Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Top 5 Albums of 2011

It's that time of the year where I go through all of the albums I've listened to and loved over the past year and try to narrow it down to my TOP 5. So, without further adieu, here's my top 5 albums of 2011 in order of their importance.

Peace,
Ross

#1 - They Reappear (Jeremy Larson)



#2 - Bon Iver (Bon Iver)

#3 - Odd Soul (Mutemath)


#4 - Barton Hallow (The Civil Wars)


#5 - Gungor (Gungor)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Feliz Navidad + Carol of the Bells + White Christmas

Here we are, only 2 more days until Christmas! I hope you all have had a wonderful Advent season; slowing down and spending valuable time with your loved ones.

I'm gonna take a few days off...so to tide you, here's some fun vids of me doing my favorite Christmas tunes.

Enjoy!







Peace & Merry Christmas,
Ross

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mocking...wow!

I thought that EVERYONE should hear/watch these in preparation for Christmas...I'm in a totally mocking mood, so enjoy these!

You've got to watch these in entirety - they're just too ridiculous (yet serious)...







Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A-Political.


This time of year (maybe more than any other) we should be A-political.

Luther wrote, "The birth of Christ took place exactly when the Emperor Augustus sent out a decree that all the world should be taxed. This was no accident...At the very first moment of his life, Christ and his parents had to give evidence of obedience, not to God, but to the heathen emperor, the enemy of the Jews. This is the strongest proof that Christ's Kingdom is to be distinguished from that of the world. Christ did not erect a kingdom like an earthly king, but wished to be subject to a heathen government."

So here we are 2011-ish years later, once again subject to a heathen government. And what I propose this Christmas, is that we recognize the heathen government(s) we are subject to, and to remain A-political.

If you've read my blog for very long, you might read that I view politics as a big joke. Politics give us pizza as vegetables, allows abusive churches (Catholic) to lobby for shortened Statute of Limitations (New York), and can be "pro-life" while being pro-capital punishment and war.

It's politics.

It's a joke.

And I propose that this Christmas we remain separate from this heathen joke-of-a-government, and truly distinguish ourselves from the world.

Peace,
Ross

Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa'd.

The girls saw Santa today. Hopefully he'll deliver...



Peace,
Ross

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Weekend

I love living in St. Louis! We're close to so many cool things, and can walk to a ton of great places...not to mention, there's a lot of great places to snap pictures of the girls.


Over the weekend, we were also fortunate to see the Monet exhibit at the Art Museum.


And Olive decided to go in a gnome motif...

video

Peace,
Ross

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Vampires > Live at The Duck Room

Last night I was humbled to play The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis. This is Chuck Berry's venue, and has a rich musician history!

Here's a video of Vampires w/ Caleb Travers.

Enjoy!



Peace,
Ross

Thursday, December 15, 2011

KIDS + MUSIC


Kate called me today with a funny story...

She and Cora were listening to the radio and Little Drummer Boy started playing. Cora asked if it was me. It wasn't. Then she went through all of my musician friends...was it "Jeremy Larson, Andre, Harry, Brendan?"

Its a great story, because I know that my girls are immersed with music and musicians.

But that got me thinking a little more. I tend to listen to lots and lots of music, different artists and bands, and don't repeat very often. I wonder if that change is a good or bad thing for my girls? Would it be better to listen to a season of Beatles, a season of Radiohead, and a season of Sting, etc, or is it better for the constant rotation?

Please continue the conversation!

Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Surround Yourself


Surround Yourself
(c) 2011 Ross Christopher Donaldson.

Drawing circles
Haloed forces
Who to let in, so close?

Not to be picky
But health's at stake
When you surround yourself

So choose love
And challenge
Support and strength
Surround yourself
With life

Family and critics
Haters and lovers
Those that want you gone

Friends and skeptics
Enemies and allies
Who do you let in?

So choose love
And challenge
Support and strength
Surround yourself
With life

Circle, circles
Halos of love

Circle, circles
Halos of life

So choose love
And challenge
Support and strength
Surround yourself
With life

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

glitter



Peace,
Ross

Monday, December 12, 2011

38 seconds.

Hey there,
Thanks again for all of the recent support...you all have bought albums like crazy over the years, come to shows, told your friends about the music, and for that I'm incredibly grateful!

Would you mind spending about 38 seconds and CLICK HERE to write a very brief comment/review of my album, Boxes and Human Fog?

Thanks in advance!

Peace,
Ross

p.s. even if you don't own it, just click a couple of the tunes and listen to make your comments!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Last Night.






If you missed the show last night in St. Louis, here's a few pics from the night. Thanks to everyone that came out!

Peace,
Ross

Friday, December 9, 2011

12/9/11 Setlist.


I'm playing tonight at The Wood in St. Louis.
Music starts at 8PM...I'll go on about 70 minutes after that.
I'm just gonna' loop the night away.
I also have a couple Christmas tunes for ya'!

Be there!
THE WOOD
2733 Sutton Boulevard
Maplewood, MO 63143

Peace,
Ross

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Consideration (The Weight of Walmart)

I don't want to tell you what or how to think about this. I do however, want you to consider it. What are it's implications here locally, globally, past, present, future, etc.

Walmart Infographic

Source: http://frugaldad.com





Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Apparently...

Apparently Mary had a baby...

video

Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shadows.


Shadows
© 2011 Ross Christopher


The light touches her
For her life to be
But she’s become blind
To the light unseen

She lives in shadows
Tries harder to grow
Defined by the gallows
And she can’t see

It forces her hiding
The darkness is blinding
The shadows are dimmer
But she’s fully alive

She lives in shadows
Tries harder to grow
Defined by the gallows
And she can’t see

Peace,
Ross

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Never Interrupt the Song.


Never interrupt the song...

The song is creativity.
It is the spark that hits you whenever it desires.
It's not a formula, and it's not reserved for the artistic elite.
It just is.

Listen for it.
Write it down.
Record it.
Don't lose it, whatever you do!

*here's a little example of what I'm talking about. I caught Cora "writing a song" last night before bed. I love it!



Peace,
Ross

Friday, December 2, 2011

They Reappear (DVD Preview)

Here's one more DVD preview from the show I did with Jeremy Larson, Darren King (Mutemath), & Stacy DuPree (Eisley). Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!



Peace,
Ross

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Satan (metaphor)


Metaphor in songwriting is key.
It is the language of truth.
It is the mechanism that turns a song timeless.

SATAN
(c) 2011 Ross Christopher

What if satan looked
A little too much like me
On a dark, dark night

If he swallowed up souls
As flippantly as I
Pass by need

What if he shot your soul
Into hell with tears
And gnashing teeth
And burning stench of trash

Oh, that's me
I cast you out
And discard your self

Am I saint?
Or satan?


Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

DVD Release (preview)

Hey folks,

Several months ago, I had the amazing opportunity to play violin for a LIVE DVD shoot, with Jeremy Larson, Darren King (MuteMath), and Stacy DuPree (Eisley). And after some time in the editing booth, the DVD is nearly here! Until then, here's a preview...

I get a nice close up at 2:09...also, the song gets quite intense around the 4:25 mark.

Enjoy!



Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Outsourcing God - book excerpt #21


In light of BLACK FRIDAY and CYBER-MONDAY, I thought it would be appropriate to share an excerpt from my book in progress, Outsourcing God. How does consumerism effect the church?

----------------------------------
(c) 2011 Ross Christopher Donaldson - Outsourcing God.

What is it about the weekly encounter we label “worship,” that causes such a stirring, such life change, or conversely nothing at all?

I believe that in our consumer-driven, materialistic society, we fall prey to the habitual re-creation of an entertainment encounter. And just because I use the term “entertainment,” doesn’t mean I’m referring to a particular style of encounter; contemporary, progressive, traditional, post-modern, blended, etc. Rather I’m referring to the fact that we try and dish out what gives “our people” what they want.

We spend an amazing amount of time calculating what will drive the numbers up and try and meet those expectations unequivocally. If that’s a rock band or pipe organ, we’ll do what brings in the numbers. After a season of positive encounters, we say that things are going well, budgets are in the right place, staffing is secure, and things are generally healthy. However, when these encounters leave us uneasy, we quickly blame the ministry staff, begin questioning the church’s stewardship, and eventually go down the road of, “oh, remember how things used to be…”

It’s a natural place to go. This line of thinking is very normal. However, the fact that we got there in the first place illuminates the real failure. The fact that we can, (in one week and one worship encounter), determine the encounter’s success by the ministry staff’s hard work, excellence and spiritual maturity, and the next week call it a failure, without any hesitation that just perhaps the encounter has something to do with how we arrive, the preparedness of our hearts, and the willingness of ourselves to be challenged, moved, and disrupted, shows how far the church has gone and how we’ve allowed the gods of culture to infiltrate.

Peace,
Ross

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent > what to do?


Yesterday kicked off Advent, and I'm super excited for all that is entailed in celebrating the season with the family!

Last year, Kate and I decided to SLOW THINGS DOWN from the norm of pre-Christmas behavior, so that we might not rush through the meaning of the season, and potentially miss some really great family time.

This year, we'll light the Advent candle(s) each night, talk about the meaning of this season, and will try and engage in some kind of festive activity.

Here's just a few of the things we'll do over the next few weeks. If you're in St. Louis, you should take advantage of some of the local awesomeness!

EXPERIENCE
Bake & decorate Christmas cookies

Make homemade ice cream

Roasting marshmallows over the fire pit

Go see Christmas lights (there's some great neighborhoods in STL)
Little Drummer Boy (STL)
Shane & Shane concert (STL)


MOVIES/TV

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Christmas Vacation (mostly for Kate & I :-)

Charlie Brown Christmas

White Christmas

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Polar Express

A Christmas Carol

Elf

Happy Advent & Peace,
Ross

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Belated.

We're back to St Louis, and I just wanted to wish everyone a BELATED happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all enjoyed much family-time and the carb-comas.

Now starts the fast paced rat race towards Christmas.

Take your time. Breathe.
Spend time with your family and enjoy the season.

From Kate & I...Happy Thanksgiving and an even happier Christmas season!

Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Empathy for Thanksgiving.

I want you to consider EMPATHY for Thanksgiving.

Empathy is the human capacity to be in solidarity with one another - to live another soul's story.

Check out this AMAZING video and be challenged by it; and consider empathy for Thanksgiving!



Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Perplexed (again).


Every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter feast includes one tray that I am always perplexed by...

The relish tray.

I mean, I cannot fathom a time I have ever thought to myself, "man, this meal was great, but would be COMPLETE if I only had a gherkin..."

That is all.

Peace,
Ross

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Tree Goes Up!

That's right, we put the Christmas tree up tonight with the kiddos. 'Twas a fun night of ornaments, lights, and sifting through boxes from the move nearly a year ago...

The girlies loved every minute of it: cookies, Christmas music, nativity scenes


It's about a week early (I know), but after seeing all of the pine trees and lights in Colorado last week, we were just in the Christmas mood.

So we indulged.

Peace,
Ross

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Long Haul.

I'm typing this from home in St. Louis. So, we officially made the long haul back from Breckenridge...13 wretched hours of nothing-ness (Kansas), and kid movie soundtracks to serenade me the entire route.

Along the way we made a couple mandatory stops:

biscuits & gravy (nourishment for the soul)
Loveland Pass (the view was incredible & the girls loved it!)


Alas, this mini-tour is over!

Peace,
Ross

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Breck-ness.

I could say a lot about our day, but I'll let the pics tell the stories...


What I will mention is that you know you have seriously manly-facial-hair when you can see it in your peripheral vision.

Peace,
Ross

iEmpathize Event.

Yesterday was the concert at the University of Colorado. An awesome organization, iEmpathize brought me out for its annual awareness week on campus. Here's what they are fighting to end...

iEmpathize - Human Trafficking 101 from Stephen Vidano on Vimeo.

I had a blast hanging out with these guys and performing for them and all of the students! Here's a few pics from the night, enjoy!


Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We Made It.


Last night we left St. Louis around 7:30PM and rolled into Breckenridge, CO this morning around 8:30AM. It was a long haul, but we made great time (and that's even counting the time I got pulled over in Eastern Kansas).

We're out here enjoying a few days in the snow while I'm playing a show at the University of Colorado on Wednesday. I must say that I LOVE being a touring musician; getting to make these fun trips across the country! So thank you to everyone that's ever come out to a show, bought a CD, or helped me out in any way, shape, or form!

We devoured a hearty breakfast at a diner in Dillon this morning then decided to take a trip on the Breckenridge Peak 8 gondola.

video

I'll post more tomorrow...

Peace,
Ross

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In a Tree.


This weekend, I sat 20 feet above the ground in a tree, and exhaled. I swayed with the wind, watched the forest come to life around me at daybreak, and watched it all fade away at sundown.

From my vantage point (and without distractions) I was able to do lots of thinking and brainstorming. I focused on several themes (each separate - sort of) and will be writing on them in the near future.

Light / Shadows / Economy

Peace,
Ross

p.s. the blog will be mostly pics this week as I'll be in Colorado performing at The University of Colorado

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ENNEAGRAM & CREATING CULTURE.


So hopefully you took THIS ENNEAGRAM TEST yesterday. It was very self-revealing to me. This was quite possibly the most revealing personality test i've ever taken.

I scored Type #4.

Fours are unique and create their own distinct culture. They experience the highs and lows of life intensely. They take great pride in their aesthetic tastes...

It's a great descriptor of the creative artist.

What was revealing though, was not the "creating their own distinct culture" part, but the "experiencing the highs and lows with intensity" part.

This is completely me!

This answers my ULCER questions...I'm either WAY up, or WAY down.

I could call this a curse, but instead i'll explain my take...

I hate plateau. I have no interest in status quo. If you look at my music catalogue (the stuff I write, or the stuff I listen to), there's very little mid-tempo, mid-intensity, music in the playlist(s). I either like stuff that's in your face and over the top, or stuff that's extremely minimalist and subdued. I listen to progressive stuff, risky stuff, that people either love or hate.

As I tackle leadership, momentum, change, pace, etc, I try to stay in the poles - either really high, or really low. Let me explain.

Some risks end in failure (the low). Some risks end in home runs (the high).
I'm ok with both of those places. I just love to try new things - to risk new things.

What I'm not ok with, is maintaining. I see plateau as slow death. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that's how I operate.

I cringe at the phrase, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

On a cultural level, you'll never hear me say, "those were the days..." But even more distasteful, is the attitude of trying to be in the current fad. Fads fade. Fads are temporal. And if you focus on the current, you waste a lot of creative time on what might just be a fly-by-night trend.

I'm much more interested in creating future culture (even if that means I misread trends and context, and what I create is discarded and forgotten). At least, I'm looking ahead and working creatively to create newness, richness, and hope. Because nothing in the future-minded creative process is lost. It all sharpens and refines.

I hope you'll take the test if you haven't already, and that it's as meaningful to you, in connecting the dots, as it has been for me.

Peace,
Ross

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Test.


Yesterday I posed several questions regarding tension...

How do we work in it, out of it, or avoid it?

Soon after I posted it, I was in a conversation with a friend about the topic, and she turned me on to this great personality test, that was EXACTLY what I was in search of!

It's called the Enneagram Personality Test.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE IT

It took me about 5 minutes, and what it showed me was very eye opening. I'll get into my results tomorrow. But in the mean time, please visit the site and be prepared for self-revelation!

Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tension.

Today, I just want to post a handful of questions surrounding TENSION...

Word Animation - Tension from Andrea Blanco on Vimeo.



How do you effectively live in tension without the aide of Pepcid AC and other ulcer meds?

If you're a leader, when conflict and tension arise, how do you deal with it?
-do you immediately quell it?
-do you immerse yourself into it?
-do you work to create it?

What does the perfect leadership scenario look like?
-is it mostly lived IN or OUT of tension?

If you're an artist, how often are you in tension?
-when aren't we?


Please leave some comments & embrace the tension!

Peace,
Ross

Monday, November 7, 2011

iEmpathize

A few weeks back I had the amazing opportunity to work with a great organization, iEmpathize. (They brought me in to provide an artistic experience and musicical backdrop for a local St. Louis event) They're a group bringing awareness to the sex trade around the globe. They're fighting it on many fronts, and I'm proud to be an advocate for them and their cause!

Over the weekend they called and asked that I come out to the University of Colorado to provide a musicical backdrop for their big event. Needless to say, I am stoked and am looking forward to a continued future relationship with iEmpathize.

Check out this video that tells a bit more of the story:


Peace,
Ross

iEmpathize from iEmpathize on Vimeo.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Warm Ups

Here's a fun little snippet of Harmony Grove warming up some harmonies in the studio today.



Peace,
Ross

Thursday, November 3, 2011

ONE SHOT VIDEO #2 > DOUBT BRINGS HOPE

Here's the 2nd ONE SHOT VIDEO of this series...Doubt Brings Hope.



Peace,
Ross

p.s. THANKS to Kate for the fun filming!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Perplexing-perspective.

We live in perplexing times.
Times that bring doubt to your perspectives.
Times that could care less about your perspective.
This is a perplexing-perspective.

Over the weekend I had to put new breaks and break fluid on my suburban to the seemingly ridiculous cost of $456.

To give a little perspective though, I just filled the same suburban up with gas at the even more ridiculous cost of $91.

Filling my vehicle up with gas should not cost more than 20% of new breaks!

Perplexing-perspective hurts.

Peace,
Ross

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sad Song Lullabye (One Shot Video)

I'm doing a series of One Shot Videos from my songs on BOXES & HUMAN FOG. Here's installment #1, Sad Song Lullabye. Enjoy!



Peace,
Ross

p.s. I started with the easiest one...the next will be much more lively and involved - check back in the days to come for more installments!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Throat Ulcers.

About a year and a half ago, I was in the ER with the worst stomach pain I'd ever felt. It turned out to be 4 severe ulcers. The Dr. prescribed some meds and all was well, until about 3 months ago. This time however, the ulcers were in my throat. It felt like swallowing razor blades. The Dr. put me on steroids for a week and the ulcers went away. Welp, today I was back at the Dr. with what I thought was strep, but the ulcers are back - and bad. My whole throat is covered with them. Its pretty nast.

Anyway, I must say goodbye to all of the spicy foods that I adore!

Until next time, peace!
-Ross

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Outsourcing God - book excerpt #20

Yesterday I found myself in a conversation/debate about leadership styles. I argued that a true and healthy leader does not provide 100, 80, even 50% of the answers for those following, but that we must push back with more questions to create a desire and make the vision that of the person questioning (so as to not live out the other man's faith). My friend argued that we must present our position with certainty and confidence; that anything short of it is un-true, and does no good to the one asking. I could go on and on, but I thought that this section of my book spoke to the subject:

(c) 2010 Ross Christopher Donaldson

To those of us that currently call ourselves leaders…here’s permission to not always having the answer. If you don’t feel permission to leave things a bit unhinged and untidy, I’m sorry. It’s the nature of the beast – plus it feels good when we/I have all of the (right) answers. I quickly gain public persona and become the _________ answer man (you fill in the blank).

I tend to believe however, that Christ came to demonstrate a new type of leadership. His new leadership is completely counter-cultural that it leads people to scoff terms like radical, crazy, otherworldly, revolutionary, and un-realistic. But what we know of Christ is that he rarely did things in the assumed way.

When He should have ridden a stallion, He rides the colt of a donkey. When He can raise a legion of furious militant angels, He turns His cheek and remains silent. When He has the power to assemble the most just and righteous government known to man, He instead compels young fisherman to take up His cause. Jesus does little in the likeness of your standard leadership self-help books and gurus, but Jesus taught a better and holy way.

Jesus, our model leader, was asked a slew of questions throughout his three-year ministry, and from the four gospels, he responded over 50 times with questions – not answers. Jesus spoke often through the use of parables: quick, pithy, succinct questions or stories that strengthened the community by fostering deeper thought and conversation. Perhaps our response should be similar...

...It seems like in a world where people gravitate to either black or white; Jesus poses a question to blend the two. We all know our friends that see the world in total black and white. There’s no middle ground. It escapes nothing. Not politics. Not sports. Not foods. Not entertainment. Not religion. And in this world that is painted in stark contrast, Jesus is leading out of the gray. For it's in the fog of gray that we truly search for our way(s) and discover truth.

Peace,
Ross