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Nourishing the Music and Literary Communities


When I traveled to Europe, I loved the sense of small community. People knew the owners of their local shops – the butchers, bakers, and in Rome, their pizza makers. The music, arts and literary scene surrounded you like a warm sun. In Italy, I stayed for several months in Rome and then chose to visit the southern part of the country, taking a seven-day tour of Sicily so I could witness even more of that type of lifestyle – and because I was deeply in love with the Godfather Sagas, particularly the scene where Al Pacino meets his first wife with olive groves and wheat fields carpeting the town of Corleone.

A part of me wished to move to Europe, but my love for my home and family in Michigan always brought me back and then I realized, we have all of that here if we would simply look for it. That’s what I loved about John D. Lamb’s work. When I met him at the Rochester Writers Conference – we were on a panel with Dr. Stan Williams – I learned about his Italian roots, his truly authentic and moving folklore, and how he has used his talents to serve his community.

John’s CD Feel That won the 2007 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Acoustic / Folk Recording, but long before that, in 1995, he started Lamb’s Retreat for Songwriters at the Birchwood Inn at Harbor Springs, Michigan. He brought in well-established songwriters who offer workshops, one-on-one consultation, and performances over the course of the three-day retreat. Participants receive an assignment on the first day, based on a common theme, and by the end of the retreat, everyone performs a newly written original song.

Following the success of Lamb’s Retreat for Songwriters, a conversation with filmmaker Michael Moore led to other creative events in northern Michigan – a writers retreat on Walloon Lake. Michael Moore and his wife volunteered to be on staff and they provided $2500 seed money to start the project which over the years has blossomed. Springfed now offers local classes in poetry, prose, fiction, young adult fiction, creative writing and memoir.

When I invited John D. Lamb to come on my show, I told him to bring his guitar. I had so enjoyed listening to his music and singing at the Rochester Writers Conference that I wanted others to enjoy it as well. These days, hearing music with words that actually make sense and mean something seems like a lost art. Most of the mainstream lyrics are negative and are about people breaking each other’s hearts and hurting one another. Luckily, he’s coming out with a new album soon. 

Watch this video to enjoy John’s songs and music and to know that, like in Europe, we too have a little rich community – artistic or otherwise. Every city, town, and village has it. One simply has to find and nourish it so it can survive.

For more information about Springfed, visit http://www.springfed.org/