Seth Glier’s Food for Thought: Giving Back to Communities with Food and Music

Thanksgiving is upon us, and I would like to talk about how one up and coming singer-songwriter gives to his own music as well as to communities all across America. Seth Glier is currently wrapping up the Food For Thought tour. The tour is an effort that helps food banks all over the country feed the hungry.

Seth Glier: The Next Right Thing

In my interview with Seth Glier for the Music Historian blog, Hear; Don’t Listen, I talk to Seth about his efforts towards tackling hunger. In return, I learn about the genuine thought, emotion and experiences Seth puts behind his music.

The Food for Thought Tour

“We started planning this tour in April of 2011. At first, we were reaching out to performance venues and organizations in the community to help make this tour happen. Then, we looked at the schedule and noticed the tour would take place a few weeks before Thanksgiving. So we wanted to do something that created a feeling of thanks, and decided to collect food for people in need,” explained Seth.

Hunger currently affects 146 million Americans everyday – that’s one in every six people. As part of their Food for Thought tour, Seth and his guitar player, Ryan Hommel make time between shows and traveling to deliver collected donations of canned food to food banks. The two video blogged about one of these stops last Sunday: the Akron-Canton Food Bankin Ohio.

Guitarist, Ryan Hommel

In my telephone conversation with Seth, he tells me, “When we went to Ohio, we learned 45% of the state lives on food stamps. We also learned that the Akron-Canton Food Bank sends over 75,000 pounds of food to 40,000 people a week. By next year, they would like to send a total number to 20 million pounds of food. It was apparent that this type of tenacity is needed when tackling hunger.”

Seth also claims that making this effort and making these extra trips are worthwhile. He says, “I am happy to see how many people actually bring out food. When people came out to the New York City show, they stop to Whole Foods or Duane Reade on the way just to purchase extra food to help out with our efforts. They are going out the extra mile to help out a neighbor.”

In exchange for going the extra mile, Seth Glier charges only one can of food for concert admission on this tour!

Seth adds, “This tour is about providing hope and information; it is about inspiring fans to take action in their community. Although I know I can’t patch hunger in the world, I can do it for the communities I visit on this tour.”

“I’ve gotten to where I am today because of communities”

As I talked with Seth and listened to his answers, I started to wonder about what motivated him to give back to communities. He says:

“I’ve gotten to where I am today because of communities. The same three people that came to the Rockwood Music Hall for my performance last year came back to see me perform again this year. They also help spread the word about my performances in New York City to their friends and neighbors.

“I also enjoy returning to these communities and playing live music for them. For me, playing live is a great time and place to let go and share my personal stories and experiences with a group.”

Seth Glier at the Rockwood Music Hall 11/11/2011

“Whenever I share personal parts of my life on stage I feel that people hold it with them”

Seth’s need for sharing his life stories both in music and on stage is a fundamental part of his emotional process – one of the many factors that contribute to his song writing. Seth says, “Whenever I share personal parts of my life on stage [and through music] I feel that people hold it with them. My stories might be too personal for some, but for the right person on the right night, it can stay with them.”

That night, November 11th, 2011 at the Rockwood Music Hall, one of Seth’s stories definitely stayed with me; the story he shares in the song “No Place to Land.”

Seth tells his audience that he spends a lot of time away from home and when he returns, it’s like déjà vu – the feeling that he never really left. Although he is close to his parents and likes his childhood home, he also feels home is something you have to find and make alone. He says, “Home is a place of inspiration, not a destination.”

“No Place to Land” definitely resonates with me at the moment. I will soon look forward to starting a life somewhere in New York City. While I’ve spent some years away from home as a college student, I spent the last two years of my post-grad life at home. Now, I will begin the process of relocating in a new place once again.

Some of the inspirations behind Seth’s songs like “Too Hard to Hold the Moon” and “I Don’t Need You” are very personal and sometimes trying. Seth’s lyrics tell stories about growing up with a father that battled sobriety and a mother whose strength often overshadowed her compassion.

“I believe if you go too long without unveiling, you get a little wound up”

 Further in the interview, I wanted to know what Seth experiences when he shares his most personal stories in his songs. He describes this process of sharing as a purifying experience:

“I always feel lighter and more open. I believe if you go too long without performing or unveiling, you get a little wound up. The creative process for me might require a lot of preparation and careful thought, but the emotional process requires a lot of back and forth communication.”

Seth’s artfully constructed songs come from years of developed musicianship and dedication.

His guitarist, Ryan, grew up listening to Steve Ray Vaughn, Stevie Wonder and learning to play Motown, Soul and Rhythm and Blues. Meanwhile, Seth’s musical development started when he wrote his first song at the age of 13.

Seth developed a liking for classic song writers like Randy Newman, Billy Joel and Joni Mitchell, and he picked up the guitar and piano as musical tools that would help complete his lyrical compositions.

He also claims that learning more about music certainly helped him communicate better with people around him. It is no wonder Seth is such an intimate performer. Further, his openness and comfort in front of an audience makes the intimate concert experience a genuine one.

“I would love to play live for more people…and make a large performance seem just as intimate as the Rockwood Music Hall concert”

  I then asked Seth where he sees himself and Ryan in their career a few years down the line. Here is what he had to say:

“When people talk about a career, I feel like they’re referring to a list of checkpoints that have nothing to do with music or performing, like being on MTV. I would love to play live for more people. I would like to touch thousands of people a night and make a large performance, like one at Radio City Music Hall, seem just as intimate as the Rockwood Music Hall concert.

“I think there’s a place for intimate spaces in pop music – it’s not easy to create, but then again, most things never are.”

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