Sunday Sumary – Music: December 14, 2008

Howdy.

If you tune in mostly for the Sunday Summary, then chances are you are somehow involved with music at your church.

Or you’re an insomniac.

Of course, being involved in church music in December is obviously a great recipe for insomnia… (To which the only relief usually ends up being the pastor’s sermon… 😉 )

We’re all in the same boat. I was at church all weekend, involved in our Christmas rendition of Married Life Live, complete with about 40% more musical material than a usual MLL. All day rehearsals on Friday and Saturday, and shows on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Add in a power-packed Sunday morning and our over-the-top preparations for this upcoming week’s Christmas service, and you’ve got one tired puppy here…

It’s already Monday night, and I’m at my kitchen table, surrounded by a MIDI controller and Pro Tools MBox 2 Micro, ready to keep working…

BUT FIRST, a look back at yesterday…..

Yesterday’s music was actually a real highlight for me, personally. One of those days I really wished my parents could be in the audience to get a glimpse of what I get to do.   

Have you ever looked out at a huge crowd – hundreds, or even thousands of people, and been just a little sad because there was one or two (or a few) people missing? That was me yesterday.

It was a really big day for me – and that’s quite rare, because most of my efforts are behind the scenes and in preparation and support of others. But yesterday was kinda my day. I’m not bragging – I’m just saying I wish my wife, kids and parents could have been there.

We started out doing Pre-Service Christmas music, including a Christmas song that Todd Fields and I wrote called “Do You Hear?”. Now I’m not a song writer by trade, but an idea hit me a few weeks ago, and I somehow got the crazy idea to write it all down, record a guitar/drum machine and vocal demo, and share it with our music staff for their opinion and input. We’re talking Todd Fields and Eddie Kirkland here, so I felt like VanGogh’s son giving him a finger painting.

The song had some great ideas – especially the chorus. Todd shared some ideas on developing the verses, and we encouraged him to dive into the song and see what he might add to it. We continued to bat around some ideas on lyric, form, chords and overall concept over the next week, and were even able to invite our good buddies Pat Malone and Ashley Appling in to record a live demo.

Long story short, we were really happy with the end result, and I’ll try and get a decent copy to post one here soon.

So that was cool!

Then Danny Dukes – one of the greatest humans ever – did Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”. Danny was stinkin’ amazing – like watching a 50 year old man channelling Adam Sandler from Saturday Night Live in the 1990’s. Simply incredible. I’ve never seen anyone – ANYONE – that lives constantly and consistently with that much joy! If you don’t know Danny Dukes, you need to!

So you know how the song starts with all that piano stuff? Sure you do. So that was my part to play. After all, I’m a pianist, so that’s my gig. BUT, the shock and awe – at least for my friends, fellow musicians and co-workers of the last 5 years – was when I played Clarence Clemmons’ growly saxophone solo.

They had no idea. Of course, why would they? I’ve never played saxophone at North Point. Fortunately (for yesterday, at least), sax was my secondary instrument in college. I adored David Sanborn growing up, and so all those years practicing in those cold, dreary practice rooms at Oakridge Secondary School and Belmont University paid off yet again, if only for a moment…

We rounded out the Pre-Service by playing Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)”. And between programming all the orchestra parts and playing the piano parts live, I was once again thankful for all those countless hours in the practice rooms…

So for worship, we just did a couple carols, because the rest of the service was pretty full with baptisms, Andy doing some special announcment stuff about the service campaign that had wrapped up and introducing our special guest speaker, Scot McKnight.

The first carol was “Angels We Have Heard On High”, and Danny brought to the table earlier in the week a Louisiana zydeco / Little Feat type arrangement he had done a couple times a few other places. Well, we got into it, and BANG! Time for me to unwrap another gift…

My accordian has lived backstage for a few years since we recorded the North Point Music Christmas acoustic songs, and so what better time to bring it out than a zydeco tune?

Now it’s not that tough – especially for a “cheater”. I cannot work those buttons with the left hand. I understand their purpose and even how they are arranged – but that’s a far cry from ability. Instead, us piano players just play the keyboard with our right hand and squeeze with the left. It’s just a squeezy keyboard! But for some reason, folks just ate it up!

Plus, it’s nice a shiny in the lights 🙂 Which is surprising.

I bought it for $150 – used on consignment at a music shop in St. Thomas, Ontario in 1996 while coming back from a day of paint ball near Port Stanley, Ontario, while I was home one summer from college. And with the whole “acoustic boom” of the late 90’s, it paid for itself years ago…

Even though I “grew up” in London, Ontario, I was born in St. Thomas. So, other than my parents, my body, and my pre-school education, I guess it’s the only thing I have from the city I was born.

Holy tangent, batman!

OK, OK… We wrapped up the day with a take on “O Come All Ye Faithful” based on the arrangement we did for North Point Music a little over a year ago. Very nice.

– – – – –

Alrighty. That was a good break. Back to Pro Tools….

– – – – –

East Band – Eddie Kirkland, Steve Fee, Matt Adkins, Heath Baltzglier, Brandon Coker

West Band – Todd Fields, Danny Dukes, Ryan Stuart, Danny Grady, Pat Malone, Ashley Appling, Me

– – – – –

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4 thoughts on “Sunday Sumary – Music: December 14, 2008

  1. I totally know what you mean. I played hammered dulcimer this week, and people flipped! Little did they know that it’s very hard to play a wrong note on a dulcimer. Just stay within your scale and you’re set to go.

    And, like you, I also have an accordion I bring out once a year or so. It’s a Hohner I just happened upon in a local music store. It’s exactly the same model that you’ll see on Jars of Clay’s live DVD. It was used, so I tried to talk them down in price, but I couldn’t hide my excitement and ended up paying full price. Needless to say, I don’t use the bass notes either (not necessary or helpful in modern worship music), so it’s just as simple as playing a regular keyboard. And yet, everyone is so amazed I know how to play “so many instruments”! Haha!

    Good luck with the insomnia!

  2. Don’t listen to a word of Brad W. whining about “Christmas in Sarajevo again.” I like hearing it once a year and you guys really rock it!

    My $0.02
    Patrick the-beardless

  3. Sounds fantastic, my friend. Would have loved to have been in the crowd. Been a long time since I’ve been involved in serious music; miss it quite a bit. Maybe the next time I move…

    Cheerio,
    Eric

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