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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Gelbard


Updated: Jan 25, 2021

Lebo reflects on the influence of Nature on his lyrics and songs, tells the story of a magical experience in the Costa Rican rainforest, and reveals how ALO got its start in college playing “Rainforest Thursdays” at a Santa Barbara pizzeria

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Conservation Value Institute today released Episode 3 of The Nature of Music Podcast, featuring a fascinating conversation between conservation scientist, Jonathan Gelbard (program host) and guitarist Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz of ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) – a California based band that has built a passionate following through famously fun live shows that “liberate the inner animal” of their fans.

Lebowitz and Gelbard are supporting a GoFundMe Charity Campaign to launch The Nature of Music Fund, which Conservation Value Institute will use to benefit musicians in need during the COVID19 pandemic and help cover the podcast’s production costs.

“We hope that with venues closed and festivals cancelled, music fans will support both The Nature of Music and musicians in need during the COVID19 Pandemic,” said Lebowitz.

“We’re just doing what we can to give something back to our friends in the music industry who bring so much community and joy into our lives,” said Gelbard. “We thought about how we can help musicians during this crazy time when closed concert venues and cancelled tours have left them without a paycheck. The idea came to us to create a virtual ‘venue’ where we partner with musicians to advance conservation and climate crisis solutions. We host GoFundMe Charity campaigns to crowdfund a small payday for their help advancing our mission. It’s a community effort.”


In Episode 3, Lebo shares stories about the influence of Nature on several of ALO’s songs. “You want to express…the things that are on your mind, the things that you’re wondering about, the things that might be troubling you, the things that inspire you and make you happy, and I would say that Nature fits all those things…it’s something we care so deeply about, it’s the rivers and the fields, but..Nature is you and me too.”

The ALO guitarist shares a fascinating account of being entranced by the soundscape of a Costa Rican rainforest, which “was like a complex orchestra – from the animals to the rushing water, to everything. They all played their part.”

Inspired by a fan question from old friend, Leila Salazar Lopez (currently the Executive Director of Amazon Watch), Lebo reflects on the band’s early days playing “Rainforest Thursdays” at a pizzeria in Santa Barbara. “We were creating a space for people to celebrate and gather, and at the same time, we were able to raise money for what Leila was involved with, and Jenna (who’s my wife now)…We were able to help their cause that they were working on, which was buying acres in the rainforest to conserve. To me, it’s like a complete circle when you can have that kind of thing. I mean I love music on its own, but when it’s working to create something bigger, to me that’s a much greater goal, it’s much more powerful, it’s much more inspiring.”

Toward the end of the interview, Lebo recalls the night that a torrential rainstorm captured his emotions and inspired the lyrics for the 2009 ALO song, “I Wanna Feel It”. A powerful live version of the tune, played with Grateful Dead bass player, Phil Lesh and Friends, at New York’s Capitol Theater, brings the third episode of The Nature of Music to a close.

To hear these and other stories that Lebo shared with Gelbard, click here to listen to Episode 3 of The Nature of Music podcast (which is also available on podcast apps ranging from Apple podcasts to Spotify).


The Nature of Music features interviews with musicians that tell the story behind their Nature-inspired lyrics and songs. Each episode explores the conservation and climate crisis-related issues — and solutions — that musical guests are passionate about. To encourage listeners to let their voices be heard in the voting booth, the podcast, “promotes the important work of our friends, HeadCount.”

A Charitable Program That Supports Musicians in Need During the COVID19 Pandemic: Each episode of The Nature of Music promotes a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe Charity. Episodes with headline-level artists such as Lebo raise funds to support the program’s charitable and educational goals. For musicians who the program hopes to aid, their episodes promote a dedicated GoFundMe Charity campaign, with proceeds split between guests and The Nature of Music podcast (as needed to help cover production costs).

The model’s success depends on the generosity of music fans and other listeners. If many listeners give just a little (e.g., the cost of an average-priced concert ticket, or a $10 monthly donation), they will enable the program to provide musicians in need with a modest payday (for their help advancing Conservation Value Institute’s mission) during this time when the pandemic has left so many in the music industry without a paycheck.

An Invitation to Donors to Help Conservation Value Institute Build The Nature of Music Fund: The Nature of Music invites donors, foundations, and corporate giving programs to help us build The Nature of Music Fund, which we will use to subsidize payments musicians in need. We’ll tap into The Fund to make sure that musicians who request compensation can earn at least $500 for appearing on the podcast.

To contribute to The Nature of Music Fund, click on any of the “donate” links on Conservation Value Institute’s web site,


· Conservation Value Institute Web Site:

ABOUT CONSERVATION VALUE INSTITUTE: Conservation Value Institute is a non-partisan non-profit 501(c)(3) organization creating and advancing conservation and climate crisis solutions. We specialize in researching and educating people about Nature's valuable benefits to society — e.g., environmental, economic, health, social justice, national security, and quality of life.

ABOUT THE NATURE OF MUSIC HOST, JONATHAN GELBARD: Conservation scientist, Dr. Jonathan Gelbard’s, life and work are inspired by a love of Nature. He infuses The Nature of Music Podcast with 25 years’ experience strategically designing and reliably executing conservation science, "climate smart" land management, and sustainability education projects. With strong ties to the music industry, Gelbard is emcee of the Nature-based festival, Camp Deep End, and appeared in the environmental documentary film, Dig It, directed by Danny Clinch and featuring members of Pearl Jam and Timberland’s CEO, among others (click here to watch a clip). In 2004, he served as the founding Outreach Director of HeadCount during its inaugural Jammy Award-winning campaign, was National Sustainability Producer of Green Apple Music & Arts Festival from 2007-2009, produced and directed the Rothbury Festival Think Tank in 2008-2009, advised efforts to green the Outside Lands Festival, and led the design and implementation of High Sierra Music Festival’s vendor compost program (a partnership between the festival and local farmers that continues to this day).


Contact Information (not for publication):

The Nature of Music host & Conservation Value Institute Executive Director, Jonathan Gelbard, Ph.D.

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