Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Easter: Stories and Songs

Yesterday, Mark and I walked through St. John's Cathedral in downtown Knoxville. Why? Because on Good Friday (April 22) at 8:00pm we will be there performing 'Easter: Stories and Songs'.

It is gorgeous, as you can see from the picture above.

We performed 'Easter: Stories and Songs' (which you can read more about HERE) at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens last year and it was an unbelievably beautiful night. This year we wanted to move locations to a place that was equally beautiful...but indoors. St. John's was the first place we thought of. We contacted them and they were gracious enough to allow us to use their Cathedral. Such amazing people at St. John's.

The band will again be comprised of my good friends, who also happen to be some of the best musicians I know:

drums - Terry Mahnken
accessory percussion - Taylor Brown
bass - Carl Smith
acoustic/dobro/vox - Chris Dorsten
mandolin/vox - Emilee Cook
piano/hammered dulcimer/accordion/penny whistle/etc. - Adam Whipple
organ/piano - Greg Adkins
upright bass - Matthew Nelson
cello - Rich Brinke

We will even have a guest vocalist, a friend of Betsy and I's, who is extremely busy with her own music, Jill Andrews.

So, for all those who live in Knoxville...you should come downtown and celebrate the Easter story with us on Good Friday.

(And for those of you who live in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. We are actually going to be traveling next weekend...April 14-17th...through those states performing at various churches. Click HERE for dates and locations.)

Monday, April 04, 2011

all my favorite people

Yesterday, we talked about Authenticity at Crossings. We were blessed to have Jenna Weaver and her father, Brent, doing a simply fantastic rendition of Over the Rhine's song All My Favorite People.

If you think, "Yeah, no one can sing like Karin"...you may be right. But dang...Jenna sounded absolutely amazing (Brent wasn't half bad himself). So, so talented.

To accompany the song, we came up with an idea during our Creative Planning Meeting last Monday to take pictures of people on the street holding cardboard signs with the lyrics to the song written on them with a sharpie. Huge kudos to Chris Dorsten, Carol Reeve and Andy Vandergriff for some unbelievable pics.

Here is the video. It is great! Unfortunately, its set to Karin's version and not Jenna's. That's too bad, but I think you'll survive.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

rich rambling

Below is a video of Rich Mullins in concert 4 weeks before his death. The clip is 9 minutes of Rich just kind of rambling. There is no clear cut Big Idea that he is trying to get across...no consistent theme to it, he is just rambling. But like all things Rich, it is deep and prophetic and totally worth your 9 minutes of time.

There is really nothing left to be said about Rich Mullins that hasn't been said. But as I was watching the video below, and others with Rich in it, my son was sitting next to me at my desk watching too...and he was riveted. And I know it had everything to do with the hammered dulcimers and mandolins and drums...but he sat and watched as Rich talked too, for 9 minutes or more.

As good as his music was...and it was...I really hope at some point Jude will be able to equally appreciate the truth of Rich's words and work.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

songwriting and child-rearing

Songwriting is kind of like child-rearing.

A song idea is birthed. At first, your immediate and constant attention is necessary. I have lost many an idea because I left it unattended for too long and upon returning to it, I found that I had forgotten the melody or the hook or the chord progression and whatever life it had was gone.

But if given the proper attention and care, at some point, the idea matures into its own song. You can take it out into public and show it off. Your friends and family will tell you its beautiful. Most other people are too busy with their own lives to really care, though generally they are polite. But at this point, it still cannot exist with out you. It is completely dependent on you...until you record it.

The recording process is a bit like adolescence. It is awkward. It is trying. The song, as it begins to become its own entity apart from you, goes through changes. A lot of changes. Its voice lowers as the bass is added. As the drums are added, it begins to move to its own beat and the rhythm of you and your acoustic is no longer needed. It starts to get strings in weird places. Other people begin to influence it and your opinion isn't the only one in its life anymore. You know how it used to sound, and during the recording process, there are many times you think, "Can't we just go back to the way it was before? I don't know if I like what it is turning into." But you are patient, you give it the benefit of the doubt. Through all the un-EQed, un-compressed, un-mixed parts that have been added, you can still hear your favorite parts about it...even if no one else can. Other people may misunderstand it or not appreciate it the way you do, and that hurts...because it will always be your song.

Near the end of the recording process, you can see the song really begin to mature. It grows into all the abrupt and awkward changes that it went through during the eye of its adolescent storm. It is EQed and compressed and mixed, and you can hear it settle into what it will become. Hopefully, hopefully...it becomes what you wanted for it all along. Sometimes it becomes something infinitely better than you could have ever imagined.

Of course, now comes the hard part. Exciting...but hard. Once the song is recorded, it can go off on its own completely without you. It leaves from the merchandise table, or iTunes, or your websites, and it goes with people you've never met before. It gets in their car with them, goes home with them and you have absolutely no control anymore. You have no control over how they will interact with your song or how your song will interact with them.

It is theirs now as much as it is yours.

It is exciting, because it can do things and say things that it never could have had it remained completely dependent on you. It can go places and touch lives you never could. But it is a weird feeling, because you have zero control over it. It has its own identity. It doesn't need you anymore. It feels like the best you can do is just try and keep up with it.

But...overall...it just an unbelievable blessing to watch it go. And truth be told, it is way better for it to go then for it to be one of those songs that never leaves home.

I say all of this because this past summer a song that I had written called 'A Baby Will Come' was featured in Worship Leader Magazine. It is a Christmas song and for the last few months it seems that a number of churches have performed the song during the Advent/Christmas season. I have received encouraging emails from worship pastors at other churches and various people in their congregations who have been touched by the song. I have received texts and Facebook messages (by way of Betsy) from friends who had recently heard it or found out that I had written it. There are even a handful of churches who have put their version of the song on youtube.

One church in particular I think did a fantastic job with it. The video is below.

I hesitated writing this post. I don't want to seem self-promoting or braggadocios. The truth is...it absolutely boggles my mind. It is so, so humbling. I am not sure I completely understand it, but it is such an unbelievable blessing to see people I don't know choose to rehearse and perform a song that I wrote and then to be told that it blessed them in some way and brought glory to God.

Much like child-rearing, I really have no idea what I am doing when it comes to songwriting. There is no manual. You kind have to just do what you think is best and hope it turns out okay in the end.

And when it does, you feel blessed...but you don't feel like you can take any credit, because truth be told: you are not sure you really had anything to do with it in the first place.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Behold the Lamb of God recap

This past Sunday at Crossings, we entered into the story of Christmas by way of our final performance (...of this year) of Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God." It was such a blast, more fun and more powerful than I could have imagined. It was also an honor to work with such an incredible team of talented musicians from all over Knoxville.

Greg Adkins captured the whole thing on video and edited each individual song. To view his thoughts on the show and the first song (Gather Round Ye Children Come) click HERE. To view the rest of the show click HERE.

Also, here is the complete list of musicians and singers in alphabetical order:

Adam Adkins - shakers, tamborines, congas, djembe, percussion
Greg Adkins - piano, organ, acoustic guitar, hammered dulcimer, vocals
Kevin Bower - vocals
Chad Covert - drums
Craig Covert - vocals
Burt Elmore - electric guitars, mandolin
Angela Hemrick - vocals
Robyn James - viola
Sarah McAffry - vocals
Grayson Mynatt - violin
Matthew Nelson - electric bass, upright bass
Patricia Peacock - cello
Nathan Sharp - acoustic guitar, vocals, washboard
Andy Vandergriff - vocals
Mandy Watson - vocals
Adam Whipple - acoustic guitar, piano, organ, pennywhistle, lap steel, accordion
Bill Wolf - acoustic guitar, banjo, accordion, vocals

Monday, December 13, 2010

leadership community

Each month we meet one Saturday morning with all our Crossings leaders. Anyone who serves in any capacity we consider a leader. There are usually 60 or so in attendance at any given Leadership Community.

This past Saturday, we had a special Christmas Leadership Community. They are always the best. We ate pancakes, shared 'wins' and then played a game that involved people getting into teams, acting out scenes from famous Christmas movies, taking pictures and texting those pictures to me. We then displayed the pictures and had the teams guess eachother's scenes. Sound like fun? Maybe, maybe not...but check out the small sampling of pictures below and I think you can see that it absolutely was.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Behold the Lamb of God

A large and diverse group of local musicians headed up by Greg Adkins, Adam Whipple, and myself have been working these past couple of months to prepare 4 special performances of Andrew Peterson’s fantastic folk-rock Christmas program “Behold the Lamb of God - The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ”. The group we have is fantastic and I really think the show is going to be great. Maybe not as great as when Andrew and his Nashville friends perform it but it will still be pretty solid.

If you would like to come, all 4 performances are free and here is the schedule:

Sunday, December 12th
West Towne Christian Church
9300 Middlebrook Pike, 37931
9:00 and 10:30 am

Sunday, December 19th
Crossings Church
The Square Room in Market Square
9:00 and 10:30 am

We had our first full rehearsal last night and it was so much fun. Several goose-bump inducing moments to be sure. The show features great instrumentation including accordions, banjos, mandolins, hammered dulcimers, pennywhistle, and a fantastic string section.

Hope some of you can make it.

(And yes...I copied and pasted this post from Greg's blog. What?)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Basil Marceaux didn't win. Dang it. Well, you can't say my blog didn't do its part. Apparently, some dude named Haslem will be our next governor. He probably is a bit more lax on traffic lights than Marceaux...but I bet his diction is much better.

Anyway, I apologize for the long haitus. Kind of. I realize I didn't mention it here, but I did intend to take a few months off from blogging...mostly because I wanted to aim all my extra energies at school work.


Well, here's the math. From August 1st to December 1st:

Blog Posts:
Pages of Required Reading Read: 2,820 (does not include any reference material)
Pages of Analysis, Exegesis and/or Review Written: 151 (does not include bibliographies or title pages)

I just handed in my second to last assignment of the semester. And not knowing exactly how much work it would be, I did know it would require sacrifice. I promised myself it would not affect my family or my ministry. So, that left my leisure time. I have not read any books outside of what is required for school and for ministry; I suck at fantasy football (which, at least I have an excuse this year); I watch a heck of a lot less TV; I have abandoned my weekly basketball game...and I haven't blogged since Basil Marceaux was still considered a shoe-in for Governor of the great state of Tennessee.

So that is where I have been. And that is what I have been doing. School work. Oh...and Betsy and I gave Jude a sister.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

vote marceaux

The video below is real. So is his website (which is equally amazing).

This is our next governor, state of Tennessee...well, with your help at the polls. So, watch the video below (as well as the Stephen Colbert video below it) and go place your vote with the candidate you know will take the hardest stance against things like traffic stops and gold fringe on American Flags.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Republican Gubernatorial Primary Battle Watch '010 - Tennessee
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Thursday, July 01, 2010

'A Baby Will Come' is featured on the Song DISCovery CD for the July/August issue of Worship Leader Magazine. It is the third track, sandwiched between a song written by Ed Cash and MercyMe's newest single.

HERE is a link.

It is pretty stinking cool and I am pretty stinking excited. This is the biggest compliment any song I have written has ever received.

I gave up a long time ago trying to guess what these kinds of things mean. All I know is that it is a huge honor and I am very humbled.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

manute bol's radical christianity

As a basketball fan, I have always liked Manute Bol. Admittedly, in junior high it was because he was freakishly tall; in high school, it was because he was freakishly tall and had a propensity for chucking up 3-pointers...which was always funny to me.

But this article, written after his death last week, makes me like him on a brand new level. Read it HERE.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Better than a Hallelujah Sometimes...

This song made me cry when Amy Grant sang it live and then again just hearing it on the radio...sometimes things just hit you when you need them and today I needed to hear this:

God love a lulluby
In a mother's tears at night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

God love the drunkard's cry
The soldier's plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The tears of shame for what's been done
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing
Better than a choir singing out, singing out

We pour out out miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LOST finale

Betsy and I both loved the finale of LOST. I felt like the series was first and foremost a show about characters; redemption, forgiveness, transformation, etc. All the mystery and mythology was more the stage than the plot line. Granted, I am the furthest thing from a sci-fi fan, so my enjoyment and expectations of the show will certainly differ greatly from anyone who is.

But, even though I liked the way the series ended, I still feel a little like this:


Saturday, April 17, 2010

a concert and an elevator ride

Tonight I got to hear the song that I sang for my first ever solo (in 7th grade) by its original artist: El Shaddai by Amy Grant. Betsy and I got FREE tickets to her charity concert in The Square Room. I won't tell you how much the actual tickets prices were, I'll just say it was a ridiculous amount. But its for charity, so there you go.

The highlight of the night, however, was not El Shaddai. It was after the concert, when we got to share an elevator with Amy Grant and her drummer. They were doing a "Meet & Greet" with her after the concert, and for reasons still unknown to me, they wanted to do it upstairs in Crossings office. So, with the lobby packed, we opted to take the elevator up to the third floor to clean up the office a little before everyone got there.

We press the button. Elevator doors open. Amy Grant is standing there staring back at us.

We stepped in and I said, "Great job tonight." Betsy said, "I cried."

Anyway, here is a video I took with my phone of El Shaddai (sorry no video of the elevator ride...that'd be creepy).

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

good friday at the botanical gardens

Last Friday night we had a Good Friday concert at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens. I can not tell you how amazing the night went.

The highlights for me (in no particular order) were:

1) The weather. Literally COULD NOT have been better. It was perfect.
2) The people who helped with set-up and tear-down. That was some of the hardest manual labor I have ever asked of anyone and it seemed as though everyone really enjoyed themselves. It was actually a lot of fun.
3) The view, from the gardens, of the city after the sun went down. The lights of the city looked like Christmas lights. I didn't realize it until I stepped off stage and turned around.
4) The band. I am so lucky to get to play with such talented musicians.
5) Tony Sabota's artwork. It is absolutely gorgeous. Tony is one of the most gifted artists I have ever seen. I'll share pictures of his work on here soon.
6) The turn-out. There were over 150 people who showed up. That was really cool.
7) Getting to sing with my wife. She originally was going to be on stage for only one song, but in filling in for someone who couldn't make it...she ended up singing every song with me. I underestimated how special that was going to be. I love that she got to be such a big part of the night.
8) Greg, Andy and Taylor doing a Writers-in-the-Round to start out the night. Three of my favorite song-writers and good friends.
9) Getting to hear a NEW song from Greg Adkins. A lullaby for his new daughter, Claire. I was in tears before the first chorus. Beautiful.
10) Seeing this night come to fruition. These are stories and songs that I have been wrestling with for a few years now. I could not have imagined a more humbling or meaningful way to get to share them with my church community. Thank you all.

Here are some pictures of us setting up (taken with my phone, so don't judge the quality of the pictures too harshly). Sidenote: Anyone who took pictures of anything else that night...please send them to me. I would love to have them.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

....AND breathe out....

Right now I have a sense of relaxation and wanting to just breathe out. For the past 3 months Bill has been working on his Easter Stories and Songs book and cd. It has been a project that's taken up countless hours, evenings, and days off and this Friday, Good Friday, it finally makes its debut at the Botanical Gardens for Crossings Good Friday service. We'll only hear the first 7 songs and we'll finish up with the last three songs and the good news of it all on Sunday morning. I'm very excited for him! It's not exactly the end of the "going going going" that has been "us" for the past few months because there is some traveling on the horizon throughout April and the beginning of some special and new community partnerships for Crossings and us, but there is still a sense of that feeling you get when you've been on your feet all day and you finally get to sit down and put your feet up. Sigh.

I hope you all love the cd project as much as I do, I think it's his best work lyrically and it's really neat to read along and hear the stories behind the songs. it's good stuff.