Gold in the Bargain Bin
Born in Midwestern U.S., Joel first learned the word 'ocean' from an orange Speak 'n' Spell one cold Christmas day in the '80s. The angled glow-green letters with the queer, patient voice of the toy sent him into a kind of wondering dream. Ocean. It was something he had heard of before, he thought. Maybe from television where one could sometimes find broadcasted pictures of California. He didn't know it yet, but he was going to meet an ocean in person one day, and write a song about it. As Joel grew up his teachers frequently observed he had a tendency to stare out the window and daydream. When at last he graduated from a University he continued to follow his dreams right to the edge of North America where there lay an island city called Manhattan. He took what work he could find among the lights and edifices on the crowded little island, first in offices of the financial district downtown, and then on the fashionable floor of a bistro in the East Village. Somewhere between the wordless waiting at 3 am for home-bound subway trains and the din of car alarms set off by thunderstorms, Joel lost the thread of his dreams. And he didn't even notice until a day when fate dropped a postcard into his mailbox. Sent from a dear friend on holiday in Amsterdam, the postcard--suspended by hand comfortably within Joel's gaze--began to resemble a window, or perhaps a door into another world, the world of dreams. Upon stepping through the door (Stepping through that door was not quite as simple as putting his foot or even head through the postcard, but required a series of banal steps involving ticket offices, bus rides and other fossil fuel consumption, lots of waiting in non-descript rooms. The door which opened upon the world of dreams, however, was quite real.), Joel found himself in the city of Galway, Ireland holding all his posessions in his two hands and having an acute panic attack. Five minutes later he was uttering a seamless stream of words into the reciever of a public telephone, describing his helplessness to his mother, who listened patiently a half a world away. Suddenly he ran out of words, his voice stopped, leaving only the silence of oblivion. 'Well, I guess that's why you went,' she said simply over the hiss on the receiver. There seemed to be nothing more to say, so they hung up. Turning away from the telephone to face the green of Eyre Square, Joel stood a moment before separating one of his feet from the concrete and placing it out in front of him. Shifting his weight forward, he then repeated this procedure with his other foot. Thus he discovered--for the first time, it seemed to him--how to walk. The more he employed this new discovery, the more beautiful people and places came into his experience. He stayed on a small island called Inis Mor in the hospitality of a wonderful friend, playing guitar, writing songs, reading books, singing. He walked into the ocean and out again. He walked through Paris, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Wales, and in Liverpool he used walking to board an orange and white aircraft that took him to Barcelona, Spain. He walked across Spain, getting up early before the sun and watching mist roll off of distant mountains like silken broth boiling over the side of a pot. His pilgrimage--particularly in Spain--taught him confidence in playing music for others. In the eveningtime he would sit in a common area, singing songs with his guitar, and people would gather around, and listen. Never particularly good at making friends, suddenly he seemed to be making many of them. He went south and studied Flamenco technique with a teacher in Seville, and wrote several songs as well. He returned to Ireland again, and there realized that he wanted to learn how to record his songs. He bought a ticket back to Kansas City where he got to work performing and recording. It took him a year and a half, but he has finally released his debut album, titled Gold in the Bargain Bin. The album contains work written from 1998-2003 in a variety of settings, from his childhood bedroom to apartments in Seville, Queens, Ireland, Illinois etc. One was written in Loose Park. They deal with love, alienation, fear, joy, but most of all dreams and the strange sense of humor life seems so often to require. Joel sings his little heart out. Joel continues to live in Kansas City, playing coffee shops, bars, restaurants, retirement homes, special events, weddings, etc. He reports he is very well at present, and thanks you for being so kind to ask.