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For Toby

December 10, 2014

Last night, a beautiful soul moved on to his next adventure. In October, I sent Toby the following message:

Who you are to me.

You’ve always been a positive person. I always looked up to my older brother’s friends, and wanted to spend as much time with them as possible, but age and timing almost always made that difficult. Although you aren’t the exact same age as him, you’re close enough that I always associated you with that group of people. The difference was that you were accessible, and didn’t mind hanging out with a 16 year old punk. You didn’t mind caterwauling stratacasters with me in my parents’ basement, even though I had no idea what the hell I was doing. What I was playing sounded like an episode of looney tunes, played backwards while being run through a meat grinder. Still, there you were, standing across the room, rocking out like Hendrix, with a giant smile on your face, looking back at me & cheering me on.

When my guitar playing progressed enough to allow me to actually play along with other people, you were the one who sat with me on the steps at Veteran’s park, running through Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Today,’ and threading lead notes through whatever three chords I knew at the time. It was you and me, getting stoned on three steps that lead to the bottom of a river, actualizing thoughts through music.

It’s no surprise that you were part of the first band I was ever a member of. Forged in the projection room of the Malek Theater, Couch Trip was an alt-psycodelic-prog-rock-power-trio, the likes of which Buchanan County had never seen. If I remember correctly, we had one practice, and it was earth shattering.

Did you know that I had a reoccurring dream about you for about 7 years? When I was 14, I was walking up main street and you came power sliding around the corner by Security State Bank, with leather gloves on your hands, and a Powel Parelta under your feet. That 5 second memory would show up in the middle of random dreams for the better part of a decade. There I’d be, flying through Metropolis, playing on stage with Pearl Jam, or making love to a woman, and all the sudden, BOOM! Here’s Toby Albright! Skate or Die Mother fucker!

I was just as happy to see you in those dreams as I was to see you in person the last time we were face to face. I was visiting from Seattle, and ran through Independence with my parents. We were hungry and stopped at Subway. I was standing in line, and caught a smile out of the corner of my eye that could only belong to you. I walked over. We both started laughing, and without saying a word, gave each other a giant hug. You were the only familiar and loving face I saw during that stop in Independence, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

So, this is who you are to me. You are a positive, loving, inspirational person, who loves laughing and encouraging other people to laugh with you. Without you, I never would have continued playing guitar. If I had given up playing guitar, I wouldn’t have the life I do now.

My life is pretty darn good. Thank you for helping create that possibility.

Carry on, Toby. Kiss the sky.

If you know Toby, please consider donating on gofundme… which will help cover his medical expenses.


Andy Knepshield

June 13, 2014

On June 8th, our friend Andy Knepshield was pursuing his passion for rock climbing in the Pacific North West. He was climbing with a partner at Little Si in North Bend, Washington on the World Wall. While Andy was climbing an accident occurred with the baylaying process and Andy fell over 70 feet. An emergency search and rescue team rushed Andy to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Andy is currently in surgery to fight internal bleeding. He has multiple broken bones, kidney damage, and is in danger of losing his spleen. More information on his condition will be added as we have it – we know Andy will pull through this, but it will be a very long and painful recovery.

Andy and his amazing wife Emily are going to need all the help we can give them. They are going to need our financial support through Andy’s long recovery and rehab. Andy will be out of work for quite some time – we don’t know how long he will be hospitalized, how long he will be in rehab, how long before he will be able to work, or how much all of this is going to cost. As soon as these details are available this page will be updated. Now is the time to offer what you can to this amazing person – every dollar counts. Andy and Emily also need our love, support, and powerful thoughts of recovery and strength.

Please share this with as many people as you can. Andy and Emily are amazing people with roots in Ohio, Brooklyn, Nashville, Seattle and beyond. Friends and family from coast to coast, do what you can to help. We know Andy would be too humble to ask directly for this much needed support, and we know he will be eternally grateful for all the care and generosity sent his way.

Click the banner below, to support Andy.


Almanac, Music

Music: Tiny Messengers – Ukulele Christmas

December 22, 2013

My friend Kimo recorded a great Christmas album a few years back. If you’re looking for something new to listen to this season, shelve the Mannheim Steamroller, and listen to some heartfelt ukulele music, by the talented Kimo Muraki & his Tiny Messengers. You can stream the album here. If you enjoy it, please consider purchasing the album on Kimo’s Bandcamp page.

Almanac, Surf

The Encyclopedia of Surfing

December 3, 2013

The past hundred years has seen the surfer as the craftsman, the waterman, the burnout, the artist, the activist, and the philosopher – all of which were aiding in the development of a wonderfully nuanced history of wave riders. Birthed by plank-carving Polynesians and popularized by harmonizing beach boys, surfing is undeniably a cultural entity of depth and complexity. The Encyclopedia of Surfing, the most recent project of surf writer Matt Warshaw, is a platform from which to view surfing’s mosaic history and culture – surfer by surfer, surf term by surf term. The site is a compilation of vignettes giving descriptive accounts of individual topics logging surfing history and culture. The concept is exactly the same as an encyclopedia: if you are interested in Reno Abellira, simply search. Warshaw’s project is inventive and vital, providing a space where surfing culture and history can be recorded and remembered.


Stoke Harvester is currently sponsoring two pages on EOS; Kassia Meador and David Carson.

– Patrick

Almanac, Events, Surf

Justin Coffey: Old Man

May 12, 2013

Justin Coffey is an old man. He drinks old fashions, rides logs, and doesn’t like kids horse playing on his lawn.

Happy Birthday, old man. You’re a great friend, good man, and tolerable business partner.

Here’s to small waves, strong drinks, motorcycles and misbehaving.

– #SPJ

Almanac, Events

Team Mike: Everybody Love Everybody

May 3, 2013

I grew up in Independence, Iowa – current population 5,957. When I was young, our address was simply “Jennings RR1.” I lived in the country with two loving parents, a witty older brother and your classic dog and cat. The majority of my childhood was spent caricaturing Luke Skywalker, Superman and Michael Jackson. My older brother, Chad, built me an X-wing out of some cardboard when I was five. I ran around with red underwear on the outside of my blue sweatpants when I was six. I had hardly mastered the moonwalk at age seven, but thought I looked pretty damn cool sporting my mom’s silver ski glove insulator on my right hand. As I got older, I slowly transitioned from wearing my underoos to flannel, listening to more Smashing Pumpkins and less Jackson 5 (MJ and Billy get equal play these days).

High school was no fun. I wasn’t good at sports. I wasn’t popular with the ladies. I was a long haired geek who bought a computer instead of a car when he turned 16. My fondest memories are of the weekends away from high school, when my brother Chad would come back from Wartburg College. He’d bring new music, new movies, new information and old friends.

One of those friends was Mike Jensen. Mike was the crazy one. A stocky son of a bitch with wild hair and infectious energy that traveled almost as fast and strong as his singing voice. He was what I wanted to be. He grew up in my town, hung out with the same families and watched Star Wars with my brother. He got in fights with jocks in high school. He was in choir like me, had a hot girlfriend, was caring, but cool and escaped Independence. He was living in Waverly (which seemed like another country at the time) and was in a college band named ‘Sweat Lodge.’ For that reason, reasons unsaid, and the reasons listed above, to me… he was a rock star.

These days, Mike lives in Waverly. He married that hot girlfriend, has three beautiful daughters and teaches music.

Mike Jensen IS a rock star.


Unfortunately, Mike has a few other things going on. A few months ago, Mike started having seizures  After countless trips to the physician, it was discovered that Mike has a brain tumor. He’s having that tumor removed today, May 3rd.

Earlier this week Mike asked people if they could send him a note stating “who I am to you.” Part of the risk of his surgery is that he could possibly lose a bit of his personality. And part of his plan for recapturing that explosive energy is to have reading material and reminders of who he is to the people in his life. The few paragraphs above, are what Mike Jensen is to me.

Mike means a lot to a lot of people. His friend Melinda started a TeeSpring campaign, where you can buy TEAM MIKE shirts. All the proceeds go to Mike and his family.

Go buy one!


Mike has another friend (and band mate) named Paul. Paul likes to stream the current MN Public Radio music station when he works. They do this thing called “My Three Songs,” where you request a three-song set with an explanation and they read the story and play the tunes. Paul made a playlist for Team Mike and sent it to DJ Barb Abney earlier this week. His letter is posted below, along with the 3 songs.

– Shawn

Dear Barb,

My three-song set is dedicated to my very close friend and longtime bandmate Mike Jensen, an Iowan who is having surgery for a brain tumor this week (5.3). This dedicated  husband and father of three beautiful girls is not yet 40. I’ve been thinking about him a whole heckuva lot leading up to this surgery, and was spurred to write you with this  request because I know how much Mike would love for more people to hear his music and to send positive energy his way. I hope you will play it – it will mean a lot!

The first song is a track Mike wrote for our band Spin Spin Coupling’s forthcoming album Vinyl Envy. With members in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Chicago, we’ve been playing together  since 2001, but most of us have known each other and played together for 20 years. I think “War” is one of the most dynamic tracks we’ve ever created and seems fitting since  Mike is in the midst of battle with this tumor. Here is a link to the WAV file. Sorry – it’s not  totally radio-ready, but we weren’t ready for this crisis…it has a long fade and should be cut at about 5:20. I realize this is a bit unorthodox, but if you can do it, that’d be awesome.

We played the opening bars of “Turtledove” by Trip Shakespeare at one of our earliest gigs, which was opening for our heroes in The Flops in Madison, ten years after we saw  Trip Shakespeare together at Wartburg College, our alma mater in Iowa. At the Flops show, we had a great chat with Matt and John, who autographed Mike’s LP of Across the Universe.

Finally, while I considered some Sigur Ros, Low, Kings of Convenience, and other more ethereal fare with which we have some great memories, if I know Mike, he would prefer to  be able to cruise down a country road right now, rocking out to an old favorite. So, I chose “Stereo” by Pavement, one of his favorite bands, and a song to which we’ve done  that very thing several times in the past.

1. Spin Spin Coupling: War
Download / Myspace

2. Trip Shakespeare: Turtledove

3. Pavement: Stereo

Almanac, Retro Stoke Harvester, Surf

Vital Way of Life

February 5, 2013

Surfing, alone among sports, generates laughter at its very suggestion, and this is because it turns not a skill into an art, but an inexplicable and useless urge into a vital way of life.

– Matt Warshaw, Maverick’s: The Story of Big-Wave Surfing