Thursday, November 27, 2014

One more about some artist I know....

I'm sure I'm leaving someone out even thought I've perused my IPad's list of artist several times.  I'll conclude this series with two more bands.

One of them is a sweet voiced singer in her own band now but was one of the original's in another band called Rosco Bandana.

Both bands feature kids I knew when I was a Mississippi Youth Minister.

Emily is the youngest of three really talented siblings.  The oldest one was in college before we became friends but a few years later I was privileged to officiate at her wedding.  The middle child was our awesome drummer for the 605 Band mentioned in a previous post.  Emily I think was in the 9th or 10th grade, maybe younger, when I left Mississippi to begin overseas work.  Looking back on it and if I had stayed there instead of going overseas, then she probably should have been the next "face" and "voice" for our worship band.  She was...and is... RICH in talent.  Great voice, plays at least a couple instruments, and incredible stage presence.

Honestly, I really don't know much about her band or the music on the album she just released this week.  I don't know much about the other band she started with either, Rosco Bandana...but you should look them up and read some of the stories about them.

http://www.roscobandana.com/
You can find Della Memoria on Facebook and also on ITunes.

The leader for Rosco is another kid I knew during my Gulfport days.  His name is Jason. He was always a really bright kid and he got it honestly- I always thought his sisters and parents were brainy.  Jason and I didn't always see eye to eye and he really wasn't active in our youth ministry but I generally considered all the kids in town back then as kids I cared for and ministered with.  His grandfather was a Deacon in the church I served so I did watch him grow up during those years I lived on the Coast.

A few years back (all this is long after I left Mississippi), Jason and some of his friends formed Rosco and then won an international competition at Hard Rock Cafe which led to, I think, Hard Rock Records first signed artist.  You definitely should look them up on ITunes- it's a really great rockabilly, folksy sound.  And they even have videos!

So what I have here is one of their videos that features both Jason and Emily (Jason is the lead vocalist and shows up first in the video with the head full of hair; Emily is the completely stunning brunette driving the car at about the 1 minute mark).



A concept video is cool and all that, but you really need to see them perform.  They performed in England as part of the Hard Rock competition and if they ever make it Central Europe, I'd like to see them.



And here's Emily's band jamming out in concert.  I couldn't find a vid of her singing.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Far less than 30 days of praise... worship artist that I personally know.

So I go to "songs" on my IPad and hit shuffle and start going until I land on an artist I know.

Right now, I'm having to re-think my definition of the word, "know".  Ok, not really...there's people I know and there's people I've "met".  They're not the same no matter how much I want it to be.

For instance- in all those years of being a Youth Minister back in Mississippi I had the opportunity to meet a LOT of well-known artist.  One of my Youth Minister tricks at summer camp every year was to find the camp pastor and/or worship leader and invite them to meet with my group during some free time- usually at night during a Debrief Time.  I always figured if my kids had a chance to meet and hear the heart of the people on stage every night that they would be that much more engaged.  I was right about that most of the time.

So, in the course of a lot of years of youth ministry I met people on my Ipad like Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall, Billy and Cindy Foote, Matt Redman, Mike Weaver (Big Daddy Weave),  all the girls with the original Pointe of Grace, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Steve Camp, Michael Passons of Avalon, Chris Rice, Bebo Norman, Mac Powell, some less widely known guys and gals like Michael John Clement, Chris Davis, Kevin Williams, Chris Layton, Dave Hunt, Stephen and Star Smith, Steve Opie Thomas, Jake Gulledge, Jennifer Smith, my best friend's sister Janet Burns, and probably a lot more.

You can find music from almost all of them on ITunes or at least find them on the interwebz.  Jennifer Smith is one of those "kids" I first met at Mississippi Super Summer; she grew up and became a great youth leader and worship leader and a couple years ago raised funds from friends via a kickstarter-type campaign to record an album.  I really like it a lot!!  Some of those guys/gals above are itinerant worship leaders mostly in the Southeast; several of them serve faithfully on church staffs across the Mississippi and beyond.

Janet is a bit of celebrity in and around Copiah County. She's always had a great voice and couple years ago went to Nashville to record an album that's easily the most "country/gospel" on my playlist. She recorded one of the songs with her daughter Caitlyn (who is one of my most favorite kids in the world). You can find her ministry page on Facebook

I even went to school with a couple semi-celebrities.  The worship bands at the BSU (Baptist Campus Ministry) at Mississippi State were always phenomenal. During the years I was at State, the groups featured two singer/musicians that every KNEW would make it in the "industry".

Kim Hill- who has recorded numerous albums and has led worship for a ton of conferences etc and Jeff Slaughter.  Kim probably wouldn't know me from Adam but we have a lot of legitimate mutual friends.  Jeff and I shared some Mississippi Delta roots and we've exchanged pleasantries from time to time.  If you're Southern Baptist or if you you've ever used SBC Vacation Bible School material then you're familiar with Jeff. He's written the music for VBS since before the earth cooled.

My most recent musical acquaintance is Bria Blessing.  She's on ITunes, too.  She and her family are long-time missionaries in Ukraine- she's been here for something like 16 years. Earlier this year she took Ukraine's version of The Voice by storm. She almost won and probably more importantly, the exposure gave her an incredible platform to share the light of Christ (and it's BRIGHT in her) all over Ukraine, including several "USO" type appearances with soldiers fighting in Eastern Ukraine.  You don't have to know Ukrainian to understand what happens when she shares with the judges that she's an American (about 4:40 into the Youtube below).




Sunday, November 23, 2014

Considerably less than 30 days of praise...artist that I personally know.

My original intent was to go through the Shuffle thingy on my Ipad until I landed on an artist that I personally know and then write a little about him or her.  I actually, probably, maybe do know enough people to have written a blog everyday in November...I've just been too busy to do so. For that reason, I'm combining some artist on one blog...beginning today.

Back in the late 1990's early 2000's I was ridiculously blessed with a fantastic Youth Worship Band where I served in Gulfport, Mississippi.  It was a perfect storm kind of thing.  For whatever reason, the local high school band kids made up a sizable portion of our student ministry so there were a lot of musically inclined kids.  And again, for whatever reason, I had an unusually large and active group of middle schoolers move into the high school ministry about the year 2000.

I had always wanted to reformat our existing mid-week Bible Study into a full-blown youth worship event but it takes a critical mass to do that.  About 2000 it happened: We had the numbers, we had some exceptionally musically gifted kids and we had just moved into a new building where we had a dedicated youth space.  Our mid-week numbers at least tripled that year and then more than doubled the next year when we outgrew the youth room and took over the church sanctuary for the next 3-4 years. We went from 10 kids on a Wednesday night to about 45 to about 125 in a three or four year stretch and I believed then (and now) that God used our Youth Worship Band- the 605 Band- much more than He used me.

I don't remember exactly, but I think the "worship/music" aspect started with me playing the guitar and one of those exceptional 9th graders, Jana, learning and playing guitar and singing.  Sometimes Tyler or Bill would play Djembe.  Both were amazing young drummers.  Several other girls helped sing- Elizabeth, Monica, Elan and Eden and others. I think we did that most of that first year with me gradually turning it over to them.

When we moved into the sanctuary the next year I asked my friends Tim and Sandy to take over training the band and we expanded to include occasional Keyboard, full drums, another guitar, sometimes a Bass and and Electric Guitar and at times, about 5 female singers. I remember at some point that year feeling like Tim and Sandy were leading and the kids were just sort of filling up space, so I asked them to step aside and let the kids sink or swim.

The rest is history. Divine, providential, really cool, history.

The band flourished.  I mean, they struggled on their own for a few months but by the time the next year rolled around they were simply amazing.

I remember one night, I think some of the kids or maybe one of the parents asked if Allie could sing a "special".  I had never heard her sing before.  I think she sang, "Heart of Worship" and I was blown away. What a voice!  And she and Jana sang together like they were created to do so.  Our drummer, Tyler, was world class.  Our Bassist, David was great. Our main male lead vocal, Ben, was a bit of a wild-card but most of the time he did his part well. Justin would sing sometimes too and mostly played the electric guitar. Allie added Keys to her repertoire and Jana mastered the guitar.

Over the years Justin and Tyler also played in some side bands as did the girls.

And if I ended there, it would be a good story.  But it get's better.

Jana, I'm sure is still a great guitar player and vocalist although she's pretty busy these days with a brand new baby girl.  She married a Nashville guitar player who is in a band most of the free world would know if I were to name-drop.

Justin is a worship and student pastor.  He's still singing and playing guitar and he's married and has a baby too.

I don't know if Tyler is still playing drums or not but he's from one of the most musically gifted families I know. He's married and has a baby!

David is a Funeral Director.  What??  The picture of a cool Bass Player giving comfort to grieving families is almost too much!

I once took Ben to Ukraine on a mission trip. Earlier this year he married a Ukrainian girl he met in college at South Alabama!  His parents, Tim and Sandy, continue to be great friends and supporters.

And Allie- the voice- She had a song featured on Grey's Anatomy and just released her 2nd or 3rd album, this one with a Welsh partner named Al Lewis.  You can find her on Itunes at Lewis & Leigh (Leigh is Allie's middle name).

Always last, but not least, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that we had a few technical geniuses running sound boards and computers for us, mostly Scott and Brandon.

The Original 605 Band; pardon the pun, but they were so instrumental in my ministry in Gulfport. They not only led us to the throne every Wednesday night but they were the "draw"- they were the reason so many kids attended every week and when they attended they experienced God through worship and hopefully they heard the Word and saw it being lived out in their peers and leaders. I couldn't script a more fruitful and fulfilling 4-6 year stretch of church youth ministry.  I'm still in contact with some of them; I'm not in contact with a few of them... but they will always have a most important place in my heart.

 Ben
 Bill
 David
 Jana
 Justin
 Scott
Allie
Tyler

Monday, November 10, 2014

Less than 30 Days of Praise...Worship Artists that I personally know

Nov 11- wee hours of the morning and my random shuffle artist generator on my Ipad comes up with The Tom Edwards Band.



Back in my Mississippi Youth Minister days I was pretty well-connected. I sort of knew everyone and they knew me.

A lot of my connections came from serving at the best kept summer camp secret ever- Mississippi Super Summer.  In the early years of Super Summer I think we had 4 or 5 "schools".  By the time I left Mississippi, Super Summer and grown exponentially and the number of schools had at least doubled. In addition to a Camp Pastor and Camp Worship Leader, each school also has a worship leader for the week so there's lots of opportunities for guys and gals to get some exposure.

One of those guys I met at Super Summer back in the day was Tom Edwards. Man, I'm a sucker for an acoustic guitar player in the first place and Tom is a great guitarist and a really strong song-writer. He can do all the "covers",  he can belt-out an old hymn in a way that will bring tears to your eyes...but gosh, the dude can write some great songs too.  His voice...I don't know, somewhere between velvet and butter.

One of my favorite memories of working with Tom was a couple months after Hurricane Katrina.  Our church sanctuary was toast.  Soppy, wet toast.  We had cleaned-up and relocated to our gymnasium.  All of our upstairs education space was being used to host visiting construction workers and teams.  School resumed about 6 weeks after the hurricane and with it we attempted to resume our "normal" Wednesday night activities which included our mid-week worship service called 605.  I wanted to kick it off in a special way so I invited Tom to come lead worship for us.  He actually had another gig lined-up but he wanted to come come help us out and the guy who originally had him booked was very gracious in allowing Tom to be with us instead.

In all honesty, it wasn't as big a night as I hoped it would be.  We didn't have a room full of kids (we were in the gym instead of the youth room which was still being used by teams) and I don't really remember much about the night.

What I remember is Tom's servant heart to be with us...and I remember all the other times, mostly at Super Summer, when I was always thrilled to worship with him.

Obviously I haven't been in "Youth Ministry" in Mississippi now for like, 7 years (has it been that long ago?) and I haven't kept up with Tom much except through Facebook...but what I know in so doing is that he has continued to impact a generation in Mississippi and beyond.  He's a staple worship-leader for myriad churches and youth leaders.  He is a worshiper; and he brings others with him. My "well-done" really doesn't mean much...but I believe he'll hear it in eternity and it will mean a whole lot more.


I have a couple of his CD's which I don't think are on ITunes but his two latest projects are available there. By all means check it out on ITunes and www.tomedwardsband.com


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

30 Days of Praise...or less...or something like that.

November 4- I went back to the song shuffle mode on my IPad again today and stopped at the first artist that I personally know and it landed on Bethany Barr Phillips.

She's on ITunes and has a website www.bethanybarrphillips.com.



Bethany has been one of my favorite worship leaders for a long time...in fact, I've loved worshiping under her leadership since she was in about the 9th grade! Seriously.

I don't remember exactly when I first met Bethany but I distinctly remember her singing for us in Blue School at Mississippi Super Summer back in the very late 90's.  I remember her singing the old song, "One Name Under Heaven" and rocking the hippie-ish "free, really free my friend"  and then "God is gonna move in this pla a a a a a ce".  I remember her as a student at Super Summer by day but taking the stage at night to sing back-up with the camp worship leader Dave Hunt.

She's come a LONG WAY!

Sometime in the early 2000's, Bethany was a college student and was leading worship for youth events.  I invited her to lead worship and be a girls small group leader at my DiscipleNow Weekend in Gulfport, MS. Of course she was phenomenal...but for more than just leading worship.  She empowered the girls in my youth group, especially a few budding musician/worship leaders.  Really, I credit Bethany with being such an incredible catalyst for some of the kids in my church and I look back on that time as the beginning of an exceptional youth worship band at our church.

Bethany went on to marry a Pro Baseball Player (who is a college coach now I think) and in recent years she's really started to take-off well beyond the confines of Youth Group DischipleNow Weekends! She's both headlining events and sharing the stage with lots of big names. But not just because of her great voice and talent or musical experience (having done this for quite a few years now!).

No...she's where she is because, as one of the testimonials on her website says, "she leads out of a place she lives...in the presence of God."  She's still a young one (always will be to me, I guess!) but she's faced cancer and losing a baby.  Her songwriting and music reflect those struggles but also the ever-present Jesus that  walked with her through those trials. Her album, "Roots Run Deep" addresses those trials,  with pain and honesty and with the hope we have in Christ.  I especially like the songs "Treasure", "Lamb of God" and "Mother's Arms".  The title track from her EP Show Love  was written in response to the call to be the hands and feet of God after the 2011 Tornado's near her home in Alabama.  I really like "Satisfied" on that album.

Thanks, Bethany, for making my music selection on my IPad better, but moreso for encouraging me with your life and music.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

30 Days of Praise...or something like that.

I did this a few years ago... the blog-a-day about some of the blessings in my life. Last week I had an idea for a twist on that.  I was listening to some music while doing some woodworking and I was thinking about how a lot of the music on my IPad is from artist that I personally know.  So I'm going to attempt to speak some praise and encouragement about some people and music that are special to me. This series might not be limited to music artist; maybe I'll throw in some guys/gals I know that are involved in some other ministries. And I probably won't try to do this everyday.

First up, hitting "Artist" on my IPad and then Shuffle...and going until I see the first artist that I know.

November 1- Chris Telfer.

Chris is a rugged Colorado guy that was on the World Race with me back in 2007.  I don't think I've seen him since then but we're still Facebook friends and he also married one of the fabulous girls that traveled with us so I'm able to sort of keep up with them via FB and Instagram.  He and his lovely wife Jenny have a little girl and a baby boy.

Chris is a great worship leader, a great songwriter, guitar player, and singer.  He's led many a worship session in places all over the world.  Since returning home he's released a couple of albums (available on ITunes).  I highly recommend his stuff.  He also has a website: http://christelfermusic.com/

Chris's songwriting is really honest, transparent, real.  Most of his music is acoustic guitar driven and mellow; some of it is really catchy but not in a sold-out pop music way.


Sitting here listening to some excerpts of his music and it's hard to pick a favorite.

His 2012 Album called MATOO (Men Against the Trafficking of Others- an organization another former World Racer founded) features a title track called Matoo.  It's an anti-trafficking song in the vein of the great folk-commentary songs of the Civil Rights era.

Child Listen Closely features sweet guitar picking and some catchy "ladadada's" as well as a message probably inspired by the birth of his first child.

Dead Things Come Alive is probably my favorite track on this album.  It reminds me a lot of the culture of the World Race of speaking life over one another.

Chris's 2010 Album, Rooted Deep, features a little more musical diversity.  I really dig the Mandolin (I think) in I Will Remember and the harmonica (and message) in Lift.

Good stuff and I'm glad to say I know the guy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I'm not what I once was and now I know, I'm not yet what I will be.

One of the things I miss most living here in Ukraine is the chance to do something with my hands- to work on something, to tinker.  Earlier this year I moved into an unfurnished apartment and almost immediately set to the challenge of building some corner shelves and a coffee table.  


I REALLY enjoyed it.  And it was a challenge.  I didn't have any tools here.  Back in Mississippi I still have a storage unit FULL of tools. Back in Mississippi I've got enough tools to rebuild a car or build a house.  Here in Ukraine I think I had a screwdriver and a pair of pliers before I started building furniture.

I still don't have all the toys I need (or want) but I have enough stuff now to not have to go completely Amish.  

A few days ago I noticed a pile of double pane wooden window frames, most with the glass still in them piled outside where someone in the apartment is obviously remodeling; probably upgrading to plastic frames and fancy insulated windows.  I grabbed two of the smaller windows frames; I'm going to build matching glass-top, shadow-box end tables with them.

As I began this week chipping and sanding decades of white paint off the frames it looks like there's nothing special about the wood underneath.  It was probably the cheapest utility wood that would do the job back in the 70's when this building was built.  

But I have a feeling I'll be able to bring some new life to them.

I know "reclaiming" old stuff is a fad these days.  I'm ok with that.  It makes sense to re-imagine and re-use stuff.  And it has so much more character than anything (EVERYTHING) from Ikea, right?

And there's that whole redemption thing.

I've got a bunch of layers on me.  Some of them toxic, really.  I wouldn't be surprised if this paint I'm chipping and sanding isn't lead-based.  (One of the benefits of being a 50 year old single guy is that I don't give a crap about the safety hazard!  But I digress.) 

There's something beautiful about chipping away at all that junk though and exposing something that's been lost for years: The grain of the wood- even if it's the cheap stuff, the craftsmanship of tongue and groove and nails instead of whatever those things are that hold Ikeacrap together.  And all that newly exposed wood takes on new life and new beauty with some fresh coats of Stain- not layers of lead-based paint that masks everything (the beauty as well as the flaws), but Stain that gets absorbed so as to intensify and accentuate what's there rather than cover it up.  

And doesn't that piece of furniture look so much better when you spent hours sanding it by hand or when you added a layer of Stain and a light sanding everyday for one or two weeks?

My life is stained for sure.  Stain is difficult to remove. Stain is absorbed and becomes a part of who you are.  Removing it takes a LOT of time; you have to cut deep to get it out and by the time you do that you might just destroy what you're working on.  Stains aren't all bad then. Like I said, it intensifies and accentuates the character; actually, it contributes to the character most of the time.

One more thing I like about this reclamation fad is the idea of re-purposing.  I like the idea of taking something useless and giving it a reason to live again.  I can do it with a piece of wood; God can do it with a living, human being.  I think only He really knows what our shelf-life is supposed to be and until that time comes we might be a window frame for a while and then a table and then who knows what.  He chips away at what we're hiding behind and we drape ourselves in it just about as fast. He chips away some more and eventually reveals what's underneath.  The stains we absorb, the dents and scratches and scars become a part of us for better or worse.  

Ah the stories my little end tables could tell.  I started out as a tree in Hungary and I watched the world at war around me.  Then I became a window to the world below me and a window into the lives of countless families peering through me for 40 years.  One day I was tossed aside to be replaced by something newer and prettier but then I was rescued. Some scars were too deep to be repaired but scars are just tatoos that tell a story.  The next thing I knew I was a table that held food and drinks and family pictures and housed personal treasures.  One day I was tossed aside expecting to be replaced by something newer and prettier but then I was rescued. I'm not what I once was and now I know, I'm not yet what I will be.

Check back in a few weeks to see how it turns out!