Monday, March 27, 2006

The CIA Summit in Nashville

Today, it's back to the grind...sort of, I guess I'm not too busy if I have the time to write an entry in my blog. But anyways...

This past weekend, I had the opportunity of traveling with two friends to Nashville for the IndieHeaven CIA Summit (, essentially a workshop for the independent artist. There were at least a couple hundred musicians packed in Building 8/Ecclesia church in Nashville. I would have to say I went there not knowing what to expect...I had honestly set my expectations pretty low. Turns it was a great experience, and I went away with a lot to chew on, both spiritually and from an artist/business angle. Some of the highlights included an hour song writing, etc. session with Andrew Peterson and a saturday evening concert with Phil Keaggy. There were also a number of sessions with industry professionals - producers, promoters, as well as a number of indie artists who were becoming pretty successful "doing it on their own."

It was indeed refreshing taking a trip like this, as there was no pressure of performing, lugging equipment around, or baby sitting a band. My friends Andy, Patrick and I had the chance to sit back and soak in a lot of helpful information and advice without having to be in any sort of spotlight. We attended a number of the sessions, but skipped a few here and there so we could do some sight seeing (neither of my friends had been to Nashville).

As usual, the trip was interesting and frustrating at moments (I never take one that isn't). Friday night, we stayed at a Best Western say the least, it was not the cream of the crop of accommodations. The office was under renovation, and there was one grumpy older woman working the front desk. I felt bad for her as she was probably being paid minimum wage, and was constantly being bombarded by constumers expecting 5 star pampering. While I was standing in line at the front desk, she received several calls, one from a woman who couldn't find her tv remote and desperately needed one (can you say lazy?) and one gentlemen (who came to the front desk) who couldn't get his key card to work. Finally, it was my turn. I asked for a roll away bed, but apparently there was no one else working who could get us one. As an alternative, my friend Andy and I drove around town that night looking for a store which carried inflatable mattresses. We finally found a Target which stocked roll-up camping pads. That night, Andy slept on the floor using his camping bed and a few extra blankets which we borrowed from the hotel (it took at least 4 phone calls and a 1/2 hour of waiting that evening to get the extra blankets). The non-smoking room reeked of cigarettes, so much so my never-used hanging collared shirts went straight into the washer when I got back to Columbus. Although they were still clean, the odor was so strong I couldn't bear to wear them.

Saturday morning, we went to the world famous culture-packed Waffle House! After waiting a good 20 minutes in shoulder to shoulder mayhem, we sat down to a fresh meal of waffles and smothered covered and diced hash browns. After finishing our meal, I went to pay but discovered it was nearly impossible to get to the cash register! I literally had to walk across and stand on a bench seat to pay for my meal. Apparently, Waffle House never thought about the register accessibility when they laid out their restaurant floor plans.

We attended several sessions that morning and later that afternoon, we took a little tour of the city, driving around music row (this is a city block dedicated to music business and studios) and walking the country bar lined streets of downtown Nashville. Along the sidewalks, we encountered at least several older gentlemen playing their guitars which were accompanied by open cases of loose change and dollar bills. One scraggly gaunt faced man solicited store visitors for money. His raspy baritone voice skipped like a broken record with a muffled, "Can you spare some change?" Always difficult to know what Christ would do in these situations. On a warmer note, the sky was slightly overcast, yet blue...a nice change from the recent frigid 40 degrees days in Columbus. My friends wanted a picture in front of the Hard Rock Cafe for their myspace site. Later that afternoon, we returned to the conference for some more sessions, and an evening concert by an indie worship band.

That night, the Best Western staff did bring us a rollaway bed, which was nice. However, as we left the next morning, I found that my $10 roll away bed fee was actually billed as a "pet fee." Whatever. It was $10 either way. (To check out a funny impromtu video interview shot by my friend Joe, go to the link below. I am talking about this "pet fee").

Weird just got weirder when we found out that the continental breakfast of Frosted Flakes and OJ was being served in "room 124." No, this wasn't the front was a regular hotel room stocked with a very conservative breakfast and a green tinted television displaying the Nashville local news. It was a little disconcerting eating my Cherrios with random strangers in a closed hotel room.

After packing up our stuff, we headed back to Building 8/Ecclesia church for the morning service (Building 8 is located at "The Factory," a large remodeled abandoned factory which now houses a number of businesses/studios including Building 8 which doubles as a conference/concert room and church. We comically named the bathroom Building 1 and Building 2). Their worship band was amazing that morning and it was great to hear some new worship songs. The morning message was on marriage...not terribly applicable to myself and my two whinsing single friends. Don't you love marriage messages? I've grown to ignore them mostly. I think the highlight was when the pastor told everyone to turn to their "significant loved one" and say "I love you." Next, he suggested the same exercise, this time only with the substituted words, "olive juice." I think that was funny in 4th grade.

Overall, despite all the weird moments on this trip, I had a great time. It was both a humbling and challenging experience. In some ways, I was other ways, it was a harsh wake-up call. It's a bit awkward to be in a room full of 200 plus people all trying to do (on some level) the same thing as you . I felt like a little fish in a pretty big body of water. I have this problem of taking things too seriously and really getting ahead of myself in a lot of ways. As my friends know, I can be a little intense at times. There were moments at the conference where I really felt like throwing in the towel with this whole music thing. However, when all was said and done, I think the Lord was telling me to get my eyes back on Him instead of worrying about all the things the world and even the church like to run after. There is something to be said about being content where you're at. I am indeed a little fish, but that's ok. That's what God's called me to be. In a world that wants you to "believe in yourself," I find it comforting to know I can trust a God who isn't driven by impulse, peer pressure, or indigestion. I am where He wants me to be, and for the first time in a long time, I'm ok with that.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Video Clip from Bluffton

Click here to view a low-fi video clip from our show at Bluffton University on Feb 26, 2006.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Huntington University March 7th, 2006

photos by Matt Ayers (

Huntington University March 7th, 2006

We had a great time at Huntington University yesterday, but the trip did not come without some struggles. Rob, Joey, and Chris arrived around 9:30 Monday night and I, on the other band, traveled with my friend Dave and his wife, and we did not get into Huntington until midnight...the night before the show. Dave took his ford pickup truck, and our original plan was rent a trailer from U-Haul and attach it to the back of the truck (to put all our gear in). Turns out, we found out at around 5pm on Monday that U-Haul has a lawsuit with Ford, and will not rent trailers to anyone using a Ford Explorer...funny thing is, Dave's truck is basically a Ford Explorer with the rear end replaced with a truck bed. So, we ended up barely fitting my keyboard & sound gear, and Dave's drum kit in the back of the truck.

Things got even more interesting when we were stranded on rt. 33 in Bellefontaine, OH for an hour and 45 minutes. Apparently, there was an accident not far ahead of us between a pickup truck and Winnebago. It's easy to complain about this stuff, but had we left a few minutes early, we might have been the ones in the accident.

As mentioned above, we arrived at Huntington around midnight, about 2 hours later than expected. The sound man, Justin, was very kind to wait around for us. We basically dropped our gear off and then headed to the hotel to crash for the night.

Tuesday morning came quickly. We needed to be back at the Merrilat Centre at 8am to finish getting set up. Rob, Joey, and Chris had already set up their guitars and had had sound checks the night before. Everyone pitched in and by 8:45, we had the drums, keyboard/midi arsenal, and the merchandise table ready to go. Both Justin (sound) and Brad (lighting) were extremely helpful and professional.

Students started to roll in around 9:45, some of them collapsing in their seats with hoodies over their heads. Oh yes, the college experience, and the thrill of required chapels. =) Overall, we played a decent show although I don't think we were particularly into it. Between the late night and dissention among the band, I was honestly a little discouraged, and was wondering what else could possibly go wrong.

After the show, Joey, Rob, and Chris were off to Columbus pretty quickly. Chris had a music lesson he needed to get to. Dave and I tore down, and then grabbed some lunch at the school cafeteria. Dave's wife arrived shortly with the truck (and their dog), we packed things up, and headed home.

All in all, I think it was great learning and growing experience. I'm a bit miffed about where to go from here. It was sort of a bittersweet experience. In some ways, I see how God provided and blessed our time at Huntington...I also see a ton of areas I need to improve in from a standpoint of performance. Our next scheduled show is at Ohio Wesleyan on April 29th. We also have a number of potential shows at other colleges.

Sometimes, you think life is just supposed to be handed to you...I'm learning that there is a big difference between recording an album in a studio and then pulling off that same music on stage, while maintaining an audiences' interest.

Thanks to Matt Ayers for the sweet pictures above. We will have more posted in the near future. Check out Matt's page at:

Saturday, March 04, 2006

And the votes are in...

These two fans were standing at front stage rating us like they do in the olympics!!
Photos by Pamela West.

To Bluffton and Beyond!!!

We had a great time at Bluffton University last Sunday!! Made some new friends, got to hang out with Everyday Sunday and Indie United, and we had an endless supply of Teddy Grahams in the green room. Sweet!! Thanks to everyone who helped us load our gear in and out...thanks to Dean Sound in Finley for the great mix and lights. Thanks to Everyday Sunday for letting us open for you guys! Also, a shout out to the band: Joey, Rob, Chris, and Dave. You guys rock!! Also, thanks to the 250 some fans who came out to the show...we even had a couple drive up from Columbus. Wow!

We're looking forward to this coming Tuesday at Huntington University in Huntington, IN. I've already made some Huntington friends via. myspace ( One guy even volunteered to shoot some pictures of the show!! So, we should have pics posted soon after Tuesday.

God has been providing in amazing ways. I'm keeping pretty busy between the gigs, and my other jobs. Still working at GTN tv, running sound at a local church, and trying to upkeep 10x12 Productions. Next week, I'll be starting a few freelance jobs with draw productions ( As always, I'm trying to keep God in the center of everything I Paul said, all this other stuff is rubbish next to knowing Christ.

Bluffton University Feb 26, 2006