All behind-the-scenes photos by the luminous Lauren Tronick
We shot this sucker back in March. It was the first time I took my rainboots off in months, my feet feeling naked on the light rail to the Seattle airport, ready for a little sunshine but mostly some two-stepping.
a magic man.
Now, I know what you are all wondering. WHO IS SPARKLE JOE?! Luckily Raph of Odell Fox has written an explanation known as:
"THE SAGA OF SPARKLE JOE
I’m not a superstitious person, really. I’ll knock on wood for fear of “jinxing” something, and if my team is down in the ninth inning you know I’m going to flip my hat inside-out and wear it, but otherwise I’m not a huge believer in fate or the supernatural. But I do believe in signs, in the suggestive power of coincidence.
In the summer of 2015, Jenner and I participated in the band competition at the American River Music Fest in Coloma, CA. I remember our first night there, the night of the contest, I noticed, as we waited to go on, a man near me in the back of the crowd. He had long gray hair and was wearing a sequined cape and I thought, “Alright, I am really glad we’re here.” We saw him again the next day dancing by himself in the hot sun at the mainstage, eyes closed, interpreting the lyrics, thumbs up, smiling. Sparkling. I thought, “This guy is having a great time and doesn’t give a shit what anyone else thinks.” I was really inspired.
We met him around our campfire that night; he was camping in his van not too far from us. He told us he was from Texas, that his name was Joe, and he offered us peanuts out of a Planters can. Beer and peanuts, he told us, had been his last meal every night since he was in college. He stood behind our circle and danced, still in his cape, while we played tunes late into the night. I remember him saying he wished Jimi Hendrix’s song could instead go “Hey Joe, where you going with that smile on your face?” We made sure to get Joe's phone number before we left the festival; even then we had a hunch we might want to make something with him.
A couple months later, I was in New York City with my friend Sarah. We were getting drinks with a friend of hers from NYU Law, Rebecca, who’s from Austin originally. This was just before I was going to move there, so she was giving me recommendations, getting nostalgic, trying to do that impossible thing of explaining in words what you love about your hometown. She knew I was headed to Austin for music, and said she wanted to put me in touch with her dad, who was still living there and was connected to the old school hippy scene. She started describing his life, that he spent most nights in a tent, that he traveled on the west coast in the summers going to music festivals, that all he wanted to do since he got a knee replacement was dance… I asked, “Is your dad’s name Joe?” She looked at me wide-eyed. “Wait, how do you know my dad?”
After meeting Rebecca, it seemed like seeing Joe again was inevitable. But I didn't know how soon it would come. Before I moved to Austin that January, I found a place online where I could stay in a tent for free in exchange for working odd jobs a couple hours a day. Camp EZ, my first home in Texas (and still a place of great importance to me.) When I first arrived, it was nighttime and already dark, and I wasn’t sure how to find my host or where I should set up my things. I interrupted a young woman vacuuming the inside of her van to ask her where I might find the property owner, and just then walking into the dim yellow light came Joe. I shouted “Hey Joe!” to him, and he turned and smiled and said, “Oh hi, yeah, I heard you might be coming down,” without a shred of surprise. I knew I was in the right place. Turned out I was going to be camping just 30 yards from where Joe had his tent pitched for the winter.
And now, here it is, our video with Sparkle Joe, directed, filmed, and edited by our photographer/videographer extraordinaire, a “Band’s Best Friend,” Kendall Rock. We hope you enjoy it, it was so fun to make and we’re really proud of it. THANK YOU Kendall, THANK YOU to our illustrious producer Russell Brown, and one more, big THANK YOU to Joe, a pivotal character in our young band’s life.
I also want to mention, that besides being an amazing dancer, Joe is a lawyer and lifelong environmental activist. He’s served on the City of Austin’s Environmental Board and worked for 20 years in the Environmental Protection Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Since 1975 he’s participated in many citizen efforts and organizations to protect his beloved Barton Creek and Barton Springs, which we have discovered to be our favorite part about Austin as well. He's volunteered for years at Kerrville Folk Festival and Old Settlers Musical Festival. He calls himself a “litter picker-upper.” We think he’s a gem."
I think these guys are gems too.
Thank You is a very appropriate mood phrase expression song album title. Thank you to everyone who made this project possible. Thank you Odell Fox for being my besties and letting me make art with you. Thank you Raph for knowing how to sway and having a perfect camera face, thank you Jenner for being down to get out of your comfort zone and doing a stellar job at pretending to drink a beer, and thank you sweet angel Hans for being the surprise star of the century. Thank you Sparkle Joe for coming early to eat tacos, for including us in the magic of the sparkles, and for being a profoundly special human being. Thank you Lauren for being a killer PA, for taking our BTS photos, and for being my lady on lady day. Thank you Russell Preston Brown for being crazy enough to support a bunch of young artists trying to make something super bizarre. Thank you Twin Peaks for your constant inspiration. Thank you Thomas for knowing way more about equipment than I do and having an extra long coffee date in a crowded space. Thank you Sam's Town Point for being perfect and just far enough away from SXSW to keep us sane. Thank you Austin Movie Gear for having the Battle Axe slider and for having a sincere interest in the project. Thank you Austin, Texas for back patio shows and Lone Star beer and fireflies and morning drizzle photoshoots and friends and tacos and two-step Tuesdays. Thank you everyone.
OK HERE is the thing:
How do you celebrate such a glorious collaborative magical thing? With a wrap/rap/wraps party at Raph's house, of course!