Friday, April 24, 2009

News On The Music Front!

Hey Everybody!

Wanted to give you the latest lowdown on me music! Lots of fun stuff happening here:

- Celebrate Recovery: You can read all about Celebrate Recovery in my previous post! I am playing and singing with the worship band on Monday nights at the Celebrate Recovery meeting at Hill Country Bible Church here in Austin. Had my first night with the band this past Monday night and it was a privilege and a blast. This opportunity affords me the chance to learn new songs, collaborate with other musicians, and minister to those in recovery from all manner of "hurts, habits, and hang-ups."

- Open Mics: I will be doing a number of Open Mics the next several weeks, including the following:
Gateway Baptist Church's Open Mic for Jesus, Friday, May 1st

Genuine Joe's Coffee House Open Mic, some Thursday nights

The Loading Dock (in Georgetown) Open Mic, some Thursday nights

Hanover's (in Pflugerville) Open Mic, Monday nights

Nat's Pub Open Mic, some Wednesday nights

Detour Bar & Grill, some Tuesday nights

I'll send you specific dates and times at the start of each week.

- Preparing to Record : I'll be going into the studio again in June and July in preparation for the Gospel Music Association Festival and Competition in late July. Hope to lay down 3-5 tracks and hopefully with some additional instruments as well!

- Songwriting: I just want to share with you that my songwriting has just been exploding lately, and I think it is getting better. Conventional wisdom is that you'll write 100 bad songs before you write one good one. Well, I think 100 is a bit high, but regardless, I can feel myself growing as an artist and writing better songs. Gonna keep focusing on this, with hard work and God's help! As the saying goes, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice."

Thank you for all of your love and support!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Celebrate Recovery!

Hey ya'll!

Just wanted to share with you a VERY cool opportunity that has come my way. I am going to start playing and singing on Monday nights at the Celebrate Recovery meeting at Hill Country Bible Church here in Austin!

Celebrate Recovery (CR) was first launched at Saddleback Church in California. (Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose-Driven Life", is Saddleback's pastor). CR is a Christ-centered and Bible-based 12 Step Recovery Program. The purpose is to focus on God’s healing power through fellowship with others. By working the 12 Steps and the 8 Beatitude Principles, attendees can open up, share experiences, and explore hope. In this way, they become willing to accept God’s grace in solving their problems. There are no requirements for membership. Anyone may attend with a desire to work the steps for healing with any number of "hurts, hang-ups or habits."

Each program begins and ends with a few songs by the band, and I will be singing and playing with this band 2-3 Mondays a month. I am very excited and grateful for this opportunity and have been looking for something like this for some time now! I will continue to keep you posted.

Many of you are familiar with the 12 Steps, but the 8 Beatitude Principles might be new to you. I have listed them below.

The Road to Recovery
Based on the Beatitudes

Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable. (Step 1)

“Happy are those who know that they are spiritually poor.”

Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover. (Step 2

“Happy are those how mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. (Step 3)

“Happy are the meek.”

Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. (Steps 4 and 5)

“Happy are the pure in heart.”

Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. (Steps 6 and 7)

“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires”

Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others. (Steps 8 and 9)

“Happy are the merciful.”

“Happy are the peacemakers”

Reserve a time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. (Steps 10 and 11)

Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words. (Step 12)

“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.”


Monday, March 2, 2009

Bean Burritos, Baby, Yeah!

Ok, ya'll.

I recently saw this poster in the window of a Taco Bell.

Are people who work at Taco Bell really this happy?

I mean, seriously! These people are positively ebullient!

Maybe it's all those enchiritos they get to eat...

I'm sorta jealous.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Vision

A few months ago, I was co-chaperoning a Youth Lock-In at my church. While some may dread this sort of all-night gig, I actually love it. In the course of the night, I get to really hang out with the youth, talk to each of them one-on-one, and really catch up with what's going on with their lives. I never leave a Youth Lock-In without having had some pretty precious conversations.

At the last Lock-In, I sat for a while with my friend Phillip, an incredibly bright 16-year old whose mother Cindy is a dear friend of mine. We chatted for a while, and I got a good little update on his life. Then he asked, "So, how is your music going?" I was touched by his question, as I found it pretty thoughtful that this teenage boy would even remember that I was working on my music. "It's going great," I said. And just as I was about to give him more detail, Phillip said, "So, what is your vision for yourself as an artist?"

Oh my gosh! From the mouths of babes! My vision for myself as an artist?

"I...I don't know," I panicked to myself.

"Well, Phillip, ya know...I...I actually need to figure that out. I've done a ton of writing these last 18 months, and I am ready to put it out there." vision for myself as an artist? Phillip had really given me something to think about. And it was long overdue.

Now don't get me wrong. I didn't upheave my life, move out of my home, and leave my high-five-figure salary at Dell to pursue my creative endeavors without some sort of vision in mind. I knew that I wanted to live a creative life, and I knew that I wanted to make music that moved and ministered to people. But I also knew that part of the risk in leaving Dell was in not knowing precisely what lay ahead, in not having an exact plan. I wanted to try many different things, be open to unexpected opportunities, expose myself to lots of learning, let things evolve, and watch and wait for God's direction.

But after 18 months at this, I decided it was time to start implementing some definitive goals, to establish my artistic vision and purpose, and most importantly, to determine how I was going to bring that vision to fruition. And so began many weeks of prayer, thought, and reflection, which have culminated in my finally having some real clarity about the direction of my music career. I will, of course, continue to remain open to opportunities that may lead me slightly off the path and in different directions. After all, the God I serve is a God of surprises, and because of this, my real life has often exceeded my dreams.

So, here we go! This is how I envision my career progressing. I'll start first with WHAT the vision is, and then HOW I plan to get there (all with God's help and provision, of course!).


- In the immediate future (the next 1-3 years), I would like to perform live at churches, retreats, and other faith-related gatherings, in the hope that this will take me all across the country. I envision that my ministry will focus primarily on pre-adolescent girls, adolescent girls, and grown women, with a particular emphasis on body-image issues, insecurity, and surviving the sex- and beauty-obsessed popular culture and its objectification of women. I want to help women fully realize their true worth as wonderfully made, tremendously loved children of God! (I'm still working on a name for this ministry. Open to suggestions. Brang `em!).

- I would love to be a reguarly gig'ing Austin artist as well. Performing on a consistent basis in the Live Music Capital of The World would be a dream come true. For gigs such as these, I will perform what I call my "Life Music". (See first item below under "The HOW").

- I want to become an Artist on behalf of World Vision. World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice, and responding quickly when disaster strikes. As one of WV's artists, I would make presentations to my audiences about their work, and encourage them to become child sponsors. I will need to be gig'ing regularly in order to be eligible to do this.

- I will record as an independent artist with a backing band.

- For the long-term future, I would like to get a publishing deal as a songwriter. I will be consistently working toward that.

The HOW:

- I will continue to write songs in two genres: The first is Christian Music, which has at its center my personal faith in Jesus Christ and my walk with Him as my Lord and Savior. The second is "Life Music", which is a term I coined as an alternative to the term "Secular Music". Life Music, while not explicitly Christian in nature, is positive, clean, fun, edifying, encouraging, and life-affirming. These are songs that you should hear and recognize your own life in.

- I will once again attend the Gospel Music Association Festival and Competition, which will be held in Nashville, Tennessee July 29th-August 2nd. When I first attended this festival in 2007, I was new to all of this - very green, and mostly concerned with attending its many classes and educating myself about the business. This time, I will be going to compete, and will do so in both the Performing and Songwriting categories. I will also come prepared with a demo, photos, and a promotional package.

- I have identified a number of Open Mikes around town, and will begin playing these SOON. Most of these are at coffeehouses, clubs, and restaurants, but some churches have started hosting open mikes as well. The main benefit of doing these is to gain live performance experience, and to gain the exposure that will hopefully lead to some regular, paying gigs.

- I will be putting a band together for the purposes of recording and performing as an independent artist.

So there have it! You read it here first! Whaddya think? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

In the meantime, thank you for your support and prayers as I continue to pursue this dream!