Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Every so often in life, there seems to be a time when everything pauses or slows down for a moment, and you finally get a chance to step back and re-evaluate your priorities and ambitions. That's where I've been the last couple weeks. It seems like I have a lot more freedom these days in regards to my free time. Things at the tv station have gone from a whirlwind to a swim in molasses. I'm now back to 20 hrs there, spending many of my days backing up data and cleaning up after the craziness of 50+ hours with Taylor's Attic (the kids show). I imagine there will be some other big project in the future, but sometimes, I wonder how long I will continue to be employed here given the barebones work load, and the abrupt layoff I was blindsided by almost 2 years ago. I suppose I have to be ready for anything. In addition to working at the station 20 hrs a week, I am running sound for various events at a local church (sunday services, concerts, weddings, funerals) God is providing extra work that way. I've also done some custom music for several companies including Layson's Restorations and Crown Financial.

We've been having band practices at least once a week, which seems to really be tightening our sound. Rob (guitar), Joey (bass), and Chris (guitar) are doing incredibly well. I think its just a matter of continually rehearsing so the music becomes second nature. We are still working through some issues with memorization. Next Wednesday, we are doing an acoustic set (one electric guitar, one acoustic guitar, percussion, and keyboard) for the Salvation Army on Front St. here in Columbus. I've been there in the past with my previous church's youth band, and the guys were always responsive. I pray they are as enthusiastic as they've been before. I see this as a great opportunity to encourage these men, and I hope the band guys will leave feeling like they've really helped somebody. I suppose it can be a humbling thing too, as of course, we would love to be playing for big festivals or large college crowds, but there is more to writing songs and playing out than drawing huge attendance (although I hope God grants us some bigger opportunities in the future). So, for those of you who are praying for us, please pray that God will use us next Wednesday.

Traveling to King College in Bristol, TN was very humbling. I spent so much time working out travel & technical details, I failed to really rehearse enough personally and with the band. I don't think we did all that great at King, and I guess the lesson here is simple...practice and don't throw random people together at the last minute and expect them to play songs solidly and from memory given only a week of practice. I did what I could given the time restraints, but I also learned some valuable lessons. I've realized that I've got to think long term with the band. The hardest thing to find (in my opinion) is band members who are committed, flexible, and agreeable. I would much rather take someone who is a decent player and knows how to keep his/her word, return phone calls, etc. over someone who is an amazing player, but doesn't get along with other people, is hard to get a hold of, and drops out on you at the 11th hour. I believe its easier to teach someone to become a stronger musician than to reform a person's attitude or lacks of discipline (heart issues). It's amazing to me how many excellent musicians there are out there who have very little or no respect for commitments. That's why I love to boast about Joey, Rob, and Chris. They are guys I can depend on, and that to me, is an incredible answer to prayer after over a year of last minute back-outs and great players with basic respect issues.

I've started to write some new songs. Nothing is finished yet, but I feel I'm on the right track as far as ideas/content. I've really wrestled with the question of making a new album as "Backstage Pass" has been given rave reviews, but has sold modestly. I'll be paying off debt from that project probably until Spring 2006. I have been a bit discouraged, but I really sense that I am supposed to get up and keep going. There are people that need to be encouraged, and God has given me a platform even if it appears tiny at the moment. I've certainly fallen on my face a number of times, but have been learning invaluable lessons all along. The goal here is not to become a world famous solo artist; the goal is to use what I have for God's glory, in whatever capacity. People have all sorts of conceptions about success. All I know is, this isn't my home and my Lord tells me to seek His Kingdom first, and leave these worldy concerns of popularity behind. He is in control of all this stuff and can open any door at any moment. I'm just called to keep traveling in such a way that I honor Him.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Snapshot Of The Band

New Beginnings

Today, I just want to thank God for new beginnings. Life has slowed down a little bit after a crazy weekend, and previous week. I'm back at the tv station now working 20 hrs, and doing a few freelance jobs on the side. I'll soon begin working on some custom music (sort of a 50's feel) for Layson's Restorations in Washington. I'm also beginning to look for some new show opportunities. Over the last 8 months, we have not been able to practice that often as a band. I think that was really seen at our performance at King College. My goal is to start practicing about once a week, if possible...while bringing in some new players, so that I have a larger "pool of musicians" to pull from. I still have my key players, but need to have some options when I've committed to a show, and not all of my "regular" band can make it. Far too many times, I've booked shows and have ended up with half a band the week before we're supposed to play. I'm also going to start researching information on concert promotion and concert promoters.

Although the King College show was a little bit of a disappointment (as far as numbers go), I think there's a lot to be thankful for. We did take some big steps with this show...hauling our own sound gear across the country, working with in-ear monitors (my first time), playing with supplimentary tracks (strings, loops, etc. from both albums...all triggered from my laptop). I think things can only go up from here. We have to get our songs down so much so we don't have to even think about the notes when we're playing. The more practiced we are, the more we can focus on interacting with the people we're playing for. I made some pretty glaring mistakes when it came to transitions while at King College. I personally need to practice more, that's all there is to it...actually speaking my transitions out loud, instead of expecting to come up with something fluid when I get to the stage. I can always change what I'm going to say when I get on stage, but I need to at least have something nailed down. Now with less hours at the tv station, I should be able to focus more on improving my own performance. I also want to get together with Rich Barrett (who played piano on my album) and work through some of the piano parts. Rich cannot always make it to our shows to play, so I'm often covering the piano parts myself. Ideally, it'd be great to have him there so I can put my full attention on singing, but unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. He is a much better keyboard player than I am, and I'd really like to work with him so I can learn how to better emulate the parts he played on the album (and to learn to be a better player overall). I did come up with all the basic chord movements and melodies, but he then further embellished the piano parts that I had given him. He had to learn (and enhance) my piano playing and now I am trying to learn his playing. The best way to get better is to surround yourself with people who put you to shame. =)

The thought of writing some new songs has been in the back of my mind for quite some time, and I think I am now in the place where I feel ready to start writing again. Over the last year, I have been jotting ideas down, but haven't spent any extended period of time widdling ideas and concepts into actual song lyrics. God has put a lot of things on my heart, and I need a constructive way to vent both my frustrations and convictions.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Chapel at King College in Bristol, TN

Always an Experience

It seems that I never take a dull road trip. Our trip to King College in Bristol, TN was fun and disappointing at the same you will read in the blog entry below, written by guitarist Rob Bradley. This was our first real "road trip" where we hauled all our own equipment and traveled outside of the Ohio area. In the end, I was happy because we accomplished what we set out to do...but not without some mistakes and wrong turns. Life is like that. You try things, you fall down, and you get up and try again...hopefully having more experience and wisdom the second time around.

We started playing shows last November after I released my second project "Backstage Pass." It's been quite an experience. I can't hardly remember all the times we've walked away from shows disappointed and discouraged...mainly because of the lack of turnout. Repeatedly, we've been promised a certain number of concert attenders, and in most cases, our crowds have been a 1/3 or even a 1/4 of the number we expected. The most people we have played for is about 80 people. The average concert attendance is about 30-50 people, and I generally sell about 3-10 CDs per show. I'm trying to figure out if God has something against I doing something wrong? it because I have not been tithing I not living a pure enough life...why for years have concerts come as such a dissapointment? I say years because this is has been a pattern all the way back to the release of my first project "Dishes" in 2001 when I traveled to California in hopes of playing for several 1000 youth, and was instead dropped from the roster and given the opportunity of playing in front of 100 50-60 year olds. I think I spent over $500 to get out to California and probably sold about 10 CDs.

I know I have to just get up and keep pressing on. I know people like the music...I've heard it time and time again. People of all ages and from all walks of life have expressed their love for "Backstage Pass." The devil wants to make me think I suck as a writer, as a performer, and as a Christian. That's his job...that's what he does to all of us. I can sit here and whine and feel sorry for myself or I can get up and move forward. I can look for a booking agent. I can improve on the areas I need to improve on. In the midst of working out all the technical details of this trip, I hardly had time to work out my transitions between songs, and our band was only able to have 3 practices...all with a drummer who had never heard the tunes before. My first instinct is to blame myself for not doing better, for not being more prepared, for not being more proactive in advertising...but the reality is, I did everything I could. I put forth %100 with the time and resources I was entrusted with, and that's all I could have done.

I think God keeps trying to show me that it's not about the destination; it is instead about the journey. There is a dry cleaner place in Columbus which I often drive by...a place which displays words of wisdom on its sign. Most recently, the sign has read "Failure is not fatal and success is not permanent." Good perspective. I think recently I've just felt like my life is supposed to slow down and be mundane now that I am 30. I've lived with this misconception that "if I haven't accomplished it yet, it's too late." This goes for my pursuit of music and my pursuit for a lifelong companion. I just feel old...and again, this is the way the devil wants me to feel. I'm sure he wants to make me feel like "my life is over." I've wrestled with such thoughts as "No record label wants to hire a 30 year old artist...I'm too old for artist development" and "You've had trouble getting any women's attention thus far, and now you've missed your chance...all the good ones have been married, and you're too old to be dating the younger ones." He also likes to tell me that "I'm a terrible Christian because I struggle with impurity, and there's no way God can use me or my ministry because I am not perfect." Doesn't the Bible say that "the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy"? Why would these types of thoughts be inspired by a loving God who wants my best and wants me to remember that "He will never give me anything I can't handle" and "He will never leave me or forsake me?" How can I stand in this time of "failure" and "consider it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds?"

Pictures of the Chapel at King College