Sunday, August 31, 2008

No Laughing Matter

Former DNC Chair, Don Fowler making light of Gustav...

I don't like commenting on politics, but this makes me want to vomit.


40 Days of Prayer Begins Tonight!

Or is it this morning...or tomorrow morning? Too confusing. I do know it's a little over 7 hours away. I'll be up every day at 2:30am for 15 minutes over the next 40 days, which is not much different than the last 80+ days for me (with a newborn at home), except, now, I'll be spending that time in prayer.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

NHC This Sunday

Next Sunday begins a new series called "Radical Generosity".


Friday, August 29, 2008

Coming October First

Don't know what First Wednesday is? Stay tuned for more...


Album Review: Meredith Andrews "The Invitation"

This isn't a full album review like I normally do, and, honestly, my opinion about this album is biased, but I wanted to direct your attention to Meredith Andrews' debut album, The Invitation.

Meredith and I sang together in a group while we were students at Liberty University. Yes, I have sung a duet with Meredith (if you can consider two lines of a song a "duet"). :)

Anyway, Mer is one of those few people you meet in life and know instantly that God has great things in store for them. Anyone who knows her would probably tell you the same. It was just a matter of time until I knew I'd see her name popping up all over the place...

The Invitation is a superbly produced album, showcasing Meredith's songwriting, piano and vocal skills, as well as her heart for God and leading others in worship. You can find the album on iTunes (and it comes with a bonus video of the single "You're Not Alone").

A few highlights include "Life Up Your Head", "Show Me What It Means", and my personal favorite, "The River".

If you dig old school Cindy Morgan and the recent offerings from the likes of Nichole Nordeman, check it out!

Very proud of you, Mer!


Here's the "You're Not Alone" music video...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Blitz

This past week was busy for me, and, it's not over until after a youth event tonight, so I'm going to keep this short...

> This morning, we asked the question, "What in the World are You Doing?" The following are two videos that we showed.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sick People

Having dealt with this exact same issue (played out in a very different way) just this past week in blog land, I hope that THIS isn't true (although, it completely appears that it is). If it is, I am, once again, disgusted that people could do this type of thing.

My wife is dealing with cancer (along with several other very real, and very life-threatening health issues). Stories like Michael Guglielmucci (author of the song "Healer") are amazing, which is why, if it turns out to all be a lie, they're incredibly detrimental.

I first heard of his song "Healer" probably 6 months ago while my wife and daughter were both in the hospital. Several people sent me links to the lyrics and/or recording, thinking that I would find something special about it. I admit, it's a good song, but, for whatever reason, I never really gave it much notice. Maybe it's just my personality, or maybe it was God trying to protect me from even greater disappointment. Either way, I'm thankful that, other than being frustrated at what this guy has done in the Christian and Cancer communities, I have no real personal investment in this.

Unfortunately, thousands of believers do (have a personal investment), and I pray that Michael's confession of his lies will not cause those who found great comfort and strength through his song to doubt God or those of us who are affected by cancer...


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Operation Backpack

Here's a video of our first Operation Backpack, giving free school supplies to the elementary school students/families in our community...


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Set List Example

So, we're playing at the Watermelon Festival tomorrow. It's a community event, put on by a local business. I haven't been before, but it's supposed to be a pretty big and fun deal. Anyway, our set list is made up, entirely (except for a few church songs that we're rocking without the lyrics), of the "secular" music that we've performed in church over the past few years, and I thought I'd share the simple but effective way that I put a set list like this together...

Selecting the songs for this even was easy...because this is a community event, and we were asked to come as a band (and not a "church" band), I just pulled all of the secular stuff that we've played at different times over the past few years. Ten secular songs, three "church" songs without any vocals, thirteen songs altogether.

There are a five parameters that I consider as I'm putting together a set list this big:

1) The key of the song...I actually take a look at the key as well as the last chord of a song.

2) The tempo and energy of the it fast or slow, hard or soft?

3) The dynamics of the song...what are the lead instruments, who are the lead vocals, is anyone going to need a break after this song?

4) The "Big Idea" of the event/worship there a "theme", one Big Idea that we're trying to communicate, and how does every element of the event/gathering flow together to communicate that Big Idea (not every song will goal isn't to fit every song perfectly with the Big Idea)?

5) The message of each individual song...are there songs that seem to naturally fit together (within the Big Idea) because of what they're communicating, are there songs that would clash because of what their communicating?

Knowing these five things helps me to figure out what my order is going to be. Knowing the Big Idea is usually most important to me, followed by key tempo, dynamics and message.

Knowing the keys of the songs, as well as the final chord, helps me figure out which songs will flow more naturally from one to another. Our flow style lands somewhere between the "stop and go" and the "anti-climax" (Read Here for more about flow styles). Knowing the tempo and energy level of the songs helps me figure the order out as well...are there any songs that share the same time/tempo, are there songs that would cause a little roller-coaster feeling if played one after another?

With a long set, like what we're doing on Thursday (we normally play for about 25 minutes on Sunday, usually no more than two-three songs in a row), it will be important to evenly spread the workload out among everyone playing and singing. I don't want to sing lead for 30 straight minutes...neither do I want our drummer to play two incredibly difficult songs in a row and get too tired. And, I don't want to do all of our electric guitar driven stuff up front, or all of our piano driven stuff at the even set just works and sounds better.

And, because we're using secular songs, it's important to us to make sure that the message of the songs comes across in a relevant and clearly organized way. Also, because this event is a family-oriented fund-raiser, we want to make sure that the overall theme of our setlist fits with this events Big Idea. And, of course, you want to start the set well and end the set well.

So, first, I wrote out all of the songs in our set in alphabetical order, noting their keys and final chords...

Then, I created another visual that grouped the songs together by their keys. This allowed me to see, very easily, which songs could work together or flow into the next naturally. I know the basic tempo and energy level of every song in my head without writing it down, and that is something else I was considering during this step.

I then began putting a list together, not so much worried about my last two parameters until I had the set together. After I had a list together that flowed well with keys, tempos and energy, I checked it to see if the dynamics and message all fit nicely as well, which it did. Below became our final set list that we'll be playing tomorrow (I've added some notes to help you see how my process all came together)...

Meant To Live (D-Em) Electric driven, female vocal lead, familiar song that most will recognize

My Hero (G-C) Same time as last song and begins with heavy drums which means a fast and clean transition, female vocal lead

All To You (D-G) "Church" song that we'll jam to and use to introduce ourselves, more laid-back energy than the first two songs, no vocals

Beautiful Day (D-G) Nearly same time and chord progression as last song, difficult electric and bass line, male and female vocal lead

How To Save A Life (Bb) Softer, Piano driven song that will give everyone else a break to loosen up and tune up if needed, male vocal lead

I’m Free (E) Hard, electric driven song that will bring the energy back up, male vocal lead

You Are Good (E) Another "church" song to jam to and give our vocals a break, no vocals

You Are Loved (D-G) Very mellow song, piano driven, male vocal lead

Hanging By A Moment (E) Very familiar song, a little higher energy than the last song, guitar driven, female vocal lead

Best Of You (C#m-E) Highest energy song of the set, female vocal lead

Everything You Want (G-C) Very "groove" song to relax after the last song, great message to follow the message of the last song, male vocal lead

Everlasting God (B) Last "church" song to jam with, high energy, great electric guitar lead stuff, no vocals

Home (F#) Last song, power chords, very familiar, male vocal lead

Anyway, that's how it works for me. It's somewhat different on Sundays, mainly due to the fact that our set is much shorter.

How do you organize your set lists?


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sunday Blitz

> Worship was incredible this Sunday, especially during the first gathering. Normally, the worship is usually at it's peak near the end of the gathering, but this Sunday, especially at 9, we were peaking during the third song about 20 minutes in and kept it going through the message and into the last few songs. I didn't even really sing much there for a while, I was so caught up in the moment and in awe of being a part of a church who gets IT!

> It's also great to be a part of a band of musicians who can "hit a curve ball", as our pastor described it. One of our lead vocalists decided, without realizing it, to reverse the order of two of our songs during the second gathering...fortunately, we were playing the songs back to back without any break, and both were in the same time and key...we adjusted without a hitch (giving the band leader a mic that only the band can hear so you can tell them how to adjust doesn't hurt), and nobody but us and our pastor realized what was going on.

> Started a new, 3-week series to gear up for our upcoming 40 Days Of Prayer. If you're a partner or attender of NHC, check out The Blog and jump in on the upcoming discussions!

> The Willow Creek Leadership Summit was incredibly good this past week! I had to miss the final two sessions of day two, and there were two sessions that just didn't do anything for me, but overall it was a great experience and something that I hope the lay leaders we took can use to improve themselves and the teams they lead. When I get some time (maybe IF), I'll post some of my notes/highlights from the conference.

> We're stoked about playing at the Watermelon Festival this Thursday! I'll be posting more about this later, but please, pray with us that the weather is as nice then as it is today...breeze off the ocean and partly cloudy. Playing outside is only fun if you're not melting or freezing.

> Operation Backpack was totally sweet! From what I remember, we had 40 people show up to help out, and we served nearly 40 local families (about 125 kids) as well as about 140 kids in Helene Honduras (sending supplies there in a few weeks). We also had a ton of stuff left over that is going to Social Services tomorrow for those who weren't even fortunate enough to have a vehicle to ride to our church on Saturday. Another example of people getting IT!

> Our biggest crowd of the summer this past Sunday, and we're expecting the same this seems a lot of families like to take their beach vacations just before school begins, which is totally cool with us. It's a great way to end the summer with a bang!

You were almost in the minority on stage this Sunday if you had hair on the top of your head. Buddy (above left) is always hairless, and Rich (right) and I joined him (in support of My Wife who is undergoing chemo and losing her hair).

> Speaking of was his last Sunday with us as he (and several other students) heads to college this week. He's getting married next spring, and he says he'll be too busy to play much with us after this, but we'll see...

> We miss you, Chad H.!

Have a great week!


Monday, August 4, 2008

Sunday Blitz

> Finished up our "What If?" series with a great message about loving the world. If it were up to me, we'd preach that same message (or something like it) just about every Sunday (and we still wouldn't completely get it)...

> This was Chad H's last Sunday with us (starting his first of Law School at LU). He joined the band a little over a year ago and has been singing and playing the acoustic with us just about every Sunday since. It's always a little scary adding new people to the band, because you never know exactly how it will work out, but Chad was a great addition and will be hugely missed.

> Speaking of which, we've had a lot of interest from new people in joining the band, and I have had and will be having a few auditions this summer. It's exciting that people want to use their gifts in this leadership role, and also a little scary when you have to say "no".

> August is going to be my busiest month of the year. Lots going on, and lots to plan and prepare for coming up in the next few months. I'll definitely earn my keep this month... :)

> Just a few more weeks of huge crowds and then we're back to "normal". We love the summer and the rush and craziness it brings...keeps us on our toes. But, the end of August come just in time to help us keep our sanity.

> We're super stoked about Operation Backpack this Saturday!!! We've been collecting school supplies all summer, and this Saturday morning, we'll be turning our church auditorium into a distribution center, welcome local families to swing by and pick up whatever they need to help their kids in the coming school year.

> If you missed it, the Washington Redskins proved again why they are the most valuable and loved team in the NFL this past weekend by having three former players/coaches inducted into the Hall of Fame before defeating the Colts in the Hall of Fame Game (the traditional opening game of the NFL pre-season). And, it looks like we may have a bit of a quarterback competition, which is exciting...

> Me and four of our pastors and a few others from the church (yeah, I know it's bad grammar) will be hanging out in VA Beach later this week, attending Willow Creek's Leadership Summit via a satellite site at Spring Branch Community Church. Having attended the Summit a few years ago, I'm looking forward to an awesome few days of vision-casting.

That's all for now!