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God’s Beauty Rising
Steven Curtis Chapman
Taylor’s SCCSM Acoustic/Electric Guitar
NOV/DEC 2010 Volume 15, Issue 6
and the Gospel-Reggae Revolution Selective Hearing:
Prodigal God • House of Heroes Caedmon’s Call • Circleslide • Bebo Norman • The Afters
50 Great Gifts
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44 Indie No Spin Zone How To Get Rich and Famous in Christian Music 50 Rewind Bob Kilpatrick - Set Aside 54 CODA Long, Satisfying Road to Provision
What’s the Big Idea!
Let’s not underestimate the power of ideas. Maybe I should re-phrase that to “let’s not underestimate the power of a good ideas”. This issue wraps up our celebration of 15 years of publishing Christian Musician magazine. Man, what an interesting and fulfilling time it has been. I have often been asked how it all originally got started, so for the next few paragraphs I’m going to take you back to the beginning. I was sitting in church on a Sunday morning and the visiting Pastor started talking about the desires of our hearts. He said that often times the Lord will give us ideas but we tend to hide them in our heart and never actually step out and try them. He asked the congregation to all close our eyes and quietly think about any ideas or desires we had that we might need to bring forward and act upon. I had been mulling around the idea of a hip magazine for Christian musicians; one that they wouldn’t be embarrassed to show their non-believing friends. One that would have interviews with the Christian artists that I found interesting and that wouldn’t shy away from musicians that were in the mainstream world but were Christian men and women. I had this in my mind when the pastor called back our attention to the platform and directly said, “OK, now what is the very first step you can take to make this happen? You don’t want to die with this idea in you, do you? ” I decided right then that I need to take a swing of the bat at this and the next day the idea was still churning inside me. I sat down and planned out an eight page black & white newsletter that I could use as an example of what the concept would be. It had a rather poorly laid out look to it as I had little graphic experience (and still don’t mind you but I have really sharp people helping me now). Our original name was the Christian Musician Institute (CMI) for the first year or so but I had folks calling me up that wanted to come and live with us to study music, so I quickly abandoned the “institute” part. As I began to knock on doors and try to cast the vision of the magazine to equipment companies the Lord was faithful in putting other believers in my path that strategically helped me. That is point number two of this “Let your good ideas be born pep talk”. When you step out in faith (even though there is some fear and trepidation along the way) you may get some assistance from unexpected allies. It never ceases to amaze me how many Christians came along and had a “I will do whatever I can” mentality to help me. So there you have it. It wasn’t an overnight success but stone upon stone, brick upon brick the magazine grew. My seventh subscriber was Glen Kaiser of the Resurrection Band and he wrote me a note that said, “Brother, I just want to encourage you in what you are doing”. I’ll never forget that. That is our hope for you. Search your heart for your passions and dreams. See if you have a good idea just waiting to spring forth and if so, then take it out for a test drive and see what happens. I’m not saying to quit your day job and be a rock star. I’m just asking, “What’s the big idea?” Be encouraged. It could just work out to be something very fulfilling for you in the Lord! Merry Christmas! Bruce & Judy
8 Product Review Taylor’s Steven Curtis Chapman Signature Model Acoustic/Electric Guitar 10 Show Us Your Groove Excellence v/s Attitude, Confidence v/s Pride 13 Bassic Communication Intro to Solo Bass Arranging (Part 2) 14 Drumming Dynamics Dissecting A Groove 15 Vocal Coach’s Corner Avoid the ’Noid! 16 Guitar Workshop ‘It’s Christmas Time’ 1 8 Product Review Line 6 Relay G50 and G30 Digital Wireless Systems 2 6 Selective Hearing Prodigal God House of Heroes Caedmon’s Call Circleslide Bebo Norman The Afters 30 50 Great Gifts for Musicians 38 Ask Joe 41 Guitar From A2Z String Bending Part 3 42 Essential Music Theory for the Christian Musician Harmonizing the Blues Scale 43 A Musician’s Disposition
20 Steven Curtis Chapman God’s Beauty Rising
2 Christafari 3 and the Gospel-Reggae Revolution
cover photo by Taylor Guitars
4227 S. Meridian, Suite C PMB #275, Puyallup Washington 98373 Phone: 253.445.1973 Fax: 253.655.5001 Email: email@example.com Website: www.christianmusician.com Editor & President: Bruce Adolph Vice President: Judy Adolph, firstname.lastname@example.org Customer Service: Brian Felix, email@example.com Street Team: Mike Adolph, Jesse Hill & Caj Layout: Matt Kees Accounting: Debi Davis Advertising Sales: firstname.lastname@example.org Published by the Adolph Agency Inc.
Taylor’s Steven Curtis Chapman Signature Model Acoustic/ Electric Guitar
by Bruce Adolph Wow, a signature model guitar for Steven Curtis Chapman. That is quite an honor for any musician, but in this case it is more than fitting. Steven has been playing Taylor guitars for over 20 years now and as a singer/songwriter has racked up more Dove Awards (56) than any other Christian artists. He also has 5 Grammys and 45 No.1 Christian radio singles to his name. He grew up working in his father’s music store (Chapman Music in Kentucky) and has been around guitars all his life. When it comes to his signature model you’ll find not only his favorite attributes that make a fine acoustic but also some meaningful artwork adorning this guitar as well. Let’s start with the instrument itself. This Steven Curtis Chapman Signature Model (SCCSM for short) is based on a 714 model. This includes Taylor’s Standard II bracing. What? Wait a minute. What does that mean? The Standard II describes the bracing pattern on the interior of the majority of Taylor guitars. It’s an “X” pattern, with the intersection of the “X” moved close to the soundhole. If you sneak a finger inside, you can feel where it crosses. Each piece that goes into bracing the top is carefully scalloped. Then there is a relief rout (a small milled path that goes around the interior edge of the top). This rout allows the top greater flexibility to move and in turn, produce a much louder sound. The SCCSM features Indian rosewood back and sides (the grain on the one we are playing is really beautiful) with a rich tobacco sunburst Western Red Cedar top. The appointments include rosewood for the binding, ebony bridge, fretboard and peghead overlay,, a three-ring abalone rosette, abalone-topped bridge pins, along with gold tuners and buttons, which give the guitar a warm and inviting look. The guitar features an all-gloss finish and comes equipped with the company’s Expression System®. When you pick it up to play though is when the excitement starts to build for this guitar. It feels great in your hands and the 714 series body size fits easily against your body. The ebony fretboard and Taylor’s own precise fretwork make your fingers glad they found this guitar. The neck is fantastic! I swear the edge of the fretboard has been rounded or tapered on this model for extra comfort but Taylor tells me it is their standard neck. Go figure! I let Brian Felix our Customer Service Manager (who is quite a guitarist himself) play it and after about six or seven chords he stated, “This sounds like Ste8
ven Curtis Chapman. The tone is a good mix, the bass isn’t over-bearing”. After 10 more minutes of picking and strumming Brian mused, “I feel inspired just playing this guitar, you want to write songs with it!” Not a bad endorsement eh? Steven Curtis Chapman also likes this size guitar for another good reason. “With my music sometimes being rock and needing a guitar that cuts through a wall of sound, it’s got to have a more compact sound,” he says. “The 714 size has a great spot within a band setting”. To assist live on stage the SCCSM is equipped with the company’s award-winning Expression System® pickup to dial in pristine acoustic tones. I can see what Steven is saying about a band context, but I found the beauty of this guitar for me, was just sitting down and playing it on the foot of the bed. There is a character to the tone, a balance in the size and a joy in playing the wellcrafted neck and fretboard that totals a sum larger than it’s parts. Man, I really like this guitar. For a singer songwriter of Steven’s skills you can see why he likes it too. As for the meaningful artwork this SCCSM honors the Chapman family’s adopted daughter Maria (who tragically passed away at 5 years old) by incorporating design touches recreated from one of her last crayon drawings. The peghead features a six-petal flower with only one of the petals completed in blue. On the fretboard at the 12th fret, the word “See,” inlaid in her handwriting, accompanies a small mother-of-pearl butterfly: a call to “see” beyond the immediate and towards hope. The fretboard also includes small mother-of-pearl dots on the bass side. So if you ask me what I think about Steven Curtis Chapman getting his own Signature Model Taylor Guitar, all I can say is, “It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!” Along with a hard shell case, the SCCSM comes with a custom guitar label and a certificate of authenticity signed by Chapman. The guitar is available at Authorized Taylor Dealers at a suggested retail of $3,998.00 More info at www.TaylorGuitars.com
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What’s the balance between playing like you mean it, using 100% of the talent God has given you 100% of the time, playing with total confidence knowing that God has equipped you well… and pride? This is the age-old struggle we as Christians battle with every day. The perfect balance we are always looking for in all things but for the purpose of this writing between excellence and attitude, confidence and pride. Playing with attitude…it can be good…it can be bad. It all comes down to the heart. Are you giving God your very best by playing with excellence, by being serious about your playing and putting everything you have into it or are you just showing off. Oddly enough, the more talent someone has the less they have to show off. People do that to boost their confidence and make up for their lack. Now just to be clear, we all make
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mistakes and we all in one way or another struggle with pride. It just comes with being human. Also, and equally as dangerous, is our struggle with insecurity and lack of self-confidence. Again, for the Christian, self-confidence is having confidence in Christ in us. A while back we were leading worship at a large event with many different denominations present…all kinds of folks from all backgrounds. The band was a compilation of wonderful musicians each sold out to God and determined to give God their all. The worship portion was beautiful, everyone engaged and worshipping God together. We were totally prayed up and prepared both technically and in our hearts. We encountered the Lord then left the stage feeling blessed and good about what we had done. Soon after we heard that a man who was there was disappointed with the worship and thought we were showboating instead of worshipping. He said it seemed like it was all about us and not about God. When we heard this we were obviously heartbroken and examined ourselves to see if any pride had snuck in. We didn’t disregard his comment. We should always look at ourselves first to see if there is any truth in what someone is saying and we did. Our conclusion was we gave God our best and honored Him with the talent he gave us and with our worship. The analogy I often make is that of an NFL football player. Let’s use the Christian for this example. He prepares for the game and gives God 100% of what he has. He rolls every bit of experience, practice and prayer into going out there to win for his team. No one complains except if they think the player is falling down on the job. Assuming we are doing it for God and not pridefully seeking our own glory, the musician on the other hand has to deal with people who are not worshipping but easily distracted by the enemy’s voice telling lies. The devil will do anything to prevent or distract us from worshipping. Years ago a Pastor told me that if we are judging the worship we are not worshipping. That’s a pearl of wisdom I’ve never forgotten. So, if I’m hearing something less that good coming from the worship team I guard myself from becoming a critic and press into worshipping God even more. It’s a good thing to feel secure about your playing and enjoy that feeling which spurs you on. It helps you play even better I believe. Like an athlete who is in the “Zone” you are playing with excellence
Excellence v/s Attitude, Confidence v/s Pride
and not held back or handicapped by a lack of confidence. On the other hand if your “feeling good” is motivated by pride you’re really going backwards instead of forward and as the word says you are headed for a fall. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18. Musicians…we have been given much and much is required of us. We have the ability through our music, God’s music, to change someone’s mind, help right their path and generally lift them up for all that God has ordained for their lives. We have a BIG responsibility. Lack of preparation or not delivering our best on every occasion can hinder that. Also, letting pride creep into what we do can be a serious distraction and also hinder God’s work at least as it pertains to our part of the equation.
Regarding Each Musical Opportunity We Have:
Prior to your musical set pray and prepare yourself for what God is going to do through your music. Showing up spiritually ready, as well as technically ready is essential. We have so many distractions in life that it’s it more necessary than ever to be deliberate and purposeful in our efforts to center ourselves on the Lord letting all distractions melt away with only Him in our sights.
1) Pray & Prepare Your Heart
Nothing draws you closer together than the fellowship of prayer. Always take the time to gather your team and pray before you play. Before you play you are well rehearsed and ready to go, so unity in prayer is all that’s left. Please don’t skip this part or take it lightly. Do YOUR part…God will always do His.
2) Pray Collectively With The Band
Put everything out of your mind except the mission at hand. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. So…having prepared well, being prayed up both individually and collectively and with no pride or personal agenda lurking under the surface…go ahead…play like you mean it…and don’t look back!
3) Focus & Play
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Intro to Solo Bass Arranging
Welcome back to our introductory look DVD or Level 1 of my online courses (or any Norm Stockton is a bassist/clinician/solo artist at solo arranging for bass. Again, the benefit other resource you can get your hands on based in Orange County, CA. He spends much goes way beyond whether or not you anticithat illuminates basic diatonic harmony in an of his time touring and pate ever playing solo gigs – the process of understandable way). recording with worship evaluating melody, harmony and rhythm as Play through and get this part of the choartist Lincoln Brewster, but necessitated when arranging a piece for solo rus melody under your fingers (beautiful line, his 2nd solo project (“Tea In bass is invaluable for one’s understanding of isn’t it? – wish I’d written it!). After you’ve asThe Typhoon”) released this music on so many levels. similated it, try to add the roots of the chords past fall has been receiving I hope you’ve had a chance to assimilate as you play through that melody. Again, we’ll widespread acclaim from the previous installment of Bassic Commuwork on smoothing it out and phrasing it media around the world. Visit Norm at www. nication where we focused on the melody & “solo-esquely” later – just try to get those two normstockton.com and on Facebook & harmony of the verse section from the tradielements together. Twitter for much bass-related info and fun. While there, be sure to check out his blog (The tional Christmas tune, Angels We Have Heard Have a blast! :^) On High (Gloria). (Adapted from curriculum in the Grooving GrooveSpot) and register for his e-newsletter (the We’ll continue on with the first part of for Heaven instructional DVDs) groove update) for tips, interviews, clinic invites, the chorus section exclusive discount prices, and more. today. This should be Melodic/Harmonic Analysis: Chorus (1st Section) a really familiar part "Angels We Have Heard on High" (Trad. Christmas Carol) of the song to most of Norm Stockton you – think “Glo-o-oo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oC# Aeolian (Natural Minor) F# Dorian B Mixolydian o-o-ria”. :^) E Ionian "Root, b7, 6, 5" "Root, b7, b6, 5" "b3" "5" The basic chord
Bassic Communication Intro to Solo Bass Arranging (Part 2)
motion becomes I – VIm – IIm – V7 (half note per chord). Similar to last time, you’ll find both the default applicable scale and the intervals found in the melody (relative to the underlying chord) in the text above the staff. If you have any questions about any of this, I encourage you to check out either the mode section from my 2nd instructional
E Ionian "3"
C# Aeolian (Natural Minor) "b6, 5, 4, b3"
F# Dorian "Root"
B Mixolydian "Root"
© 2009 Stocktones Music
Dissecting A Groove
Last time we talked about the importance of transcribing drum parts. We started with something fairly simple. Today I want to discuss how to learn a groove that seems very complex. I have transcribed David Garibaldi playing The Oakland Stroke from a You Tube video. You have to love You Tube for all the visual and audio information we can access for free. It’s a beautiful thing. This version of the Oakland Stroke is an extremely difficult drum groove. Let’s figure out how to break it down so it is less intimidating. Type into You Tube: Tower Of Power - Oakland Stroke and What Is Hip. I transcribed this from the end of the video (about 7:40 into it) where Rocko Prestia is answering a question. He has David start the groove by himself. I am assuming that “1” is the first note played by Garibaldi. I transcribed the first 2 bars (because it was a bit different) and then the next two bars is the repeated groove. To make this less confusing we need to find something that is consistent through
out. The first thing I noticed is his high hat part. The basic rhythm (example A) is the same except for beat 4 of bar 1 and beat 1 of the second bar where he opens the hat. This is a good starting point and gives us something to latch onto. The next thing I did was play the first 2 beats of the groove without the snare drum (example B). Then I added the snare without the ghost notes and then added the ghost notes last (example C). It sort of has a songo feel to it. The next real difficult part was the last 2 beats of the second bar so I played that without the snare (example D) and then added the snare (example E). The last example is the last 2 beats and the first 2 beats combined. These sections seemed to be the most difficult for me so I just looped them until I was comfortable. Playing this as a one bar loop sounds pretty cool. The next step is to piece the whole thing
together. This is not an easy task but by getting the harder parts put together first it should be much more manageable. Remember to start at a slow tempo and pay attention to detail. Dissecting a drum part this way can make a very intimidating drum part much more approachable. Till next time …… David David currently tours with Fernando Ortega and has worked with Sara Groves, Bebo Norman, Crystal Lewis, Cheri Keaggy, Tommy Walker, Paul Baloche among others. He has played for Billy and Franklin Graham Crusades, Harvest Crusades, Maranatha Worship Leader Workshops and for over 2 years he was the house drummer for the Los Angeles production of The Lion King. His home church is Plymouth Church in Whittier, California. www. DaveOwensDrums.com
D E F
Avoid the ’Noid!
There is a well-known media created “star” that exists in a world that I do not occupy, who went to court recently on the charge of being criminally annoying. Can they do that? People can really be arrested for being annoying? Who knew? How cool is that. Without getting into the lurid details, let’s just say the “star” had a bit too much of an adult beverage and made a spectacle of herself. She went before the judge, fined 500 dollars and was sentenced to some community service. Here’s what I want to know, can someone be arrested for being annoying in all fifty states? If it is, we could have annoying singers and musicians arrested for being criminally annoying. A novel idea, don’t you think? How many times have you been to a concert and somebody on stage really annoyed you? My first exposure to an annoying performer was at the Mississippi River Festival back in my university days. Here we were having a great time listening to Sha-na-na in the heat and humidity near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers when the performer known as Bowser climbs on top of a twelve foot Steinway concert grand piano and proceeds to dance and sing on top of it for ten minutes. At least he had on Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. I found his actions very annoying. Maybe it was because the great pianist Van Cliburn had performed on that same instrument not more than a week before. Where are the police when you need them? Try this one on for size. A church I was visiting after doing a clinic for them had invited a worship leader from Nashville to lead them in worship. He took the stage looking like his clothes needed to be replaced, repaired, or at least, washed and ironed. His jeans did not fit, had holes in the knees and were the lo-rise or hip-hugger type. This man did not need to be wearing this type of blue jeans. When he stooped down to plug in his guitar his worn out t-shirt rode up and the lo-rise jeans rode down his backside. You guessed it; we got mooned in a church service. I was criminally annoyed. Another incident happened while I was observing a Christian battle of the bands that a student of mine had entered. I was enjoying the musical goings on until a band came out that everyone was talking about because that had a deal with Nike. I guess it was for cool shoes because their music was very lackluster. When they got on stage and played, it quickly became musically annoying because they had tuned their expensive PRS guitars (that stands for Paul Reed Smith) to an open tuning that allowed them to play the IV and V chords with a one finger barre. The ‘I’ chord had no fingerings at all, so they just strummed the open strings. I couldn’t believe it. They did not know how to play. They were just getting by. That was musically annoying. But what was worse, as usually happens, they won. The judges should have been ticketed for being annoying. Let’s hear it for Law and Order! We might want to also consider the people at the concert or worship services who leave their cell phones on, or use it as a flashlight during the most meaningful part of the concert. Book ‘em Dan-0. Maybe we could take the criminally annoying citation to a new level and we could all have citizen arrest powers. But if everybody could claim someone was annoying, that would be really annoying. This article is not being written to seem crotchety or sarcastic. It is written for sing15
ers to beware of behaviors on stage that repulse your audience. Keep in mind what Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “Be all things to all people”. I know you think that is out of context, but when performing we must attempt to be appealing, not off putting, and it does not take much to put somebody off. To take this thought another step forward a performer must always keep the audience in mind before, during, and after a concert. Many times singers perform with only themselves in mind. Remember that your audience gave up their time and their money to come and hear your music. So please do it for them. The performance is not about you, it’s about the audience. So please don’t get a ticket for being annoying while performing. Now go sing well!
Roger Beale is one of the nation’s foremost vocal coaches. He presently works with professional singers in all areas of musical performance. His teaching and coaching facility, The Voice House, is involved in the management and care of the professional voice. Many of his students have won prestigious vocal competitions and scholarships. In addition, he has worked with Grammy and Dove award winners and nominees. He also offers vocal clinics and seminars, as well as assistance in recording sessions. Roger is founder and host of the Christian Singers Workshop (www.christiansingersworkshop. com), dedicated to the teaching of contemporary and commercial vocal techniques. Roger can be contacted at: The Voice House, PO Box 87136, College Park, GA 30337, (404) 822-5097, e-mail: email@example.com, web site: www. thevoicehouse.com.
‘It’s Christmas Time’
Believe it or not, the Christmas season is upon us again! Notice I didn’t say ‘holiday season’ or ‘winter celebration’. I don’t actually have anything against Santa or the tradition of decorating trees or giving gifts. But… Christmas IS about the birth of Jesus and no matter how hard certain people try to rewrite history, that’s what this time is all about to Christians worldwide - “Christ’s-mass”, the birth of Christ. Of course, there is controversy as to when Jesus was actually born. It seems likely that it wasn’t even in the winter time. Truly, however, the time frame doesn’t make any difference. As believers we simply want to commemorate the event of God becoming flesh, living among us, teaching us and healing us. And, most importantly, He provided us with forgiveness of sin and the gift of everlasting life! That’s no small thing, and it could have never happened if Jesus wasn’t born into our human world on that ‘Christmas’ day. Imagine the curiosity and awe of the shepherds that night. The fear and joy all at once as they asked the question, ‘What child is this?’ This timeless carol, sung o the melody of ‘Greensleves’, is one that works out very nicely on guitar. I hope you enjoy this little intermediate arrangement. NEWS:
In the past few months I’ve really been developing my website at www.johnstandefer.com to include many new features, including downloadable TAB arrangements of various types and styles of music. These downloads include printable computergenerated TAB & notes as well as performance notes and an audio file of the tune. Since I’ve now come into the modern age with ‘computer music’ I am utilizing the new technology to produce the TAB in this version of What Child Is This. You might want to visit the website and see what else is there. It’s starting to accumulate and there are many nice, inexpensive TABs available already, with more to come. Also, I’m publishing an e-newsletter that comes out every other month with loads of cool stuff like free video guitar tips, a deal of the month from my store page, an ‘Ask John’ forum and lots more. For example, I’ve been beta testing equipment for Lloyd Baggs for some time, have become an artist endorser and am now set up as a dealer for L.R. Baggs products. Anyway, drop in at the site and say ‘hi’ and sign up to be on the newsletter list! The latest development is that I’ve recorded a Christmas CD called ‘Christmas Guitar’. It’s a really a cool collection of 16 Christmas favorites. Over the years I have developed lots imaginative Christmas arrangements in many styles and now I’ve finally gotten them recorded - using all my favorite guitars! By Thanksgiving, the CD will be available at my site. And for those of you who live in the Portland/ Vancouver area, I’ll be doing a big Christmas concert on Dec. 18th too (details and tickets soon to be available at the website). Have you seen John’s free ‘Praise Guitar Lessons’ online yet? Go to CCLI TV and start the weekly lessons today. And make sure to look over John’s calendar at www. praiseguitar.com to find an event near you where you can hear him live.
What Child Is This
2 2 0 2 2 0 3 3 0 8 1 2 3 0 3 0 0 0 2 16
0 0 0 2
1 2 1
0 1 2
3 0 2 0 3 3
2 0 0
0 0 0 2
1 0 3 0
2 2 0
2 2 0
0 1 2
2 1 2
0 0 0 2 2 0 1 2 2
2 2 3 3
2 0 3 0 28 3 2 0 2
2 3 4
1 0 3 0
0 2 5
Arrangement Copyright by John Standefer Music 2010. All Rights Reserved.
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Line 6 Relay G50 and G30 Digital Wireless Systems
Since the inception of POD Line 6 has deployed a seemingly endless array of tools that work incredibly well on the worship platform. The Relay G50 ($559.99 list) and G30 ($419.99 list) extend that footprint into the digital wireless realm with the kind of functionality we’ve come to expect from Line 6. If your Church has moved to a wired in-ear monitoring solution, there is a lot to love about ditching your guitar cable. Since the G50 came highly recommended by Mike Ross, Marketing Director at Sweetwater, I knew it had to great. Like Mike, I was tremendously impressed with the audio quality as well as the battery life – up to eight hours on two AA batteries! True to form, Line 6’s proprietary VWT (Virtual Wire Technology) delivers excellent frequency response for both guitar or bass (10Hz-20kHz), while the Cable-tone Simulator allows you to go wireless without having to change settings on your amp. The Relay Wireless Systems broadcast at 2.4GHz, which means you’re not going to pick up any television, cell phone, or other kind of interference. The DCL (Digital Channel Lock) technology worked seamlessly everywhere I used it, keeping the selected channel interruption free. I was consistently impressed with both the tone and range of the unit, which I’m currently running into a Boss GT-10, out into a pair of Orange Tiny Terrors, powering 1x12 and 4x10 Orange cabinets respectively. I’m set up and running in cable-free stereo bliss in less than five minutes. The receiver’s stompbox-like footprint is smaller than a DL4 and sits quite comfortably next to the GT-10. I actually used this setup at a clinic to walk guitar players around the worship platform and front of house to demonstrate what
happens to your sound at various locations in the room. This would have been impossible to pull off with a cable, and there is nothing like hearing how your guitar actually sounds front of house. The G50 uses the RXX12 receiver which allows you to incrementally dial in high end loss based on the length of your “virtual cable, while the G30’s RXS06 receiver features a simple threeway off / fifteen foot / thirty foot slider switch. The G50 conveniently features LED readouts for battery life on both the transmitter and receiver. Being able to check the battery life off stage is a huge help in averting the dreaded “dead air” when a team returns to the platform. The G50 also features twelve selectable
“alwayson” channels, the first six of which are shared by the G30. By mapping a unique channel to each guitar or bass player you could run up to twelve Relay systems with zero cross talk. Although the G30 offers half of the 200 foot of line-of-sight range of the G50, the sonic quality is virtually identical, which makes the G30 an excellent option when equipping an entire team. Visit Line6.com for more information.
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God’s Beauty Rising: an interview with
By Aimee Herd
Ever since the tragic accident of that late spring day in 2008, when their four-year-old daughter Maria went to Heaven; hearts have gone out in sympathy and concern for the Chapman family. Since then, the Scripture passage found in Isaiah (“To comfort all who mourn…to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”) has been the text of what God has been doing in this beloved family’s life, as they’ve journeyed through grief and found beauty in the midst of it. I caught up with Steven via cell, in the middle of life’s everyday busyness, and he graciously shared a little about his latest project—borne out of the sadness of loss—and how God has used it so powerfully.
Aimee Herd: Your latest album’s title is Beauty Will Rise. Out of one of the hardest things that a person can experience in this life, beauty really has risen. Steven Curtis Chapman: It has been a real gift… Music has always been the place where I grapple with or come to terms with so much of what I know, or hope to know about God and His ways. And, those have been more mysterious than ever. Shortly after Maria went to Heaven, someone mentioned in passing that since this happened to “the Chapman family, can you imagine the songs that will come out of it.” I understood what they meant, but honestly I couldn’t even fathom it at that point. I felt: how can you even think I’d be able to put into four minutes, and into words, this huge pain and loss and grief. There’s just no way. It was unfathomable to me that I would write a song about it, in fact, I wasn’t even sure I would write songs again at least for a while. I felt like God was so deep, and so mysterious to me—I know so little of His ways. And, for everything I thought I knew [about God]—I was afraid to go back and listen to my songs. I thought, “Am I going to have to go back and strike through half of them, saying, ‘No, don’t believe that anymore, don’t believe that...’?” But, thankfully, I began to let my own psalms come out. It’s really what I feel like these songs [on Beauty Will Rise] were—very much like David in the psalms, crying out to God, “How long? Where are You? What are You doing? I don’t get it, I don’t understand it, I don’t know how I’ll survive it... but I trust You.” And, like Job, saying, “God, You give and You take away, but I’m going to bless Your name, even though I don’t understand anything about Your ways or what You’re doing right now. I’m going to trust You, and I’m going to declare it, that’s how He works in those things. even if my heart doesn’t know what AH: Absolutely, and I have to tell it believes, I’m going to say it in you, it was just a couple months faith. before Maria’s accident that I lost Those songs started coming out my big brother to cancer, and your in me, and not with any intention album has really been a part of of making a record. It was really the healing process for me too, so, that journey of saying, “How do I thank you. always wrestle with these mysteries SCC: Oh wow. Well you’re very of God, how do I always wrestle—in welcome. hopefully a redemptive way—with God and His ways?” Well, music AH: Steven, a few months prior has always been a part of that. to Maria leaving, there were some When I’m grappling with a truth, things that happened in her life that or I’ve come to a new revelation of took on new meaning after she was something about God—usually a gone. The songs ‘February 20th’ and ‘See’ are about that. Can you talk song comes out of that. about those songs and the stories As I gave myself permission, and behind them? God gave me permission to be as honest as I needed to be; these SCC: February 20th, while it was songs began to come. Now, being hard in the subject matter and what able to hear how those songs have I was saying, it was easy to write met people where they are, in a in that I was just telling the exact place of loss and a place of grief, events of that day, there was no that’s been a part of the healing poetic license being used. It was process. It was an important part of exactly that day, a few months the process writing the songs, and before Maria went to Heaven that speaking them out there, but then to she was sitting on the floor putting hear them come back with the fruit her shoes on, getting ready to go to of comfort, healing and hope for preschool. She was getting ready for her spring program—she was other people... going to graduate from preschool Scripture talks about us having “this literally just a couple weeks before hope as an anchor.” It literally feels she would go to Heaven. [Her class] like that for all of us—not just those in her Christian preschool had been who have had such a huge loss like learning songs for the program. that of a child, but in just the grief of living in this world, with the effects of Out of nowhere she asked her mom the fall all around us, and the pain if God really did have a “big, big that we live with—this hope that we house with lots and lots of rooms,” and a “big, big table with lots and have is like an anchor. lots of food?” The Christian music A lot of times we feel like we’re fan out there will recognize those in this hurricane and we’re drifting lyrics from Audio Adrenaline’s Big out to sea, and we don’t know if House. Her mom told her it was true, we’re going to be thrown against and Maria said she wanted to “go the rocks and smashed into pieces to God’s big house, I want to live or what. Then there is this anchor there.” We were able to talk with that we can drop and hold onto. I her, trying to take that little teachable think that’s what these songs and moment to explain [the Gospel], not this album have been—not just for knowing where it would lead, and us, but thankfully, I’m hearing that certainly not assuming that it would it’s been that for other people too. be the moment when she’d accept That’s the goodness of our God, and the Lord, because she was only four.
But the more I talked with her, it was so evident she was really connecting with it, and it wasn’t just a song she’d learned—it was really something in her heart. So I asked her if she wanted to talk to God about it, and it was amazing—we were able to pray together—she asked Jesus to come live in her heart and to let her come live in His house whenever she would leave this earth. We assumed it would be many, many years in the future...but that was an incredible gift. So, it was February 20th, 2009—one year later—that I wrote that song. I sat down at my piano and cried many more tears of hope, and loss and grief, and I wrote that song. And then, See, was very much like that, from a personal experience, but it happened after Maria went to Heaven. It was a couple of days after the accident that we went home to get some clothes together for the memorial service and the funeral (because we were staying with some friends). We’d been begging God to tell us tangibly what we knew by faith: just let us see something, a dream or a vision, [to let us know she was okay and she was with God]. A few friends had shared with us that they had seen a vision (these were friends who don’t normally see things like that) of Jesus coming down and taking Maria in His arms. It was encouraging to us, but we needed to see that for ourselves. So, on our first trip back home, we were walking through the kitchen and each room with friends on either side just holding us up, as we collected a few things. We came to the room where Stevie and Maria had their little art table where they would for hours cut pictures and glue and glitter (they loved doing that). All the things were cleaned up except one little piece of paper on Maria’s desk, and on it she had drawn a flower. It had six petals, and only one petal was colored in, which—at the time—looked unfinished to us. I noticed something on the back of the page bleeding through, because
photo by Dale Manning
songwriter’s point of view; was it difficult to come up with the music to fit the very personal lyrics you had for this project, or did both come to you together? SCC: They really did come together. It was a strange thing, because there’s never been an easier album to write, but at the same time, there’s never been a more excruciatingly difficult album of songs to write. There was no laboring with “what chord do I go to here?” It was partly because I threw every rule out the window; never once did I think “will this work for radio?”... or “will this fit the mold of what people will be expecting me to do next?” You never want those questions to cloud what you do but they’re always in the back of my mind—I always wrestled with them. For example, I’d try to forget that I wrote Dive, and Cinderella because then you’re thinking, “...is there a ‘Dive’ on there, or a ‘Cinderella’ on there?” There was always a little bit of battle going on with that. But with this album, those thoughts were never even a consideration. This was not an album, it was not me writing songs to record. This was me pouring my heart out—it didn’t matter to me if I never changed chords in a song, or if it was the most boring, uncreative music. None of that mattered. What mattered was; “what’s going on in my heart, God, and how do I say this to You? If somebody else happens to hear it and it encourages them, fine, but I’m not writing this for anyone else— it’s between us.” I think that set me free to just let the process happen naturally, albeit painfully.
real, like “this is life.” It wasn’t in a pristine recording studio but life was going on all around me. Somehow that made the process really honest and really vulnerable I think. AH: Now, on another musicianoriented note, you have a new signature line of guitars with Taylor, tell us about that. SCC: Yeah, I was blown away. They called me after Maria had gone to Heaven, while we were in New York, doing some interviews. I’ve played Taylor guitars for years, they’ve been so wonderful to me and I love their guitars. They called me and said, “We want to do a signature guitar with you; you’ve played them for so long and people kind of associate you with Taylor guitars. We’d like to make a guitar that is really your guitar, specific to you, and make that available to people. What would you like to have?” My immediate thoughts were, I’d love to put Maria’s flower in the headstock, because it had come to mean so much hope to us. It’s got six petals, (we have six children) and one petal is colored in blue— Maria’s favorite color—and all the other petals are still waiting for their color. We really felt that was God saying to us, “One of your children is complete and whole, the rest of them are waiting for their color.” So it has that, and her little word “See” engraved in the 12th fret with that little butterfly that she drew. So it really is her guitar more than mine, but it was a great way to honor her, and the hope that we have knowing that we will see her again. And then it’s my favorite kind of guitar, it’s a 714 Taylor Cedar-top guitar, with a Sunburst finish. (I had only owned one Sunburst guitar of theirs prior, and I lost it when I jumped from the back of a cab to get into a building before I remembered I had my guitar, and it was gone!) I always wanted another Sunburst Taylor guitar, and this seemed like the right time to get that. So, there are a lot of reasons why this is a very special guitar. AH: You have another very special project that has come to fruition and that’s Maria’s Big House of Hope in China. SCC: Oh yes. Maria’s Big House of Hope has been another one of those incredible gifts for our family to put a little wind in our sails and hope in our hearts. It’s a place that reminds us of God bringing beauty out of the ashes. It was originally started as Shohanna’s Hope, after our first adopted daughter, but people had such a hard time pronouncing it
photo by Dale Manning
she’d used marker. So, I turned the paper over, and on the back she had written the word “See” with a little butterfly. That was amazing in itself, and it brought tears to my eyes, because I felt it was Maria and God whispering together—almost giggling—saying, “See? It’s okay, Daddy! God does have a big house, and you’re going to come see it, but while you’re here, look and ‘see’ eternally. Don’t see the pain, but see what God is doing in this.” It was just so huge for us, but the other part that made it even more amazing is that she only knew how to write 3 or 4 words—she could write “I love you,” “Mom,” “Dad,” and her name. She hadn’t learned other words yet, and certainly had never written “see.” We are convinced it was really a message from God through Maria’s hand.
AH: Wow! Steven, I know as you’ve shared this story of what happened and how God is carrying you through in various articles and even on TV, I know that God has used it very powerfully. When I watched your family interviewed on the Larry King Show, you could see AH: As you began to play through he was visibly moved...what ways these songs, you recorded them in have you witnessed the Lord using somewhat unconventional ways this testimony to touch others? and places... SCC: Well as you were asking this SCC: Yeah, that was the other question, my first thought went to part that was so non-traditional. that Larry King interview, because Normally, I’d go into a recording he was so impacted by our family, studio, and worry about how it our honesty and our pain. He sounded... “was that a good vocal responded by saying something performance, etc...?” But, Beauty like, “I wish I had your faith, or a Will Rise was written and recorded faith like yours, it’s remarkable and in hotel rooms, dressing rooms and amazing to me.” We even had the other places on the tour I did with opportunity to share, Caleb my Michael W—which was incredible son said, “Well Mr. King, you can because Michael was such a dear have this faith, if you’ll receive it friend and such an encouragement and believe it.” It was an incredible to me during that time. So, I’d be opportunity to share that and to recording it in my hotel room, watch God work. It’s been time after waiting for the lady vacuuming the time like that—watching God do hallways to be done bumping into that kind of thing. our door with the vacuum cleaner— AH: Looking at things from a just crazy stuff like that made it so
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place. People can see pictures and videos of it at www.showHOPE.org, and they can partner with us if they want to. AH: Is there anything specific you’re working on project-wise for the future? SCC: Well, we’re on tour this fall, doing “A Night With The Chapmans.” My wife—Mary Beth— has a new book called, “Choosing to See.” It’s my wife’s whole life journey, and about choosing to see God even when He’s showing up in really different ways. I think it’s honest and very powerful; she’s written a beautifully broken book. On the tour, she is going to do something she swore she’d never do; she is going to get up and talk, sharing a little of her story, and we’re also going to be on Women Of Faith together; she’ll share there too. I’ll be playing, and then our two sons—Caleb and Will—will also be out on tour with us, and they’ll be opening with their band. Caleb’s band just finished opening for Casting Crowns’ last tour. It’ll be different from anything I’ve done before, but I think it’ll be a really special night. In the meantime, I’m kind of recording songs here and there. I did a new song for a Veggie Tales Christmas movie that’s coming out. And, probably I’ll be recording something after the first of the year. I think I really want to go back and re-record some of my previous songs, but in a more acoustic style, kind of like the Beauty Will Rise record. It was just so good to play music like that, with a little different kind of treatment. So, I think it will be a sort of “Greatest Hits” kind of record, but in a different style. I think it would be really fun to do, and I think people would enjoy hearing those songs that they have stories connected to, but done in a little different way.
photos by John Price
and saying right, that we changed the name to “ShowHOPE,” to reflect what we actually do, which is to show hope to orphans. We give grants and financial help to families who are trying to adopt. We’ve been able to help parents adopt children from over 45 countries now. That’s been amazing, because when we started out, we had no idea where it was going to go, we just wanted to help a few families see their dream of adoption realized, who otherwise couldn’t afford it. We’re not an adoption agency, but we help “build the bridge” by helping families with the financial part of getting those children adopted and into their homes. There have been over 2,500 families now that we’ve been able to help and 2,500 orphans that have been brought into forever families that are Christian homes where they’ll hear the Gospel. As we’ve traveled back to China, we partnered with a lady who’s a doctor and her husband, who have done work for several years rescuing dying orphans, giving them medical help that allows them to be able to be adopted. In some cases, they are rescuing orphans who are dying alone in the corner of some orphanage; they give them care and make them comfortable, loving them and letting them die with dignity. We saw their work and said “this is something we want to be a part of.” In China, you can’t always preach the Gospel, but you can totally DO the Gospel there. So, we—ShowHOPE—built a facility there, and after Maria passed away, we set up a little memorial fund in her name that would go to
help orphans, and through that, we were able to complete the bulding of that special care facility in Lui Yong China, which is called Maria’s Big House of Hope. It’s got six stories, it’s a 60,000 square foot facility, and it has a full operating room and surgical theater for surgeries.
We took our first medical team over there this summer, and they did 11 cleft lip and pallet surgeries. It was an amazing trip; we held and played with a lot of orphans that are getting healthy and in the process of being adopted. And we also held one little boy named Tyler, who had very severe CP, who had been abandoned in a state-run orphanage. He’d been brought in and they loved him and nursed him as best they could, but he kind of gave up the fight. But, we got to hold him Please visit and pray for him, and Stevie Joy— www.stevencurtischapman.com Maria’s sister—whispered to him in and www.showhope.org his last few moments of life, asking him to go tell Maria that she loved for more about Steven, his music her. All this is going on at Maria’s and their ministry. Big House of Hope and we get to be a part of it. It’s a pretty special
13 & 14
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by Shawn McLaughlin
Prodigal God Brian Doerksen/ Christopher Greco Self released www.prodigal-God. com Some projects are so dense with meaning and fraught with artistic integrity, that only an almost thesis-like review will give an appropriate glimpse into what the artist is trying to communicate. Unfortunately, this magazine hasn’t the space for such a review, so I’ll touch on some of the fabulous, new Prodigal God and direct you to the project website (www.prodigal-God.com) for more information. First, Brian Doerksen (pronounced “Dirksen”) has always been one of the few worship-oriented musicians whom I can truly call an artist. His creations have all been far more concerned with bringing about true communion with our Maker than shifting units or stimulating radio play. From his early days in Vineyard churches, Doerksen has given us some of the world’s most distinguished worship songs, including “Light the Fire Again,” “Refiner’s Fire,” “Come, Now is the Time to Worship” and “Your Name is Holy,” just to name a smattering. Long possessing an artistic vision that far outstripped the limits of the Christian marketplace, Doerksen has created his first musical with his friend, colyricist/scriptwriter Christopher Greco, based on the familiar story of the Prodigal Son. They are releasing it through a website created especially for the project and are seeking to stage a full theatrical show after first producing a movie based on the created songs and libretto. This recording is merely the hour and a half of music the duo created for the musical. “Prodigal God is the musical tale of two brothers and one wastefully extravagant father. A new musical experience based on the familiar parable as seen through the eyes of the elder brother.” This is the brief synopsis provided by the authors on the website and gives a peek into the unique way that the two have re-purposed the story. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice it to say: It will give you a new perspective on the true meaning of the word prodigal (which the dictionary says is “wastefully extravagant”) and who the true prodigal in the story may be. The narrative is also told from the perspective of the older brother, again allowing us a look at the scripture with a fresh set of eyes. Without the inherent limits of the worship genre to hold him back, Doesksen gives us a musical experience that is both varied and full of immense vigor; it sounds like he had the time of his life writing these numbers. Separated into two acts (discs), Doerksen is afforded the freedom to essay numbers in a variety of styles and musical shades. “Little Brother,” the recitative-like opening number has startling rock dynamics; the story-song “A Father’s Love” has Celtic influences. There’s also “Two Sons” and the flamenco-inspired “Extravagantly” – and that’s just the first four songs! The story’s main characters are voiced by Doerksen (the eldest son), Ron Kenoly (the father) and Colin Janz (the younger son); Janz himself is the younger son of a well-regarded Canadian family of musicians, who bears a striking vocal resemblance to Paul Baloche. It is truly inspiring to hear Doerksen stretch out on this effort, as his subtle way with melody is expanded to fit the grand theatrical tenor of these tunes. Plus, his character gets the chance to really rock out, a musical costume that fits Doerksen’s rough- hewn vocals quite well. It is interesting that the younger brother is given the lighter, fun-filled musical moments while the elder brother sings the darker material. Kenoly is used sparingly, but his deep, mellifluous baritone is perfect for the authoritative, yet mercy-filled character he plays. The band is extremely dexterous, ably essaying all stylistic shifts and turns with aplomb. Prodigal God producers Phillip Janz and Brian Thiessen handle many of the instruments on the project and do well carrying a light production touch that allows the performances to create the drama, rather than using studio trickery. This is a very unique project for the Christian market, although it is similar to one that has been tried by Doerksen before. In the mid-90’s, he created Father’s House, a production which was also quite ambitious, but which collapsed and ended up causing great financial strain for the Doerksen family. In the aftermath, he moved to England for a time and wrote “Come, Now is the Time For Worship” in response to the darkness he felt at the musical’s failure. While Prodigal God is another risky commercial proposition and will likely be relegated to a niche audience, it would be a shame to marginalize the project due to the musical ingenuity and spiritual depth of Doerksen and Greco’s purposeful effort. If you surf on over to the website and join (it’s free), you will be able to download a free EP of six songs which should be all the impetus you’ll need to seek out this project and support one of the Christian market’s greatest innovators. Suburba House of Heroes Gotee Big, colossal, oppulent, epic, massive, lavish, blockbuster – you name your adjective, it doesn’t
have the cache to properly describe the utter vitality these fellows from Ohio bring to the proceedings on Suburba, an ambitious song cycle about the power, pain and pathos of youth, and the social gymnastics employed while growing up in a suburban melting pot. While the topic sounds particularly daunting, Tim Skipper and band bring a huge amount of reverent fun to an evolving blend of alternative rock laced with punk, pop, classic rock and prog overtones. With a few dignified numbers to stave off possible overindulgence, they still rock on a grand scale. This is the type of album that gets maximum mileage played on the car stereo at high volume while barreling down the highway in the dog days of summer. Huge guitars, massive vocal arrangements and tastefully employed analog synth are the main ingredients in the band’s musical melange, as many disparate styles and sub-genres can be recalled – often in the course of one song. The opener, “Relentless,” begins with a synth line reminiscent of Geoff Downes of Buggles and Asia fame, before shifting to a verse that reeks of early Springsteen, Thin Lizzy or The Hold Steady. Even elements of Queen and Muse can be found in the song’s bridge. This musical ecumenism is evident elsewhere as pulsating bass and brash shards of guitar fuel the Buzzcocks/Gang of Four feel on the rocker “Elevator,” which abruptly shifts gears in a middle eight that shares much with the progressive sounds of Genesis and The Moody Blues (indeed, the ‘Blues’ unique use of symphonic “chamber-like” vocal arrangements inform many of Suburba’s songs) before switching back to the aggrorock of the original verse. “Love is for the Middle Class” lifts the familiar riff from The Knack’s “My Sharona” while recalling other groups from the more guitar-oriented branch of ‘80’s new wave, all while lamenting the fickle nature of earthly love: “If all I had was love, would I still be lovely?” “So Far Away” sounds like a mid-tempo classic even as it shames Coldplay with the type of melody that band rarely writes. But it is the next cut that takes the prize – the absolutely stunning rock & roll theater of “God Save the Foolish Kings,” a Meatloaf-and- Phil Spectormeets-West Side Story tale of gangs, rumbles and the desperation of youth. Skipper proves himself to be an uncanny chronicler of the teenage experience with lyrics that sear the memories of any of us who are desperate to find significance in an increasingly cynical world. “We’re outcasts only cuz we choose to dream We’re princes who’d rather dine with thieves We’re honest only cuz the truth, it cannot hide God save us, the foolish kings” and: “And we fight cuz We’d rather break our bones
Than brave this loneliness We draw blood cuz We’re just trying to draw out some significance” Yet, a still small voice manages to be heard in the confusion of adolescence: “But I met God on the street tonight And he said, “Choose your battles wisely Or you’ll never find Me” House of Heroes makes it six excellent songs in a row with the lovely love/worship song “Salt in the Sea,” a beautiful change of pace featuring a particularly pensive vocal from Skipper, who–truth be told– makes a strong case on Suburba for being one of the four or five best rock vocalists around today. He has a rare ability to vary his delivery in a way that doesn’t sound contrived or manufactured. Finally, on the grungy stomper “Independence Day for a Thief,” the band drops a song that is merely very good. Sounding a lot like Audioslave, the band really displays its musicians’ significant instrumental chops, following the lead of bassist, A.J. Babcock, a standout throughout the disc. The rest of the disc is filled with more very good-to-excellent songs, especially the Oasis-meets-Queen guitar pop of “Somebody Knows” and the superb rock ballad “Constant,” a “could be” worship song that was actually written as a tribute to Desmond Hume of Lost fame. Considering the panoramic scope, Suburba could be quite the bombastic mess, but the record’s songs remain full of power while retaining the delicate touch of songwriting craftsmanship. After the excellent The
End is Not the End, I think a slight letdown could have easily occurred. Instead, House of Heroes lives up to all expectations that could have been placed on its shoulders and offers ample proof that this may be just the beginning for this talented combo. Raising Up the Dead Caedmon’s Call Self-released http://www. caedmonscall.com/ Raising Up the Dead is the rousing comeback that 2007’s Overdressed should have been. That CD was certainly a solid affair, but following the return of artistic nomad Derek Webb after a five year absence, a bit more was expected than the workmanlike folk/rock radio fare of said project. The new disc shatters such labels with a musical ecumenism that borrows liberally from many sources. Indie pop bands like Welcome Wagon, Sufjan Stevens and Iron and Wine have had an influence on the band’s sound and Webb’s solo forays into electronic music are not readily apparent but certainly color certain tracks (listen to the subtle drum loop and electronic bells that open the otherwise sunny folk/pop of “Family”). The band’s early fondness for rustic folk-rock is given a name-check on the ominously constructed “She,” a charming if lyrically obtuse gem that features a Danielle Young vocal that is simultaneously mysterious and confident. Young checks in with six co-writing credits on Raising Up the Dead, which is a break from the
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norm, as she has only shared writing credits on one other song in the group’s long history. In fact, all the band’s members wield the pen in some form or another, and the disc is all the better for it as they sound positively reinvigorated throughout. “Family” belies its sunny pop melody and bright harmonies, telling the tale of a man who feels rejected by those near him, prompting a search for “real” family elsewhere. “Miss You” is another Danielle Young showcase, which features vibes, bells and a lovely string arrangement, buttressing the affecting story of a woman’s struggle to decide between two love interests. This may be a metaphor for the eternal human struggle between the flesh and the spirit but it works in multiple contexts. “I Need a Builder” is the most musically inventive cut on the album, utilizing a lovely string arrangement while Webb effortlessly leaps the huge vocal intervals of the chorus while singing about one man’s experience of moving forward to create his own story without relying solely on what he grew up believing. The album’s overarching concept is not readily apparent, but each song is full of rich character and subtle but distinct spiritual application. Webb’s production is certainly a highlight of the project, as he ably frames the band’s lyrical concerns in musical finery that is sensitive to the feel of each cut while he utilizes instruments and arrangement tricks that have few precedents in the CCM field. While stellar musical output from Caedmon’s Call is never a surprise, Raising Up the Dead is a surprising artistic evolution for a band known for their iconic creativity, and is certainly a development to celebrate.
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Echoes of the Light Circleslide Save the City Records The second official long form release for alternative pop-rock band, Circleslide is a somewhat dichotomous affair as the band alternates between grand, stadium sized modern rock and moody, reflective musical beds that show an impressive artistic breadth even as it illuminates the record’s one weakness. Amidst such striking musical constructions as the pulsating, moody “Nothing Campares To You”, or the Choir-like ambient leanings of “Litany”, the lyrics are somewhat unimaginative. Interestingly, the record’s title, Echoes of the Light is a reference to humanity and our duty to reflect the light of Christ, which is kind of cool. This leaves the listener longing for more substantive lyrical concerns to embellish a record that, otherwise, strikes a strong balance between appealingly accessible CHR and murkier, artistic fare. Hopefully, the band will correct this minor defect next time out. Ocean Bebo Norman BEC Recordings Speaking of dichotomous, Bebo Norman continues his “Am I a contemporary pop /worship artist or a reflective singer/songwriter” act he has been perfecting with his past several releases.
Truthfully, poppier fare like “Everything I Hoped You’d Be” is still upbeat and devotional, but with a hint of the somber reflectiveness that informs Norman’s earlier work. Even niftier is a wholesale return to his folk roots represented by “Could You Ever Look at Me,” a poetic love song in which he asks, “Could you ever look at me / The way you look at the ocean? / All wounded in your smile, but holy and unriled.” It concludes with a sad twist, though, hoping she never does because “I was never meant to be the light of your world.” Also stirring is the reflective “The Middle,” a striking effort that openly wrestles with loneliness and despair and doesn’t neatly wrap at the end: “I don’t wanna run from this beautiful life I’ve been given / I’m not looking for freedom / Maybe just a little meaning here in the middle.” Yet, for every “The Middle,” there are songs like “Sing Over Me” and “Remember Us” that despite some affecting lyrical moments, lose their impact when contrasted with bright, standard worship instrumentation. It’s disappointing to hear the songwriter’s work drowned in slick production to fit him in a Christian pop role. It is no coincidence that the former songs were written alone while the latter featured cowrites with producer, Jason Ingram, one of Christendom’s “go-to” hit doctors. While not the full scale success of The Fabric of Verse or Ten Thousand Days, Ocean at least displays some of the warmth and vulnerability of those early watermarks, while offering enough pleasant pop moments to keep his record company happy.
Light Up the Sky The Afters INO Records One of the more notorious transformations of recent years, Light Up the Sky represents a wholesale leap into the world or mainstream CCM pop, albeit with cosmetic slivers of their artier former selves. The first half of the disc eschews the group’s tendency toward clever, applicable life-lessons laced with spiritual truth in favor of a more lyrically direct approach. The musical approach on the title track and “Lift Me Up,” while very catchy, is also full of repetitive melodic catchphrases and gimmicky production tricks that reek of contrivance. This is particularly off-putting when contrasted with the disc’s latter half. Amidst production that is still short on subtlety, cuts like “Life is Sweeter,” “Say It Now,” and “We Won’t Give Up” at least show vestiges of the group’s past work, featuring creatively constructed hooks and hints of the band’s former rock & roll fire. Most distressing to me is that the band’s intentional shift to a more worship-oriented direction may alienate the kids on the fringes that were most affected by The After’s mix of pop-rock ingenuity and real life scenarios. At least Christian radio will be abuzz for months with tracks off of this album. Shawn McLaughlin is a hard working dedicated, tireless worshipper of Christ
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50 Great Gifts for Musicians
Well here we are. It is time for another installment of our “50 Great Gifts for Musicians” list. Of course this is not a comprehensive list but more of a guideline to get you thinking. You might want to play it subtle this year and tape this list to the refrigerator door or “by accident” tweet it to your family and friends with hi-lighted areas of course. One thing to remember about this list is the prices are mostly marked at full retail. What is the first rule of shopping for new gear? Yes, never pay retail. Now whether you are used to going to a large chain music store, a smaller Mom & Pop retail shop or surfing the web for new and used deals, you will find some variance in pricing; especially on the smaller goods. So shop around, show some courtesy to the sales folks you come across (yes, they are people too) and just maybe you will find the right item for your gift buying needs. Have fun and Merry Christmas! 1). Dunlop Microphone Stand Pick and Slide Holder Love this thing. “Always a pick handy!” $4.99 2). Planet Waves Guitar Tools iPhone App Get a free set of D’Addario guitar strings when you download this tuning chord master app. $8.99 3). The Musician’s Ultimate Joke Book – Symphony Publishing $9.95 Clean jokes about musicians. A kid says to his mother, “Mom, when I grow up I think I’d like to be a musician”. She replies, “Well honey, you know you can’t do both”. $9.95 4). String Swing Wood Guitar Wall Hanger Hang out with your guitars and put them in easy reach (also comes in metal) $10.99 5). Stagg Cowbell Gotta have more cowbell? This 6&1/2 inch medium tone bell rings true. $11.99 6). “Gotta Play Like All Heaven is Listening” T-Shirt The latest design from your friends who brought you the “Love One Woman... Many Guitars” shirts at Musicians Threads. $16.00 specific passages or riffs. Capo can load songs directly from an iPod library or from the currently playing track in the iPod application. $19.99 9). RockBuds RockBoom Cassette Speaker The sound that blasts out of these cassette size speakers is crisp, incredibly clear, and exceptionally loud. Transporting tunes from any mp3 player, iPhone, DVD player, or computer will be a breeze! $19.99
7). Subscripe to both of your favorite magazines We sure hope they are Christian Musician and Worship Musician. Give the gift that keeps giving all year! $39.95 8). SuperMegaUltraGroovy “Capo” Allows musicians to slow the music down to a tempo that’s comfortable for them to play, change the pitch to match their tuning or range, insert markers, and set loops, helps to quickly learn
10). AmpliTube for iPhones Realistic tones and effects plus full multi-track recording capabilities and an advanced practice tool - all in one convenient mobile app. Just grab your guitar and phone and you are ready to rock! $19.95 11). Tascam TC-1S Solar-Powered Instrument Tuner The TC-1S charges its battery from a bank of solar cells on the front panel and a USB input is also available for quick-charging. It’s wrapped in a shock-proof silicon cover, available in six colors. $39.95 12). Schenk Holy Tuner Bright little tuner that goes inside your acoustic guitar. Just look down and tune up. $49.95
Continued on page 38.
An interview with Mark Mohr by Aimee Herd
From the very first time I heard the Gospel-reggae music of Christafari, I was moved with a desire to worship the Lord; there is a real sense of joy and contentment-in-Christ that pervades each song. Frontman for Christafari, Mark Mohr explains about the different musical elements that contribute to this infectious sound and feeling, and notes that “GospelReggae is the fastest growing form of reggae music.” Mark’s insights into this style of music and the mission of Christafari are inspiring and intriguing… a lot like the music!
that’s free from worries and full of joy. That’s why it translates so well into worship! AH: I think sometimes people have trouble distinguishing Christian Reggae from the Rastafarian movement...can you talk about that a little?
MM: While reggae may now be known for its association with the Rastafari faith and promotion of Ganja (Marijuana), its true foundation is the Christian church in Jamaica. The first reggae artists of the genre began in the church singing popular hymns in this infectious style. Listen to early Marley and you’ll hear it plain and clear. Virtually every single secular artist today started singing in the church. The problem is that back in the day, Jamaican Aimee Herd: Mark, can you give us a little churches rejected the musical background on Christafari, for those who style and insisted on sticking are unfamiliar with it, how did you get with their traditions (regrettably this is started? still the case Mark Mohr: Christafari started at a talent show back in 1989, just two weeks after I truly surrendered my life to Christ. It was at a Christian camp and the Lord gave me a song during my devotional time. I asked the worship team if they could back me for a reggae song and they said “Sure, so you’re not a Rastafarian anymore, you’re a Christafarian.” The name stuck and I eventually formed my own band. in many churches). When this happened, the Our first CD was artists were not welcome “Reggae Worship” in their own congregations. released in the early In search of a new spiritual 90’s. Over the last two fellowship they found the decades we’ve recorded Rastafari 12 albums, been to 50 countries, played all-welcoming two Olympic games and even performed faith. before the President of the United States! In short, many Rastas It’s been a wild ride and has no signs of believe that Emperor slowing down! Haile Selassie was AH: What is it about Reggae...especially Christ incarnate. They Christian Reggae, that seems so joyful, and worship him as the King brings peace? (That’s truly what I feel when of Kings and believe that Ethiopia is Zion and I listen!) often use marijuana MM: Because of its lack of emphasis on as a holy sacrament. the ‘one’ (downbeat), reggae has a sort In contrast, Christian of bounce to it. Its bubbly and percolating reggae artists use the rhythms can take a rocker off guard and Word of God to bring the infectious riddim chank (guitar and the light of Christ to key strum on the 2 and 4) are irresistible Rastas and the rest to dance to. This whimsical music is often of the world, over associated with a carefree island lifestyle heavy drum and
photo by Waldyr Oliveira Jr
contribute any ideas they may have. In just that you’re singing. And respond they do! a week we narrow 200 ideas down to 20 We’ve seen around 3,000 give their lives or so rough demos and ultimately record to Christ in the last 6 months on tour! around 15 songs. AH: Pick a few of the songs on “No AH: One of your latest projects was sort Compromise” to give us a little back story of a Spanish version of your album “To The on... AH: Talk about the different members of Foundation”, is that right? Did you put that MM: The song “Most High” chronicles my your band—who they are and what they together especially for your travels in South past as a drug addict, marijuana grower America? play... and dealer. In it I share about how through bass. Gospel reggae is growing fast. At my last count there are over 1,000 Christian reggae artists now singing redemption songs for the Lord! Gospel reggae is the fastest growing style of reggae. We are truly starting a roots revival! MM: Christafari tours with nine band members. We have Tyrone Rudulph (drums), Avion Blackman (bass and vocals), Solomon Jabby (rhythm guitar and vocals), Obie Obien (lead guitar), Ryan Skiles (Keys/ Organ), Carlos Centeno (Trumpet), Dannie Ramirez (Trombone), Jennifer Howland (vocals) and myself (lead vocals). We are a big crew, but operate in synchronicity like a small family. MM: Actually, after “To the Foundation”, we recorded “No Compromise”, our 20th Anniversary project. Then we took the biggest hits from those two albums to create “Reggae de Redencion,” our second Spanish CD. We also added in Avion Blackman’s “Yeshua” because it’s a mega hit and simply HAD to be on the album.
drugs, I was “Trying to escape, with nowhere to go” and “Tried to get high, but was really getting low.” The hook is “There is no high like the Most High.” The song “Compromise” was inspired by the story, songs and messages of Keith Green, while “Try Jah Love” was prompted by a personal letter that my Dad wrote me years ago when I was a rebellious youth. In it he shared his personal testimony and stated that the best decision that he had ever made was to “Give God a try.” He urged me to do the same and I did. It was the best decision of my life!
AH: What about the writing process? Is it a band-collaboration, or do you and Avion primarily write together? MM: I write the vast majority of the songs. I usually come up with at least one song idea per day. When it comes time to record, I sort through all those ideas, combine them (when possible) and pick out the strongest hooks that speak to me the most. Then we get together as a band and start wood-shedding these ideas. This is the most exhilarating part! It’s so fun to hear the songs come to life in minutes. Though I don’t play any instruments, I hum out the bass line or beat box the drum part to communicate my ideas to the guys. At that time I strongly encourage everyone to
The inspiration for this album came when we were touring South America last year. Regardless of the language, our music resonates so much more with the people in Latin America. Our smallest crowd south of the border is about 500 people and can get as large as 80,000! When you sing in front The final track on the album is a heartfelt of that many people, you want them to be worship song called “Messiah.” I penned able to digest and respond to the message that one while surfing during a big swell in Southern California. I wrote “Death could not hold Him down” while being tumbled and ‘held down’ by some pretty big waves! I write a lot of songs while surfing. It’s great to get out in God’s creation without music, phones or a computer to distract you. Sometimes if you want to hear God the most, you have to find a quiet place and quiet your mind. AH: Do you have any new projects in the works? MM: We do about 100 shows a year and when I am not touring I’m either surfing or in the studio. I produce around 4 projects a year. My latest is a solo project for Jennifer Howland, one of the singers in our band. It’s called “Daughter of the King”. After this I’m tracking a dub album, Avion’s third CD and then Christafari’s next full-length CD. Our next project is going to be a reggae worship album. We’ll have some original stuff in there, but also plan to do some hardcore reggae interpretations of today’s hottest worship anthems. I’m sure people are going to flip out when they hear this insane one-drop reggae groove with thunderous bass only to realize that it’s a Hillsong cover! AH: Christafari has been doing a lot of traveling... can you pick a couple places you’ve been where you’ve really had some very special
a bypass configuration that I call the “One Dub”. We are all wireless (except the Drummer and Keyboardist). Movement is essential with reggae! AH: When you look at the whole picture of worship music and Christian music in North America and Europe... where do you see Reggae fitting into that, and how can it be integrated more consistently... or is that not an issue? MM: The issue that I have with some worship music is that it has become its own genre with one part U2, two parts Cold Play, one part country and a touch of classical. You know what I am talking about… when you turn the radio dial and you can tell you’re on a Christian station before you even hear the lyrics. I think that it scares new Believers, and has them thinking that they have to give up their taste in music when they surrender their hearts to Christ. I believe that people should have the freedom to worship the Lord to whatever genre they are wired to like. I love to see turntables in church. It brings me joy to hear a worship team break into a salsa groove, a hip hop beat or a reggae chank. I think that every worship leader should study their congregation and whom they are trying to reach, and incorporate that audience’s musical leanings into his/her jambalaya of worship styles. If that is reggae, then AMEN! If reggae doesn’t fit in that congregation, that’s fine too! As staunch Christians we need to stretch out of our comfort zones from time to time. The western world exports worship to every other continent. We tell people that this is how worship sounds and have them emulating our American, Australian or British styles to a T, even down to the accent. If we expect the rest of the world to receive our music in this way, it must be reciprocal. It’s full-time that we start importing worship styles from other countries, continents and yes, islands! AH: Future plans for Christafari? MM: Tour, record and repeat. Continue preaching the Gospel to all nations, until all have heard. AH: What is the best way for people to find out more about Christafari and other Christian Reggae bands/artists? MM: www.christafari.com will give you everything that you need to know about Christafari including links to our Twitter and Facebook. www.gospelreggae.com is the place to go for everything that is gospel reggae! Our webstore has CDs from over 500 artists and is a complete resource for Christian reggae and world music.
photo by Jessi Marri
experiences with the people entering into way. It was so freeing to praise God in my worship, and special times with the Lord for own style. I felt like I had a glimpse of how it will be in heaven—everyone praising the the band? Lord in their own tongue and in their own MM: We have seen some incredible unique God given way. things over the years. I remember during one worship service that we played at in AH: I think, sonically, one of the unique Holland, a deaf girl received her hearing characteristics of Reggae music is the back from the Lord. It was just a typical strong bass line that supports all the rest of service for us, and after we played, our the music. I know Avion, your wife, plays band had a group Bible study. During the bass in Christafari... can you talk about her study, we were reasoning over whether gear... and maybe some of the other gear the Lord still does miracles like Christ did that is used in the band? in the Gospels. The next day we were MM: Yeah, reggae is all about the bass! approached by the girl who had received Avion tours with a Steinberger Synapse XSher hearing and our eyes welled up with 15FPA Custom 5-String Bass. She’s endorsed tears as she shared her story of how the by the company. She uses flat wound strings Lord healed her during the worship service. and EQ’s the bass and cabinet just right God is still doing miracles! to get that round FAT sound. Most of it is The first time that we went to Brazil was in the EQing and laidback delivery. With also a trip. We had no idea how big reggae it’s all about relaxing and fitting reggae was there. I was invited to speak at into the groove. If it were a car, the bassist a church and their worship team just played would be in the trunk or hanging off the reggae! I don’t speak Portuguese, but the back bumper! Lord really touched me that day. I’ve been Our guitarists use Fender Strats, Wah such a reggae fan for so many years, all Wah pedals and Echo Parks (along with while trapped in CCM churches in the USA. other Line 6 effects). I even use that delay I always wondered why God wired me this pedal on my vocals for certain spots using
photo by Waldyr Oliveira Jr
of The Dustin Burke Band
of tune and has great tone that cuts through the front of house mix. The Greg Bennett Blackbird delivers both of those every night. After sound-check I rarely have to retune my guitar, and even after a year of exclusively using this guitar, I still can’t get over the warm, rich sound I’m getting from a solid body acoustic. I’ll never go back.”
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by Joe Riggio
I am considering the purchase of a high-end, boutique acoustic guitar. My wife and I are trying to determine if they are really worth the extra cost. You are deep in “subjective territory” on this one. I feel that you must first ponder two criteria, for whether something is “worth” the large investment: 1) Does it have strong resale value, in the future? 2) Is it something that, for one or many reasons, really inspires you, personally to want to own and play it? Certain high-end boutique guitars have a better re-sale value than others, simply because the supply doesn’t meet the demand. I would expect that this may fall under that category. The bottom line is: if the guitar knocks your socks off, and you can afford it, without skipping a house payment, go for it. As far
as which one: that’s subjective. Personally I have a thing for vintage Martins and Gibson guitars, which can also be pricey. They have a great re-sale value and every time I look at them, I’m inspired. There are no laws restricting you from paying too much or too little for something that you really love. I will say this: If you can’t see and play the guitar, before buying (unless its such a steal of a price), stay away until you can know for sure that it’s “the one”. I recently found a used guitar, in mint condition, with all of the warranty papers unregistered. Is there value in the fact that I could register the papers, in my name? It sounds like the seller is trying to play the angle that the guitar will be “new”, in the eyes of the manufacturer, for the first person to register the papers. This is simply not true, in my experience as an Authorized Repair Center. Manufacturers will require an original sales receipt, from the original dealer, sold to the person trying to use the warranty. I have
NEVER experienced any exceptions. In fact, registering the guitar rarely even plays a part in getting any warranty work done. All that is needed for coverage is the original sales invoice, in your name. He, as the original purchaser, is the only person that would ever be eligible for any warranty work. In that light, this is no different than any other “used” guitar. In this case, the guitar’s excellent condition may be where the value lies. However, do your research and keep in mind that upperend models in particular, are often found in this kind of condition, on the used market. Joe Riggio is a professional guitar repairman/technician and recording engineer, based in Tacoma, WA. He owns and operates “Service Guitar Repair” and “House Of Sound Recording Studio” He has a deep love and knowledge of vintage guitars, as well as modern and loves to share his passion with others. He can be contacted at ServiceGuitarRepair@gmail. com, website: www.ServiceGuitarRepair.com
50 Great Gifts (cont. page 30)
13). Audio Technica ATH-M10 Professional Monitor Headphones WHAT? Oh, I’m wearing these great headphones. List $59.00 14). Planet Waves NS Capo Tuner It’s a capo; it’s a tuner! The first of its kind, the NS Capo Tuner provides accurate tuning at any fret or when clipped on the headstock or neck of your acoustic or electric guitar. $64.99
15). Pro-Mark 6 pack of Drumsticks pairs Wood or nylon tips, several sizes to choose from, made of American hickory. List $82.50 16). Auralex Studiofoam Wedgies Box of 24 one foot squares of 2 inch thick Studiofoam for your home studios trouble spots. List $109.00 17). TC Electronic PolyTune Pedal Simply strum your guitar or bass and see instantly which strings are out of tune. Way cool factor. $149.00 18). Heet Sound PlusEbow Electronic Bow for Guitar Ah yes, for the guitarist that has almost everything. You’ve heard it on everything from U2 tunes to Vineyard Worship
songs. The ever popular E-Bow – no picks allowed! Retail $135.00 19). Pedal Train Nano Pedal Board with Gig Bag Perfect for the ever-expanding world of super-compact pedals, the Pedaltrain PT-NANO-SC lets you take your favorite tones to the gig without getting in your way onstage. $129.95 20). Fulltone OCD Effect Pedal Tube-like overdrive with sensitive playing response. True by-pass switching comes with a ton of good tone. $135.00 Map 21). Zildjian 8” Splash Cymbal Add some splash to your drumming. Crisp and clean. $163.00 22). Rocktron Guitar Silencer Effect Pedal Stomp box that combines patented HUSH® noise reduction technology with a noise gating process. Helps you clean up your act fast! List $169.00
Continued on page 46.
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String Bending Part 3
Before getting into String Bending part 3 and since this is the last issue of 2010, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas and the season for giving. So I’d like to share my top three picks that guitar players might like to find under the Christmas Tree : a dual subscription of “Worship” and “Christian Musician” magazine, a Fulltone “OCD” (Obsessive Compulsive Drive) pedal and “Man it’s Christmas” DVD/ CD from guitarist Jimmie Bratcher. I just like all three and think you would too. Now, on to part 3. We’ve looked at starting string bends and hitting the notes you’re stretching to along with Classic rock bands, so now let’s take a look at some Blues and Country Steel style bending to add to your repertoire of riffs. The first set “Blues Bends”. Example 1 is a bend slide up bend on the G string with your index finger then on the B string with a bend and release. Example 2 starts with a full bend G to A with no release on the B string, I use my index finger to cover the B and E string to play the A and E notes. Think of this riff in 3’s, pick-bend pick-pick. Start with an up-stroke pick then down, up. Your pick will stay within the E and B strings. Example 3 can be used over the end turnaround of a blues progression. Example 4 is a bluesy Stevie Ray riff starting with a full bend no release on the high E string, once you hit the whole step bend stop the note with the palm of your picking hand. The riff moves down just stopping short for a full bend on the G string again no release then skip over the B string to hit the last note. Add some vibrato into this and it will just sing. The next four “Country Style” examples work best with a clean tone with some reverb and compression. Example 5 Is a mix of double string bends and 2 note double stops. These are meant to be played up-tempo with quick bends. Use you index and ring finger, pick both notes at the same time. In the second measure use your index finger to cover the G and B strings at the 5th fret, Play it with a pick and then try using your fingers of the picking hand to pluck the strings. Examples 6 to 8 are Steel Guitar style bends. Example 6 Bend the lower note on the B string up a whole tone then back down (bend and release) while both notes are ringing out. Example 7 Is a set of bends in the second measure use your pinky on the 8th fret B string and your index finger on the G string for the movement from the 5th fret to the 4th fret then a slide back to the 5th fret. Example 8 This is a triad chord bend of a Csus2 to a C major. The bend for both shapes is on the G string. Let all the notes ring out while you bend the note on the G string. Try picking with an up stroke across the triad. Try all the examples in different positions and keys over the neck, get creative and GOD Bless.
Roger is a member of the Audio and Praise teams at Freedom Life Church in Kissimmee Fl. Endorses Greg Bennett Design Guitars by Samick , G&L Guitars, BBE Sound and PedalTrain Pedal Boards. Is an award winning guitarist from the “Songwriter Showcase of America”. For music, videos and more surf to www.rogerzimish.com, email: rogerzimish@ yahoo.com
Harmonizing the Blues Scale
The blues scale is a favorite tool for single note improv soloing. When it’s harmonized it takes on an almost horn section sound and adds a new dimension to your playing. This idea works best over dominant chords and blues progressions. If we add a minor 3rd below each note of the blues scale and then add a perfect 4th below that note, we get a movable shape that we can apply to each degree on the blues scale for that bluesy horn line effect. If you would like to see video on this idea go to www.99centGuitarLessons.com click on the “BLUES” button and then on “Horn Section Style Lines by Rich Severson”. Hope you enjoy this lesson and work this idea into your playing. Till next time may God bless your hard work! Ex. 1 Shows how the blues scale is played across the fretboard using the 4 chord shapes within string groups. String group 1 encompasses string 1,2&3. String group 2 uses string 2,3 & 4. Get the idea? Ex. 2 Focus on string group 1 and playing the harmonized scale up the neck. This is where you’ll probably do most of your playing. This shape looks like an open position D minor chord. Ex. 3 Focus on string group 2, string 2, 3 & 4 ( Looks like an Aminor chord) Ex. 4 Focus on string group 3, string 3, 4 & 5 (Eminor chord shape) Ex. 5 Focus on string group 4, string 4, 5 & 6
Rich has a 6 CD audio program for learning, hearing and memorizing music theory called “Theory For The Road” which can be found at www.GuitarCollege.com. It explains everything in detail and includes audio music illustrations on keyboard and guitar, and ear training.
A Musician’s Disposition
By Bryan Duncan
I never meant to stop praying altogether. It just kind of happened for a while. The more aware I became in my conscious contact with God, the less I believed in my own requests. I became painfully aware that all of my prayers were selfish and self-motivated. I want mostly what will make me more comfortable. Prayers for other people seemed a waste of time too, given my lack of insight and, honestly, disinterest. I watched too many people go unhealed, file for bankruptcy, or die of cancer. What do I know about the string of poor decisions that others make before they ask me to pray for a miracle? Now, it’s not that I stopped listening for the voice of God. But even there, you can start getting twitchy about the curtains blowing when the windows aren’t open. You can start seeing little road maps in odd coincidences and find yourself in a cul-de-sac of spiritual delusion. What I read in scripture sometimes makes me want to look for help elsewhere. There are no magic formulas in there. There is a curious call to a life and faith that seems impossible to maintain. And in my case, there is an often unwillingness to sacrifice for a glory that doesn’t involve me. What can I do but ask God what he wants? And leave it there. People don’t flock to your prayers when you do that. “Hey, I could pray that one by myself,” someone told me. “In fact, I already have.” Well, maybe that’s the point. What I do understand is that the Bible claims that God wants an individual relationship with every human being. That might mean those people are not going to need your advice if they’ve found an open line to the supreme counselor. “So what does that have to do with me?” you’re asking. “I’m not a counselor. I’m a musician,” you might add. And I say, let’s define what you do. You lead with music and passion for what you love, and that, my friend, is a way of offering advice. And if you’re writing the lyrics, well… you’re counseling! Either way, I know you pray – because you’ve had to wing it on a couple of songs in your set at one time or another. “Christian musician” isn’t a job description – it’s a disposition! You have an opportunity to shine with something different, an inner strength that comes with a transcendent passion because you are seeing the biggest picture with clarity of truth that magnifies the tiniest of details. It’s a disposition toward the adventure of discoveries, transferred to a pliable instrument. You are driven by an unwavering pursuit of the awe-inspiring! Even if your mouth doesn’t fall open on every chord change, you know you are searching for that in the overall presentation. I personally believe music itself is worship! The glorification of what God has set in motion. It always brings me personally to a gratitude for my own growing understanding of his purpose. If “imitation” is the purest form of flattery, what better form of worship of the Creator then, than to be creative. It’s not settling for the standard hand-me-down progression because it’s the way we’ve always done it. I read somewhere recently that “Ruin is the Road to Transformation.” I think it was twittered/tweeted at me. So is your gig drying up? Are church politics getting a little sticky? Having trouble performing those same tired chords and seven words that stopped being meaningful after the last U2 record came out? Maybe you’ve run out of descriptive terms for God. You’ve used up all the rhymes in your thesaurus. Or, maybe you’ve lost the will to risk being creative at all. The real homework in songwriting and playing music doesn’t even start in the woodshed. It starts before we pick up any instrument or put pen to paper. I don’t have to add commentary here about the state of the Christian music industry or the way new technology has streamlined the profit margins for most of the middle men. You’ve seen the foreclosures. Maybe we need to go kill a giant before we tune up our harp to play for the king. Only once in this decade do I recall a particularly prolific public prayer – that I now can’t remember because I was simply aware of
how present that moment was. More than a circumstance to be overcome, or a presentation to be blessed, it was a sense of being connected. It was a prayer that produced an electricity of current that needed no further upgrades. Suddenly, there was not even a sense that I should plug something in to accomplish any purpose whatsoever. The power was on. The house was lit, and everything was clean. I found myself singing “Doctor My Eyes” this morning: “I got this feeling that it’s later than it seems.” My prayer is that God will cut to the quick of my own false belief. “Adopted faith” is what I have ‘inherited’ simply by not pursuing anything further. I still believe in the power of a song, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve heard the same songs sung by hundreds of musicians, and what resonates begins with the disposition of the player. I think it’s a matter of plugging in my heart before my amplifier. Bryan Duncan... CCM artist for thirty years. With the Sweet Comfort Band, then solo and now with the Nehosoul band. Owner of Red Road Records and Host of Radio Rehab at www.radiorehab.com inducted into the Christian music Hall of Fame in 2007.
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Indie No Spin Zone
How To Get Rich and Famous in Christian Music
by Keith Mohr
OK… What’s up with this? Getting rich and famous in Christian music? We’re not supposed to get rich and famous doing Christian music; are you crazy? Alright, let me explain where I’m coming from. This isn’t about making gads of money and being a household name; this is about the importance of creating rich content, which will naturally draw people to you. As you draw people in, then you can enrich their lives, which will cause them to tell others about your ministry, which will in turn bring more people to you, and the cycle continues. This is what is called viral marketing, and guess what – Jesus and His disciples were a great example of what happens when passion and excellence teams up with commitment to the call. There was no richer content than the message Jesus brought to this earth. There was no better street team than the disciples, who carried on the message of the cross after Jesus was crucified. These guys did not give up, they didn’t buckle to rejection, and the ultimately gave their lives for their mission. How’s that for commitment to the call? You may wonder how this relates to the independent artist, musician and songwriter? Everything! Why? Because we are to pattern what we do, why we are doing it, and how we are doing it based on our example, Jesus. Everything Jesus did pointed outward. He never pointed inward; meaning, His mission was to bring to this earth content that changed everything for everyone, and He gave his life fulfilling that mission. If you feel God is leading you to Christian music, we should do nothing less in our mission than what Jesus did in His. I see quite a few indie artists out there who are not committed to the mission God has them on. They dabble at it, they invest capfuls of work and thimbles of faith in their mission, and they wonder why God isn’t “blowing them up!” From what I have read in the Word, God does not care very much for dabblers or those who are lukewarm. As a matter of fact, He spits them out. Yuck! Who wants to be spit out of God’s mouth? So, what’s an indie to do to make sure God doesn’t spit them out? 1. Be very sure your music mission is something you have time to pursue. If your life is not aligned in a way where you can invest resources, time, and your talent, then my advice is do not pursue your mission. If you have debt, mortgage, obligations and burdens, then my advice is do not pursue your mission until these issues are dealt with and resolved. Your life needs to be set up to allow you the freedom to pursue your music mission. If it isn’t, you will experience many trials and much strife because you simply cannot devote what it takes to build a music mission. 2. If you have started your music mission, be sure that the content you are producing has value to others. Christian artists, musicians and songwriters have a very tough time self evaluating their content. Why is this? It is because they are highly attached emotionally to what they have created. And I get that. We should be attached to what we are creating with the Creator. However, I see many out there who settle for mediocrity and believe God will make up for their lack of quality, or they simply do not know they are mediocre. And, Christians are notorious for telling artistic creatives they are “anointed” or great because they are afraid to discourage them by telling them the truth about their content. I cherish truthful criticism of what I am doing and never discount it or blow it off as someone not getting what I am doing. Talk about pride and arrogance. I used to think that way, but God broke me of that. 3. Be passionate about your mission. Passion draws people to you as much as or maybe more than excellence. Don’t be arrogant, or think you are God’s gift to humankind. I have news for you, you aren’t. And that is the first step to passion. There is a fine line between holy boldness and prideful arrogance. That
line is called passion! If you are too far off that line, you are either a limp noodle who doesn’t believe in your mission, or a hardheaded egomaniac who is unteachable and filled with pride. 4. In everything you do, point outward, not inward. This isn’t about what you get, it’s all about what you give! I say give to give and let the getting be up to God. God will provide for you as you invest in your mission and strive for professional vision. You can do it with God’s help! Keep up the excellent faith-work! Keith Mohr Keith is founder/president of Indieheaven, an organization for independent Christian musicians, song writers and artists. For more info, visit: www. indieheaven.com. Keith is the founder of Indie University, an education resource. Visit: www.indieuniversity.com. Follow Keith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/keithmohr, Facebook: www.facebook.com/keithmohr, and www.facebook.com/indieheaven
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Celebrating our 15 Anniversary
50 Great Gifts (cont. page 38)
23). PreSonus AudioBox USB Turn your laptop into a powerful recording rig with this pro caliber bus- powered interface. List $179.95 24). Fender Hot Noiseless 3 Pick-Up Set Replacement pickups designed exclusively for Jeff Beck. Get more tone out of your Strat! List $229.00 25). Electro Harmonix Cathedral Deluxe Reverb The Cathedral creates the perfect space for your instrument or voice while offering an elegance that takes your music to a higher ground. Comes with power supply. $290.00 26). Pro Tools MPowered 8 Digidesign’s popular digital recording interface with up to 48 stereo audio tracks! List 299.95 27). Lee Oskar Harmonica 5 Pack with Carrying Case Cool case loaded with 5 harps – keys are G, A, C, D and F. Retail $339.75 28). Mono Dual electric Guitar Gig Bag Grab your Strat and Les Paul and throw them both into this waterproof shell gig bag with ABS head and body impact panels. This will make going to the gig way easier. List $365.00 29). Shure Wireless Hand Held Mic System. Set your vocalist free to roam with this PGX24/SM58 unit (yes, a SM58 mic is part of this equation). List $558.00 30). JamHub GreenRoom Silent Rehearsal Studio. Put the youth group on this and everyone wins! Up to 7 musicians and 21 audio channels with built-in effects. List $600.00 31). L.R. Baggs Anthem “TRU-MIC” System This mic-pickup system for acoustic guitars restores the dominance of the microphone in the sound mix. Soon to be all the rage… $429.00
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32). Vintage Used Fender Lap Steel from the 50’s There were some good pick-ups in those old ones. Get a metal slide bar and let her rip! $400.00 & up. 33). One word: iPad Enough said. $499.00 & up 34). Roland KC-350 Keyboard Mixing Amp A robust 120watts, 4 channel stereo mixing amp handles all your keyboard needs and then some. So versatile you can use it all over the church building for all kinds of events/ meetings. Mic input as well. List $654.50 35). Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar This smaller arch back acoustic steel string guitar is a real winner for the price. $678.00 36). TC Electronic’s BH500 Bass Amp 2.0 Bass amp head with lot’s of attitude… take the bottom end along with you with power to spare. $699.00 list 37). Line 6 POD HD500 Guitar Multi Effects Processor Not only some great modeled sounds but download Lincoln Brewster’s personal patches and be ready to blast away! List $699.00
Continued on page 48.
From all of us at PRS Guitars, thank you for your support.
Adam Agee, Stellar Kart • Andy Davis/Randy Williams, Jeremy Camp • Hector Cervantes/Juan DeVevo, Casting Crowns • Derek Mount, Family Force 5 • Matt Hoopes, Relient K • Sameer Bhattacharya/Jared Hartmann, Flyleaf • Jon Foreman, Switchfoot • Jon Schneck/Matthew Thiessen, Relient K • Justin Cox, Fireﬂight • Ben Kasica/Korey Cooper, Skillet • Mac Powell/Mark Lee, Third Day • Noah Henson, Pillar • Pete Prevost, Sanctus Real • Jonathan Steingard, Hawk Nelson • Barry Graul/Mike Scheuchzer, Mercy Me • Jeremy Holderﬁeld, Seventh Day Slumber • Tim Rosenau, TobyMac • Tim Skipper, House of Heroes • Jeff Owen, 10th Avenue North • Paul Zach, Remedy Drive • Jack Parker/Mark Waldrop, David Crowder Band • James Mead/Nick DePartee, Kutless • Anthony Armstrong, RED • Justin York, Steven Curtiss Chapman • Jason Roy, Building 429 • Trevor McNevan, Thousand Foot Krutch & FM Static • Eric Miker, Decemberadio • Todd Agnew, Todd Agnew Band • Luke Graham, Since October © 2010 PRS Guitars photo of Jason Lee © Jannis Lootens Photographic | www.jannislootens.nl
50 Great Gifts (cont. page 48)
38). Orange TT15 Tiny Terror Lunchbox Amp Head It’s little, loud and has an all tube signal path (dual 12AX7 and dual EL84) Class A all the way. Retail $729.00 39). Yamaha EMX512SC Powered Pro Audio Mixer
43). A drummer that doesn’t play so much during the guitar solo Oddly enough this idea was presented by Stewart Smith – former drummer for Delirious for a good 10 years or so. Priceless! 44). Kamaka Baritone Ukelele (HF-4) The largest size in the Uke family, often preferred by guitar players because it is tuned like the highest four strings on a guitar. 14 frets to the body. Made in Hawaii. List $1,295.00
48). Duesenberg DTV Starplayer TV Semi Hollow Electric Guitar You’ve seen them played by Hillsong’s guitarists. Features a greatly improved 60s style tremolo and a floating bridge with steel saddles. $2,798.00
16 SPX digital effects coupled with 500w amps and 8 channels. Lot’s of flexibility to spare. List $ 749.00 40). Samick RL3 Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar Greg Bennett designed with Duncan pick-ups. The best 335 style guitar you can find for under $1,000.00 Retail $799.00 41). Yamaha DTX-Multi 12 Digital Percussive Pad Tons of possibilities with over 1,000 sounds… use it for percussion, looping, you name it. Trigger 128 different patterns and pile on the programmable effects. List $899.99 42). Used Fender Rhodes Keyboard 73 keys Suitcase model with amp Make sure the tines are in good shape. Classic tones and a bit of a mushy feel for nostalgia sake and a good vibe. $900.00 and up.
45). G&L L-2000 Electric Bass Sports a premium Ash body and hard rock maple neck with two humbucker pick-ups. Leo Fender designed too! $1700.00 46). Nord Electro 3 Sixty-One Stage Piano/Organ
49). Yamaha MOTIF XF7 Keyboard Workstation More from this popular keyboard line, Yamaha gives you the power to create using the Xpanded Articulation Synth engine’s 741 MB of WAVE ROM, a studio-style mixing environ-
ment and Virtual Circuitry modeling effects to spark your imagination. $3,539.00 50). Martin Performing Artist GPCPA1 Grand Guitar This new model combines Martin’s legendary tone and styling, while adding player comfort and on-stage performance capability. Feels great in your hands! $3,999.00
Yes those vibey red keyboards that every one wants. Great tone with killer FX’s and a B3 sound that you’ll like a lot. $2,250.00 47). PreSonus StudioLive 16.4.2 Digital Mixer How can you go wrong with Class A mic preamps integrated into a professional live digital mixer with a completely seamless multi-channel recording system? List $2,499.95
…xtending any style
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by Jim Oas
Bob Kilpatrick Set Aside
Born in Kentucky, raised in both Japan and the Lone Star State, then as a teen the big move to Turkey (as in the country). My goodness, making me jet lagged just reading about it. His parents saw the pitfalls of an American teen living in Turkey, smack dab in the middle of a very rich drug culture and with extremely harsh penalties for those who participated and were caught. So they sent Bobby packing to a cousin’s house in Georgia (not the country) for his junior year of high school, as in the 11th grade. Bob was already starting to play guitar and sing by this time. He wanted to be like the Beatles and he had started a couple of bands by the time he got to high school. Now something good happened in Georgia, besides those sweet peaches. Bob went to a retreat with a friend and met our Lord in a real way. It would change his life like he never imagined. The following year Bob’s family returned from overseas and they all touched down in Northern California for his last year of high school and he has never wanted to live anywhere else since – he has become a West Coastian thru and thru. There ought to be a song in there somewhere. There was a period of time where Bob felt he was letting music become his God. In an effort to convince himself that he was not putting anything before his relationship with Jesus, he broke his guitar in half and burned it in a fire, not unlike sacrificing it on the altar. God honored that because a few months later a friend gave Bob a guitar and he started singing, singing and singing. Bob got involved in an outreach ministry to both UC Berkley and UC Davis, and one evening at a prayer time he moved to another room with a few others. They ended up spending five hours in that room praying and Bob left knowing he had been set aside for the ministry; he was only 17, this was 1970, and it was a very good year. Summer of ’70 saw Bob start a house ministry and it was during this time he started dating Cindy, who he had met in high school. After a period of time they broke up and Bob was really hoping that he wasn’t going to end up being
Question: What connection did Bob Kilpatrick have with Keith Green? Answer at the end of this article.
a eunuch for Christ; didn’t feel like he was gifted in that area. He thankfully got her back and they were married in Nov. 1971 (moving in on 40 years now). With the house ministry still going strong, Bob and his expectant wife left for an outreach in Europe for a few months, leaving a couple of good friends in charge of the ministry. While overseas, they realized their house ministry time was up and decided to let it stay in the capable hands of their friends. Upon returning from Europe in 1972, they were given the opportunity to meet Corrie ten Boom. She saw that Cindy was expecting and asked if she could pray for her child. Cindy agreed and Corrie layed hands on her stomach praying a blessing over the yet unborn Joel. That was an honor not afforded to many and coincidence or not, Joel has become a gifted writer. The family moved to Sacramento, Ca. where Bob became a youth pastor and made some lasting friendships. There was only one little problem; Bob wasn’t any good at being a ‘youth pastor’. It was a round peg, square hole type of thing, rhetorically. The Kilpatrick clan made the move up to Redding, Ca. where he became the music pastor for Earl Johnson at Bethel Church. Bob felt he was only marginally better at that; he felt somewhat stifled and knew his calling was something different. One day Earl called him in and they had a ‘mano y mano’. He told Bob that he wasn’t doing either one of them any good in that position and that he needed to get out and write/perform his songs to the body of Christ. For the next two years, the only time Bob attended Bethel Church was at Easter and Christmas. Other than that he was on the road traveling and singing.
It was during this time that Bob wrote the well known worship song, “[In My Life Lord,] Be Glorified” – Spring of ’76. Earl was the father of that song, in that he encouraged and empowered Bob in this ministry. How did it happen to become a hit? No easy answer – others began to sing it. It picked up with a ground swell. A friend of Bob’s at Calvary Chapel, in Costa Mesa, led music there. He heard the song and played it there for two years. Karen Lafferty, a Maranatha! Recording artist, heard it, really liked it and began performing it. She took it on tour with her all the way to Europe and back while Maranatha! Music recording artist/producer, Tommy Coomes, put it to vinyl. And Bob recorded it on his first album as well with the band, David, featuring Randy Mitchell on guitar and Alex MacDougall (later of Daniel Amos). Bob’s ministry is focused on communication. He says that people remember what they laugh about and they remember stories; Bob provides both intertwined with great music when he ministers to churches and groups. Although Bob had inside thoughts of touring and attaining album sales success the way other well known artists were able to do, he realized he could not afford to take a band on the road and he was losing his hair. Dagnabbit as Walter Brennan used to say. Really long hair was still a tough sell in churches back at the start of his ministry anyway; looking at him from the front he’d get hired, when he turned around and walked away, they’d think, what in the world did we just do? (just kidding Bob). Since Bob’s primary ministry was to the Body of Christ, he needed to fit in there and he did. During 1990 Bob, Cindy and their family made the move to Sacramento and they have been there since. Note that the reason for the move was to live near a larger airport for direct flights to his destinations – which ended up saving him about 28 travel days a year, not spending nights different places waiting for connecting flights. That afforded him more time with his family. As the ministry has grown, he now travels worldwide. Bob took his oldest son, Joel, with him on a two week outreach in Mexico City where Joel played keyboards for Bob. That outreach sealed Joel’s commitment to the Lord. Bob has also taken his other children on ministry trips to Mexico and Australia. Bob and Cindy have four sons and a daughter: Joel, Ian, Andrew, Kyle and Brittany. There was much prayer between the birth of Kyle and Brittany, and the Lord honored them with a girl.
A listing of Bob’s many gifts: Musician Writer Singer Producer Enginner Author Teacher Radio personality: KLOVE.com Like most guitarists, Bob wanted a studio to record in. He is somewhat of a gearhead. Working on a soundtrack for a film gave him some budget wiggle room – and what did he spend it on: gear. His house had room for a nice studio and he had a contractor friend who sent in a crew and just blessed his socks off. Cindy finally asked Bob what it would take to make it a world class studio? Now how many of us have wives that would ask that? Well Bob said a few more $1000, just a few. So they did it; vocal booth, drum booth, main room. Bob has recorded Randy Stonehill, Phil Keaggy and many others in that studio. Also, using today’s technology where you can upload and download tracks to work on, he has used the studio for recording parts on other artists albums for Noel Paul Stookey, Sara Groves, Larry Norman, Russ Taff, Phil Madeira, and more I am forget-
ting. Electronic transfer – who would have thought 20 years ago! Lincoln and Jeremy Camp have stopped by to hang but never recorded there. Bob started his own Label during the 90’s in order to more easily distribute his music projects and those of other artists he was working with as well. It also afforded him the opportunity to put some records out with other recording musicians. However, studio work is just that for Bob, necessary work in order to get his music into peoples’ homes and cars. He is most comfortable on stage; performing music, telling stories, communicating truths to the Body of believers. He is a firm believer that the saints can be entertained and equipped all in one sitting. Bob and Joel Kilpatrick co-authored a new book due out this December with Zondervan, titled The Art Of Being You: how to live as God’s masterpiece. Based on some thoughts from English writer, Dorothy L Sayers, Bob started collecting and expanding his thoughts on this subject. His son, Joel, even spoke of this at his 1990 graduation; God is an artist, life is art. Well the time is at hand for compiling and presenting these ideas and truths to engage us in thinking and living our fullness in Christ. Bob also just completed recording the audio version of the book as well and both are
available for pre-order at Amazon and all other major retailers. Bob’s first book, Secrets of the Silence, is a 21 day devotional and came out last summer. You might also recognize Bob Kilpatrick’s name from CMS workshops and this magazine. Bob was a contributing writer from 1996 to 2009. He met CM.com President and Editor Bruce Adolph at Spirit West Coast, on stage. Bob bought the give-away guitar from Bruce and it all started from there. Bob says his magazine writing was bootcamp for him and allowed him to hone his writing skills to the point where he was ready to do a book. To Bruce, Bob says ‘thank you’. Well as we are wrapping up this calendar year, it is clear to see what a blessing to so many Bob Kilpatrick has been – and will continue to be as he is set aside. Remember to check out his new book; this is 2010, and it was a very good year. Answer: Bob Kilpatrick performed with Keith Green at Jesus West Coast in Santa Rosa, Ca, 1982, along with Loren Cunningham. That was to be Keith’s final concert before he passed from us in that tragic plane crash a few days later, back home in Texas. Until next time, ‘2nd star to the right and straight on til’ morning’; Peter Pan, Capt James T. Kirk, and I, Jim Oas
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Inside the box
E veryone may talk about getting “outside the box” these days, but worship leaders and fans of modern worship music will definitely want what is INSIDE this box. X.0: The Digital Hymnal for the Modern Worship Generation pulls together the entire Worship T ogether catalog: 719 songs from songwriters like Chris T omlin, Matt Maher, Tim Hughes, Matt Redman and dozens more. It’s the culmination of the popular Point-0 series, the How-T series, and our massive o Modern Worship Fakebook, all in one comprehensive worship experience!
• Piano/Vocal/Guitar, Lead Sheets, and Chord Charts of 719 songs • All PDF and Flash — no software to install • Fully searchable interactive menu • Commemorative retrospective book • Exclusive audio CD featuring emerging new worship Artists (Hillsong, Gungor, Leeland and more) • $10 giftcard to Worship T ogether’s MusicNotes store • Sort and Search by Theme, Scripture, Key, Songwriter, and more
X.0: The Digital Hymnal for the Modern Worship Generation can be found at Worshiptogether.com, Amazon, and your favorite local Christian bookstore or wherever Worship Resources are sold.
by Brian Doerksen & Christopher Greco
When Brian Doerksen and Christopher Greco set out to write Prodigal God, the musical tale of two brothers and one wastefully extravagant father, they weren’t expecting it to be a work-in-progress some 8 years later. They weren’t planning to record all 23 songs first and release a premium double CD. Or to be adapting the story to a screenplay before it’s even seen the light of a theatre. They knew writing a full-length musical is more involved than collaborating on a worship song, piecing together a cohesive worship set, or recording an album. From the first song they wrote, “A Father’s Love,” to the last song of the show, “Provision”, they knew the music would have to carry the emotional heft of an all-too-familiar parable, and to do so in surprising and contemporary ways. They knew the characters of that story were going to drive the creative process in ways they couldn’t predict or control. But they had no way of knowing how long it would take, how many pages of dialogue would be written, cut and rewritten, or how many lyric changes a single song could sustain. They didn’t know what they didn’t know. And they still don’t. And maybe that’s helped them stay the course. Both have “day jobs”, as it were: Brian as an Integrity recording artist and local church worship pastor on the west coast of Canada, and Christopher as an arts and worship pastor of the Greater Boston Vineyard on the east coast of the U.S. Do they have any anguish about the long road to Provision, the name of the fictional town in which the story is set? “Not anymore,” says scriptwriter and co-lyricist, Christopher Greco. “The story has only gotten clearer and more powerful as we’ve lived in it all these years.” Brian, composer of the music and colyricist, adds, “The journey started for me in 1991, the month my special needs son was born with Fragile X Syndrome. Benjamin is now 19 and here I am, still on the road to the fulfillment of this vision: an epic story interwoven with songs that communicates father love to a fatherless world!” A key inspiration came from Henri Nouwen’s classic spiritual memoir, The Return of the Prodigal Son, based on his reflections on the Rembrandt painting of the same name. In brief, Nouwen’s strong identification with the younger son took a surprising turn when
Long, Satisfying Road to Provision
a friend suggested he might really be more like the elder one. Later, when another friend prompted him to consider whether his true calling might be to become the father, Nouwen began to view the parable as the story of his own earthly life. Something about the elder brother grabbed Brian and Christopher from the beginning. That’s why they decided to make him the narrator of the story. They wondered what did it feel like for him the day after his brother’s celebrated return. And the next day. What if the elder brother had his own opportunity for redemption? What would it take for him to gain his own long-awaited homecoming party? Brian sings the role of the elder son on the recording, and says, “As I sang the elder son’s thoughts and feelings over and over, I identified with his struggle. Grace is much easier to receive when it’s covering my own sin, rather than when it’s extended to someone I perceive doesn’t deserve it.” Not only did Nouwen’s book goad them to look deeper into the story, it offered a most remarkable example of an art consumer and audience member. At once a learned man and a curious child, Nouwen savored all he read in the parable and all he saw in the painting. He hung on the details over years. What Nouwen beheld in the art informed the choices he made about what to do next with his life. Through art, he made more art, and lived a more satisfying life because of it. In similar fashion, Prodigal God has become an intensely personal project to both Brian and Christopher, as they each are sons, brothers, and fathers who find parallels between the characters and their own spiritual homecoming journeys. “Had we not had such a personal investment in the story, I’m not sure we could’ve sustained this long road,” says Greco. “This story has become a bell-weather for me as I’ve navigated my sons’ entry into the teen years. I hope it’ll offer my sons half as much as I’ve gotten out of it.” For Doerksen, reaching this milestone is a little more bittersweet. “Due to my son’s mental disability, Benjamin won’t comprehend the intricacies of the story – but one thing he gets; unconditional father love which is at the heart of this story.” Prodigal God was released as an indie project on October 12, 2010, exclusively through www.prodigal-god.com, and can be purchased for various amounts, depending on how much you can afford, and with which character you want to identify.
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