Sunday Summary – Music: June 21, 2009

OK, you’ve heard me drone on and on about having something ENGAGING at the top of the service. Sometimes it’s a peppy Opener, or at least a semi-captivating individual doing a welcome. Followed by some great worship featuring some kickin’ tunes. Of course 🙂

This week was no exception. To celebrate Father’s Day we did something that we first did at DRIVE, and that we stole from the show “Ellen”.

Yep – Blindfolded Musical Chairs, hosted by the always funny, engaging, and occasionally pleasantly irreverent Clay “Scrog Dog” Scroggins.

We had pre-selected 4 fathers out of the audience – not plants or ringers, just guys that we asked to play about 10 minutes before each service.

The best part were the pictures of funny eyes on the blindfolds!

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You can’t NOT laugh. Good times…

WORSHIP:

So once everyone’s had their funny bone tickled, it’s a whole lot easier to sing. It seems like crowds come alive after something in the opening slot has really caught their fancy and helped them let their hair down. That’s another great reason to have something light, fun and engaging right at the top of the service – it actually HELPS worship!

However, Blindfolded Musical Chairs and a video welcome by Andy, streamed from Browns Bridge, ate up a lot of time, so we only did two songs. But every once in a while, that okie dokey.

So we did:

All Because of Jesus

Everything

It was a great mix of energy and passion, old and new. A song that’s getting a little old in the tooth and another that’s caught on over the last couple months. And strong songs for each worship leader – always a plus!

EAST BAND – Mike Gleason, Brad Long, Danny Grady, Scott Meeder, Pat Malone, Jared Hamilton, Ryan Stuart

WEST BAND – Todd Fields, Brad Avery, Brad Gage, Brad Bretz, Chris Arias, Karyn List

So yeah, we had 4 Brads – 1 on East and 3 on West. Next time we’ll shoot for all on one stage 😉

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Sunday Summary – Music: May 10, 2008

Ryan Stuart is the man.

And you add some other real men on stage, and it’s a ridiculous display of awesomeness.

We’re in week 2 of Andy’s “Staying in Love” series, and we opened with the old jazz standard “L-O-V-E”. Michael Buble, Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra, and countless others have done versions. We actually used Natalie Cole’s version as a road map for our interpretation.

Ryan sand lead, with jazz masters John Carrozza (piano), Scott Meeder (drums) and Steve Florszykowski (upright bass) along side. And I was super proud of Steve Thomason and Brad Long on guitars keeping up – jazz isn’t normally their gig, but you’d never know it!

This tune was a giant winner because we only attempted it knowing we had the RIGHT PEOPLE FOR THE JOB.

DO NOT throw something like this at your young emo rock band. They will fail.

That’s one of the joys of having a deep, rich pool of players. You use the right people at the right time. Think of your players and singers as a toolbox, and choose wisely.

And Steve F. on upright bass is not one of our regular players. He plays regularly at a different church – which is super cool – and we’ll try and book him when we need to use his particular skill set (in this case, a killer upright bass jazz player).

Think of that as renting a specific tool from the Home Depot for a day. 😉

Here’s a view of the opener (live in East) being fed to West. The giant High Def screen in the middle, with the IMAG on the side screens.

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Eddie Kirkland joined the aforementioned aficionados and led worship in the East, while Seth Condrey led in West.

Seth did a lot of leading for us in the Spanish Service, and did a great job in the West.

WORSHIP:

Hands of the Healer (Eddie Kirkland tune that we’ve been doing for almost a year)

Jesus Reigns (new Todd Fields tune, on his soon-to-be-released CD)

Those are both gooood tunes. They’ve both got interesting, intelligent melodies verses. Meaning that they might not be the easiest to pick up right away, but have enough substance to keep you interested and excited as the song lives its life as a corporate worship tune.

The choruses of both tunes, however, are great. Easy, catchy, and rich with meaning.

Joining Seth on West were Mike Hines, Danny Howes, Wayne Viar, Richard Meeder, Mike Gleason, and Keith Thomas

Here’s the West, live…

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Sunday Summary – Music: April 10 & 12, 2008 EASTER!

A few years ago we tried something out of the box – before we had the ability to broadcast Andy live…

Due to the other campus’ strong desire to have Andy do an Easter message on Easter (and not a week delay like all other messages), along with an attempt to solve our Easter Sunday morning crowd dilemma, we tried something radical on a Good Friday:

We did an Easter service on Good Friday – the exact same one as was going to be done on Easter Sunday.

It gave a chance to record Andy’s message AND a chance to help offset a few thousand people from Sunday morning.

Remember, it was the same thing Friday night as it was on Sunday morning.

Well, the experiment worked, and we’ve kept up that practice at the Alpharetta campus for a few years now – and based on this morning’s Easter Sunday crowds, we won’t change that anytime soon…

That said, the service over the last few years has taken on way less of a formal, solemn Good Friday vibe, and a far more “up” tone, celebrating Christ’s conquering of death. Although we’ve done our best to incorporate some elements that reflect the whole Easter.

This year we opened with Andy giving a short welcome, a couple announcements and roadmap of the service, and then invited folks to just sit and listen for a few minutes…

Then we went into Charlie Hall’s song “Mystery“, which is absolutely incredible. During the bridge build up, a video started (created by our incredible media team!) that showed historical art depictions of Christ, each one landing on the quarter note beat. Interspersed was text on how Christ came to save the whole world.

As the drums hit the 8th note builds, the picture then turned to photos of people from around the world and continued to intersperse text reflected the lyric of the song.

The building bridge of that song is powerful enough, but the video and stage lighting elements added to the experience 10-fold. GREAT job by all our lighting, video and media teams!!

We then went straight into worship without skipping a beat. Someone in one of our meetings played “Human” by The Killers (a great song, if you’re a fan…), and someone noticed that you could sing the verse of “God Is Alive” over top of it and it was super cool!

So we gave Jared Hamilton, our part-time Music Assistant, the task of creating a similar sounding loop at the same exact tempo and key as “God Is Alive”, which was going to come straight out of Mystery.

The loop ended up sounding very cool, and added a new depth of energy that was really palpable in the room.

By the way, we purposely raised Mystery 1/2 step up to Bb and God Is Alive down 1/2 step to – you guessed it – Bb! Kinda like a smooth flowing medley 😉

After G.I.A., we went into “Stronger” by Hillsong – a tune we introduced last week that has a message and lyric that fit in really well with Andy’s talk.

But we did end the worship set with “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” – a tune strategically picked to connect with the first-time guest (of which there many on Easter!”.

It’s so cool to break it down in a few sections and listen to the audience sing, and sing loud!

Then, after the message and as a response, we did a shortened, moodier reprise of “Stronger”, which ended up being quite powerful following Andy’s invitation for folks to make this the day they put their faith in Christ.

Now you see why it was important for us to introduce that song last week and also sing it in this morning’s worship set!

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Anyway, everyone was a trooper, doing 1 service 4 different times (plus a ton of tech rehearsals and run-throughs!).

East Band: Todd Fields, Steve Thomason, Ben Snider, Earl South, Ashley Appling, Christ Arias, Ryan Stuart

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West Band: Eddie Kirkland, Brad Long, Danny Grady, Scott Meeder, Richard Meeder, Mike Bielenberg, Rosie Pinkermann

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Thanks for working so hard all weekend, folks! I believe God did some amazing thins in the lives on the people that came on Friday and Sunday!

Sunday Summary – Music: March 08, 2009

I can’t remember a time when something happened as much as it did this past Sunday…

But more on that later (doh!).

As with many of our power-packed services, especially ones with baptism, we were a little pressed for time up front, especially since we were definitely going to do closer. And doing closer means Andy needs to be on stage speaking even earlier than usual.

So we opted to two worship songs that were a little out (or outdated!) from our current songs to strategically go with Andy’s message series. Again, we don’t normally program worship to be directly coordinated with a specific message or series, but yesterday was one of those rare times we did.

Andy was wrapping up the “He’s Still Got The Whole World In His Hands” series – one that has really hit home for a lot of folks in lieu of these crazy days we’re living in.

So we dusted off Charlie Hall’s version of “On Christ The Solid Rock” from the Passion Hymns album to start. We’ve done it a bunch over the last few years, so it wasn’t a total newbie – plus it’s a great rendition of the classic hymn. And hey, who doesn’t like a good 6/8 sea shanty? Somehow all the musicians turn into Maritime fisherman or pirates…

But the lyric sets it all up: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…“.

We then did a tune that we haven’t done for a looong time, and even when we did, it was infrequent and short lived at best. It’s Matt Redman’s “You Never Let Go“. It was a big hit at High School camps a few years ago, but never really had that “grown up” appeal. Something about that “oh no, You never let go..” part that has always seemed a bit, I don’t know, campy? The content is not, it’s the “oh no” part. Maybe it’s just me…

Either way, the Worship Leaders on each side did a great job with it, and it helped a ton that it was appropriate for the series, and not out of left field.

Steve Fee and his Fee Band boys, who were with us in East this past week, had done this tune at Buckhead Church at the beginning of this sermon series and put an extra spin on it. At the end of the tune they did not ritard, and when the band hit the last chord Steve on acoustic kept playing the “1” chord. After 4 bars of just acoustic he started singing the verse of Amazing Grace:

Through many dangers, toils and snares…

we have already come.

T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…

and Grace will lead us home.”

The band hits big diamonds on “T’was” and “safe“, then builds through the last line into a giant all-skate of the 1st verse (Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…). Goosebumps, people. Goosebumps! Some serious Holy Spirt movement, if you know what I’m talkin’ about. From there, back into one final chorus of “Oh no, You never let go…“.

The whole thing is about 6:30, but worth every second.

BUT! If you can believe it or not, the musical highlight came at the end of the service….

Steve and the boys are currently working on a new album, and Steve had played one of the new tunes for Andy – who loved it and even shaped some of the series’ message content around the tune.

It’s called “Everything Falls” and will probably be the first single off the new record, due in August.

Steve and Eddie Kirkland wrote the song, and it’s one of their best.

Plus a great band and a live string quartet made the whole musical experience incredibly powerful – especially on the end of a very relevant message and series.

On a personal note, I played the live piano for that tune on Sunday, which is totally exposed for the intro, 1st verse and chorus. And I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nervous playing 4 of the most simple chords – Am, F, C, and G.

A child could play those in their sleep, but all I could think was “don’t screw up, everyone’s counting on you, don’t screw up, they can hear every note you’re playing, don’t screw up, this is probably going on a DVD, don’t screw up, one wrong note and you’ll ruin this moment for 5,000 people, don’t screw up, or you’ll never get asked to do anything ever again, don’t screw up, you’re a professional, don’t screw up, what’s the order of these 4 stupid chords???, don’t screw up, is it Am first, or C? AAHHHHHH!!!!!”

And now you see why musicians are neurotic.

But everything was OK – due to years of practice, but mostly a whole lot of grace from God.

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East Band – Steve Fee, Matt Adkins, Heath Baltzglier, Brandon Coker, (with strings and me on the closer)

West Band – Danny Dukes, Ryan Stuart, Brad Long, Danny Grady, Wayne Viar, Richard Meeder, Keith Thomas

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What runs through your mind before your featured moment on stage?

Sunday Summary: Music – Nov. 16, 2008

Y’know when something’s just “off”. You can’t put your finger on it, and there’s certainly no one, individual guilty party. There’s no “if only we had so-and-so instead of whats-his-name…”, but at the same time, the glue that is often there, and should be there – at least on paper – isn’t.

The Patriots lost the Super Bowl. The Rays lost the World Series. USC lost to Stanford.

Why? Were they out played? Maybe… Or maybe they were just “off”. I don’t know.

That’s kinda how we felt about some stuff in both the East and West Auditoriums yesterday. Nothing was bad, or not worth repeating. It just seemed like some of the spark was missing.

Most of that kind of stuff can be fixed for next time – analyzed, discussed, and ultimately tweaked, or sometimes even avoided altogether in the future.

We often have those easy insights – “Their voices do not blend well” or “their playing styles don’t compliment each other”, or even “that song went over like a lead balloon”. We all have those obvious observations.

The tough ones come after days like yesterday. Something, somewhere, even small and minute, was off. So what was it, and how do we fix it for next time?

NOW DON’T GET ME WRONG – the 4 songs we did yesterday were great, and were executed well, with passion, and the average Joe in the crowd probably didn’t know the difference… In fact, there were some really incredible moments!

But there’s still those little, nagging, thoughts…

– Were those worship tunes the best combination?

– Are they in the right keys for the WL to be set up for success but still be comfortable for the crowd?

– Are they tunes that are truly approachable for the audience to sing, and ultimately worship through?

– Did we choose the proper instrumentation for the Opener on West?

– We had 2 WL’s in East – did we pick the right tunes for each one to sing?

– Did I book players that complimented each other or hindered the end product?

– Did I spend enough time working with the F.O.H. engineer to purvey what we wanted from the PA mix?

– Did we set up the people on stage for success, or did we hand them stuff that just didn’t “spark” them?

– Did someone switch our coffee for decaf?

Those are some of the questions we’ll ask ourselves today…

Anyhoo – it wasn’t a bad or regretful Sunday by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, there was some stuff that was down right incredible:

– The Opener in East, second and third service

– The Worship Set in West, second service

– The closer in East, second and third service

There was lots of good stuff – but those were just a few of my personal highlights…

So what, exactly, did we do yesterday???

OPENER:

“The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” by Jason Mraz

– East: Eddie Kirkland

– West: Ryan Stuart (now Ryan did do an amazing job, but in hindsight, we botched the instrumentation choice to accompany him. Nothing major, but we had Todd on acoustic instead of electric, which thinned out the tune and didn’t carry the punch that song required…)


WORSHIP:

“Wonderful The Love”

“Breathe On Me”

CLOSER:

“It Is Well” – Todd’s new version of the classic hymn. Really cool, but if it become a staple of our worship repertoire we’ll probably tweak some of the verse verbage. Some of it is lovely, but some could be modernized just a tad to make it a little more singable for the modern human…

OK, I’ve vented… But I still love and believe in all the people involved yesterday and I do love the songs we sang. But, through analysis and discussion, we’re a tiny bit wiser for next time…

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East Band – Mike Gleason, Chrystina Fincher, Brad Long, Jeremy Moyers, Richard Meeder, Scott Meeder, Randy Harper, Eddie Kirkland

West Band – Todd Fields, Ashley Appling, Danny Grady, Pat Malone, Jared Hamilton, Ryan Stuart, Karyn List


Pic of West from rehearsal…

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By the way, I’m glad we have an awesome gang of tech folks to fix this problem we experienced in rehearsal:

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Big kudos to the guys for troubleshooting that before service began!

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So what musical elements did YOU feel you could improve upon for the future?

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