such an honor to hear Sarah Lee Guthrie & Hoping Machine sing my song at the Climate March in DC!


new CD available on band camp click on cover image below to download tracks

new CD available on band camp          click on cover image below to download tracks

Saturday, October 30, 2010


                                                             more Elemental Orchestra
                                                             more more accordion music
                                                             more sing what you play   

                                                   Makapu'u Point  photo by Mary Paik     

Gigs  :

      March 5th, 2011
          International Women's Day - 
            Bard College at Simon's Rock
 March 10, 2011 
    Hosting open mic at the Stockbridge Library
          6:30pm - 8pm

       March 31, 2011
          JoAnne Spies: Songs about Love and Work
          Mason Library - Great Barrington, MA   6:30pm

      April 23rd, 2011
 Honor the Housatonic Benefit and Poetry Slam
       Guthrie Church     6pm - 11pm    $25.
        4 Van Duesenville
        Housatonic, MA

      April 26, 2011 
         Hosting Open Mic for National Poetry Month
         Lee Library
         100 Main Street  Lee, MA     5:45 - 7:45pm

    May 5, 2011
        "Sounding Mohican Pathways"
         Mission House     5:00pm - 6:30pm
         Stockbridge, MA

   May 14 and 15th, 2011
      "Going Places" 
        Founder's Theatre - Shakespeare & Company
    CATA's annual fundraiser and performance

       May 21, 2011 
          Music Improvisation at Norman Rockwell Museum
          Let's Get Elemental!        1:00pm

        June 26, 2011
          "The Power of Song"  10:30 am
          U.U. of South Berkshire
           917 S. Main Street
           Great Barrington, MA

        September 17, 2011
          Peace Conference - Hancock Shaker Village
           Center for Peace through Culture
          workshop: "Writing Songs of Peace" and performance

Friday, October 29, 2010

close-up of carved Mohican walking stick
shows eagle and 'many trails' symbol

JoAnne Spies leading group from Mission House in Stockbridge, MA to Housatonic River in "Sounding Mohican Pathways"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gary Snyder on "Reinhabitation"

Thanks to Martin at the Zen Peacemakers Symposium for telling me about Gary Snyder's use of the term "reinhabitation." I found Snyder's 1976 essay online and though I couldn't link it up to this blog, I hope you can read his illuminating thoughts about the merits of staying in one place and how economically we are penalized for doing so.

It was a privilege to hear panelists who are pioneers in their fields and practitioners of kindness at the Zen Peacemakers Symposium.
I want to jot down notes for further exploration while they are fresh in my mind.
~ how does the land lead us to reconciliation?
As I've been leading people on walks to Mohican sites, I see it brings up their feelings of sorrow and desire for forgiveness or reconciliation. Will the simple mindfulness of 'one step at a time' for peace as Thich Nhat Hahn suggests help facilitate this process? I see that the land shares its own history with us when our group walks with a simple awareness of place. My goal for the walks is also to encourage people's connection to the land through the gifts we've been given for conversation with it: rhythm and sound.

I understand melody as a way to remember the power and shape of the sounds we made when first in conversation with the elements.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Each line in the song 'Celebrate' comes from thoughts shared with me by elders I visit in CATA workshops in Alzheimer's units, assisted living and elder care facilities.The performance took place at Shakespeare & Company's Founder's Theatre in Lenox, MA as part of CATA's annual gala in early May.

(screen lightens up @ 20 sec.)
Thanks to Mati Kiin of Kiin Media for the video.

Here's the "Red, Red Robin" video I directed for CATA's show last year:
:Hank Williams singing unvarnished and true

 Irish singing

"where is the watershed?"

This song was written for a Marmalade Productions show called "Watershed Waltz" that tours schools to teach kids how to protect the watershed.
Everywhere we stand is one watershed or another.
Vicki Richards on violin.

Quick Bioregional Quiz!
1.Where is the place that urbanites, suburbanites, and rural residents inhabit together?
2.Where is the place to learn and practice sustainable ways that satisfy basic human needs?
3.Where is the place nearest at hand to restore & maintain ecosystems & wildlife?
4.Where is the place to re-localize & decentralize political, social and economic features?
5.Where is the place to remanufacture products from recycled material?
6.Where is the place for students to learn about ecology?
7.Where is the place to begin both reducing climate change & planning suitable adaptations?
Answer: The watershed in the bioregion where you live.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dalai Lama Barack Obama

This song was written after seeing the photo of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Barack Obama meeting each other with big smiles. The original title was 'Dalai Lama Barack Obama, Smile' and it merged with 'May we all know we're the buddha.'
Vicki Richards improvising on violin.

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 26 at Micro Theatre in Pittsfield

gregory crewdson photo looking up north street

I'll be in the second annual WordxWord Festival on Thursday, August 26 at the Micro Theatre on North Street in Pittsfield, MA.
Also on the bill: Sanjiban Sellew and Philip Levine

Micro Theatre
311 North Street
Pittsfield, MA
(413) 442-2223



I'm performing at a terrific FODfest fundraiser in Litchfield Hills, CT. Hope you can come!

August 28


watershed people

by j. spies

Have you read "Understanding Comics"?
Written by Scott McCloud, this page-turner is written in comic book style and re-frames the way you view comics, art, words and pictures.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Grey Fox Blugrass Festival is a gem of a festival and it was a beautiful crescent moon night to dance under the stars on the hill.

Jimmie Dale Gilmore teaches songwriting for a week each year at Omega in Rhinebeck, NY
and it's been a treat to sit in the song circle on their last night where all are welcome. Heard some great tunes and enjoyed the camaraderie.

As I Sit Down to Eat
Pranayama, kapalabhati, dirgha,
Dear God, let me be a mindful eater
Goddess, let me flow like tumbling water
Fire, burn away what is not needed
As I sit down to eat
May all beings have enough
As we sit down to eat

Through winter into spring I was part of a pilot program at Kripalu about mindful eating that had a focus on pranayama, mindfulness, yoga and Ayurvedic principals. I wrote a song to integrate some of the teachings and to share at our last session.

Thank you to our extraordinary teachers Larissa, Janna and Tosca for their skill and compassion and to all the participants in Yoga and Mindful Eating.

Words and Music by JoAnne Spies
The rest of the song soon to be recorded... stay tuned!
contact: for more info

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

photo by Jennifer Reis

Mohican friends Shawn Stevens, Molly and Shannon performed at the new Club Helsinki in Hudson, NY as part of FODfest (Friends of Danny Pearl)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vicki Richards ( /JoAnne Spies at Spies' original "Me & Melville" performance atop Mt. Greylock/Bascom Lodge

It was a thrill to perform "Me & Melville" on the highest point in MA where Thoreau, Hawthorne and others have gone before us. I passed out quotes from "Moby Dick" as well as Hawthorne and Thoreau quotes for the audience to read.
A good time was had by all and dinner was delicious too.

Vicki Richards and I will be doing an hour-long cable TV performance for PCTV's "Acoustic Voices" of my original songs and some of her loop-swoopingly beautiful flights on violin March 30.

Looking forward to the debut of my new song "Celebrate," at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA May 1 and 2 at CATA's "Stick & Stones" annual fundraiser:

The song was written from thoughts shared with me by elders I visit in CATA workshops in Alzheimer's units, assisted living and elder care facilities.

View the "Red, Red Robin" video I directed for CATA's show last year:
http: //

Saturday, February 6, 2010

David Darling wins Grammy

Music for People
photo credit: Julie Weber

Congratulations to master cellist, inspiring teacher and humanitarian David Darling.
As a graduate of his four-year Musicianship and Leadership program at Music for People, I join the family of folks who say thank you, David, for your healing music and leadership. His award-winning CD is called "Prayer for Compassion."