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STEVEREALLY WANT TO DO IS DIRECT TAYLOR ...BUT WHAT I
GK MB212 Combo Bass Amp
Waves: Studio Classics Collection
MAY/JUN 2012 Volume 17, Issue 3
Mercyland: Hymns For the Rest of Us • Newworldson • The Vespers • Jenny and Tyler • Dave Perkins • Hotshot Freight Train • Russ Rosen Band
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The Best Technology for Worship
Church Sound & Music Technology Guide
Worship Sound Pro features the latest and most essential music equipment and technology for today’s houses of worship.
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Sweetwater-exclusive Interview with Brandon Heath
Singer/songwriter Brandon Heath shares his thoughts on creativity, craft, and his musical mission. There’s also a special Q&A with Dan Muckala, the producer of Brandon’s Grammy-nominated album, Leaving Eden.
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Essential Guides for You and Your Volunteers
Learn how this award-winning singer/songwriter found his voice — and his true calling.
Get the details on pg. 101.
In-depth, down-to-earth articles help volunteers, pastors, and worship leaders to understand the ins and outs of the latest in worship sound technology.
Worship Sound Pro 101 Guides Worship Sound Pro 101 Guides
RSS V-MIXING SYSTEM
Introducing the easiest way to find exactly the right case for your gear!
More info on pg. 104
Take a look at the instruments we’ve highlighted in this guide, including Roland’s BK-5, the affordable Casio Privia PX-830, and the piano-likeWorship Kurzweil PC3K8. You’ll also want to check out the Nord C2D.
Sound Pro 101 Guides
Workstations: Powerful Tools for the Worship Leader
The Basics of
Dropout is just as bad as feedback. Even intermittent dropout can ruin an otherwise wonderful service. An unbroken line of sight between the transmitter and the receiver’s antennas is ideal, but seldom is that possible. More times than not, the wireless signal must rebound off of walls and other surfaces to reach the receiver, and that increases the risk of dropout. If you put a bodypack transmitter in your back pocket, the signal (unable to pass through you) will have to find an alternative path to the receiver. So, to minimize the risk of signal dropout, keep your bodypack in your front jacket pocket. Another major problem is broadband noise and radio interference. If your church is in a city, chances are that an inexpensive entry-level wireless system simply won’t work for you. The same precision technology responsible for the high simultaneous channel count common to most high-end professional wireless systems is responsible for shutting out noise and radio interference. Digital wireless systems, which reject noise and other nondigital signals out of hand, are excellent cost-effective alternatives to traditional wireless systems. All professional wireless receivers are “true diversity” receivers, which means that they use two independent antennas. That way, if the wireless signal doesn’t reach one antenna, it can still reach the other. Quality wireless receivers have antennas that twist off, allowing you to mount them on stands and spread them out. Separating your antennas vastly increases their effectiveness. Even spreading your antennas out just a few feet and moving them away from your other gear will vastly improve your system’s performance. Also, if you have a multichannel wireless system, you may also need an antenna distribution system, which will allow you to connect only a single pair of antennas to multiple receivers. Whether your future wireless system is a single-channel, single-speaker setup or a larger system for the whole worship team, it should effectively and accurately spread the message. Unfortunately, many budget-priced wireless systems may make it difficult and unpleasant for your congregation to hear that message. If the number of quality wireless systems you need is beyond your current budget, practice wise stewardship and save your money until you can afford the system that your house of worship deserves. There are excellent single-channel wireless systems that you can start with and expand later. Your Sweetwater Sales Engineer will be happy to help you find the right system for your church.
pment lease at
d the Pastor
PRO WORSHIP MUSIC
Tracks and Mixes for Your Worship Team pg. 108
Choosing the Right
Backing Tracks and Beyond
Whether you’re looking for a simple instrument that just plays and sounds like a real acoustic piano, or you’re seeking a powerful centerpiece for all your worship team’s ambitions, there’s a digital piano that’s right for your church. To help you zero in on the perfect keyboard for your needs, let’s take a look at the different kinds of keyboards available, as well as the important factors you’ll want to consider when making your decision. When Less Is More
Many church pianists we work with often feel overwhelmed by the number of choices out there — and even more so by the number of knobs, buttons, and controls on keyboards. “All I need,” they tell us, “is an instrument that plays like an acoustic piano and has a fantastic natural piano sound.” If this sounds like you, you’ll want to select what’s called a stage piano — and ideally one with a full set of 88 weighted keys (also called weighted action). These keyboards actually mimic the response of a grand piano’s keybed, where the lowest keys require more force to strike, and the upper keys feel light and airy beneath your fingertips. To nail the sound of an acoustic piano, today’s top keyboard manufacturers have gone to great lengths to record some of the finest grand pianos in the world, putting these sounds right inside the instruments. Not only can you get the sound of a classic Steinway, but on many you can also push a single button to get the sound of a Bosendorfer, a Yamaha C7, or a character-filled upright. If you’re replacing an acoustic piano, you should consider the importance of aesthetics to your church. If you have more-traditional services or are seeking a really natural look up on the platform, then you may want to choose a more authentic-looking stage piano. We have options available with wooden cabinets, in a variety of finishes, so you can choose an instrument that matches the decor of your church.
Ideal for Contemporary While streamlined, piano-like instruments are ideal for a number of $ 00 Worship Songs worship leaders and church pianists, many other houses of worship rely on More info on pg. 104 keyboards for much more than just piano sounds. In fact, if you’re a pianocentric worship leader, you may very well be able to perform and produce your entire service with a single powerful instrument called a keyboard workstation. More than just keyboards with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of instrument sounds, these instruments often feature multitrack sequencers, so you can layer all the different instrument parts into a full orchestration. Kurzweil PC3K8 ennheiser $ 95 It’s very similar to working with audio editing and production software, only>>Sennheiser Amazing Feel and $ 00 you’re not tethered to a computer — and you can easily play these backing EW 335 G3Piano Sounds info on pg. 20 More tracks right from your keyboard during services. And even if you do have More info on pg. 98 Churches across the country swear by a complete worship band, you can use a workstation to add a few choice this pro-level UHF wireless system! backing instruments to fill out your sound — perhaps a second trumpet part, a string section, or even an extra kick drum sound for more power.
Building a Mix
It’s bound to happen at some point: the mix disaster. Maybe your church’s regular sound person calls in sick at the last minute. Maybe the new volunteer sound person doesn’t know a volume slider from a sliding door, or a mixing board from a mixing bowl. Whatever the circumstance, something has to be done to save the service. Without decent sound, the congregation won’t be engaged or inspired by the music, and the message may be completely lost.
Though creating the perfect sound mix for a service is a true art, a sound person with little or no mixing experience can still achieve good sonic clarity and deliver the message with pleasant and effective audio. Here are some tips for saving the day with a quick, last-minute mix — whether you are working the sound booth yourself or have the help of a volunteer. system may not be perfect — forewarning the team that everything may not be ideal will go a long way toward easing the process for everyone. At least they will know what to expect!
Photo by Jon James and Troy Behrens
7. Have the worship team begin to play a song.
Watch for red overload or “clip” lights on the mixer. If you see these, turn down the gain controls at the top of that source’s channel.
More info on pg. 31
8. Build the mix by bringing up the volume faders for the basics first.
Start with the bass drum and the bass guitar, turning them up to a comfortable level and balancing them against one another. You may need to adjust the level of the master volume fader to get the overall level to the right point.
spikes in sound. Ask each worship team member what he or she needs to hear from the monitors — one at a time so that everyone doesn’t speak at once — and adjust the auxiliary sends accordingly.
A Balance of Features for Modern Worship
Practice • Rehearse • Perform
FIVE Main Features to Consider
As you take a look at the keyboards featured on the next few pages, these five factors will help you start narrowing down your decision:
Performance Ready with If you don’t need the all-out power of a workstation, but you’d still like a $ 00 Powerful Features handful of cutting-edge capabilities — maybe built-in drum patterns for More info on pg. 97 rehearsals and a lighter sequencer for a quick songwriting sketch pad — there are a number of options that fall somewhere in between the two categories we’ve already mentioned. Instead of choosing an 88-key option, which has the same number of keys as a full piano, you can select a 76-key (or smaller) version. These instruments trade a slightly reduced range (many Nord C2D keyboardists never use the highest and lowest keys anyway) for lighter 00 Wireless Breaking Through thebe a$little daunting at first. But don’t worry, wireless systems technology can Price/Performance Barrier weight and a more portable form factor. You can still get fully weighted keys More info on pg. than ever before. Most wireless systems set on a 76-key piano, or you can choose a semi-weighted version that works well much easier to understand today103 are if you perform a blend of classic and modern instrument sounds, rather than themselves up for you, and once you’ve set them up, you don’t need to touch them strictly piano.
Korg Kronos 88
13. Don’t try to overtune the mix, and don’t make it too loud.
Set things up so that they are clean and clear, and at a comfortable, conservative volume level. Then stop! Once you get to the point where it sounds okay — this should happen fairly quickly — stop tweaking the knobs. It’s easy to lose perspective and get lost in knob turning, even though the goal has already been achieved.
9. Turn up the volume faders for the vocals.
Now focus on the vocals. Set them to a comfortable level, balanced against the bass guitar and the bass drum. The lead vocalist needs to be the loudest, with the background or harmony vocals filling in behind.
Casio Privia PX-830
The Look and Feel of an Acoustic Upright Piano
4. Turn it on.
Turn on the speakers or the amplifiers last; this prevents loud thumps and pops from coming through the system.
10. Turn up the volume faders on the other instruments.
One at a time, begin turning up the other instruments. Start with the rest of the drums, then the guitars, the pianos, the keyboards, and any other instruments; adjust the volume as needed. Balance each one against the vocals, the bass drum, and the bass guitar. This is a place where you can err on the side of being conservative. The vocals are the main focus, and you want to ensure that they are clearly audible. Use the other instruments to fill around the vocals, without obscuring them. As you go, adjust the master volume fader to control the overall level.
14. Here’s a final tip.
When in doubt, focus on making the vocals, whether spoken or sung, clearly audible. The congregation is there to hear the message, which is contained in the words and lyrics. The music is inspiring and essential to a great service, but it plays just a supporting role in the grand scheme of things. Ensure that the vocals are heard, and the service will be a success!
1. Keep it simple.
Unfortunately, mix emergencies rarely occur when you have loads of spare time to work on a solution — it almost always happens minutes before the service is supposed to start. While your sound booth may have racks of processors and sophisticated audio equipment, now is >> Line 6 $ 99 not the time to experiment with effects or to randomly XD-V35 More info on minimum you start turning knobs. Focus on the barepg. 19 An affordable digital wireless the special need to get the job done. Leave system such effects for as time. another this one provides reliable performance.
5. Reset the mixing board.
Begin by pulling all the volume sliders (faders) down to zero. (Usually these are found at the bottom of each channel on the mixer.) Set the channel gain to a mid position (Usually this knob is found at the top of each channel on the mixer.) Next, reset all the equalization (tone) controls on the mixer to their center position, which is essentially off. Turn the auxiliary or monitor sends off. Make sure that mute or solo buttons are disengaged. (Usually these buttons are off in the up position.) Set the master volume fader to about 50%.
Do you want keys that are weighted to feel and play just like an acoustic piano’s? Or do you want keys that glide beneath your fingers so that you can easily play synth and organ parts?
Do you primarily need an authentic acoustic piano sound, or would you like to have other sounds such as strings, synths, electric pianos, organs, and more?
3. Arranging/Recording Capabilities
Will you be composing songs with your keyboard? If so, you may want to have a built-in sequencer, onboard drum sounds, and a direct-to-computer connection.
Increasing in popularity are keyboards that feature a built-in microphone again. Here’s a simple overview of wireless microphone technology, how you can put input. These are perfect for the performing worship leader and great for it to work in your church, and how to avoid some common pitfalls. scaled-down youth services. The vocal microphone goes right through the There are keyboard’s output, so you’ll need to amplify only one signal. Better yet, Yamaha S90 XS two basic types of wireless transmitters: handheld units and bodypacks. Handheld units combine a microphone and a wireless transmitter into one device. there are professional vocal effects built in, so you can refine the vocal sound Perfect Blend of Ease of $ 99 They without having to purchase an extra piece of gear. Use and Deep Features are extremely convenient for worship leaders, and even some pastors prefer them because info on pg. 96 move a handheld microphone away from your mouth if you More you can Don’t Forget About Realistic Organ Sounds need to cough. Wireless handheld microphones are also less susceptible to dropout, because the transmitter part of the The organ is still a very popular instrument for worship services. And while unit naturally points out toward the receiving antennas. most of the keyboards we carry feature a built-in organ sound, you can get that organ-playing experience — complete with drawbars — by choosing a dedicated instrument for the task. Have more questions? Our Sales Engineers are here to help you choose the best keyboard for your church’s goals. In fact, what you see in Worship Sound Pro is just a small sampling of the many keyboards we have available. Give us a call today at (800) 222–4700.
2. Use what’s already there.
Hopefully, your sound system is already set up, the cables and the snake are run to the mixer, and the monitors are tuned in to prevent feedback. Plug the mics into the mixer or snake in their usual positions. Try to use the same “old standby” microphones and other gear you usually use — again, now is not the time to experiment with new gear!
11. It’s time for the equalizers.
Up to this point, we haven’t touched the equalizers (tone controls) on the mixer. If you find that the sound is getting too bassy or boomy, use the “low” or bass tone control to reduce the bass frequencies a small amount on instruments such as bass guitar, keyboards, and piano. Vocalists, especially male vocalists, may also need their bass reduced a small amount. To increase the clarity of a vocal or an instrument, add a small amount of treble or high frequencies by using the tone controls on that mixer channel. Be careful with the tone controls, as overuse can lead to feedback!
4. Size and Portability
Choosing a 76-key keyboard instead of a full-size 88-key instrument can be a great way to cut down on weight while maintaining a first-class playing experience.
More info on pg. 102
How important is it that your church’s keyboard resemble an acoustic piano? Do you want an integrated stand, or would you prefer to use a more portable stage-style keyboard stand?
Bodypack transmitters allow you to plug in a lavalier microphone or a guitar cable, giving you both wireless and hands-free convenience. If you are going to use a lavalier microphone, you’ll most likely want to choose one with a cardioid (unidirectional) pickup pattern rather than one with an omnidirectional pattern. Cardioid lavaliers reject sound that doesn’t enter them directly, making them less likely to create feedback. Just remember this: no matter how much freedom wireless microphones give you, you still can’t walk in front of the loudspeakers without causing feedback.
6. Begin testing each sound source through the mains.
Have the main vocalist speak or sing into his or her mic. Bring up the volume slider until you can hear the vocals in the main speakers. Turn up the auxiliary or monitor sends until the vocalist can hear himself or herself in the monitors. As you verify that each mic or source works, pull its volume fader back down to zero. You can leave the aux (monitor) sends turned up so that the singers can hear themselves. To prevent feedback, don’t run the stage monitors too loud.
DMS Have a conversation with the worship team. 3. 70 More info on pg. 22
This inexpensive digital wireless system Explain to everyone that the regular sound person is not is a real performer onstage!
available and that help is required to have the service go well. This means guitarists need to turn down, drummers need to control volume, and so on. Explain that the monitor
12. Fine-tune the mix and the monitors.
Adjust volume levels so that instruments and vocals are balanced, and adjust the bass and the treble controls on channels as necessary to prevent boominess, harshness, or
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Call to set up your custom system!
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More info on pg. 28
We'll help you set up a system that fits your church's needs perfectly!
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With valuable advice on live mixing, miking techniques, instruments, and more, our informative guides give you the tips and tricks you need to make your services sound better.
Here’s the best way to learn, rehearse, and perform today’s top Christian music! Get complete backing tracks and practice mixes, charts, and more.
Practice, Rehearse, and Perform
News and Articles
Get useful, up-to-date editorials, reviews, and information from experts in worship sound — and stay current on the latest developments.
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Audix is the industry leader in drum and percussion microphones and was the first to introduce professional mic pack assortments to the market. It is within this spirit of innovation that Audix is proud to launch 6 new and unique packs.
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DP QUAD: The essential combination of microphones needed to effectively mic your kit! Contains two ADX51s, one D6 and one i5. FP QUAD: Like the DP QUAD, the FP QUAD is also the simplest combination of microphones needed to effectively mic your kit but does so by utilizing our lower priced, yet extremely impressive Fusion Series. Contains two f9s, one f6 and one f5.
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THE NAME PRETTY MUCH SAYS IT ALL.
Sporting an elegant new black finish, the SV-1BK provides two amazing grand piano sounds – one German, one Japanese – matched with Korg’s finest piano action. The intuitive front panel also offers instant access to dozens of the hippest, most in-demand, and soul-satisfying keyboard sounds ever collected in a single instrument.
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Sound Check: Contentment – the Cure for G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)
I was in Texas recently for the Dallas International Guitar Show. Mitch Bohannon (one of our product reviewers) and his son Samuel drove down from Louisiana to help me run our exhibit booth there again this year. We had a good time looking at all of the nice vintage guitars, playing new guitars (some luthier ones too which you will see reviewed here in the near future), and generally celebrating all things guitar, amps, and pedals. The good news is that while walking the large exhibit floor and seeing several outstanding vintage instruments, I realized that I am content with what I now own and play. From my Joe Riggio electric guitar (yes, the same guy who writes our “Ask Joe” column also builds great electric guitars… mine has a #5 in the serial number) to my full sounding 1993 Martin D28 acoustic guitar, I am quite satisfied with what I have. I wasn’t in that “search” mode while at the show this year Now, if I somehow had just won the lottery would I have gone there to buy a few choice guitars to “round-out” my collection? You betcha! There were guitars that swayed me when I walked by. Some older Gibson and Martin acoustics caught my eye, and I was especially smitten by an older Gibson Firebird electric with a reverse headstock. Way cool! I have always liked the look of that guitar. I remember, as a teenager, seeing Stevie Winwood play one with the band Traffic, and I just dug its unique appeal. Could I have comfortably bought a vintage one while I was there in Dallas? Nope. To quote a past president with roots in Texas… “It wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture”. I also ran into The Burst Brothers while at the show. They are well known vintage guitar personalities, and they are going to be the ones auctioning Les Paul’s personal collection/estate of guitars and sundry musical items ( http://www.juliensauctions.com/). Now, maybe I can bid on some guitar picks Les played? That might fit in the budget. But as much as I am around great guitars, at trade shows, conventions, and vintage guitar shows like the one in Dallas and also like the vintage shows that we produce here in the NW (www.seatacguitarshow.com) - and the fact doesn’t escape me that I am the guy who makes the “Love One Woman… Many Guitars” t-shirts… I am really content with the guitars I have. Maybe I need to set aside more time for improving my playing instead of improving my collection of guitars? I know that I have been in that “search” mode many times before in my life, and there may come a time when I am doing it again; but for now, to be content with what I have is a good thing. An old pastor of mine used to say, “It is good to love what you have, and to have what you love”. So if you are suffering from G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and it is pushing you to points that aren’t healthy financially or emotionally… take a minute to count your blessings… pick up the axe you have and play to your heart’s content. Maybe contentment is the cure you’re really looking for… Bruce & Judy
8 Product Review by Eric Wylie GK MB212 Combo Bass Amp 10 Bassic Communication by Norm Stockton Developing Your Inner Clock (Part 2) 12 Guitar Workshop by John Standefer An Original Idea 14 Drumming Dynamics by David Owens Triplet Fill Exercises 16 Vocal Coach’s Corner by Roger Beale How Much Should a Singer Know? 18 Show Us Your Groove by Rick Cua Who’s Your Supervisor? 26 Selective Hearing by Shawn McLaughlin Mercyland: Hymns For the Rest of Us Newworldson The Vespers Jenny and Tyler Dave Perkins Hotshot Freight Train Russ Rosen Band 34 The Indie Mechanics by Keith Mohr & Sue RossMohr Follow the Thin Red Line! 36 The Fretboard Less Traveled by Rich Severson Inversions of Minor 9th Chords
38 Ask Joe by Joe Riggio 41 Guitar From A 2 Z by Roger Zimish Diatonic Forms 42 Product Review by Mitch Bohannon Z-Stik 44 Product Review by S. Konstantopoulos and M. Schwander Waves: Studio Classics Collection 46 Your Plan or God’s Hand? by Bryan Duncan
20 Steve Taylor ...But What I Really Want To Do Is Direct by Bruce Adolph cover photo by Jimmy Abegg
4227 S. Meridian, Suite C PMB #275, Puyallup Washington 98373 Phone: 253.445.1973 Fax: 253.655.5001 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.christianmusician.com Editor & President: Bruce Adolph Vice President: Judy Adolph, email@example.com Customer Service: Brian Felix, firstname.lastname@example.org Street Team: Mike Adolph, Jesse Hill & Winston Design & Layout: Matt Kees Copyediting: Kevin Wilber Accounting: Debi Davis Advertising Sales: email@example.com Published by the Adolph Agency Inc.
GK MB212 Combo Bass Amp
by Eric Wylie
Anytime I hear the name Gallien-Krueger, my mind races back to the mid-‘80s and the GK 800RB. It seemed like every big name rocker that I liked was playing one. (I never owned one growing up, but plenty of my friends did and I always liked what I heard.) My second thought is of our own Norm Stockton, who endorses GK amps. In fact, when Norm’s 1001RB and Neo212 rigs are not available, he uses the GK MB212 with very favorable results. Gallien-Krueger has been a major player in the bass amp market for over forty years. Bob Gallien probably has not received the recognition he deserves for a number of the innovations they have brought to market. GK offers a broad spectrum of bass amp products at a range of price points. The MB212 Combo is one of their newer entries to the market. It is part of the MB Combo line and part of the Micro Bass Series. GK has stuffed an impressive array of features in the amp section and two 12” speakers with a piezo horn into a lightweight cabinet. The preamp section includes preamp gain, a contour switch, four band EQ, ‘boost’, a limiter, and master volume. Let’s take a brief look at these features. The contour switch engages a preset EQ that cuts the mids while boosting the lows and highs. The four band EQ includes Bass, Low-Mid, High-Mid, and Treble. ‘Boost’ is an additional gain stage (FET) to give a bit more dirt to your sound. The limiter helps protect the power amp from distorting in the event you crank it wide open. There is also an XLR output that is post-EQ. As indicated, there’s a lot of sonic flexibility with this preamp. weighs in at 37lbs. That’s less than many 2x12 cabinets without the power amp! So how does it sound? That’s the most important part! In order to test the amp under real world conditions, I took it to two different rehearsals and two gigs. The first rehearsal was for our weekly worship service and I used the combo with my 6 string bass with active electronics. Very little EQ was required to get a great sound out of it. No contour, but the horn was on. The MB212 responded very well. Test number one passed! The second rehearsal was for an acoustic group with drums and two acoustic guitars. I used an electric upright for this rehearsal. The contour switch was on and the horn off. Again, very little EQ was required. To be honest, the upright sounded better with the GK rig than my regular rig. Simply put, it sounded phenomenal! Test number two passed! The first gig was a jazz trio with piano and drums. The electric upright was used again and we played in a local coffee shop. The MB212 still sounded great and filled the room quite nicely. The second gig was our regular Sunday worship service. This time, I used a vintage Fender J Bass. The contour switch was on and the horn was on. The amp worked perfectly and sounded great in the house. That’s four different gig scenarios and the MB212 worked great in each situation. In fact, it sounded better than my normal rig with the electric upright. Gallien-Krueger has a number of high profile upright players using their products, and I can see why.
only handle on the amp is on top. For those of us that are vertically challenged (i.e. short…), it can make loading in and out a little bit of a challenge. The flip side to this is that adding side handles would increase the cost of the combo and would require redesign of the cabinet. There is an art and science to cabinet design and adding the handles would require changes. A simple solution for us bass players is a small cart or handtruck. After all, why lift something when you can roll it around?!? The second complaint goes to the orientation of the XLR jack for the DI. The jack is installed such that the release pin in an XLR cable is against the side of the cabinet. Again, not a huge issue but can be a source of minor annoyance for those with fat, stubby fingers… Again, both are fairly minor concerns and have nothing to do with performance or reliability. The MB212 performed admirably on all occasions. There is a reason Gallien-Krueger amps have been around for over forty years. They sound great and are well made. Gallien-Krueger amps can be found in most major music stores around the U.S. and internationally. MSRP on the MB212 is $999, with street price coming in around $699. For more information on Gallien-Krueger products, point your browser to www.gallien-krueger.com. Be sure to look around the site and look for the company tour with Norm Stockton!
The MB212 and rated at 500 watts, and all 500 are supplied to the internal 4 ohm load. The preamp also includes a pre-EQ direct out and a defeat switch for the horn. Turning off the horn cuts out the top end and makes the cabinet sound a bit more old school. Those that want a brighter, more modern sound Of course, nothing is absolutely perfect. will want to leave the horn on. The power There’s always room for improvement amp uses a class D design, which is small and somewhere, even if it is something relatively relatively lightweight. The entire combo amp minor. Only two things stood out as possible improvements for the MB212 combo. The 8 MAY/JUN 2012 CHRISTIANMUSICIAN.COM
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Developing Your Inner Clock (Part 2)
Welcome back to our series on developing our timekeeping abilities! I hope you’ve been getting regular practice sessions with the exercises from last time. For our current objectives, there’s no substitute for putting in the time (pun not intended!). figures in the top 2 staves. Start with the first one (click on each quarter note, i.e., “1, 2, 3, 4”) and play through Exercises 1 through 4. A As I mentioned in our last installment, good starting point for the metronome is 90 combining these exercises with a critical ear bpm. for flams (two distinct, nearly-simultaneous Exercise 1 might seem like a step back in hits) against the click will be invaluable for rhythmic progression from where we’ve been, calibrating our internal sense of time, as well but the point of these exercises is to develop as in making us aware of our own rhythmic our internal sense of time, which needs to be tendencies (rushing, dragging, speeding up accurate through an array of subdivisions. with dynamic builds, and/or slowing down In fact, you might find it harder to play this with drops in dynamic level, etc.). exercise accurately (i.e., flam-free) than some Once again, you’ll notice two rhythmic of the busier ones. Make sure you tap your foot with the metronome and try to internalize the tempo and subdivisions. Also, watch your foot wherever the figure departs from the downbeat (e.g., 3rd bar of Exercise 1, end of 2nd bar of Exercise 2, etc.): your foot should still be tapping on the quarter notes, regardless of the rhythmic figure being played.
Bassic Communication Developing Your Inner Clock (Part 2)
Metronome Clicks on quarter notes (Tap foot on each quarter note)
We’ll still be working with ghost notes, so just mute the strings with your fretting hand, and pluck as indicated. Ghost notes are great for these exercises, as the sound of the click should disappear when you’re locking with it. I really encourage you to record yourself repetitively playing these exercises and listen back critically for flams. Once you’ve acclimated, try to play Exercises 1 through 4 again with the metronome playing the 2nd figure ( just beats 2 and 4), maintaining your foot taps on each downbeat. The click on beats 2 and 4 helps create the sense of backbeat (like a drummer’s snare drum).
Metronome Clicks on beats 2 & 4 (Keep tapping foot on each quarter note)
Practice these at a variety of tempos. It’s always surprising how challenging it is to play accurately at slower tempos (60 bpm and slower). Have fun! (Adapted from curriculum in the Grooving for Heaven instructional DVDs)
Norm Stockton is a bassist/clinician/solo artist based in Orange County, CA. In addition to his many years touring & recording with worship artist Lincoln Brewster, his solo projects (“Pondering the Sushi” and “Tea In The Typhoon”) have received widespread acclaim from around the world. Visit Norm at www.ArtOfGroove.com (his brand-new instructional site) and www.normstockton.com, as well as Facebook & Twitter for much bass-related info and fun. While there, be sure to check out his blog (The GrooveSpot) and register for his e-newsletter (the groove update) for tips, interviews, clinic invites, exclusive discount prices, and more.
© 2012 Stocktones Music
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An Original Idea
I’ve just completed the work on a rather long-awaited CD. It is a collection of 18 of my best original guitar compositions, spanning 3 decades. By the time you get this issue of CM, Candlelight Guitar should be released. These tunes are very close to me. Many of them have spiritual meaning, and they paint a great soundscape for times of prayer and meditation. Working on this project has caused me to contemplate all the things I’ve learned in my life as a musician and composer. Some of you know a little about my musical background, but let me just fill you in on the high points. I was born in 1950 and began playing music at age 5. I learned to read music and play by ear on drums, mandolin, violin, and trombone before picking up the guitar (and have learned many other stringed instruments over the years since then). By the time I was 16 years old I was teaching in a small conservatory, was a member of the musicians union, and was playing club gigs. That means that I have been a pro player and teacher for 46 years. That’s a long time. I’ve lived through a lot of secular musical style changes over the years, and then I became a Christian in 1977 and have lived through 35 years of changes in contemporary worship music as well. I’m only mentioning all of this so that you’ll know where I’m coming from as I dive into this issue’s subject. My topic this time has to do with the development of original material . . .writing songs. As a guitar player, you may have been noodling around on your guitar and discovered a new little lick or technique that you incorporated into your playing. You may have even developed a whole tune. Maybe you’ve had an epiphany or personal experience that propelled you to write set of lyrics. Perhaps you even aspire to be a songwriter. Many of us secretly wish that we could quit our day jobs and become professional musicians (not recommended). But here’s the rub. For some reason, in this day and age of modern inventions, hurried lifestyles, and instant gratification, very few musicians actually become educated before they start writing songs. So much music, secular and Christian, is written by people who, sorry to say, simply aren’t qualified. There are always a few brilliant writers out there, but the vast majority don’t have a clue about the interesting complexities of well crafted music and lyrics. This seems to be especially true in Christian circles where we tend to ‘live by faith’ that our music is good. Hey, it came from God, didn’t it? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone perform a song that ‘the Lord gave them’ where I’ve secretly wondered why in the world the Lord would give them such a poor ‘gift’ as that. So... my questions are these: Why don’t we perceive the difference between first attempts, and more mature, well crafted music? And why aren’t we compelled to want to learn more, grow as musicians, and do better? As Christians, it seems like we’d want our music to truly be pleasing to the Lord - and for it to be a shining example to the world. Instead of barely containing an idea put to music, a song should have depth and color and texture and meaning - and be as intellectually interesting as it is emotionally moving. If this sounds like the kind of music you aspire to write and perform, then why not actually study music? Learn from the masters before unleashing your material on the public. Study the crafts of not only performing, but lyric writing, composing, and arranging music. Go to school, read books, take lessons, and compare what you are working on with others who are better than you, perhaps in workshop sessions. Discovering how music actually works is really fascinating. Maybe you don’t want, or can’t afford, the time or expense for a 4-year degree in music, but how about taking a night course now and then on music appreciation, theory, composition, arranging, lyric writing, etc.? My strong encouragement is that all of us, particularly Christians, should strive to educate ourselves. Being a musician is no different than being a theologian – you need to know what you’re talking about before you speak. And the truth is that a deeper study of music is so rewarding in every way that the greatest gift goes to the ‘learnee’. Aspire to be good at what you do. Examine your weaknesses and develop a progressive plan to fill in the blanks in your education. You and your listeners will be glad you did!
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.
Never drop your pick again.
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Fantastic tone Glides on the strings Clings to your ﬁngers
12 MAY/JUN 2012
Triplet Fill Exercises
In my last article I transcribed a portion of a Benny Greb solo. You can watch the video on YouTube. Type in Benny Greb - jazzclubdrumsolo March 2008 or type the direct link. http://youtu.be/hMJtIWD6FUw?t=1m7s. The portion of the solo I transcribed last time starts at 1:02 into the video. It was one of the most challenging transcriptions I have ever attempted. What we will do this time is take apart sections of the solo and turn them into linear triplet fill exercises. The sixteenth note triplets have been changed to eighth note triplets to make it easier to read. The first 2 bars is the basic groove Benny
plays. Next I wrote out the triplet lick as he played it. Then I took the basic triplet fill Benny played and displaced where beat one is to change things up. I have also taken two beats of one part of the fill and matched it with two beats of another part for variation. It is very important to use them as exercises and not play them on a gig unless it seems musically appropriate. The concept here is to get your body playing things that are awkward and difficult. By practicing these types of things it should help you come up with different ideas for fills.
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
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How Much Should a Singer Know?
What should a singer know? That is an interesting question to ponder. Recently I had a new student begin to study singing with me who had moved here from another part of the country. He had previously studied with a teacher who claimed that great singers and teachers of singing, in the past, never bothered to learn how the voice works. This teacher also believed that it is a waste of time to study this type of thing, that each singer eventually discovers his or her own way, and that singers do not need to know how the voice functions physically. During the early part of my teaching career, I heard teachers say things like this. I had thought that approach had disappeared with the dawn of the post-modern period. Apparently it hasn’t become totally extinct. so good I don’t need to know how my voice works.” I hope this is not true. But I have met a bunch of singers over the years that have said this out loud. This type of singer is usually the one that has a five-year career, and then the voice falls apart and they retire to another occupation, usually outside of music. This happens every day. these things. The next thing would be vocal tone. A singer must know what factors contribute to a good vocal tone and what factors contribute to a bad tone. Consider that a vocal tone is created in the throat, mouth, and nasal passages. It is not just a “sing in the throat” thing. Also, the way you pronounce your words will have a profound effect on your vocal tone. Sing your words in a conversational manner. Do not ever, ever, ever sing with an affected British accent. Use conversational English. One final essential thing a singer should know is to sing with emotion. If a singer cannot engage an audience and touch their hearts with his music, he or she needs to sit down. Technical knowledge leads to emotional singing. That is ultimately why singers study how the voice functions. It leads to true music making. As the great teacher Marchesi states, “Every art consists of a technical-mechanical part and an aesthetic part. A singer who cannot overcome the difficulties of the first part, can never attain perfection in the second. Not even a genius.” Now go sing well!
Or could it be “the voice and its function are so complicated I would never understand it, therefore I won’t try to learn it”. This is a sad, but perfect example of the fear of failure concept. This type of singer, because of this emotional and mental approach, usually has a small, short, and non-successful career. This singer mentally holds back and never lets go emotionally. If they did let go, it would allow them to achieve more. Sadly that usually As you probably anticipated, I, as well as doesn’t happen. most other voice teachers, believe singers Another possibility could be “I have a three need to know something in regards to how thousand dollar guitar and my guitar playing the human voice functions physiologically. At is better than my singing so I will ignore the the very minimum a singer must know where vocal knowledge and focus on my guitar skills. the diaphragm is located, what it can and That will take me to the top.” This approach cannot do, and that it has no magical powers may work, but if the vocal sounds emanating and does not sing. The major reason singers from this person are repulsive, out of tune, need to study how the voice physically and unappealing, I don’t think that their functions is to avoid any confusion that makes bookings and album sales are going to be singing more complicated than it should be. strong enough to make a living. A teacher that tells a vocal student not to bother with facts is turning their back on the history of vocal teaching. Consider that the famous voice teacher of the nineteenth century, Manuel Garcia, invented the laryngoscope. That is a devise that is used to visually observe and examine vocal fold function. This was a voice teacher, not a medical doctor! All well-known voice teachers of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries made use of known information pertaining to physiology and acoustic functions of the human voice.
Well, what are the essential things a singer Roger Beale is one of the nation’s foremost vocal coaches. He presently works needs to know? How about starting at the with professional singers in all very basics. Stand up straight! Sit up straight areas of musical performance. when accompanying yourself on the piano. His teaching and coaching Stand up straight when playing your guitar. facility, The Voice House, is involved in the management and Stand up straight when singing. The reason care of the professional voice. for this is, the body functions best when in Many of his students have won proper position and you create a strong visual prestigious vocal competitions presence when on stage. and scholarships. In addition, The second essential is breathing for singing. Do not complicate this. The diaphragm muscle moves downward. Yes, I said downward! Respiratory therapists know that it goes down and creates a vacuum, which pulls the air into the lungs. The abdominal muscles and the intercostal muscles then contract and push upward on the lung tissue. The air then crosses the vocal folds and a sound results. Once again keep it simple and do not complicate
Why would a vocal artist ignore fact and just start singing with no knowledge to back up what he does with his voice? No one knows! But we will make an attempt to discuss this phenomenon. Could it be “singer’s ego”? Some say, “I’m 16 MAY/JUN 2012
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 an adjunct professor in the Fine Arts department at Point University (formerly Atlanta Christian College), website: www.point.edu. Roger can be contacted at: The Voice House, PO Box 87136, College Park, GA 30337, (404) 822-5097, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, web site: www. thevoicehouse.com.
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Who’s Your Supervisor? by Rick Cua
Not long ago I went to the Home Depot to get a few things…screw anchors, light bulbs, duct tape…that sort of stuff. When I entered the store I was welcomed by the greeter and about 20 feet away from him was a fella who was promoting heating and cooling services. He was a young guy whose mission, I suppose, was to pitch his services to customers and hopefully sign them up for what he was offering. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare We have a constant companion and a faithful friend with Jesus. He is always with us to see before the eyes of Him to whom we must give our successes, failures, good judgment, and account.” Hebrews 4:13 bad. While we know this in our head, do our The time we spend meditating on God’s actions reflect this reality or are we, like many, Word and communing with Him throughout conveniently forgetful . . . especially when we the day is directly related to how aware of His are not behaving well? presence we are. Not just knowing He’s there, HE IS YOUR SAVIOR: “But grow in the but sensing Him in a tangible way. Though grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior invisible, His presence can really be felt and Well, the guy barely looked at me, didn’t Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and that reality can, and will, keep us focused on smile, and certainly didn’t try to sell me forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 Him and living life well all of the time. anything. He looked pretty bored and I was Back to our young salesman friend at the actually glad he didn’t try to sell me because HE HAS YOUR BEST INTERESTS IN Home Depot…If he realized that he was I didn’t need what he was selling. I carried MIND: “For I know the plans I have for you,” entrusted with a responsibility, whether he on with my shopping and, when I was nearly declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and was under his boss’s watchful eye or not, his finished, passed him by one more time. This not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a actions would have been consistent, even time, however, he had a guy standing next future.” Jeremiah 29:11 when he was on his own. Hopefully that’s to him: older, more buttoned down, and HE IS WORTHY OF ALL PRAISE: “Great a lesson he has learned and one we have obviously his supervisor. When the young is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His learned related to God first and living a life of salesman saw me he lit up and started his greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3 integrity in every situation. If we believe the spiel. He was pleasant, detailed, and although Word to be true…we are never alone, and not overly aggressive, serious and deliberate who could have a better supervisor than the for sure. I politely thanked him, said I was all Now that’s a supervisor…A compassionate Lover Of Our Soul?! Savior, wanting only His very best for us and set, and made my way to the checkout. so worthy of our adoration and praise. Do HE IS YOUR KEEPER: When I walked out of the store I think I everything in Christ and know that He’s not “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your actually chuckled out loud thinking of the huge a God that peers over your shoulder waiting shade at your right hand. The sun shall not difference in that guy when his supervisor was for you to blow it. He’s a God who loves you, strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The present. Wow, I thought, how different would encourages you, does everything He can to Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall we all be if our supervisor was with us every help you reach your goals, and wants only preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve minute of every day. Then it dawned on me… goodness for you. your going out and your coming in from this He is! We serve a merciful Savior who is also a time forth, and even forevermore.” Psalm 121: Righteous Judge. Our God loves us through 5-8 HE IS WITH YOU ALWAYS: “And surely this life and will judge our actions at the end I am with you always, to the very end of the of our earthly life. What we settle into career Not just a musical artist, Rick age.” Matthew 28:20b knows the business of music wise, and more importantly as believers as well. Besides being a music HE SEES ALL: “The eyes of the LORD are doing life with those we love and those whose publisher, artist manager and everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked path we cross, should reflect the heart of our booking agent, he founded God and line up to the instruction He gives and the good.” Proverb 15:3 and ran his own record label, us through His Word. We need to pray daily UCA Records, in the 1990s HE IS YOUR FRIEND: “I no longer call you for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit in order to which led to a position for servants, because a servant does not know his be discerning as we move through each day five and 1⁄2 years as Vice master’s business. Instead, I have called you making choices. President, Creative/Copyright friends, for everything that I learned from my Development at EMI CMG in Nashville. There he Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
managed a large songwriter roster and exponentially grew revenue through film and TV licensing, song promotion and print music development. He is currently on staff as the minister of Pastoral Care and Visitation at Grace Chapel in Franklin, TN.
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...BUT WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO IS DIRECT
interview by Bruce Adolph
Christian Musician: A lot of folks may not know that you were a college film student as well as a musician. Was there a conflict between the two creative pursuits? shoot it in the fall of 2010, we weren’t going to be able to make the movie because our lead actor, Marshall Allman, was going to have to go back to work on True Blood the day after Steve Taylor: When I was in college, I was a Thanksgiving. music major and did the equivalent of a film So, in desperation, one of my associates found minor. The film department was just fledgling another investor in Los Angeles to put in just at the time, so I took all of the film classes that enough money so that we could get the movie I could as well as acting classes and anything shot. But then on the eve of us opening our surrounding film making while I was getting my production office, he dropped out. That’s music degree. when I had to call Don Miller, who had been At that point, music school was all about a really fantastic and patient partner for this classical music, which wasn’t particularly whole experience. I had told him from the helpful to what I ended up doing as a career beginning that I wouldn’t just option the book, in music. Film school ended up having more but that I would get the movie made. And practical applications, and I’ve kept a lot of now, four years later I still hadn’t been able to what I learned there. I actually saw my old pull it off and I was, frankly, feeling like a failure film professor recently. I went back and did a and a fraud because I had been telling people screening at Colorado University in Boulder, that we were going to get this movie made, and my alma mater, last week. My film professor I’d been wrong. So I told Don that I was sorry, came to the screening. And it’s really weird and that there was no way we could shoot how, thirty years later, I still really wanted to this now. He wrote a blog the next day that please my professor. At the end of the movie, basically said, “We apologize, but the movie is he wrote a little something down on a piece of not going to happen. We can’t get the funding. We did our best, but we failed.” And that’s paper that said, “I give Blue Like Jazz an A+.” when people started writing back and saying, CM: Right on! That must be rewarding. Tell “This is an important movie. You have got to us about what it was like to go through the make this!” process of raising funds for the movie through Kickstarter and having this be a publicly funded Different people had mentioned Kickstarter in their responses, but two guys in Franklin, film project. Tennessee actually sent us a short video saying, ST: Well, to really understand it, you would “We don’t have any money, but what if you let have to realize just how completely I had us start a Kickstarter campaign to save Blue despaired of ever getting this movie made, Like Jazz, because we think there are a lot of because we’d been working for four years people, like us, who want to see this movie trying to raise money and could never get any made. None of us have big amounts of money, kind of critical mass together. There was a guy but we could all give small amounts of money. up in Seattle who came on board early on and What do you think?” stayed with us from the beginning and has been fantastic. But beyond him, we just never I had checked out the Kickstarter website, and really got anywhere near where we needed to I liked it a lot. I had heard a little bit about it, be. It finally got to the place where if we didn’t but it was still a pretty new idea at the time. There was just nothing on the website that gave me any sense that this could be done. I think at that point, the most any film had raised was around $40,000 or $50,000, and we were going to need $250,000 in 30 days or we couldn’t get our movie shot. Our investor in Seattle said that he would match whatever we came up with, but that still meant that we had to set a goal of $125,000. And the whole process of the last four years had been so embarrassing with not being able to raise the money, that I told the guys that I wasn’t sure that I was ready to experience that kind of public humiliation over the next 30 days. They came back and asked me if I had any better ideas. Well. . . I didn’t. . . .so we launched the Kickstarter campaign a few days later. And 30 days later we ended up with 4500 people giving us $345,000. It was really remarkable, and still hard to talk about because it was such a huge turnaround. So many people were so enthusiastic about wanting to be a part of this, that a kind of community was created around the “Save Blue Like Jazz” campaign. CM: You had told 3500 of the donors, as part of this deal, that you would call them. So. . .you must have a pretty incredible cell phone plan! ST: Yeah! As an incentive to the Kickstarter campaign (because I didn’t think this was going to work), I said, “Give us $10, and I’ll call you and thank you personally.” And there ended up being about 3500 people on that list! And I never stopped enjoying making those calls, because every one of those calls was just a reminder of somebody else who made it possible to finally put the movie in production after 4 years of waiting. Plus, I got to hear all of their stories, and why the book was meaningful to them. It was really gratifying, and I was actually a little sad when I got to the end of the call sheet. CM: And then, to help promote the movie,
I first met Steve Taylor over 25 years ago when his I Want to Be a Clone record was released. He did an in-store appearance for the music store that I ran. He was quick witted, authentic, endearing to the audience, and surprisingly humble with self deprecating humor that was a form of entertainment all to itself. I really liked him then, and even though we only cross paths every five years or so, I really like him now. This time around we sit down to discuss the two creative pursuits in his life... making music and directing films... Notably, his new full length feature film - Blue Like Jazz (adapted from the well known book of the same name, written by Donald Miller), which has the unique distinction of being the first publicly funded full length movie via Kickstarter. Here we go...
you guys did the “Bus tour of bus tours” together. Tell us a little bit about that adventure. ST: Well, I hadn’t been on tour since I had been touring as a musician. But we all piled into one of those bandwagons and wrapped the bus in the movie poster artwork. It was Don, and Ben Pearson, who was our co-writer on the screenplay as well as the cinematographer, and my long-time friend Jim Chaffee, who I have known since before I was a recording artist, and then Marshall joined us for a lot of the trip. We did 30 cities in 30 days doing preview screenings and inviting influential people with the press and a certain number of Kickstarter backers to each of the theater venues. It was a really good experience. CM: The setting of the film is the ultra-liberal Reed College in Portland, Oregon. What was it like when you went and did a pre-screening for the faculty and students there? What was their reaction? ST: That was a wild night. I’ve never been as nervous for any of our screenings as I was for that one. Number one, because we really liked the place. Of course, Don has written about it extensively, and I’ve spent a lot of time there too doing research. And the students that I talked to, I really liked. We had a blast shooting on campus, and all of the faculty that I met, I really liked.
Park in Colorado, and Billy Ray Hearn, the president of Sparrow Records, happened to be in the audience. I don’t think he realized I had friends there who’d spread the word for everyone to start cheering and going crazy as soon as I came out on stage...which they did. I think Billy Ray liked the music, but I think he liked the response more. So he was literally waiting at the side of the stage when I finished and said, “I want to do a record deal with you.”
with Claire Holt and Marshall Allman (photo by Jimmy Abegg)
scattered boos. They made jokes about various insider observations specific to Reed. There were some students that didn’t like the movie and walked out during the screening. But at the end, it got a long round of applause. I talked to a lot of students afterwards, and I think if there was any kind of consensus opinion it would be that a lot of them told me they came in not wanting to like it, but they had to admit that it was pretty well done and a fair representation. CM: I know that the opening weekend numbers are pretty important for a movie. Where did you guys land?
CM: Wow! Did you do the Dylan impersonation at the end the song when you did it live or was that added later in the studio? ST: I did it live. So many ideas for I Want to be a Clone came from my college days. When I was at Colorado University, the film department was in an old, run-down science building, and the men’s room was creaky and decrepit. There were 3 wooden stalls. Each of them were separately labeled “Sex”, “Politics”, and “Religion”, and that was the graffiti that you were expected to write when using one of those stalls. But above the urinals somebody started writing puns about clones. Things like, “Everybody must get cloned, by Bob Dylan.” Or, “Clone-liness is next to Godliness.” So. . . everyday I would read the latest post, and that’s really where the inspiration for the song came from.
ST: Well, it wasn’t great, and it wasn’t terrible. There was a pattern that played out across the country. We tended to do well in the city centers, and then the further out in the rural areas that the movie was playing, the worse we did. Dallas was a good example. We were at We wanted them to know that we were trying the Angelika in downtown Dallas, and that was CM: I’ve never heard that story before. That’s to portray the school realistically within the one of our best theaters, but the further out of really funny! boundaries of a movie. (We were only able Dallas we went, the more it trailed off. Okay, the second big risk in your life was to shoot there for 3 days because we couldn’t CM: Are you adding some more cities for the when you took the song “Kiss Me” by Sixpence afford to shoot the whole movie in Portland, as second week? None the Richer to mainstream radio. Tell us we had originally hoped. We shot a lot of the about that. ST: Yes. We’ll be in about 55 cities by the movie in Nashville and used another location second weekend of the release. It’s going to ST: Yeah, that one was an insane long shot for a lot of the Reed college settings, and then be a good run. We knew from the beginning because we started so far down. The only filled in with the Reed college footage from the that it was going to be a tough sell, but for an reason I started Squint Entertainment was days that we filmed there.) independent movie, we’re doing fine. I think because Sixpence’s label went bankrupt and So they put us in a big room with a big screen, that we were all hoping for a little bit bigger the band needed a new label home. We and they had more people show up for this turnout, but we’re still at it, and it will stay out screening than for any other special event there for the month of May. they’d ever done on campus. Don did a really CM: Steve, you’ve certainly taken some long good job introducing it, saying, “Look, we shots in your life. I’m going to re-cap three of know that your school is very dear to you. We them and ask you to comment on each of them. hope you understand the spirit behind this. But if you want to do a full-on Mystery Science The first one was when you talked Sparrow Theater while this is rolling, feel free!” And records into releasing I Want to be a Clone. they all cheered, and they took full advantage. How did that go for you? Every time they saw a shot of the Reed campus, ST: That was being in the right place at they’d cheer. And if there were shots that were the right time. I was part of a lunchtime supposed to be of Reed, but weren’t, I’d hear showcase and did a 2-song set up at Estes
in studio circa 1981 (photo by Dave Thrush)
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had that one song, “Kiss Jimmy Abegg has been a mutual Me,” and when we were friend as well. We just holed up in recording it, Matt Slocum John’s studio and started working wasn’t even that into it, on writing and recording, and then I but something about that would take away the tracks and write song just felt really magical lyrics, and things came together to me. We finished the fairly quickly. We probably had album and started the about another month’s worth of label and put the album work to do when the Kickstarter out; but I really felt like campaign for Blue Like Jazz started. Sixpence should be heard We were actually in the studio when by a bigger audience than the campaign was in full swing. And just the Christian music within a few days of the campaign world. We felt like “Kiss starting it became obvious that we Me” could be the vehicle were going to make our goal, and I to do that. But we were thought, “Wow. . . I have to get ready still just an indie label, with to make a movie!” And honestly, the with Tania Raymonde and Jenson Goins (photo by Jimmy Abegg) our funding coming via last 18 months since that happened Gaylord Entertainment and Word Records. a Christian-themed movie. I know you’ve has been pretty much non-stop. One of my At least we had money to chase the single, but received quite a bit of good press too, but how first goals after the movie is done is to get back we weren’t on a major label, and we had an do you handle it when you get some negative with the guys and finish up the album and try independent distributor, ADA Music. It was press from a critic? to get it out. just a crazy hunch, but the band was willing CM: Do you think you’ll have it out by the to work very hard. They were touring all over ST: For starters, trying to argue with a critic is fall? a fool’s game. When you release a movie, it’s the country, and they’d drop by radio stations and play these little lunch-time concerts in the going to get judged. We got plenty of good ST: I’m sure we would love to... but anybody reviews, and we also got got criticisms of the who has followed me through the years knows conference rooms for the station staffers. movie that I thought were fair; but there were that I am not a very reliable indicator when it And, number one, they [Sixpence None the some critics who are never going to have comes to predicting when something is going Richer] were genuinely nice, and the radio anything but contempt for a Christian-themed to be completed—I don’t think anybody stations weren’t used to having such nice movie. believes a word I say anymore when it comes people come and visit them. And second, to releasing music. But this fall is the current they could all play! And a lot of radio stations It was very similar when Sixpence’s album hope. weren’t used to bands that could play so well. came out. That’s a really great album that I So that combination of factors combined think holds up beautifully almost 15 years later. CM: (laughter). . . Okay. . . last question here. in their favor, and radio stations across the But there were a few critics who, once they Steve, do you have any advice for aspiring country responded with, “Well, if we’re going heard that the band had Christians in it, there movie producers or musicians out there? to do one nice thing this year, let’s do it for this was just no way that they were going to give it ST: For movie producers, the first piece of a fair shot. band, because we like them.” advice would be to get the screenplay right. If CM: Great stuff! And now, your third big risk You don’t dwell on that stuff, but you just you don’t have a compelling screenplay, there’s has been directing this full-length movie and recognize it as reality. And in spite of all that, nothing you can do to make a good movie. getting it released in movie theaters who would through the years I’ve learned from critics who For musicians—it’s a great time to be a making rather play Pirates of the Caribbean – part 15. are fair-minded and have critical things to say. music, especially if you’re not interested in What was it like trying to get it released to the But there are some whose opinion has to be getting rich. (laughter) Unlike twenty years ago, discounted off the top, because they’ve got a major outlets? you can make great recordings for a fraction of built-in bias. what it used to cost, and there are a lot more ST: Well, our distributor, Roadside CM: And now that you’ve birthed the movie, ways to get it heard. Attractions, has been a really great distributor. They were the company that I wanted to work do you have any plans to release some of the But for anybody with artistic pursuits, just go with from the beginning. They’ve released new music that you’ve been doing? for greatness. If you take short cuts and go for a lot of really smart movies, award-winning ST: I got so frustrated trying to get Blue what you think will sell, and then you succeed, movies like Winter’s Bone, Margin Call, and Like Jazz funded that I was desperate for a it will eventually frustrate you. If you go for Biutiful. I discovered that they were really different creative outlet. My friend Peter Furler what you think will sell, and you fail, you’ll feel good at working with smaller movies and had a number of ideas for melodies and riffs even worse. If you go for excellence, and it giving them the best shot at success. They that were never going to work for Newsboys sells, good for you. But even if it doesn’t sell, at were the first distributor that we showed it projects. And, of course, I think his gifts with least it’s still good. to, and they responded really well and said hooky melodies are second to none. So we CM: Thank you for sharing with us Steve. that they loved the movie, so they really were thought, “What if we tried to turn these ideas the only distributor that we had any serious into songs?” And then that kind of turned into, Follow Steve Taylor on twitter: conversations with. “What if we brought some of our other friends @theperfectfoil & ‘Like’ his Facebook fan page. CM: When the critics started to review in on this project?” Blue Like Jazz, it seemed like some of them John Painter was somebody we’d both Visit the movie site: were relishing the fact that they could rip on worked with in a number of settings, and then BlueLikeJazzTheMovie.com
by Shawn McLaughlin
Mercyland: Hymns For the Rest of Us Various Artists Independent.
any guiding light you send my way” “This joy that I’m chasing eludes my grasp... and the answers seem louder than the questions asked, and I can’t see much further Folk/Blues/Americana artist/producer/writer than a week or two...whatever, whatever, I (that’s a LOT of hyphenates) Phil Madeira believe in you” bites off a mighty ambitious concept here This seems like a mighty powerful elicitation on his thoughtful, spirited, various artist of worship, describing a dedication so fierce it collation, Mercyland: Hymns For the Rest is not shaken by the vagaries of our sin nature of Us, an album of songs mostly written by that we can feel on a daily basis. It certainly Madeira but sung by a coterie of musicians is a more authentic expression of the whole he has worked with in the past. These artists fulcrum of a believer’s existence than that were chosen, not because of their “religious” of the unrelentingly puritan, self glorifying affiliation, but rather because they all have lyricism that has become all too common in shown a willingness to explore a spiritual today’s modern worship scene. I recently side in their musical output. Some, like Cindy listened to a new album by one of today’s Morgan, Matt Kearney, The Civil Wars and leading lights in the worship scene. Although Buddy Miller (and Madeira himself) have it was well-produced, relatively catchy, and worked in the Christian music subculture but contained great singing and playing, I was left due to feelings of artistic oppression and shocked at how very little it actually connected the increasingly gnostic direction taken by to me on a real, spiritual level, while the Miller the modern day church, as demonstrated in cut will strike a chord with any believer who how exclusive CCM music and language has has ever doubted their convictions. become. Being tired of this phenomenon, (“I Elsewhere, mainstream folk/rock/pop artist, think the most visible expressions of Christian Shawn Mullins (remember “Lullaby?”) offers faith are very exclusive, and I think that has been a real struggle for me.”) especially in the blues drenched “Give God the Blues” light of the language being spewed forth in while the bluegrass upstarts, The Carolina the recent political debates by professing Chocolate Drops essay the traditional “Lights Christians, (“The language that kept coming in the Valley” with unbridled enthusiasm. from people who were religious just made Cindy Morgan and Madeira perform an me sick and made me sad,”) Madeira decided inspired duet on the decidedly Jesus focused to make an album that simply explores the “Leaning On You” describing how, despite concept that God is love. While Mercyland continued reliance on their own devices, they certainly adheres to the idea that faith, love, “keep meanin’” to be dependent on Christ and mercy are indeed the fulcrum of the for their righteousness. The North Mississippi Christian faith, it also acknowledges that they All-Stars do a loose limbed, bluesy version are characteristics of the human experience of the Toby Keith song, “If I Was Jesus” that that all humankind gravitates toward and sounds NOTHING like the original. Dan seeks to find common ground through musical Tyminski (George Clooney’s voice in “O expression. Take the Buddy Miller sung and Brother Where Art Thou” and member of Alison Krauss’ Union Station) does a fabulous Madeira penned “I Believe in You”. vocal on the slinky blues number “Light of “I believe in you til the day I die though it’s Your Love” while Emmylou Harris adds her often said, I believe in a lie. luminous voice to the self-penned “I Didn’t I believe in you, though I’m tired and spent Know it Was You”. outside of the doors of your castle in a Mercyland is, admittedly, not for everyone. refugee tent If you are bothered that the project offers subject matter, then this project probably isn’t for you. But if you, like me, are hankering for expressions of faith that reflect a more authentic take on the ups AND downs of walking the faith journey, then Hymns For the Rest of Us might just be for you.
Rebel Transmission Newworldson New Day Christian Distributors
Sometimes it feels pretty good to put away the “critic” hat and just enjoy something for what it is. Those familiar with eclectic pop group, Newworldson know that deep, poetic lyrics are not a part of the package they deliver. They write decidedly “Christian” themed songs that definitely lack the lyrical sophistication to compete in the mainstream radio world and, you know what? That is just fine and dandy! They definitely offer pleasant rhyme schemes and a modicum of cleverness, but the music is so joyous and infectiously played that any reservations about the lyrics will soon be forgotten. So, now that we have talked about a possibly perceived defect in the band’s music, let’s discuss what is so great about Rebel Transmission, their 3rd record and first as an independent band. First of all, they make a conscious effort to reign in their eclecticism just a bit, writing a couple of surefire radio songs that echo, to an extent, their sophomore record’s breakout hit, “There Is a Way”. That may sound like a subtle implication of a lack of creativity, but a couple of listens to the swaying emotionalism and steady pop hooks of “Today” and the current radio hit, “Learning to Be the Light” quickly erase any such thought. These guys (and in particular, singer Joel Parisien and co-writer, Tawgs Salter) know how to write exceptional, radio ready songs without the sour aftertaste that much “accessible” Christian music gives off. Also in this mode but with a more anthem-like gait is “Southern Cross”, which features a very tenderly rendered vocal by Parisien. Another I believe in you, though it’s hard to see, any no guarantees about where its performers welcome return on Rebel Transmission is the are coming from, needing a clearly defined reason that you should believe in me subtle homage to Elvis Costello, a definite relationship between the artist and their I believe in you, though I block the rays of favorite of guitarist, Josh Toal. But while last 26 MAY/JUN 2012 CHRISTIANMUSICIAN.COM
record’s “In Your Arms” pays tribute to Armed Forces era Attractions, the title cut more closely resembles Elvis’ foray into Motown and R&B, Get Happy, with the same ability to add an Anglo-phile melodic sensibility to the song’s soul groove. Of course, the band’s known penchant for the many different forms of classic Rhythm & Blues music shows up full force on the project. Motown and Stax are again recalled on the riotously upbeat “Homeless Child” and “Son of Man”, while the band passes through a smoky New Orleans club and shows reverence to Dr. John and Allen Toussaint with the roadhouse strut of “Selah”; And anyone who shimmied to the wondrous, cathartic groove of Wilson Pickett’s “Land of a Thousand Dances” will recognize the debt “5,6,7,8” owes that soul classic. Also in the R&B family is the slinky funk of “Shake Holy Spirit” while “Old Time Religion” utilizes an effective amalgam of doo-wop and Bobby Mcferrin-style vocal jazz. The sweetest surprise on the record is the lovely, personable “Sweet Grace” a tale of the classic dichotomy of training a child up to be a Godly adult while lamenting the passing of their innocence. This tune is presented in a “Graceland” era, “Paul Simon meets Buddy Holly” shuffle with the rubbery bass-lines of the former and the slight countrified air of the latter. Perhaps. Newworldson’s greatest accomplishment is sounding so current while mining American music’s illustrious past so convincingly. Of course, great songwriting plays in any era. So, pick up Rebel Transmission at your local Christian bookstore and prepare for a full-fledged dance party. I’ll bring the chips!
never looked back. All four of the members are accomplished multi-instrumentalists and are already songwriters of remarkable poise and depth. Despite working largely in the mainstream indie circuit, the band is very open about their Christian faith in their lyrics, but often in a very relate-able way that values honest experience over propaganda. Because they are especially well versed in roots music like Bluegrass and folk, the spiritual themes appear in their music very organically. “Lawdy” begins as a sparsely strummed folk ballad before evolving into a blues inflected spiritual, somewhat reminiscent of the foreboding quality of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut you Down” a conscious effort on Callie’s part. Elsewhere, Appalachian folk melds with infectious melody to produce ridiculously winsome material like “Flower,
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Flower”, a very “pop” effort with very practical lyrics; or the infectious, “Jolly Robber” which utilizes vibes to dizzying effect. The Sisters vocals are a marvel to behold as they manage to combine precocious soulfulness with goose-bump inducing close harmonies that only siblings can produce. In fact, the group often recalls the country/folk gospel of The Carter family and hair-raising close harmony of The Louvin Brothers. “Got No Friends” is a perfect blend of both as The Vespers sing convincingly of their assurance of salvation while kicking up a raucous bluegrass stomp. The album opening, “Better Now” is a moody, modern take on the parable of Jesus giving the blind man back his sight that is especially effective as a metaphor for the lost of this world. Perhaps the best example of the band’s maturity is the eerily obsessive “Winter”, a tale
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The Fourth Wall The Vespers Black Suit Records
Despite the fresh faced look of the kids on the album cover, The Vespers have, at a very young aged, already carved out a pretty impressive career for themselves and hope to embellish their accomplishments with the release of the band’s second self-released record, The Fourth Wall. The band is made up of two sets of siblings, the Jones’, made up of brothers Taylor and Bruno, (20 and 22) and the Cryars, Phoebe and Callie (19 and 21). The band’’s relative youth is offset by the fact that the sisters have several years of experience doing back-up vocals on many music row sessions, having followed their father, Morgan Cryar into the studio before hitting their teens. They met Bruno and Taylor at a campfire jam, clicked immediately and
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CHRISTIANMUSICIAN.COM MAY/JUN 2012 27
of a young lady who can’t shake the memory of a lost love, despite her desperation to do so, written by Callie. To label The Vespers as simply, “new folkies” does the band a grave disservice as their unerring ear for hooks and pop smarts combine with the brother’s more rocking sensibilities (listen to “Close My Eyes” for some guitar shredding goodness and note Bruno’s wicked slide work on the old Son House chestnut, “Grinnin’ In Your Face”) With the youthful energy to remain current but the old souls of the classic artists that influenced them, The Vespers have hit upon something pretty special. Fans of groups like The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons will certainly find something to like on The Fourth Wall, but these sets of siblings are simply too talented and committed to be derivative of anyone. This is highly recommended.
even if it feels a little less expansive than its predecessor. Eschewing a lot of the modern pop elements that made Faint Not such a success, the new project almost seems a bit regressive. Continuing to write in a very artistic if unambiguous manner, the pair effectively conveys the urgency of a life lived to please Christ, even as the rest of the disc seems to point toward a central message of rest and the need to be still and know that He is God. Tyler acquits himself very well on the nylon stringed classical guitar on a few cuts, most notably, the cut, “When Darkness Falls” a lovely plea for the faith to continue on in the midst of trial. Jenny and Tyler work best when employing their solid harmonies, but on Open Your Doors there are a surprisingly large number of times when they sing in unison and, frankly, it doesn’t work as well as either solo or in harmony. There is also a paucity of really memorable Open Your Doors melodies on this disc, although the Jenny and Tyler duo helps cover that deficiency with Independent some pretty unique arrangements, www.jennyandtyler.com especially the almost flamenco feel of “Fear Thou Not”. And, lest I sound Jenny and Tyler follow 2010’s too negative, there are few groups wonderful Faint Not with Open Your Doors, a solid enough entry into the out there who meld the tradition of folk with roots/folk category that the duo navigates, the currency of pop music with the style
that Jenny and Tyler do. Open your Eyes is definitely a quality release that offers an encouraging backdrop to grow closer to God.
Deadline (Soundtrack to the Movie) Dave Perkins Lugnut Music.
Having never reviewed a soundtrack before, it would behoove me to have actually seen the movie in question. Problem is, it hasn’t been released yet and probably won’t come to my area anyway. So, just going on what I know...The movie is set in the deep south and involves a past, barely investigated murder, strained race relations and class struggles, the redemption of a main character, and the deterioration and eventual restoration of his marriage. So, Perkins follows up his essential 2009 CD, Pistol City Holiness, with a work that screams The South. Mainly filled with small song slivers in a delta blues mode and several full length songs that cover the history of blues, rock, and gospel in the rural south, Perkins Continued on page 30.
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Selective Hearing (cont. page 28) admirably mixes the foreboding, steamy atmosphere of the delta with surprisingly solid hooks (The stirring “Redeemed”, a gospel fueled slice of pure American: the funky “Bad News” and the hard driving soulful rock of What Is It”) and a wonderfully catholic take on blues-rock that incorporates elements of the many disparate styles Perkins has essayed over his career, having been in the bands Chagall Guevara and the industrial band Passafist, as well as having worked with such luminaries as Vassar Clements, Carole King, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Papa John Creach. Some of the snippets that were meant as incidental music for the film include some positively earth rattling vocal wails from the likes of Ashley Cleveland and Odessa Settles, lending a “In the Heat of the Night” ambiance to the film. Deadline director Curt Hahn, chose Dave Perkins to write the score for the movie after also listening to “Pistol City Holiness”, He says “Dave’s gritty, raucous, rootsy blend of Blues Rock, and more, captures the essence of Deadline perfectly and gives the movie a distinctive sense of place.” For an album FULL of diverse elements and featuring songs broken up by small slices of music meant to accompany a filmed narrative, Deadline hangs together surprisingly well; a testament to the songwriting skill and conceptual ingenuity of Dave Perkins. After almost 20 years of not releasing any solo music, the last 3 years sees Perkins on quite a hot streak indeed.
Get Low Hotshot Freight Train Future Destination Records http://www.fdrecords.com/
This was a most pleasant and unexpected find as these boys from East Tennessee, (Knoxville, specifically) create a very satisfying blend of American Rock & Roll with roots in the Appalachian sounds of the region as well as the Bar rock of the era, recalling Springsteen, The Hold Steady and even some strains of punk-a-billy ala Social Distortion. The band writes real life vignettes that focus on the joys and sorrows of life lived in a small, rural town. Themes tend toward the hardscrabble territory of broken relationships, class struggle, and the fragility of the human condition. The first cut, “Boys From Tennessee” gives a quick background story clearly displaying the small town personality and values of the band, “And I was taught to fear The Lord, and believe that Jesus could save a sinner’s heart”. This is the most specific the band gets about it’s beliefs, but there are hints elsewhere, none more artistically presented than in the lovely folk country rambler, ”Joseph and Mary”, a unique look at the parents of Jesus told from the perspective of a confused Joseph: “So what am I supposed to do, what am I supposed to believe, I was ready to take a wife, but not a family.” Also striking is the honesty with which the band writes about the small town, southern culture. The song Appalachia features a couplet that, while stark and honest, probably won’t play well in mainstream Christian music circles “for those of us that daily struggle, daily struggle with the past. The best medicine is the gospel and a whiskey glass.” Certainly not lyrics that the pious will identify with, but Get Low probably wasn’t made for them. For those of you who do value honest and authentic expression with some genuinely kickin’, Southern-hewn rock & roll, these Boys From Tennessee may have the cure that ails ya!
“Matt Kees is a very musical songwriter, producer, mixer and a very good friend of mine. I love hearing his work as he is one of the best in the business. I always look forward to working and making great music with Matt.”
Waiting For Abraham Russ Rosen Band Big Tree Publishing http://russrosenband.bandcamp. com/album/waiting-for-abraham
I have been waiting 11 long years for the follow up to Russ Rosen Band’s terrific 2001 release, Oil, still one of the biggest pleasant surprises of my 13-year tenure at CM. That album was a glorious, raucous din of Who inspired arena rock melded with Neil Young’s
~ Gregg Bissonette
musical restlessness, all wrapped together in a Celtic bow. In the time since that recording, Rosen has seen his ministry focus shift, opening up a dance studio in Surrey CA with his wife. Still, the siren call of song beckoned him and when a friend offered him the opportunity to record some songs at the legendary Mushroom studios in Vancouver, he jumped at the chance. Boy, what a difference 11 years can make! Working on the premise that God is faithful even when we are experiencing a LONG season between His promise and His provision, the album starts with the gentle, moody acoustic strum of “Red Sky Morning” a foreboding message encouraging the believer to be prepared for “the last curtain call”. Rosen has always favored lyrics that exhort the believer out of a life of complacency. While Rosen’s message is still “in your face’ his music has become more subtle and nuanced since Oil. “Ploughman” adopts a modified reggae groove while offering a message about preparedness and living by faith, while the following track begins with a slinky bass line, before guitar backbeats and a combination of Fender Rhodes and organ fuel a subtly funky groove. Reggae makes another brief appearance in the song’s bridge. The miltant funk of “Rise Up” combines punk accented guitars with more organ, strongly recalling the groove of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” as Rosen adapts a Davidic psalm to a thoroughly modern accompaniment. The middle eight features a calliope of keyboards that revisits, briefly, the Celtic sound of “Abraham’s” predecessor. The cut also features a vocal appearance from former band member, Kathleen Nisbet, whose fiddle can be heard on the “Celtic jig meets propulsive pop” of “Lovely” . “Sit Down” allows Rosen to explore his inner McCartney with a slightly baroque pop feel and Sgt, Pepper-esque keyboard fills. Producer Brett Ziegler plays most of the keys on the album and leaves his sonic fingerprint all over the disc. While Rosen definitely limits his message to a church audience, to whom he feels led to minister, he has really expanded his sonic palette with Waiting For Abraham, and in the process, distinguishes himself as more than a “one hit wonder.” Now, let’s pray that it takes less than 11 years to record the next record!
Shawn McLaughlin is a hard working dedicated, tireless worshipper of Christ
(LA session drummer and member of Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band)
Chris Tomlin and Collings Guitars
Chris Tomlin and his 1999 Collings OM 42 SB
Serious Guitars | www.CollingsGuitars.com | (1) -
By Rick Bundschuh
The Bandwagon Cometh
state of the art equipment and recording software. It functions as a full-fledged project studio capable of taking 18 simultaneous tracks at a time.” But the core of what the Bandwagon is designed to do is to raise up the next generation of worship leaders and support musicians. Under Jeremy’s tutelage, kids from the band wagon are being worked up to the big stage on Sunday morning, and many more are discovering a music that they never knew existed: A way to praise the King of Kings using the tools of modern music. Katie Leota is a poster child for the power that worship music has to ignite a soul. The ravenhaired high school senior sits quietly in front of the speakers at the end of the Bandwagon as, almost embarrassed, she studies the rich voice pouring from them. It’s her voice, singing “Marvelous Light”, recorded in the tiny isolation booth. “It sounds pretty good,” Jeremy says with a grin. “Yeah, I’m amazed,” Katie responds shyly. Fast-forward a couple of months to Easter Sunday morning, second song. Katie is handed a guitar, and with the confidence of a pro, launches into “Marvelous Light” with a full backup band. And at the end, the crowd literally goes wild for a few moments in response. Not only has this young woman from a broken home found her voice for the King, but her mom has come to faith as well. Jeremy’s dream is to see Bandwagons all over the country replicating young Katies, and plugging them into local churches. It’s not such a crazy idea after all. For more info on the Bandwagon www.bandwagonstudios.com To hear Jeremy’s original worship music www.jeremyhartshorn.com
“I’m running ProTools 9 (donated by Avid) with a DIGI 003 interface, explains Hartshorn, “ I designed the bus with low noise in mind so we don’t bug the neighbors. Most But now there is a stirring in the streets. Kids, of the instruments run in direct mostly older grade school up to early high and can be monitored through school, appear out of nowhere as if there came headphones.” an ice cream truck for young teenagers. Many Peering down the interior length carry a soft case where a guitar or bass hides; of the van one can see a glimpse of some, simply a pair of drumsticks. musical and recording gear peeking out of the well-engineered use of limited space. “I make The Bandwagon has arrived. heavy use of Line 6 Pods for recording guitar Stepping inside the Bandwagon is a magical and bass, although I do keep a 5-watt Gibson experience. There is a virtual sound studio with tube amp on board just in case,” explains Jeremy. an isolation booth, computers, pedals, knobs, “For drums, I have a Roland TD 10 V-Drum compressors, drum kit, keyboard, and more than system that gets the job done. For vocals, we enough room for a band to gather for practice built a custom isolation booth directly behind or recording. the drivers seat. It’s not sound proof, but it gets the job done and creates a dead enough sound It started out as a coffee-fueled, crazy idea. that I can tweak it in post. I typicality use an MXL Jeremy, a prolific songwriter, worship leader at Mogami Edition large diaphragm condenser Kauai Christian Fellowship, and music instructor piped through a Focusrite ISA One pre. began to imagine what it might be like to create an actual vehicle that took music and ministry to I also make heavy use of virtual instrument the streets, schools, and various neighborhoods apps designed for the iPad. Theramins, Moogstyle synths, drum sequencers, dulcimers... you around his small island home. name it, it’s there. And boy, its amazing what kids The end game was simple: Use music to can do when you provide them with the right connect with kids, mentor, train, evangelize, and tools!” develop the next generation of worship leaders. The idea of the Bandwagon came from Sketching on napkins and notepads he Jeremy’s own frustration as a young musician. engineered the layout, which would have to be “It’s a miracle my first band ever played a whole custom built into a stripped-out shuttle van; and song together, let alone recorded a demo. We then with contagious enthusiasm managed to had lousy gear, no PA system, and no place to get donated funds, materials, and expert labor practice. When we finally found a space and to turn his sketch into reality. the gear we needed, we spent half the time just getting set up. Once we finally the sound dialed The result was explosive. in and rolling, the inevitable knock on the door First and foremost students from the church would come. ‘Turn it down!’ said the security youth group caught the vision, and before long guard, or the neighbor, or the mom, or the cop. were either improving their musical chops in solo If we managed to escape the decibel patrol, lessons with Jeremy, in group lessons with their then we would usually be thwarted by egos in band, or, with the more advanced, starting to lay the room. Practices would devolve into a big down tracks in this portable recording studio. game of ‘who’s the boss’. It also got Jeremy very, very busy. “For most of my teaching career, I saw around 20 students a These are just a few of the problems that I aim week. Since the bus launched 4 months ago, I’m to solve with the Bandwagon. The Bandwagon is a rolling rehearsal and recording space designed interacting with over 100 kids a week!” to foster creativity and minimize the hurdles that The converted shuttle is a cornucopia of stop young musicians in their tracks. It provides modern technology and ingenuity. space for a whole rock band to jam, stocked with When worship leader Jeremy Hartshorn pulls his big ocher van into a neighborhood, at first glance it appears that that a car rental shuttle has gone off the reservation, for in it’s previous incarnation, that is exactly what this vehicle was.
Follow the Thin Red Line!
by Keith Mohr & Sue Ross-Mohr
Have you ever wondered why Jesus’ words are all in red? Every time we view them it is clear that they are something that we should remember, not only for ourselves, but to pass on to others. Throughout scripture, we see a beautiful scarlet thread of God’s plan for man. From the beginning, God has implemented a divine strategy to save us from our sins and adopt us as His children. What ‘red lines’ are you providing through your music/ministry/ business? When we looked up the definition of music, we found the following: The art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion. If you are a musicianary, which is the combination of a musician and a missionary, then these words become truth in action. If you believe that you are on a mission, with an expression to give through music, your ‘thin red line’ is vital. We recently read an article that was posted by Suzi Orman. She spoke about 3 gatekeepers that she applies to anything that she is thinking before she says it out loud. 1. Is it necessary? 2. Is it kind? 3. Is it true? What a great template to utilize when writing a song. Applying these kinds of questions to lyrics will spin a thin red line throughout your ministry, thereby leaving a legacy throughout your music. You can even customize these to follow the fingerprint of ministry. 1. Do they relate to my audience? 2. Will they lead the listener to the gospel? 3. Are they words that others will pass on? So where do you start drawing? Just as the river seeks the path laid out before it, your red line will weave throughout your life’s journey, like a spring to a delta. Authenticity is found when the author creates from their experience, their history, and their testimony. The line is drawn when our lives commence. When the creator created each one of us, we become a part of His-Story! synonymous with creativity, it would have to be “The Beatles.” Of course, they were not a “Christian band,” however, we can learn from how they forever changed popular music and had an impact on culture because of the purposeful crafting of their content. This crafting wasn’t random, it wasn’t by chance, and it wasn’t an alignment of the stars. Intellectual and influential people guided their career and molded them into an impressive vessel. Each member of “The Beatles” had an individual style that was developed and stood on its own. Each member had distinctive personalities, strengths, and quirks that created their personas. All 4, when combined, created a group that set fashion trends, inspired copycats, and made young women faint! The combination was powerful, and their image bolstered the appeal of their music. We haven’t even touched on their music yet, and already there is a strong red line! They knew the visual was just as important in the TV age as sound was to the radio age. outward and not being absorbed in ourselves. That takes surrounding yourself with people who, like George Martin, can help you create compelling music. We firmly believe that one of the best methods to find success is to surround yourself with successful people. Imagine if “The Beatles” had not given thought to their “thin red line.” If they took their band picture in jeans and white t-shirt with rolled up sleeves, taken in front of railroad tracks? Or, if their music was recorded in a basement with one microphone, and sounded like everyone else? Would they have impacted culture the way they did? Would their music still be played on the radio? Would we even be writing about them?
We have heard that we need to be first, best, or different to make an impact in culture. It’s safe to say none of us will be the first, or the best...however we can all be different! The thin red line makes the different presentable. It ties it all together into a product that makes sense to the consumer who doesn’t know better. The thin red line is like a guideline, leading sheep to green pastures. Do not Musically, “The Beatles” had a sound never forget about the thin red line, it is your lifeline! heard before. Their producer, Sir George Creatively His, Martin, created masterful recordings with equipment that was cutting edge for the time Keith Mohr and Susan-Ross Mohr but antiquated by todays standards. Most INDIEMECHANICS of their songs were recorded with a 4-track www.indiemechanics.com recorder, and tracks were bounced multiple times to capture the complex arrangements. Yet, their music is still popular to this day and the recordings are regarded as some of the best ever put down on tape. The thin red line Keith Mohr and Sue tied their image to their music. Ross-Mohr have years When you look at how fast and popular The Beatles became, it is obvious the reason was because of the thin red line weaved into their look, their music, their lives, to their political and religious views, and to the people themselves.
of experience serving independent Christian artists, musicians and songwriters. Keith founded www.indieheaven.com in 2002, the leading portal for Christian independent music. Sue RossMohr founded www.theinnervizion.com in 2003, a creative promotions /marketing/ consulting service to We should look at those who have individuals and companies worldwide.
When we think of an artist who defined experienced success and learn from them. the “thin red line” and who created a brand Success leaves clues. That takes looking 34 MAY/JUN 2012 CHRISTIANMUSICIAN.COM
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Inversions of Minor 9th Chords
same time they sound dissonant. If we flip flop the notes, or invert the major 7th interval to a minor 2nd , and play them at the same time, B and C or F# and G, this becomes even more dissonant because they are only a half step apart. It’s that interval, when surrounded by other chord factors, which creates the unique sound of the minor9. I prefer to simplify things and make the 2nd and the 9th Minor 9 = Root b3 5 b7 9. Now let’s put interchangeable and call them both a 9th to that formula in the keys of A & E lessen the confusion. The minor 9th chord Amin9 = A C E G B can generally be substituted for any minor, or minor 7th chord, found in the worship set. Emin9 = E G B D F# I want use this issue to revisit a very cool sounding chord, the minor 9th. The beauty of this chord is its ability to set up an introspective mood in the worship service. This is done by the unique dissonance built into it, the dissonance found between the interval of the lowered 3rd to the 9th. Let’s look at the formula of a minor 9th chord. Again the dissonance is the interval between the b3 and the 9th, C to B in the Amin9 and G to F# in the Emin9. In theory terms that interval is a major 7th and when played at the are the b3, 9th & b7. The least important are the 5th , then the root. Here are some guitar chord shapes of Emin9 and Amin9 to add to your chord vocabulary.
When substituting min9 for a minor chord let your ear be the judge, not your ability to play these chords. Remember how hard it was to form your first chords? Some of these voicings might be hard in the beginning as well, but don’t get discouraged, incorporate them into your chord vocabulary and use them in the songs you already play. They’ll When voicing a minor 9th on the guitar you get easier with time, and give you more tonal can get an introspective sound by using as options. many open strings as possible, and remember, we don’t have to use every note of the chord Till next time, may God bless your hard work, formula. The most important chord factors Rich
Rich Severson, guitarist, clinician, author, band director, former GIT instructor. To preview Rich’s music and guitar educational products go to www.GuitarCollege.com and www.99CentGuitarLessons.com
SUMMER NAMM BOOTH #1707
by Joe Riggio
Lately, and just about always, I’ve been receiving lots of questions about acoustic guitar pickups. As a busy repair shop and pickup dealer, this is a large portion of my business. Many people are shopping for the first time, are a bit new to the concept, and are seeking advice before they make a purchase. So in this article I’ll explain the 3 most common types of pickups currently being used, as well as some pros and cons for each. Sound Hole Pickups
Under Saddle Transducer By far the most common design of the last 40 years or so, is the under saddle transducer. It comes in various forms of a strip that is triggered by string vibration against the saddle. It produces a much more crystalline sound than that of the sound hole type. They are commonly paired with an onboard active preamp to boost and shape the signal, as they lack much volume on their own. You will find these on most stages, but for some the tone is a bit brittle and even harsh, depending on how it’s being processed through a sound system. It is also prone to distortion, when played with a hard strum. Installation of this type of pickup requires the most modification to a guitar, and professional experience is critical. This is a tried and true design however, and is the sound that most people expect to hear when plugging in.
This choice is just as it sounds: it resides in the sound hole of a flat-top acoustic guitar. It is the oldest technology of the 3 and has been around for just about as long as the electric guitar. Much like that of a typical electric guitar, it is a magnetic pickup and historically has been used for arch-tops (hovering over the top), as well as flat-tops. The drawback for most is that the sound it produces is much like that of an electric guitar as well, and lacks the delicate articulation of an acoustic instrument. The biggest benefit of this choice is that it requires no modification to the guitar and can be installed and removed, as needed. The technology behind this design has greatly improved over that last few years, with excellent choices from Bridge Plate/Contact Pickup companies like L.R. Baggs that produce much more desirable tones than the ones your Another older player in this game is the grandpa had to use. They are also an excellent contact pickup. It has seen a huge resurgence choice for vintage guitars where modification is out of the question.
in recent years with the development of the L.R. Baggs iBeam and K&K Pure systems, among others. This type of pickup is usually mounted on the bridge plate, completely inside of the instrument and can be installed without any manipulation of the saddle or set-up of the guitar. They do vary a bit from brand to brand, in regards to the level of output and whether or not it requires the use of a preamp to achieve adequate volume. These are the most versatile of the designs and come in many forms to fit many acoustic instruments including; guitars, resonators, mandolins, violins, ukuleles, upright basses, banjos, and even grand pianos. The sonic result is usually very warm and full, capturing tonal qualities of the whole instrument and not just the sound of the strings. I hope this helps with an understanding of some of the basic design concepts. It’s always wise to consult with a professional to determine the best choice for you and your instrument.
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
a mellow blend
Escape the expected. Experience graphite.
If you have been looking for a way to learn the notes on the neck of the guitar and play solos in different positions, then check out Diatonic Scales. Here are a few easy (and not so easy) fingerings that will help you see the neck of your guitar a little more clearly. The Diatonic Scale is a series of tones that can form a Major or Minor scale. For this set of examples I like to think of it as all the white keys on the piano. The key center here is C Major or A minor, each consists of the same notes. With that being said do not look at these patterns as modes . . .they are fretboard forms. Each form runs across the neck of the guitar and consists of a little over 2 octaves. It is a good idea to say each note to yourself as you play it. Form #1 is a basic Diatonic form in the open position consisting of natural tones found in the C scale, starting with the open E string (E F G A B C D etc.). Try practicing all 6 forms with a metronome. Start with a tempo of 60 bpm and increase by intervals of 5. These forms will open up the entire neck, and will help to visualize the notes on the neck. I would try adding them to your practice and warm up routine before a gig or service. Next time we will look at Diatonic Lead Patterns. Now go practice. See you then!
Roger is available for private lessons on Skype and at The Covenant School of the Arts in Lakeland Fl. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www. rogerzimish.com Endorses Greg Bennett Design Guitars by Samick, G&L Guitars, BBE Sound and PedalTrain Pedal Boards.
CHRISTIANMUSICIAN.COM MAY/JUN 2012 41
by Mitch Bohannon
For several years I was a “demo guy” at the NAMM show, and I really have missed being there these past few years. I always loved seeing the new gear and meeting the folks behind the new ideas. Often, I was amazed at how many fellow God-followers I would meet at the show. Well, in my “free” time, I was cruising through the 2012 NAMM reports and videos and stumbled upon the Z-Stik. I watched as Stevie Wonder explored the musical and clever wooden facets of this percussive wonder. Immediately, I showed the video to my drummers, who were equally amazed... I contacted Greg Dahl, the creator/builder of the Z-Stik and arranged for a sample to tryout and review. It was such a blessing to visit with Greg. To find out that he, too, is a believer, and a fellow worship leader. Even more, it was fascinating to learn how God downloaded the vision of the Z-Stik into Greg’s heart and mind through a dream. (For that reason alone, the Z-Stik belongs on our worship platforms.) I currently have 4 drummers (two for our adult band and two for our youth band). Each of them rotate between the kit and percussion... I have to say, they were all as eager to play the
Z-Stik as I was to hear it. When the package arrived, I found 3 gorgeous Z-Stik’s: two 3-point and one 5-point. As a guitar player, I appreciate beautiful woodwork (currently I’m playing a custom Wickstrom built with handselected Cocobolo)... Greg’s woodwork is fantastic! A true work of art! So what is a Z-Stik? Glad you asked! It’s a chambered wooden shaker, a hand drum, a finger drum, a rain stick, and so much more. Like so many percussive toys, the Z-Stik responds to the creative touch of the musician and it offers a myriad of options. It has a ¼” jack on one end and is fitted inside with a piezo pickup that creates a “sweet spot” on the soundboard. The even facets of the instrument supply multiple surfaces to play with the hand, fingers, or even another instrument…and the different chambered sections create a multitude of tones. A variety of sand (fine or coarse) can be used inside the Z-Stik to create different textures
for the shaker. (The 5-point instruments have a pressure fitted cap through which the sand can be changed.) Also, the selection of woods will offer tonal variations. Two of the Z-Stik’s I reviewed were the “Performer” series and one was an “Artisan” series. The Performer’s are made of straight grain woods and the Artisan’s are constructed from figured woods. The 5-point Z-Stik’s also have a sound port on one end… Through this sound port, the musician can sing, blow, whistle, beat-box, etc. to create personally unique sounds and tones! Overall, the Z-Stik is a very complex instrument that a true “minister of percussion” will find extremely inspiring! As a worship leader, I have great appreciation for my “Ministers of Percussion”. I’ve grown accustomed to the creative expressions and enhancements they add to our worship arrangements. If ever I must lead worship without someone on percussion, I truly miss Continued on page 45.
Without a doubt, the new A Series acoustic-electric guitars are revolutionizing the under-$1,000-street-price market. With all-solid woods, rounded fretboard edges, wood binding, and the new mic modeling SRT pickup system, the Yamaha A Series delivers an unequalled Look, Feel, and Sound that you just can’t get from those other acoustic-electrics in the same price range. But don’t just take our word for it— try them out for yourself. Visit your local Yamaha Premier Rosewood dealer or Guitar Center to check out the Yamaha A Series showcase, find your perfect model, and compare it to the competition. Go on. We dare you.
To find a participating dealer near you, scan this code or visit www.4wrd.it/darecm
• Rosewood & mahogany binding and rosette • New A Series headstock • Classic 1975 Yamaha pickguard
• New slim neck profile • Wider string spacing • Rounded fretboard edge
• New SRT (Studio Response Technology) pickup • New SRT Mic & Room modeling preamp
Waves: Studio Classics Collection
by S. Konstantopoulos and M. Schwander
The Studio Classics Collection offers an assortment of dynamicsprocessing tools. The V-Comp brims with tone (with charming circuit-noise) and the “spongy” sound of the classic Neve hardware. (Blind-test verified by one of our favorite mastering engineers.) We prefer the V-Comp on single tracks over mixes. The API 2500 seems to be true to the original hardware in terms of tonal character and versatility. It can be used to level or tone-shape single tracks, but shines as a buss compressor. The SSL G-Master Buss Compressor is equally impressive on single tracks or busses, offering the original hardware sound and feature-set. While the V-Comp, API 2500 or SSL G-Master Buss Compressor may be used on single-instrument tracks, the two SSL channelstrips in the Studio Classics Collection are ideal in that application. The G-Channel includes a pleasant soft-knee compressor/ limiter, an expander/gate, a 4-band EQ and HP/LP filters. The E-Channel includes all the features of the G-Channel, but one major distinction of the E-Channel is a parametric EQ designed by legendary producer George Martin. If neither EQ brings the right toneshaping, the Studio Classics Collection offers an EQ for most any task. If you have ever worked with an API Legacy console or the API 500 Series EQ modules, you can’t forget the sound. The API components in the Studio Classics Collection function and sound as stellar as the hardware. We did not find the 560 as ideal for most situations, but it’s a good tool to have around. The 550A and 550B can be very forward or aggressive, if not used sparingly, which makes them ideal for many sounds that need punch or help cutting through a mix. The SSL G-Equalizer is a bit more flexible with its highly adjustable midfrequency bands and the overall presentation
While home-recording enthusiasts and veteran audio engineers sometimes debate which DAW platform is superior to another, it seems that there is virtually no debating among them about the superiority of Waves products. When it seemed that Waves could do little to improve on their product line, they developed the Neve-inspired V-Series, the API Collection and the (Solid State Logic) SSL 4000 Collection. That array of worldclass tools was beyond the reach of some professionals and DIY recording artists. Waves then compiled all three bundles into one comprehensive and more cost-effective package: the Studio Classics Collection. More recently, Waves added another channel-strip to the SSL 4000 Collection and released the long-awaited 64-bit versions of every product in their line. The Studio Classics Collection offers a wide variety of familiar flavors to any mix, in the form of time-tested studio staples. The V-Series consists of the (1066/1073-based) V-EQ3 (3-band) and (1081-based) V-EQ4 (4band) equalizers, as well as the (2254-based) V-Comp compressor. The API Collection contains the 550A (3-band), 550B (4-band) and 560 (10-band) equalizers, as well as the 2500 compressor. The SSL 4000 Collection consists of the E-Channel (channel strip), (new) G-Channel (channel strip), G-Equalizer (4-band) and the G-Master Buss Compressor. All components may be used in mono or stereo mode and include dozens of source and mix presets developed by some of the most well known engineers and producers in the business. (Formats: TDM, AU, AS, VST, RTAS) This review was conducted using a Mac Pro with Logic 9 and Apogee hardware. We used Dynaudio and JBL monitoring systems, API and other high-end hardware on the front end, along with Waves Platinum and Sound Applications power-conditioning and custom cables in our studio. Components of the Studio Classics Collection were tested on various types of electronic, and poprock music, with and without vocals. Both 32-bit and (new in 2012) 64-bit versions of Waves software were tested in the same environment. 44 MAY/JUN 2012
seems a little more relaxed. The V-EQ3 and V-EQ4 seem a little more forward-leaning than the SSL G-Equalizer and have much more harmonic “bloom” - especially in the midrange: the classic Neve sound. Adjectives about sound are often more cliché than useful. So, we have consciously kept them to a minimum here. API, SSL and Neve consoles speak for themselves; they can be heard on countless hit records, setting the standard for four decades and counting. The Studio Classics Collection offers faithful recreations of the most sought-after components from each of those manufacturers in terms of sonic performance, features, and appearance. The preset functions save time and eliminate the need for recall sheets. The ability to insert many API, SSL, and Neve-based components simultaneously makes the Studio Classics Collection exponentially more cost-effective than the original hardware. In the end, hearing is believing. Visit www. waves.com to download a 7-day trial copy or purchase the Studio Classics Collection. You will wonder how you ever mixed in the box without it. (Native: $1,125 / TDM: $3,000)
You Live It. Now Wear It.
Product Review - Z-Stik (cont. page 42) it. I love the congas, the djembe, shakers, clicks, pops, and the variety of other sounds they create. What I saw in the Z-Stik, was that so many of those sounds could be created. And with the built in pickup, not only is microphone placement never a problem, it’s simple to run the Z-Stik through an effects processor, which leaves creativity completely open-ended! As with any instrument added to your worship platform, it is very important to get the Z-stik mixed with good EQ and balanced well. We used the Z-Stik in our Sunday morning worship service as well as our youth worship. Plugged in with a dry signal seemed a little thin, and even brittle in the mix. Simply adding some reverb that was built into our soundboard widened the sound just enough! The following week, I ran the Z-Stik through a guitar multi-effects board with a volume pedal. The volume pedal was really helpful to add dynamics, and adding reverb plus a tap-delay made the Z-Stik really come to life!! Absolutely fantastic! I already mentioned earlier, but having the pickup inside the Z-Stik is incredibly helpful so as to not worry about microphone placement. Have you ever tried to mic a rain-stick in a worship service? It’s hard to effectively do that without the mic also picking up sounds from the musician moving around! I was talking to a drummer friend at another church. They currently have nobody playing percussion. This would be a fantastic tool to have next to a drum kit for the intimate moments of a song. The drummer could easily pick up the Z-Stik, having it plugged directly into the system and never leave his throne! If you compare the Z-Stik to a simple thirty-dollar shaker, it’s quite expensive. However, if I have explained well, you’ll realize that this is NOT a shaker. The Z-Stik could essentially serve as a major percussion setup. When you consider how much we pay for bongos, congas, the djembe, stands and microphones…the Z-Stik becomes very affordable! The 3-point Z-Stik’s are currently selling for about $439 and the 5-point for $749. For more info, as well as videos of the Z-stik in action, check out www.Z-stik.com In Him, Mitch Bohannon email@example.com www.bos-capos.com ( o )==#
Improving Musicianship | Inspiring Talent
GOTTA PLAY LIKE ALL HEAVEN IS LISTENING
Big Tent’s Revival
the Art of Re-Assembling a Band
5 Cool Things I Saw at NAMM
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YOUR PLAN OR GOD’S HAND?
by Bryan Duncan
I know God exists. I know it mostly because I’m arguing with Him on a daily basis. If I’ve learned anything over my lifetime it is that God’s direction for you will often be unpopular with nearly everyone else. In fact, His determinations initially aren’t what I’m happy to hear either. yet most satisfying thing you can do with your opinions. This dilemma, in the past, was played life. out under contract to someone whose bottom I’ve struggled enormously in music decisions line was simply based on those numbers; but between leaning on what is successful now, as an independent ‘contractor’ I face an currently versus that persistent small voice even scarier reality. That is: to trust that God that asks, “Is this true to me? Is this my is directing my steps daily. And following Him passionate understanding or is it an attempt is truly a matter of risking all your comforts; to But if you are a Christian Musician, then surely at an endorsement for my efforts?” Granted, be honest to your faith and original in your you believe that God has placed you in the Proverbs says, “In the counsel of many there calling. situation you are in for His purposes. And how is safety,” and you are wise to accept insights. How often do we criticize the plans of others, quickly the horns of our dilemma sprout, when But then there’s the story of Job, whose friends because of our awareness that their plans are we see what others are doing. It appears to gave him all the wrong advice. currently more successful than our own? Or be the other hand of God that is not on you. “You could be singing in all these places if how often do we hide in our assurance that We are more inclined to follow God’s plan for you would just be more emphatic in your lyrics surely we are simply more spiritual because anyone else rather than to trust God with His about God,” is a comment I’ve heard from we are suffering through obscurity of one kind plan for us. several sources recently. And on the other side or another? Don’t do that! Remember, no Comparison, I’ve noticed, is one of the first of the coin, “This could be a hit on secular radio one else was even building a boat when Noah things I see when I come across my songs at if you leave out that one line.” I’m currently did. Trusting God to direct you is the greatest various sites online. “He sounds like…” and writing material for my 24th recording called reason to follow Him in my estimation. That’s there’s always an odd music selection that Conversations, and I have embraced the idea the bigger picture. Don’t get bogged down someone has chosen to describe my own. If of making music more sing-able to the listener. looking at who God’s other hand is on. Revel you’ve ever watched the movie on Ray Charles, I’ve humbled myself before the criticism of in what He says to you and do the next right there’s a point in his contract with Atlantic wise counsel and in honest willingness to allow thing. Records where he had to find his own sound. “We don’t need another Nat King Cole,” they told him. And too, for you, finding and following your own calling is the riskiest and for what I might be missing in my calling. But at the end of the day, and in prayer with Whom I follow first, I have to be who I am without excuse. Sometimes that feels like a weed growing in a crack on the sidewalk of life. My greatest deficit to overcome can be summed up in what a marketer said about me once: “Too Christian for the heathens and too heathen for the Christians.” But face it, music has been argued in Christendom since the day Saul threw a spear at David in concert. But I don’t think David left the palace thinking, ‘Wow . . .I should have written the song with a better hook.’ We are all susceptible to the numbers as our endorsement: concert attendance, product sales, and industry
There are days when the best that I can do is to remind myself to get up, clean up, dress up, and show up! After all, the best things in my life have come as a surprise beyond anything I could have planned. So what will it be: Your plan or God’s hand? I have too often climbed the ladder of success only to find it leaning against the wrong building. I remember too that the Apostle Paul was not the only great speaker in his day. It didn’t deter him to know that Apollos was drawing a pretty good crowd too. Paul’s passion was elsewhere. Doing what God asks you to do in this moment is the best trail you can blaze. Play it the way you feel it, and sing it with the conviction that only you can bring. Sow, and who knows where your crop will be harvested. I know I’m seeing sprouts in cracks that didn’t use to be there! An example is online concerts! I did a world tour in one day last week. I’m using www.Stageit.com to broadcast my new song material even before it’s recorded. I sang one concert with people in attendance from five countries and I avoided the airport at the same time. Now there’s no way I would have known that was even a possibility before this year. What can I say but tomorrow is here!
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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