‘For the Sender’ creator and friends to perform for Bro-Am Foundation

DelMarTimes

After the 2008 death of his beloved dog and the downfall of his record deal, Leucadia singer-songwriter Alex Woodard looked for a sign. He instead received a letter.

“When the record deal fell apart, everything else fell apart,” Woodard said. “You make a lot of sacrifices for this job. After 15 years, when you look at your hands and they still look kind of empty, it’s a pretty sobering feeling.”

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That step backward may be a step forward

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I did something in the second book that I wondered if readers would notice. It comes in a chapter called ‘The Step’ and only one person has ever said anything to me about it, when the horse in this photo takes a step backwards to me in trust. And everything changed.

Did anybody out there notice what else changed in the narrative in that moment?

Once a week we’re posting my thoughts on the message from each For The Sender chapter, making our way through both books and giving away a book autographed by the For The Sender family each time.

Here’s Chapter 4, Book 2. Tell us 1) what changed in the story when the horse took a step backward (hint: it’s one word), and 2) how you’ve taken a step forward by taking a step backward, and we’ll choose a post and send you a book autographed by the For The Sender family.

For The Sender Holiday Concert featured in Ranch & Coast Magazine

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For The Sender, a book, album, and concert series by author and musician Alex Woodard that turns letters into songs, is hosting a benefit concert on Sunday, December 14, at Belly Up Tavern. Featuring well-known musicians including Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, Sara and Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), Jordan Pundik (New Found Glory), Molly Jenson, Nena Anderson, Andy Powers, and Woodard, the show will benefit the Switchfoot Bro-Am Foundation, which provides grants to local beneficiary partners that support at-risk children facing adversity and hardship in their lives. Additional special guests will be announced closer to the show.

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Veterans Day surprise

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I’m giving you a piece of the new book today. I guess this is kind of the book’s pre-birthday, since it will be released on Veterans Day of next year. The book (and songs) revolved around letters from the solider in this photo, but who writes him back will remain a mystery for now.

And as for the piece of the new book, this is from the moments after I read the first letter from the solider:

I get up from my desk with the letter still in hand and walk upstairs from the studio to the first notes of the national anthem coming through the tinny television speakers.

Football is on. I stop at the top of the stairs and this seems to happen every time football is on and I’m alone in my living room. I put my hand over my heart and sing along and the air catches in my throat and while I’m proud to be an American, just like I’m proud to be my parents’ kid and my dog’s dad, I don’t think it’s pride that makes the air catch in my throat.

When I see the images on television of the men and women in uniform carrying the flag, and the jets flying overhead and the fireworks going off and the players crossing themselves, somewhere deep in me the uniform and jets and flag and fireworks and players crossing themselves become something else.

The men and women in uniform become those who fight, the jets become how they fight, and the fireworks become the fight.

And the flag becomes the freedom they fight for, if not now, then in another era when freedom was threatened, the same freedom that allows those players to cross themselves, and for that I am grateful, enough to almost cry during the national anthem at a football game in the sacred solitary freedom of my living room.

Happy Veterans Day.

Love letters from Vietnam

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I’m on a plane right now holding a box to the floor with my feet, because I feel like I need to stay in constant contact with it until I get it safely home. The words ‘Love Letters From Vietnam’ are etched on top, and inside is a treasure of letters and photographs that I’m going to write songs about and share with you.

These letters and photographs from a Vietnam vet are the inspiration for the next For The Sender book and album, which will come out on Veteran’s Day next year. Between now and then, I’m going to share the photographs and letters with you one at a time as I write songs about them, with some talented (and surprise) guests helping out and sometimes taking the reins.

We’re about to go on a journey, you and I.

Buckle up.

When darkness calls, answer with a spark.

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I remember playing the songs we wrote for Scarlett Lewis in my manager’s apartment in SoHo. Scarlett had sent me two letters about losing her young son in the shootings at Sandy Hook and didn’t know we were there to play for her. The experience was one I’ll never forget, one I’ve written about it before both here and in the second For The Sender book.

But the one thing I remember most is what she said about what she hoped her deep loss would accomplish.

She said she hoped the shooting of her son would shine a light on a deficit in this world.

I hope I’ve helped shine a small light.

Once a week we’re posting my thoughts on the message from each For The Sender chapter, making our way through both books and giving away a book autographed by the For The Sender family each time.

Here’s Chapter 3, Book 2. Share your story of answering darkness with light in the comments below and we’ll choose a post and send you a book autographed by the For The Sender family.

You don’t need a map with your heart as a compass

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Everything was black after the fire swept through our canyon with the trails heading up into the mountains covered in ash, landmarks and trees burned to nothing, and maps rendered useless. On our first ride after the fire, I let Annie choose the route and she’d find stretched of trail here and there. But mostly it was all instinct, which reminded me of how that road less traveled can be so beautiful, especially using some sort of internal compass to guide the next steps instead of a map.

I’ve tried to follow a lot of maps in my life, maps showing the trails blazed by my heroes, trails I tried to follow only to find that I had to find my own.

Once a week we’re posting my thoughts on the message from each For The Sender chapter, making our way through both books and giving away a book autographed by the For The Sender family each time.

Here’s Chapter 2, Book 2. Have you ever found that your more beautiful route was followed using your compass, instead of a map? Share your story in the comments below and we’ll choose a post and send you a book autographed by the For The Sender family.