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 January 16, 2024

The guys loved the new NB-NS hoodies we gave out for Christmas...
Proud to know each of these men  (including our beloved webslinger and New Beginnings-Next Step group facilitator Rotten Dan who's also sporting our official logo ballcap)

Hi Friends!

Hope 2024 is off to a great start for you. It's shaping up to be very busy for me.

I've got some exciting shows coming up this year, both locally and nationally. I'll be telling you more about these in coming weeks and months. But for now, I hope my friends in Maryland will come out and see me this weekend. I'll be in Aberdeen this Saturday night, January 20th.


Then, I'll be returning to one of my favorite house concerts in the whole country the following day when I visit Rockville, MD on January 21st to perform in the Folk 'N Great Music series. Reservations can be made through this link:

I sure hope to see you.

In other news , we're wrapping up the recording of (I think) my fourteenth album. I truly believe it contains some of the best songs I've ever written, and my friend Harvey has once again blown me away with his production. I can't wait for folks to hear this one. Stay tuned!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who donated to my non-profit New Beginnings-Next Step in 2023! Your ongoing support is making a real difference in the lives of the men we work with. In the past year, New Beginnings-Next Step has had some exciting developments, including:

–The formation of a second weekly peer support group at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution. This group is run by an entirely new volunteer team (in 20 years, this is the first time we’ve sponsored a group in which I am not directly involved. I realized that we needed to move beyond my personal participation in every group if we are to meet future challenges).

– The introduction of a new group facilitator who himself was a former New Beginnings member and did thirteen years in prison. He now goes back inside with us each week to help men prepare for the challenges of freedom. This man is a hero and powerful symbol of hope to our incarcerated members. (I hope someday to have many more returning citizens on our volunteer teams. This represented a big change in DOC policy which took me years of lobbying to bring about.)

– The approval by the new warden in Georgetown, DE to begin a New Beginnings group at the Sussex Correctional Institution. 

Also, recently three returning citizens who had each just competed extremely long prison sentences were recently “flowed down” or fast-tracked for early completion of probation. When asked why, their Probation Officers sited weekly attendance at our Next Step meetings as indication of the men’s serious intent to make a fresh start. Word about us is evidently getting around.

Your donations helped us provide weekly bus passes and grocery store gift-cards, as well as other special-needs items, to our returning citizen members. I hope you will continue to follow and support the work of New Beginnings-Next Step as we continue our fight against recidivism by accompanying men from incarceration to freedom. We believe people change because of relationships. You help us make these relationships possible. 

Much love,



November 30, 2023

Hi Friends,

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

My annual holiday show to benefit Camp Dreamcatcher will take place on Saturday December 9th at the Kennett Flash in Kennett Square, PA. They tell me I've been doing these shows for something like 27 years now, so I guess this definitely qualifies as a tradition. I hope you'll come out and help support this very special therapeutic summer camp for kids dealing with AIDS/HIV. There's more information here:

On Thursday December 14th, I'll be performing a few songs at the screening of a very special documentary called "The Long Journey Home" that deals with the challenges combat veterans faced as they returned from Vietnam. The film will be shown at Jamey's House of Music in. Lansdowne, PA. You can find out more here:

There's a lot happening with New Beginnings-Next Step these days. There's been so much interest in the peer support groups we run for incarcerated and returning citizens that we've added a second weekly meeting at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution. We're also continuing in the Plummer Community Correctional Facility, and starting in January, we've been approved to begin weekly New Beginnings meetings at the Sussex County Correctional Institution down in Georgetown, Delaware.

These new groups will mean more guys to help with weekly bus passes and grocery store gift cards in the new year. I always try to do an annual fundraising concert for NBNS, but a variety of reasons made that impossible this year, so I will be performing a special "MY B.A.D." (Busk After Dusk) on Friday night, December 15th, at 7PM for NBNS. You can watch the show on Facebook ( or YouTube ( And I hope you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to the work of our non-profit New Beginnings-Next Step Inc. through this Paypal link:

I've recently been reminded that gratitude in life doesn't follow joy as much as joy seems to be a byproduct of remaining grateful. I believe this to be true and I'm deeply grateful for all your support in my work.

Peace and good on you,


Going "Over the Edge" for Camp Dreamcatcher.
My sainted wife Beth can be seen waiting below.

October 9, 2023

Hi All,

Just a quick note to tell you I survived my fundraising adventure with Camp Dreamcatcher where I managed to face up to my discomfort with heights by rappelling down the side of an eight-story building in Kennett Square, PA. It was truly an amazing experience. I was especially gratified to exceed my fundraising goal for Camp, and would like to thank all of you who donated so generously!

I had a blast opening for my longtime friend Dar Williams last Friday at the Arden Gild Hall in Wilmington. Dar is a deeply committed and extremely generous artist. I really enjoyed getting to hear her again, as well as share some of my songs and stories with her audience. I was especially heartened by the enthusiastic response to the three brand new tunes I included in my set.

In other news, New Beginnings-Next Step is proud to be taking part in Delaware Peace Week, nine days of free statewide events to promote community solutions that will “bring Delawareans more peace”. Please join me at the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew on Wednesday night October 11th (and yeah, I know there's a Phillies game!), where several of our returning citizen members and volunteers will speak about creating hope and building resilience through the power of relationship. The church is at 719 Shipley St, Wilmington, Delaware, 19801. I'm deeply proud to be friends with all the folks who will be speaking. I anticipate a very special evening and I hope you'll think about joining us.

Finally, I’ll be doing a house concert in Flourtown PA at Another Chance Café on October 28th. Reservations are required. For more info simply email concert hosts Eric & Jenny at: with subject line reading "John Flynn House Concert at Another Chance Cafe”.

Below, I'll leave you with the lyrics to another new song. Thanks for your continued support of my work.


A Simple Song of Peace

A couple nights ago I dreamt I wrote a special song
It wasn’t complicated and it wasn’t very long
I took my old guitar and went and played it in the streets
And people gathered round to hear a simple song of peace

What started as a tiny crowd would soon become a throng
And everyone who heard me sing began to sing along
Their voices then were lifted up and carried on the breeze
Til all across the land was heard a simple song of peace

From East and West from North and South I heard a single choir
The singing seemed to take away our fear though times were dire
Then news came from around the world that war and violence ceased
As love at last was set free by a simple song of peace

I shook my head remembering the long and lonely years
When every song I wrote would seem to fall upon deaf ears
Yet all those moments of self-doubt had somehow lead to these
Tears filled my eyes then as I sang that simple song of peace

A child in the crowd came up and tugged upon my sleeve
He said you’re only dreaming John and now it’s time to leave
And just before I woke I whispered to myself oh please
When you wake do not forget the simple song of peace

I woke and lay in darkness in those hours before the dawn
Anguished to discover that the song of peace was gone
'Til birds outside my window started singing in the trees
And I smiled to hear again a simple song of peace

There’s a simple song of peace in each and every thing
Rocks and birds and trees and waters if we’re listening
We’re all radios tuned in to quantum frequencies
The universe is singing us a simple song of peace

(c) 2023 Flying Stone Music

Leaving the field at Citizens Bank Park with my ukulele after singing in the seventh-inning stretch.
The Phillies beat the Angels (they usually win when I sing...).

September 23, 2023

Hi Friends,

A while back I wrote a song called "Trust the Rope". Now, it looks like I'm going to have a chance to put my money (or at least my body) where my mouth is.

On Friday morning, September 29th, I will attempt to rappel down the side of an eight story building in Kennett Square, PA to raise $1000 for Camp Dreamcatcher.

Those of you who have followed my music know that I've been involved with Dreamcatcher, a therapeutic summer camp for kids dealing with AIDS/HIV, from their start 27 years ago, doing annual summer concerts and winter fund-raisers for their kids. The courage of the young people I've met at Camp over the years has never failed to inspire me. Indeed, that's partly why I'm doing this. You see, I'm not real crazy about heights.

About a year before he passed away, I met Bruce “Utah” Philips, who invited me to his home and showed me an immense tree house he was having built in a redwood that towered above his backyard. He explained that he’d always had a terrible fear of heights, and knew he was running out of time to do something about it.

I'll be thinking of Bruce Friday morning as I lean back and... step off. I hope you'll consider supporting my little waltz with gravity by making a donation here:

Honestly, the whole thing has been weighing on me a bit. We Irish appreciate a bit of dark irony, and at one point I laughed out loud when it occurred to me that, should anything go wrong, at least I'd die while I was alive. Of course, I can't let the idea for a good song title go to waste. This is one of two lyrics that followed:










On Friday night at 7PM, you can tune into MY B.A.D (Busk At Dusk) concert on my Facebook page ( or YouTube ( to hear how it all went down.

In other news, I’ll be part of the Greenwich Village Folk Festival this Sunday, October 1st. Here's a link to the online show:

I'm also looking forward to opening for my old friend Dar Williams at Delaware’s Arden Gild Hall on October 6th-

See you soon (I hope)!

Peace and good on you,

(c) Flying Stone Music


August 4, 2023

John will be at Jamey's House of Music in Lansdowne, PA on August 11th.

John after debuting his song "Deeper Family" in Washington, DC in 2022.


John will be appearing at the National Convention of Vietnam Veterans of America this week in Orlando, Florida.

Hi Friends,

Just a quick note to let you know I've got a couple appearances I'm really looking forward to coming up this week. On Thursday, August 10th I'll be in Orlando, FL for the opening of the 21st biennial national convention of Vietnam Veterans of America. The following evening I'll be doing a show closer to home at my new favorite venue, Jamey's House of Music in Lansdowne, PA (

Other upcoming gigs include my annual concert for the kids at Camp Dreamcatcher, a therapeutic summer camp for kids dealing with AIDS/HIV (, and a performance at the annual gala for the Delaware Innocence Mission (

You can keep up these and other upcoming events through the shows link on my web site.

Here's a link to a recent interview I did with Philly Folk Scene –

Hope to see you soon.

Peace and good on you,


June 9, 2023

Hi Friends,

I'll be doing a concert this week at Delaware's beautiful Bellevue State Park. (



Finishing the Rock Hall Triathlon on the eastern shore of the
Chesapeake Bay a few days after my 66th birthday


Last week, I received a photo on my phone. I haven't reposted it because I don't want to violate anyone's privacy, but it was a beautiful picture of two men shaking hands.

One of the men in the picture is a good friend, a New Beginnings-Next Step alum who I'd met in prison seven or eight years ago. Although this gentleman moved out of state shortly after prison, he has continued to be an integral part of our returning citizens community and is a regular attender of our Next Step zoom meetings.

My friend has also been very successful. He started with a job flipping burgers and has parlayed hard work and incredible perseverance into a regional manager position for a well-known chicken chain where mentors and impacts the lives of the many young people he hires. He often shares his personal history with these kids so that they will know that today's story doesn't always have to be tomorrow's. Anyway, this evening my friend sent me the picture of a man he'd met who was living on the street.

My friend notices the world and will not simply step over someone down on their luck. He remembers too well what it means to be in that situation himself. The homeless man was beaming and wearing the uniform of an employee. He was shaking my friend's hand, having just started his new job. The caption beneath the photo read 'this is how we save lives'.

I've met so many men that the world has at one point judged to be disposable. In New Beginnings- Next Step we reject that label. And we send each other pictures as proof.

On the day before my 66th birthday, a relative of mine asked me how I could possibly choose to have gray whiskers on my face' especially since my hair color hasn't really changed too noticeably yet. I wasn't sure if he was suggesting I color my beard or shave it off, but he simply couldn't understand how I could opt to look so' old.

Birthday candles can always be a cause for some reflection and this question certainly contributed to that impulse.

What does it mean to be old' Beyond the date on your drivers license I mean. How does it affect your life' What is, as William James would say, the cash value'

I know that's a big question and one that would change from person to person. So far, my family and I have been very lucky with health stuff, so that lets me focus on other aspects of aging.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, at this time in my life, I believe I'm writing better, worrying less, and loving more deeply. I'm experiencing more awe and gratitude each day than at any time in my life since I was a boy' I'm enjoying knowing my kids as adults and cheering them on as they embark of their own journeys, and oh yeah, moreover I'm a freakin' grandpa, which is one of the best gigs in the world.

And, just my opinion here, if there's one thing this society could use it's more folks who embrace rather than avoid the role of elder. I think it's something that our young people both long for and need. So, there's a reason to do this aging thing as well as we can.

Of course, it takes longer to do some stuff. And I do find the occasional line to my song playing hide and seek with my memory as I'm performing. Also, and this is hard, at this age you've begun to lose folks. Friends. Relatives. The world is diminished with these losses. And I realize the goodbyes will only continue and grow more frequent with time.

But that's kind of the deal, right' You hit the lottery and beat the four hundred trillion-to-one odds against you ever drawing breath in this universe, and you have to accept at some point that there will come a time to pony up. And strange as it seems, even this can make this whole ride more precious. More sacred. Also (I know this isn't for everyone but) I've got a faith, maybe more of a trust, that even death doesn't get the final word.

So, I guess, at least for the time being, I'll keep the beard (but without the shoe polish).



I'm really excited about how the next album is shaping up. Below are the lyrics of a couple of my newest songs. One was inspired by an anonymous prayer I received from my friend Greg Boyle at Homeboy Industries. The other came from an article in the New York Times last week about the commissioning of a new ferry up in New York. They named the vessel after a hero of mine.









' 2023 Flying Stone Music











' 2023 Flying Stone Music

Also included on the album will be "Deeper Family", the song I wrote for Vietnam veterans. I've been asked to perform this song in August at the opening of Vietnam Veterans of America convention in Orlando.

Peace and good on you,


Look for John's new singles "Here Be Dragons" and "Slaughter of the Innocents" wherever digital music is offered.

April 15, 2023

Hi Everybody!

Hope you're all doing well! We're having a beautiful spring here in the Mid Atlantic and I'm busier than have been for quite a while. I'll singing up in New England next weekend (info below) and I'm releasing two singles in advance of the road trip. Both songs speak directly to urgent issues that confront us. "Slaughter of the Innocents" wasn't originally a planned release. I wrote the song last year after Uvalde, but hesitated to share it. Afterall, I already put a song out a song after Sandy Hook just over ten years ago called "You Can't Tell". I would have never envisioned the need to write and record a second song about the massacre of school children in my country. (Tragically naive, huh') Anyway, I had to get it out there.

The release of "Here Be Dragons", my new song about global warming, was however planned to come out now in time for Earth Day. You can check them out here:'si=147e0b1e3561499fbf184b7786186e29&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing'si=ae91362b501a40cb954d84bb6f82504b&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

We've recently started two additional weekly groups for men in reentry. One at the Plummer Correctional Center (where we had been for many years before the pandemic) and one at Project New Start on the campus of Widener Law School. Project New Start provides classes for returning citizens, primarily to help them find and hold jobs upon release from prison. I've always been a big fan of theirs and was delighted to find that they were interested in integrating weekly New Beginnings meetings for their pupils.

Another new development - which for me is very exciting... Recently, a dear friend of mine became the first returning citizen to begin working with me as a weekly New Beginnings volunteer inside a prison.

Including returning citizen volunteers in our work inside the penitentiaries has been a dream of mine for many years. But a couple things always stood in the way of it becoming a reality. The first was the Department Of Corrections' policy prohibiting the formerly-incarcerated from volunteering inside prison for at least seven years after the completion of their release. While many of our Next Step members remain close, a lot of life happens in seven years and very few men remain active in our program for that length of time. Families and jobs, all the things that constitute successful reentry, intervene and responsibilities increase to the point that they simply don't have the time - or the urgent need - for weekly involvement. They are not returning citizens. They are not returned citizens. They are just citizens. And this is as it should be.

Just prior to the pandemic I sat with the Commissioner of Corrections and the Chief of the Bureau of Prisons and explained that, as good a job as I felt my teams were doing, volunteers who had been through and overcome the challenges of incarceration and reentry would raise our game immeasurably. My example of AA meetings being run by folks who had never taken a drink seemed to resonate and I was eventually told that the number of post-prison years would be reduced to three.

My next obstacle was one I didn't really anticipate. I have worked with hundreds of incarcerated and retuning citizens over the years and they are truly some of the most courageous people it has ever been my privilege to know. But when I approached several about going back into prison as weekly volunteers, they all said no. Some balked at the intrusive paperwork needed to obtain security clearances. Some simply said they'd never go inside a place like that again.

One of our guys, Greg, did agree to go back inside as a guest speaker. Although the policy had been altered, real change often happens slowly, and the warden would only grant him one-time access. Greg's talk and subsequent Q&A in the prison chapel drew a huge crowd (including the warden). He spoke eloquently of his time in the prison, of what our program had been to him ' how he had found some peace for the first time in his life ' and how he had navigated the many pitfalls that awaited him and threatened his recovery when he got out. The reception he got from the offenders present was incredible and, afterwards, men in DOC whites closed in around him like he was a rockstar. He was a symbol of hope, and there may be nothing more powerful to a man in prison. Greg's talk only strengthened my resolve that we needed returning citizens as facilitators.

Six months ago, I approached my friend Ty about joining our Tuesday night team at Gander Hill. Like Greg, Ty is one of my heroes. He's been out about four years now and has been unwavering in his commitment to staying out of prison. 'Up To Staying Free' as our T-shirts say. Ty immediately shot down my request. 'No offense, John. But no way', he said.

Seven or eight weeks later I ran into Ty on the street and as we were catching up he said, 'By the way' Yes.' I instantly knew what he was talking about. He said the idea had taken root in his heart and he wanted to go back inside with us.

When Ty got cleared and finally walked with us through the long bleak hallways and sally ports of Gander Hill, I watched him carefully. He was clearly anxious. His eyes went everywhere. Especially to the faces of the men. Whenever we'd pass a line of offenders, Ty would say, 'What's up, fellas' (About this he later said, 'I had to speak to them. Those men were me').

Ty's presence in group was powerful. Relaxed but with the low voltage hum of electricity. He spoke in open, unguarded, and deeply truthful ways. Word of his presence had preceded him, and we had our biggest post-pandemic attendance so far.

I've been running these groups in prison for almost eighteen years and never once had a man say as Ty did, 'You all know what I'm talking about. You all know what it's like when they turn the lights off at night and you turn to the wall in your bunk while tears roll down your face.' At these words each man in the room lowered his gaze and nodded silently.

As the men pressed in around Ty at the end of last night's group, one older African American gentleman who'd been "down for a minute' (which in the understated language of prison means had served a significant amount of time) declared it the best group he'd ever been to. I thought of Steven Stills' words. Something's happening here. And I can't wait to see where it takes us. Welcome to the team, Ty!

In other news I was honored to be asked to take part in a recent "Wisdom of the Elders" podcast for the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance. The other guys on the panel were my friends John McCutcheon and Charlie King. I found it to be a genuine and surprisingly emotional conversation. I'm including a link:

Below are a few upcoming appearances. I hope to see you soon.


Friday April 21, Roots and Wings Coffeehouse, Norwich, VT

Saturday April 22, Maple Street Coffeehouse, Danvers, MA


January 30, 2023

Proud parents Beth and I on our son Cole's wedding day.
Welcome to the family, Amanda!

Photo by Dan Rottenberk

Hello Friends,

I wanted to pass on some lines recently sent to me by my friend Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries and author of the best-selling book "Tattoos on the Heart". I had written to Father G seeking his advice as I second guessed some recent decisions regarding one of our returning citizens who was slipping quickly back into a devastating opiate addiction. Father pointed out to me that I was making the situation too much about myself (this is a lesson I seem to have to learn repeatedly). His (very) early morning email from Los Angeles gently reminded me that in dealing with our brothers and sisters, especially those whom our society has casually disdained or demonized, heroes are rarely required. He went on to assure me that our shared humanity does assign to us a humbler but far more essential role. A role beautifully illustrated by these simple words:

An unnamed medicine woman writes this prayer.

"I will not rescue you,
For you are not powerless.
I will not fix you,
For you are not broken.
I will not heal you,
For I see you in your wholeness.
I will walk with you through the darkness,
As you remember your light."

As Father G wrote, "I'll have what she's having".

Below are a few upcoming appearances. I hope to see you soon.


Friday, February 3, Lansdowne, PA
Jamey's House of Music,

Sunday, February 5, Online
Greenwich Village Folk Festival
Vance Gilbert   Walter Parks   Guy Davis   Lea Morris  John Flynn   Josh White Jr.   Bob Bossin   Mad Agnes Trio   John Forster   Steve Eriksson   Ron Olesko - Emcee   Sonny Ochs - Emcee 

Friday, February 10, Tuckerton, NJ
Lizzie Rose Music Room



Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

This will be a short note as I'm only temporarily settled into a comfortable chair after a day of chores as Beth and I get set to host our kids and grandkids for the big feast tomorrow. The day will include the usual wonderful food and the now traditional post-meal visit by one of Santa's helpers for a family singalong.


This rig came with a big bushy beard but my grandkids yanked it off as they saw almost immediately through my charade. Fortunately, my natural whiskers are now approaching the appropriate snowiness.

In response to some requests to resume my online shows, I will be doing a Busk After Dusk this Friday, November 25th at 7PM. The show will stream live on the links below '



Twitter: @singwriter

I also wanted to let folks know that my annual Holiday Concert Benefiting Camp Dreamcatcher, a therapeutic summer camp for kids dealing with AIDS/HIV, will take place Friday December 9th at Kelly's Music Center in Havertown, PA.:'fbclid=IwAR19dRiGSHTkE9bEOvNa79Z02cbuSFJ5dmRLKcW8eTCyMylDRbsoEzLExTQ

I'm deeply grateful for many things this year, not least among them are the many amazing people that I've met through music. Thank you for your continued support and spirit. I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and that I'll see you soon.

Much love,


Delaware News Journal Cover Story

Hi Friends,

I hope this note finds you well.

Things here definitely haven't been dull as Beth and I are recovering from our first bouts of COVID. Fortunately, we were both fully boosted and came through just fine (although more than a week after quarantine I'm still quite a bit slower on my morning trail runs).

I truly enjoyed working with the wonderful Christine Lavin as a co-emcee of this year's 60th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival. Among the highlights for me was getting to introduce the amazing Livingston Taylor who had given me some VERY honest feedback on my fledgling efforts as a songwriter some forty years ago. Rather than take the easy way out and offering some (at that point) probably unmerited praise of my early efforts, Livingston took the time to listen thoroughly and then challenged me to work harder and aim higher; to study the greats and go more deeply into my craft . I took his words seriously, and rather than latch on to some obvious potential for discouragement, I internalized and took up his challenge.

I always felt Livingston helped me become a better songwriter and always wanted to tell him this. So, it was a real gift to get the opportunity to acknowledge this debt publicly and thank him for this songwriter version of tough love. I also told the crowd during my introduction of Livingston at Philly that I had always tried to take a lesson from him and pay it forward' so rather than merely offer easy and perhaps insincere praise to young writers who had sought out my opinion over the years, I also had tried to be as gently honest as I could with them about their work. Livingston got a good laugh out of my admission that this approach had certainly pissed a lot of people off.

With the great Livingston Taylor

I wanted to take this opportunity to share something I was recently privileged to witness. A dear friend of mine's daughter is currently in the hospital. She is struggling to recover after being critically injured by three stray bullets on the streets of Wilmington. He is a long-time member of New Beginnings-Next Step and, on a particularly difficult day for him personally, he joined us via zoom at one of our returning citizens meetings.

When we asked how he was holding up he said, "Honestly, not good' You know, you just do what you have to do. You keep going. "

Then someone asked if they were any closer to finding his daughter's shooter (the incident had also claimed a 16-year-old boy's life). My friend said, "I don't think so, and I really don't even want to go there. I pray for him whoever he is because I know what he's going through. When you do something like this, it's a terrible thing to carry. It affects you and your whole family. He's suffering, I can promise you that. I've been there. You can pretend you're as tough as you want but you have to do a lot to yourself to get to place where you won't feel that kind of pain.
So, yeah, I don't even go there. I mean if he gets picked up and spends his life in jail it will just tear up his family the way we all tore up our families when we went inside. Just more pain, more suffering. I don't know how that solves anything. There was a time, you know, when I'd have been all about settling the score. But all I want to do now is stay here and love my daughter. It took me a long time to get to this place, to get some wisdom, but I finally understand."

We all sat in stunned silence, humbled by what we had heard, and because no words would come, the silence became a period of wordless prayer as we remained together in that circle and sent love to our brother and his wounded child.

I've heard many preachers, poets, and therapists speak of the path my friend is now walking. But I'd never spoken to someone who was at that very moment clinging to that path with every fiber of their being while being buffeted by the howling winds of a hurricane. I've often said that many of my spiritual teachers had been behind bars. Now you know why.

Below are some upcoming shows. I hope to see you out there soon.

Much love,

Saturday, September 17
Columbia, MD
World Coffeehouse

Saturday, September 24
Pittsburgh, PA
Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh

Friday, October 7
Ann Arbor, MI
Greenwood Coffeehouse

Saturday, October 8
Spring Lake, MI
Spring Lake Presbyterian Church,'ref=newsfeed

Sunday, October 9
Hudson, MI
Hudson Music Series

Wednesday, October 19
ACLU of Delaware
Kandler Awards Celebration



June 29, 2022

Sailing to Philadelphia...

Hi friends!

Just wanted to let you know about my annual benefit concert for my non-profit New Beginnings-Next Step. It will take place on July 27th at the beautiful and historic Hedgerow Theater in Media, PA.

New Beginnings-Next Step helps incarcerated and returning citizens prepare for and deal with the challenges of reentry after prison by fostering relationships of deep community and trust. Our members often refer to us as family. I was just reminded that this is no mere hyperbole or metaphor when a recently hospitalized returning citizen told me he'd listed me as his next of kin on his admission forms.

The evening will feature three of our members as guest speakers. I know each man well and am deeply proud that they will be there to share their stories with the audience. There will also be a wine, cheese, and confection reception prior to the concert. Donations for the show are $35 and you should act quickly if you're interested in attending as half the tickets sold out the day the show went online. Here's a link''fbclid=IwAR0Kh7G2U2XwH2m17IB3WPxZW9Fi_GS9bNVKw6RcgFuaIVmMGftsq8j5XQ8

As pandemic restrictions have ebbed and evolved, New Beginnings-Next Step has finally been resumed face-to-face groups both inside and outside Northern Delaware prisons. This year we have been asked to expand our footprint to other facilities within the state. I deeply appreciate your continuing support and faith with all of this. It allows me to continue work that has grown very dear to my heart and it has made qualitative differences in the lives of some of the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society by helping us say that no human being is disposable.

In other happy news, I've been asked to take part of this year's 60th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival on August 20th and 21st. I'm really looking forward to what will feel like a very large family reunion. Hope you can make it!


May 4, 2022

Moments after finishing the 2022 Delaware Marathon

Hi Friends,

Just a quick note to remind you that I'll be at the Kelly Music Center in Havertown, PA this Saturday, May 7th (

Last week's concert down at Sussex Correctional Institution went great! I even got to introduce a brand-new song that the guys seemed to love. Here are the lyrics:












The SCI concert was an effort to introduce myself to offenders in a new prison where we will soon begin a weekly New Beginnings peer support group. From all indications, it was a success as the event seemed to garner a lot of interest. A reporter and videographer from the Delaware News Journal covered the show. The paper is doing a story an in-depth look at reentry and has already interviewed me and several of my guys for the piece (all these interviews went well over ninety minutes!) I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of all this and will share it with you on this page when it comes out.

At long last, the phone is beginning to ring again for bookings. That's why I'm excited to announce my association with Lydaco Music and Bookings, who will now be handling that stuff for me. if you're interested in having me come play in your area, please give my new agent Vicki a call (

I'll be closing the Heritage Festival on June 5th. (

For info on other upcoming shows, check out my gig calendar here:

Pray for peace,


March 23, 2022

Hi Friends,

Just a quick note to let you know that I'll be removing MY B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) streaming concerts from Facebook for the time being. You can still watch them at my YouTube channel'v=QzqtSD0gC5o) or live on Twitter (@singwriter).

See you online Friday night at 7PM. Thanks so much for all your support!





March 15, 2022

Playing at the United for Ukraine rally in Havertown, PA


Hi friends,

I hope this finds you well after so much time. Things are finally picking up around these parts. And quickly.

I'm excited to be back running peer-support groups at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution here in Delaware. It's been wonderful to reconnect with some of the men whose incarceration has stretched through these past two difficult years. I've also been asked begin groups at several other prisons and I'm currently working to set up an introductory concert down at Sussex Correctional Institution in order to introduce myself and our non-profit, New Beginnings-Next Step, to the offenders downstate in Georgetown.

Of course, NB-NS has continued working with our returning citizen members during the pandemic, if mostly via zoom, but I've found that each aspect of this work enriches the other. It was long ago decided by our members that although what is said in a meeting is treated as confidential, all New Beginnings and Next Step groups are considered to be part of the same circle of trust. Thus, the connection with our incarcerated members, their stories, and their challenges, resonates strongly with the guys who’ve come home. And vice versa.

Thanks to those of you who've continued to support my work with incarcerated and returning citizens. I've seen the difference these groups have made in so many lives and am anxious to continue this journey I set out on when I began volunteering at Gander Hill Prison seventeen years ago. Here's a short video that combines some of my concert work with a few thoughts from some of our guys:'v=tIC-PAPq9I8&t=9s

I was recently honored to be asked by the Vietnam Veterans of America to write and perform a song at the Vietnam War Memorial on National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Here's the video for the song I composed. It's called "Deeper Family" and has recently come out as a digital single. Here's the video:

You'll be able to stream the ceremony and my performance live from The Wall at 1PM on March 29th:, or

In other news, I'm excited to announce that my bookings will now be handled by the Lydaco Talent Agency ( Give them a shout if you'd like to explore getting this old man and his guitar out to your neck of the woods this year.

In the meantime, I'll be back on the road this weekend!

- Friday Night, March 18th, I'll be in New London, CT (

- Saturday night, the 19th, I'll be in Brockton, MA  (

- Sunday, March 20th, I'll be at the Public Library in Middleburgh, NY. For info on this show call (518) 827 4953.

Although I'll be in Connecticut this week, you can catch me online most Friday nights for my Weekly B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk). These are viewer-supported shows streamed from my home here in The First State. They've been a wonderful way to stay in touch with many of you during the past couple years (not to mention keeping my voice, fingers, and memory in semi-decent shape... well maybe not the memory so much). You can find these shows, old and new, on Facebook ( or on YouTube (


Upcoming, I'll be in Catonsville, MD on April 7th (  and in May I'll be returning to the Kelly Center for Music in Delaware County, PA.


Hope to see you soon. Take care of yourselves and each other.

Pray for peace,



December 1, 2021

I was running down the road trying to loosen my load... and
took a first place medal in WXPN's Musicians On Call 5k in the
over 60 age group.

Hi friends,

Hope this note finds you well and that you had a great Thanksgiving! I was blessed to spend it with Beth, our kids and our grandkids. Even got to do a post-dinner zoom with some of the extended clan -with whom we usually gather- for some after dinner picking and singing. The world ain’t back to where it was but in many important ways it never really changed all that much. Love is still love. Maybe more so.

Not too much news. We had a bit of a plumbing event when a pipe in the ceiling burst during a nor'easter that brought several inches of rain to Wilmington. The timing led me to initially misdiagnose the cause of the water pouring through the ceiling of our den and saw me trying to put a tarp over our second story ridge vent at 10 o'clock at night in the middle of the storm. I took a bit of a tumble but came away with nothing more than a gashed arm and a slightly diminished fondness for ladders. My thanks to the Mr. Mullins of Mullins Builders for showing up the next morning to help me figure out what why my walls were gently weeping and to my buddy Bill Hartnett for the quick plumbing fix, Thanks also to Beth for her proficiency with butterfly bandages and materials and logistics management and my buddy Rotten Dan and his neighbor Al for showing up with all manner of power tools and goodwill. The reconstruction of the room is proceeding nicely. I've even been allowed to help. Among my early assignments was the reapplication of insulation to the ruined walls –a task which only saw me stapling my leather work glove to my hand once. Thank God for good and talented friends! Here's Dan and I installing the new tin ceiling-

I'll be doing a show in front of an actual three-dimensional audience at the Kennett Flash on Saturday December 11th. ('ref=newsfeed). Half my proceeds from the evening will go to Camp Dreamcatcher, a therapeutic summer camp for kids whose lives have been affected by AIDS/HIV. (

I'm continuing to stream my B.A.D. (Busk After Dusk) shows on Facebook and YouTube every Friday night at 7PM EST. These shows are live but (most) can also be viewed at a later date. They are viewer supported. Donations can be made via or mailed to me at P.O Box 8273, Wilmington DE, 19803. Thanks to all who've generously supported my B.A.D.s over the last year or so.

Take care of yourselves... and each other.

Much love,




October 7, 2021

Here's a link to a video for my new single "Girl with the Blue Transistor"


Hi friends,

My new single "Girl with the Blue Transistor" is a song about a young girl from South Philadelphia whose life was transformed by the ubiquitous, newly-portable radio that served as a musical lifeline for the teens and tweens of the early Sixties. Even though "the Boss Jocks said no girls", Helen Leicht never gave up on her childhood dream of being a DJ. “Never quite the same once the music kissed her”, she went on to become a trusted tastemaker and beloved broadcasting legend on Philadelphia's storied FM landscape. Artist-writer John Flynn credits Leicht with being one of the first to play his music on the radio. He and producer Harvey transcend Flynn's folk and Americana roots to indulge their mutual love of music from the period in order to create a jangly, joyful power-pop canvas.

“Girl with the Blue Transistor” comes out officially on October 8th. You can stream or purchase the track at all the usual digital providers. Due to the fair shake they give artists, my current favorite is Bandcamp:'fbclid=IwAR2CW5Eh1F-Ks2kmNmuDAZo5o4Flc6p875Dej7sFSwoLFkLgL7zO-EHZiR0

Speaking of Helen, I will be running for "Team Helen" on Sunday October 17th at WXPN's Musicians On Call 5K. You can sign up to support this great cause here:

I had a great time as we remembered the amazing Phil Ochs during last week's Greenwich Village Folk Festival. The show included a whole bunch of great artists including Holly Near, Christine Lavin, Rod MacDonald, Tom Paxton and Reggie Harris. Former music critic for New York Post, Ira Mayer, posted a nice reaction on FB mentioning what a treat it was to be introduced to "... John Flynn in particular". You can stream the show here:

Don't forget to check out my B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) which streams every Friday at 7PM. These shows are always on my Facebook "Band" Page Follow me there ( for weekly reminders. We also stream on YouTube. Here's a link for this week:'v=S2anypNxbWk

My new CD is back in stock and for sale on our Merch Page.

My Musical Lairs concert in Villanova was just rescheduled (again) for January 22, 2022. Perhaps the third time will be the charm.

Take care of each other.

Much love,


September 9, 2021

Sometimes you just have to work a little bit to get things pointed back in the right direction...

Hi everybody,

Just a reminder that this week's B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) will stream on Friday  September 10th at 7PM. Hoping you'll tune in through my Facebook page ( or on YouTube at:

Thanks to all the interest in the new CD, Wild Beat the Wings, we are temporarily out of stock. A new shipment is on order. In the meantime, the album remains available digitally at:

On October 2nd I'll be performing outdoors at the Delmarva Folk Festival.
(And yes, that's the right link...)

October 3rd I'll be joining
Holly Near, Greg Greenway, Colleen Kattau, Reggie Harris, Tom Paxton, Zach Stevenson, Emma's Revolution, Sonia (disappear fear) and Martyn Joseph (from Wales), Sonny Ochs, Christine Lavin and Ron Olesko online to remember the great Phil Ochs.
Here are links to view (
or to listen (

Take care of each other.



August 30, 2021

After my annual concert I had requests for elbow bumps from some
of the kids of Camp Dreamcatcher, a Therapeutic summer camp for
 kids whose lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS. You can see the
smile right through my mask.

Hi friends,

I had a wonderful time playing and helping to host this year's Philadelphia Folk Festival. And true to form the day after fest found me back at Camp Dreamcatcher for my annual concert. During the performance we were of course socially distanced, but very much heart to heart. I've been playing at Camp ever since it began 25 years ago. Many of the amazing young volunteer counselors are former camp attendees themselves and have therefore known my songs since they were little kids.

It always feels like coming home when I get to Dreamcatcher. After my show last week, I was talking to Camp founder, Patty Hillkirk, about my first appearance there. Even though a lot had been learned about AIDS in 1996, I admit to being a bit anxious as I stood with my guitar at the front of that raucous mess hall on that muggy, rainy night. That slowly changed however as, during the show, a frail looking little girl sporting cornrows and one of the brightest smiles I had ever seen was signing something to me as I sang. Her tiny hands were so expressive, and I was of course curious to know what she was saying. After the show I went down and introduced myself. Through her counselor she told me her name was Danielle. She then asked me to kneel down, which I did, and she threw her arms around my neck and imparted one of the best hugs I've ever received. I asked her counselor what Danielle had been saying to me for the entire hour I'd been singing. She's been saying "I love you', he told me. Sometimes you don't know something inside you was broken until the moment it gets fixed. I've been going back to Camp Dreamcatcher for repairs ever since.

They tell me Danielle never actually "heard" me sing or play that night a quarter of a century ago. AIDS had claimed her hearing. Of course, I can't say one way or the other, but she certainly felt the music and maybe that's more important. I do know that she would "feel" it again some years later.

When Danielle was a teenager a series of devastating strokes almost took her life. She was hospitalized and the word we got was that she was completely non-responsive. Still, when Patty Hillkirk and I went to visit her, something inside told me to take my guitar. When I arrived at the hospital, I was assured by the staff that I was wasting my time. I opened my guitar case anyway and sat close enough to Danielle to be able to lay her slender arm across the face of my Martin as I strummed it softly and sang for her. It didn’t take long, and I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Her eyes never opened but as I played, Danielle began to smile. Her smile quickly became a soft chuckle. Finally, she began to laugh out loud. The harder I strummed the guitar, the louder Danielle laughed. As I continued to play and sing, Patty yelled for the docs and nurses. The hospital staff came running in. They were at a loss to explain what was happening. The damage done by the stroke was supposed to be permanent. This shouldn't be happening they assured us, and it probably didn't mean what we thought it meant. All I knew was that I was involved in the communication of joy (and maybe that's always part miracle!) I finished my little concert and kissed Danielle's forehead telling her that I loved her. The next day, we received word that Danielle was sitting up, awake, and communicative. She’s doing well to this day.

The new CD Wild Beat the Wings has been getting some great response. It is currently in the Top Ten of current folk releases on Kansas Public Radio, and Folk Music Notebook's Ron Olesko calls the album "Powerful... an extraordinary album from one of the folk music community's most beloved performers". I got to sit down (on zoom) with Ron for an extensive conversation about the album last week. Here's a link to that interview:'fbclid=IwAR3qZs0NyNTqkJXGGKGTProAY-ZQURjAmKeFcWM7s5Q6_ItKXDYlHDFm3HQ

Wild Beat the Wings is available for purchase here on our merch page,
or for download at this link:

I'll be resuming my Friday night Busk At Dusk performances on September 3rd at 7PM. Hoping you'll tune in through my Facebook page (
or on YouTube at:'v=Q6HMY_pA77c

I'm scheduled to do an outdoor show here in Wilmington, DE this coming Thursday evening, September 2nd, at Bellevue State Park ( This is a make-up date from an earlier show that was rained out. Fingers crossed.

Hoping our paths will cross again soon.


August 18, 2021

"The first time I touched the tiller was like the first time I picked up a guitar. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew I didn't want to let go." -JF

Hi friends,

Due to last week's understandable decision to move to an entirely digital venue, I won’t be hosting the Philadelphia Folk Festival as previously announced. I am, however, delighted to have been asked to perform a one hour set on the PFF virtual Martin Stage this weekend. Hope you’ll look in and continue to support this increasingly global yet authentically Philadelphian musical experience.

Tickets are available here:½-annual-pocket-sized-philadelphia-folk-festival-digital-tix/

My new CD Wild Beat the Wings debuted at #20 on the Folk Charts this month.
The album is available for purchase here on our merch page,
or for download at this link:

My thanks to the Philadelphia Phillies for again hosting New Beginnings-Next Step at Citizens Bank Park a couple weeks ago. Our returning citizens and their guests had a great time rooting the Phils on to a dramatic come-from-behind walk-off win, and the ballclub even let me sing in the seventh inning stretch. This continues a stretch of appearances (Vet Stadium, CBP) for my favorite team that goes back over a quarter of a century, although this was my first time performing on ukulele.

My version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was even credited with lifting the mood of the crowd by NBC Philadelphia sportswriter Jim Salisbury –


In other news, I've decided to resume my weekly B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) shows starting Friday, September 3rd at 7PM. You can email song requests to me through this page. Check here or on my Facebook or YouTube pages for streaming links.

I really appreciate the emails I've received from folks inquiring about me coming back to do shows in their area. As you've probably surmised, I've never been good at the gig booking part of this job. If we can find a way to string together a few appearances in your region of the country, I'm in.

Thanks for your continued support of my work. I hope our paths will cross again soon.


July 1, 2021


Big News: John will be hosting the 2021 Philadelphia Folk Festival

Hi friends,

I hope this note finds you well. A lot has happened since I last wrote. Here's a quick update–

My new CD Wild Beat the Wings will be released this week and is currently available for purchase here on our merch page, or for download at this link:

You can check out the new video to the album's first single "Circle of Love" here:'v=cSemsrA25bw

I'll be celebrating the release of Wild Beat the Wings here in Wilmington by kicking off the Bellevue State Park's Summer Concert Series at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday July 8th. ( It will be the park's first concert since 2019, and my first time on front of a live audience since my concert at the Sussex Correctional Institution in March of 2020.

I'm honored to have been chosen to host this year's Philadelphia Folk Festival, filling a role that was long played by my dear old friend, festival founder Gene Shay. This will be an emotional event for me on a lot of levels. I'm really looking forward to this chance to listen to (and play) some music as I reconnect face to face with a lot of old friends. To paraphrase the great Jerry Lee Louis, there'll be a whole lot of huggin' going on...

Speaking of friends, thanks to all of you who supported my online shows last year. The Friday B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) series not only brought in some much appreciated weekly bread during a time when all my live shows vanished, but it kept me in reasonably good performing shape, as well as in touch with what turned into a great little online community. We went through a lot together last year; a deadly pandemic, an existential election, an insurrection... Somehow it helped just having some friends drop by on Friday nights and say hi. Although I'll be taking the summer off from these online shows (with the exception of some zoom concerts which you can read about on my schedule page: I plan to resume them in some form come September. More to come on this...

As I was getting ready to write to you today my cell phone rang. It was a guy I'd worked with in prison a decade ago. I had been able to help him get a housekeeping job at a local hospital when he got out, and he quickly became one of their most beloved employees. He worked there a couple years before addiction got the better of him and, after some stints in rehab, he lost his job and relocated to Florida where he continued alternating between recovery and relapse.

He’s now living in Texas and has been clean for four years. He’s attending an online college and has a 4.0 GPA. He’s been working at a cash register at a Dollar Store for several years. (I remember when he applied for this position. We had a long talk on the phone one night where he confessed to me that he had great misgivings about it since it entailed counting money with people staring at him.) He was just made assistant manager of his store! He was so proud and it filled me with joy to hear it in his voice.

He gave our little non-profit New Beginnings-Next Step much of the credit for his success and thanked all of our volunteers for never letting him give up on himself. NBNS has taken some hard hits recently. The streets - as well as the pandemic - have taken a great deal from us. It’s important to remember that- no matter what any given page reveals- there are often many more chapters to be written in a life’s story. Yeah. I think I needed that.
I've included some information about the new album below. I hope to see you soon.



John Flynn’s thirteenth solo album, Wild Beat the Wings, is some of his strongest and most adventurous work in an award-winning career spanning four decades. The new album features Flynn’s trademark heart and lyrical artistry juxtaposed against a background of bolder production and harmonic choices as the life-long marathon runner belies his 64 years by arguably singing better and stronger than ever.

Like so much new music these days, Wild Beat the Wings is the byproduct of months of the found, focused time imposed by the COVID restrictions, which Flynn addresses in the country-rock offering “Space Station”. Even the cover art for Wild Beat the Wings can be traced to Flynn’s enforced status as a homebody as he rediscovered his drawing pad and inked the stark but lovely cover image of his wife Beth rescuing a mourning dove on their Northern Delaware back porch. The title song of the album recounts the story of the dove’s escape from a swooping raptor by crashing through a screened- porch door. Disoriented and terrified, the trembling bird failed to relocate the open door and required tender human hands to help it return to the sky. The song is a metaphor for all loving relationships as it pertains to the need to create paths to greater freedom. Unsurprisingly to anyone familiar with Flynn's canon, restorative justice themes are explored on Wild Beat the Wings as he follows up his 2020 BLM hip-hop single “How Many Bodies”. “Circle of Love” challenges those of all political and cultural stripes to
enter into relationship (“It’s the circle of love... may it grow ever wide until no one is standing outside”) . “An American Cage” mourns this country’s callous disregard of the ideals nobly expressed in the Emma Lazarus poem enshrined on the Statue of Liberty. “Stranger in a Strange Land” is an elegiac reflection on the toxic polarization so deeply dividing our country.

Flynn's writing has always mined the light as well as the shadow and Wild Beat the Wings includes some lighthearted offerings in “Stayin’ Young (Is Sure Gettin’ Old)” about the unending and futile attempt to stave off the inevitable, “The Song of My Becoming”, a quasi-Buddhist meditation on unitive consciousness written for Flynn’s first grandchild, and “Everybody Needs a Friend”, the true story of an elephant who was rescued by singer Cher from a desolate and solitary existence in a Pakistani zoo. Flynn’s roots as a former Nashville staff writer are evident in "The Eyes of Marie".

The album extols young passion in the love song “It Don’t Get No Better (Than This)”, even as Flynn admits the error of the song’s foundational assumption (“But I was wrong... love grows old... love grows strong”). Wild Beat the Wings heads for the barn with the rollicking anthem “Folk Me”, which reveals a tongue-in-cheek Flynn at his rambunctious best as he celebrates his love for his chosen musical genre (“Just need to let something earnest get under my epidermis”).

Continuing his successful musical partnership with Harvey as producer and “house band” (Harvey provides all the instrumentation other than Flynn’s acoustic guitars and harmonica), Wild Beat the Wings is recently preceded by a 2020 album of cover tunes called Take Cover that the two friends put out under the band named Hondo Jenkins (an alias Flynn once played bars under). Take Cover required Flynn – a self-professed technical Luddite – to learn the basics of rudimentary home recording while challenging him to develop previously unsuspected vocal chops. (Contravening the old saw “do not attempt this at home” Flynn found summiting, for example, Brian Wilson’s high harmonies to be easier in the privacy of one’s domicile – think singing in the shower but with ProTools!) In fact, unlike most preceding albums, Flynn provides a lion's share of background vocals on this record). The unpretentious joy of the Take Cover project is continued on Wild Beat the Wings with an audacious interpretation of the John Lennon/Beatle’s classic “And Your Bird Can Sing”.

In recent years Flynn has split his time between music and New Beginnings-Next Step, a non-profit he created in order to help incarcerated and returning citizens avoid recidivism in the State of Delaware. This work garnered him the prestigious Phil Ochs Award as well as a Champion of Justice/ Humanitarian Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (former recipients include Stevie Wonder, Julian Bond and Sister Helen Prejean).

Far from diluting his musical game, Flynn's years of re-entry work with those whom our society deems the most disposable has only sharpened his considerable tools, and Wild Beat the Wings is evidence of this honing. It is beautiful, meaningful work by a master craftsman who has lived up to his gift and stayed true to his calling.

April 27, 2021


Birds of the air nesting in your hair is a sign you must be right with the world."
- Br. David Schlatter, Franciscan Friar

Hi friends,


Spending time outdoors has always been an important part of my life. It seems to have a beneficial effect on me physically, mentally and spiritually. As you know I'm a life-long runner, but I have serious doubts that I'd have stayed with it this long if it didn't get me out under the sky for an hour each day. (I'm not a big treadmill fan.)

Although each season has its own charms, this spring has been especially welcome here in Northern Delaware and I've taken my daily meditations out beneath the trees in my backyard whenever possible. There the birds and squirrels (along with occasional foxes and deer) keep me company as they await my daily refilling of the birdfeeder that I bought for Beth as an anniversary present last summer.

That's where I surreptitiously grabbed the above photos. I had been sitting for about twenty minutes when I heard something moving at my shoulder. I slid my phone out of the pocket in my jeans, opened the camera app, and found our lovely little sister sitting quietly on the back of my chair. She seemed to be studying me with great intensity. I guess I passed muster because moments later she surprised me by alighting on me and gently beginning to explore my mane as a possible nesting site. I must say I've seldom felt quite so honored, although I suppose it could simply be an indication that I need haircut.

In other news, I, along with all of my New Beginnings volunteers, have received our second vaccinations and are awaiting clearance to return to our work in the prisons. The Commissioner of Corrections informs me that this is imminent. I look forward to reconnecting with so many men who've endured an incredibly difficult and dangerous year inside the walls and taking up again the important work of helping them prepare for real and lasting freedom upon release.

Thank you for supporting my weekly online shows, The Friday B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) over the past eight months. Your donations have played a role in insuring that NB-NS remains ready to jump back into the fray in the fight against recidivism here in Delaware. I never imagined I'd have so much support for these shows or envisioned my little series lasting this long. I've also enjoyed the opportunity to share some of the music that shaped my own writing. Songs by Kris Kristofferson, George Harrison, Jackson Browne, Cat Stevens, John Prine, Bob Dylan and so many others have made these weekly concerts a joy for me (as well as an occasional adventure!)

Speaking of the online shows, this week's B.A.D. (April 30) will not be seen due to a family obligation. We will resume our "regularly scheduled programming" next week and plan to continue through the month of May, or until the new album is released. I and am deeply grateful to all those who have contributed to make it possible for me to keep performing during these difficult times. See you on May 7th.

In the meantime, mask up, vax up, pray up, and keep your heart open.

Much love,





February 9, 2021

Hunt Magazine Article About John

Hi friends,
I hope you’re hanging in there. Above I’ve attached a link to a recent article. It gets a few things wrong (like the names of the prisons) and I’m pretty sure I didn’t say some of what it claims I said in exactly those words. But it does capture what has come to be a somewhat liminal time in what Jimmy Webb’s brilliant song If You See Me Getting Smaller, I’m Leaving calls my “borderline career”. I guess that’s exactly where a lot of us are during these unsettled and difficult times. What keeps coming back to me is just to keep following my heart, keep writing my songs, and keep trying to stay open to the blessings and goodness that surround me. Many of you have played a part in these by supporting my music and my reentry work. I’ll always be grateful.

This week’s B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) links for Friday February 12, 2021:

On Facebook –

On YouTube –'v=UWgzWE7lfHA

Next week, along with Friday night’s BAD show, I’ll also be appearing
with Faith Nolan and Crys Matthews on the Peoples’ Voice Café, Justice and Civil Rights - Livestream Concert:

I hope to see you soon. Mask up. Vax up if you can. And keep your heart open.

Much love,



December 10, 20202

This week’s B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) links for Friday December 11th:

On YouTube:'v=tZqQ49iR0pk&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR1OuSs8EFaFtgio8S_zOqEMln8OvBx1D-u3Q2WzVtYxmbeV2Y8a-aOERuE

John’s Facebook “Band Page”:

Check out this short documentary by filmmaker Peter Safran of John’s 2019 benefit concert for New Beginnings-Next Step:'v=tIC-PAPq9I8&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR2j5d65zChesJH2ISBKVwDPOAyFjkhIocZRc-

Hi friends,

Hoping this note finds you safe and in good health. We’ve had a bit of a close encounter with “the vid” here as a family member became feverish and tested positive last week. (If I seem distracted during last Friday night’s show, now you know why.) Fortunately, our patient seems to be recovering just fine as we wait out our mandatory quarantine. Although I’m grateful that we’ve so far been spared some of the truly dire aspects of this illness, it has become clear to me in a whole new way that we are all truly in this together. And if any good can come of this awful year, perhaps it will be a deeper solidarity born of this increasingly inescapable realization.

I know that times may seem especially bleak right now. Our nation is stalked, not only plague and hunger, but by an almost living enmity. Not since the Civil War have we been so widely driven by anything approaching this level of contempt for each other. I pray that what is being willfully unleashed by the faithless and cowardly men who are trying to tear this country apart right now will not manifest itself in violence. But I admit that prayers alone may be no match for the relentless and unparalleled intensity of the disinformation and hate mongering we’re now witnessing each day–especially given the prevalence of mental instability and despair in this country. Perhaps that’s where the message of Christmas comes in'

My friend, Pastor Brian Joyce, wrote to me asking if I would record a version of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” for his congregation’s Christmas service. Brian explained that the song’s origins–of which I was unaware– made it a special favorite of his.

I must confess that I never paid much attention to this particular carol. I only knew the Bing Crosby-era versions, and had little attachment to them beyond their genial conjuring of some sentimental childhood memories. (I do have a strong fondness for Ralph the Dog’s rendering in an old Muppet’s holiday special.) I’ve since learned that the song’s words were written by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas day in 1863 as he contemplated the incongruity of the season’s message of peace in the midst of a time in which our land knew so much bitterness and blood. None of the versions I’d ever heard of the song included Longfellow’s fourth and fifth stanzas:

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

The final section of the song becomes so much more powerful when preceded by these verses. Surely we can now even more immediately identify with the author’s anguish in verse six:

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Hate does indeed seem strong these days. And it only invites and encourages that which feeds it. Which is why the message of this song’s final verse has taken such a hold on me this season:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

The days will soon begin to grow longer again. As they do, let our hope be renewed. May this season mark a new “re-turning” from the current darkness of our path.

May love guide us,


John's weekly online concert from his home in Northern Delaware. All those inspired to make a contribution can do so online at, or by check mailed to John at PO Box 8273, Wilmington, DE 19803. John will donate ten percent of what he receives from this series to fighting recidivism through his non-profit, New Beginnings-Next Step, Inc.

This week’s B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) links for Friday November 27th:

On YouTube:'v=v1nzs1quEh8&fbclid=IwAR0mTH0308HzIpGzNg51zSCw33NMsV6J85e9f7bnj8WgF8ROuUX0RKcOIvI

John’s Facebook “Band Page”:

Hi friends,

As I write on this Thanksgiving Eve, I’m humbled by the many blessings in my life. Not the least of these is the constantly growing circle of my extended– and extending– family.

These new ties of kinship aren’t being discovered through one of those genetic testing services (which only told me what I already knew – that I’m about 80% Irish). Rather, they are revealed in relationships made sacred by the gift of trust constantly bestowed upon me in my work with the systemically marginalized; those whom our society often regards as disposable. In these relationships each small offering of my time or presence is rewarded disproportionately with gratitude, tenderness, and – for me– a real sense of a deeper belonging. As Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries wrote to me recently, “In the end… we all have the same last name… Love”.

During this holiday of plenty, may we continue to work and pray for truer understandings of these extended family ties, especially with the estimated fifty million of our brothers and sisters in this country who are having difficulty securing enough food right now.

There’s never been more work to do. So many walls to tear down. So many bridges to build. It’s truly ‘all hands on deck’ time. So, whatever you bring with you, whether it’s a strong back or a calm voice, a big checkbook or a small prayer, know that you are welcome and very much needed at the family table.

I’m truly grateful to all of you for all the support you’ve given me in my work this year. I hope you have a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

Much love,


A little program note:

  I'll be taking a break from my B.A.D. shows. On Friday November 6th, I'll be streaming live from the stage at the Sellersville Theater's as part of their new series called Soundbooth Sessions. ( I'm really looking forward to this show. Not only do we artists have to find a way to keep going through these difficult times, but the venues we've relied upon to support us all these years do as well. Plus, it will be good to stand on a stage again even if it's in an empty theater. (Of course, I didn't always draw that well in Sellersville, so I've had some experience at this!) Anyway, come hell, highwater, or both next week, whether it is for existential solace or ecstatic celebration, I hope you'll join me. I'll resume my weekly Busk At Dusk shows on November 13th.

With Harvey at the Sellersville Theater, where John will return November 6th

B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) links for Friday October 30th:

On YouTube:'v=9gliOlA6DMc


John's Facebook 'Band Page'¯:


Hi all,

Just a reminder to tune in to my B.A.D (Busk At Dusk) livestream show at 7PM on Friday October 30th. I've got admit I had some real reservations about taking this weekly gig on; number one being the unforgiving little counter at the bottom of the Facebook videos that show you how many people are watching. I've been very grateful that so many folks have loylally supported this series and have regularly reached out to let me know how much they've appreciated a chance for us to all get together each week.

One amazing note I just received at my PO Box this week said'

'You're BAD concerts have been such a wonderful replacement for a live concert face to face, You bring such joy'“ songs that amuse me, make me think, tear at my heart, impel me to go out into the world and do good. We love you, John. Keep it up.'¯

I mean, what more could any singwriter ever need or want'
See you online!

Much love,

October 1, 2020

Hi Friends,

In my continued'“apparently successful'“ attempt to show as much or more income in recent years as the President of the United States, this is just a reminder about this week's B.A.D. (Busk At Dusk) Show. This week's request, 'Querencia'¯, will be performed for Bud Manning, and I'll be including a cover of a long-time favorite, Eric Andersen's 'Thirsty Boots'¯, as well. A new request will be drawn each week.

You can find me on Friday night at 7PM EDT on YouTube:'view_as=subscriber

Or Facebook:
The Facebook link may look like it doesn't work right up until the concert begins. I'm assured it DOES. It's a 'bug'¯ they've claimed to be working on for the past couple weeks.

If you're enjoying my little weekly show, please help me grow the audience and consider inviting a friend or two to check it out. (It will never be easier to drag someone to a 'coffeehouse'¯ then it is right now!) As always, everyone's welcome and there is no charge for viewing whatsoever. But, like any good busker, I'll have my 'tip jar'¯ available at: If you're not into paypal. Good old-fashioned checks will also be gratefully cashed. Just mail to me at PO Box 8273, Wilmington, DE 19803.

Ten percent of the take will be donated to New Beginnings-Next Step, Inc.

I've recently been asked by the Chief of the Bureau of Prisons here in Delaware to prepare to go back inside and resume work with our offender groups. This will not affect our B.A.D. scheduling in the near future, but it may mean an alteration down the road as Friday afternoons were being considered for our New Beginnings group at SCI down in Georgetown, DE (two hours south of my home' so, really, just around the block for a folk slinger!)

Stay tuned, and please let me know if you have any preferences if we need to consider different nights for the show.

Hope to see you soon. May you and yours stay safe and well.

Much love,

September 15, 2020

Just out' Cover photo by the great Jim Grahamm

Hi Friends,

What kind of a world do we live in where folk singers are becoming are on your screens more than your local weather forecasters'

Just a quick note to remind you that I'll be doing another online show this Friday evening at 7PM (EDT). I've decided to call this little weekly concert series 'John Flynn's Busk At Dusk (B.A.D)' because that's kind of how I'm thinking of these shows. Just imagine that at the end of a long hard week you find me strumming some tunes out front of your abode, just camped out there on of your digital sidewalk, with some neighbors gathering round.

We had a great time last week. It turned out to be fun seeing all the comments stream in during the show, like a little party' reconnecting with old friends, singing old favorites and trying out some new stuff. I've received lots of song requests which I'm still going through. I'm planning to pick one or two for this week, and then put the rest in an old top hat. Each Friday I'll draw out a new request during the show (which will give me seven whole days to relearn it!) If you have anything you'd like to hear, just email it to me or send it as a comment during the show.

If you missed last week's inaugural B.A.D., you can find it here:'fref=search&__tn__=,d,P-R&eid=ARA4AMvry1-FXiX1Mxvl2P-snQ7QhN5PGVfwXAdwarFjiROYqam-1GnhisVRVf2Zvg-eStcM8hwUpVDc

Several people told me they don't much like using Facebook, so from now on I'll also be streaming all my shows simultaneously on YouTube. You can find the concerts at these links:



Like I said last week, this show is free. Everyone's invited and there is no charge for viewing. But, like any good busker, I'll have my guitar case open on the sidewalk next to me to catch any spare pocket change or crumpled bills. So, if you'd like to stop by the 'digital tip jar' just google me at: Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated to New Beginnings-Next Step.

In other doings, I'm attaching a link to a video of a new song that I plan to release as a single next week. 'How Many Bodies' was a completely unguarded response to what we've all been witnessing and (in my case) remaining silent about for far too long. My thanks to my musical partner Harvey for the amazing production and video:'v=KSl_D_KFMiw&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR0OxIf8H05zUZmTUjB7Z9hBviGvjlm9l0asuUGhA7lyHvH0Z-9KRivw_bc

Finally, I've been asked to participate in an observance of this year's United Nations International Day of Peace. The program will be virtual ' starting at 3pm EDT on Sunday September 20. To reserve your free ticket, go to or you can livestream it on the Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries Facebook page. Please visit for more information.

Hope to see you soon. Stay safe.


One of my first streaming concerts for my friends at Focus Music' Even cats dig me!

Hi Folks,

Due to some persistent friends, fans' and, yes, persistent bills, I've decided to take the plunge into the new and exciting world of live streaming concerts. (You have no idea how big a step this is for a guy who can barely do more than send emails on a computer.) I'll be 'attempting' my first weekly foray into this arena this coming Friday night, September 11, at 7PM EDT. You can watch all the fun here:'v=644330343155027&extid=MFSLmcMhJbSMiM5C

Friday night's show will feature songs of hope, including my old song, "I Will Not Fear" as we again mark this special date in our collective history. There will be no admission price asked or expected for streaming the show, however, donations will be gratefully accepted through PayPal (pay to or by mailed check (John Flynn, P.O. Box 8273, Wilmington, DE 19803).

Along with a few special songs I'll pick out for you each week, I will also plan to work up a request or two, so if you have something of mine ' or even someone else's- that you'd like to hear, send me an email and I'll see what I can do.

By the way, I really mean it when I say no admission price is needed. A friend wrote to me recently that she wouldn't be attending these shows because 'since the virus came along' things had become very difficult for her money-wise. I told her what I'll tell you all ' you're already on the guest list. Us 'singwriter' types have had to deal with the economic challenges of this period same as lots of other folks. Mostly, however, I just need to start singing to some friends again on a regular basis. So, if you're a little squeezed right now, don't feel lonesome. Tune in to the show Friday and we'll ride this out together for a little while.

I'll be donating a small portion of the proceeds from these Friday night shows each week to New Beginnings-Next Step. It won't be a lot, but your donations to NBNS at my concerts accounted for a hefty percentage of our fundraising, and I haven't been able to do any live shows for going on six months' so every little bit help can help.

Speaking of NBNS, the International Leadership Association recently asked me to write an article about the confluence of my music and my work with incarcerated and returning citizens. The article I submitted was called 'The Song I Didn't Play'. It's about a concert I did last year at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, and they liked it so much that the ILA is including it in their 2021 publication, A Grassroots Leadership & Arts for Social Change Primer for Educators, Organizers, Activists & Rabble-Rousers. If you're interested, you can read my article here:

I hope I'll see hope online Friday evening, and in person real soon!

Much love,


August 10, 2020

Performing the national anthem for the Philadelphia Phillies outside Citizens Bank Park. (This was soundcheck, I of course removed my paint-stained bandanna for the recording.)

And then, here I am listening for it in the stands'

Hi Friends,

I sure hope this note finds you all safe and well!

This will be a short one because things are kind of crazy around here today. A lightning strike brought a large tree down on the side of our house and garage causing an ongoing parade of calls and visits from (among others) the fire department, the gas company, the HVAC guy, tree removal guys, etc. Still, we're all fine and I'm grateful that my favorite old tree seemed to go out of its way not to do more damage. Not sure I'll be too sorry to see the back of the year 2020 however'

I'll be performing all three days of the 2020 virtual Philadelphia Folk Festival. Like everything else these days this great old festival is fighting for its survival so you're support of this event could make a real difference. Here's a link:


My new band, Hondo Jenkins, has just released an album of (mostly) cover tunes that speak to the times we're in. I formed the band in lockdown with my longtime pal and producer Harvey ( The album was recorded in our respective bunkers with Harvey patiently coaching me (someone who is often challenged by the technical complexity of email) through the use of Pro Tools like in one of those old movies where the guy at the mic in the control tower tries to tell a civilian how to land the airplane. I believe the project is a shining example of what a singing 'social worker' and a Philadelphia AOR radio legend turned handyman can accomplish if they really put their minds to it (and are not allowed to leave their homes for weeks at a time.)

The name Hondo Jenkins is one that I once occasionally employed in situations where I was contractually prevented from performing under my own name. (Fathers of four can become very creative when there are bills to be paid.)

TAKE COVER includes reinterpretations of iconic songs that speak to these unsettling days. Existential distress is addressed in The Beatle's 'Help' and Tom Petty's 'Free Fallin''. For lockdown fever we have The Animals' 'We Gotta Get Out of this Place", The Bee Gees' "New York Mining Disaster 1941' and Brian Wilson's 'In My Room' (with vocals featuring - I assure you - the highest notes I've ever sung before!) For social distancing we included The Left Bank's 'Walk Away Renee'. And Covid testing is addressed by Mickey Newberry's classic, "I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Conditon Was In)'.

George Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass' and U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' speak to some of the "big picture' questions posed by such uncertain times. And we remember those whom we've lost recently with versions of Bill Withers' anthemic 'Lean On Me', John Prine's 'That's the Way the World Goes Round', and ' for our old buddy Gene Shay ' Mike Nesmith's 'Papa Gene's Blues'. (I noticed that my good friend Rich Warren at Midnight Special has been playing an advance copy of this track recently. Thanks, Rich!)

The inclusion of Steven Still's 'For What It's Worth' will certainly need no explanation. And to round out the collection, we've included Petty's 'Wildfowers', Eric Kaz's (via Bonnie Rait) 'River of Tears", and one of my recent compostions, "Space Station', about the new normal of 'five o'clock briefings from mission control" and putting "on your space suit when you go outdoors'. (I'll be performing this one in a couple weeks at this year's virtual Philadelphia Folk Festival.)

I handle the lead singing chores on TAKE COVER, about which Grammy winning producer Frank Liddell (Lee Ann Womack, Miranda Lambert) writes' Flynn is 'so good at interpreting and making songs his own, as well as taking great songs and painting them in a new light.'

TAKE COVER is available on all major commercial streaming platforms.

When I was a kid, performing songs I loved on my guitar always seemed to get me through tough times, especially when I'd get sent to my room (which is kind of how this has all felt at times.) This album was kind of a return to that for me. We had a great deal of fun recording these songs and I truly hope you'll enjoy them.

I'm also enclosing a link to a video of my newest composition, 'The Very Stable genius Song (Donald's Remarkable Achievement) which was inspired by the recent feats of intellectual derring-do performed by our country's nominal current president while being interviewed on Fox News:

Our work in new Beginnings-Next Step is proceeding as best it can. The good news is that St. Francis Hospital will be allowing to resume our face-to-face (or at least mask-to-mask) meetings next week. Our volunteers and returning citizens are all ecstatic about this. It's been too long since we saw each other on anything but a computer screen.

I was recently glad to hear from a man I'd worked with in prison for the last couple years. He had just been released and called our easy-to-remember phone number ' (877) I GOT OUT ' and told me he was starting work in a couple days but had nothing to wear. Thanks to your support, I could head right out and purchase work boots and new clothing for him, which, along with his new NBNS backpack, T-shirt, bus pass and Shop Rite gift card, I dropped off at the half-way house where he's now staying. He told me he never knew anyone in the world actually cared before. Of course, he's just at the beginning of a long and difficult journey. But at least he's making a good start and that can mean all the difference.

Stay well. Looking forward to seeing you all down the road somewhere.

Much love,



March 17, 2020

March 11, 2020
Probably the last show for a while'
Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown, DE

Hi Friends,

So quite a bit has happened since I last checked in. I pray you guys are all well and taking care of yourselves. As for me, life's going on pretty much the same with a few minor adjustments here and there. Of course, any shows I've written to you of have been postponed.

Our Next Step returning citizens support group meetings are on hiatus since we didn't want to risk either the health of our volunteers (who are even older than me), or that of our economically vulnerable members who can ill-afford any wage loss due to prolonged illness. We are reaching out to the guys by phone each week and making our weekly bus passes and grocery store gift cards available through the mail. As things evolve, we will certainly try to help when we can 'and as we can 'with the resources you've kindly made available to me through your donations at my concerts and PayPal offerings at (Please don't see this as a solicitation right now. I know many have been adversely affected by the economic implications of the virus. Just know that I'm grateful for your support!) As far as the prisons, although they have been closed to all visitors in Delaware, they have remained open to New Beginnings, and I will continue to run groups for as long as I'm permitted inside.

Offenders are incredibly worried about Coivd-19; some because they're trapped in a problematic (in the best of times) healthcare situation, some because they're seriously immune-compromised, many because their loved ones are among the most vulnerable, and a few because they bear the weight of the nascent stages of spiritual awakening to the point that they fear being deprived of the chance to go home and try to make amends to those whose lives they have wounded. (This last fear seems to be the worst and was shared with tears last week by one of the toughest looking men I've ever seen.)

I know this social distancing stuff 'and what looks to me like an impending and inevitable national lockdown 'has a lot of folks freaked out, especially those who live alone. A long time ago the good sisters taught us about 'the mystical body of Christ' and what they called 'the communion of saints'. My Buddhist friends use different language but talk about the same kind of thing. Quantum physics now tells us this real and vital interrelationship of all things goes beyond mere space and time, beyond religious dogma, and certainly beyond temporary shelter-in-place policies. We are ALL connected. No one is alone. Not really. Feel me'

When I got home from prison the other day, I wrote to New Beginnings founder, Brother David Schlatter OFM, and asked him to point me to something in scripture I could take back into my guys. Brother David sent me a couple things which I'll copy below. People read the bible in different ways and at many levels. Some literal. Some symbolic. I don't wish to get into a hermeneutical discussion here. I simply offer these ancient and inspired words in the hope that taking them into the silence of your heart and mediating on them brings some comfort in these trying days:

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
Say to the LORD, 'My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.'
He will rescue you from the fowler's snare,
from the destroying plague,
He will shelter you with his pinions,
and under his wings you may take refuge;
his faithfulness is a protecting shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,
nor the plague that ravages at noon.
Though a thousand fall at your side
ten thousand at your right hand,
near you it shall not come.
You need simply watch;
the punishment of the wicked you will see.
Because you have the LORD for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You can tread upon the asp and the viper,
trample the lion and the dragon.
-Psalm 91

But now, thus says the LORD,
who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name: you are mine.
When you pass through waters, I will be with you;
through rivers, you shall not be swept away.
When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
nor will flames consume you.
For I, the LORD, am your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your savior...
- Isaiah 43:1-3.

I hope to see you soon.


And much love,



May 16, 2020

After a while in lock-down, my own grandkids were asking, 'Who is this old man''

Hi Friends,

I hope this note finds you well. We're all hanging on for all we're worth out here in little old Delaware.

First the news: I'll be doing a digital concert for the Philadelphia Folk Song Society on Sunday afternoon, May 17th '

My concert will be live on Facebook:

New Beginnings-Next Step is forging ahead as best we can. Although we still haven't been able to get them up and running inside the prisons, our returning citizen zoom meetings seem to be of some value to our members in their re-entry journeys. Recently my board of directors charged me with asking our guys is they'd be willing to speak on the record about the value of our groups and the men have been very generous in their willingness to do so. Here's a link to a very short clip from a recent meeting in which my friend Nick does just this:

Knowing and working with men like Nick is an honor. They often carry burdens that would have buried me many times over, and yet they keep going and keep striving for a better way. I think if there's any credit for their success it remains entirely with them, so I'm not always sure how much help we really are. What I do know is they continually renew my hope and spirit. Thank you for your ongoing support of this work.

I can't remember a time since my teens when I've turned to my guitar for as much solace as I have in the past couple months. (Perhaps my love of music began as a way of rebelling against being sent to my room as a kid' And, in a way, isn't that what we've all experienced to some degree recently') Since I didn't have a lot of original material ready to finish my current record, my producer Harvey and I have been working on an album of cover tunes which we'll be releasing soon under the name Hondo Jenkins. We've had a blast and got some great takes on songs by Tom Petty, U2, John Prine, George Harrison, The Animals, The Four Tops, The Monkees, The Bee Gees'. We even give Kenny Rogers and the First Edition a go with a revamped version of the again famous (thanks to The Big Lebowski) 'Just Dropped In (To See What Condition my Condition Was In)'.

The cover story for the new band goes like this: Hondo Jenkins is the recently formed duo of Ellsworth Hondo and Vance Parnell Jenkins; childhood friends  who grew up on the road, traveling across the country as their respective parents sought ever-elusive stardom while touring with the vaunted 'Up With People' road show. 

Their ecstatic  musical pairing is the fruit of a (dubious) midlife attempt to overcome the bitterness and soul-crushing cynicism that their parents bequeathed them as they endeavor to fill interminable hours presented by the current Corona virus lockdown. 

Hondo Jenkins spans the Mason-Dixon Line both musically and geographically. 
Ellsworth recently left a position as the assistant manager of a popular Fishtown, PA bowling alley due to his long-held suspicion that the music business could provide a more accommodating lifestyle than that heretofore conferred by professionally sanitized rented footwear. 

Until March of 2020, Vance P. was the head salesclerk at a music store in Smyrna, Delaware. Upon the store's unceremonious shuttering under the designation 'non-essential business',  Vance took it upon himself  to 'borrow' some moderately expensive recording equipment for the duration of the work stoppage. 

File swapping and musical hi-jinx ensued. The scamps are currently hard at work completing their soon to be released shelter-in-place album called, Take Cover.

The real story is:
Like many of us these days, John Flynn and Harvey have too much time on their hands. Hondo Jenkins is a name that John occasionally used to play regional cover bars when he was contractually prohibited from appearing under his own name. With the exception of the Flynn-penned 'Space Station', Take Cover is a collection of cover tunes that John and Harvey are having a lot of fun putting together as Harvey patiently coaches John (a true techy-Luddite) through the intricacies of remote recording on Pro Tools like one of those movies where the guy in the control tower talks a civilian through the steps of landing a aircraft. ('Pull back! Pull back! You're coming in too hot!') On some level the songs all seem to speak to our shared moment. 

Here's a peek at a rough mix by this new folk-rock super group. I picked this particular song to honor my old friend, legendary folk DJ, Gene Shay, who we lost recently to COVID-19:

Speaking of Gene, his passing hit our local music community very hard. He had always believed in me and seemed determined to use any device at his disposal to get me more exposure. Somehow he continues to accomplish this even now, as CBS News's lovely tribute to him featured footage of the two of us working together. First time I was ever on network TV! I mean out of hundreds (thousands') of hours of video of this guy on stage, they picked him working with me' I don't know how, but I know he had something to do with it. I'll sure miss him.

I was honored to have been asked to write something about Gene's passing for the Philadelphia Folk Song Society, which I'll post below.

Hope to see you online tomorrow and in person real soon. Please take care of yourselves and stay well.

Much love,


This One Stings (Some Thoughts on the Loss of Gene Shay)

by John Flynn

I've lost friends before. We all have. So why did the death of my old buddy Gene Shay from complications brought on by COVID-19 hit me so hard' Why did this sting a little deeper' Why was this pain sharp enough to cause that involuntary gasp during these interminable, mind-numbing weeks of collective national breath-holding' Maybe it was our shared history. Gene and I had been down a long road together.

So many shows. So many festivals, and conventions. I guess many of us in the folk community share that sense of deep time connection with him. Gene was a locus, a trans-generational touchstone. Listening to Ian Zolitor's moving tribute to Gene on the Folk Show, the Sunday night following his death, made that abundantly clear. Hearing Tom Rush's guitar doing 'Mole's Moan' during the intro brought that clenched feeling back to your throat all over again because you knew Gene's friendly voice wouldn't be breaking in at any moment to welcome us all around the crackling tribal campfire of a radio program that we've all warmed our hearts by for so many decades. So, yeah, history was part of it.

But more than that, Gene was like family. My kids had grown up around him. When they were little they'd crowd around the radio in our dining room to hear him occasionally play one of my songs. The whole family had once spent a day mugging for his film crew at the Philadelphia Zoo for a commercial he was producing for the local tourism board. Sean and Sarah had even done his radio show at WXPN a couple times with me. Yep, Gene was like family. But even that didn't quite explain what I was feeling. Maybe there was a selfish aspect'

Gene always believed in me. Indeed, I remember thinking after the premature report of Gene's passing (Arlo texted me that he had laughed when he'd found out that Gene had actually outlived his own obituary. I texted back that only Gene could pull it off...) that after my grandmother died, I had a sense that there would never be another person in this world who thought quite so highly of me. When it came to my music, Gene was that person for me.

When I was just starting out, Gene had given me my first radio exposure by inviting me on his show. (That is, if you don't count playing into a telephone receiver on Don Cannon's morning show on WIBG when I was in high school!) In those years the experience was always a bit daunting. I loved performing live' a staple on Gene's programs' but I must admit that I always felt kind of vulnerable at the end of the song' just as that final guitar chord faded to silence. There'd always be this moment of wondering. Would Gene like the song' And if so, what adjectives of praise might ensue from that authoritative and storied voice' What quotable gems for your press kit might you catch as they spilled forth into a microphone that might shape the perceptions of the entire folk community' But praise wasn't really what Gene was about. I realized years later that he wouldn't have had you on the show in the first place if you weren't any good. That was already understood. So, mostly Gene's response to your composition would be something along the lines of, 'Ehh' new song, huh''

Oh, the excruciating agony of a public damning by faint chronology! Yes, it was new! C'mon dude! Throw the kid a bone here! Did you like it' But nothing ever came back then except' the best possible thing. 'Let's hear another', he'd say.

I always wondered about this reaction. That is until I first heard a replay of Gene interviewing Joni Mitchell in which Joni plays the (then) three-day-old masterpiece, 'Clouds' for the first time ' live on the radio. You hear that last exquisite guitar chord decay and you sit, stunned by the craft, the beauty, the sheer brilliance! And then Gene responds (I kid you not!), 'Ehh' new song, huh'' WOW! Gene treated us all as equals! No big stars, no local schlubs, just songwriters.

His egalitarian approach to the artist would become even more evident later on. In the mid-90s, Gene paid me the honor of asking me to do a series of songwriting workshops with him throughout the tri-state area. This was a big deal for me as I was only beginning to become known for my own stuff. Having been judged too much of a 'folkie' for Nashville, I'd built my living' and a good-sized following' on the Philly and Jersey shore cover bar circuit.

Gene led the workshops and would open them by speaking knowledgeably about what made a good song. He would then use my material to illustrate his points, asking me to perform live and then questioning me about the choices I had made in a particular construction, lyric or melody. (I never admitted to either him or the audience that I felt like anything I'd done right was purely accidental.) I must confess that I learned a lot about the craft of songwriting' and even about my own songs' from doing these workshops with him. I was, and remain to this day, a rather intuitive writer and Gene helped me understand some things in new ways. He was a great teacher.
At the end of our workshops Gene would encourage the audience' who generally came armed with guitars, banjos or some other 'implements of distraction'' to share their latest compositions. As you might expect, the songs they regaled us with were of varying quality. Some were pretty good. Others were clearly written by folks just starting out. Some were' well' bad. Back then, my mind would almost always hear these new songs from a critical perspective. I remember Arlo's great story about Steve Goodman bribing him with a beer to get him to listen to 'City of New Orleans'. According to the story, AG had initially declined Steve's request to listen, saying, 'Songs' I hate songs!' That always made me laugh and there were more than a few moments back in those days where I'm embarrassed to admit that I related to the sentiment.

Not that I would necessarily share my negative reactions. But my first instinct was generally to notice what was 'wrong' with what I was hearing. My thoughts would automatically race to how the song could be improved. It was a problem-solving mentality. Gene's response, however, was always completely different. It was a celebration mentality. It always began with delight.
The first thing Gene would notice and respond to about your song in these settings was what was good about it. He'd point out what you had done well. The songs originality, evocation, enthusiasm, or even the spirit behind the attempt were of just as much interest to Gene as the final execution of the piece. And he was genuinely excited that you had decided to join the family of artists and composers that kept our music community alive. This wasn't to say that Gene wouldn't give you constructive criticism. After he had bestowed some of the biggest smiles I had ever seen on the faces of our fledgling writers, Gene would gently lead the composers into a discussion about how to improve their work. His suggestions were always valid and right on the money.

Gene's approach to songs mirrored his approach to everything. He could say 'no' if he had to, but his instinct was to begin with 'yes'. It's a lesson I still try draw upon. Not that Gene didn't also have a very funny as hell edge. Once, when I thanked Gene at a folk music convention for asking me to run a high-profile workshop called 'Secrets of the Emerging Artist', he said, 'John, no one's been emerging longer than you.'

Sometime after the songwriting workshop period, Gene signed me to my first recording contract on Sliced Bread Records, a label he and his friend Carl Apter had started. That's when I first encountered Gene's indefatigable sense of optimism. It was back in the late 90s. Gene was tasked with lining up the producer for my project. I was excited about his suggestion that we use Ben Wisch, who had received a Grammy for his work on Marc Cohn's recent album. Gene told me that Ben was up for producing me, providing he and I hit it off personally, and he advised me to drive up to New York City and hang out with Ben. The next night I was standing with my guitar case in the lobby of Red House Music.

Ben was clearly at a loss to see me and explained uncomfortably that he had actually declined Gene's offer to produce my record. After some really awkward silence, I asked him why he'd said no. Ben responded that, though he liked my singing, he didn't feel the material on the demo cassette Gene had sent him was strong enough. A couple hours later I had played Ben a batch of new songs and he had signed on as my new producer. When I called Gene at home the next day, he explained that that was exactly what he had envisioned happening. He said he had known I was better live than on my demos, and that if Ben got to know me and hear my stuff in person, he'd change his mind. Gene also knew me well enough to strongly suspect that if I'd had a chance to stew on Ben's initial rejection, I would have never gone along with the plan. Gene was definitely an optimist. Plus, I remember thinking, that was some serious Jedi-level mind stuff going on there. 'This is not the droid whose recording project you declined''

Throughout my career Gene was probably my biggest, most consistent supporter. Sometimes I think he even believed in me more than I did. So, yeah. That would account for some of the sadness I was experiencing. But there was more to it. There was just a plain old sense of loss.

There was the loss of all that voluminous knowledge and (to me anyway) old school savoir-faire. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I was never in Gene's company that I didn't learn something. And not only was his grasp of music and culture encyclopedic, it was always conveyed in a way that could make even a sometimes incurious and often self-involved student like me want to know more. Kris Kristofferson once joked that no one could hold you completely spellbound' on a topic on which you had no interest whatsoever' like Ramblin' Jack Elliott. (This is true. I once listened fascinated as Jack talked about his new sleeping bag for forty-five minutes!) Well, just imagine Jack's preternatural ability as a raconteur rolled into a guy who held forth on subjects you really cared about! Plus, I honestly don't think I ever knew anyone as sophisticated as Gene who had managed to so completely avoid the joyless tinge of cynicism. It's what made being around him so much fun.
But beyond all of this, beyond the sense of kin and kindred, beyond the generous career cheerleader and Sherpa, and beyond the bottomless font of musical and cultural erudition, my world had lost something even more precious. It had lost a source of sweetness.

Gene almost always exuded a simple and effortless cheerfulness; a natural good-heartedness. And that dependable source of agenda less affability was now gone. When my mind searches to find archetypes to compare, a few imprecise examples flash unbidden: Fred Rogers, ET, the Dalai Lama, Winnie-the-Pooh. None of these are exactly right of course. Gene was far hipper than these iconic figures (although the image of Pooh wearing Dennis Rodman style wrap-around sunglasses did bring a smile to my face.) Still, my friend Gene shared with them that same simple quality of unpretentious kindness. I'll miss that the most.

So, for these and many other reasons, this one stings, and will go on stinging for a while. But scribbling out these thoughts today helped me realize that the sadness isn't near as big as the gratitude I feel for the chance to have called Gene a friend. And it is certainly nowhere near as deep as the affection for him that remains and will abide. So, we'll continue to remember our friend Gene Shay in our ways. We'll make and love music. We'll look out for and take care of each other. We'll hold each other in our hearts until we can once again hold each other in our arms. We'll laugh at (or in spite of) awful jokes. And we'll raise glasses to our absent friend.

I'll end with some lyrics from the song 'Standing Ovation' which I wrote for Gene's 80th birthday:
You stood with me in the driving rain
In the howling wind and the hurricane
And your soul was kind and your heart was true
And you stood with me now I stand with you

You stood with me when few others did
Back when I was not much more than a kid
You showed me faith I had never known
And I knew that I'd never stand alone

When my hammer rang on that hard cement
You showed me what standing for something meant
When I'd hear your voice on the laughing wind
I would smile knowing I had a friend

Who stood with me when the battles raged
When the lines were drawn from another age
And our songs would try to say something true
You stood with me
Now I stand with you

As your hammer rings on this hard cement
When they ask where standing for something went
I will hear your voice laughing on the wind
And I will smile knowing I have a friend

I'll stand with you in the driving rain
In the howling wind and the hurricane
For your soul is kind and your heart is true
And you stood with me
Now I stand for you

' 2015 Flying Stone Music


March 17, 2020

March 11, 2020
Probably the last show for a while'
Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown, DE

Hi Friends,

So quite a bit has happened since I last checked in. I pray you guys are all well and taking care of yourselves. As for me, life's going on pretty much the same with a few minor adjustments here and there. Of course, any shows I've written to you of have been postponed.

Our Next Step returning citizens support group meetings are on hiatus since we didn't want to risk either the health of our volunteers (who are even older than me), or that of our economically vulnerable members who can ill-afford any wage loss due to prolonged illness. We are reaching out to the guys by phone each week and making our weekly bus passes and grocery store gift cards available through the mail. As things evolve, we will certainly try to help when we can 'and as we can 'with the resources you've kindly made available to me through your donations at my concerts and PayPal offerings at (Please don't see this as a solicitation right now. I know many have been adversely affected by the economic implications of the virus. Just know that I'm grateful for your support!) As far as the prisons, although they have been closed to all visitors in Delaware, they have remained open to New Beginnings, and I will continue to run groups for as long as I'm permitted inside.

Offenders are incredibly worried about Coivd-19; some because they're trapped in a problematic (in the best of times) healthcare situation, some because they're seriously immune-compromised, many because their loved ones are among the most vulnerable, and a few because they bear the weight of the nascent stages of spiritual awakening to the point that they fear being deprived of the chance to go home and try to make amends to those whose lives they have wounded. (This last fear seems to be the worst and was shared with tears last week by one of the toughest looking men I've ever seen.)

I know this social distancing stuff 'and what looks to me like an impending and inevitable national lockdown 'has a lot of folks freaked out, especially those who live alone. A long time ago the good sisters taught us about 'the mystical body of Christ' and what they called 'the communion of saints'. My Buddhist friends use different language but talk about the same kind of thing. Quantum physics now tells us this real and vital interrelationship of all things goes beyond mere space and time, beyond religious dogma, and certainly beyond temporary shelter-in-place policies. We are ALL connected. No one is alone. Not really. Feel me'

When I got home from prison the other day, I wrote to New Beginnings founder, Brother David Schlatter OFM, and asked him to point me to something in scripture I could take back into my guys. Brother David sent me a couple things which I'll copy below. People read the bible in different ways and at many levels. Some literal. Some symbolic. I don't wish to get into a hermeneutical discussion here. I simply offer these ancient and inspired words in the hope that taking them into the silence of your heart and mediating on them brings some comfort in these trying days:

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
Say to the LORD, 'My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.'
He will rescue you from the fowler's snare,
from the destroying plague,
He will shelter you with his pinions,
and under his wings you may take refuge;
his faithfulness is a protecting shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,
nor the plague that ravages at noon.
Though a thousand fall at your side
ten thousand at your right hand,
near you it shall not come.
You need simply watch;
the punishment of the wicked you will see.
Because you have the LORD for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You can tread upon the asp and the viper,
trample the lion and the dragon.
-Psalm 91

But now, thus says the LORD,
who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name: you are mine.
When you pass through waters, I will be with you;
through rivers, you shall not be swept away.
When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
nor will flames consume you.
For I, the LORD, am your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your savior...
- Isaiah 43:1-3.

I hope to see you soon.


And much love,


My kids joined me on stage to help with vocals at our
Camp Dreamcatcher benefit concert

Hi Friends,
We had a great time raising money for Camp Dreamcatcher at The Kennett Flash last month. Thanks to all who came out to support this annual event, especially my kids and my special guests Harvey, Ken Ulansey and surprise guest, the amazing Phyllis Chapell. This is always a special show and I hope that, if you're in the area, you'll plan to make it part of your holiday plans next year.

Some big news! I recently met with my state's new Commissioner of Corrections, Claire DeMatteis and the Chief of the Bureau of Prisons, Shane Troxler. They have approved my request to begin to introduce New Beginnings into Delaware's remaining two level-five prisons. (Up until now we've been confined to correctional and work-release facilities in Northern Delaware only.) They have also expressed a willingness to allow me to use some of my formerly incarcerated guys as group facilitators in the new prisons. This has long been a dream of mine and has met with resistance from the DOC for years. I believe it will allow our little program to grow beyond my limited time, experience, and abilities. Although I've been visiting prisons for fifteen years and gotten to know and care for hundreds of inmates and returning citizens, I remain clear on the fact that I still have no real idea what it's like to be incarcerated or understand at a gut level the lethal sense of hopelessness with which so many of our members have had to live. (As I put it to the Commissioner, which AA meeting would you rather attend 'the one being led by folks in recovery, or the one being run by a bunch of well-meaning people who've never had a drink') I think this new development could eventually change the power and scope of NBNS in profound ways!

In a few weeks I'll be meeting with the warden of the Sussex Correctional Institution to schedule a concert at his prison which will allow me to introduce myself ' and our New Beginnings program- to the inmates down in Georgetown. This will likely mean an even greater investment of my time in NBNS, but I honestly feel it's where I'm called to put my energy these days as we try grow this program up to a place where it no longer relies so heavily on me and our small, God-sent core of dedicated volunteers.

The new downstate prison groups will eventually present even greater financial challenges for us as well, since at some point, we'll begin to face the prospect of providing weekly Next Step meetings and transitional assistance for the men who are released from these facilities. I know I just have to trust that the answers will become evident as I go. As my friend NBNS volunteer and board member Sandy Stefanowicz is fond of saying, 'Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.' I'll check in from time to time and let you know how the pinion construction is going.

I get to restring my guitar next week for a show at a new venue in Havertown, PA. On Friday, January 24th, I'll be performing at the Kelly Center ( On Saturday, February 1st, I head north for a show in Bridgewater, MA ( And the following day, I get to visit my dear friend Sonny Ochs in Middlburg, NY where I'll do a concert at the public library at 4PM. For info call (518) 827-4953. Then on February 9th I'll be returning to Bel Air, MD (

Hope to see you soon. Thanks for always having my back.




Biggest crowd ever for this year's annual
New Beginnings - Next Step Thanksgiving feast!

Hi Friends,

I'm typing quick as we just got a surprise visit from the grandkids! More reasons to be thankful as we head into my favorite holiday.

I had a great time out in the Midwest last month. Just missed the snow and didn't (I don't think) show too much rust for spending more time in prisons than on stages this past year. One of the best parts of the trip for me was trying out a new song. The wonderful audience reaction inspired me to record 'The Circle of Love' and we just finished vocals last night. I plan to release the track as a digital single for the new year.

Lyrics included below.

My gratitude seems to increase as the years go by, in no small part due to the extraordinary people I've been blessed to get to know through my work. I'm including a little story that illustrates my point. This tale has a happy ending as the individual in question is doing well in a shelter that our NBNS board member was able to get him admitted to. More than this however, the extraordinary kindness of our returning citizen members in opening up their very crowded house to a homeless stranger on the strength of his association with NBNS is something I won't soon forget. (And this was not the only time our guys have stepped up this way.) It fills me with awe how the folks with the least in this world are often the ones willing to give the most.

Here's what happened '

He called me late Wednesday night to say that the prison had discharged him six months early without so much as a dollar in his pocket or a place to lay his head. He told me he knew of a couch he could stay on for the evening but he was going to take me up on my promise that no New Beginnings member would have to sleep on the street when they came out of prison. I told him I would meet up with him the next day and help him come up with a plan.

When we met, he looked like hell frozen over. It was 30 degrees and he'd been outside all night. Apparently the 'friend' he'd planned to stay with had other people crashing there as well. When these folks began drinking and smoking crack, he knew that his recovery- let alone his probation- was in real jeopardy, so he left and walked the streets of Wilmington in the bitter cold. (I later asked him why he didn't call me and he said, 'John, you have a family and I didn't want to bother you in the middle of the night.' These are the kind of men in work with.)

Little did he know that I hadn't slept very well anyway, as I was tossing and turning trying to think of place for him to stay. Now that the weather is turning colder, the shelters are full. Our go-to shelter last year, the RVRC, has been closed for months, and we learned just last week that the YMCA was not taking in any more men.

I took him out for some food and used my New Beginnings-Next Step debit card to get him some underwear and socks and a bath towel. He was wearing a coat that he had pulled out of a trashcan during the night-and it smelled like it-so I gave him one of mine that I had tossed in the car just in case. I have been making calls all morning and had not made much progress. But, by end of day, one of the members of my Board of Directors was able to come up with a bed that might become available next week at a shelter she was associated with down in Bear, Delaware.

This man's recovery was on my mind and I didn't want to place him in a motel by himself just now, so I called one of our Next Step members who owns a small house in Wilmington and has several fellow returning citizens as housemates to help with expenses. Our Next Step homeowner agreed with me that putting our brother in a motel might not be the best move for his sobriety. He told me that, although he had no empty rooms or beds, if I could come up with an air mattress, he would make a place on the floor for our homeless brother. My daughter donated the inflatable along with a quilt and some sheets, and I dropped our newest Next Step member off at a warm house where men who have struggled with exactly the type of challenges he's facing now live together, successfully facing life on life's terms. One of them whispered to me that, although the initial offer was for a couple nights, I shouldn't worry because as long as he remained clean, the new guy could stay until he found something else. One of the guys will even drive him to Bear on Monday morning for his intake interview.

I saw our new brother at the Next Step meeting this afternoon, where he spoke of the things he saw as walked alone on the streets his first night home. 'That was MY neighborhood, he said. I walked right through the jungle. Lots of people recognized me and offered me drugs. They called my name from porches and corners. They were high. They were stoned. With snot running down their faces. No coats. Freezing. Living in 'abandominiums'. Dying and not even knowing it.' His eyes filled with tears. 'That's what I always went back to. That's why I've let so many people down so many times. Not this time', he said. 'Not this time.'

Not this time, indeed!

No one can make it alone in this world. I'm so thankful to be part of a small but growing family that is willing to be the difference between healing or breaking; standing or falling.

In other news'

Just a reminder that I'm doing my annual benefit concert for Camp Dreamcatcher in on December 13th. We're in Dreamcatcher's backyard this year as the show moves to Kennett Square, PA. You can save a bit by buying these tickets early. Please come out and support this special show:

Here's the new lyric:

The Circle of Love by John Flynn

Ain't no love without freedom
Ain't no freedom without justice
Ain't no justice without mercy
Ain't no mercy without love

Fat man talking about bootstraps
While he's hitting out of sand traps
Thin man scrounging round for food scraps
While the car he's sleeping in's
Leaking oil from its valve seals
As the banker's doing cartwheels
And the DA's scoring plea deals
As the choir sings Amen! chorus

Politicians flash incisors
As the cops pull down their visors
And we're sadder but no wiser
As the world we're watching burn
Will growing harder just to live in
And to find a damn to give in
'Til we wake up to what we've been
Taking much too long to learn chorus

It's the circle of love, may it grow ever wide
Until no one is standing outside

There won't be no either or then
We'll say both and maybe more when
What was lost has been restored when
What is torn has been made whole
I can feel it every day in
My old bones and my archaic
Yeah, I know it in my soul chorus

' 2019 Flying Stone Music

I hope you're Thanksgiving is filled with the warmth of love.





The best part of my job as Executive Director of New Beginnings-Next Step is welcoming home men I've worked with while they were in prison and watching them set sail into their new lives. These two are ready for whatever the voyage holds.
Welcome home, Mike and Alphonso!

Hi Friends,

I've been so blessed in my life -- with family, friends, and work I care about -- that I didn't know I could feel more grateful. But the deep community I've stumbled into helping create simply by continuing to show up for a volunteer gig I had no business doing (and no apparent aptitude for) has changed my life in profound ways.

The lesson that keeps coming home again and again is one that Greg Boyle at Homeboy Industries imparted to me some years ago when I wrote to him seeking advice about helping one of my returning citizens who seemed to be slipping back into old patterns and placing his freedom in jeopardy. Father G, as the homies refer to him, assured me that I'm not here to fix or save anyone. I'm just here to be the tender glance of God. And that by creating the context for the expression of that tenderness'by continuing to show up and stand with the marginalized- THEY would fix and save ME.

I'm not sure I'm either fixed or saved. But I know for sure that I continue to get more than I give. Let me provide a couple examples of the kind of psychic/spiritual remuneration I've been receiving recently' First, a letter that was forwarded to me by the warden's secretary from a currently incarcerated New Beginnings member --

September 9, 2019

After attending several months of group settings in the New Beginnings group, I can without reservations state that the overall impact of the program is one of healing. On numerous occasions I have witnessed men confronting their own past behaviors and the behaviors of others and eventually arriving at a place of peace.

Truth, compassion and understanding are the hallmarks of the program and more importantly the volunteers who show up without fail. The volunteers never seem to judge program participants but do provide frank and thoughtful feedback.

One of the most amazing aspects of the program is how gradually every participant lowers their 'protective wall' and allows themselves to be vulnerable. Opening up to what amounts to a room full of strangers is not an easy exercise, but because care and concern are espoused by the staff members from day 1, every participant I've known has eventually gotten 'gut level' honest and shared true feelings. On many occasions there is not a dry eye in the room. Please understand that the tears are not only part of the process as the staff and participants lift up and support everyone in the room.

In this concrete and steel fortress of destroyed and interrupted lives, New Beginnings is an oasis of peace. Every time I leave to return to my housing unit I am uplifted and inspired.

Looking at what New Beginnings and Next Step actually accomplishes is more impactful than what is seen at first glance. While the group meetings refresh and inspire those of us who participate, the tangible benefits are even greater. Many of us take what we experience and learn in our group sessions and transmit it to other inmates and our family members. I call this the spider web effect. Twice weekly, we absorb positive thoughts and emotionally charged support and it carries us through the entire week.

Eric Harris
Howard R. Young Correctional Institution

Pretty amazing, right' And no sooner had I caught my breath for Eric's beautiful letter, a second wave of gratitude knocked me off my feet.

A few days ago I went to the NBNS post office box and picked up the mail. Among the envelopes waiting for me were two that had been sent from the state prison containing $75 in checks drawn on the account of an incarcerated man named Michael who's been attending New Beginnings groups for about a year. Michael has very little money, and, if and when he can get a prison job, he earns approximately 30 cents an hour with which he can pay for phone calls and his commissary ' which I won't say is expensive, but, trust me, the same economic principle that allows vendors to charge $10 for a hotdog at major league baseball game is not altogether absent in prisons. I was absolutely stunned to see these checks.

Before depositing them in the bank, I contacted the prison since there are strict rules against any kind of extra-curricular relationships between prison volunteers and offenders. No contact ' visits, mail, etc.- is permitted whatsoever, and any transgression could result in the loss of your security clearance. In effect, ending my ability to do what I've been doing for the last fifteen years, and possibly ending the ability of our other volunteers to continue as well.

The checks were not addressed to me, I explained to the volunteer coordinator when she picked up the phone. They were written and mailed to my non-profit, which is a 501 C3 and recognized as a legitimate charity by the IRS. She too was amazed at my story and told me that there were no rules covering my situation since it had never occurred before. I told her that I believed it was important for my organization to accept this generous gift, and that to decline it could possibly be seen as a slight by our incarcerated benefactor. Part of what we do is try to help men come to see how good they actually are. How can we then go and deny the expression of that goodness'

I deposited the checks and thanked Michael in group yesterday. He explained that, when he can, he tries to send some money to those less fortunate. He mentioned St. Jude's Hospital as a charity he also supports when he can. He told me that weekly bus passes and grocery assistance we give to returning citizens could mean the difference between their success and their failure when they finally leave prison, and that he believed in what we trying to do. Then he sheepishly added, 'Besides, I might need you guys to help me when I get out'.

My sincere thanks to Michael and Eric, and all who support my work, music and otherwise.

Speaking of music, I'll be heading to the Midwest next week for a few shows:

On Friday, November 8th I'll be in Ferdinand, Indiana--

And I'll be doing house concerts in Chicago on Saturday and Sunday. Email for reservation information.

Hope to see you soon!




That's me sitting behind Emmylou Harris and Kris Kristofferson a few years ago at the tribute to Emmylou in DC. Watching Ken Burns Country Music documentary this week has left me feeling deeply blessed by the folks I've met and the places I've been. (Kind of like the Forrest Gump of folk music). Of course, the bulk of these opportunities came from Kris, whose faith in me and my music was almost as stubborn as my own. It got me through some tough times and was the kind of validation I'd never known. I'll never be able to repay him.

Hi Friends,

Some very special shows this weekend!

This Friday night, October 4th, I hope my Delco, Pennsylvania peeps will come out and support my annual concert to raise money for my non-profit, New Beginnings-Next Step. Several of our returning citizens will speak about what this work has meant to their journeys both during and after prison. This year our guys will say thanks to Ridley High School for allowing us to use their auditorium for the event by visiting with the students a few days early for some workshops dealing with a wide gamut of topics including the dangers of toxic culture, peer pressure, addiction, and the power of early choices. I'm very excited about this chance for our guys to work with some young people. I'll let you know how it goes!

Then this Saturday night, October 5th, I'll be doing a multi-artist event in Ewing, NJ as part of the Concerts Across America to End Gun Violence series. Hoping my Garden State fans will come out and support this important show.

Work in the prisons and with our returning citizens has been going well and, recently, it seems we're welcoming a new member of the NB-NS family home every few weeks.

One of the special groups we've been asked to work with over the past year is composed of men who've been providing information to the state concerning the prison riot, hostage taking, and murder of a correctional officer in Smyrna a couple years back. I never mentioned this particular group before because these men are potentially under threat for their cooperation and therefore are being held in administrative segregation. Any thought of confidentiality regarding their location vanished as their residence was made public by some recent high-profile newspaper articles. (See several front-page stories in the Delaware papers last week.)

New Beginnings was originally intended to be a group to help folks transition from incarceration to freedom, but, when the warden asked me to take on this new group, it quickly became clear to me that some of these men might never even leave prison. As I often do, I went to my guys, both incarcerated and recently home, for advice. I asked if they believed New Beginnings could provide anything of value for a man facing a long - or even life - sentence. (I've always told then it was 'their' group, so I generally try to approach big decisions only after I understand them from perspectives to which I simply can't presume access.

The guys told me that there are different kinds of freedom. There's the 'walking around, go anywhere, eat at McDonalds anytime you want' kind that you dream of when you're incarcerated. And then there's the inside kind. Freedom in the heart, mind, and spirit. Of the two kinds, they told me, this 'inside freedom' is the more important. The guys believed strongly that New Beginnings was a great vehicle for achieving some measure of this kind of freedom, and in a dark place, any taste of freedom could be a priceless gift. I told the warden 'yes' ' but only if we could meet with the men without correctional officers being present. (One of New Beginnings very few non-negotiable conditions is the ability to meet in privacy.) To my surprise, the warden consented, and I've never regretted the decision for a moment. I've simply never worked with men who were more grateful just to be listened to deeply, and to be seen, not for the worst things they've done, but for the awe-inspiring humility, compassion and courage they possess. Please keep these, and all incarcerated and returning citizens in your prayers.

I'll be playing in Ferdinand, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois next month. Hope to see you soon.




Join us for a special benefit concert on October 4th @ 6:50
Ridley High School. For more info click the poster below


NEWS: John Honored By Nation's Criminal Defense Bar:

John's Re-Entry Work Is Recognized By The State Of Delaware:'fbid=10220077544108096&set=a.1162046130541&type=3&theater


Hi friends,

I hope this note finds you and your loved ones safe and well in the midst of all this week's heart-break. My friend Kim Harris recently posted a quote from the Talmud which I pass on here in the hopes that it will help you as much as it's helped me:

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.'

These words resonate very strongly in me and remind me of how Gandhi once counseled that although whatever we do may seem insignificant, it is very important that WE do it.'

It may (and probably will) get worse before it gets better, but, if we stand with each other, it WILL get better. How's that old song go' 'Deep in my heart, I do believe''

One of the best things for me to do in times like these is play, so I feel very fortunate to have some gigs coming up.

Thursday evening, August 15th, I'll be doing an outdoor concert at Bellevue State Park.

And on Saturday evening, August 17th, I'll be at the One World Coffeehouse in Columbia, MD.

I was honored to be receive some very generous and very public pats on the back recently (links above); first by The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and, then, by my home state of Delaware. Every NBNS volunteer will back me up when I say that we all feel we get much more than we can ever give in our work with incarcerated and returning citizens. There are truly so many people, without whom, I couldn't do of this; my volunteers, my board, my fans and friends, who donate from the kindness of their hearts to support our work, even the prison staffs have been a part of an important team that seems to be making a real difference.

With Deputy Warden Karl Sturgill and Warden Kolawole Akinbayo after John's recent concert at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution. Photo by Tycolia Robinson

Most especially, I need to thank my best friend and wife of 35 years, Beth, for being my 'peer support group' through so many ups and downs on this journey.

With Beth at the Franklin Institute after the
National Foundation for Criminal Justice Awards Gala.

In other news, my new single 'An American Cage' has just been released digitally on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc. Here's a link to one of the song's two YouTube videos:'v=59fnuuQNwgE

I'd really like this song to be heard, so hope you will not only share, but urge others to do the same.

I had a great time singing at the ballpark last week when we got to take a bus load of our returning citizens and their guests to Citizens Bank Park to see the Phillies take on the San Francisco Giants.

New Beginnings-Next Step is in the house!

My thanks to the Phillies for continuing this special tradition with us, as well as for allowing me to sing.

Leading the crowd in 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' during the seventh inning stretch.

My two annual benefit concerts this year are still a ways off, but I figure it's never too early to mark your calendars. On October 4th, I'll be raising money for New Beginnings-Next Step with a concert at Ridley High School, in Folsom, PA, and on December 13th, I'll be doing my annual (23 years') holiday fundraiser for Camp Dreamcatcher. This year we're moving the Dreamcatcher benefit onto their home turf, and will be holding the show at the Kennett Flash in Kennett Square, PA.

Believe it or not, there's more news to tell, but I think I'll leave some for next time.

Stay strong.


Oh yeah' Ps., New Beginnings-Next Step hats with our official 'broken handcuffs' logo are now for sale. All profits go to support the work of NBNS. Here's a link:

May 30, 2019

Hi Friends,

I'm writing on the morning of my 62nd birthday. That plus the fact that I haven't written in a while has provided me with an opportunity to step back and reflect a bit. Mostly at this stage of the game, I guess the main thing I feel is gratitude.

I've been so lucky to earn a living doing things I care about, and so blessed to have four great kids and a woman I'm crazy about by my side. And now, on top of everything else, grandkids are starting to arrive. Honestly, if I'd known how much fun being a grandpop was, I'd have gotten older sooner!

with 'the kid' at Pop-pop's house

I continue having fun making new friends and hanging with old ones.


with Kris K. on the bus

I enjoyed catching up with my buddy Kris Kristofferson recently. Kris is touring with Merle Haggard's old band, The Strangers, and continues to inspire me as I contemplate continuing to strive in the pursuit of a creative and honest life.

A few weeks back I (almost) passed an old timer named Ronnie Wong at the 21-mile mark of the Delaware Marathon.

with Ronnie W. at the finish line

I had seen this little guy up ahead of me all morning but had been unable to close the gap. I had run a pretty conservative (for once) race so I'd have a little gas in the tank during the final miles for a change. At the 20-mile mark I decided to pick up the pace a bit. When I finally reeled the old fella in, I gasped, 'I'm glad I'm not the only crazy old timer out here today!' The elderly runner cheerfully informed me that his name was Ronnie Wong, his age was 72, and that he was famous for having completed over 300 marathons. (This gave him ten years and at least 270 marathons on me!)

I quickly discovered that Ronnie is supernaturally affable and a natural and gifted raconteur. Since I had no PR (personal record) on the line, I decided to throttle back and spend a few miles letting him regale me with stories from a lifetime of running. Actually, I don't think anyone passed us during these miles since the conversation took our minds off our mutual and growing fatigue, and we actually began to pick up the pace slightly.

The stories were interspersed with sage advice and hard-earned wisdom of the road. At one point, Ronnie asked me where I was looking. 'Looking'' I asked. 'What do you mean' 'With your eyes', he replied, 'Where are you looking with your eyes' 'Down the road', I said. 'Big mistake', he chided. 'Look down at the road right in front of you. The marathon is a game of the mind. You get discouraged thinking how far you have left to run. But you can always take a few more steps, so just concentrate on the next few yards or so. The rest will take care of itself.' Great advice, huh' I've begun to use it in my prison work.

When the headwind picked up, Ronnie ducked in behind me and began to draft, explaining that at 115 pounds he was likely to get blown away. "Damn," I exclaimed, "I've got 45 pounds on you! No wonder I'm so much more tired". He laughed and said, "You should run more! You wouldn't be so fat ANY more!" That's when I decided to leave him in my dust. (But he drafted behind me all the way to the finish line.)

Work in the prisons and with our returning citizens continues to go well. We are all instructed to love our neighbors. And of course, this doesn't mean just the folks who think and look like we do (which can be something akin to admiring our own reflections in a mirror). But how do we love the OTHER' The immigrant, the marginalized' The people who are different and may even challenge our assumptions about our world' Is this kind of love of neighbor just something you do with your mind' A feeling that you cultivate in your heart' I think we are, for our own sakes, called to let it be more than this. I am increasingly aware that New Beginnings-Next Step actually provides me with a context for this 'more'. It allows me to be IN relationship with incredibly courageous, diverse, and inspiring men and women whom I would never otherwise have known. To come to see as brothers and sisters, folks who've led lives and endured things I'm not sure I personally would have had the strength to survive. These folks change, and perhaps in a very real sense, SAVE my life.

I spent a good deal of time with one of them last week.

A devout Muslim brother of ours who has spent most of his adult life in prison for a series of very serious crimes that began at a young age when, with his father locked up, his grandmother rescued him from foster care and explained to him that his biological mother didn't want him. Most of this man's life has been driven by the pain of that revelation. Indeed, he's only now beginning to struggle to let go of the rage and self-hatred caused by his inability to understand or deal with the foundational wound it inflicted. He spoke last night of what I've come to know as the 'hour of the wolf'. That time between 3 and 5 AM when our minds and spirits are prey to our darkest fears and deepest doubts. It is during this time each night, he told us, when he slides from his bunk to his knees and 'tears fall on my prayer rug'. He looked me straight in the eye and asked me to help him. I probably said many things in the final
minutes of group. About how honored I was by his trust, about how proud I was of his courage, about my strong belief that real freedom lay on the difficult path of self-discovery and vulnerability he had undertaken. And about my personal understanding of a God called by many names, who suffers WITH us in a kind of radical solidarity. I'm honestly not sure if any of it helped, but I do know that everything I said essentially boiled down to me telling him that I loved him. I'm spending today in prayer for our brother. If you have a moment today, please say one as well. For all the wounded ones.

I'm heading to Chicago for a live concert on WFMT FM's Folk Stage at 8PM Saturday, June 1st. I'll also be doing a house concert in Oak Park, IL on June 2nd. I believe these shows are sold out but you can email me through my web page to be placed on a waiting list in case there are any cancellations.

I'm looking forward to getting up north next month when I return to the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, MA (June 14) and the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY (June 15). Other than that, I've got an easy performance schedule this summer. I was honored to be asked to perform for the Foundation for Criminal Justice's annual fundraiser in Philadelphia on August 2nd. And I'll be in Columbia, MD at the One World Coffeehouse on August 17th.

I'm not sure what this next lap around the sun will bring, but I'm very glad to be given the chance and grateful to have your support and friendship on the journey.





Hi Friends,

Someone recently asked another successful returning citizen why he kept coming to our weekly New Beginnings-Next Step meetings after four years out of prison. His response was to ask, 'Why would you not go home to your mom's for Sunday dinner''

What a perfect answer! I couldn't have put it better myself! That sense of family, of community, is probably the most important part of what we try to provide with NB-NS. Forming trust relationships that allow us the freedom to be ourselves and risk being truly vulnerable. And I've come to understand that this vulnerability is the first step on the road to the healing we all need in order to grow and evolve in productive and creative ways.


Speaking of creative vulnerability, my old friend Dick Kniss once told me it was a big responsibility being in John Denver's band because John would try out material on you and gauge your initial response when deciding whether or not to share the new song with the rest of the world. Anything less than an extremely enthusiastic response could effectively doom a composition to oblivion. This always endeared John Denver to me. For
though he was one of the most successful recording artists in the world, he still struggled with the same doubts and insecurities we all do when it comes to artistic and self expression. I can completely identify with that sense of vulnerability, especially during the final stage of the creative process. It also illustrates how important it is to trust the first ears (and hearts) you share your song with. That's why I'm debuting a new one (lyrics below) next Thursday night, March 21st, at Baldwin's Station in Sykesville, MD. I started writing 'The Song of my Becoming' for my year-old granddaughter Taylor, but it kind of ended up being for me as well.

I love trying out new stuff on audiences and have come to really trust those experiences and the feedback I get. So if next week's crowd likes 'The Song of my Becoming', the rest of you will probably get a chance to hear it sometime down the road. To be part of the "jury" call (410) 795-1041 for tickets.

I'm looking forward to getting back to the Michigan in early April when I'll
be in Hudson and Ann Arbor. Information on these and other upcoming
shows can be found on my web site at

Much love,

The Song of my Becoming

By John Flynn

I am barrels of monkeys
Bevies of larks
Kindles of kittens and
And gams of sharks and
Every kind of people
Every kind of people

I am pods of dolphins
Gaggles of geese
Prides of lions
And along with these I'm
Every kind of people
Every kind of people

Like some Buddhist hot dog vendor
This old tune I'm strumming
Makes me one with everything
The universe is humming
The song of my becoming

Convocations of eagles
Charms of magpies
Tentacled rallies
of octopi and
Every kind of people
Every kind of people

I am caravans of camels
Schools of fish
Murders of crows
And along with all this I am
Every kind of people
Every kind of people

Like some Buddhist hot dog vendor
This old tune I'm strumming
Makes me one with everything
The universe is humming
The song of my becoming

Rocks and flowers
Wind and water
Galaxies at play
Boundless incarnations live
Inside my DNA

I am quivers of cobras
Parliaments of owls
Zeals of zebras
And wolf packs that howl and I'm
Every kind of people
Every kind of people

I'm unkindnesses of ravens
Gazes of raccoons
Wisdoms of wombats
Asylums of loons yeah and
Every kind of people
Every kind of people
Every kind of people
Every kind of people
In the world

(c) 2019 Flying Stone Music

Hi Friends!  
Laying aside the snow shovel for a few minutes to let you know that my Thursday, February 21st show at Baldwin's Station in Sykesville, MD is being rescheduled. Watch this page for the new date. 




Greg became the first one of my guys to return to prison
through the FRONT door when he visited Gander Hill
as a guest speaker for New Beginnings - Next Step!


Hi everybody' 


I've run somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty marathons over the years and I can attest to the fact that those 26.2 mile races can seem to be only half over at the twenty mile mark. That's how challenging the final six miles can be. The streets of those races are often filled with spectators who cheer you on and tell you how great you're doing. In the early parts of the race, their support really carries you along. But in the final stages, when the pain and exhaustion set in, when you hit what runners call 'the wall', and the voices of self doubt begin to gnaw at your will and confidence, it isn't the well meaning folks shouting from the sidewalks that get you through. It's the voices of those who run beside you. Those are the voices that carry the most weight. When the man or woman running next to you says 'Don't give up! We can do this!', you tend to believe them because you know they've come down that same long road with you. You know that THEY know how you feel. 


This understanding has always informed how I've viewed my role facilitating our New Beginnings support groups in the prisons. For, when it comes down to it, I'm really just a well meaning spectator, braving the elements, handing out some power bars or Gatorade, at times hollering myself hoarse, maybe even playing the Rocky theme on my boom box. And although I know the guys I've worked with over the years, both in prison and afterwards, have truly appreciated what I've tried to do, in the end, it's what they say to each other that really makes the difference. That's where the real heavy lifting occurs! That's when the magic happens!


That's why this week was such a special one for us at New Beginnings - Next Step. Greg, the young man pictured above, is someone I met when he was serving a six year sentence in the state prison. His nickname inside was Superman, mainly given to him by inmates who thought he resembled Clark Kent. (He has since abandoned his trademark the plastic frames.) Greg has been out three and a half years now, and in that time he has done amazing things with his life. He started from scratch, having never so much as put together a resume, let alone fill out a W2. He started small by chasing hours with landscape and construction companies, but, a lifelong car nut, he decided to be near his passion and applied for a job detailing automobiles at a large local dealership.  He parlayed that interview into an entry level sales job and a couple years and a lot of hard work later, he is now the manager of that entire dealership! 


Greg accompanied me back into Gander Hill yesterday to share his remarkable story, so that other men might begin to hope and plan for their own future success! 

To have one of my guys go back inside with me has long been a dream of mine, for no one can speak to the experiences of an incarcerated or returning citizen like someone who's looked into and wrestled with those particular demons, with those sometimes overpowering moments of fear, shame and despair. Therefore NO ONE can bring more hope!


This kind of thing was never permitted before and I'm deeply grateful to Warden Akinbayo for the chance to bring a former prisoner back inside with me. Greg spoke eloquently and powerfully about his decision - made early in his incarceration - not to waste the experience. He vowed not to leave prison the same man he had been when he entered. And he dedicated himself to his own transformation. It was a privilege to accompany him on a small part of that journey.


Greg addressed a large and rapt group of our New Beginnings members, as well as - for this special occasion and by invitation from our guys- prison staff including Warden AK himself. 


It took an enormous amount of courage for Greg to go back there this week. (Other men have turned me down when I approached them about this.) What he shared touched many and will truly help prepare men for the hard work that lies ahead when they're released. The response to his testimony was tremendous!  He was treated like a rockstar after group was over, with men pressing in to thank him and shake his hand. Lunch afterward at Panera didn't even begin to pay the debt I owe him.


I guess you've noticed that most of my posts spend more time talking about my reentry work than my music these days. I suppose this is partly due to the fact that my time is increasingly taken up with my duties for New Beginnings-Next Step. 

The ironic part of this however is that the majority of the funding for the transitional assistance (weekly bus passes and grocery store gift cards, transitional housing assistance, etc.) that we give to our members when they're released from prison comes from the folks who support my music and attend my shows.


That's why I'm even more excited than usual to have a few special performances coming up next week. 


I'll be in Sykesville, MD on Thursday February 21st at Baldwins Station:


At Musical Lairs

in Villanova, PA on Saturday February 23rd:

And in Bel Air, MD on Sunday afternoon February 24th:

In April I'll be returning to Hudson and Ann Arbor Michigan. Info on these and other shows can be found on my website at 

As I wrote last time, our website now has a link to PayPal through which you can donate directly to our nonprofit. Some of you wrote to me following that news and explained that you are more comfortable sending something through the mail.  If that's the case you can send checks made out to New Beginnings-Next Step. Our mailing address is PO Box 7211, Wilmington, DE 19803. A receipt with our EIN will be furnished. 

We are also now participating in the Amazon Smile program by which you can designate New Beginnings-Next Step Inc as your charity. That way we will receive a a small percentage of each of your Amazon Smile purchases. The link is:

Thanks for your continuing support of my work. 

I hope to see you soon!





Hi Friends,
As the year draws quickly to its close I'm filled with a sense of gratitude for the opportunities I continue to receive to both touch and be touched by the lives of so many inspiring and courageous people. As a wise young man I worked with for several years both during and after his incarceration said to me recently, the question we need to ask each other isn't, 'what's wrong with you'' It's 'what happened to you'' He is of course absolutely right. It's our stories that connect us. Our stories that create communion and understanding. I'm so blessed and honored to be continually entrusted with these stories, to carry and share them, both on the dark prison tier and the bright stage. Here's an example of one such story.

In group we often talk about what it means to be free. Not just released from the penitentiary or the often overbearing strictures of probation, but really free in our hearts, minds and spirits. Often this means going inward to the place of that original wound. There and only there can the long process of healing begin to take place. It's often hard and scary work. Recently in our Next Step (after prison) group a man talked of living in such extreme poverty that, as a little boy, the entire school bus would laugh when he got dropped o. in front of his family's shabby house. He spoke of how he felt when the prettiest girl in the third grade laughed at his dirty coat. He traced the choices he made that eventually took him to prison directly back to the burning shame that little boy swore never to feel again. A shame that lay dormant but was rediscovered decades later in a prison cell. He's been out a few years now, is working a good job (saying with a huge smile, 'I have BENEFITS!') rebuilding his life and helping his four kids attend college. I'm so inspired, not only by the resilience he has shown in so successfully moving on in life , but by the incredible courage he has exhibited in going back and wrestling with his own foundational wounded-ness. I'm so proud of the good man he is and always was. And I'm honored to know yet another human being committed to being truly free.

As NB-NS finishes its first year as a registered 501 C3 non-profit, we are confronted with some important choices about how to grow our efforts to reach out to the most vulnerable members of our community. If you'd like to support our work to help the incarcerated and returning citizen discover hope and dignity, please consider making a donation to us via paypal. You can find a link on our homepage at

Now some music news. My new CD, VINTAGE, has been receiving an unprecedented (for me) amount of airplay from Folk DJs across the company. I was their third most played artist in October and 'She Persisted' was actually the number one song for that entire month. Although, like Stevie said, 'the landslide (of new music) brings you down', we've been out over nine weeks and the CD is still hanging in at 12th on their airplay chart. You can find VINTAGE on all major digital distribution services. Or if you'd like to see your favorite neighborhood folksinger receive even more than the .0036 cents that Spotify will generously pay him if you stream all all twelve songs, you can purchase an actual physical CD at

My producer Harvey recently surprised me with a video of a song we released a few years back. The video includes some great cell phone footage captured by Lisa Kristofferson as Kris and I rehearsed my song 'Malala ' backstage at the Birchmere in Virginia. You can check out 'Malala' here:'reload=9&v=vIhuCxJMY_U

I'll be doing my annual holiday benefit concert for Camp Dreamcatcher, a therapeutic summer camp for kids dealing with AIDS/HIV on Wednesday, December 12th. The show will feature my friends Harvey and Reggie Harris , along with my kids, and will take place again this year at the beautiful Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, PA. Here's a link for info and tickets-'language=en&country=US&cobrand=sellersville&searchType=organization&

A wonderful show to put on your radar for the start of 2019 will take place in Silver Spring, MD on January 18th. I'll be part of the third annual UnNaugural Concert, Playing it Forward, Voices for Social Justice. Info here:
Hope to see you out there!

October 30, 2018
On stage with my producer Harvey at the CD release concert at the Kennett Flash... Thanks to everyone who came out!


Hi Friends,

The heartbreaking news these days seems to be coming in waves, one after another; each one capable of knocking you down before you can fully recover or catch your breath from the last. In these situations, I find it even more important to take time to notice -and thank- the truly good, loving, and courageous people in our world. I'm not talking about the big famous one's either. (Lord knows we have our share of these                   !) I'm referring to the regular folks going about their work and lives quietly, without much notice or reward. The world is held together by folks like these and they're truly all around us. 
These are the same people Fred Rogers was talking about when he said 'When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.'
Just today in Gander Hill Prison, one of our guys shared that last night he was going through something pretty difficult and 'feeling some kind of way'.  Dealing with anger has been a stumbling block for this young man, and he was out over is skis a bit and in danger of making choices that could have potentially extended his stay with the department of corrections. A corrections officer who had been observing not only the situation, but how hard the young man had been trying to make positive changes in his life, pulled him aside and talked to him, radically deescalating the moment emotionally. The officer spoke to my New Beginnings younger brother for several minutes, helping the young man pull back and get some perspective on the tense situation. He shared with the young man how impressed he'd been with him, and encouraged him not to throw away all he'd worked so hard to achieve in the last couple years by acting out in the heat of a volatile and vulnerable moment. The guard's words helped. A lot. 
Corrections officers in my state may well be the most overworked and underpaid public servants we have. I know all the preconceptions about prison guards, and I'd be lying if I said I'd never met some that lived up (or down) to the stereotype. Add to the chronic staffing problems of an already very tough gig the regular mandatory overtime in which shifts are 'frozen' (which essentially means... we know you were scheduled to work until midnight, but it turns out that you have to stay until 8AM...) and you can see that an already stressed workforce has had their jobs made much more difficult. It's against this backdrop - one in which it would be so easy to do no more than the bare minimum the job requires - that the aware and consciously 'human' being truly shines. And I've known many who wear badges. 
The officer last night went the extra mile and potentially changed the course of an inmate (and friend of mine's) life.  I know a conversation with an emotional kid seems like a little thing when viewed against the enormity of the events of the day.  But little things -expressions of care and compassion- like this are being done all around us all the time. And in the end, the kind of world we live in may well end up being the sum total of these little things. (Hmmm... I may be plagiarizing Gary Cooper's character in that Frank Capra movie here! Oh well, if you're gonna steal, steal from the best!!!) Anyway, pay attention to them. They're the best PDFs (personal flotation devices) we've got when the waves threaten to take us under. 
I'll be at Focus in Sterling, Virginia this Saturday evening, November 3rd -

This year, my annual holiday benefit concert for Camp Dreamcatcher will take place at the Sellersville, Theater on December 12th. My special guests this year will include Reggie Harris, Harvey, and my kids! Here's a link for more info:
Hope you can join us!

The new CD has been getting a great reception from folk DJs around the country.  It's available at all major digital outlets (ITunes, Amazon, Spotify etc.) But the actual CDs are only available at my shows or through my website. 
See you out there!


was The Midnight Special's CD of the week!!!

Cell phone pic from the road:
Don Quixote, aluminum statue by
Anna Hyatt Huntington, Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells, Inlet, SC '

Can't put my finger on it but something about this guy seems so familiar! -JF

Hi friends!

I hope this note finds you safe and well, especially my Florida and Georgia pals. Beth and I got to ride out the big blow in Myrtle Beach (Thanks Rob!) and luckily missed most of the bad stuff down there. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who were affected by Hurricane Michael.

A few upcoming shows--

I'm doing a special gig this Saturday, October 20th, called 'Released To ' From ' For' at 7PM at The 1867 Sanctuary, 101 Scotch Road, Ewing NJ. I will be appearing in concert with poets Luis Angel Mercado & Justice from 360 Poetry Night (and other poets). Admission is free (unlike over two million of our fellow citizens!)

Also, just a quick reminder that our CD release concert for VINTAGE will take place this Friday, October 19th at the Kennett Flash in Kennett Square, PA. My good buddy and longtime producer, Harvey (In the Morning) will be backing me up for several songs. Info here:

My thanks to Helen Leicht and all my friends at WXPN for supporting this show (and playing the album!) Thanks also to the Folk DJs around the country who have given it such a warm response!

I'll be at Evergreen House Concerts in Plainfield, NJ on October 28th:

And in Sterling, VA at Focus on Sunday, November 3rd:

I've been on the road quite a bit these past weeks, so its always good to hear from our guys. I was particularly delighted to see this recent FB post from 'Big Mike' Watkins' (pictured below)


Thank you for your continued support of New Beginnings-Next Step and all my musical (and otherwise) windmill tilting! I hope to see you soon.




John receives the 2018 Phil Ochs Award 'in recognition of his music and activism for social and political justice in the spirit of Phil Ochs'!

John's new CD, VINTAGE, will be released on October 5th. CD Release Concert at The Kennett Flash on Friday, October 19th!

With Sonny Ochs, after receiving this year's Phil Ochs Award
during the annual Power of Song Concert


Hi friends,

Hope this note finds you well!

My deep thanks to the arts and culture organization, A Still Small Voice and Sonny Ochs for the incredible surprise they presented me with after the intermission at my concert last Sunday in Schenectady. Receiving an award with a lifelong hero's name on it, indeed seeing your own name written there as well, is a profoundly humbling experience. I will do my best to live up to it.

The new CD is finally here! In terms of writing, performance I believe it's my best work to date. (Certainly my harmony singing has improved!) The album was produced by my long time studio pal Harvey (aka to Philly old heads like me as Harvey in the Morning) and I think we've really hit our stride with this project. Don't be shy about calling your local radio station and requesting they play a cut. Thanks to Helen Leicht at WXPN, 88.5 FM in Philadelphia for being the first to air the title track. The video for that song is here:'v=lCmbV_EHwMw&

The new album will be available at my shows and website as well as digitally through ITunes, Amazon, Spotify etc. The official release concert will take place at The Kennett Flash on Friday, October 19th- Tickets are going fast!

Some other upcoming shows include:

Saturday, October 6th, West Chester, PA, Private Event

Sunday, October 7th, Lawrenceville, NJ, WorldWind House Concerts, 5PM, for info or to rsvp email:

Sunday, October 28th, Plainfield, NJ, Evergreen House Concerts,

Saturday, November 3rd, Sterling, VA, Focus
phone: (301) 461-3600

Thanks for your continuing support of my work. Hope to see you very soon!




Great time performing with my buddy, Josh White Jr., at Uncle Calvin's
 in Dallas last week!

Hi friends,

As I type the date, I can't believe it's been 17 years. Let our thoughts today be with those who still struggle with the life changing losses and wounds they sustained on that terrible morning. When the Philadelphia Phillies resumed play a week later they asked me to sing 'God Bless America' at Veterans Stadium during the seventh inning stretch of their game with the Atlanta Braves. The sound- the spirit- of 40,000 people singing along with me under the open sky lifted my heart and gave me the first glimpse of something that could reasonably called healing. It had to do with the sense of courage I felt in the presence of my neighbors that night. I'm not sure this country held on to that spirit in the months and years that followed. But here's a song that moment inspired:'v=g0tSC8x3V9E&

I had an amazing time at the Global Homeboy Network out in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago. Close to 400 people, from all over the world, came together to share their ideas and experiences in helping folks reintegrate into society and rebuild their lives after incarceration and gang involvement. I was especially honored to attend the conference with a friend and hero of mine, New Beginnings-Next Step participant and (now) advisor, Quincey Thomas. I met Q when he was serving time in Gander Hill Prison and have been so proud of the successful life he's built since his release three plus years ago.

With the author of 'Tatoos on the Heart', Father Greg Boyle
of Homeboy Industries, and Quincey Thomas

On the flight back from L.A. Quincey reflected on all the wonderful people and organizations we'd encountered at the conference. We were both deeply affected by the hundreds of people from across the planet, all of whom were dedicated to striking some kind of a meaningful blow for restorative justice. Somewhere over Arizona Q said, 'You know, Mr. John (personal note: I will never get this man to call me just plain John! Believe me I've tried!) All those people, Homeboy Industries included, are doing great stuff! But no one is doing what New Beginnings does. (Except for some gospel sharing ministries') no one is really going INTO the prisons where the need is the greatest. New Beginnings-Next Step is really doing something special!' I had to agree with Q and it strengthened my resolve to continue and grow this effort.

Of course the LA trip wasn't all business!

I'm heading to New England this weekend'

I'll be doing a house concert in East Bridgewater, MA on Saturday night, September 15th. Email Jeff at, or call (508) 345-3682 for information.

I'll also be playing the Joe Davies Folk Festival in Middleborough, MA on Sunday afternoon, September 16th. Here's a link:

I'm doing a private event in West Chester, PA on September 23rd, and then I'll close out the month in Schenectady, New York doing a concert for my dear friend Sonny Ochs: on September 30th:'mc_id=1174

Final bit of news' my new CD, Vintage, will be out on October 5th! The local release concert will take place in Kennett Square, PA at the Flash later that month.

Hope to see you soon.


August 19, 2018

John Flynn is as close as we come these days to a live Phil Ochs!
' Vic Heyman, SingOut Magazine

Closing the New Beginnings-Next Step Benefit Concert with some of my guys...

Hi friends,

We had an amazing time and turnout at the NB-NS benefit concert this year! I was so proud of the four returning citizens who got up and spoke about the work we do. I know I surprised a lot of the guys in attendance by inviting them all on stage to close the show, but, as I'm sure anyone who was in the auditorium will attest, it was a moving and powerful experience hearing them sing the spontaneously rewritten third verse of my song 'Benediction' with the words, 'May your days bring you freedom and peace'. (There's some video here:'v=KAUkGo1EqZs&

My thanks to NB-NS board member, volunteer facilitator and chief meditation instructor, Sandy Stefanowicz, for helping produce the concert. And a big thanks to my alma mater, Ridley High School for welcoming me home and hosting the event.

The prison work grows and I've been asked to start yet another 'inside' group in a new part of a prison. After I explained that New Beginnings would need to hold to our foundational principle that participation could not be induced or mandated, I met with the offenders on the new tier last week and explained what we are and what we do. I spent about a half hour with the men and told them that if this was to work it had to be THEIR decision and THEIR group. I departed after telling them I would leave it to them to decide whether I show up next Thursday morning at 10AM. I'll let you know how the vote comes out...

This past week I was also allowed to do a concert inside Gander Hill Prison. I joked with members of the audience that I was honored to be there because no one had ever paid so much to see one of my shows before. The reactions of the men to my songs were some of the most powerful I've experienced in going on four decades of sharing my music. My song, 'Just Like Merle Haggard Said (Sing Me Back Home)', contains the lines 'Please sing me back to a place in the sun, where men can be more than the worst things they've done...' At hearing those words, a man in the audience left his seat, turned his back to the stage and disappeared completely from my view. I later learned that he had dropped to his knees and buried his face in his hands for the duration of the song. Sandy Stefanowicz was in attendance and seated nearby. She wrote on Facebook afterwards that, 'One of our guys fell to his knees crying and praying... The next night at our Thursday meeting in the prison, one of the men told John that the words to his songs expressed everything he has ever felt and experienced in prison'.

I'm sure you'll believe me when I write that no award or review from a professional critic could ever mean as much to a performer or songwriter.

Thank you all for your support and prayers as I continue to be uplifted and astonished to encounter brothers and sisters, beautiful children of God, and indeed, our Lord himself, in the faces of strangers who have often endured things I fear I may never have had the strength to survive personally. At least not intact.

I'm increasingly certain that we can all experience these (for me) life changing recognitions if we give ourselves the chance to create a context in which they can occur. As far as I can tell, for a person comfortably ensconced in what our society thinks of as the middle class, this often requires moving dramatically beyond our respective comfort zones. I guess that's often to a place they call the "margins". I doubt I would have had the courage to do this personally unless I was asked. I'll always be grateful for this invitation. At first, I believed that Brother David, the Franciscan friar who stared New Beginnings, had seen something in me that I didn't see in myself. Now I'm coming to understand that everyone in possession of a beating heart ' hence, a heart that can be broken- is not only able to make this journey, but is perhaps duty bound!

I was on a panel with my friend Mary Gauthier at a conference in Kansas City last year and we were addressing this very idea. A man in the audience asked how to begin and Mary said, 'Go TOWARDS what breaks your heart.' Best advice I ever heard.

I had a great time seeing and hearing friends at the Philadelphia Folk Festival this past weekend. The best part was getting to introduce my granddaughter to everybody. There's a wonderful new book called "Smiling Banjo" about the festival which includes amazing photos of folks who've performed there over the years. (There are even two shots of my kids!) In the back of the book is a list of all the performers who've played there and the years they appeared. It blew me away to see that in the past 25 years I've played PFF thirteen times! I'll never be able to thank the Folk Song Society (and head honcho, Andy Braunfeld) enough for all their support has meant to me.

Hanging with Gramps backstage at the Philadelphia Folk Festival

I'll be doing a house concert in Culver City this weekend (Aug 25th). For info send an email to:
I don't get to California that often so I hope if you're a west coaster you'll try and come over and say hi.

The traveling doesn't end with LA. In the next few weeks I'll be in Tulsa:'ti=icl

in Dallas:

And in Houston:

I know there's a lot going on (and wrong) out there these days. But there are good people everywhere and so many reasons to stay hopeful. Hang on tight and keep the faith!


"John Flynn isn't the only artist I admire that my kids discovered on their own. But there are similarities between him and the others. Two of the best writers I ever knew - Roger Miller and Shel Silverstein - had, in common with John, fertile imaginations, a Shakespearean love of words, and the ability to see funny things with a child's eyes. Their art, like John Prine's, is a wonderful combination of humor and heart that can move kids and grownups to laughter, tears, or both... The truth is in the details; the gifts are an ear for accurate dialogue, an eye for powerful imagery and anything funny, and a heart open to surprises and the possibilities of moving the emotions. John Flynn is one of a special breed of good-hearted artists whose reaction to the Human Condition finds kind, humorous expression. God bless them.' - Kris Kristofferson

May 25, 2018
Prior to singing the National Anthem at Citizens Bank Park , Philadelphia
photo: Beth Flynn

Hi friends

I hope this note finds you well. I'm sorry I haven't written in a while but things have been conspiring to keep me from the keyboard recently.

My summer chore list included a lot of firewood to split and stack

A lot going on'. I finally finished up what will be my next CD, Vintage. I'm anxious for you to hear the songs which include 10 new compositions and two older ones. One of the new songs, Sing Me
on my Way, includes vocals by heroes, friends and loved ones including my kids, my brother Michael, Arlo Guthrie, Kris Kristofferson, Kathy Mattea, Billy Swan, and many others. It is very special to have so many voices from my musical journey brought together in one place. I'll let you know when the CD is to be released, but I'm shooting for sometime this fall. 

Our New Beginnings-Next Step Picnic was a great success!
John talks more about New Beginnings-Next Step here:

My continued thanks to those who support New Beginnings-Next Step, Inc through donations at my shows and in the mail. As Executive Director my time and efforts have been increasingly monopolized by this work but in a very real way I feel it is exactly what I've been doing all along with my music. I know that as a young parent when one of my kids was sick, though I loved all my children equally, my ear was always turned to the cry of that sick child. There were nights where Beth or I slept by that ailing child's door, or held it in our arms. I often feel that the Lord is like a young parent and I feel God most keenly in the presence of those who are asked to suffer greatly, as in the case of our incarcerated brothers and sisters.

Or with returning citizens as they summon the courage to take on the enormous challenges of starting a new life - often without a dollar in their pocket or a possession to their name.

Rather than cost my music, I believe this experience over the past thirteen years has profoundly enriched it. And I will continue to try to share what I learn in my songs and stories.

I'll get to sing some of those songs in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on Saturday, July 14
th, at The Guthrie Center. The 14th is Woody's birthday and it is no small honor to have been selected to appear on this particular evening in this particular place. I will be of course including a few of my favorite Woody songs in the show--

I will also be performing a show Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania on July 26, and I'll be back in Wilmington, Delaware at Bellevue State Park on August 2.

My annual benefit concert for New Beginnings Next Step will take place at my Alma Mater, Ridley High School in Folsom, Pennsylvania on August 10

Later that month I will be flying out to California for a house concert in Culver City as well as attending the Homeboy Global Network Conference in L.A. Father Greg Boyle, author of Tattoos on the Heart, calls this conference a 'finishing school for compassion'. I'll be taking one of our NBNS returning citizens along with me on this trip to speak about the work we're doing here in Wilmington, Delaware.

Stay strong,


April 10, 2018

"John's songs reach deep and he has a way of touching an audience in ways that few can match. Reviewers often write that Flynn 'follows in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger,' yet John's work for justice and fairness is something he weaves seamlessly into his concerts. He truly inspires his audience. His most recent concert here ranks among our favorites and we look forward to the next time."

'-Russ & Julie
Russ & Julie's House Concerts, Los Angeles, CA

Mike is one of many New Beginnings members making good in the world! He is the manager of a KFC and writes that New Beginnings 'kept me humble and grounded. The next step here! Integrity is number one (in) my rehabilitation!... Thanks for believing in me... no looking back... Love freedom!'

Hi Friends,

I hope this note finds you well! I'm packing for a couple shows in Florida this weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends and- after a long snowy winter her in the midatlantic- having a chance to get out and run in the warm sunshine. Links and information regarding upcoming shows are below.

The new album is going great! Last night we finished cutting vocals on a song called Sing Me on my Way which features the voices of family, friends and heroes I've worked with throughout my career. Singing on the track are folks like Kris Kristofferson, Arlo Guthrie, Kathy Mattea, and Billy Swan, Jane Kelly Williams, Lizanne Knott, and Ben Wisch. Even my kids and my brother Mike (my first singing partner) join me at the microphone. I can't wait for you to hear it!

The work in prison and with returning citizens continues to teach and amaze me. An example:

Someone in one of our men's prison groups recently complained about a new transgender inmate named Wheeler. (Not using real names here.) Although Wheeler identified as a woman, DOC classifies people solely on the basis of anatomy. Being new to prison, Wheeler was - quite understandably -having a difficult time adjusting. And she wasn't the only one.

'I ain't looking for trouble, but that stuff really freaks me out.' Martinez said with almost practiced disgust. Plus, if you're SEEN with people like that, then other people start wondering about YOU! All I know is he... she... IT... better steer clear of me.'

Before I could say a word, another member of our circle came back at him hard. 'Knock off the bull!' he said. 'Don't use that kind of language here. You're talking about another human being! What about what we talk about in New Beginnings' What about working on your own shit and not judging other people' None of us in here is perfect or has all the answers. If you think you do, maybe this isn't the group for you.'

The room was momentarily filled with a charged tension but the disagreement that ensued was talked out and worked through-as is our way- with measured and respectful words. I saw each man, guided by his brothers in the circle, really attempt to listen to the other. And within minutes a truly amazing discussion evolved. By the time we began our closing meditation ninety minutes later, the group was in general agreement on several points.

One: Though part of Martinez's discomfort grew from simply not knowing what to say (and then covering his embarrassment), people can usually tell what's in your heart. Even a dog knows the difference between being accidentally stepped on and being kicked. So we should just do our best but not worry so much about slipping up and saying the wrong thing occasionally. We're all trying to figure this stuff out at some level. If there's no malice in your intent there will seldom be a real problem in using the wrong words. Especially if you bring to the moment an open heart. So if you don't know how a person prefers to be referred to or addressed, just ask them. (Regarding misgenedering, I've since been challenged on this point, but although I realize context isn't a magic wand, I remain comfortable with my position.)

Two: Prison is a place that, by its very nature, deprives an individual of a large measure of their dignity.

Three: Prison can be, for the toughest, but especially for newcomer, a very lonely and frightening place. (So how much more so for a new transgender individual!)

And finally: Regardless of whether or not you're comfortable with another inmate's sexual preferences or identification, a subversive way to fight for your own (probably) damaged sense of self-worth might be to do what you can to let each and every person you come into contact with (correctional officers included) know that you recognize them as being possessors of basic and inherent dignity as human beings. It may be something as simple as saying hello.

I walked out that evening both marveling at the arc and honesty of the guys' discussion and wondering if anything would come of it.

A week later I found out that Martinez had, a few days later, invited Wheeler to join his afternoon card game. I simply can not express how profound a gesture this was.  Such a simple thing. And yet so very powerful. And what inherent risk it entailed for someone who has struggled with what others might think of him. I told Martinez how proud I was of him and asked if he'd received any blow-back. 'Hell yeah!' he said. 'There are always gonna be haters. Jokers call you 'faggot' and shit! I don't care. I thought about what we talked about and decided that no one gets to tell me who I can and can't hang around with." 
"Besides', he added, 'she's a good dude!'

She's a good dude! Talk about getting to the heart of things!

But the story doesn't end there.

Several weeks later, Wheeler was actually invited to join our New Beginnings group. Although she didn't say much during her first meeting with us, afterwards, before going back to her pod, she said something to one of my volunteers that I will never forget. She said 'Thank you for making eye contact with me.' I don't think I had ever truly considered a world where this simple acknowledgment of your very EXISTENCE was something to take notice of and be grateful for.

If you want to have your faith in the human heart restored, simply stand for a while with the ones whose hearts have been broken.


Upcoming Appearances:

April 14th,
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
House Concert,, (SOLD OUT)

April 15th
Vero Beach, FL
Indian River House Concerts

April 27th
Newtown Square, PA
Burlap and Bean

May 25th
Philadelphia, PA
Citizens Bank Park
John will perform the U.S. and Canadian national anthems prior to Phillies game with the Toronto Blue Jays


"John Flynn's songwriting carries a wide open heart 'they are both fierce and tender. Think Cat Stevens... with a bit more folk rock and edge.'

' Mary Sue Twohy, SiriusXM

Andrea and Sylvester, two of the wonderful volunteers who help with our weekly New Beginnings-Next Step Community Clothing Closet


February 6, 2018

Hi friends,

I realize that my notes deal more with my prison work than my music these days. Please don't take that as a sign that I'm sticking my guitar case in the closet. Aside from releasing several digital singles in 2017 (These were topical songs which probably comes as a surprise to no one), I've been writing and recording material for an album that I'm planning to bring out by late summer. One track- a new song which I've taken to closing my shows with these days is called Sing Me on my Way and features an entire choir of old friends, including Kris Kristofferson, Arlo Guthrie and Billy Swan. (The list is still growing!) So don't count me out you guys. I've got some more songs in me. I'm gonna keep singing them and will be relying on you to help me spread the word.

I'm excited to be heading to Kansas City next week to perform an official showcase at the International Folk Alliance. The list of showcase artists draws from all over the world and is actually quite impressive. ( I'm proud to be on it.

On the summer horizon, I was recently honored to be booked by the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, MA to do a show on July 14, 2018 for Woody's birthday celebration! Of all the artists they had at their disposal, I was very touched to have bee selected for this special performance. And yes, you'll be hearing me sing some Woody that night!

In the mean time there's a gig this coming weekend I'm hoping to get a few of you in the DC area out to. On Sunday, February 11th, I'll be in Alexandria VA doing a show with the wonderful Anne Hills at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial'

Although I haven't been performing as much as I'd like these past few months, I've been kept incredibly busy with my prison and returning citizen work. Yesterday we actually held our second weekly New Beginning's group at Baylor Women's Correctional Institution. This is the sixth group I've taken on (with the help of a great team of volunteers! It's also my first in a women's prison. We have about 20 women in the new group and their appreciation and level of participation has been very moving. (It literally took me years to reach this level of openness and courage with the men's group!) Although I went into this situation knowing that I'd be dealing with some new and different dynamics and issues, my sense that we're not there to solve or fix each other, but simply stand with and listen deeply to one another seems to be being borne out. I'm grateful that I have a terrific group of female volunteers who accompany me into Baylor as the talk is- just as with the men's prison- open and frank. (I think yesterday was the first time I ever blushed in a prison.)

Sex remains such a huge stumbling block for us as a society. My friends Donald and Barbara Olsen, counselors from the Locus of Hope addiction treatment center, recently gave a wonderful workshop on sexual addiction to our Returning Citizen group. They helped us find language and begin to openly address the underlying reasons for which sex and sexuality can be misused and are often so deeply misunderstood. Seeing how our guys responded, both their reticence to speak and their hunger for the information being shared made me more aware of how we so often live as strangers to ourselves, let alone other people.

It also reinforced for me the value of what we do in trying to provide a circle of trust and compassion where we can begin to risk opening up to other human beings.

Someone in one of our men's prison groups recently complained about a new transgender inmate named Wheeler. (Not using real names here.) Although Wheeler identified as a woman, DOC classifies people solely on the basis of anatomy. Being new to prison, Wheeler was- quite understandably-having a difficult time adjusting. And she wasn't the only one.

'I ain't looking for trouble, but that stuff really freaks me out.' Martinez said with almost practiced disdain. Plus, if you're SEEN with people like that, then other people start wondering about YOU! All I know is he... she... IT... better steer clear of me.'

Before I could say a word, another member of our circle came back at him hard. 'Knock off the 'it' crap! Don't use that kind of language here. You're talking about another human being! What about what we talk about in New Beginnings' What about working on your own shit and not judging other people' None of us in here is perfect or has all the answers. If you think you do, maybe this isn't the group for you.'

The room was momentarily filled with a charged tension but the disagreement that ensued was talked out and worked through-as is our way- with measured and respectful words. I saw each man, guided by his brothers in the circle, really attempt to listen to the other. And within minutes a truly amazing discussion evolved. By the time we began our closing meditation ninety minutes later, the group was in general agreement on several points.

One- Though part of Martinez's discomfort grew from simply not knowing what to say (and then covering his embarrassment), people can usually tell what's in your heart. Even a dog knows the difference between being accidentally stepped on and kicked. So we should just do our best but not worry so much about slipping up and saying the wrong thing occasionally. We're all trying to figure this stuff out at some level. If there's no malice in your intent there will seldom be a real problem in using the wrong words. Especially if you express an openness to learning. So if you don't know how a person prefers to be referred to or addressed, just ask them.

Two- Prison is a place that, by its very nature, deprives an individual of a large measure of their dignity.

Three- Prison can be, for the toughest, but especially for newcomer, a very lonely and frightening place. (So how much more so for a new transgender individual!)

And finally- regardless of whether or not you're comfortable with another inmate's sexual preferences or identification- a subversive way to buttress and fight for your own (probably) damaged sense of self worth might be to do what you can to let each and every person you come into contact with (Correctional Officers included) know that you recognize them as being possessors of basic and inherent dignity as human beings. It may be something as simple as saying hello.

I walked out that evening both marveling at the arc and honesty of the guys' discussion and wondering if anything would come of it.

A week later I found out that a few days later Martinez had invited Wheeler to join his afternoon card game.

I simply can not express how profound a gesture this was.

Such a simple thing. And yet so very powerful. And what inherent risk it entailed for someone who has struggled with what others might think of him.

I told Martinez how proud I was of him and asked if he'd received any blowback. 'Hell yeah!' he said. 'There are always gonna be haters. Folks call you 'faggott' and shit! I don't care. I thought about what we talked about and decided that no one gets to tell me who I can and can't hang around with... Besides', he added, 'she's a good dude!'

If you want to have your faith in the human heart restored, simply stand with the ones whose hearts have been broken. It works every time!



Follow John on Facebook-

or on Twitter-

(c) Flying Stone Music


'John Flynn's songwriting carries a wide open heart '
they are both fierce and tender.  Think Cat Stevens...
with a bit more folk rock and edge.'  

' Mary Sue Twohy, SiriusXM

Sellersville Theater with Harvey...Thanks to all who came out for our annual holiday benefit for Camp Dreamcatcher!

January 3, 2018

Happy New Year Friends!

I went over to the Brandywine YMCA to swim some laps this morning (you can only run so far when its 8 degrees outside) and I noticed a sign on the wall that read 'Be Awesome Today!' It occurred to me that better advice might actually be 'SEE Awesome Today!'

I know lots of stuff sucks in our country these days. (I think I'm safe with this statement no matter which side of the political spectrum you call home!) I've shared quite a few songs documenting my personal takes on much of what transpired in 2017. But despite the disagreeable trolls, bots and seemingly ceaseless fusilade of outrageous, often alarming  tweets and soul-concussing news, I am more and more knocked out by the spirit of the people I see around me each and every day.

As Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries and author of 'Tatoos on the Heart' points out, we should stand in awe that the poor and marginalized manage to carry the burdens they do, rather than stand in judgment of how they carry them. This is a lesson brought home again and again in my work with New Beginnings and New Beginning-Next Step.

Just a small illustration. Elliott* (*not real name), a long time member of our Gander Hill Prison group, is being transferred to another facility this week. In his final session with New Beginnings he looked across the circle at a man named Claude* who'd only been attending our meetings for a few months. Claude had come to us with more than the normal share of inmate challenges (and I remember wondering if we'd be able to help him much) but week by week, we'd seen him grow in confidence and self awareness. He was visibly buoyed by the trust and affection he experienced in group, and instead of continuing to be held captive by a long list of anxieties about the future, Claude had begun to 'eat the elephant one bite at a time'', breaking down big, seemingly insurmountable problems into smaller, more manageable portions. Each week, Claude would confide in the group, discussing troubling issues, weighing advice, and ultimately making simple, reasonable decisions. As a result of this Claude was seeing, maybe be for the first time in his life, some things starting to turn around and go his way. He was experiencing what psychologists call agency; the realization that he had the power to affect his own life in positive productive ways.

Elliott addressed Claude saying, 'Brother, before I leave here I want you to know how proud I am of you, and how far I've watched you come in a short time. I know you have many doubts about yourself, but I've been privileged to see you grow so much!' At this point Elliott unstrapped a large rugged black digital watch from his wrist. (Being paid 32 cents an hour, if they're fortunate enough to have jobs, very few inmates can save enough money to purchase watches from the prison commissary.) Elliott presented the watch to Claude and said, 'I want you to have this. You told me once how much you admired it. So please accept it as a gift from me, and every time you look at it, remember how much I believe in you". Claude's eyes brimmed with tears as he struggled to find and give voice to words of the most profound gratitude you can imagine. Other guys in the group saw him losing the fight for composure and said, "It's ok, man... tears are ok.... let 'em come.' They did. (I personally hadn't waited for permission.)

In a place where men have next to nothing, I witnessed one of the most beautiful acts of kindness I've ever seen.

So bring on the nightly news, I can handle it! I saw a hell of a lot of awesome today! 

I'll be in New York this month for a few shows:

Friday, January 12, I'll be at 6 On The Square in Oxford, NY.

Saturday, January 13, I'll be with my good friend Reggie Harris at Walkabout Clearwater Coffeehouse in White Plains, NY.

And Sunday, January 14, I'll be doing a 4PM show at the Public Library in Middleburgh, NY. My dear pal Sonny Ochs will be hosting this show.

Stay warm and keep your heart and spirit!



Follow John on Facebook-

or on Twitter-

(c) Flying Stone Music


'John Flynn's songwriting carries a wide open heart ' they are both fierce and tender.  Think Cat Stevens ' with a bit more folk rock and edge.'  
' Mary Sue Twohy, SiriusXM

New Beginnings-Next Step member Curtis Reed receives a standing ovation after addressing the audience about the program at this year's benefit concert

November, 2017

Hi Friends,

Hope this note finds you all well!

A few upcoming shows I wanted to put on your radar'

Thursday, November 16th I'll be back in Sykesville MD at Baldwins Station (

And Wednesday December 13th will be my 21st Annual Holiday Benefit Concert for Camp Dreamcatcher, a therapeutic summer camp for kids dealing with HIV/Aids. The show will take place at the Sellersville Theater and will feature friends and special guests Lizanne Knott, Michael Braunfeld, and Harvey (In the Morning). (

I'll be back in New York for some shows in January and performing an official showcase at the International Folk Alliance Convention in Kansas City in February. Look for info on my web site. (

My little west coast tour last month was a blast.  Beth and I had a great time connecting with old friends and ' since more and more of my days have been getting taken up with my guys here in Delaware -- I really enjoyed getting out and doing some back to back shows. (By the third night I wasn't even forgetting the lyrics to my songs!)

Before heading home, Beth and I took a little side trip out to Joshua Tree and got to do some hiking in the desert--

Skull Rock, Joshua Tree National Park

Cap Rock, Joshua Tree National Park

In other news'  I'm proud to announce that I have assembled the inaugural Board of Directors for New Beginnings-Next Step, Inc. I'm very grateful that these amazing, talented and caring folks have agreed to have my back as we move forward in growing our work both inside and outside of Delaware's prisons. Stay tuned, 'cause something tells me this is only the beginning!

Our Board Of Directors is:

Frank Hoffmann
Hoffmann & Associates
Former New Beginnings volunteer

Robert Fox
Adjunct Professor of Taxation, 
Wilmington College

Glenn Pfeil
President ,
21st-Century Insurance

Cathy Weaver
Senior Vice President for Mission Integration,
Mercy Healthcare System

Sandy Stefanowicz
Professional Development Coordinator/ Acting Teacher/ Career Consultant,
Voice Box LLC.
New Beginnings and Next Step volunteer

Ashley Biden
Executive Director,
Delaware Center for Justice

I'll keep you updated on all the exciting goings on in the coming months. Thanks for your continued support of my music and my work!