It must have been 2008 when my church flew Jason Upton and his band in from Wisconsin. This was the first time I experienced a concert of theirs. But more than a concert, it was an experience. They helped create one of those rare settings where you can actually dip out of the busyness of life and simply breathe and smile with the creator of our existence.
At the time, I was working at my church doing media. As part of the staff, we took the band out for dinner. Gathered around one of the tables at Joey Tomato’s, we ate, we laughed, we hung out. Someone brought up the fact that I was an artist. Then we laughed some more.
Later that year Jason called me up asking if I would be interested in doing the art for their upcoming album entitled “On the Rim of the Visible World”. I was stoked about this idea, and gladly accepted. He flew me down to his home in Milwaukee so I could take in the new tracks and start brainstorming. Jason picked me up at the airport, toured me around his city, and gave me a bed at his amazing country home.
While Jason drove me around his city, he mentioned something to me that I really respected and felt honoured by. He told me he didn’t want our relationship to be just business, but rather investing into each others lives as friends as well. This was why he flew me in and hosted me in such a personal way. And that is just what we did.
I met his family. I battled his son Sam with collected willow branches we found. we talked thoughts and dreams while we walked around his acreage. We shared our lives over breakfast at a little diner. He told me his thoughts behind many of the songs he sang while we circled around Milwaukee. We went to an art store and high-fived over some amazing photography. He showed me his living room where they had set up a recording area for the album I was about to help out with.
Jason and his family showed me what it meant to be hospitable that weekend: to intentionally move from being acquaintances into friends. This experience has helped me appreciate his music even more. There is true depth behind this band, and likewise the art that was to represent their music.
So, with this experience within me, I was off to the drawing board …and let me just say, it is fun to collaborate with other artists on projects. I came up with an initial concept, but it needed to be dropped as they already had an album featuring an old man on the cover. Changing direction, we ended up coming up with a concept that I believe truly matches the feeling of this album: (left)
The following year, I was again honoured to work with this amazing group for their album “Family Music” (right).
When Jason Upton and his band fly into town for concerts from time to time, my wife and I are always stoked to meet up with them for some eats and catch up time.
I was intrigued to hear that Jason has every concert they’ve ever played recorded. If you follow them at all, you probably know that these guys are literally all over the world sharing their music. So I was honoured once again when Jason gave me a call to bring me on board for creating the art and design for their 2012 live album “Glimpse” (below).
Plans are already in motion to work together for their next album “Table Full of Strangers”.
Full of passion, these guys rock. Take a deeper look into what this band is all about: www.jasonupton.net