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My name is Jay and I'm a music teacher from Philadelphia. I run a music program that teaches little kids (infants to 9 year-olds) and their families about the world by singing global songs. I live in West Philadelphia with my wife, Lauren, our three girls (15, 12 and 1-) and our dog, Squirrel.
For the last few years my family and I have been traveling extensively in the summertime. I play concerts, sometimes in libraries and children's museums, but often in friends' living rooms and back yards. My kids all sing and play instruments in my band -- viola, ukulele and drum kit.
For example, during the summer of 2019 the family and I jumped the Atlantic to play concerts and met extraordinary people in Europe. We were giddy about the idea of traveling on the continent -- Switzerland, Italy, France/Germany/the Netherlands/Luxembourg/Czechia/Austria/Liechtenstein/Serbia/Croatia. We stayed with two dozen Couchsurfing hosts! We had the most incredible time.
Are you open to hosting a friendly musical family? We don't know where we'll be traveling next, but we consider all invitations. We're good guests -- very easy. We don't all need our own beds; we can sleep with blankets on a floor. We would love to share songs and stories of our travels and friendship. As an exchange, not only would we help you cook dinner and clean the chicken coop, but would you want a concert? We would enthusiastically play a concert for young children in your community when we're visiting, if not in your home or back yard then for your neighbors at a neighborhood space or park. It would be a friendly show, no payment for us, full of singing, dancing and happiness. If you'd like links to photos and videos of me and my kids performing so you'll know what kind of concert we bring, let me know and I'll be happy to share them.
As for hosting, we have a great old house in Philadelphia and host travelers all the time, though not through Couchsurfing.com -- friends, family members, musicians, artists, activists, random lovely people. Our house is always full and we seem to fill our rooms far in advance, but feel free to check to see if we have a spot open for you on the calendar.
We've had such fantastic experiences hosting people from everywhere everywhere everywhere. Our recent most favorite guests were six Taiwanese dentists. So much fun staying up late with them talking about teeth and Taiwanese politics.
We look forward to meeting you.
Why I’m on Couchsurfing
I've backpacked a lot, toured the U.S. to play music (and slept on couches), toured Europe for with a Eurail pass (slept in trains), spent months in Africa always grateful to be invited for days or weeks to stay with people I've met on the bus... I love connecting with people and expanding my knowledge of humans. Couchsurfing is such a beautiful thing, a project that makes us all better for the joy people share by meeting each other. I'm all in favor.
The last few years I've been diving deep into "world" music, specifically how music and culture overlap and interact. Being a devoted father and West Philadelphia organizer I'm also always interested in anything relating to children, families and creating nurturing communities.
My family and I love animals. We're particularly wild about dogs, though we enjoy animals of any sort. We love to eat -- we do it most every day! We're so enthusiastic about trying new food.
- world music
Music, Movies, and Books
Musically my tastes range incredibly far and wide -- all nations, all genres, all time periods are fair game. I have no boundaries, which makes my Spotify playlists huge and unpredictable.If you made me choose a favorite international genrea I'd say I'm most a fan of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti in particular, though other African musicians like Oliver Mtukudzi are close in line, and more recently homegrown groups like the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars and the Malawi Mouse Boys. Balkan Brass -- yes! -- especially Romani, like Taraf de Haidouks. (and Balkan Beat Box, so Balkan-inspired.) I love Brazilian percussion groups like Olodum. Tuvan throat singing has always been a favorite, especially Alash Ensemble. Mongolian band Hanngai is a favorite, and Kazakh singer-songwriter Mamer...okay, don't get me started. Oh, and the American musical "Hamilton" -- our kids know every word.
When I reach for a book it's also from any country. I know it's heavy but I love Russian authors like Dostoevsky. I could read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Hundred Years of Solitude" a hundred times. I keep rereading Achebe's "Things Fall Apart." With modern authors I really enjoyed Orhan Pamuk's "Snow," Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Half of a Yellow Sun" and Viet Thanh Nguyen's "The Sympathizer." Paul Harding's "Tinkers" too -- a recent favorite.
Movies, ack, the same thing -- all across the board. Focusing on English-language movies, I guess, comedies, I could watch "This is Spinal Tap" again and again. The Monty Python movies of course. So many good movies. This last year or two we so fully enjoyed "Moonlight," though we're not alone. Just thinking of the music and story of "Once" makes me cry. My wife and I will watch a documentary from anywhere around the world on any depressing topic. If you haven't seen "Hoop Dreams" it's a fantastic documentary -- only halfway depressing. We like Werner Herzog documentaries too. That guy in "Grizzly Man" should have known that making friends with a 500 pound bear would lead to no good....
One Amazing Thing I’ve Done
Only one amazing thing...? That's hard. Backpacking around Africa with guitar in hand can't be beat. Flying to Zimbabwe with the name of a contact in hand, planning to write an article about him and his community -- long story, for another time -- but, in the age before the internet, not really being able to get verification that he'd be there. So, going to his small city armed with just a name (no address, just a p.o. box), hoping to find him by just asking around...and I did, and had a wonderful time. Oh, and I traveled to Angkor Wat in Cambodia from Vietnam in the middle of a coup, and was literally one of only a handful of tourists there. And I sold carpets to unsuspecting tourists in Istanbul for a stretch. My "uncle Ray who owns a carpet shop...?" Not really my uncle.
Teach, Learn, Share
The last few years I've become geekily encyclopedically knowledgeable about music genres and world cultures. I do my main work with little kids and love spending time and making music with little ones. My family I and I can share songs and stories from travels and general joy.
What I Can Share with Hosts
Music! My family and I will definitely have our instruments. We'll gladly sing for our supper. In general we can share our kindness, our willingness to have adventures and our enthusiasm about meeting wonderful people from everywhere in the world.
Countries I’ve Visited
Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mali, Netherlands, Russian Federation, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe
Countries I’ve Lived In