Stillwater Black came together in 1991 when Chris Thayer met Ahmed and Sam Pierstorff while playing in the pit band for a high school musical production. Issac McCorkell was quickly recruited on drums and the band recorded its first EP, The Last Virtuous Lady of Athens.

In 1995 they signed with Cleaves Entertainment, a now-defunct independent label based out of Southern California's Inland Empire. Stillwater Black recorded their debut LP, Adam. They played frequently with local and national acts including Dishwalla, Save Ferris, Reel Big Fish, and IE punk/ska mainstays, The Skeletones.

In 1997 the members parted ways and the project lay dormant for two decades.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Loss and recovery

. . . or have everything ripped away!

Our cover of I've Just Seen a Face is now streaming.

We've received some lovely notes from you, and there's an interesting theme:

"Fun to hear something warm & fuzzy, and upbeat. Love it!"

"My day was blah and listening to this was uplifting, refreshing. I LOVE IT <3"

"Very beautiful, uplifting song."

Upbeat. Uplifting. Refreshing. All of these words are very important reminders of where I am emotionally when I'm working my personal recovery program. A big part of that program is honoring my creative instincts and I thank God for a writing partner like Chris who took the lead in getting this song out there. Thank you, Chris!!!

I want to share a little more about the last two years and the events that drove me into a reconsideration of, well, pretty much everything.

But rather than drag things out with some endless story (cause I could seriously go on and on and on . . .), I think the best thing to do is to put together a couple of lists to illustrate what will eventually be the point of this post: we may lose things, but, with the right mindset, there's a whole lot more to be gained.

I'll kick off the list with my first major loss beginning in 2015, my (most recent) divorce. Everything else kind of tumbled out of that.


My wife of fifteen years left.
After months in court, she took the kids.
Despite a recent promotion, I couldn't function, so I lost my job.
I was running a side-business that I no longer had the energy for, so I lost that.
With legal bills piling up, I went into serious debt.
I could no longer afford rent and I lost my home.
With no family, no business, and no home, my reputation took a serious hit.
The polarizing effects of a bitter divorce put distance between me and my community.
I moved in with my father who took seriously ill and is now on hospice care.
When he dies, I have no idea where I'll go.

That's a whole heap of loss. Any one of those things would represent a significant setback for most of us. But here's the amazing reality behind the losses. They are all, ultimately, external things.

The wife, kids, the job and business, the money and home, and even my dad. Important things, but things nonetheless.

I'm alive and breathing, though. And I'm writing and creating. I'm even smiling as I type this. And that is a function of some serious gains to come out of all of that loss. I'll be a little bit bolder:

This next list could not have happened without the losses.


Having nothing forced me to adopt greater humility.
I have gained insight into my own strength and endurance.
With no way to fight the beat-down, I have become significantly more patient.
My spiritual resolve has deepened, along with my faith and hope for better days.
I have no real choice but to accept and resign myself to my circumstances.
Finding a way to live through this forces me to be creative, flexible, and open.
Staying in the creative flow requires that I be increasingly receptive to what life offers.
And with that receptivity comes a level of emotional transparency.
And all of that puts me back in touch with my music.

Through that music, I can take all of the above, process it and share it. I can convert everything, the gains and the losses, into something beautiful that can be sent out into the world to be appreciated, or at the very least, considered.

But most importantly, you'll see that these gains are not external things. These are character traits, one's very self, expanded through loss into a new and significantly improved consciousness.

Which leads to perhaps the single greatest gain of all: gratitude.

The next time you listen to I've Just Seen a Face, I hope you can hear that: gratitude for what we have along with faith, hope, and the exciting promise of all to come!

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. And thanks always, friends, for being both our teachers and our lessons.

Addendum (12/5):

You guys are so awesome! I need to clarify the "lost my job" thing! I've received some offers for employment and a very concerned call from my mom!

I am working. I have a job. And it's great!

What happened is that, just before the divorce, I received a promotion. I took the position, but because of all of the domestic distractions, I couldn't handle the increased responsibilities. I was asked to step down from that role. That was the job I "lost." But I've been working as a nurse with the same company since 2000 and they were super awesome about reassigning me to a position that actually allows me to work from home.

So I'm good. But you can still send me boatloads of cash and baked lasagna. 'Cause you can never be too good :)


  1. All of it, the losses and gains are part of our own individual "Es Muss Sein" (German for "It must be" - taken from a Beethoven composition - in referring to those things of fate that are interchangeably heavy and light). It's an interesting concept illustrated in The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera :)

    1. Only you could pack a language, music, and art lesson into one philosophical reflection :)