a dream of sorts


i have a few dreams for the creative things in my life. i want to make a record of songs written or co-written by me, and i want to make documentaries. i’ll be 43 this summer and sometimes i feel like the window is closing to do those things. there are a lot of songs, but i don’t know how many of them are album worthy, there are some great ideas for movies, but i often put those aside because of time and equipment contraints. i’ve written about fear before and that is a factor as well. i guess my question is, why haven’t i already started to make these dreams a reality? there can be a ton of excuses, but it really comes down to me just doing the things i need to do. not to worry about the money aspect of it. i could easily do a kickstarter campaign. not to worry about the creative part of it. i could easily ask a lot of my friends to contribute. not to worry about the equipment part. i have a good camera, all i need is a sound rig and a lens, heck i could even film on my iphone.

i wonder sometimes why God would allow me to have such great ideas, and not let me finish them, and i think it’s because He wants me to make them happen with other people. i realized this last week that creativity and the work can very easily be about one person. i naturally want the credit for greatness and i don’t have all of the tools to be great by myself. i have some of the components to make something great, but those components need to be shared with others while allowing others to share their greatness with me. i think that is why we need community. i love people, but often i will isolate myself from community. haven’t figured that one out yet. i do know that i am not an island and i need to create in the confines of community. i need to make the time to work with other people. i need that and so do they.

I tend to put down the auteur theory because a lot of people embraced it as a one man/one concept kind of thing, and making a movie is an ensemble.  Clint Eastwood

one of my favorite songwriters…



happens to live right here in Austin, TX, so i have the opportunity to see him quite often as he is gracious enough to share his music with the hometown crowd. the first time i ever saw David Ramirez at a sold-out Stubbs show, he held the crowd with just his voice and a guitar. i would tell you, if you love great passion and songwriting, you should check him out.

i got to catch his set in a packed bar in the Hyatt Place yesterday and once again, he poured his heart out into the microphone. he closed the set with his song “Shoeboxes” and as i looked around at the crowd they were absolutely entranced as many of us all mouthed the words with him. we didn’t sing, we didn’t want to ruin the moment for those who were experiencing the magic of that song for the first time. i would say that David has a way of capturing the feelings we’ve all felt and that’s why he has such a connection with us.

if you are downtown at SXSW today, he’s playing a free show at the Sheraton on 11th at 6 pm. i highly suggest that you make the walk up to the lobby, have an adult beverage and be prepared to sing (silently) along.

sing with all you’ve got

i’ve been leading worship for about 18 years. it started with an acoustic guitar at small groups and youth camps. i still can’t play “I Love You Lord” worth a flip.

i love leading. it is something that makes me feel alive. that has always been the case. i love to sing praises to God. i love to sing to Him with all of me, but i have to be careful that i don’t fall in love with the songs, or the singing. there are lots of songs that make my heart cry out to Him and there are songs that i actually weep as they are sung because they are powerful in my life. when i am in the moment, and i don’t analyze it, they are beautiful opportunities of brokenness between God and myself.

sometimes i try and analyze why that particular song caused me to be emotional instead of just enjoying the beauty of being raw and real before God.

as i’ve led over the years, i have sung lots of songs. hymns, and choruses. i’ve sung other people’s songs and my own. i’ve led songs of deep theology,  songs with spiritual themes, and songs without. i try to plan songs that people will sing, or songs that will grab people by the heart or even the throat. now, i’m not trying to manipulate them, or the Spirit. i want to turn their attention to God. i found that when i did things with my agenda that it did not go well.

as i was reading in Colossians today, i was reminded that Paul was impacted by music as well. in the middle of a prayer for the church, he writes out a hymn. it is about Christ and is called the Colossian Hymn. it is found in Colossians 1:15-20

He is the exact image of the invisible God, the firstborn of creation, the eternal. It was by Him that everything was created: the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them, all things seen and unseen, thrones and dominions, spiritual powers and authorities. Every detail was crafted through His design, by His own hands, and for His purposes. He has always been! It is His hand that holds everything together. He is the head of this body, the church. He is the beginning, the first of those to be reborn from the dead, so that in every aspect, at every view, in everything–He is first. God was pleased that all of His fullness should forever dwell in the Son, who , as predetermined by God, bled peace into the world by His death on the cross as God’s means of reconciling the whole creation to Himself–all things in heaven and all things on earth.

wow, what an amazing picture of Christ. i find it really interesting that Paul would use a song to convey to the Colossians Who they belong to. music is one of the strongest pulls to memory. i can see them as this letter is read maybe begin to hear the tune in their head, or maybe the leader who was reading recognized the lyrics and sang that portion of the letter. i can almost imagine the church joining in, and as they sang, they remembered who this Savior is.

so my prayer is that as you sing, you will remember Who you belong to. no matter if you are singing an old hymn, Mumford and Sons, or the latest Justin Timberlake song (My Love is my jam). think of the joy that music brings, and remember that everything belongs to Him and has it’s meaning because of Him.


random thoughts today…

i was watching a little bit of the Grammy Nominations Concert last night.  there were some nice performances. as a result i went and looked up the nominees.

one of my chief complaints about the Grammy’s is that the voters really don’t listen to the more obscure categories. they typically vote on name recognition, so some amazing albums lose to artists who have won in the past, but don’t have the best work. i wish to be a Grammy voter that you actually had to listen to every entry and make a educated decision, but that just doesn’t happen.

this to say, i was a little disappointed with the offerings for Album of the Year.  There are some amazing records out that obviously none of the voters heard or cared to listen to. i hope that Bon Iver, Foo Fighters, the Civil Wars and Gungor are recognized for there amazing work this past year. so Grammy voters, if you’re listening, just go take a second listen to those records. thanks.

it was a good week

i’ve been searching for clarity.

in Davis Guggenheim’s documentary “It Might Get Loud”, U2 guitarist The Edge is remembering the labor he went through to write the song “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”. he uses the analogy of a managed forest. when you look at it from one angle all you see is a mass of trees, but eventually you turn a corner and see that all the trees are in rows…clarity.
as he’s talking the camera moves to show us that all of the trees are in rows. it was a brilliant moment for me as the visual moved the story along.

i had a few moments like that this past week as i was able to attend the first ever re:createATX One Day conference.
listening to amazing artists like filmmaker Andrew Shapter who shared with us the importance of relationships and their influence on story. jazz trombonist Mike Mordecai and his friends who treated us to a beautiful afternoon of music. Rick Jackson, and executive who shared with us the excitement of Cinsay a new E-commerce company and the wonderful art of balance.

clarity…i started to see the forest in spite of the trees.

i also made the vocal team at Gateway Church. this was a very fulfilling thing for me as people that i love and admire made the decision that i have the skills to sing on a level that i haven’t had the opportunity to experience before.

clarity…moving in the right direction musically.

i also had some breakthrough in my personal life. a friend pointed out to me that i began most of my conversations with “i’m lonely”. he said that i needed to work on being content with myself before i went off trying to fill the loneliness.

clarity…i want to fill my life with good things and good people.

but the highlight of my week had to be attending the 1211 live taping at the original Austin City Limits studio. i mean i got to stand on the stage where Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Stevie Ray Vaughn and so many more of my musical heroes have stood and performed. although i was just there to watch and worship, it was surreal to think about all the amazing music that had been played in that very room, and we got to experience amazing, redeeming music that night as well as some beautiful stories.


this might be…

the most wonderful opening i’ve ever seen from a church.  It’s from NorthRidge Church in Plymouth Michigan and was from a series they did a few years back called Expand Your Canvas.  The song is Raise by Son Lux.  Watch to see creativity, music and art converge.

i love interesting cover songs.

and these people do great work.

i first heard Pomplamoose do this…

then there was this…

i love to listen to them, but watching the videos is what makes it for me because they brilliantly recreate the process of recording the songs. also, the camera loves Nataly, she is the ultimate indie chick.  genius!

they also covered one of my favorite songs of all time.

i hope you enjoy these as much as i do.

while i’m shelling for new artists…

(i always thought i would make an amazing A&R rep for a record company BTW)

another artist i’m really liking right now is Jason Gray

my buddy Ken Kubitz turned me onto his live record “Acoustic Storytime”

great stories and songs.  he goes into a story about having a stutter which he thought would keep him from being who he wanted to be, but God had other plans.

his songs are melodic, fun and thoughtful.  his guitar playing is percussive and rhythmic.  i especially love his cover of  Tom Petty’s ” Won’t Back Down”

check out his website (great entry art and mobility) and also this version of “Just Like Fallin In Love”