Tag: Rubicon


Stretch Yourself

I’m in the recording studio with Grammy nominated legend Ruthie Foster and award-winning singer and producer Daniel Barrett. We have joined forces to create an album together.

I’m flattered beyond belief that these two superstars want me on an album. After all, I’m relatively new to being a musician. And I’ve been a long time fan of both of them. To be in the studio with them is mind boggling.

I was so excited to record with them that I showed up for our first session thirty days early. (!)

But what’s really interesting is how we are all stretching ourselves.

For example —

Daniel Barrett, Ruthie Foster, and me, all leaving our comfort zones

Daniel Barrett, Ruthie Foster, and me

Ruthie is famous for her singing but not her lead guitar.

On our album, she is playing lead electric guitar.

Daniel does everything, from engineering to singing and more, but he doesn’t play the drums. Or at least didn’t.

On this album, he does.

I’m a newbie to music and don’t have all that much experience doing anything (even though I’ve released eight albums in over three years). I certainly am brand new and uncomfortable on the saxophone.

On this album, I am playing a baritone saxophone.

What’s going on here?

Ruthie Foster stretching

Ruthie Foster stretching

Each of us is stretching out of our comfort zones.



When you stretch your comfort zone, you reach a new level of comfort and confidence.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” – Robert Browning

When Daniel, Ruthie and I go into the studio, we talk, share, joke, and play. Out of our openness, we come up with songs. Out of our willingness to take risks, and exceed our comfort zones by pursing our desires, we create new possibilities.

The result is magic.

And some pretty cool music.

This is an important lesson for each of us.

You have “comfort zone limits,” too.

When you find them and nudge them a bit, you extend your power and attract new results.

We aren’t doing daredevil stuff in the studio.

When you look in the mirror, what do you hear?

When you look in the mirror, what do you hear?

We are taking what we haven’t done before but want to do, and focusing on making something happen by doing it.

We are simply following our inspiration and taking action to create something new.

Yes, there is often fear involved, but we feel the fear and do it, anyway.

We turn the fear into fuel.

Here’s an example —

One day, while Ruthie was playing lead electric guitar (and truly wowing me at it), I received an idea for a song.

I jotted it down.

As she kept playing, I started singing the song in my head.

The lyrics and her melody seemed to work together.

When she was done playing, I did something daring.

I said, “I want to sing!”

This was a huge move on my part.

Singing at all, any time, any place, has been a challenge for me.

I’m new at it.

I’ve been insecure about it.

And to sing for Ruthie Foster — one of the best singers I’ve ever heard in my entire life — was a courageous even outrageous thing to suggest.

Even though Ruthie had mentioned just the day before, “I like your singing, Joe. You can sing with me if you want,” I didn’t feel ready to leave my comfy mindset and step into her arena.


But I wanted to push out of my comfort zone.

My heart was racing but I knew I had to do this.

Daniel and Ruthie are loving and supportive, and urged me on.

After all, each of us was doing something new.

We were all stretching.

So I took a deep breath, got in front of the mike, and belted out my tune.

After I sang, Daniel said, “That was some of the best singing I’ve ever heard out of you.”


Adding Bari Sax

Adding Bari Sax

I looked over at Ruthie and she was beaming a sunny smile and nodding her head in agreement.

It was amazing.

Daniel’s drumming, Ruthie’s lead guitar, my vocals — it was a stretch for each of us but it all came together into a powerful new song that will be on our forthcoming first album.

And that song will probably be titled, “Stretch Yourself!”

All I’m reminding you here is do what you fear.

If you have a dream but feel nervous about it, that’s good.

It means you care.

The next step is to get up and do something about it.

Your comfort zones are invisible lines in your mind.

You can melt them with a little stepping forth.

I’m packing up my baritone saxophone and heading back to the studio right now.

It’s time for Saxman Joe to do his thing.

What are you going to do today to stretch yourself?

Ao Akua,

Saxman Joe

PS — Ruthie Foster told me she got an “Aha!” from listening to my song, ‘Reflection,’ off my latest singer-songwriter album of the same name. You can hear samples of all the tracks on that album and grab the CD (which comes with a collectible, limited edition booklet, and with a surprise gift) over at http://www.ReflectionCD.com

BONUS: If you’ve never heard Ruthie Foster sing, watch this…

Member BBB 2003 - 2015

Member BBB 2003 - 2015


The Rubicon Challenge

History tells us that in 49 B.C., Julius Caesar and his troops broke the Roman Law forbidding any general to cross the Rubicon River. It left no one in the Roman Republic with any question as to Caesar’s intention.

He had a goal.

He had a mission.

There was no turning back now.

Caesar said, “The die is cast, the game is on.”

At some point it’s wise to accept or create a “Rubicon Challenge” for yourself. It’s a way to stretch your talents, exceed your potential, dare something worthy, and achieve what others might call impossible. The line or “river” you cross is the self-imposed limitation of your own potential.

I just did that by declaring I will sing, play guitar, write songs, and record my own audio CD in 2011.

I’ve already been taking guitar lessons with Guitar Monk Mathew Dixon. And I’ve been taking singing lessons with vocal wizard Guy Monroe. I’ve seen progress and I’m having a blast.

But it’s time to go to the next level.

It’s time to cross the river of limitation.

And here’s where my own Rubicon Challenge appeared.

Back in 2006 I held a publicity stunt in Austin, Texas called The Canine Concert. It was the first ever concert for dogs, played at a sound level only canines could hear. The band that donated their time and talents was Porter Davis. It was a hot summer day but people turned out, including the media, and we all had fun. This youtube video gives you a feel for the event:

That was years ago. I hadn’t seen or heard from the band since. Recently the lead singer, Daniel Barrett, emailed me and asked to have lunch. Of course, I agreed.

dan barrett

Over Tex-Mex food and sharing, Dan (pictured with me above) told me about his new service. He offers 100 hours of personal coaching in singing, songwriting and guitar playing, ending in the studio recording five songs.  He called it a boot camp for musicians. While he wasn’t trying to sell me (as he had no idea I was already taking singing and guitar playing lessons), I began to feel that our meeting was more than a coincidence.

After lunch, I couldn’t stop thinking of Dan’s service, which he called Rubicon Artist Development. We met again a week later, shared several emails, and discussed my taking on his challenge.

I wanted to.

But I admit I was full of massive doubt.

Could I do this?

Could I write songs?

Could I play and sing well enough to be recorded?

Could I find the time to practice as well as keep up my lessons with Mathew and Guy?

I spent a lot of time thinking, dreaming, worrying and more. I’m surrounded by great musicians in my personal life, from Sarah Marie and Michelle Malone to Pat O’Bryan and of course Mathew Dixon. (Mathew and Michelle pictured below.)

michelle malone mathew dixon

But knowing they can play great music didn’t make my decision any either.

I was still nervous about taking the challenge.

Until I realized that if I had this much excitement as well as apprehension, then I had to do the challenge.

As I wrote in my book The Attractor Factor, my rule of thumb is to follow goals that scare you a little and excite you a lot. If I’m giving that advice to others, then I need to take it myself.

I accepted Dan’s Rubicon Challenge.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because in 2011 I’m going to announce a movie project and a challenge for you revolving around Miracles Coaching. You’ll hear about it and it will interest you. But most likely you’ll have questions, concerns, fears and doubts.

Accept them, investigate them, and release them.

You grow stronger and wiser when you accept the challenge you know you want.

I’ve accepted another one.

What will yours be?

Ao Akua,


PS – Dan’s Rubicon Challenge site is right here.

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