Originally from Tennessee, Jef Joslin had often fantasized about moving to California. But as he’s enjoyed the sun, the beach and the laid-back vibe over the last three and a half years, he’s also come in frequent contact with a particular issue in his surrounding community. Whether performing on the Third Street Promenade or walking near the Venice boardwalk, Joslin can’t help but notice the large homeless population in the area.
“It’s a very fresh topic for me,” the locally based musician said. “Homelessness in general has had a special place in my heart. I have this desire to take care of people who have trouble taking care of themselves.
“When I reach out, I find that lot of them are pretty content, that they enjoy drifting. But there are a lot who have drug or alcohol addictions or some kind of distance from family ‚Äî all kinds of things ‚Äî and they’re isolated and having trouble getting back into relation with their fellow man. People are often not sure how to interact with them.”
Joslin’s experiences in and around Santa Monica were part of what inspired him to start Love Trade, which provides wellness kits to homeless people. And he’s putting his music behind his mission: All proceeds from the beachy soul artist’s “Come Out West” music video release party ‚Äî which will be held April 3 at Mid-City Music Lounge, 6010 W. Pico Blvd., in Los Angeles ‚Äî will support his charity.
Love Trade provides care packages that aim to address hunger, hygiene and hopelessness. They typically include gift cards to local grocery stores, travel-size toiletries and a booklet of inspirational meditations like “I am loved” and “I am healed.” Joslin said he believes the items can improve a recipient’s dignity and sense of self.
Joslin doesn’t pretend that the wellness kits will immediately solve homelessness on the Westside, but they fit into his philosophy of providing people on the street with something more than money.
It’s the same approach he’s taking for a future music video to accompany his song, “Stand Up.” With the goal of reaching out to people in need and helping them accomplish “small dreams,” Joslin recently came across a man who he said has been hitchhiking around the country. The man yearned for a slackline, according to Joslin, who bought the recreational exercise strap and organized video footage of the gift being put to use in Santa Monica.
Joslin is encouraging his fans to film their own outreach projects and add their videos to his YouTube channel, hoping the clips will inspire others to do good deeds in their communities.
A former football player who stepped away from a college athletic scholarship to pursue music, Joslin studied audio engineering and production and played gigs in Nashville while developing his skills on guitar, bass, piano and drums.
After a stint in Atlanta, he drove cross-country to Los Angeles and continued honing a sound that combines the groovy rhythms of Stevie Wonder with the melodic sensibilities of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. His 11-track “Come Out West” album was released last year.
One of the songs, “Do What You Wanna Do,” alludes to Joslin’s community activism: “If you wanna be a world-changer, go out and change your neighborhood.”
“You think you’re going to impart all this wisdom,” he said of interacting with homeless people, “and it turns out they have a lot of wisdom to offer you.”