What's wrong with the world?

I've spent the last hour or so listening to 30 second clips on iTunes.
It started with "Chicken Noodle Soup," the newest dance craze from
Harlem. I try to understand, but I don't. I guess there might be some
place for music to be used simply to provide a beat to move to, rather
than contain some melodic or lyrical idea that is profound or
beautiful or useful. I moved on from there to the Itunes Essentials,
going back through the late 90's and remembering all the old songs I
used to listen to. That was fun.

I caught some hint from my Grandma that she wasn't enjoying "Mmmbop"
and "Truly Madly Deeply," so I switched to "40's Pop." And here's the
point. Music back then was GOOD. It was catchy without losing much
depth, it was fun, it was masterfully played and sung, it was arranged
with thought and skill. I was listening to extremely tight harmonies
sung WITHOUT digital pitch correction. It was practically flawless.
Now, singers can't even harmonize to their own pre-recorded voices in
simple intervals without fixing the pitch. These guys were singing
complex harmonies and moving in unison in pitch. Makes me sick.

I love technology and the way it can help us make good records now,
but I would almost give it up to know that music can still be made
well by actual musicians who can play and sing. Maybe then there'd be
less crap out there like "Chicken Noodle Soup" and more actual music.
I dunno, maybe I'm just jealous I can't sing those harmonies or play
perfectly every time. But I'm also challenged to continue to strive to
play well, and not settle for "fixing it in the mix."


Something to think over

"I can never be a true disciple of Jesus Christ until I adequately despise sin. It is not enough for me to abandon sin; I must loathe it. God refers to sin in terms of beastliness, the stubborn horse, the wily snake, the mud-loving pig. That is not accidental. The beast does what is natural to it; its behavior is instinctive, and it is not redeemable. The beastliness of sin represents sin in its farthest distance from God, not merely that which is different from God, but that which is opposite. My true feeling about sin is never reflected about sin in general; it is always about sin in me. God never redeems abstractions or principles; He redeems people. Until I can loathe the sin I commit, I will never understand God's attitude toward my sin.

To be a true disciple of Christ I must see the beastliness of sin before it works its devastation upon me. I must hate it everlastingly. I must never lose my grip on the fact that it was my very own sin that drove Jesus to tears, to loud outcries, to moaning and groaning, and to the bloody nails. When I feel this way about my sin, I will understand Isaiah's 'Woe is me' and what it means to be cleansed with a coal from the altar."

W. Glynn Evans


Life-changer... right here

That video right there has just changed my life. Two reasons. Firstly, that song is actually good. Who knew? This is a good example of how production, albeit catchy, can completely distract from a song. Secondly, ... ok, I think there was only one reason it changed my life. No, two. Here's the other reason. This relatively unknown Christian band has this cool video on YouTube, and all of a sudden, people start wondering who this Obadiah Parker band is. I know I did. Their internet music sales have gone way up in the last few months, and people know who they are. I guess that just shows that there's no one way to success or popularity in entertainment.

I'm in California this month, touring with Matt Brouwer. It's going really great so far. I'll have more updates later.


Liquid Silver

I saw my reflection across the room
Thought I was beautiful
But You gently took me, wiped my dust away
Said I could be beautiful, so beautiful

The crucible hurts me, as it changes my form
How can I be beautiful?
I'm totally liquid and starting to boil
You say I'll be beautiful, so beautiful

You stir me and sift me, the dross floats away
When will I be beautiful?
The fire, it still burns me, I'm filling my mold
You're making me beautiful, so beautiful

Removing the heat, You reveal my new form
Oh God, am I beautiful?
You see Your reflection, and smile at Your work
And say "Child, now you're beautiful, so beautiful"

"And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one
refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon
my name,and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people';and
they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'" Zech 13:9 (esv)


Growing Up- Spending Money to Make Money

I'm 25. That just happened last week. I used to write in my journal the day before my birthday on all the milestone years (16, 18, 21) to kind of check in on how life was going at that point in my life. I haven't really done that yet this year. My birthday slipped by me so fast, I barely even feel like it happened. It's strange, since for my whole life, since I have a summer birthday, I've never worked or gone to school on my birthday. It's always been a free day to do whatever I wanted. The last three years, I've been playing somewhere all day on my birthday. Life seems to be getting busier. I can't say that's a good thing, but it's better than being bored and poor, right? I've never been the poster child of time management (unless it was those posters that said "don't end up like this guy, he doesn't get it"). Balance comes with regularity, doesn't it? Can I have a sporadic schedule and make it feel routine?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Check that out. I bought a new toy last week. It was completely impulsive and entirely awesome. I was with a friend at Brook Mays in Katy, he was looking for a digital stage piano. So I asked our dealer if he had any great deals that were just stupid good. So he showed me this piano, and I played a few notes and couldn't believe it. Clear low end, power in the middle, sweet high end. It was a 1922 Vose & Sons piano, with new strings, bridges and felts. It was gently priced, and they offered some financing options, so I figured it was a good investment. So now I own a grand piano. Never thought that would happen, especially at 25 still living at home. I just can't wait to get it tuned. I've gotta let it chill in the house for about a month before they can tune it. That day will rock.


Southern California Tour

(Begun in April, 2006)....

I've been in California the last 3 days on tour with Matt. It's been a pretty good trip so far. The weather of course has been amazing. I don't miss humidity, not one bit.

Friday I got to spend the night at my older brother's place with his girls. He got to have them all weekend so I made sure I got to spend some time with them. I got there about 12:30am and Hope (4) was sleeping on the living room floor on her little sleeping bag. Next to her was another sleeping bag and pillow she had set out for me before she went to sleep. I couldn't just pass that up and sleep on the couch, so I got on the floor and went to sleep. Both girls decided that 6:30 was a good time to get up, so that's what we did. We watched a few Dora the Explorer episodes and had some breakfast. Then Cory and I took the girls to Disneyland. That was great fun. There were so many people there, but it was a beautiful day. The girls were insane and we had quite a time trying to keep them in line. My arms are still sore from carrying Hope most of the day.

Sunday we were at Calvary Chapel Antelope Valley, which was great. Such a cool church, seemed like a great community of believers. Afterwards they took us out to eat. I haven't eaten that much food in a while. Of course it was my first real meal in 24 hours. I was sitting next to a woman who lived right down the street from Erin Brockavich back when her story was going on. She didn't have an immune system. It was interesting. That evening we were in Redlands at Calvary Chapel there. It went pretty well. We got into a great conversation with the music director there. He's an amazing man of God who is serving in a church coming from a life of professional (reeeeeally big time) music.

(Completed August, 2006)...

It's been some time since i first drafted this blog. I kind of lost interest in this blog site, not really sure what the point of it is. But I was reading some friends' blogs and got re-inspired to continue to think out loud on the internet.

To finish my last writings, I will attempt to remember some of what Kim Hutchinson, the music director at Calvary Redlands, said to us that night in April.

This is a man who, in the mid-80's, could turn on a radio in any city, and within 3 songs he could hear himself, either in his band, or songs he had played saxophone on. He was Quincy Jones' go-to guy for horns. He's on Michael Jackson albums. His band was travelling the country playing shows. He was making it.

Over some time, his band fell apart and he started losing gigs ... his purpose seemed hazy (what good is a musician that's not getting to play music?), his career, as it seemed, was over. Now he's "just a worship leader," it would appear from the outside that now he has fallen so low that a church is the only place he can play.

Well, that's how most people might see it. Here's his take on it.

Kim told me that we, especially musicians, tend to find our identity in "what we do" rather than "who we are." I would say this could include most people in any kind of performance- or art-based careers. It can be devastating when what we do is taken from us, because along with it goes our identity, our purpose, our goals.

But it is God's desire for us to know our identity and, even more importantly, to know that our identity is found in Him as His children. Sometimes it works out best for Him to take away what we do. Then, once our false identity is out of the way, we can learn who we are. Once we know who we are, it doesn't really matter as much what we do. So, in Kim's case, God took away what he did (although he still was very good at it, the oppertunities weren't there), and showed him who he was: a Christian, a husband, a father. Then, God gave back what he did, but it was in a different light. It didn't matter if he was playing for Michael Jackson's albums or filling in for the church band. His identity wasn't found in how big the gig was, but in who he was as a person.

Now, Kim directs the music for Calvary Chapel Redlands. He doesn't stand in the front and sing, and he rarely plays sax. He plays keyboards off to the side. If he played sax with that band, he would smoke any of those musicians and all attention would be on him. Instead, as a leader, he humbles himself to play an instrument he's not as comfortable on, and submit to the singer's leadership. He's completely happy, doesn't miss the road or the fame, and is content to serve God in the same place each week with the same people.

I'm still trying to find my identity in Christ. I'll be honest and say I'm not there yet. I feel useless sometimes when I'm not on a stage. I worry that God will take away what I do. More than that, I want to know who I am, because I know what I do will matter less. But I still like what I do. I don't want to lose it. But, ultimately (I think), I trust that if God takes away what I do, I will be able to find out who I am, and He will provide for my needs somehow.


Back Home

I really don't like the drive between Abilene and Houston. There's not much to look at, and today was worse because it was cloudy and just plain dreary. Plus I was pretty upset that I had to miss a concert tonight in Houston. It's not that I get mad over missing out on entertainment, the band is looking for a new keyboard player, and I was supposed to meet the leader and check out the band to see if it's something I would fit in to. But some poor communication led to us having to play this morning in Abilene, which I was assured would not happen. So, we left later than we should've and I missed the concert. Maybe some other time, I guess. I ended up hanging out with my friend, Seth, and we went to his house and watched Arrested Development. It's a pretty funny show. I was expecting to have at least one check sitting at home waiting for me, since I haven't been paid for three gigs. But, there were no checks. Why does my life suck financially right now? I'm in debt, I'm not getting paid on time for the work I'm doing, and I've got so many other things I need to get done, especially medically, and I can't afford them. I trust God with my money, He gives and takes away. I'm not too worried about it, but I just wish I could have lots of money and not worry about it.

Speaking of "giving and taking away," we were playing "Blessed Be Your Name" last night, and the kids were super rowdy. It was almost uncomfortable, but we kept going. Then some kid decides to jump up on stage, do a little dance ("caucasian clap" or something like it), and then crowd surf. The only problem was he jumped into a "crowd" of about four girls, and they all moved out of the way. He landed right on the concrete floor and didn't get up for about half a chorus. But he did eventually get up and looked quite in some pain, but no ambulances were called, I think he'll live. It was a memory, though.

Next up for me this week is a recording day in College Station, then back on the road Thursday for a few days. I just found out there might be a Hopedoor reunion gig, as if there haven't already been enough. I'm the only one not involved at the moment, but that might change.


Tales from the road

I'm in Abilene, TX this weekend with Matt Brouwer and the band. It's been interesting. So much down time, which is usually not a bad thing. It just bugs me some when we show up at 3:30 and don't play until 9, or like today when they said we'd play at 8:30, and here it is 9:21 and I'm in the green room blogging.

This morning we got a few phone calls on the hotel phone. I think before 10am we had 4 phone calls and 2 knocks on the door. One knock was housekeeping, which we ignored, and the second was some kid that knocked and ran. One of the calls was a prank call, which annoyed me. The other three were housekeeping. The first was a lady asking me if we needed housekeeping, so i said later, not now. The second was her telling me the maids couldn't clean in the afternoon and if i wanted housekeeping it had to be this morning. I'm thinking by now it was like noon or 1, and so i told her we didn't want housekeeping at all, then. Then i realized how early it was. Not even 10am. I wish our society would let musicians sleep sometimes. At least don't make us feel bad for not wanting a service they provide. They act as though it is a bad thing we don't want our beds made. If we don't want housekeeping, it's really our loss, so they shouldn't care so much.

I'm newly interested in the show "The Office." We've watched like 7 episodes during our waiting periods here in the green room at the Hardin-Simmons theater, and it's been quite entertaining. So, besides that I'm trying to get caught back up with "Lost," since I haven't seen the last 4 or 5 episodes. And this week, I'm starting the first season of 24. I've been watching this season, but now I can see how we got to where we are now. Well, alright. The rappers are a-rappin', so it's time to wait in the wings. Bye.

I'm here

I got tired of the Myspace blog. I dunno, this type seems so much more inspiring. I hope this stays interesting.

I've been dealing with alot of stuff lately, mostly in my mind. I like to think through problems and come to conclusions on my own, because I'm never sure what to believe, or who to trust. But I have a physical condition that has to do with blood sugar levels, which affects my mood very often. This means that one moment I might be perfectly fine, joking around, and normal, then a few minutes later I could be quiet and reserved and, if you know me well enough, quite moody and possibly a "jerk." I don't mean to be that way. In those times, i feel depressed and tired. I become pessimistic and physically feel a heaviness right around and behind my eyes. I can't focus, so it's hard for me to make conversation or be social.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, because I'm hoping to begin fighting this. There are steps I can take to prevent feeling this way, they just require me to change my lifestyle slightly. This means being bound by a more specific diet and eating schedule, which sucks. I really don't want to be enslaved to this mortal body, but it looks like that's what needs to be done. I'm still developing some kind of plan about it, so it will take some time to find a routine that works for me. I've been avoiding this for a long time, but now I'm tired of how it's affecting me. I don't know what it's like to go an entire day without feeling down for a little while. I can't think about things as honestly as I'd like because I never know how my blood sugar is affecting my thoughts. So, half the time my mind is in turmoil, fighting between what I know is true and what I feel. This goes for any subject, whether politics, religion, love, even music.

Thanks for reading. I promise I will write more entertaining things in the future. Stay tuned, friends. There's some travels coming up, always a few good stories to come from those.