Improving Musicianship | Inspiring Talent
Spirit Led Blues Power
PRS SE20 Amp & SE Bigmouth Cab
JAN/FEB 2012 Volume 17, Issue 1
Project Studio Gear Reviews
Leigh Nash • Sara Groves • Eve Selis Geoff Moore • Luke Brawner
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Mark Kroos: 2x the Guitarist
Tips on Creative Lyric Writing
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8 Bassic Communication by Norm Stockton Intro to Solo Bass Arranging (Part 9) 10 Guitar Workshop by John Standefer Wonderful, Merciful Savior 12 Drumming Dynamics by David Owens Thomas Lang Shuffle 14 Vocal Coach’s Corner by Roger Beale Over-Singing: A Cosmic Phenomenon 16 Product Review by Joe Riggio PRS SE20 Amp & SE Bigmouth Cab 18 Show Us Your Groove by Rick Cua Serving for the Long Haul (Part 1) 26 Selective Hearing by Shawn McLaughlin Leigh Nash Luke Brawner Eve Selis Geoff Moore Sara Groves
36 The Fretboard Less Traveled by Rich Severson 38 Ask Joe by Joe Riggio 44 The Genuine Art Tickle: Learning to Ask for Help by Bryan Duncan 46 Coda: Songwriting by Steve Rice Tips on Creative Lyric Writing
What’s Rattling Around In Your Brain?
I believe that the Lord gives us ideas all the time. Sometimes we catch them, but I’m sure I have missed some good ones because I simply wasn’t paying attention, or I was so into “my world” that I wasn’t thinking about His kingdom. Even small ideas can bear good fruit. Years ago I had the idea for a humorous t-shirt for musicians. The “Love One Woman… Many Guitars” t-shirt idea was in my head for three years before I took that crucial first step and printed some up. I took the shirts to one of our Christian Musician Summit conferences and surprisingly sold a boatload of them. This shirt idea has been a good seller for seven years now and has brought a lot of laughs, and actually a serious (albeit stealthy) message of fidelity in marriage. Another new shirt idea was borne recently. Brian Felix (our trusted Customer Service Manager) and I were at a classic rock themed pizza place for lunch (The Rock in Puyallup, WA). We were sitting down having some pizza and over the sound system came on the song “Aqualung”, by Jethro Tull (one of my favorite bands growing up). The guitar solo by Martin Barre in the middle of the tune would go on my “Top 10 Guitar Solos of All Time” list. I told Brian that I had taught myself the first half of that solo from some guitar notation I had. Oddly enough, now I couldn’t even remember much past the first few notes of it. I listened to the lead right up to the point where I used to know it through and then off the cuff I said out loud to Brian, “I’ve forgotten more guitar solos than I know how to play!” After it rolled off my lips I said to Brian, “Hey, that would make a good t-shirt!” I made a note to myself so I wouldn’t forget it. A few weeks later we printed up the new shirt idea and took 60 of them to our Summit in Seattle last November. My target audience for this shirt is a baby boomer guitarist. In fact, younger guitarists don’t quite get the humor as much but anyone in their 40’s, 50’s, or beyond usually responds favorably. We sold over 40 of them that weekend, and I was thrilled to see the smile on guitarist’ faces when they bought them. I am curious to see how this shirt does at our many events in 2012... from vintage guitar shows, to our Christian Musician Summit conferences, to the summer music festivals… this idea could have a good year… as long as I hang out with baby boomer guitarists (who actually are some of my favorite people.) Thank you Lord for ideas, and thanks again Lord for giving us the gumption to take the first step to bring those ideas into play. What’s rattling around your brain? Lord Bless Ya! Bruce & Judy
cover & story photos: Bruce DeBoer www.deboerworks.com
30 Product Reviews 41 Mark Kroos by Matt Kees Two Times the Guitarist Garaffice Gear: Great Tools by Roger Zimish for Improving Your Project Studio 34 The Indie Mechanics by Keith Mohr & Sue Mohr What’s Prayer Got to Do, Got to Do With It?
20 Will McFarlane Spirit Led Blues Power by Bruce Adolph
4227 S. Meridian, Suite C PMB #275, Puyallup Washington 98373 Phone: 253.445.1973 Fax: 253.655.5001 Email: [email protected]
Website: www.christianmusician.com Editor & President: Bruce Adolph Vice President: Judy Adolph, [email protected]
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Intro to Solo Bass Arranging (Part 9)
I hope each of you had a fantastic Christmas and I hope you’ve found this exploration of toward Option 2 (ending on the IV chord – see season! the harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic aspects bars 7 & 8)…but again, your call! :^) Due to the nature of timelines for print of a piece of music both illuminating and fun. Start slowly and work it up to tempo gradually, publications, I’m preparing this column in the Let’s look at the 2nd part of the chorus section ok? And as always, the “8va” indicates that the midst of Christmastime, so I apologize if this (think, “in excelsis Deo”). notes are played an octave higher than written. finds you oversaturated and ready to take a As I’ve mentioned in the past, don’t let the I hope you will use what we’ve covered break from the seasonal music! For the record, transcription intimidate you: writing out a through this series as a springboard and we began this exercise of building a solo bass performance accurately often makes it look a take a stab at working up your own solo arrangement many months ago, and our use bit scarier than it actually is! bass arrangement. It doesn’t have to be of the traditional Christmas tune, Angels We Just compare this transcription with the charts anything virtuosic. Just find the melody on Have Heard On High (Gloria) wasn’t intended your fretboard (ideally in a key that allows to coincide with the season…although, in from Parts 3 and 6 of this series, and you’ll find use of some of the open strings in your bass that we’re simply combining the melody and hindsight, that might have been cool! :^) chords we’ve gone over previously. The tied accompaniment), identify a practical way to Anyway, this is our final installment in the notes just reflect the fact that we’re plucking cover the root motion under that melody, series! Congratulations on making it this far, chords and arpeggiating some of the figures and if you’re up for it (YES, YOU ARE!!!), try to provide motion to throw in some chordal accompaniment as Bassic Communication and support for the you’re able. Again, whether or not you ever perform this stuff in public, this will pay big Intro to Solo Bass Arranging (Part 9) melody. dividends in your overall understanding of Intro to Solo Bass Arranging Note that that the first music. Chorus Section (Part 2) Arr. Norm Stockton "Angels We Have Heard on High" (Trad. Christmas Carol) staff (bars 1 & 2) are the 1st ending, so repeat A friendly word of caution: you just might 1. back to the first half discover at the end of the day that it’s also an Chordal Walk-Up of the chorus from last absolute BLAST! :^) E Ionian, F# Dorian, G# Phrygian, A Lydian G# Phrygian B Mixolydian issue, then play the 2nd Happy 2012 & hope to see you soon… "Roots" "5" "Root" E F#G#A G#B ending (bars 3 & 4). For the “overly observant” ( ha), you probably (Adapted from curriculum in the Grooving for noticed that there Heaven instructional DVDs) 13 14 16 18 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 14 16 18 19 18 18 18 18 16 16 16 16 14 16 18 19 18 18 18 18 14 14 14 14 wasn’t a start repeat sign at the beginning Norm Stockton is a of the chart last time; bassist/clinician/solo 2. I just didn’t want to artist based in Orange Chordal Walk-Up E Ionian, F# Dorian, G# Phrygian, A Lydian create confusion since County, CA. He spends "Roots" we weren’t covering lots of time touring and 3 E F#G#A the repeat. Feel free to recording with worship write one in now! artist Lincoln Brewster, 3 3 3 3 The only new element but his solo projects 13 13 13 14 14 14 16 16 16 18 18 18 14 14 14 16 16 16 18 18 18 19 19 19 14 14 14 16 16 18 18 19 19 is that I’ve given a (“Pondering the Sushi” couple of different and “Tea In The Typhoon”) have received options for the final widespread acclaim from around the world. G# Phrygian B Mixolydian chord. Give each a try Visit Norm at www.normstockton.com and "Root" "5" and pick the one you on Facebook & Twitter for much bass-related B G#Rit. 4 prefer. I generally like info and fun. While there, be sure to check the harmonic interest out his blog (The GrooveSpot) and register for resulting from not his e-newsletter (the groove update) for tips, 3 3 3 3 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 resolving on the tonic interviews, clinic invites, exclusive discount prices, 18 18 18 18 18 18 16 16 16 16 16 16 18 18 18 18 18 14 14 14 14 14 14 (the I chord – see bars and more. 5 & 6), so would lean © 2011 Stocktones Music 8 JAN/FEB 2012 CHRISTIANMUSICIAN.COM
Spreading the Word
“Players at my clinics and concerts are always floored by the tone, punch, clarity and headroom of my GK.”
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NORM’S UPCOMING CLINICS & APPEARANCES January 19-22: NAMM Show (Anaheim, CA) **Including booth performances with the Norm Stockton Trio** January 19: Lincoln Brewster, Night of Worship @ NAMM (Anaheim, CA) January 21: Solo Performance, MTD Benefit Concert (Anaheim, CA) January 27-28: Clinics, Break Forth Canada 2012 (Edmonton, AB) January 28: Concert with Doug Doppler and Zoro (Edmonton, AB) February 21: Clinic (Cincinnati, OH) March 22: Lincoln Brewster (Albany, NY) March 24: Lincoln Brewster (Fredericton, NB) May 11-12: Clinics & Performances, BassBreak Live (Baltimore, MD) June 16: Lincoln Brewster, Big Ticket Festival (Allegan, MI) June 17: Lincoln Brewster, Cal Expo Sacramento City Fest (Sacramento, CA) June 22: Lincoln Brewster, Spirit West Coast (Salinas, CA) June 23: Lincoln Brewster, Fishfest 2012 (Irvine, CA) Many additional dates pending; check www.normstockton.com for updated schedule.
POWER TO GROOVE
Wonderful, Merciful Savior
Wonderful, Merciful Savior (CM excerpt)
q = 100
Eric Wyse / Dawn Rogers
3 1 2 3 0 2
0 3 2 0 0 0 0 3 2 0
3 2 3 4 4 3 4 4
0 3 3 0 2 1
0 0 0 3 0 0
3 0 2 3 0 3 0 3 2 0 2 2
3 0 0 2 3 3
3 0 0 0 2 0
0 3 0 3 2 0 3 0
0 0 0 3 0 3
2 0 0
2 2 0 0 0 3
3 3 1 2 0 0 0
0 2 2
0 0 0
Some time back a local student requested that I TAB out a solo arrangement of “Wonderful, Merciful Savior”. I had actually never heard of the tune at the time, but he played it for me via his mp3 player. It turned out to be a lovely piece and I went to work charting it out. It took quite a bit of time as the arrangement developed and ended up being a 5-page chart! I liked the finished arrangement enough that I entered it into the computer and made a finished TAB version that I then put up for sale at my website, www.johnstandefer.com. The full 5-page chart (with performance notes and an audio track) sells for only $5.95. I think, though, that a lot of people are like me and aren’t familiar with the song. I thought I’d give you a section of it in this issue of CM to play with. This first verse is fairly easy to play and, although the rest of the arrangement gets a bit more involved, it’s really all pretty accessible and it makes a nice solo piece to play in church – or wherever. I hope you enjoy it. And remember, you can always get the rest of the piece at my website anytime. I hope your year 2012 will be a good one. Blessings to you... John
1 4 3
Arrangement Copyright © 2010 John Standefer Music
Have you seen John’s free ‘Praise Guitar Lessons’ online yet? Go to CCLI TV and start the weekly lessons today. And make sure to look over John’s calendar at www. praiseguitar.com to find an event near you where you can hear him live.
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Thomas Lang Shuffle
Here is a transcription I did for a student from a half-time shuffle played by Thomas Lang. The point of the transcription was to figure out a triplet fill that Lang plays towards the end of the video. The video can be found at http://youtu.be/ah4lUpsR3YI. The transcription starts at one minute and thirteen seconds. The triplet fill is pretty cool, so I wrote it out as an exercise in 6/8 and also as a three bar over the bar line exercise in 4/4. Right after that fill he does an inverted paradiddlediddle thing. I also wrote that out as an exercise. The confusing thing for me was the fact that he accents the 16th before down beats and ends the fill on the 16th before three. Maybe he meant to do this but it sounds like it might have been a mistake. If it was a mistake it was a cool one. My point with this is: sometimes a mistake can be an avenue to new and cool ideas. I discovered this while working with Thomas Dolby years back. What I thought was an obvious mistake, Thomas liked. He ended up making it a permanent part of the recording. Be open to hearing mistakes as possibilities for new ideas. I like the feel of accenting the 16th before the downbeat. It really gives a unique feel that I will try to develop and incorporate into my playing. I hope this inspires you to listen to things differently and with a fresh perspective. Blessings, David
David currently tours with Fernando Ortega and has worked with Sara Groves, Bebo Norman, Crystal Lewis, Cheri Keaggy, Tommy Walker, Paul Baloche among others. He has played for Billy and Franklin Graham Crusades, Harvest Crusades, Maranatha Worship Leader Workshops and for over 2 years he was the house drummer for the Los Angeles production of The Lion King. His home church is Plymouth Church in Whittier, California. www. DaveOwensDrums.com
3 3 3 3 3
http://youtu.be/ah4lUpsR3YI This groove starts @ 1:13 into the video
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
L R R L R L R R L R L R R L R L R R L R L R R L R L
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
R L R L R R L R L R R L R
3 3 3 3
L R R L L R L R R L L R
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Over-Singing: A Cosmic Phenomenon
Over-singing is a trend that is sweeping the musical world. Even if you are asking yourself what over-singing, is you will recognize it when you hear it. You have probably done some over-singing yourself at various times. A singer performing with this type of vocal production puts his voice in harm’s way, and presents a less-than-impressive performance. dynamic contrast. It is always loud with many high notes. Some singers that I have heard on the radio and television are actually fullon yelling. What’s with that? Loud singing can be done well, and has its place. But loud just to be loud does not create a great vocal performance. You do not want an overly loud or poorly produced note to be the last thing Many teachers of singing have agreed that an your audience hears. They will not buy your over-singing trend is here, and many singers album when they leave the concert. are afflicted with the phenomenon. You can #3 - Developing “ring” in the voice is what hear this type of singing anytime you turn it’s all about. on the television. With the proliferation of Contemporary singers know that their voice shows like American Idol, X-Factor, The Voice, must be bright, in the mask, and have “ring”. America’s Got Talent, Sunday’s Best, Sing-off, Some singers over use this and wind up and America Sings, singers are easily swayed singing out of tune. Avoid misuse of the voice in the direction of over-singing. Some have just to get it to ring. It is not the healthy thing even claimed that it was “their style”. As an to do. Keep in mind that the mood of the aside, a producer friend once told me that song dictates the vocal tone that is to be used. he called a singer out of the vocal booth to One would not sing a Good Friday text with a tell him that he was out of tune. The singer bright tone. The singer would save that for the responded by telling him not to worry about joy that is Resurrection Sunday. Remember to it, “that’s my style”. Needless to say, that guy do service to the mood and expression of the did not sell many albums. We can make music. It is about the emotion. an assumption that due to singers hearing over-singing, they are imitating this type of #4 - Loud voices always sound better. performance; thereby making it “their style”. This is the war cry of most high school singers and it only gets worse as they get older. What Over-singing can be the result of singing with improper technique, but that is not always the is wrong with a beautiful lyric sound? Most case. It can creep into your performance by people who sing, and sing well, do not have misjudging what sounds good to an audience. huge voices. A true “big” voice is fairly rare. Let us take a look at some improper thinking But they always seem to show up at contests . . .many times winning them. But poor, loud about over-singing. singing creates tonal distortion in the voice #1 - To sound my best I should sound like and adds noise from untunable harmonics. the most popular singer at the moment. There is only one way to say it: it just sounds The Almighty gave you a personal vocal bad. At your next singing competition, sound, and it is very distinctive. So if the beware of the loud screamer from Bugtussle. best singers don’t sound like each other, how They always win. would a singer pick one he wants to sound #5 - The louder the band plays, the louder like, and why? Yet it’s done every day. I have to sing. in an ENT’s examining room. Rather than out-singing the electronic wattage, why not consider a nice set of ear monitors and learn how to use them. Your voice will thank you, and your audience can remove you from the threshold of screaming and bring you back down to the world of fortissimo. To sum up these discussion points let’s take a look at what leads to an effective vocal and musical performance. - Always sing in tune. God gave us those notes in harmony. You do not have to reinvent this. Sing with a resonance that is balanced with evidence of both high and low frequencies. Free up your entire body to eliminate any unnecessary vocal tension. - Sing within yourself. Do not sing with your volume at one hundred percent. Bring it down to a manageable number. By the way, remember to use dynamics. Vary the use of loud and soft. - Do justice to the music. Sing with attention to the mood of the song. It’s the only way to really make music. It’s all about emotion and meaning. Now go sing well!
Roger Beale is one of the nation’s foremost vocal coaches. He presently works with professional singers in all areas of musical performance. His teaching and coaching facility, The Voice House, is involved in the management and care of the professional voice. Many of his students have won prestigious vocal competitions and scholarships. In addition, he has worked with Grammy and Dove award winners and nominees. He also offers vocal clinics and seminars, as well as assistance in recording sessions. Roger is an adjunct professor in the Fine Arts department at #2 - To impress an audience, sing really The response to this thinking should be Point University (formerly Atlanta Christian College), loud and blow the door off the hinges. obvious, but for too many singers it is not. I website: www.point.edu. In contemporary Christian music the have actually had more than one rock singer Roger can be contacted at: The Voice House, PO Box 87136, College Park, GA 30337, (404) 822-5097, ubiquitous “power ballad” has taken over. repeat those words in my teaching studio. e-mail: [email protected]
, web site: www. Power ballads rarely have a soft section or This approach will almost certainly place you thevoicehouse.com.
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PRS SE20 Amp & SE Bigmouth Cab
by Joe Riggio
About this time last year I reviewed the Paul Reed Smith Sweet 16 head. The famed company had just released their new line of USA-made amplifiers. This time the offering is the PRS SE20, from the latest SE series of imported amplifiers and cabinets. This line follows the successful line of PRS SE guitars and brings PRS into the world of imported, lower-priced amps, aimed at competing among the growing market of boutique amps. Features/Layout The SE20 is similar to the sweet 16 in that a pair of 6V6 tubes runs its power section. This continues to be a very popular choice in the current amp market. Other, higher-powered models from this line include 5881 and EL34 tubes, consecutively. top of the cab, made it quite easy to carry, for it worked equally for both. its size. Under The Hood Performance The most stand-out fact, worth mentioning I tested this amp with both a Strat and Les Paul model guitars and found that it responded very well to both, letting the unique voice of each guitar come through loud and clear. When I say “Loud” , I mean this thing is capable of playing comfortably at volumes rivaling much higher-powered amps. I would credit much of this to the fullness that the cabinet adds to the picture. Even at lower volumes the sound remains very full in the bottom end, much like a 4x12 cabinet.
The similarity stops there, as the front end of this model sports 2 channels; LEAD and CLEAN. Each channel contains independent TREBLE, MIDDLE and BASS controls, as well as VOLUME and MASTER VOLUME controls. A mini bright switch on each channel is also a plus. These independent controls, for each channel allow much greater versatility and tonal options from a single amplifier. Onboard REVERB is also included and is global to both The LEAD channel is ready to serve up channels, sharing a level control. much more saturated tones, even at lower Most of the desired use of tubes is present gain settings from the VOLUME control. as well. There are 3 12AX7 tubes for the The feeling here is like that of a hot-rodded preamp sections and 3 12AT7’s running the master volume amp with lots of over-thereverb, effects loop and phase inverter, which top saturation and thunderous is the last preamp tube in the chain feeding bottom end. I was a bit surprised to find the over all sound a bit signal to the power section. Also included with this package is a 2 button sizzly for my personal taste, but footswitch for remotely switching channels very reminiscent of American high gain amps. and defeating REVERB. First Impressions At first glance, this is a very beautifully clothed amp. The SE 2x12 “Bigmouth” cabinet (as PRS calls it) and the head are both covered in a robust rough pigskin-like tolex, giving the rig an upper-end look and feel. The chassis is aluminum, giving good strength while keeping the head lightweight and easy to carry. The cabinet is deeper than most 2x12 cabs I have seen on the market, more like the depth of a Another observation is that, even 4x12. This made me assume that it would be though the REVERB control is awkward to carry, however, to my surprise, shared between the 2 channels, I the heavy-duty rigid handle mounted on the found that, at any desired setting, 16 JAN/FEB 2012 CHRISTIANMUSICIAN.COM Thirdly, I revisited the CLEAN channel to experiment with it’s VOLUME vs MASTER VOL combinations and found a more British type of growl available there. I found this to be a more well rounded overdriven guitar voice than the LEAD channel, proving that the amp is definitely more than a one trick pony.
is that all of this amp’s pots, jacks and switches are chassis mounted. This is definitely a feature of higher-priced amps and is likely to insure less problems associated with many imported amps. This means that all of these components are mounted directly to the walls of the chassis, adding strength to these points that often are mounted to circuit boards inside and can commonly work themselves loose. Also noteworthy is that the feel of the rotation for each control knob is very smooth, My testing started with the CLEAN channel yet sturdy enough to stay put. and the Strat. I found very sweet American- Wrap It Up… style tones in this department. It was My over all impression of this amp is good immediately comfortable and responsive to the touch, as you would hope from a properly and it is backed by a 5 year warranty. The voiced tube amp. The tone controls are very tubes are even covered for 90 days and the active and capable of shaping a variety of speakers for a year. I would highly recommend choices. It was easy to dial up an inspiring and checking one out for yourself if you are in the market for a tube amp in this price range. familiar voice. http://www.prsguitars.com/se20/ PRS SE20 Amp MAP: $895 PRS SE Bigmouth Cab MAP: $379
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D’ADDArio & CompAny inC. i FArmingDAle ny 11735 i D’ADDArio AnD the plAyer’s ChoiCe Are trADemArks oF D’ADDArio & CompAny, inC. or its AFFiliAtes in the Us AnD/or other CoUntries. © 2011 D’ADDArio & CompAny, inC. All rights reserveD.
Serving for the Long Haul
by Rick Cua
The first time I spoke on this topic was after a call from EMI’s Jimi Williams, inviting me to teach at a Worship Together conference. Jimi thought this would be a good topic to cover. I was surprised to see that the classroom was filled with all ages, not just the older folks. From that day forward I have noticed not only the interest from seasoned saints, but also the interest that younger believers have in preparing for their future in ministry. Thanks, Jimi, for a great idea! After getting saved in 1977 I moved into ministry in 1981, and full-time ministry in 1983. In the years that followed, although energized because of my calling, I threatened to quit many times after being beat up, knocked down, misunderstood, and every thing else you could imagine. Fortunately a few things were working in my favor…destiny, because of a mighty God, my own God-given determination, and having a wife that never gave up, who was my coach and biggest cheerleader. Burnout is a huge problem in any career, but may be bigger yet when you are serving others in ministry. Let me be clear: The joy of doing what you are called to do can certainly give you a leg up, but without having your life in proper alignment you can wear yourself out far before the finish line. In Part 1 we will look at some foundational thoughts on serving for the long haul: 1) Know Who You Are In Christ We are God’s unique creation, made in His image, and one of a kind. We are accepted: John 1:12 says “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”. Acceptance doesn’t get any better than that. Accepted Children of God, you need to know that and dwell on it. We are secure - in Col 3:1-4 we read “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”. To be hidden in Christ is the highest form of security. Actually, it is beyond compare. 18 JAN/FEB 2012 We are significant: John 15:16 - “You did not 3) Do Your Ministry At A Sustainable choose me, but I chose you and appointed Pace you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit Related to your day-to-day activities; ask that will last—and so that whatever you ask yourselves these questions: in my name the Father will give you”. You are chosen and trusted. What could be better What do I need to give up? Is it time to simplify? Is my life in proper alignment? What than being affirmed by God? is proper alignment? Where do I need to “The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, slowdown? What changes need to be made the more your behavior will begin to reflect to give me more margin? your true identity!” (From Victory Over the God gave us a Sabbath rest so we could be Darkness, by Dr. Neil Anderson) with Him, hear His voice, and rest our bodies. Knowing who you are in Christ will help Sabbath means, “To catch one’s breath”. prepare you for a lifetime of service filled with joy, and devoid of burnout. If you Hurry kills everything from compassion to haven’t done so already, do a study on your creativity. Some of us are not only wired to identity in Christ. In God’s word there are work, we are addicted to it. Pray about this approximately 10 times more references of one and see if your life doesn’t get better. us being IN CHRIST than Christ being in us. 4) Make Time For Yourself Both are 100% true but it appears that the My wife Diana would always say, “If you emphasis is on us being in Him. are bringing your bass it’s not a vacation”. 2) Make Sure You Are Serving In The To stay fresh you need personal down time. Right Place Ask yourself what it is, aside from work, that Many times people get frustrated and worn you enjoy and make time for it. If you are out because they are serving in the wrong married, do things together that refresh you area. Here Are 5 valuable points from James both. What was the old saying…”All work and Ryle that will help you confirm what you were no play makes Jack a dull boy”? It’s true. Your life will be muted and possibly boring if you made for: don’t make time for yourself and time to be 1) Desire – Is this what you want to do? together with those you love. Try not to talk 2) Ability – Is this what can you do? about business or ministry exclusively, even 3) Opportunity – Are doors opening for if that topic of conversation comes easiest. If you don’t have a hobby or two, you may want you? to think about getting one. You will be more 4) Effectiveness – Do people receive what refreshed and ready to serve, not just today, you are doing and encourage you to do it but for the long haul! more? In the next issue we will look at 4 more 5) Durability – Are you so energized by what points that I believe are critical for continued you do that you could do it forever? effectiveness in ministry and life. This is a great test when things are difficult Not just a musical artist, Rick and do not seem to be working out the way knows the business of music you had hoped. Many times its just the normal as well. Besides being a music publisher, artist manager and challenges of ministry, but it truly could be booking agent, he founded you are trying to serve in an area that you and ran his own record label, were not made for. Be honest with yourself UCA Records, in the 1990s and think on the 5 points above related to which led to a position for where you are serving. You need to answer five and 1⁄2 years as Vice “yes” to all 5 points. Although you may desire President, Creative/Copyright to do something, you may not have the Development at EMI CMG in Nashville. There he ability, any opportunity, or effectiveness in managed a large songwriter roster and exponentially that particular area of service. And . . .trying grew revenue through film and TV licensing, song to do something you are not made for can promotion and print music development. He is currently on staff as the minister of Pastoral Care and wear you out!
Visitation at Grace Chapel in Franklin, TN.
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If you ever get a chance to meet Will McFarlane, you won’t soon forget him. A tall and slender man, very gregarious... with his southern drawl and stature you could easily mistake him for a confederate general from the civil war... if it wasn’t for the 1955 by Bruce Adolph Fender Telecaster hanging from his side and the Scottish kilt he wears. Will’s personality and heartfelt blues licks are both infectious. He is a zealous man after the heart of God who sees things differently than many in the mainstream church. Have I said enough to pique your interest yet? Ladies and gentleman, I’d like to introduce you to my friend... Will McFarlane.
Spirit Led Blues Power
Christian Musician Magazine: Give us a quick overview of how you began playing music originally, and then wound up playing in a bar that Bonnie Raitt happened to walk into that night. Will McFarlane: You know, I was just talking about this last night. We had a Muscle Shoals Music Association Christmas party and I was sharing the stage with Spooner Oldham and Russell Smith. We were talking afterwards and it turns out that a bunch of us were the children of military families. And we realized that we all broke the pattern of military service in our families. It wasn’t that we went out and found something deliberately different rather than join the military. . .it was that something found us! I realized that I was musical when I was very little, as a child. My stepmother began giving me music lessons, and I started taking voice lessons when I was 6 and being a part of little choral productions. But when I saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan show on Feb. 9th, 1964. . . . I had begged to stay up and watch T.V. on a school night . . . and I saw them that night and, as absurd as this sounds, I really thought, “that’s what I’m going to do!” I barely knew any guitarists, but I got a guitar and started playing in high school bands. I was in high school from 1966 to 1969, and if you ask me, that was one of the best times for music ever. The radio in those days wasn’t just for pop music. There were all kinds of music being played. There were The Young Rascals, and Motown, and Otis Redding; Cream had “Sunshine of Your Love” on the radio. There was Hendrix. I saw Zepplin in ’69; it was just an era of unbelievable music, most of which was totally over my head, but I was absolutely in love with it! So many players who could drive out the end of a song spontaneously--the standard was high. I went to the University of Denver in ’69 and was playing in clubs and coffeehouses and trying to write songs. Once I got a high enough number in the draft lottery that I figured I wasn’t going to Vietnam, I just basically dropped out
and started doing nothing but playing music. I played and lived with my band and had a pretty typical “pseudo-hippie” existence, practicing every day. And we were learning anything that we loved. It wasn’t like we were only into one kind of music. We played Buddy Holly, and then we’d learn a Merle Haggard song if we liked it. We played The Rolling Stones, and a lot of New Orleans soul and Memphis stuff. . . and I realized that I was really a rhythm guitar player at heart. I loved all of the grooves that really kept the band going. I never concentrated on any one style, I just learned a little bit about everything. And that set me up really well, for not just Bonnie Raitt’s band, but also for living in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, because the point down here is less about “virtuosity”, and more on “versatility”. So at that point in my life, after dropping out of college, I was just playing clubs and moving around and going where I thought the best club scenes were. I went from New York City, to upstate New York, down to D.C. for a while, and then we moved to Cambridge. And it was in Cambridge that Bonnie Raitt’s manager, Dick Waterman, started attending shows that I was playing. It turned out that Bonnie was looking to put a young band together that would travel with her, and Dick thought I might fit the bill, so he brought her to see me at Jack’s, a club that I was playing in. And it all just worked out. . . it worked out really well!
their sense of musicality and their touch. That was school! I was 22 when I started with Bonnie and I played with her until I was 28. CM: Tell us about the importance of “listening” in a band, because you talk about that in your workshops, too. WM: Music should be like a good conversation. Take this interview for example. If I only respond with answers that I’ve already been thinking about, or with some topic that I think I’m good at or know something about, it’s going to be a very stilted conversation. And it’s the same musically: If you’re just thinking about what you know and how you can cram it into the situation, it’s not going to be nearly as musical as it could be if you prepare to be spontaneous. Musically, conversationally, spiritually . . . if you’ve got a reservoir of musicality and concepts to put into your music, then when someone says something, or plays something, then it triggers something in you, and you play out your part of the conversation.
I think that good players are good listeners. They are always listening to the musical conversation. If there are 5 people on stage, there’s a lot going on! And that’s why I’ve developed that rhythm-lead style where much of what I’m doing is never more than 2 notes at a time. Because there’s a piano with 2 hands going on, bass and drums--all sorts of holes being filled. And you’re always trying to find, CM: And then from there, 6 years with Bonnie “Where’s my place in this conversation?” and Raitt, you had the chance to share the stage with trying to be able to add and float through that some Blues greats. Tell us about that. in a lyrical way. WM: Well, Bonnie’s musical integrity is off the CM: Was it during that time with Bonnie that chart, and the people that opened for us, or that you sensed a need for something larger in your we opened for were just incredible. I mean, my life, something on the spiritual side? What was first tour we opened for Jackson Brown on the going on that led you to the Lord? Late for the Sky tour. The next tour we had folks opening for us like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy WM: Well honestly, Bruce, I was actually and Junior Wells, and Tom Waits. And not only incredibly fulfilled out there for a while. I would we see them play, but they would come couldn’t have been with a better bunch of guys. out and jam with us, or they would invite us out I loved the music, and I loved the people that I to finish a set with them. And you just end up was with. I married the girl of my dreams, and playing with, and standing right next to them, we had this whirlwind relationship. I married th and you don’t just hear it, you feel it. You feel Janet on the 27 day that I’d ever been in the
and it was driving a wedge between us, because now... she wouldn’t even get high with me! We seemed to have very little in common. I’d be gone for weeks at a time and come home and she’d want me to watch the kids while she went to church on Wednesday nights. And my attitude was like “Hey, whatever works for you baby.” I wasn’t into it at all, and really resisted it and even mocked it for years. We left Los Angeles in 1980. I’d met Jimmy Johnson, the rhythm guitar player for The Swampers, in a hotel in L.A. and he’d said, “Come on down to Muscle Shoals, and let’s do some demos!” So I flew down to Alabama and there I was in the studio with David Hood and Roger Hawkins. And I couldn’t believe how it felt! I mean, ever since I’d heard the Beatitudes album by the Staple Singers, I was a huge Muscle Shoals fan, and started realizing how much else they’d done. So I went back to L.A. and gave notice to everybody and just said, “I’m leaving for Alabama.” Half my friends thought I was committing career suicide. And about halfway across the Mojave desert, I came unhinged and thought, “What am I doing? I’m leaving L.A.??” I mean, I had just played on the “Urban Cowboy” soundtrack and was getting sessions. . . .but I just drove away. I got down to Muscle Shoals and had been there for about 6 weeks, and some of Janet’s new friends were trying to get me to go to church, but that was the last thing on earth that I wanted to do. But one day, just in frustration, after being witnessed to for the, who knows how many times, I actually got in my car and drove away and went out into the woods and said, “Okay... is there a God?” I was actually sort of railing at the sky. I had one of those thoughts like, “This is why they check people into padded cells. I’m out here in the woods trying to talk to God.” But I just knew, all of a sudden, that I was in His presence. I had said something like, “This is crazy! I’m out here talking to a God that I don’t believe in.” Suddenly, I just knew He was there, and that it wasn’t my intellect that I was dealing with at that point. I was having a confrontation with God in my soul. And I got down on my knees, all by myself in the woods, and I said, “Okay, I can’t walk out of here today as an honest man and say that this didn’t happen. So, I’m sorry, God. Let’s deal with it. Let’s start.” And that was the beginning! CM: Wow! That’s a great story! I love that!
Okay, now... fast forward for us a little bit because I’ve heard you talk about doing church in a bar now. You and Janet go back into the bars that you came out of and hold church. Tell us about that. WM: I’ve been very committed to the local church body for 31 years, and honestly, I’ve become relatively disillusioned with the package that it comes in. I mean, I can’t picture the Lord in at least half of our corporate church environments... it’s just very difficult for me to. And I started feeling like 90% of the time on a Sunday morning, you play “not to offend”, rather than to take ground and never give it back. I realized that if I ever played outside the church walls in a professional environment the same way that I played every Sunday for church, I’d be fired from that gig and never asked back. I just got tired of serving the most creative Being in the universe, but playing some of the most predictable, plagiarized music . . . song after song, I, V, VI minor, IV. . . .you know, song after song. I wrote a lot of my own stuff, and I went through prophetic times when I thought I had something to add. But in general, it was just incredibly boring. It just started getting to where the event [a church service] was more important than the actual presence of the Lord. So, I just started going to Blues jams, I have a lot of dear friends who are musicians, and I just started to enjoy playing with them. And every now and then I’d pull out an old slidegospel song and I’d play it, and it would just absolutely galvanize the room! Afterwards, I’d be having conversations that were eminently more provocative and enjoyable than some of the safe, clichéd conversations that are common within the 4 walls of a church. Janet and I just started singing together out in the clubs and the bars, and women would come up to Janet after a set and ask, “How did you and Will keep it together for that long?” You know, here we are, still together after 35 years. And she would have a chance to share. We just really started to enjoy those nights. And there have been times that we have actually rented out a club and done a straight gospel night, and I’d pull out old-school gospel stuff. You know, we didn’t do anything really contemporary... well, it’s all just soulful, bluesbased stuff. And we play just like we would play if we were sitting in with Buddy Guy... we played strong and hard! CM: What kind of songs are you using? Tell us some tunes that you use in that situation that really work. WM: “Lay My Burden Down”, for one. And we do a version of Eric Bibb’s, “Don’t let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down”. Every now and then, I might even do, “Hallelujah, Thine the Glory,” “Motherless Child” and “Amazing Grace,” but real vibey and back in the pocket and bluesy. That kind of stuff. . . CM: Great... thanks! And as far as the prophetic
same room with her... I was introduced to her at a show by a mutual friend. We had 2 babies (boy/girl twins), a year after we were married, and I took a tour off to stay home and be a dad. And honestly, my heart was full. I think of the scripture “none seek after me, no not one.” I was definitely not seeking for any kind of spirituality. And then, when my twins were 3 months old, my kid brother was murdered. It was about a mile from my house in Cambridge. He was just hanging out with friends and they were helping a friend move out of her apartment. There were a bunch of tough kids on the streets around there that were claiming turf... you know, that kind of thing. Some words were exchanged, and they went around a corner and came back with a gun, and they just shot my brother in the chest 3 times. And then, it was just like CSI, I had to go and identify his body in the morgue. And it was surreal, you know? But something kind of clicked in my head at that point, and I actually sort of made a couple of decisions that I didn’t want to let anything ever hurt me like that again. I just kind of closed up and descended into myself. I went right back out on the road with Bonnie, and for the next 3 years I was really pretty self-destructive. I didn’t mean to be... but I was just compensating for the fact that I’d had a very severe loss. In the meantime, my wife was becoming very committed and devoted to God,
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voice and ministry, we always ask you to talk of it . . .the sense that all of a sudden one of the way right now. about that at our Christian Musician Summits, lines in the song is “meatier” and it’s “weightier” CM: I definitely see that! That was very well but tell us how that ties into what you’re doing. and you can feel the burden of it. said! Let’s switch gears a bit. Tell us about your WM: Well, You always hope that you are It’s interesting that Chenaniah, who was one guitars, amps, and pedals that you are using now. spiritually tracking in some way; that you might of the Davidic tabernacle music leaders; has a WM: I’ve tried to be a good steward with have something in “the now”. Not just good name that can imply burden bearing. It conveys some of my old stuff. My primary guitar when I information, or pulling out your index card of the idea that you would actually get out there was with Bonnie Raitt was an old, white, ’54 Strat, scripture references that you always use. But in front of people and sense this burden that and it’s still one of my main guitars; but lately, that you are there in a certain situation, and you stays on you until you dispel it and release it the Telecaster bug has hit me, and I’ve got my realize that there’s a “now” moment, and a word and realize, “That was it! God had a purpose! ’55 Tele in such good shape. A Telecaster really needs to be spoken. And you don’t know what That’s where the moment was!” I think a lot of requires you to touch it sweetly, or it will just it is. . but you just sing it! You just sing something musicians feel that, and if they’re not afforded hurt people, you know? (laughs) And so, I’m that comes in the moment. And for me, it’s the opportunity to move in that way, then they really into my Tele thing right now. I plug into usually very bluesy. It’s how I sort of wrote “The get really frustrated. a ’69, silver-face Fender Princeton that’s a freak! River is Rising.” I mean, how many times have I think the prophetic has been something I don’t know what it is, but all of my friends are we all read Ezekiel? Many jealous of my Princeton. times, I’m sure. And we all It’s just so toneful, I can know the passage about barely explain it to the river that flows out you. I’ve got a speaker from the throne of God. that maybe gives it a At first it’s ankle deep, little more headroom, then it’s knee deep, and but it’s been gone then it becomes a mighty through by Superfine river. And I just realized Ampworks in Raleigh, one night that I was in a and it’s just cherriedsituation where there was out. It’s one of the most an energy and a power toneful amps I have. in that place, and I just I also have a Carr started singing, “the river Rambler. I really enjoy is rising, and I can’t hold it Steve Carr’s stuff. Also, back no more.” And it just a matching silver-face became a very prophetic early ‘70’s Vibrolux. I moment for us. have a ’59, tweed, 4X10 Sometimes I play out, Bassman. I mean, all the and I can tell that what amps I have right now I’m playing is just a blues are about tone. I don’t song and there’s nothing have time to sit around prophetic in it. But you in my life without can tell when there’s good tone. I still believe that it all starts at your something in “the now”. I think that musicians that’s been held in check a lot. Every now and fingers, and you can basically communicate who are always tracking with certain things. It says then, certain traditions or groups of people will you are through anything that you plug into, but in Revelation 19:10 “Worship God! For the release it for seasons at a time, and it’s been sometimes the amp really, truly makes it easier. testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” It abused at times, too. Some people may think, So I play a ’55 Tele or a ’54 Strat most of the doesn’t just say that it will release something, “I’ve been doing that for 30 years.” Well, yeah, time, but I also have a very nice, mid-2000 classic or the gift will operate in that moment. It says I have too. We know that Jesus said, “The wind Les Paul that is a very toneful guitar. I tend to that the worship of God actually is the spirit of blows wherever it pleases. You hear it’s sound, like the Fender string length more, generally, just prophecy. It is vision causing. but you cannot tell where it comes from, or because I’m a rhythm player and I need that lowEven if I were to ask you right now about the where it is going. So it is with everyone born of volume “spank”, but I’ve really enjoyed my Les song, “My Girl”. When I say that song name to the Spirit.” ( John 3:8) But in the average, cookie- Paul lately, as well, and have done a ton of solo’s you, do you think of just the words to the song? cutter Sunday morning situation, I can tell you and overdubs with it. Those are my 3 primary Or do you picture where you were, and what that there’s going to be a fast song, and then guitars. kind of car you were sitting in when you first a 2 minute greeting, and then there’s going to My acoustic is a James Goodall concert model. heard that song on AM radio? It’s visionary! be another fast song, and then a medium song, It was a gift to me from Lenny LeBlanc, and it “My Girl” takes you to a certain place and time. and then we’re going to wait at the end of that honestly still takes my breath away every time It should be the same with the music that we medium song and we’re going to go into a slow I open the case. I can’t believe that it’s mine! play. If I’m playing something that has relevance song, and at the end of that slow song there’s At the risk of sounding downright unspiritual, I to it, it should feel like there’s a “now” moment going to be a video presentation that comes up outright coveted that guitar for about 7 years. to it and an improvisational sense that causes as the lights dim. In Nashville, I’ve had a few engineers, as soon you to want to take a solo. . . .and of course you I would say that we have a lot of liturgy. We as I come up in the headphones with the guitar, don’t take the same solo that you took the last have just canonized our preferences to say, walk back out in the room saying, “What is time! And it’s the same with the prophetic use “This is how it runs, and this is how we meet that? I’ve got your EQ flat, but that sound is just of music. I feel that what is lacking many times and worship.” I think there’s something musical glistening!” And all of a sudden they’re carefully in Sunday morning church, is that it becomes and prophetic that’s sitting there just waiting to positioning the mic, and getting all into it. And a “song service”. I feel that we’ve taken the explode right now, and a lot of musicians are Continued on page 32. “prophetic” out of it, and the sense of “now” out very frustrated because we’re not moving in that
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Hymns and Sacred Songs Leigh Nash Kingsway Music Alternating between an Americana/folk sound – represented by the two tracks that bookend the disc – and an eclectic, quirky brand of modern pop that features chimes, glockenspiel, and other left-of-center instrumental choices, Leigh Nash fulfills the expectation put forward by the pixieish, angelic album cover photo of her new (yet somewhat old as it has taken 5 years to complete) “Hymns and Sacred Songs” project. It is a collection that takes the texts of several classic hymns – modernized with fresh new melodies and arrangements – and merges them with more current takes on the hymn tradition. Nash’s voice is the real star here, conveying the weight and gravity of these ancient words with surprising warmth and accessibility. It helps to have smart, unobtrusive arrangements – courtesy of producer John Hartley and the wonderful musicianship of a band that features Delirious guitarist Stu G and Nashville bass stalwart Chris Donahue. Great classics like “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us”, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “Oh, Heart Bereaved and Lonely” sound just as modern as hymns like Stuart Townend and Keith Getty’s “Power of the Cross”, or Kate Gustafson’s “Isaiah 55”, and are awash with Nash’s charm and vocal grace, which explains why the project has such incredible continuity despite recalling influences as disparate as Civil Wars, Jenny and Tyler, The Weepies, Sufjan Stevens, and Katie Herzig. Tellingly, Nash tends toward the more somber, reflective contributions of hymn cannon, but still manages to shine a luminous light on the redemptive and restorative power of Christ. This is no mean feat, and is only one of several reasons to pick up Leigh Nash’s triumphant return to celluloid. Flannelgraph Sessions Luke Brawner Independent www.lukebrawner.bandcamp.com “Flannelgraph Sessions is a project intended to spark its listeners interest in Biblical study. I don’t mean ‘daily Bible reading’. I mean really digging in to the historical, cultural, geographic, and linguistic
26 JAN/FEB 2012 context of the Bible. Over the last couple of years I’ve become CONVINCED that none of us can presume to understand who Jesus was, or the things He said and did, without having an understanding of the world He lived in, the religious culture He and His audience were immersed in, the Scriptures He read, and the way that He interpreted them. As I’ve dug into those studies personally, and in order that I might continue to push myself to dig deeper, I started Flannelgraph Sessions” – Luke Brawner. Luke Brawner is a young man from Texas who leads a four-piece band called Poor Rich Folk. His music is a bracing blend of Americana, Bluegrass, and pop music that draws from the same well as Rich Mullins and Caedmon’s Call. Lyrically, he is clearly from a lineage that began with Mark Heard, and ran through Rich Mullins and Derek Webb. On The Flannelgraph Sessions Brawner seeks to do, with his words and music, what teachers seek to do with flannelgraph when telling bible stories: Give context to biblical passages to make them more real, or three dimensional, as it were, as he states in the above exerpt. So, Brawners rich, experiential lyrics are paired with Randy Holsapple’s (early Caedmon’s Call) classic B3 organ licks, as well as rich acoustic guitars, banjo and dulcimer, all in support of the sort of simple but immediate melodies that are representative of the traditional folk medium. As a result, we get to hear what David may have been thinking as he was struggling with temptation (“Make Love, Not War”); learn the significance of water in the Judaic culture (Living Water); understand the wavering faith of the Hebrew nation as they wandered in the desert (“A Rock in the Wilderness”); and experience the trauma that was man being kicked out of paradise (“Aching for Eden”). Webb makes a guest appearance on the album ending “The Land Between”, a bluegrass-fueled romp of celebration for Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. Brawner really deserves a lot of credit for making art, reflective of what he has learned, that focuses more on enriching the listener than shifting units. The Flannelgraph Sessions is 12 slices of bread for the soul that will nourish the listener, yet taste great going down. I can recommend few records more highly than this.
Family Tree Eve Selis Hippy Chick Twang Records http://www.eveselis.com/store/ I often sit and ponder the big questions in life: Why do we do what we don’t want to do?; Do we go to heaven right after we die, or does everyone “rest” for awhile and enter together?; How can Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson not feel guilty when people describe their performances as “acting?”; but by far the biggest mystery to me is why Eve Selis is not one of the biggest stars in the entertainment universe. I guess it isn’t a huge mystery...... quality art that asks hard questions, reflects honesty, and doesn’t pander to the audience is just not in high demand in this day and age. And that is a shame....Eve Selis is a highly decorated, but rarely listened to (outside of SanDiego) Americana artist, deeply versed in folk/country/blues traditions, who has been busting her behind for years, first with a short stint in the Christian market as part of “King’s Road” and then, in the independent scene as The Eve Selis Band, including long-time musical and writing partner, Marc Intravaia. She leaves behind her a trail of exemplary records that have helped cement her sterling reputation among the musical community. Her new disc, Family Tree, simply continues this tradition of excellence as Selis cooks up 14 sizzling tracks of authentic, hearty, American music. The biggest asset Selis has going for her is her voice...an absolute miracle of an instrument that has been memorably described as “honey/chipotle” denoting her ease singing both sensitive songwriter fare, as well as blistering roadhouse rock. Outside of the ridiculously awesome Ashley Cleveland, no other female voice around today even compares to Selis in her chosen genre. She also has built a stable of songwriting friends/ collaborators (Intravaia, Kim McLean, Calman Hart, Rich Wiley, Doug Crider) who know her talents well, and that makes for a catalog of very strong material. One of the big stories behind Family Tree is the recording process. Grammy winning producer, Steve Churchyard decided to record straight to 2-inch tape, eschewing the digital world for initial recording sessions before dumping the masters into ProTools on a Mac. This results in an amazingly current ambiance while simultaneously sounding like it was recorded a generation before.
Swampy, roadhouse rock & blues, slow country weepers, bluegrass tinged folk, midtempo country pop, and jangle rock all sound like empathetic branches of one root, while accompanying songs that, as Selis puts it, run the gamut of the human experience touching on the things – loss and love, sadness and joy, hardship and triumph, faith and family – that mean the most to her. As emphasized on her version of the classic children’s response to verbal abuse “Rubber and Glue” Selis places a particular emphasis on standing firm and retaining integrity in the face of trial and persecution. This optimistic view is echoed in the fiddle-laden, Western swing of “Bump on the Road” as well. My personal favorite cut is the jangle-rock sparkler, “65 Roses”, which is what some sufferers of Cystic Fibrosis call their condition. Using an arrangement that can reasonably be described as “Eve Selis and the Heartbreakers”, Selis manages to wring joy and encouragement from the victims of one of humanity’s most brutal diseases, using contrasting keys, driving percussion and a KILLER harmony arrangement to reinforce the optimism she draws from these kids. There really isn’t a dud on the project, although, the artist’s take on Leonard Cohen’s much covered “Hallelujah”, while one of the 3 or 4 best versions of the song I’ve heard, still seems a little out of place among the strong connectedness of the original material. But that is a microscopically tiny quibble when an album’s music and vision are this clear, creative, and artistically truthful. Those who, like me, have long been prey to Selis’ musical charms will absolutely love Family Tree. For those unfamiliar....well....what are you waiting for?
the inspiring statement of faith, “I Believe” which features this strong affirmation: “When the storm clouds roll over me / When I’m seized by uncertainty / When the odds are too great / When I bend from the weight / I believe, I believe, I believe.” From an artist who has experienced the career and personal ups and downs that Moore has, these words carry the ring of truth, and he sings them with a world weariness that underscores their authenticity. “Saying Grace” is a song that encourages the listener to live a life full of thanks, while “Loved” poignantly reminds us how nothing we can do will separate us from God’s love. “Overwhelming Love”, “Find Me in These Fields” and “The Long Way” occupy the middle of the album, and are more full-service productions with the latter,
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in particular, rocking harder than anything Moore has done in years. The two emotional centers of the album, however, are the folktinged, stripped back, “The Story of Love” and “The Wonder of Kindness”. The former is a truly moving track inspired by his family as Moore reflects on how effectively his life has expressed the story of Christ’s love and mercy, while the latter intimately portrays the importance of relationship and Christ’s ultimate model for how we treat each other. Staying true to the folk tradition that has been at the core of his music since the beginning (even with side trips into more youth oriented styles) Moore honestly portrays his faith, with all of his triumph and brokenness included, and gives his listeners an even greater reason to feel strongly connected with him.
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Saying Grace Geoff Moore Independent Hearing a REALLY solid album from 30 year CCM veteran Geoff Moore is not unlike finding that favorite t-shirt you thought was lost for the last few years. It may not be the sturdiest, or the best designed in your collection, but it just “fits” the best. Moore has never climbed to the top of the commercial or artistic heap over his years as a faith-based recording artist, but those who have been affected by his music are VERY connected to him. Saying Grace is an interesting collaborative effort between Moore and co-producers, Jeff Pardo and Don Chaffer (Waterdeep). The project was largely written around conversations the writers and band had about their lives, careers, families, and the benefits gained from each. And the thankfulness each had for those blessings became the central theme of the songs on the record. The disc opens with
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Invisible Empires Sara Groves Fair Trade Services After the clearly defined singer/ songwriter vibe of Groves’ last album, Fireflies and Songs, the artist decided to “pop it up” a little on her newest opus, Invisible Empires. To that end, she enlisted the help of a new (for her) collaborator - Producer Steve Hindalong, mastermind of the City on the Hill series, Co-author of “God of Wonders” and drummer/songwriter in legendary Christian alt-rockers, The Choir and The Lost Dogs. Having made a couple of more aggressive albums with Charlie Peacock, Groves is certainly no stranger to stepping away from her piano based, folk-pop M.O. The lovely thing about Invisible Empires is that it seems to hone in on, and even expand Groves’ strongest areas, while remaining true to her singer/songwriter aesthetic. Hindalong wisely allows Groves’ piano playing to drive the project, then fills in the musical beds with adroitly placed accents. The project’s first cut, “Miracle” begins with Groves’ own elegiac piano intro and voice. Groves and Hindalong then layer gently brushed acoustic, spare percussion, a sonorous cello, Hammond B3, and Tyler Burkum’s otherworldly guitar tones, as the song builds to a contained but powerful crescendo. One thing to note on Invisible Empires is the gorgeous tone Hindalong wrings from his guitar players. At
times warm, at others vibey and atmospheric, but always attuned to the mature, surprisingly Beatles (with hints of Carole King) informed pop sound that Groves so skillfully cultivates here. Lyrically, the artist draws inspiration from psalm 127, “Unless the Lord builds the house, then the builder builds in vain”, implying that the works we accomplish without God’s presence are just flotsam and jetsam when looked at with an eternal perspective. Groves centers in on modern technology as a huge distraction from living intentionally for God, especially on the delightful “Scientists in Japan”, written with reliable song-smith, Andy Gullahorn. Marrying wry, observational wit with quirky, yet insanely catchy pop music, the duo yields a true winner, and perhaps the funniest line a Christian pop song has produced in some time – While lamenting technology’s obsession with extending life beyond natural duration, Groves sings, “Robbing from Peter to save Paul’s life, cause dyin’ ain’t no way to die”. Elsewhere, “Precious Again” rides a luscious bed of backing vocals to “pop nirvana” and benefits from some wonderful arpeggio’d guitars and a classic rock groove. The Gospel informed, “Eyes on the Prize” references the civil rights movement and is inspired by Groves’ involvement with The International Justice Mission. Another favorite
is “Finite”, wherein Groves seems to answer Chaka Khan by stating from the get-go, “I’m not every woman, It’s not all in me.....I’m proud and guarded, when it comes to my needs”, progressing to the point where she laments the demands placed on today’s woman: “This frenetic fascination is really driving me insane. Does anybody feel that, anybody feel that?” This poignancy accompanies one of Groves’ trademark “moving bridges” characterized by an almost hymn-like traveling chord structure. Groves has long been a detailed observer of life’s tension, the struggle between light and dark, aka the things of God vs. the things of man. She has, again, delivered on that reputation with Invisible Empires, an organic, brilliantly conceived album that delves into the human side of relationships and the eternal search for significance that is best achieved by surrender and obedience to our maker. Don’t hesitate to pick this one up and don’t be surprised to see it right up there with Glen Campbell on several year-end “best album” lists.
Shawn McLaughlin is a hard working dedicated, tireless worshipper of Christ
A conference for musicians, lead worshipers, technicians, songwriters, indie artists, and creative types of all kinds to improve skill and inspire talent for God’s glory! REGISTER ONLINE www.ChristianMusicianSummit.com
Register before January 31, 2012 at the Super Early Bird Rate of $119 per person.
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Here’s the latest from the Garaffice studio (garage/ office). A few tid-bits about some gear I’m using...
great tools for improving your project studio by Matt Kees
class engineers who use Waves. They are great for beginner engineers who are still figuring out compression ratios and appropriate EQ settings in various applications. However, this is not to say that they are only for the inexperienced... many pros jump to these plug-ins when they’re looking for that ‘sound’ and they don’t have time for tweaking. I absolutely fell in love with 2 of the bundles, the Chris Lord-Alge (U2, Creed, Foo Fighters...) and the Tony Maserati collections (Black Eyed Peas, Beyoncé, John Legend, Jason Mraz...). Both the CLA Bass and the CLA Vocals are go-to plug-ins for me. The Maserati Group Processor (EQ/ Comp) is a must-have in just about all of my busses, as well as in mastering. And the Maserati Acoustic Guitar Designer does wonders for dull strings! The controls are simplified, yet powerful enough to give you the kind of results these great engineers get every time, drawing from their favorite Waves plug-ins. MSRP for each is $500, but they usually list around $375-$400. MICROPHONE TLM 102, Neumann The TLM 102, shown in the picture above, is a workhorse of a mic, and it’s perfect for a serious project studio. If you only have enough money for one great mic, get this one, and you’ll be surprised by what you get for the money! It’s a simple condenser mic with no switches, but it contains all of the superior quality that you’d expect from Neumann. It has a large-diaphragm cardiod capsule with a max SPL of 144dB. I use it on loud guitar amps, but also on the most critical sound sources like vocals and acoustic guitar. It has a slight boost above 6kHz that helps with vocal presence, and honestly, I rarely adjust EQ with this mic... maybe high pass filtering, but that’s about it. This gem sells for only $700. ~~~~~~ These are all great tools to help you get better results in the studio, but simply having great gear does not make one a great producer/engineer... Do like I do, and learn from those who are better than you and keep moving forward. As with any hobby or profession, there’s always more to learn!
REFERENCE MONITORS KH 120A nearfield monitors, Neumann Last November at our Christian Musician Summit conference, Kent Margraves from Sennheiser hooked me up with a pair of KH 120 active studio monitor speakers from Neumann. In 2010, Neumann assumed the product line from Klein + Hummel speakers. As you might expect from the industry’s leading transducer manufacturer, along with the incredible sound quality of K+H, these nearfield monitors are second to none in performance.
DIGITAL AUDIO WORKSTATION: StudioOne 2, PreSonus For a couple years now, I have been exclusively using PreSonus’ StudioOne software. Recently, they released version 2... Wow!
I’ve already converted a few ProTools users, and I’m on a mission to change the industry standard. StudioOne Version 2 is far and away the best DAW I’ve ever used. The workflow is intuitive and fast with drag & drop functionality that just makes total sense! And with improvements like integrated Melodyne pitch correction, transient detection & editing/quantization, and multi-track/ layered comping tools, StudioOne makes tracking and editing a breeze! Not to mention the audio quality with 64-bit processing (even on 32-bit At first listen, I was very impressed by the machines). frequency response from these small boxes. There I’ve always loved the built-in project mastering was no coloring in the spectrum. It was a very flat portion of StudioOne. Now, mastering requires skill and real reproduction of the sound source. As Kent Margraves warned me, “you’ll want to remix and a well set-up room and reference monitors... yet everything you’ve done, because you’ll hear things with the ‘Project’ side of StudioOne 2, it makes the in your mix that you never heard before!” It’s true. process of mastering attainable in a project studio. The highs are transparent and clear and the lows are Mixes are updated automatically, and you can prep your masters with Red Book CD burning standards, solid and punchy. and also create digital releases. Another thing I love about these little guys (5.25” StudioOne 2 comes with a plethora of great low frequency driver, and 1” high-frequency driver) is that you can adjust the acoustic response of the plug-ins, instruments & effects, as well. They are all speakers based on your own environment to get outfitted with some great presets to get you pointed the truest sound possible. There are switches on in the right direction. The pro version sells for $399, the back that enable you to adjust bass, lo-mid, and you can get a great audio interface like the and high EQ. So, if you’re speakers are up against PreSonus AudioBox 1818VSL for $499 (look for a a wall (like mine), you can reduce your bass by review of that soon).
-2.5dB, -5dB or -7.5dB. Or if you have a large desk AUDIO PLUG-INS between your sitting position and the speakers, you CL A and Tony M aserati can adjust those troublesome lo-mids. In the quick Signature Collections, Waves start documentation, it gives you some help on how Waves plug-ins are well-known to make good decisions here. for their high quality, and they The KH 120’s include a Mathematically Modeled are preferred by many top-notch producers and Dispersion (MMD) waveguide which helps create a engineers, including yours truly :) (not that I’m topvery large sweet spot for the listening position. Very notch, I just like ‘em). handy for a project studio. They are powered with I had an opportunity to audition Waves’ new 100W bi-amped for each driver and are shielded for Signature series bundles inspired by 4 great use next to your video monitors. They come with a engineers; Chris Lord-Alge, Jack Joseph Puig, Eddie low & high limiter to protect the speakers, very wise. Kramer, and Tony Maserati. Matt Kees, Director of CMS Productions, is a freeKH 120’s are the best sounding reference monitors The purpose behind these 4 collections was to lance producer, endorsed by Neumann/Sennheiser give engineers several ‘application specific’ plug-ins and PreSonus. Visit www.mattkees.com or I’ve ever used! They sell for $750 each. (e.g. vocals, guitar, bass, drums) inspired by world- www.producedbymattkees.com
Chris Tomlin and Collings Guitars
Chris Tomlin and his 1999 Collings OM 42 SB
Serious Guitars | www.CollingsGuitars.com | (1) -
Will McFarlane (cont. page 24)
all through the session he’ll be giving me the “thumbs-up” because my acoustic guitar tone is so awesome! My pedals... If I use a Wah-Wah, I go through a Buddha-Wah that I’ve had now for about 16 years. I do have an old Thomas Organ Cry-baby that is just so toneful, but I don’t take it on the road anymore. I didn’t pull the bottom off of it to put Velcro on it. I go then into a tuner. Planet Waves has been gracious enough to endorse me here in this last year and I thoroughly enjoy their stuff, so I use a Planet Waves tuner. And I go out of that into an FX Mirage, which is just one of the most transparent and delightful compressors out there. It doesn’t squash the sound and pump it like the DynaComp/Ross thing. For Telecasters, I like a little compression on the sound, and this just does it so cleanly. A lot of times, in the studio, an engineer will automatically compress an electric-guitar player so he doesn’t get spiked. And I’ll say, “Hey, are you compressing me? Because I’m already sending you a compressed signal.” And he’ll say, “Yeah? Let’s listen to it.” And 90% of the time they say, “Yeah! Let’s just go with that. It sounds great!” It’s just a little stomp-box called an FX Mirage. And then I go out of that into a Morning Glory. I’ve been using a JHS Morning Glory Discreet Overdrive. It took me awhile to get away from my Klon, because I’ve played a Klon Centaur now for about 15 years, and I love that pedal. But this little Morning Glory has just got that “Wind Cries Mary” kind of thing. It’s like I just turn up the Princeton 2 numbers and it just gets a little hairier, you know? On my main pedal-board, I still have a JHS modded Tube Screamer, which is way more transparent and a lot cleaner, with a little more gain. . . but still without getting too hairy. Then I go out of that, depending on how precise I have to be, into a little Dunlop MXR Carbon Copy delay for a little “slap”. They use some old school analog technology, so it’s not the perfect “digital” delay. . . it’s got a little play in the sound. I use just a little bit of delay with one “slap” on it in a dry room that needs the guitar to fill it out a bit. And that’s about it for my pedals. CM: At our Summits, you teach a class on guitar tone, and I know you really boil it down to being about your hands. But give us a little “in a nutshell” take-away for our readers about how to achieve the tone that they’re looking for. WM: A lot of people let their equipment dictate tone to them. They’re sort of stuck on the effects that they’re using. But my big thing is... listen to your fingers. Listen to who it is that you are. Listen to one note at a time. A lot of people go for speed before they go for touch. They just want to put the musical information
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out there as fast as they can. But that’s just like “math” at that point. It stops being music. I say, if you’re not giving weight to the notes you hit, if you’re not meaning them and touching each note sweetly, then don’t try to get faster than you have the ability to give every note the value that you want it to have. Muscle memory will lead to speed, but if you just try to get fast, without good touch, it’s very hard to go back. I really try to encourage young players to accept who they are right now. Like, if you only had one note left to play for the King... just one note to represent your life, how would you play that note? Would you snap off a staccato note and be done with it, or would you ring out this big soulful note with vibrato and sustain and tone that really conveys emotion and expression? Once you hear a sound coming from your guitar that makes you say, “That’s what I like!”, then give all the notes that value. Make your music valuable. Use your guitar to speak as if it means something to you and you’re not just giving your listeners information. CM: Thank you Will. One more question for you: You’re a music man, through-and-through. What thoughts and advice do you have for our Christian Musician readers out there? WM: I really want to encourage them to listen. I want to go back to that. The Christian music business... I almost hate to say this... but when you’re cruising down the highway and you’re channel surfing the radio, you can tell the second you hit a Christian radio station, because the sound has been homogenized. It’s almost as if, in trying to please everyone, we’re pleasing no-one. We don’t rock enough for rockers, we’re not country enough for country, we’re not soulful enough for the blues. We’ve sort of metastasized into a worship style. And to say that we serve the most creative Being in the Universe, and then to think that He just likes one style would be absurd. He didn’t just make red and blue. . . He made vermillion and indigo, and all sorts of subtleties of shade. I would encourage musicians to listen to the music that is in their souls to play. Start to train their hands and their ears to play what they hear. They should be able to sing along with any solo they take. Strive for individuality and for creating a unique voice as a player and an artist. No two of you out there have the same fingerprints. There’s no reason that you should sound exactly like anyone else. There’s no reason that you should let that delay pedal dictate your touch and your tone. Listen to who you are. You may be the “voice” that someone needs to hear, that’s going to come in a package that’s different than the sort of “homogenized” package that much of our Christian music is coming in now. Find out more and visit Will at www.WillMcFarlane.com
JOHN MARK McMILLAN
the Economy of Life
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What Matters Most?
Visual Sound Dual Tap Delay
NOV/DEC 2011 Volume 9, Issue 6
Eastman’s AC622CE Grand Auditorium Guitar
Mutemath • Glenn Kaiser • Needtobreathe Switchfoot • Matt Maher • Shaun Groves plus a special review of ‘Ghost on the Canvas’ by Glen Campbell
NOV/DEC 2011 Volume 16, Issue 6
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Your Vision Defined - Indie Mechanics
OneVerse by Jill Monaco
What’s Prayer Got To Do, Got To Do With It?
by Keith Mohr & Sue Mohr
PRAY. A LITTLE WORD. This little word transcends time. Prayer is an utterance both verbally and non-verbally that can take place in public or in private. It is something that most can give away for free, but something that has also cost others their freedom. It is the one thing that can bring comfort in good times and in not so good times. It can be screamed, whispered, sung, brought forth in anguish, in joy, confusion, or sorrow. It has caused wars, and prevented wars. There are prayers of petition, desperate pleas for help, offered thanksgiving, spoken formally and informally. It precedes a meal, opens a funeral, closes and opens numerous ceremonies. It is spoken for guidance and for help, to seek answers for unanswered questions, to confess something we did wrong, or to ask for forgiveness for sitting idly by. We use it to ask for ourselves, or intercede for other individuals, or to just plain talk out loud to God about everything and nothing, and the list goes on. We say, “I’m praying for you.” “Will you pray for me?” “You should pray more.” “Are you praying?” Football players pray before the game. Viewers pray while the game is in process. The list of what, who, when, why, how, and where to pray seems to have no limits!!!!! House hash browns) in it 24/7/365. Incoming name and her email address in that spot. Easy and outgoing? as pie. When we talk to artists who are not covered up and prayered up, we tell the FIGHTER PILOT story. You see, when a fighter pilot sees his target, he begins to circle around it. Making sure that his air speed is noted, that the distance the bomb has to travel is accurate, and I am sure many other minutia to insure he has the right trajectory for a direct hit. While this pilot is considering all of this, here comes the enemy, trying to shoot him down and take him out so that his plan of action cannot take place. What can thwart the enemy? Having a plan of action in advance of the plan of action. You still there? Ok, so if you are Waffle Housed in prayer, it means that you have lots of fighter pilots next to you, keeping you safe and allowing you to concentrate on the task at hand. They are shooting at your enemy, and covering your position. That’s what prayer can do for a musicanary, like you. It keeps you aligned. It keeps you zeroed in on the target. It keeps you alive. THE PRAYER GRID Many years ago, the importance of prayer covering came to light when we were in ‘the field’. This idea came from the concept of a football poll (go figure), but instead of the teams on the horizontal and vertical, there were the months of the year on the top and the days of the month on the side. With vertical and horizontal lines placed on it, there were 365 squares. What makes this Prayer Grid so awesome, though, is that on that day, Aunt June will receive an email from you to remind her of her commitment to lift you up in prayer. You, in turn, will let Aunt June know that you are praying for her that day also. Whoa! You fill that sucker up and you just moved your prayer life up to 365 days a year and you are being covered and smothered every day! A win-win for sure. Can you even imagine what is going to happen in your ministry with this kind of fighter pilot covering? Get READY! So what does Prayer have to do, have to do with it! EVERYTHING! Neglect your prayer life, and you open yourself up to the enemy who will have a direct line of sight and aim his weapons right at you. Those weapons are deadly; they have names like, rejection, bitterness, impatience, pride, envy, anger, and quite a few more. Remember the TV Show, Star Trek? Shields Up! But that’s for another article! Creatively His, Keith and Sue Mohr “The Indie Mechanics” www.indiemechanics.com
Whew! For such a little word, just four letters, people, believers and unbelievers alike, sure use it a lot in their everyday verbiage. So, you are asking, what does Prayer have to do with me as a Christian independent musician/ This PRAYER GRID had taken on a life of songwriter? The answer: EVERYTHING. it’s own. You may not know people who will support your career, but I’m sure you know tons who will pray for you, friends and THE FIGHTER PILOT IN YOU. strangers alike. All you are asking them to do In worship music, song is prayer and prayer is to fill up one little, tiny square. Committing is song! Many lyrics and melodies have been to pray for you one day a year. It doesn’t composed from moments that were spent have to be the whole day, not even a whole deep in prayer. So if prayer is so important minute, just a lift-up of your ministry, of you and so powerful, shouldn’t you be smothered, as a musicianary. So let’s say that Aunt June covered, chunked, and diced (thanks Waffle agrees to pray for you on June 3. You put her 34 JAN/FEB 2012 CHRISTIANMUSICIAN.COM
Keith and Sue Mohr have years of experience serving independent Christian artists, musicians and songwriters. Keith founded www. indieheaven.com in 2002, the leading portal for Christian independent music. Sue Ross-Mohr founded www.theinnervizion.com in 2003, a creative promotions /marketing/ consulting service to individuals and companies worldwide.
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The last couple of issues we’ve been working on minor7b5 chords. We explored how they are also a Dominant 9ths and minor 6ths chords. And we learned how to alter them to make a diminished chord. We then played 2 5 1 progressions in minor keys. Now lets have some fun. I want to show how powerful a minor7b5 can be when played as an arpeggio and used in blues riffs. Bruce Adolph also asked me to show some blues licks so I thought what a great opportunity to do both! The following licks can be played over any G7 which also means G9, G13, and G7#9, and sound best over a medium tempo blues shuffle. By focusing on the arpeggios of Gm7b5 and Em7b5 you can create some unique sounds and expand your blues vocabulary. If you would add some more hot blues licks to your repertoire, downloads are available at www.99centguitarlessons.com and they’re also available on DVD at www.guitarcollege.com.
Rich Severson offers over 600 affordable, download video guitar lessons available at www.99centGuitarLessons.com. All levels, many styles, most featuring fretboard close ups, demonstrated slowly by measure and with PDFs in tab and notation, only 99¢ to $4.99.
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by Joe Riggio
The action on my Dad’s old Martin guitar is very high. Someone told me that it doesn’t have a truss rod, so I would have to have the neck re-set to lower the action. Is this true, and will it decrease the value of the guitar?
with an adjustable truss rod, I’ll explain the difference. These two different processes are manipulating two different parts of the puzzle that affect the set-up of a guitar, and therefore, the action. Both corrections can lower the action, but by slightly different angles. The truss rod adjustment must come first, in order to know whether or not the reset is the solution. This affects the curvature of the neck as it’s being pulled (or bowed) by the string tension. Usually this curve is centered somewhere near the halfway point between the nut and where the neck joins the body. On a typical Martin, or similar dreadnaught guitar, where the neck joins the body at the 14th fret, the string tension will cause a bow near the 7th fret, if the truss rod is not properly tensioned to compensate. If the truss rod is properly adjusted, so that the neck is not too far forward-bowed, or back-bowed, and the action is still too high to play easily, a neck re-set is probably the solution. This is also assuming that all other elements of a set-up are in place; bridge saddle height, nut slot depth, etc. A neck reset is correcting the neck angle of the guitar. This is the angle that the neck joins at the
body. If the angle has become too shallow (think of it as a hinge), the action will become too high. This repair involves removing the neck from the guitar and re-fitting it back in, at an increased angle to restore playability. After a neck re-set is performed, it is common for the nut and/or saddle to be in need of replacement as well. These have usually been filed down in an effort to lower the action and will now be too low for the newly restored neck angle. If these are done correctly, the value of the instrument will not be decreased. It is the opinion of most players and collectors that the instrument be corrected to be playable, rather than not.
I have heard this question countless times from owners of vintage guitars that have not been maintained for awhile. The notion that old Martin guitars don’t have truss rods is a bit of a half-truth. After 1934 and before 1986, Martin guitars did not have “adjustable” truss rods. They had truss rods, for sure, but they were a one-piece design and could not be adjusted to manipulate action. It is very common for these guitars to be in need of a neck re-set to make it a playable instrument. So, how do you know if you need a truss rod adjustment or a neck re-set to lower your action? Assuming you have a guitar JAN/FEB 2012
Joe Riggio is a professional guitar repairman/technician and recording engineer, based in Tacoma, WA. He owns and operates “Service Guitar Repair” and “House Of Sound Recording Studio” He has a deep love and knowledge of vintage guitars, as well as modern and loves to share his passion with others. He can be contacted at [email protected]
, website: www.ServiceGuitarRepair.com
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Two Times the Guitarist
by Roger Zimish
Mark Kroos plays two guitar necks at the same time. His primarily instrumental style is characterized by open harmonics, polyphonic textures, incredible tapping technique, and is as entertaining to watch as it is to listen to. Drawing influence from folk, Celtic, indie, and even punk rock, as well as great guitarists such as Michael Hedges, Phil Keaggy, and Tommy Emmanuel, Mark has developed his own edge to the acoustic guitar. Mark released his debut CD “And Grace Will Lead You Home” in January 2010 to rave reviews. Roger Z: Mark, for the past few years you have been making a living as a solo guitarist. How did that come about? Mark Kroos: Yes it’s kinda funny, it really is, making a living by playing guitar. It’s all through the live shows . . .actually, that is my income. Maybe it hasn’t been the smartest way of doing it, but it’s how I did it and it’s working out for me. What I did was, in May 2010 I was living in Williamsburg, Virginia and had recently released my CD. I had been playing guitar at Bush Gardens Williamsburg theme park the year before (It wasn’t the style I’m playing now). I was dressing up as a cowboy and playing pop and country music every day. It was the best job ever! It was so much fun, and an easy job. When my contract ended I was pretty much unemployed, or what you might call an “original musician”. That year I gave up my apartment and just hit the road to “tour full time”, but really the only thing that made it touring was, I didn’t have an apartment to go back to between the 2 gigs I had booked every week. Not glamorous gigs . . .I mean, like, bar gigs or coffee shops that would let me put out a tip jar. Also, every Sunday I made sure I had a church to play at. I would play a few tunes in the morning services and put my CD’s out for donations. It was really cool in those first three months of touring to see how much God really looked out for me. On my nights off I would find an open mic in any city that I was in. I would go in and play a few tunes, and it was great for meeting people because I had this awesome icebreaker, because no one goes into an open mic and does that. I handed out business cards and got people on my mailing list and I found a lot of places to stay that way. I had never made a big leap like that before in my life, and it was so cool to see how much God really does care about you and how much he looks out for you in situations like that. It started picking up after three months. I started doing
church concerts and working the college fine- have a guitar that has a really awesome acoustic sound with a big body, but if it were any thicker arts circuit and doing clinics. RZ: You won the 2011 Guitar Player Magazine I wouldn’t be able to get my arm around it. It’s a “International Guitar Superstar Competition”. very thin body, so I rely on the electric pluggedCongratulations! How did that come about and in sound of it. how has it helped your career?
RZ: What pickup and preamp are you using in the guitar? Mark: That competition is open to anybody. I uploaded my video and they invited 5 guitarists Mark: I have the stock OP24 Plus in there. In to come to Nashville. They were kind enough to my opinion Ovation does the best job in the pay for our flights and put us up in a hotel. They industry on transducer pickups and on-board really took care of us, and then we all duked it preamps. I’ll run the guitar (especially in the out during the NAMM Show. I would encourage studio) through an L.R. Baggs Para DI. The guitar any guitar player to do it, with this or any other has the stock single output on it, but I’ve done kind of competition. They can launch your a modification on the guitar myself; I added career forward so much. I’ve had a lot of good a switch that takes the two signals from the things come out of this competition, but I’d also different necks, and instead of routing it to the say, don’t count on the competitions to make preamp it routs them to two separate passive the world come to you, you still have to go out outputs. Then I run each of the passive outputs there and find the people. I’ve been incredibly to a different Para DI preamp to boost the signal. It works really well for recording because I’m blessed with my career. RZ: Tell me about the Ovation double neck able to multi-track the two different necks just like I were playing two different guitars. I haven’t guitar you play. been able to do that live yet because of phasing Mark: It’s a very affordable guitar. That guitar issues I’ve had. is not custom made for me, or anything; that is a standard instrument. As you know, as a guitar RZ: I noticed your strap location . . .you have it player it’s supposed to be a 12 string on top and tied to the headstock. Does that give you more a 6 string on the bottom. That’s how it’s designed versatility as far as moving and tapping like that? to be strung, but I have it set up both as 6 string Mark: Yeah, it really does. I do that with the guitar necks. I’ve done my own adjustment on single neck and the double neck. With Ovation it to get the action where I want it . . .nice and they do put a strap button on their guitars by the low. And seriously, I couldn’t ask for a guitar that heel. I tried that when I first got the guitar, but works better for what I want to do with it than with 18 tuners on the head stock it was so heavy so the head stock would be weighed down and that guitar . . .it is absolutely phenomenal. RZ: Is that the thinner body Ovation? It doesn’t I’d have to hold up the neck and I didn’t like that, so I connected it at the head stock instead and have the big round back on it. it works well for me. It positions the guitar total Mark: It is like a thick thin body Ovation differently. The way I do it, and the way my body honestly. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to rests with it, my torso is aligned with the heel of
the guitar, so it does become a different playing do. I use primarily DADGAD, or open D tuning DADF#AD. They’re almost the same thing. In position; but it’s what I like. RZ: Did you take off the 6 tuners that you some tunes I’ll take the low A and tune it down to a G so I can have a 1 in the bass and then the aren’t using on the 12-string neck? 4 in the bass if I want. I play a lot in the key of Mark: Yeah, I recommend it because they will D. I will use capos to change to different keys. rattle when you are playing. Now that’s not going The reason I don’t stray too much from those be a problem for live performance. I mean, my tunings is because when you have 2 necks live performances are very far from a fine arts sharing one top, if one thing happens on one concert where it’s me sitting on a stool. It’s not neck, then something happens on the other a regular acoustic guitar performance... I’m neck. You normally think about the neck flexing jumping around and yelling while I’m playing, so on your guitar when you go to other tunings, they don’t bother me; but for studio recording but you usually don’t think about the top of they will have a lot of sympathetic resonance so the guitar flexing; so when you have the 2 necks I think it’s important to take them off. sharing one top, the top flexes as well. If I go to RZ: That gives you more room for your capos something that’s much different from DADGAD tuning it kind of goes crazy, and I don’t want to too. deal with that at a live show. Mark: Yeah, I need a place to put them. I need one for each neck, so having that extra RZ: Do you ever tune the top neck different space is nice to put my capos up there. I’m from the bottom neck? getting into using a bunch of different capos. I’ll Mark: I have one tune where the top neck take the Kyser Capos and cut them to suit my is in open D tuning and the bottom neck is in preferences. Right now in concert I use their DGDGAD. It’s best to keep the 2 necks in the regular capos and the Kyser Short Cut capos. I same key. People sometimes don’t take into love those! I’ve just gotten into the Spider Capo. account the importance of the open strings It’s cool because you can make your own capo when you are playing on 2 different necks at right there on the spot. the same time. You’ll see some guys that do it on electric guitars, but they will use something RZ: What type of strings do you use? to mute the open strings; but that is a totally Mark: I’m D’Addario all the way. I use their ESP different animal than the acoustic guitar. On the Phosphor Bronze on my double neck and on my acoustic, you want to use the open strings. If you single neck because of the big body. I prefer the don’t, it’s not going to fill up like a symphony. 80/20 Bronze strings because I like an incredibly You want it to sound like as big of an instrument bright sound. as possible, so using those open strings is really important. RZ: Do you use any alternate tunings? Mark: I don’t use as many different tunings RZ: With your style you play a lot of hammeras a lot of different people who play this style ons and pull-offs. Is there anything you do to
keep your hands in shape, or to warm up before a gig, and would offer as advice to other guitar players? Mark: I take my hardest tune, it’s called, “Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft” and it’s brutally difficult. I’m doing two totally different things at the same time . . .very fast! And all I do to warm up is play that. I used to do finger exercises all the time, so I’ve already benefited from them so I don’t do that anymore. I’m so busy with music business stuff and playing gigs and driving now that when I have time to play guitar, I want to play guitar! I want to play music and compose. The way I get better at guitar is to write something that I can’t play, and then I learn how to play it! I tell people to do a similar thing if they feel like they’ve hit a plateau on guitar. All you have to do is go learn somebody else’s songs. That will do it. I mean, every time you learn a song you are going to get better. RZ: What would you like to see next for your career? Mark: The number one thing I think I’ve been lacking in my career is to work with other people. It’s hard for me to open for solo acts in a lot of cases, especially guitarists. Sometimes there’s a vibe of competition, but as a solo act I love the idea of opening for a band. I think that it’s two completely different things. I feel that Third Day or Chris Tomlin’s crowd would absolutely love it. We’ll just have to see what happens. Marks rendition of Amazing Grace uses his twohand technique, producing Harp Harmonics and moving bass and melody lines. Notice his tuning DADF#AD. The tab takes you through the first verse. Give it a try. You can find Mark’s video, and the rest of the tab for the song online at www.markkroos.com.
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Learning to Ask for Help
by Bryan Duncan
Of all the things I’ve hated in life, being needy is at the top of my list. I’m discovering that asking for help is a necessity. No one in life is successful all by themselves. But the art of asking for help is rarely worked on at the level of all things career driven. Like music, it takes more than one “Rehearsal”. I even have to ask people to help me ask people for help. Yes, it’s called promotion and marketing in some circles. Those are really glorified labels for a sometimes humbling position of facing true neediness. Granted, Rock Stars in the past seemed incredibly oblivious to the facts of what other people were doing to help them. In our case however, Thank God for Christ! He has no problem speaking to us about our problem. But neediness is not weakness! In fact, that subtlety in our mis-definition can corrupt all of our best intentions. We all know that an image of success actually perpetuates it. Nobody wants to be a part of a giant failure. Here again, you might have “Image of success” poorly defined as pretentious. For our sakes similar direction. It’s called synergy! let’s call it “projecting our faith”. By this writing I will have finished a month Faith is acting on things unseen as of yet, long campaign to raise an album budget is it not? But it doesn’t negate the one true on www.kickstarter.com it’s one of several place we must all acknowledge first. We won’t facilitators of the Arts and Ideas funding make it without a lot of help. In order for that now in place that you should look into. I’m to happen, you must prove yourself to be learning to set deadlines. My campaign will reliable and downright determined to follow be successful, even if the money goal were through on your plans, even if no one were to not to be reached, because it comes with a join you except God almighty. Showing up on deadline to work towards. It lights a fire in me time is a simple start; by the way, of proving to do work in the same direction every day. you are committed to your passion. Honoring I’m seeing that because I am already moving, your word is also preparation for asking there is a willingness in others to engage in the others to trust you and your work. same vision. Don’t kid yourself into believing that what you do every day isn’t being noticed by the very people who will be first to contribute to your efforts. The one thing that got my first recording contract with a major record label was simply the number of concerts I was already doing. You have to show reasonable potential for benefit. “Win/Win” is the moniker tagged to this concept these days. It was always presented to others for me in my early career. In this new world, I’ve had to learn the art of explanation of the “Art Form” in order to perform at all. The first time I ever said “I need your money to help me” was on camera and I nearly choked on it. I had visions of devious T.V. preachers in my head. Now I’m learning to know who you are, what you believe, and why you think you are worth the “investment”. And be aware of what others are working at accomplishing. Know how they might benefit from your assistance in a I’m learning to understand that “downtime” is really time for preparation. Before my campaign started over a month ago, came an everyday commitment I made to create dialog in social media, making contacts with people who resonated with my music and convictions. The last four years have been the development of communicating my desires, helping me learn to speak of my convictions in ways others understand. Looking back, I can see where I would take off on a dream to the exclusion of everyone. I hadn’t communicated about the reason I was writing this particular music and these particular lyrics. It was irritating to this impatient soul to take the time to give reasons for my pursuits. I had that “you should know already” and “if I have to explain it, you wouldn’t get it anyway” kind of mentality. Bottom line: that attitude can be filed under “Self Involved”. After many bewildering endings to my pursuits, I’m learning to see people above an objective. I see my efforts in ministry now as a way of engaging life generally with many of my friends. The relationships we’ve built together are richer than any single goal we’ve ever attempted. Seeing real people is a key to asking for real help. And having a genuine desire to help others will go a long way in understanding why any of us would be willing to give.
Bryan Duncan... CCM artist for thirty years. With the Sweet Comfort Band, then solo and now with the Nehosoul band. Owner of Red Road Records and Host of Radio Rehab at www.radiorehab.com inducted into the Christian music Hall of Fame in 2007.
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Working with songwriters over many years, I’ve noticed that developing writers (and even some professionals) are often more concerned with the music component of their song, than with the lyric. Their lyric takes the back seat all too often, getting little creative attention in the songwriting process. This is unfortunate, because if we study the great songs of all time, we find that it is usually a well developed lyric that truly puts a song over the top. There are thousands of talented musicians in the commercial music space today who can deliver tremendous melodic hooks and powerful tracks. However, those writers who work to hone their lyric writing skills set themselves apart from the rest. In fact, in the professional world, it’s often the accomplished lyric writers that are sought after the most for co-writes with top artists. THREE TIPS THAT CAN HELP BUILD A STRONGER LYRIC: NATURAL FLOW It is always best to write your lyrics in a conversational style. Unless the lyric flows like normal dialog, it can be cumbersome to sing and often difficult for the listener to understand. As a songwriter, you want your lyric to be easily singable, and therefore it must flow naturally. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t be poetic. But don’t confuse “poetic” with “backwards phrasing”. As Yoda once said, ““Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” Please don’t write this way. Today, we’re naming and banishing “Yoda speak” from our lyrics! Write, “I love you”, not “Love you, I”. You laugh, but I’ve see it ... too many times. Honestly, one of the most common errors that I’ve seen amateur songwriters make is to write their lyrics in awkward, backward phrasing and call it (or defend it as) creative. This is a dead give-away that the lyricist is an amateur and has not studied or practiced proven poetic devices. We do find that some of our favorite hymns are worded in a backwards sort of way. But the copyright dates reveal these hymns to have been composed 100, even 200 years ago! The language of our culture changes with each and every generation, and although we may enjoy many of the old hymns today, we often don’t even understand them. Work on writing songs for today’s culture that are not a stretch to understand, and that people will love to sing. ALLITERATION This poetic device has been a long standing favorite among professional songwriters. In its simplest definition, alliteration is the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of each word in a series. Most often, it is the first letter of the word, but it could also be within the first syllable of each word. One of the most popular examples of this might be, “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers”. This is an alliterative phrase. Alliteration is used often in songwriting and poetry, but is also seen many other places, such as in store titles and brand names. Repetition, whether lyrical or musical, is an extremely important component in songwriting, because it can create hooks that make your song enjoyable to sing and easy for listeners to remember. Alliteration is just one of many devices used to create repetition in a song lyric. Here are a few other examples: “test of time”, “coast to coast”, “the green, green, grass of home”. Try using alliteration in your next song lyric. Or go back to an old lyric and try rewriting it to include this type of repetition. Maybe you’ll find it helps make your song more singable, or creates a more memorable hook. ASSONANCE Another favored poetic device used today by professional writers is Assonance. Assonance links words by means of echoed vowels in which the end consonants differ but the accented vowels agree. Assonance is a type of “near rhyme” and is quite common in pop music. “Perfect Rhyme” however, is much less common in popular music today. Assonance may also be called “Slant” or “Oblique Rhyme” by some. Listen to a few songs and you’ll notice that slants such as these are often used to replace “perfect rhyme”: night/strike, meet/seen, slam/ hand, trade/waste. Here are some other examples where
Tips on Creative Lyric Writing
by Steve Rice
assonance is used within the line itself (internal rhyme): “I’ve never seen so many Dominican women with cinnamon tans” - Will Smith, Miami “The crumbling thunder of seas” - Robert Louis Stevenson “And murmuring of innumerable bees” Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Princess VII.203 Amateur songwriters commonly use the simplest and most predictable perfect rhymes, which often makes a song seem “cheesy”. Try using tools like assonance as you develop your craft. There are many types of poetic devices, figures of speech, and other tools available to help you craft engaging lyrics every time. Take your songs to the next level by learning how to utilize these professional techniques with ease. To dig deeper into lyric writing, as well as melody writing and more, check out my free Songwriting Tips blog at http://Songsphere. wordpress.com, or find helpful songwriting books at your local library. Study the great songs of all time to find out what makes them work. Practice, practice, practice. Be deliberately creative, and be sure to spend ample time crafting a quality lyric next time you sit down to write.
Steve Rice has served as music publisher for some of the most recognized Christian songwriters, producers and artists, throughout the world. With roles in senior management at EMI/Worship Together and Brentwood-Benson/ Universal, as well as with Integrity Music, and Maranatha! Music, he has published the songs of writers like Chris Tomlin, Switchfoot, Toby Mac, Michael W. Smith, Hillsong United, Steven Curtis Chapman, Matt Redman, Jars of Clay, Third Day, Israel Houghton, Nichole Nordeman, Paul Baloche and hundreds more. Today Steve serves as an Independent Music Publisher, Songwriting Mentor and Music Industry Consultant in Nashville, Tennessee. You can read Steve’s SONGWRITING TIPS blog at http://songsphere.wordpress.com, or follow him on Twitter @Songsphere
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