Co-housing journey with Dan & Erin 

After making music in Maryland for 20 + years, we drove away from home on Jan 3, 2023, beginning a new adventure in cohousing. Our first step was to move near where we identified several suitable cohousing communities: Massachusetts. Heartfelt thanks to our loving friends who helped to send us on our way.  

January 10, 2023

At least ten years ago, we started researching co-housing with our friends, Mary and David. We toured several around the DC metro area. We also considered starting our own. The timing was wrong. Since then we have been keeping an eye on the co-housing movement. Last year we got serious and toured co-housing communities in PA, NY, ME and MA. There are several good ones in MA.

On our tour, we learned that being close by is a good idea to be ready to move fast if a house becomes available in a desirable community. So, we moved here to be close to several co-housing communities – one of which we hope to join. Or we may find an alternative situation.

We only have 10 months before our rent goes up so we intend to make it happen before that. First we have to learn more about each of them and co-housing in general to decide if we are really a fit. We are interested in this intentional living model. Many of these communities are oriented around environmental stewardship and sustainability. Some incorporate organic farms. Our kind of peeps. These communities are multi-generational, which we prefer to ones exclusively for old people like us.

Our friend, Charlene, thinks we should do a podcast about our journey to co-housing. There are several podcasts about what co-housing is and the process of forming one. We are interested in moving into an established community where the governance is already running smoothly. There are no podcasts about that journey, that we know of so, we may do it. You will be the first to know.

We also moved up here because of climate change and warming. It is about 4-8 degrees colder in MA than in MD. Otherwise, the weather here is much like MD. They get much less snow than they used to.

Downsizing was quite the challenge. We are now in a 1250 sq ft apartment. Co-housing communities are usually only 30 homes max, clustered or attached and smallish. We are practicing downsizing in our new apartment. The irony about this move is that we have already taken a whole bunch of stuff to our storage unit. It seems we need even less stuff than we thought. In our spare time we will be downsizing the storage unit. Insert embarrassing interior shots here:

Even the birds have housing here.

The complex is called Oriole Landing. It’s a rustic, nature-oriented setting with several beautiful places to hike all within 5 minutes. We have already met six people and their dogs. We will remember the dog's names before the people, of course (Izzy and Waffles). We even have a dinner date with a high school friend of Dan’s and his partner next week. So, networking has begun.

Oriole Landing is a new, LEED certified, 60 unit complex with many charming features. We think we picked a good one though renting in MA is very expensive. We are set up except Dan is still working on getting the studio up and running so we can do Soulpajamas gigs on Zoom. We intend to cultivate a few new places to perform in this area as well. There is a Center for Spiritual Living about 30 minutes away for starters. There are also a couple Unity Churches and one UU Church nearby.

This is Flint's Pond in Lincoln, a drinking water reservoir and land conservation area. It is connected to the and the site our first hike. More to come…


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your theme song 

Last week I happened on to an interesting niche of songwriting.  I saw a fb post wherein a casual friend mentioned she needs a theme song for her life.  This was part of a longer post, but something in me clicked when I read the bit about a theme song.

I immediately offered to write her theme song, if she was serious.  I know her well enough to guess what she was after: something uplifting, empowering, maybe like a rock anthem or a mantra set to music (a chant?), but with a good beat that makes you want to move.  It turns out I was pretty close.  She was into it.  I didn't charge anything, I just kinda wanted to see if I could do it. 

Somehow it all just flowed easily and a week later I had a complete song, based on my knowledge of my friend, my intuition and some ideas she gave me. 

I was surprised how fast it came together and very happy with it musically and lyrically.  And, fortunately, my friend loves it!  That's a win/win.  Because I don't refer to her by name in the song, I have been able to use it, singing it a live shows and it's going over well.  I always tell the story, giving her credit for the idea and for providing me with some pithy lyrics (which became the heart of the chorus).

The last time I sang it, someone came up afterward and asked if I would writer her theme song.  She said I should market this and she called it branding. 

Have you ever heard of anyone doing this?  Let me know if you've done it or know someone who does. 

The only similar thing I've ever done is a song I co-wrote one time, years ago.  I was writing a songwriters' blog, Songwriters Tip Jar, and a reader contacted me. He had written a poem for his fiance that he read during their wedding ceremony and he wanted to hire me to put it to music for their 10th anniversary.  That long distance collaboration worked out well, too. 

I'll keep you posted on my progress and after I get permission, I'll post some of the music.

tags: personal theme song mantra chant brand branding fb facebook songwriting composing dance lyrics

Halloween Treat 

Audience members at our gig last weekend were treated to Halloween goodie bags.  Throughout the night, we asked music trivia questions and gave treats to the winners.  By the end virtually everyone had a goodie bag filled with candy, a 3 song Soulpajamas EP, and miscellaneous stickers and things for the kids.  Thanks again to all who showed up at Potomac Grill.

The Illustrated History of Soulpajamas (abridged) 

  600 AD  Pope Gregory the Great codifies & collects the chant, used in Roman Catholic services.  Names it Gregorian Chant in his honor
  850 Western music starts to move from monotony, no, monophony to polyphony with vocal parts in church music moving in parallel intervals

1180 Troubadours, the original singer/songwriters, appear in Germany and call themselves minnesingers, "singers about love."   So Paul McCartney's Silly Love Songs had a historical precedent.
1430 The Renaissance begins and some other stuff happens.
1565 In Italian music, castration emerges as a way of preserving the tone and high range of young male singing voices.  Bad news for males. 
1565 St. Paul's dictum prohibited women from singing on stage and in churches.  Bad news for everybody.
1599 Dick Clark was born
1631 Erin heaves a sigh of relief when professional female singers appear for the first time on the English stage.
1866 Invention of the radio by Al Gore.
1888 Thomas Edison introduces an electric motor-driven phonograph.
1936 Electric guitars debut
vinyl LP
1948 The microgroove 33 1/3 rpm long-play vinyl record (LP) is introduced by Columbia Records

autoharp1959 A young Erin starts the Kumquats, a small and sour
a folk trio, in which she sings and plays auto harp.
1960 Dan gets his first (toy) guitar and takes a bow
1961 Erin takes her first classical organ lesson

1963 Philips introduces the Compact Cassette tape format, spelling doom for 8 tracks
1964 Dan gets his first real guitar with S&H Green Stamps.

1965 Family visits rellies in Kansas and Dan gets his first guitar lesson from uncle: classic C&W songs.
1966 Erin starts weekly commute to NYC for voice lessons
1967 Dan returns to Kansas for his second guitar lesson and Erin auditions for the Broadway production of Hair! in NYC (for real)
1969 While studying theatre at Ithaca College, Erin sings with jazz bands in clubs
1970 Dan starts writing songs with Bob Camp and they form a duo called Nightwing
1973 Nightwing on haitus
1974 Nightwing reunites and morphs into Taxi with added members Don, Denny and Rod
1976 Taxi opens for Steve Martin at Penn State University
1977 Saturday Night Fever ignites the dreaded disco craze.  Taxi adds Al Seligson on drums and renames itself as Hatdance.
1979 Hatdance dissolves and the Student Nurses jam band is born.  Skylab falls to earth.  Dan joins the Phyrst Phamly, a long running tradition at the Phyrst bar in State College, PA.
Buffalo Chipkickers logo
1980 SONY introduces a palm-sized stereo cassette tape player called the Walkman.  Dan successfully auditions for the Buffalo Chipkickers, a quirky, non-traditional bluegrass band and retires from the Phyrst Phamily.
1981 Buffalo Chipkickers do a short tour of Europe
1982 SONY releases the first CD player.  Buffalo Chipkickers return to Europe for another tour.
1982 Dan sings and plays in a variety of wedding bands.
1982 Erin sings in a variety of wedding bands

1988 CDs outsell vinyl records for the first time.  Joe Loftus & Sacred Ground is born.  Dan and Robert Cote help Joe finish the album and it's released on cassette.
1996 Dan and Erin meet.  It's 'like' at first site.  At their honeymoon, Dan hears Erin sing for the first time and sparks fly.  Erin hears Dan sing and tries to annul.

early Soulpajamas (duo) press photo
1996 Dan and Erin start the duo Spa Mamas which plays a few gigs and changes name to Soulpajamas.
2000 Soulpajamas releases 3 song EP.
2001 Apple introduces the first iPod.
2003 Apple launches iTunes Music Store.
2007 iPhone launched.  Soulpajamas releases first full length CD entitled Dreaming a  New Reality.
Chapter Three
2009 Dan joins forces with Chapter Three
2011 Soulpajamas releases Reaching for the Sun, their 2nd full length CD.
2011 Dan, John Robbins and Jeff Halverson start a trio called Mandolin Rain.
Soulpajamas, now a quartet
2012 Mandolin Rain merged with Soulpajamas.
2013 The new and improved Soulpajamas plays it first gigs.

a rare appearance in Rockville 

We have an important gig coming up and we would love to see you there. We play a lot of our favorites from as far back as the 60s & 70s (including songs by Stevie Wonder, Clapton, Doobies, Hall & Oates, Michael Jackson, Sade...) and more current songs (John Mayer, Maroon 5, Sara Bareilles, Rachael Yamagata, Counting Crows…).

We're hoping you will join us between 9 and midnight on Sat Oct 26 at the Potomac Grill on Rockville Pike. Be sure to try the handcut, home made fries. There’s no cover and lots of free parking.

You might consider coming for a late dinner and then staying for the 9pm set. First friend to show up, we will buy you a beverage.

Thanks for your support,

Dan, Erin, John and Jeff

Eventbrite - Soulpajamas - One Night Only

Potomac Grill
1093 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852

301 637-0513

underage dancing 

Soulpajamas rock Nando's Spicy Summer Concert Series

A big shout out to everyone who came to hear us at Washingtonian Center/Nando's Spicy Summer Concert Series last weekend.   The weather was perfect.   Lots of families and underage dancing.  Even the security guards, who have a device to monitor the volume level of the band, were dancing by the third song.

The Nando's banner says 'Just don't ask for Free Bird.'

Extreme weather 

Our drummer, Jeff Halverson is, in real life, a severe weather meteorologist.   He was recently cited in this article:

irregular and unpredictable 

As you know, the delivery schedule for our email newsletter has been wildly irregular and unpredictable (like us), but we try to send no more than one a month (we're lucky if we do one a quarter - the last one was sent in April).  So we're doing our bit to keep your inbox free from clutter.  If you're not getting our quarterly emails, sign up here.

In those long barren stretches between emails, if you get an urge to find out what's up with Soulpajamas, you can find our latest calendar of performances, newest videos & downloadable songs here at our home in the cloud. We love it when you visit.

This next bit is for our friends who use gmail. If you don't, you are free to roam about the web site.

You may know that Gmail recently added three tabs to the top of your inbox - Primary, Social and Promotions.

You may have even found our email in Promotions, along with emails from Best Buy, Walmart, and who knows what else.

We hope you enjoy our messages enough to want them to appear in your Primary tab.

Here are some simple things you can do to make sure you see all of our future emails:

1. Open Gmail.
2. Click the "Promotions" tab.
3. Look for any emails from Soulpajamas. When you see one, drag it to the "Primary" folder.
4. A question will pop up asking if you want this done automatically in the future. Click YES.

If you want to completely remove these new tabs:

1. Go to the Settings box in the upper right hand corner of your inbox and choose "Settings."
2. Click on the "Inbox" tab, then unselect all categories except "Primary."

A great big thanks to Bob Baker for alerting us to this and for his solution (which we blatantly copied).

Michael Stelzner also posted a helpful video that shows how to navigate some of these options.

Watch it here.

tags: gmail, google mail, Soulpajamas newsletter, quarterly email, irregular, unpredictable, delivery schedule, new tabs, new gmail tabs