People always ask me how I do it, and I shy away from the truth. My road to success as an independent musician began five years ago. I gave up drinking and smoking and quit my promising career with Vail Resorts to chase after a dream that had no guaranteed outcome. Friends still don’t believe me when I tell them I’ve been sober 99% of my days on the road. It’s often followed by a phrase like, “I’ve seen you wasted before!”
The fact of the matter is one doesn’t need drugs and alcohol to have a blast, or create lasting memories. I often don’t tell my story because I don’t want to make my friends uncomfortable. Everyone is on their own path and I feel compelled to share my main success has been from fighting to live a clean and clear life. We are who we surround ourselves with. We are what we eat. We are temples that need nourishment, self-care, and self-love.
It’s been really interesting to see the inner workings of the industry, and more specifically the festival scene. What I’ve come across are a tun of wonderful humans. I’ve also noticed a trend of ‘conscious festivals’, which promote charities and “good causes”, and are not being transparent with their earnings or how much of that money they keep for themselves.
It’s been an eye opening journey to say the least, and it challenges me to be careful in who I claim to be and carefully define exactly what I want to accomplish. On our upcoming album, Everywhere, I lay it all out there. I expose the darkness and dishonesty I’ve struggled with on the road and also share the joy, laughter, and beauty that I’ve encountered across the world.
I’ve come to find that it’s really about the journey, not the destination. It’s the friendships that are forged, food that is shared, and the late night music around the fire that makes this world go round. It’s been a privilege to share the stage with so many talented musicians, poets, and visionaries. Next year I will be using our platform at Free Smiles Productions to do a monthly artist ‘Spotlight’, focusing on my favorite independent musicians.
“We are the Ambassadors of Humanity,” said David Irwin at the end of our recent musical gathering in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. I thought about it all the way home and I was overwhelmed by the memories and bonds created with musicians who strive to be genuine and honest beacons of light.
As we celebrate five years of The Jeffrey James Show, I give thanks for all the stellar humans and musicians who have shared this journey. From Hawai’i to Europe and everywhere in between, we are Ambassadors of Humanity.