Archive for the 'Ideas' Category

Anti-corruption pledge

Brilliant thinker and activist Lawrence Lessig, formerly of the EFF, is posing an awesome government Anti-Corruption Pledge. I’ve signed it, and I recommend you check it out, and consider signing it.

Download Flux for free

My album Flux is now available for download, free, with no strings attached!

You can stream it and download it here:
Flux by jacobwolkenhauer

If you like it, and want to copy it and send it to friends, that’s great! If you like it and want to pay for it, that’s great, too, and you can donate here via Paypal:

Locations, prices, and capitalism

So last wednesday, I went to go see one of my favorite bands‘ CD release show. This particular band also happens to hold the top 3 spots for loudest shows I’ve ever seen in my life. So on my way there, I decide that it’d be a good idea to pick up some earplugs.

I start by going to corner store #1.  This place has a fairly limited selection and small staff, so their prices are a little high.  But they’re really friendly people, and sell lots of organic stuff, so all the better.  But no earplugs, so out I go.

This brings me to corner store #2.  Cool place, just a hair cheaper, and cool staff.  They have earplugs as well, so how much are they?  (Cue yelling to the back of the store:) “HOW MUCH ARE THE EARPLUGS?”  Guy comes out and says the earplugs are $4 / pair.  Not just any pair of earplugs, these are old earplugs in faded cardboard packs, in tiny plastic ziplocs… at least 5 or 10 years old, by my estimation.  You’re not seriously going to try to charge me $8 for earplugs for me and my friend are you?  Really?  REALLY?  Out I go.

Most days, I’d be one of the first people to kick all the chains out of Berkeley and only go to local stores.  But here I am at the medium-sized chain pharmacy, and they’ve got 10 pairs of earplugs for $4.  This is seriously 10% of what they cost one block down the road.  As much as I’d like to support the little guy, I can only do it within reason.  So I bought the earplugs from the chain store, and I don’t really feel bad about it.

So what?  What’s the point of this?  I don’t know… maybe just that you have to include a little bit of flexibility in your philosophies, whatever they may be.

To applaud…?

I’ve been starting to read about Glenn Gould lately.  (He’s a fascinating -and dead- pianist.)  He has this one idea, the GPAADAK, the Gould Plan for the Abolition of Applause and Demonstrations of All Kinds.  Basically, never applaud for anything.

The idea behind it is roughly that if a song / performance receives more applause than some other, then it is inherently more worth performing.  Gould’s idea (which I’m not yet sure if I agree with, but is definitely worth mentioning) is basically “Who the hell is the audience to judge whether or not something needs to be expressed?  Just express it, and it will be received.  That is the important part, not the crass noise of slapping hands.”  (A rough paraphrasal, but it gets the idea across.)

I don’t think I’m ready to get onstage and ask people specifically not to applaud when I’m done playing (I’d turn neurotic, at least for a while).  But the idea that we could all just share for the sake of sharing, and enjoy just for the sake of enjoying, is a beautiful idea.


So I tend to play at bars and cafes. Not only do I often feel a bit isolated as an instrumental musician (a rare breed in my circle), but I also feel pigeon-holed by the instrument I play my music on. The whole youtube thing made me realize just how seriously most people mis-understand what it is that I’m doing. Before people even take the time to listen, I’m clumped into a genre of fat old white men that play Acoustic-Guitar-Music. I got some pretty heavy criticism for not living up to my presumed “influences”, namely Andy McKee. (Ironically, I’ve never heard a single song by Andy McKee. But he seems to be very much of that fat old white Acoustic-Guitar-Music genre.)

Granted, there are definitely some people that do get it (namely all of you reading this, I imagine). But people are surprisingly quick to close their ears to something they’re not used to, or something that doesn’t fit requirements they impose on music. As someone who’s trying really hard to make stuff that sounds like Jacob-Wolkenhauer-Music, and is getting heard as Acoustic-Guitar-Music, that’s obviously no good. The “youtube effect” will be really apparent when my album comes out… I’m going to try my best to sound like Jacob-Wolkenhauer-Music, so that people don’t immediately think Acoustic-Guitar-Music and try to lump me in together with old fat guys playing in a long canon of music that in no way includes me.

But I stumbled across this old quote in the liner of Ani DiFranco’s first album:

“i speak without reservation from what i know and who i am. i do so with the understanding that all people should have the right to offer their voice to the chorus whether the result is harmony or dissonance, the worldsong is a colorless dirge without the differences that distinguish us, and it is that difference which should be celebrated not condemned. should any part of my music offend you, please do not close your ears to it. just take what you can use and go on.”

Whoa. Someone who is so powerful an artist and such a symbol in the indie / DIY circuit, someone who actually inspired me to learn guitar, someone who has touched so many lives with her songwriting… this person had to make a disclaimer that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. That quote lifts me up and makes me feel immensely better. Not to be so audacious as to compare myself to her, but when she was playing bars and cafes doing something new and different, she was meeting that same kind of automatic/closed-minded resistance. She worked past it and turned out alright. Puts a little perspective on my own sense of being mis-understood, and encourages me to just keep plodding on. Maybe even without a disclaimer. =)

Thanks for reading and listening, y’all.

Ya know what I love?


It’s just been a damn lot of fun lately.

Listening to it.
Writing it.
Sharing it.
Playing it.
Recording it.
Rocking out to it.
Falling asleep to it.
Waking up to it.
Showering to it.
Getting dirty to it.

Hell yeah, man.

Hell yeah.

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