Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend in Photographs

This weekend was a quieter one...lots of quality family time with Kate and the kiddo's, meals outside on the deck, early morning cuddling, dress up, a trip to LeGrands, and lots of music.  I hope you had a great weekend!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Recent Review

Last week I had the opportunity of opening for Dar Williams, with Caleb Travers.  It was a great night of music, stories, and community.  The room was filled with eager fans to hear the tunes and the stories behind them.  Somewhere hidden in the audience was a staff writer from 88.1FM KDHX.  They were taking notes and later wrote this:

"The evening started with Caleb Travers sneaking on stage and easing into his first tune before I realized he was there. Travers is a St. Louis native guitar picker and singer-songwriter that mines tunes from the same vein of love, loss and traveling as artists like Fred Eaglesmith or John Denver. He was joined on stage by Ross Christopher, whose harmonies soared and violin added a tasteful touch to the songs instead of feeling tacked on...A few songs into his set, Travers mentioned that it was good to play a short opening set for “people who give a shit.” I can’t speak for the rest of the crowd, but I’m pretty sure that part of it was his own energy coming back at him. It was apparent that Travers and Christopher have worked together for a while, as they were choosing what to play on the fly. Along with tunes from Travers’ most recent album they performed a cover of the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love” that would surely get the stamp of approval from Phil and Don themselves."

Thanks to KDHX for the kinds words and for everyone in attendance!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Vocation v. Career

Is there a difference between vocation and career?  I think so.  And the difference has Kingdom and missional implications.  Here's a short video from Tim Suttle (my first record producer) highlighting very eloquently the difference.  Enjoy!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

When Death Dies

Every now and then I see something so creative and awe inspiring that I have to share it here on the blog.  Well, yesterday I ran across this amazing unplugged version of "When Death Dies," by Gungor.  Please take a few minutes and watch this incredible performance.  I promise chills and a smile at the 1:34 mark...not to mention some jaw dropping soloing towards the end of the video!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

my week in photographs

Hey, I'm back!  I've been in the woods since Saturday morning, and now I'm back...actually, I got back yesterday afternoon just in time to clean up and sound check for the Dar Williams show at The Old Rock House (I opened with Caleb Travers).  Enjoy the pics!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blue Like Jazz

About 10 years ago I read Blue Like Jazz (Donald Miller). It was (and still is) a telling read on Don's personal experience of growing up "churched," the walls he felt between what was considered okay by the church, and what was outside. His commentaries should stir in you a sense of reconciliation between American Evangelical church-culture, and the perceived and guarded secular culture.

Fast-forward 10 years and the movie is being made. I couldn't be more excited to see it! Here's the movie trailer:

And here's an interview with Don and the actor playing Don in the movie. I love what he says about the christian label...that if you're a christian-artists (music, film, etc) that its expected that the gospel is present in every work, but that if your a christian-plumber, no one expects your fixes to be joined with a gospel presentation.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WHY: music, recording, & touring?

Have you ever wondered why someone decides to pick up a guitar (violin, piano, etc.) and hit the road for a week, month, or year? Have you ever stopped to ask why artists spend hours upon hours in make-shift recording studios? Have you ever asked a musician what it is about their music that gives them life?

To be honest, having been a professional musician for over 13 years now, these questions rarely come about - usually only in interviews with radio, magazine, bloggers, or my closest friends and family.

Dan Haseltine (lead singer of Jars of Clay) wrote this recently:

I don’t know if you have ever thought about it, the reasons an artist might decide to go out on the road and perform concerts night after night. It might seem like a simple matter of economics. After all, at a point in history where people are not buying music in any shape that would allow artists to make the labor of creating music, a sole vocation, it is obvious that concerts would factor in.

The economics do matter. People can support an artist by purchasing a concert ticket and maybe a t-shirt at a show. This helps put confidence into the minds of the promoters that have to wonder if the gamble they make on the artist is a good one or not. If fans don’t show up for concerts, artist, will take their nomadic circuses elsewhere, since promoters don’t usually gamble on the same act more than once.

There is the record cycle. This is the space usually 3 months before a record releases, and six months to a year after the record is released. Artists tour and perform a specific group of songs in order to promote the recordings, and bolster sales and awareness of the band. This also helps solidify a brand with images and a performance aesthetic that helps define who the artist is and wants to be.

Some artists tour because they are in demand. The tour is more of a response to a cultural awareness, or exposure that placed them in the public conscience for a given moment., in other words, striking while the iron is hot. Others tour in order to build the necessary army of fans who support and push the artist into the public conscience.

Some artists tour with a transactional mindset. They are there to capitalize on their success, ride the wave and suck as much life out of their fifteen seconds of fame. The artist operates similarly to a professional athlete who knows they only have a few solid years of wear and tear on their bodies, so they push for the greatest amounts of money and build their sponsorship and endorsement portfolios as quickly as possible.


So why do I do music, recording, and touring?

Simply put, it's who I am. It's as natural an activity as going to the grocery store, going to work, eating food, and breathing. When I go a month or so without performing, I get the itch. The act of performance, isn't really an act at all; it's the natural outpouring of who God made me to be. So I pack up the suburban with my instruments and merchandise and hit the road for a few days, sometimes playing to hundreds of energetic fans and friends, and sometimes to the sound-guy and bar staff. But whoever is in attendance, the act of performing does something to (and for) me.

I write songs because I hear songs in my head that need to be written. I don't write them with a specific audience in mind, a demographic, a sales pitch; but because the words are something that I feel needs said. I'm able to wrestle with life, faith, politics, and relationships when I write. I'm able to speak in a voice I could not otherwise. The words say things. The instruments say things. And trust me, there's plenty to say!

So thank you for listening, buying my records, bringing your friends out to my shows. You help me breathe!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend in Photos

This weekend was mainly spent indoors. We got dumped on with several inches of rain here in St. Louis. Kate was out of town until last night, so I was flying solo with the girls. That results in art projects, less-than-healthy dinner concoctions, singing absurdly loud, and a trip to the donut shop. Kate got in last night and we were able to head to one of our favorite places, BRIDGE, for some drinks and a cheese board, then closed out the night watching Mad Men at The Moolah Theatre!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Hiding Out (Sucre)

Here's the first LIVE video from Sucre. I had the opportunity a little over a year ago to play violin with Stacy, Jeremy, and Darren. It's an amazing sound (especially around the 1:18 mark :-). I think you'll like it!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cora's First Ballet Recital

Last Saturday Cora had her first ballet recital. Unfortunately the performance space was flooded, so we were moved to the gym. But alas, the cuteness is still vibrant!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Reflection.

I hate to ask, "how was Easter?" The question and earth-shattering-revolution of the day is blanketed by consumerism. Undoubtedly, some of you sang your favorite songs, dressed up a little nicer than is usual for your Sunday morning worship service. I'm also sure some of you thought, "is this it?" The worship experience didn't quite meet expectations.

What we celebrated two days ago however truly shattered the earth. The veil is split. Yesterday is no more. Death died. Sin was squelched. And I hope that you tasted at least a bit of that truth. Because if you did, it changes everything.

If the Easter you celebrated truly changed everything, then today is brighter because of it. Humanity is full of hope, reconciliation, re-birth, and is being renewed right under our noses. We are active participants in the story that began unfolding 2,000 years ago. The Kingdom of God is here, now.

So, what will you believe? Was Easter just another Sunday with a few more lilies on stage, more polished songs and videos, nicer slacks, a tie, and eggs hidden in the yard? Or was Easter the start for you to live out a new reality?

Today, tomorrow, and the next day, I'll wish you Happy Easter!


Monday, April 9, 2012

Weekend in Photos

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday happened in a flash! I played at the Crossroads District First Friday in Kansas City to over 2,000 awesome listeners! It was great connecting with some family friends, and folks I haven't seen in a long while - thanks a million for coming out! Saturday morning, I woke up at 4:30AM to dart back to St. Louis to watch Cora's ballet performance (there will be some riveting video to come later in the week). Sunday was Easter and it couldn't have been better...egg hunts in the garden, cute dresses and curls, an amazing AWAKEN Easter experience, and lunch with close friends. I hope you too had a wonderful Easter weekend!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Figure (by Reason) for iPhone.

I came across this yesterday, and WOW it's amazing! Figure (by Reason) is a great loop making app that YOU NEED TO PURCHASE! It's only $0.99, so the investment isn't too steep...

Thank me later!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I Am Judas.

That's right. I said it. I am Judas.

I have betrayed Jesus. Maybe daily.

I have sold Him out for comfort, personal gain, consumerism, laziness, you name it.

I read this a while back (and in light of it being Holy Week) I found it very appropriate to blog:

Here's what the Bible says about Judas:

"He was personally chosen to be an apostle by Jesus.
He spent 3 1/2 years traveling with Jesus.

He saw all the miracles of Christ in person.

He watched as Christ healed the sick, raised the dead and cast out demons.

In terms of experience with Jesus, whatever you can say about Peter, James and John, you can say about Judas.

On top of all this, he handled the money, which is most of the time the most trusted one in the bunch. No one suspected that Judas would betray Jesus, which tells me he was a believer.

His life was changed.
He knew Jesus personally.

In a dark moment of his life, he made a mistake. A big one. He sold Jesus out for 30 silver coins or so. The moment he knew what he had done, he felt remorse, and he killed himself...What is interesting to me is that in the upper room where Jesus and his disciples shared their last supper together, the 12 disciples all talked about how they were so great. Peter left the room and denied Jesus three times. Judas left the room and sold Jesus out for 30 coins.

One committed suicide, and one went on to build the church as we know it today.
Both Peter and Judas committed the same sin."


So, from one Judas to another, feel free to discuss, debate, and reflect. Its the right time to do that!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekend in Photos

This past weekend was great. We took the girls camping, and they were champions! The girls' highlight though were the Cheetos...We hiked, roasted marshmallows, found a cave, and lots more. Enjoy the pics!