closed for bid'ness

sara mckinnon and i were scheduled to play at a coffee shop recently. when i called to confirm two days before the gig, they told me they were closed - as in out of business.

i was talking to another local shop owner about it later the same day. and it was like a mellow silence hit us all. as if we'd taken the hit too.

nobody likes to see a brother get shot down; especially when it's close to home. one more reason to despise the corporate conglomerate - the man, keepin' us down.


brand new start

i re-formatted my hard drive last night. and today i start with a clean slate. my puter seems so quiet and peaceful.

only bad thing is that i can't find my 'favorite places' to import them. so frustrating. but if that's the only thing i lost i'll be happy. at least i remember my blog address....



so, my christian bookstore phobia aside, this was a pretty fun gig last week. the bookstore was right next to a walmart - and i was playing on a friday night, during christmas season.

it was pretty busy in the store and they set me up so i was singing directly to the people who were standing in line to check out.

so there i was. and there they were. they had no choice but to listen... and wait.

a couple of them gave me uncomfortable smiles, but most of them looked straight ahead, anxiously awaiting their turn in line. here were the two best things about the gig:

1. while parents shopped, some little kids came over to where i was playing. i got to talk to them and play for them. one of the kids pulled up an ottoman and started playing it like a drum.

2. i sold a bunch of CDs - two of which were sold right after i played elvis's blue christmas. random.


wahba crater

i was googling myself the other day (okay that sounds sketchy) - and found this!

apparently it's almost 2 miles wide and 700 feet deep. here's another link (scroll down to see some decent pics of it).

such great honor in my ancestry. maybe someday people will make pilgrimages there in my name?



had a great meeting with kaja brown recently. he's an ASU student that goes to our church - one who also happens to be producer of his own local radio show, and a semi-insider when it comes to the christian music industry.

he had some great pointers for me. such a smart person and great guy all around. the toughest thing for me to swallow will be to become part of several organizations in the industry that are centered in nashville. i've never been there and i had never planned on going. don't get me wrong - it's not that i don't like the city itself - it's just that i usually can't stand the music, artists, producers, or "sound" that come from there.

kaja also helped me figure out some realistic goals for my ministry over the next few years. so glad i ran into him - mad props to Providence.


microsoft good... gateway bad.

i spent two hours on the phone/internet between gateway and microsoft. somehow, my windows XP disc got lost. and it's definitely time to re-format the 80 gig.

so i call microsoft who tells me that i need to call gateway. i spend 1 1/2 hours in a tech support chat room with gateway who finally tell me that i really need to be talking to customer service, not tech support. customer service says it's microsoft that should handle it. finally, i got a supervisor at microsoft to give in and send me an extra copy of XP.

funny thing about the conversation at gateway. at one point i asked "microsoft would give me a new copy of this if i'd bought it directly from them - but you won't - as a customer, are my expectations too high?" they wouldn't answer.



that's what i need. that's what i don't have right now (at least in blogging). discipline.

so, yes. there's much to say. and i'll do my best to keep the word-stream coming....



yesterday was the day ikea came to tempe.

today was the day Jodi decided we needed to go to ikea. chaos ensued.

there was a line of cars so long just to get off the exit ramp that they had to close the exit. we had to go down to the next exit and turn around. then, there was a long line of cars merging to simply turn into the ikea parking lot.

once parked, we packed our day-packs and made the trek across the great divide that is the ikea parking lot. finally inside, we waded through the herds of cattle, milling through the novelty of modern furniture and decor at decent prices. it was crowded in the main showroom. it was crowded in the marketplace. it was crowded in the warehouse area. we had to endure all three areas. you can't avoid walking through them in ikea.

fortunately, we knew what we wanted, so we went straight to get those things. I had to remind Jodi we weren't there to shop. we were there to buy - there's a difference. she did pretty well though.

the line to checkout wasn't actually all that bad. but once i'd walked all the way back to the car, there was another line, just to drive it up to pick up what we'd purchased. and yet another line to leave the place.

by the time we were done, we were tired, thirsty, grumpy and had to go to the bathroom. ikea must be doing something right.


norton anti-virus messed with my worship

had such a great day. truly a blessing. Josh (drummer) and I went to a local radio station and did a live on-air performance of "blessed one" and "tug on my heart." the show was such classic AM Christian talk-radio. Pastor Ernie Olea was the host. as he talked, there was dramatic music playing in the background. and at one point, he pulled out the oil bottle to annoint the airwaves while he prayed. he's such a kindred spirit. we were really blessed to be there. josh played some tasteful djembe and bongos.

tonight was the debut of my band, hopefully in this form for the next few worship gigs. carl, kurt, josh and me played together for the first time at about 5pm today. we then played at 7:30pm for our first show- a two hour gig! it was at an outreach house & branch campus for a local Calvary bible college. the vibe there was so great. our sound guy, steve, is a guitarist - and musicians almost always run sound better than your average church sound guy.

all went smoothly... that is, until norton anti-virus started automatically on the laptop in the middle of our worship set. freaked Jodi out a little. otherwise, things felt really good. sold a few CDs. made a few friends. got another couple of gigs. thanks Big Man.


back to the studio (your opinion, please)

i'm so stoked. just got back from the recording studio of a new friend. he is the producer for a worship CD that's being recorded among all the foursquare churches in AZ.

he said he wants to use one or two of my songs for the worship CD! and he wants me to play some guitar parts for the other songs that have been recorded.

this is so much an answer to prayers. the song he said would definitely fit on the CD is one i just wrote in august. i've been praying for God to provide me a way to record some of these new songs without having to pay for the musicians and studio time. this is just like Him to make a blessing happen this way. i just met the guy last month at a retreat.

what's starting to feel wierd is this: God blessed me by giving me this opportunity. and I am very thankful. yet there are people with whom i've talked and shared my vision for worship, songwriting, and recording over the past year - and i never really heard they were still looking for songs for the CD until last month when i ran into this guy. meantime, a few specific people have known what God is calling me to do, and have known that this CD project has been under way for almost 2 years, but have never told me about it. sheesh, am i whiny and bitter!

so should i call them out on it? if they comment about the CD or my song, should I tell them it would have been nice for them to mention it to me instead of leaving me to find out about it on my own? your opinions are welcome.


6 gigs :: 1 weekend

thank God i had 'em. and thank God it's over. here's the rundown:

#1 - friday night at a christian coffeehouse in Phoenix called Sweet Daddy's. the overall vibe was like an open mic night. i think that when Tim (dumbek and djembe), Kurt (acoustic) and I got up to play, the timid musicians and supportive crowd of 10 were a bit blown away by how loud it was. we played hard and loud. a quick, solid set - but almost no crowd. i recorded the show on my new handheld digital recorder.

#2 - saturday afternoon i led 4 worship songs with DJ cre one backing me up. he and i totally gelled! it was so much fun, except.... the church we were playing for essentially had a split in the weeks leading up to the event. we ended up playing for the few remaining members of the church (fewer than 10) and a couple of the other MC's who were playing later. everything got started late because only a few people came to help set up. our 12:30 gig didn't start till 1:45, almost making us late for...

#3 - late saturday afternoon at a mostly African American megachurch. they were having an outdoor non-halloween festival. this thing was decked out. at least 10 big inflating slides/obstacle courses, games, a mini-ferris-wheel. the whole night from 5:30 - 10:30pm was booked with rappers, dance troupes, and multi-ethnic shows on the stage. but who was there to open the show? wahba and the white boys. sound was rough - lots of feedback, no guitars in the mains or monitors. but who's whining? we had a chance to play and got decent comments from a few people. but not many since we had to grab a quick bite and head down to...

#4 - tucson, AZ - a christian bookstore who were doing something so cool. every saturday, they stay open late (midnight) and only let youth in. they give like a 25% discount on everything in the store and have live bands all night long. it's free to get in and did they ever get a turn out. there were probably 50 kids in that little bookstore when we rolled in about 8:45. josh (bongos/percussion) and I were supposed to be the middle band, starting at 9pm. but since the first band ended early, the third band set up and started by the time we got there. we lost at least half the crowd of kids by the time we started at 10. but the vibe was great - the kids rocked - and we got some wahba fans out in tucson. got to bed at 1:30am and was up by 6:30 for...

#5 - played bass at church. i love playing bass. it's my secret obsession. dan, jesse and kurt rocked on sunday morning.

#6 - i was the acoustic backdrop for crosspointe's Trick or Trunk. an outreach where we set up in the community with candy and games out of the trunks of our vehicles. a little sketchy ("come 'ere kid, i got somethin' ta show ya in my trunk") but it worked. lotsa kids.

now i'm a bit run down for work this morning. have a little cold. have a wife who's mad at me for setting up one of the clowns to freak her out last night. alas, we press on.


DJ worship

last night DJ Cre One and i jammed for the first time. i can't say how much fun it was.

he laid down some sick old school hip hop beats and I did some worship songs on my acoustic while he scratched in the breaks. he was so open to trying out fresh ideas and such a great guy all around.

our first appearance as a duo will be on october 30 at an outdoor outreach with some other local hip hop artists in phoenix....



sheesh. if you've written me off for blogging inconsistency, i'll understand.

today was the birthday of... 4 new songs. I played them at a coffee house in front of an audience (besides my wife) for the first time. the verdict: good. i had really good responses to a couple of them. and my percussionist Josh rocked the whole night. i had no recorded version of any of the songs - so he heard all four of them for the first time yesterday during practice. now i'm really stoked to try them out during worship.

all in all, there were probably no more than 30 people there tonight. but the vibe was so sweet and chill, it didn't matter. plus, we got to have some of louann's famous cinnamon buns (easily as yummy as a Cinnabon, but homemade). mmm... cinnamon buns.

speaking of birthdays, the big three-O is coming up for you-know-who. really excited about that one.

more on gigs, work and recording to come. tomorrow night me and nate open for jonah33....


radio--coffee--booking november--the GLW

long post this afternoon.

today I was the GLW (guest lead worshipper) at genesis church. the term GLW is sadly funny because this particular church actually had to come up with the acronym (initials?) since they have somebody different lead worship every single sunday. it's a pretty well established church with a staff worship pastor who is currently on sebatical. he's playing lead guitar with a worship band for a youth ministry tour across the US - one that features David Crowder as a headliner. not a bad gig.

worship was good today. played with a girl drummer who rocked (you go Sarah!). we Pete Yorn-ified "blessed be your name" - made it sound more like the song "black."


i've had so much coffee this week. mostly meeting with leaders of local college ministries. had some great conversations about PoMo evangelism with other thinkers, with some more modern evangelists, and with leaders who seemed open, but had never heard of post-modernism before. a very cool benefit of getting out there and trying to lead worship for different groups is having the chance to talk straight about all the different approaches to evangelism in our culture.

or maybe it's the other way around.... maybe the point is for me to establish these relationships and talk about unifying our approach to campus/students/post-moderns; to simply fellowship with other leaders. and in the end, to make leading worship a happy by-product of those relationships.


more worship gigs seem to keep coming (check 'em out on the calendar section of my website). but they're all in october. i can't quite seem to book a worship gig between november 7 and the end of the year. if you're listening Jesus, it might be cool to lead a few people in worship during nov and dec. thanks guy.


finally, my radio interview was this week. they played a few songs, asked me a few questions, and - whoosh - it was over. Jodi says i did well. I felt like a total moron. it's great how, after an interview like that, in your own mind, you were the wittiest, quickest, funniest guy around. but in reality, you're only rehearsing the comebacks you should've had - not the boring ones that actually came out of your mouth.


drums, prayer voyage and radio interview

yesterday i led worship from the drums. pretty crazy. considering i haven't played a set in front of people in about 10 years - and I've never had to sing/lead worship AND play drums simultaneously. i feel like we were all witnesses to a miracle. kinda chaotic and nerve-wracking. Jodi didn't even realize i played drums....

last week i almost blew a big worship opportunity. i slacked on calling a pastor to confirm a worship spot for an outdoor/outreach in downtown Phoenix. by the time i called him, he'd already had 3 soloists, a full band, and 5 speakers scheduled for a 5-hour event. he simply didn't have the time or stage space for me and my guys. but after a little persistence, he kindly said he'd find a way to let me play. also helped that his mom liked my CD....

and finally, i'm gearing up for my first radio interview this week. it's this friday, 10.1.04, at 6.00pm on 1360AM. it's actually a christian talk radio station. the local radio personality/talk host, Tom Brown is starting to spotlight different local christian artists for the show. MAD props to dave heller (JJ Heller's husband) for the hook-up.

i just know i'm gonna make a dork of myself on the radio. feel free to listen in on the fun - you'll have some new material to make fun of me.


weekend gigs

friday was so sweet. ours was the opening band for Brandon Reid Allen - thanks B! i think it went over really well. there were about 100 people there. I sold 8 CDs (woo hoo!). considering we only practiced once together, the guys (Josh and Louie) rocked the set. i think the song choices and visuals went over pretty well too.

i'd still love to integrate moving visual backgrounds, communion, and interactive prayer-worship into my sets someday soon.

then sunday, i sat in for 'special music' at desert springs. the guys on the worship team learned "tug on my heart" off an internet download and surprised me by being my human karaoke. i did that one song in each of two services and still sold 4 CDs.

selling CDs is such a surreal experience. the fact that people would reach into their pockets, pull out their hard-earned cash, and pay me for a product containing songs that i wrote (or co-wrote) is a strange and humbling phenomenon. especially when some of them do it after hearing only one song. thanks god, for the mystery of your blessings.


playin' out

great week! i had the chance to play electric with Nathan Finfrock's band last week. we closed out a night of chill christian acoustic artists. i broke my E string during the last song and had to do the closing solo on only 5 strings. i only think a few people noticed.

tonight I'm doing a worship set, opening for Brandon Reid Allen - a local indie christian artist who just got offerred a record deal. trying to get a band has been so crazy. we were only able to practice once yesterday before our worship gig tonight. but the guys are good - and i'm excited to be leading worship from my Les Paul.

and this sunday, i play hooky from crosspointe to do a "spesh" (special music) at desert springs foursquare church in Chandler.

but all is well. I'm booked pretty frequently (although not lucratively) through november. and I'm on the verge of having a stockpile of great musicians available to play with me. coming down the pike, i already have plans to lead worship with:

  • power trio worship (me on my gibson, then bass and drums)
  • acoustic worship with me and a stand-up bass player - maybe a drummer with brushes
  • hip-hop worship - me on acoustic with DJ Cre One layin' down the beats


jesus & beer (i'll be #3)

another little poem...

“what’s your take on the whole Jesus thing,” I ask.
the buzz from my last two has me a little more loose.
(thank you jesus for the beer).

as we yell in each others’ ears over the rowdy band
in this dark corridor of a club,
she tells me of what she calls her ‘last sour drive-by with god.’
I hear and smell that the brew has
let her guard down a bit too.
(thanks jesus, for the beer).

she inquires of the brickyard preacher,
televangelists and hypocritical Christianity;
she brings up the holocaust, 9/11, and childhood rape
– the latter a little more personal.
(again, thanks for the brew, big guy).

i ask “why? my first decent beer buzz in over a month
and you put me in this smoky lounge with her?”

right when i think she’s more receptive,
when i’m praying for my words
and the recognition of her self-poverty to jive,
she storms away – tears, cigarette,
clutching her half-empty beer, life, heart.
yet as i stand alone at the bar,
waitress asking what i’d done
to piss off the chick with dreadlocks,
i understand exactly why, looking up, thinking,

“hey man, if 10 people need to talk to her,
before she accepts you,
i’ll be number three.”
(thank you beer for the jesus).


good week....

had a good week this week.

i played electric with Nathan Finfrock's band for the first time - things actually came together well. good vibe - good tunes. playing with him should be a really cool opportunity. we already have a couple of gigs lined up. one of which is opening for Jonah33 (whom i have only heard of, but who somebody told me is a national act).

have a few worship gigs lined up too: opening for Brandon Reid Allen this month, leading worship at Genesis Church, the AZ Foursquare Mens' Retreat, and Desert Springs Church too. God's cool like that. really can't believe how i went from one worship gig to a few. thanks Big Man.

and all the cool people i'm meeting! i just got back from coffee with Carl from praxis church (who are just about to kick off their inaugural service in October) - very cool brother with a real heart for doing worship right. things are shaping up to be even more busy than usual. wish i could quit the day/night job and kick it for real.

and finally, i sold a CD this week at CDbaby! the lucky customer is a dude i've never met from Ohio - a total stranger. yes, a small victory, but enough to get me excited that a non-family-non-friend person actually liked my CD enough to buy it. i'm so easily pleased.


indie album on the cheap, part 3: mastering

mastering is one of the steps i learned about during the recording of this album. it's not a very tangible, easy to understand process, until you've actually attended a session.

mastering is the stage in which the final equalization and volume level of each song is set and evened out. during it, volume and EQ within the song, and along the whole album is smoothed out and made uniform - giving it more cohesiveness as an album. the final song order and spacing between each song is decided during this final stage before duplication.

clarity. punch. tone. depth. warmth. character. these are some of the things given to the songs during mastering. and they're done even better at the ears of someone who has never heard the songs before. read here or here for more about mastering.

the cost of mastering varies a lot, depending on how picky you are. it can range from $30 to $120 a song, or higher. being present (and choosy) during the mastering session makes the price per hour instead of per song. because i'm picky and cheep, i went with the low end, so i could be there for mastering. here's how it added up:

10 songs took about 7.75 hours X $30/hour + $30 for CD master + tax, etc = $266 for mastering.

(so far, we're at about $746 total for the album)


if you like....

please. everybody.

if i ever end up on this list... SHOOT ME.


life aquatic

really looking forward to this movie coming out. thanks to Andrew for the post/link.

Bottle Rocket lovers, put yo' hands in the air -- and wave 'em like ya jus' don't care.


wi-fi gospel

if i were writing a novel right now, i'd probably give it a clever title, like the wi-fi gospel. i'd probably put a chapter in it that sounded like this:

ever try to explain the internet to someone? how would you even start to explain it? you'd probably start with how you use it, and how those around you use it. yet, the internet is all those things and so much more. if you heard yourself trying to explain it, you'd probably laugh at yourself. because, even though your description may be accurate, it would pale in comparison to the magnitude and impact that the internet actually possesses. it contains so many uses for so many people, and then a lot more too. simply put, 'the net' is beyond the isolated description of any single person or group of people; beyond everyone's description put together.

i would argue that the impact, influence and complexity of the Gospel of Jesus is greater than that of the internet. that the way it intersects with the lives of everyone who has experienced it is unique and immeasureable.

the Gospel is more huge than the internet. yet more accessible than any wi-fi connection.

so why do we try to sum it up in a 4-point tract? in a five minute encounter with a stranger? in a debate? with an air of "i understand this, and you should too"? why define the Gospel?

i appreciate Paul when he speaks of "seeing through a glass, darkly" (1 cor 12:13, kjv), and "falling short" of the glory (rom 3:23). i believe that our falling short involves more than inadequate performance. indeed, we fall short of an understanding of the glory too.

we had a great home gathering tonight at 1826. talked about the mystery of the Gospel. how ascribing a bit more mystery to the message and person of Jesus would probably do us some good; how it would be more appropriate for the huge-ness that is the Gospel; and how it might very well speak more effectively to a post-modern generation, enhancing our relationships with others and with the Creator.

maybe someday, i'll post the lyrics to a worship song i wrote, called 'mystery.'



things are gettin' busy around here. here's what i'm up to for the coming few weeks....
  • we're still trying to get our church's college ministry, 1826, to the point where it is actually thriving, not starving. Jodi and I lead it, host it, and are trying to nurse it back to health.
  • i'm on our church council and we're in the middle of moving out of our building, and into a rental property, which sounds crazy, but has some advantages for us.
  • i'm playing and/or leading the worship team every sunday morning at crosspointe.
  • i'll be sitting in with a secular (gasp!) band named MindShare, practicing, and playing electric guitar once every few weeks.
  • doing open mics and a few coffee shop gigs with one of Jodi's classmates, Sara McKinnon.
  • sitting in playing electric with christian songwriter, Nathan Finfrock.
  • trying to get this worship ministry off the ground (self-promo, booking, CD distribution, etc) - this is what i wish i were doing when i'm doing all the other stuff.
  • i need to find BAND MEMBERS for said worship ministry.
  • planning a hip hop service at our church for september.
  • working full time at a hospital.

sheesh. we'll see what falls by the wayside.


nathan finfrock

hey y'all. check out a worship leader i met last week. i haven't experienced a worship service by him yet, but his songs are great, and he's such a good guy. click over to nathan finfrock.



right. so a little about the title of my blog and of my new worship album. proskyneo (also proskuneo) is a greek word, still used in the greek orthodox liturgy. it is literally translated "kissing the hand of" or "kissing toward" - a simultaneous act of reverence, submission and affection.

evidently the word worship as it appears in our english bible, is translated from several different origin-words. though it appears as the same word over and over in our scripture text, similar to the word love, it is translated from multiple different meanings.

there's this whole complex thing where a certain worship-word is appropriate only in reference to God, another can apply to any god, and another refers to a worship service, etc. who knew? some other words for worship include latreuo and dalia.

seems that us christians have a way of taking a word with great meaning (think "awesome"), over-using it and watering it down so that the amazing original meaning... doesn't mean so much anymore. right now in church-ianity, i feel that way about the word worship. so as soon as i heard about proskyneo, i immediately latched on.

so, yeah. with these songs i'm attempting to kiss the hand of my savior, jesus, in prostration, in adoration.


indie album on the cheap, part 2: royalties

i wanted to include a couple covers of worship songs on my solo CD, so i had to obtain what's called a mechanical license. i started by going to ccli.com - a site primarily intended to pay christian songwriters for worship songs used in churches (i.e. to gouge another buck out of the barely financially thriving body of Christ to pay people for songs they "own" that were inspired by God anyway ...more from that soapbox later).

ccli has a song lookup that shows the author, copyright year, and publishing company for most every christian song out there. once i found out those details, i did internet searches for contact info of the publishing companies. different publishing companies have different hoops to jump through. in fact, the reason i picked the two covers on my album was mostly because they were from the same publishing company, integrity/hosanna, who make it quite easy to get mechanical licenses. see their online license form right here.

once i filled the form, they sent me all the paperwork to complete. i paid 8.5 cents per song, per copy made, which is a standard set by the U.S. government in this table. so my cost for the mechanical license to include two cover songs on my album went like this:

8.5 cents x 1000 copies made x 2 songs = $170 in royalties.

so there you have it. these are costs paid up front - whether all the CDs are sold or not.


indie heaven

indie heaven is a sweet website, dedicated to independent christian artists. please click over to my indie heaven home page, download a few tunes, and fill out a comment/rating form while you're at it. you can also buy my CD from the indie heaven site.

indie album on the cheap, part 1: recording

so my CD, "proskyneo" was just released last week. here are some of the corners i cut to make sure i didn't break the bank:

  • i used my PC for home recording, as well as my bass player's Fostex 16-track.... no studio time = el cheapo.
  • the program i used is called Cubase SX. pretty flexible and sounds great as a lower budget alternative to the industry standard ProTools. i didn't buy any special interface for analog-to-digital (like the MOTU or the m-audio MobilePre). they turned out to be more than i wanted to spend, without any significant improvement in recording quality.
  • my workhorses were the KSM27 mic and the ART tube pac preamp. i used these two for most of the recording. the tube pac has two tubes - one preamp, and one compressor - for a nice warm/fuzzy preface to the harsh digital world inside my PC.
  • we recorded drums to the Fostex digital 16-track with a Shure kick drum mic, and an 8-channel compressor by Presonus that entertained me for hours (i'm a self-professed compressor junkie). both were rented for about $110 for the week. since we owned everything else up to that point, this was the first expense we had to pay.
  • all the drums were recorded at our bass player's practice area with a lot of prayer. I first recorded my acoustic, voice and a click track for every song, speaking what parts were coming up next ("chorus here" or "play really hard man" or "big stop right here"). this let me be the producer without having to be present for every track.
  • all the bass guitar was recorded at my bass players house, straight to PC as he played along with my template/click track and the drum tracks.
  • everything else (all guitars and vocals) were recorded at my 2-bedroom apartment, right there in the living room.
  • a few extra vocals were recorded by Jim Hornaday at DreamCatcher studios in mesa, AZ. his studio doesn't have a website, but you can find this rock star here.
  • then i mixed everything myself, taking tips from online articles.

all in all, I only paid about $310 for the recording of our album ($110 for mic/compressor rental, $180 for recording a few vocals at a studio, and about $20 in blank CDs we used to swap tracks and try different mixes). not bad, eh?


wahba leads the 2000...

at Whitehall Camp last week, I had the opportunity to be on the worship team at Camp Meeting. the speaker was Steve Chiles and the worship leader was Leah Wood -- guess i had to go to pennsylvania to make two major phoenix connections.

we had evening services in the Tabernacle (with 1500-2000 sweaty people) every night - i played bass and/or acoustic during the service.

my highlight of the week had to be friday night. the tabernacle was full because the children, youth, and adults all had service together. Leah, the worship leader, had heard my CD (as well as a few of my songs 'raw' around a campfire one night). she asked me to lead "tug on my heart" during the friday night service!

imagine me, your humble blog-host, leading 2000 folks in a worship song that i co-wrote! the Sidewalk Prophets were my human-karaoke for the event. having just heard the tune for the first time that day, they nailed it.

thanks, Jesus, for giving me that opportunity. i know it's part of the vision you gave me a while back. i'll always remember it as your big, sweet blessing - the huge cherry on top of the banana split of my life that i call leading worship.


the vision

so here are some specifics that i think i'm supposed to aim for, pertaining to this calling as a worship leader:
  • leading worship - the obvious one. specifically, i dream about facilitating a God-experience through culturally relevant songs, visual presentation, and physical involvement. I feel like I've been given a clear picture of being the lead worshipper for large numbers of people, on an inter-denominational level; i.e. a little different from the sunday morning worship pastor at a local church.
  • writing worship songs that reflect the heart of the emerging community of believers (in style, content and presentation). this will hopefully include re-vamping old hymns, putting a few ancient prayers/creeds to music, and re-arranging some of our more wimpy praise choruses.
  • recording on some level. preferably live. some studio work also.
  • worship workshops/training. still kinda fuzzy on this one. but i feel like He's given me a few things to offer in the way of training up others (leaders, musicians, writers) to do some of the above.

looking at this list, it's pretty apparent to me that i'm already doing all of these things. it's just the extent to which i feel compelled to do them that makes me want to kick things up a notch.

why do what i'm doing?

why would i set out to quit my lucrative, rewarding day job in hopes of becoming a poorly paid independent christian artist/worship leader?

for the money? for status/fame? for a sense of accomplishment? none of the above.

the wimpy answer is "because i think i'm supposed to." i feel like it's a calling, a vision of mine, something the Big Guy wants me to do.

the blood sweat and tears answer (recited back to myself in moments of heartbreak, disappointment, and/or humiliation) is "because i have to." it keeps me up at night. it's my default daydream at any given time. it's the only thing i wish i were doing, whether i'm in a good mood or a bad one, whether i'm tired or wide awake.

it will haunt me until i am leading at least a small number of people to the throne of the Creator through worship song and through visual experience at least 2-3 days a week. i will feel incomplete until then.

so there you have it. my reasons. for you to know, and for me to look back upon.


new CD!

good news! the new CDs are here.

yes, my new solo worship album is official. we had some shipped out to PA and, in a mad distribution spree, gave out 100 CDs within about 2 days. more on that later.

anyhoo, the CD is available here for $10 (including shipping). or you can download all the tunes from this and my other worship album for $10 at this locality. hoping to get some other, more 'official' distribution methods, other than my house. but for the present, this works.

right now, i'm gonna cozy up with the wiffer in my bed, at my house, in this lovely desert i call home. good to be back in a way. though i think i'm happier about being back on a high-speed internet connection than i am to be in Arizona.


back from camp

well now.

i had a good run of blog entries there. but then i took a whole stinkin' week off. i have a good excuse: camp.

so, hey. camp is over now. i got that funny feeling today as i left. like i just wanted to blast "Sweet Child O' Mine" and mellow out. felt warm and nostalgic, like the end of a Wonder Years episode.

the week at Whitehall Camp Meeting was great. you'll get sick of my stories as i write 'em this week. now, i'm off to bed. gotta get up early for my flight back to Phoenix tomorrow....


PoMo Poem

the first of a few poems i'll be posting:

from this box

despite your rules, despite your thoughts
of who I AM and who i'm not
you are my sheep, you are my flock
and i'll still love you from this box

take your religion & theology
i'm beyond their capacity
keep your church services and your talks
and i'll still love you from this box

when you put me in parades
when i'm neatly on display
or when you keep me to yourself
i'll still love you from this shelf

when you think you've got it right
when you're sure you understand
when you're eager, when you're willing
i'll still love you from inside this building

all i want is your adoration
my son died for you, my creation
so please don't try to comprehend me
just let some of me remain a mystery

so despite your rules, despite your thoughts
of who I AM and who i'm not
you are my sheep, you are my flock
and i'll still love you from this box


coasters and such

today we hit the 'burgh. great to be back in my home town. we (Kylie, Stephanie, Jodi and I) spent most of this sunny day at Kennywood Park.

my roller coaster preferences: (1) definitely wooden over steel - they're much more shifty and rickety - more 'romantic,' if you will. (2) the back is way better than the middle or front. you get tossed around quite a bit more - the tail of the dragon, so to speak. (3) if you ever go with my wife, try your best not to sit next to, or in front of her. she's a screamer.

we then ate at Primanti Brothers for a true Pittsburgh classic: big Italian sandwiches with fries and slaw on them. these things are so darn tall, you can barely fit your mouth around them. guess they got the idea from truckers who were in such a hurry, they didn't have time to eat everything separately, so they started to serve the whole meal on the sandwich.

listening back on the worship songs i've written this week, i'm still not sure what i'll keep or toss. think i'll try to demo them with drums, bass, electric & backup vocals before deciding. later.


wings & things

yesterday, we ate the best wings in the universe!  where?  at Quaker Steak & Lube in Pennsylvania.  they have over 20 flavors of wings, including one (Atomic) that requires you to sign a waiver before eating it.  i'd write some clever religious PoMo analogy to the hot wing if i had one.  but to my knowledge, nothing is metaphorically analagous to a hot wing except maybe... a hot wing. 

songwriting is coming along swimmingly.  just put finishing touches on another worship song today.   that brings this week's grand total to eight new worship tunes.  can't wait to demo some of this stuff on my 4-track when i get back to AZ.

today we also went to Cook Forest.  hiked, picnicked (sp?) and learned the difference between 'putt-putt' and 'miniature golf.'  apparently a significant difference.  peace up....


new worship songs

whew!  big day yesterday.  i finally finished the book i've been reading: Ancient-Future Faith by Robert Webber.  it was a doozy.  it reads about as easy as a doctoral thesis.  i think it took me so long because there was so much stuff in there i didn't want to miss.  i'll probably use it as a reference book for a long time.  more on that later.

i also got a chance to write a few worship songs yesterday.  been a while.  I slammed through FIVE new ones.  guess God really blessed my time.  hopefully going to write some more today, then see what i'll keep or throw away....



so here i sit.  preparing to go to camp meeting at Whitehall Camp, Emlenton, PA.  the place where i first accepted Christ.  first sang on a stage.  where i had my first kiss.  where i met my wife. 

hopefully i'm on the verge of another new beginning.  making the transition out of my regular job, and into the life of a touring, gigging, regularly played and paid... worship leader.  this blog will hopefully document that journey, to whatever extent God allows it to flow.

stick around.  maybe we'll learn something together.