to check out my bandmate Robin play with his solo project, “Robin Applewood.” Also on the bill for the night was Pamela Parker, a super talented soul who brings it!

I’ve played the Boom Boom probably more times than any other venue I’ve played in SF, and there’s a certain aura to the place, a certain funk meets grit meets dirty meets hip. The place has swagger. The energy of the room isn’t friendly per se, but then, it’s not overtly nasty; it kinda lures you into its vibration, making you feel cool, but then at any moment it might pounce on you like a spider with a fly in its clutches and devour you.

Coming directly from the meditation into the club was a strong experience in polarity. The music was great, and Robin killed it as always. Pam took it to another level. And there were many of my good friends there.

The challenge for me was that underlying it all, the room emitted a vibration of restlessness, and my interpretation was that there was a certain discomfort with the present moment, a desire to fill a void inside with, well, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

I’ve changed a lot over the years with the band, gone through many phases. My continual unfoldment manifests externally as physical changes in appearance and style…long hair, short, beard, clean-shaven, thinner, heavier, certain jewelry or accessories, glasses, no glasses etc. It’s all an external reflection of my internal process and I just follow the new stylistic expressions as my intuition gives way to the next incarnation of myself in this lifetime. 

For the first few years of the band, I was smoking a lot of weed. Maybe a normal amount for the typical Californian, but for me, it felt like a lot. At some point in the band history, I decided to really look at that habit, and realized that it was not one that I could hold onto and continue down my own path. And I’ve never been a huge drinker, but as my spiritual path has deepened, I decided to completely forego alcohol for many months. As of late, as in, the past month,  I’ve had a few beers and glasses of wine, as I’ve been finding balance in a new recent incarnation of myself…the post-mountain Chris.

By that I mean, I went to a pretty far extreme in my monkishness, giving up many things in order to deepen my practice, but then I felt a call to come more into my body, into the world, and show up more with the men and women, boys and girls around me. Walking with men is something I can do and sometimes enjoy, and it is also strange. When I enrolled in graduate school for psychology, the thing that sold me about the program I finally chose (Integral Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies) was this line, on the cover page of their informational program book: “We are not human beings learning how to be spiritual, we are spiritual beings learning how to be human.”

For me, that is so unbelievably spot on with how I see the world.

I’m trying to figure out how to be in this society, how to fit in, and sometimes I do all right with it, and many times I can’t help but wonder and think, “What’s the city for anyway? It’s madness really.”

The rubber meets the road in how and where I bring my music to the world. The contrasting experience of last night, where I come from a meditative environment I feel so at home in, to a gritty, grindy club, where I didn’t feel comfortable, was illuminating. The music I make is about waking up and yet, a lot of the things surrounding the music industry seem to me to be a way to tune out from the truth of our experience.

What I’m really contemplating is, “Where do I belong?” and “How does transformational entertainment interface with the rest of the entertainment industry?” The answer, I think lies largely upon venues. I love some of them that we play, like farmers markets, where the sun casts its rays upon stands filled to the brim with vegetables, where multiple generations mingle and criss-cross; or drug-rehabilitation centers, where the words I sing land like anvils in the room, and hearts become planter boxes for flowers of love and compassion, and people understand our oneness, our pain and our struggle towards the light, and they are on that path, and I am one of them; or yoga classes, where prana simmers in the room until it becomes a thick syrup and the receptive bodies open themselves to all we have to share and we in turn to what they have to share, through their movement, their breathing, their sighing.

That’s what I’m working with right now…where do I belong in the music world? And at a more global level, what’s in store for the future of transformational entertainment? Thanks for reading. 

April 24, 2013 VIEW POST