PAN in conversation with John Scofield
Supporters John Scofield and Patagonia have joined together to benefit Pesticide Action Network North America. When a fan, activist or customer purchases the song “How Deep” for $.99 via the Patagonia Music Collective, net proceeds will be donated to PAN.
PAN sat down with John Scofield to discuss PAN, music and how they are connected.
PAN: In addition to donating the download sales from "How Deep" to PAN, you recently performed at Lincoln Center at a Benefit for The Jazz Foundation of America’s Jazz Musicians’ Emergency Fund. You seem to embrace opportunities that through your music can support organizations that you are passionate about. How did you first make this connection, get involved with supporting the non-profit sector?
John: I actually consider it a gift to musicians that we are given the opportunity to make contributions, however nominal, through our everyday efforts. Our family has a history of supporting housing issues, food for the ill and poor - shelters, education, children’s programs, certain politicians, animal rights – so many things that are deserving. We give what we can. Thimbles of water thrown on forest fires. My children (23 and 29) are already practiced “donators” for causes they believe in.
I think it’s important that everyone make efforts to support the non-profit sector. If everyone did a little – just a little - the collective results would be huge. I get asked frequently to perform at benefit concerts for one cause or another and that’s never as easy as it sounds. Unless an organization is knowledgeable and prepared to set up the concert, the actual costs of putting it on are often higher than the profits. I often donate whatever funds I can instead. But when it can come together, I’m there. Donating music is simple.
My very close friend Dennis Irwin died of a skin cancer that almost nobody ever dies from. He didn’t have health insurance and didn’t seek proper medical attention in time. A lot of people, musicians and otherwise, don’t get preventative care because it’s expensive, difficult and demoralizing to visit doctors and have tests done without insurance. I got involved with the AJMEF because there are so many musicians like Dennis: self-employed and unable to afford insurance. Of course, the real truth is that medical services shouldn’t cost what they do in the first place.
We were excited to hear that you had chosen donate the sales of your song "How Deep" to PAN as part of the Patagonia Music Collective. With so many organizations in need of support, what brought you to choose PAN.
Chemical misuse and abuse is rampant worldwide and I suspect this is one of the leading causes of much of the worlds environmental and health woes. This is a problem that has evolved in my lifetime. I think our future is in jeopardy as a result. It seems to be a “silent enemy” much of the time. It’s one thing when you see the dramatic results of giant environmental mishaps but there isn’t enough of a voice, not enough oversight for the day to day environmental mishaps that are ignored by the general population (and I include myself in that group.) People just aren’t aware until something really awful and really big occurs – something that becomes “good television.” And when the television coverage dies down, it must be all better, right? It means a lot to me that an organization like PAN exists.
Can you tell us how you came about choosing "How Deep" for the Patagonia Music Collective?
I had a few pieces of music that were recorded and basically ready to go. This is simply the first of them.
The Patagonia Music Collective includes a very diverse group of musicians. What music is currently on your play list?
Always varied, lately I’ve been non-committal in music selection since I’m focusing on my own new projects. I’m in the middle of working out new music for myself – writing some new tunes, arranging music as well for some upcoming solo shows. When I’m in this headspace, I tend to listen to radio instead of selecting particular music. I’ve been listening to the radio – mostly WKCR at Columbia University and WBGO in Newark, NJ and WNYC, an NPR station. My musical taste is pretty broad.
What particular issue, action or campaign of PAN's is of interest to you, or hits home?
I’d have to say that all of your issues interest me and they hit every home on earth! We have an immediate neighbor who has his lawn and trees sprayed several times a year. We receive notification in advance (with the lists of chemicals used and they’re horrific) and try to talk him out of it. He feels that “if it’s LEGAL for the company to use the chemicals, it’s Safe. “ It doesn’t seem to bother him that the owner of the big lawn chain is a leading contributor to legislation that keeps his products from being outlawed. It doesn’t bother him that birds and squirrels don’t get the notices. He doesn’t mind that it floats over to other properties. We live in a Watershed area! My family and I have long been wary of produce from countries that import chemicals banned (and often manufactured) here and used elsewhere – only to have their products returned to our shelves. We all need to be better educated about this as chemicals rarely advertise themselves on your coffee beans and in your cereal.
How have you responded to today's food and heath concerns at home and/or in your travels with regard to your purchasing power?
We try to maintain an organic household in food, gardening and cleaning. It really isn’t a difficult thing to do. We’re really lucky – local food supply is actually very good – in the summer at least. We are members of a CAP from April to November and there are endless green markets. Also fortunate to be able to afford the often extra expense of organically grown foods. Our community has a decent awareness of food quality –a fish market that supplies wild caught, even local chain groceries that have a wide array of organic products. We eat as locally as we can and try to stick to whole foods that don’t come burdened in excess packaging. That’s local – but my world? Still, I am completely aware that as a musician traveling more than 50% of the year, I do not have the luxury of knowing where a lot of the food I eat comes from and how it was grown.
Is there is anything you would like to say to PAN supporters and future supporters?
Just thanks. I hope a few people will purchase my tune to support your efforts. What would I say? A reminder that a little conservation, a little awareness, a little effort is far better than none. That being true, we all can consider the changes that increased energies could mean. Nothing’s going to improve by ignoring these issues!
To Learn More About The Patagonia Music Collective:
To Learn More About PAN Supporter John Scofield:
To Support PAN By Downloading The Song “How Deep”