"We can do no great things, only small things with great love" - Mother Teresa
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Living the Best Story
By fate or providence I found myself at two different conferences, on separate sides of the country, both on the weekend of my 30th birthday. One was called STORY and it was held in Chicago, and the other was called Storyline and it took place here in Portland. Both conferences were assessing the stories that we tell with our life, faith, and art, and the goal was to help us see and lay hold of the best story. The tales we all love are those that contain a noble vision, adversity, hope despite all odds, and heroic sacrifice for the sake of others. Naturally, I found myself sorting through the last three decades of my life, searching for clues as to what kind of story it is that I’m telling. After charting the most positive and negative experiences that I’ve had in my lifetime, I began to see a pattern emerge. Many of my lowest points were associated with experiences of rejection, and my high points were often connected to music and fellowship. The questions I’m left to answer: Will my wounds create character and compassion in my life, or will I let them derail my story? And, how can my gifts and dreams now be used for the sake of helping others? Grappling with these questions is fueling my current project.
Love & War & The Sea In Between
I started writing songs for my next album over a year ago, and now I have what’s proving to be a 20- song project underway! While the songs won’t necessarily follow a chronological storyline or cycle, they’ll definitely function as a family, cumulatively telling a story of love, loss, war, the sea, and return. Somehow these themes have become intertwined in my heart and mind, and each song feels like a vital character in a novel told through music. My hope is that these songs will connect with people at various stages of their own journey, and bolster a sense of courage to push through the low points, to believe in a redemptive story, and to end well.
Here's a preview of "Ulysses" from Love & War & The Sea In Between
Starting in October of 2010 I’ll begin the recording process as a full-time endeavor for a span of 4 to 5 months. I’ll be doing very few shows and almost no traveling during this time of investment and creation in hopes of having the album available by early 2011.
If you believe in what I'm doing and feel that God would have you contribute towards this project, would you consider partnering with us? I truly believe that with the help of friends, family, and supportive listeners investing in this work on the front end, it will not only enrich the process but create a more dynamic, community-driven final product. For those of you who wish to give a one-time gift, or offer ongoing support for this span of months, be assured that at the very least you’ll be the first to receive an advance copy of the album. In the meantime, Michelle and I are dreaming of other fun ways to bless you and show you our thanks!
Friday, August 20, 2010
I'm learning more and more that one of the great joys of making art is the unexpected intersection and collaboration that happens with other people along the way. Case in point, some time ago I was given an exciting proposition by way of email from a stranger living in New York City. His name was Jon, and he was in the midst of starting a production company with a whole band of composers, engineers, instrumentalists, cinematographers, etc. etc., and "would you like to come to New York and do a live recording, in a cathedral, in Manhattan, with an eighteen-piece symphony?" All I had to do was cover my own flight. Hmmm, let me think.
Last month I made the trip from Portland to New York, trusting that the time and resources used would prove to be worthwhile, both for myself and for those hosting me on the other side of the country. Upon arriving in the evening I navigated my way up to Harlem by way of taxi and subway (this is still a novel experience for a kid who's never lived in a "big" city). My final destination was an old row house where Jon and the chief cinematographer Andrew welcomed me.
The next day, before heading to the cathedral to begin our full-scale production, we set up a little recording rig in their backyard in Harlem and did a one-take recording of a new song of mine called "Ulysses". Stay tuned, for next month I'll continue the story of my time in NYC, along with the final footage of our production in the cathedral. I can tell you it was "magical", though. For now, here's a "leak" from my new album. Presenting "Ulysses"...
Also, here's a riveting number by Leah Siegel, performing with the same production company in the same cathedral where my piece was recorded. This will give you a taste of what's to come next month.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Today on a fellow musicians blog I found this old video in which Canadian pianist Glen Gould speaks on the intense musicianship he sees in one of his own peers, fellow pianist Sviatoslav Richter. Once again, I'm reminded that everyday we come to the same crossroad of decision within whatever craft or work we're engaged in. We can work for control and mastery over the "object", thereby exploiting it for our own gain and recognition, or, we can enter into the love of the work for it's own sake, exploring the mystery with open hands, thereby inviting others to enter into our joy. The latter is what makes good art: Art that's not dependent on recognition, yet conversely art that proves to be the greatest service to mankind. “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” writes Howard Thurman. These old mentors have somehow helped to renew my mind and focus in regards to my own relationship with music and how I approach it.
Friday, January 22, 2010
My good friend Russell Brownley just finished this short promotional piece for REEF Sandals "Ugandal Project". My song "Lake Yarina" is used for the soundtrack, and I'm honored to take part in such a meaningful endeavor.