Sprig Music just put out this video of Jennifer’s in-studio performance of one of my favorite Adele songs, “Turning Tables.” It’s an amazingly difficult song to pull off live, and I’m so proud of my wife and in awe of her talent. Check it out, then share to your friends who appreciate good music.
I’m excited to announce the first two worship videos for Jennifer and me with Sprig Music. Please check them out and share them with your friends.
I’m so thrilled to announce Jennifer’s first live video on her new YouTube channel. The song “Loving You Out Loud” represents one of my favorites in her new repertoire, reminding the listener of the joy of first-love and all that comes with it.
Jennifer’s been working so hard on her music over the past several years, and it’s finally time to start releasing it for the world to hear. While her new record is in progress with Sprig Music, we thought we’d start sharing some of the songs as we wrote them: personally and intimately from our home in Clayton, NY.
I hope you enjoy this series as much as I do.
One of my jobs as a producer is to continually be on the cutting edge of the recording industry. This means I’m constantly researching modern techniques and trying to implement them in the studio.
It’s in that spirit that I pass on this amazing video from the amazing Craig McDurmot on EQ’ing acoustic guitars.
Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty ’54 Reissue 1993 Black
Condition: Very good
Model: Les Paul Custom Black Beauty ’54 Reissue
Made In: United States
Yup. I’m parting with one of my favorite guitars, hoping she finds a new home.
I’m the third owner of this Gibson, given to me in 2002 while on tour. The man who gave it to me purchased it in an estate sale where it sat in someone’s attic—presumably since its creation, as it was in mint condition. I do not have any paper work on the guitar, only email correspondence from Gibson confirming its serial number, model and manufacture date.
She’s been used on four of my records and a few US tours (no international travel), so there are four notable cosmetic issues I tried to capture in the photographs: 1.) A small nick below the bridge. 2.) Some nicks on the backside of the headstock (corner). 3.) Some clouding on the back, due to wear against soft clothing and moisture. 4.) Pick markings in strum zone (I tried to turn the guitar into the light so these could be seen—a little difficult to since the guitar is black).
Everything on this guitar is stock, with no damage to pickups, wiring, knobs, zero markers, or selector switch. Frets, perfling, body, neck and head are all in great condition; nothing I can think of. Action is dialed in tight, and with the ’50’s style chunky neck, she’s a dream to play.
The case has the most wear. The handle was losing integrity when I was given the guitar, and broke a few months after. I removed the damaged leather covering of one side (now showing its black plastic core), and re-riveted the flange plate to the case. There are some scuffs on the bottom (pictured). While the interior is in great condition, the cover has some fraying (pictured) where it rests on the tuning heads (from the string ends).
I’m selling her with strap locks and the strap (pictured). If you’re familiar with the weight of this model, you’ll know why I kept the padded strap with this guitar.
Ask any questions you like. Excited to see this Black Beauty get a new home and more use. As the man who gave this one to me said, “Guitars are meant to make music, not sit in glass cases. Play it.”
Accepted Payment Methods
• Money order
• Credit cards
• Bank wire
Be honest, as that’s how I’ll be.
Available for local pickup from Watertown, NY
Ships from Watertown, NY
$50.00 to United States
$100.00+ to Everywhere Else
I’ll box and stuff this guitar and case personally. If you want international shipping, let me know—I’ll need to calculate it for you. Be prepared for customs declaration and duties on your end.
Giving stuff away is amazing. Way better than getting something yourself. (It’s almost like Jesus knew what he was talking about).
Jennifer and I had the honor of representing Guitars For Glory during our recent trip to Guatemala last month. This meant surprising three people with brand new guitars. We made sure the cameras were rolling, and managed to produce something we’re all proud of. (Thank you, Sprig Music).
Sure, who wouldn’t like a free guitar?
But what the documentary doesn’t show is all the back-story behind the recipients. Like how Rudy’s father abandoned his family for the US, and Rudy was left to be provider for his four siblings and mother; today, he’s a pillar in his family and his church. Or Roger, who’s given himself fully to educating children, and makes in one year what I make in three weeks. Then there’s Willy, who’s always wanted to lead people in worship on guitar, but knew it’d be impossible, seeing as how it’d take him and his entire family over a decade to save up enough combined money to buy one.
The stories are real. The tears are real. Because the people are real.
And that’s the power we have as being part of the world’s wealthiest people.
Please watch the video. Then thoughtfully consider three things:
1.) Giving to Guitars For Glory so they can continue to spread the message of hope in Jesus through music.
2.) Sponsor a child with Inn Ministries, our hosting organization in Guatemala. I can’t say enough about these people. They’re the real deal, and you’re having a daily impact on children when you give toward their education.
3.) Let me know what you think—about all this. I’d love to hear.
You were born to rock. So get to it.
This week, we’re hosting Douglas Gresham and Meg Sutherland at Sprig Studios. Doug is a long-time friend, and famed adopted-son of C.S. Lewis; and he’s also Meg’s Executive Producer for a potential record deal we’re working on.
Needless to say, the whole experience has been nostalgic and inspiring. Meg’s music is filled with the “divine melancholy” that Tolkien was famous for capturing; and spending any time with Doug’s larger-than-life persona is always a treat. His stories are captivating, and to hear him reminisce of growing up with Jack is nothing short of spellbinding.
But in the midst of the revelry, I’m deeply aware of the new memories we’re forming together—stories, I hope, that my children will tell of with great fondness.
Seek to live your life today in such a way that your great grandchildren will whisper about your happenings with wonder. Honor those around you, and build a legacy with the integrity of consistent action.
Pictures from my Instagram feed:
Tonight, my dear friend Wayne Thomas Batson arrives at our home for a three day writing weekend that we call a Writer’s Bootcamp. We’ve been conducting these annually for the past nine years. Usually, we write, talk, write, eat, drink, write, use the bathroom (separately), talk, write, and then pass out, only to awake the next morning and do it all over again, with the goal of pounding out as many words as is inhumanly possible.
One thing that I’ve learned about the creation process is that it requires me to be intentional. When I was younger, making things just seemed to “happen.” I had loads of free time, and proximity to all sorts of amazing tools. And loads of free time.
(Did I mention free time?)
Today, as creative a soul as I am, producing tangible art—whether books, records or designs—only happens when I make time for them.
Here are three tips that’ve helped me:
Appointments are typically for people, not for “making things.” While people got premium space on my calendar apps—complete with descriptions, reminders and a courtesy text message if I’m running late—projects normally didn’t. Somehow I treated it as a second class activity.
If we really want to be intentional about creating, we need to treat time frames for our creative disciplines like appointments with people. Schedule the time on your calendar, write a description about what you want to accomplish in that time frame, and set up alerts if you’re late (treating them like text messages that say “You’re late! Get in here for your meeting!”).
Merely setting planned time aside for your creative activities, whether professional or pastime, isn’t enough. I would never entertain ducking out of an intense marriage counseling session to help someone with the office printer. But I’m OK with stopping a design session to help someone tape up a box?
All those those people and their tasks are important, just not right now.
Once you’ve scheduled time, keep yourself accountable to it by telling any interruptions to your creative appointment, “I’m sorry, but I’m in a meeting.” Most everything can wait.
Guarding these times includes turning OFF your mobile phone and restricting browser usage (if you need it open at all) to pertinent tasks only. TV, music (if it’s a distraction) and company can also be things that breach your guard.
End On a Cliffhanger
One of the biggest mistakes I made early on in my novel writing career was ending my day’s work when I’d finished a section that had a natural finale.
Don’t end when it seems right, end when it seems wrong. Call it a day right in the middle of your favorite scene. Favorite color choice. Favorite chorus. Call the session when you’re truly inspired. This not only means that you’ll resume your progress sooner, but ensures that you’ll start back up with zeal. You’ll be eager instead of reticent.
What are some things you do to schedule, guard and inspire your creative disciplines?
Yesterday, we discussed what good art is supposed to do, and the fine art character sculptures of Stéphane Halleux and his new animated movie.
Here’s some more inspiring work by multi-disciplined musicians Raul Midón. I really don’t want to say anything else. Just come back here and comment when you’re done watching. I’d love to know what you think.
There’s an old adage:
Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
I’m pretty sure there’s another one. At least there is for me:
Anything worth doing well is worth doing as a team.
And maybe better still:
Anything you want to do well, you’d better do with a team.
Last night, the team pictured above rallied to put on one heck of a show at Indian River High—the largest campus in our county. The event was one of our youth ministry’s LIFTED events, which mixes music, worship, drama, dance and video to support a Gospel message, concluding with an invitation to accept Jesus.
Here are a few reasons I resist doing things without a team:
They’re Smarter Than I Am
When things go wrong and systems fail, I want to be around people that are smarter than me. Or, at the very least, will look at things with different eyes. This allows problems to be treated with new solutions that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
We had a few unforeseen system integration audio issues during set up last night; work arounds came much faster because ideas were shared quickly and freely. We checked one another’s work and talked through some of the more complex signal paths. Because the teams trust each other and are not threatened, even people not on the audio crew were getting involved and doing their best to serve and troubleshoot.
When the pressure gets high, you need people around you who can make you laugh. The only other release for pressure tends to be rather destructive: you allow it to mount until you snap. And people or things usually get hurt.
Keeping things fun, even in highly stressful scenarios (and I’d argue especially in highly stressful scenarios) is absolutely critical. Dedicated, hard working people who have a lighter side, and know when to augment situational tension with a bit of levity are crucial for letting teams reset and keep things in perspective.
Humor is also a great way for you as a leader to let your team know you’re not drowning in frustrations when things go wrong. At one moment last night when things were especially difficult, I just decided to start dancing. No music. No beat. Just my moves (which are in themselves hilariously pitiful). It made people laugh and reminded us all to keep the main thing the main thing—our core message: we’re here to share the Good News of Jesus with teens.
At the end of the day, saying, “I did all that,” gets rather boring. Not because you’re suffering from a lack of ideas, but because you have no one to share it with.
Doing things together means more people are taking pride in what’s happening. And people that do things together end up building stronger bonds because of the process.
This sense of community not only makes the end product more vivid and colorful, but it’s essential in spreading whatever core message you’re attempting to promote.
Doing things as a team says to history, “We were here. We had something so important to say that we needed many voices to say it with.”
May history never forget us and the future never forsake us.
What are some of the favorite teams you ever worked with? What made them special?
I’ve had a few close friends note that it’s been quiet around here lately. Quiet, yes. But by no means fruitless. As any who know me might well surmise, my energies have been consumed by other more-pressing activities.
For one, I’m still writing—quite a lot, in fact. But not much of it, if any, is ready for daylight on a public forum. I’ve been writing daily, mostly of theology. While The Sky Riders II is in process, I’m simultaneously working on at least three other non-fiction works, as well as some writings for future songs and messages, all content that I feel needs addressing for the sake of Christians I find myself mentoring and pastoring. This has been further inspired and somewhat initiated by an uptick in my reading and processing of older Christian texts.
Apart from the reading and writing disciplines of my life, I’m in gaged in numerous New Life church activities, all of which have been large in scope and demanding of time. A vision to reach mankind with the Gospel and to make disciples should require nothing less. Our current production of A Watertown Christmas hits this weekend to two sold out audiences. On top of regular Christmas activities, as well as preparations for January’s series and annual fast, my team has had their hands full.
The businesses (CiCis Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery) have also consumed more of my creative attention lately, as I’m overseeing new directives to meet with school administrators and church leaders to ascertain how we might be able to serve their food needs and create win-win scenarios in the community.
I’m also fully engaged in one of my more favorite enterprises at the moment: overseeing the final phases of construction for Sprig Studios, due to open mid-winter. The final electrical work begins today, and we’re building all the custom light fixtures on site. The studio, by nature, begets newfound ventures of music creation, which are also simmering behind the scenes at home and in various nooks of the church.
Life is full and rich, made the most so by my wife, children and close friends, and reminds me of how truly blessed I am to be surrounded by constant beauty, creativity and mission. 2014 holds more adventures still, with calls back to Central America and Europe. May the God of the nations receive the glory that he’s due.
Moments don’t happens to us.
We happen to moments.
They take creativity and energy (which equates to virtue). Add some forethought, sometimes money (because money = time, and time = life), and an ample amount of consideration-of-others.
Planning your time off is just as important as planning your appointments to address work-load.
Tonight’s memory will be a road trip with my Princess to see Jonny Lang.
Do something today. Get wood for campfire. Cancel your non-essential plans and go to the drive-in. Take a walk, play in the mud, eat pizza and throw the crusts in a stream.
Be intentional about making moments count so you have memories to collect.
Like any good guitarist, I’m constantly tinkering. Learning. Getting inspiration. Then tinkring some more. While my DIY briefcase pedalboard “Nedrick” certainly had its charm, it wasn’t exactly heavy-duty, nor was it expandable.
Then my good friend and guitarist Jason Rodgers pulled a fast one and made me a wooden, one-of custom pedalboard of his own design, aptly named “Dawn Treader.” Aside from feeling quite surprised and incredibly grateful, I had a decision to make: what pedals did I want on this board, and how was I going to get them on?
First off, I knew I wanted my simplest setups for both my Taylor 816-CE (acoustic), and for my Gibson Black Beauty and my Samick custom strat (electric). I also knew I wanted space later on for a volume pedal. So for my acoustic run, I used a BOSS TU-2 (which I always use as a hard mute, especially when dealing with slow or inexperienced sound engineers), and my tried-and-true BOSS AD-5 acoustic modeling pedal (balanced or unbalanced). For the electric run that goes to my VOX AC-4, I used my favorite overdrive, the Fulltone OCD, my favorite delay, the Strymon Timeline, and another TU-2 that I use after the Timeline, as she tends to put out some faint, psychedelic nuance even when bypassed.
Like most guitarists, Velcro has been my staple. And I knew it’d be so easy just to slap on three thick strips of Velcro or 3M’s heavy duty, outdoor, rough surface variety. Of course, I was used to the wobbly pedals, the sticky residue, and the missing pedal that disappears with the inevitable kleptomaniac, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know what I was getting into.
Then Jason mentioned “the bike chain link method.”
Bike chain links have two small holes that a 6-3/4 wood screw or 6-32 machine bolt fit perfectly through. And they’re just the right length to clear most effects pedal chassises.
The idea seemed like it would take a few resources I didn’t have (like screws, a bike chain, and a bike chain tool), and it would take more time and planning to execute. But the results seemed appealing: rock-solid stability, anti-theft benefits, and – appealing to my slight obsessive compulsive disorder – incredibly clean. I had to try.
• 6-3/4 wood screws (box) – $3.00 (You can chose to use 6-32 machine bolts and nuts if you want to. I chose the simpler route of screwing right into the board, but I will most likely move to bolts/nuts if replacing the pedals in the future).
• Bike chain link tool – $6.00
• 300-link bike chain – $4.00
• 4 – 1″ narrow hinges (for OCD pedal) – $4.00
• Coaxial staples – I don’t remember the cost, as I’ve had this box for a while.
• Cordless drill – A good one is expensive. Unless you already own one because you’re a homeowner or a contractor, save your wrist some carpal tunnel syndrome and go buy one. These little screws can be killer.
Taking the chain apart was fairly self-explanatory; the tool allows you to drive the cotter pin out of each link. But take your time, and rest your thumb, as this takes some pretty good hand strength.
Next came laying out my pedals. I’d advise connecting all your 1/4″ guitar cables and power chords when setting them. Without this, you’ll get a false sense of how much room you’ll need. As a result, you’ll very easily put pedals too close together and block audio and power jacks. Use a pencil to make tick marks on the board along the edges of each chasis, then take off all the cables as they’ll just get in the way for drilling (except those that do need to be connected due to unavoidable proximity issues).
Backing out screws on each pedal should be done carefully, as these screws can be hard to find duplicates of if you strip or mar them. Once out, put a chain link in place, and drive the screw back in – again, being careful not to damage the screw or over tighten. At this point I also removed all the rubber feet from the pedals so the links and screw heads would sit flush on the board. (The exception was the OCD, as its screws mount from the side, so I didn’t use links, but rather I used hinges. The hinge pivot point was actually further away from the chasis bottom, so I kept the rubber feet on as these didn’t play a factor in the mounting process).
The pedals then went on the board with 6-3/4 wood screws. If you think you’ll be swapping pedals out more, I’d suggest using 6-32 1″ machine bolts and nuts and drilling straight through the board, as they’ll be more secure long-term. If I ever swap out pedals, that’s what I’ll use (especially since the current screw holes will have less integrity the second time).
Once my pedals were all properly installed, I decided to mount an electrical power strip on the left side. Most power strips have screw holes and slide paths on the bottom; my version had four holes. I also chose a power strip with a recessed power switch on the side, not the top, as I too often bump the top-side ones and power things down inadvertently. The power strip feeds my Strymon Timeline (which needs its own proprietary wall wart), and the guts of an old BOSS BCB-60 pedalboard that I used to power everything else. (Eventually I’ll be updating this power rig with something ore legit, like a Voodoo Lab PedalPower 2).
Now it was time to hook all my cables back up, weave the power lines between the boards to keep the surface clean, and then use the coax staples and 6-3/4 wood screws to organize everything on the underside.
I used one 14″ zip-tie to hold my giant Radio Shack 9v wall wart to the board (which feeds the BCB-60 guts), and two Velcro strips to bind the extraneous lengths of power lines.
The result is a completely solid pedalboard that I can shake and flip, and not a single thing budges. I was shocked to realize I could plug a 1/4″ guitar cable into a pedal with just one hand. (Meaning, I didn’t need to brace the pedal with my free hand). Toe-tapping a tempo into the Timeline, or slapping the TU-2’s for tuning felt solid and accurate. Nothing budged an inch.
Approximate project time was 1 hour and 15 minutes. Not bad at all for a busy guy like me.
Totally solid. Secure. Safe. I’m a new bike-link convert for sure. It’s super clean and visually satisfying, allowing you to see more of your pedalboard’s face.
More labor intensive than Velcro. If you like to experiment a lot, and/or you don’t have your preferred pedals down pat, this system could drive you nuts. Carry a screwdriver in your gig bag or guitar cases: you may need to make adjustments on the road.
Hit me up in the comments section with questions, suggestions, references, or shout-outs.
Happy music making,
I worked 15 to 20 hour days this week. Sometimes that just happens. But I find there’s a supernatural level of grace in the midst of it, and everyone and everything that needs attention receives it. It also helps that I love everything I do, that there’s a synergistic commonality to every exploit, and I’m surrounded by amazing people. Grateful for the God of time feeling welcome in my schedule; couldn’t do it without him.
Here’s my week in pictures:
Released a new TV ad for New Life Media featuring my kids.
Jenny captured a great morning snuggle with Levi.
A wonderful New Life Board Meeting, which featured my father sharing on the 30th anniversary of his head-on, mid-air collision.
One if the top four parenting moments of my life.
Jenny captured “The Boys” moving the fire pit to a new section of the back yard.
On location at the new Clayton Hotel shooting a new TV ad for Bach&Co with New Life Media.
Another great, spontaneous moment with Levi.
Checking in on the amazing buildout of Sprig Studios at New Life.
Q&A session with Todd Agnew and Unspoken.
Stag left with Unspoken at New Life.
The joy of watching Eva spontaneously read her hand-transcribed Bible to her brothers.
My glam wife all dressed up to shoot a wedding, one of her many astounding talents.
Congratulations to Costa & Karen, two of our dear friends.