Sunday Summary – Music: June 7, 2009

This past week was a BLAST! I had a GT (good time) all morning long – and I wasn’t even on stage. So that’s sayin’ somethin’!

First, some back story…

As we’ve looked at the summer as a whole, we realized that Andy’s not speaking here (or any of the campuses) for nearly 3 months, starting 2 weeks ago. He’ll be back in August.

(FYI – he’s enjoying some vacation time, as well as giving a bunch of the other communicators and speakers in our organization some opportunities to speak, along with a couple special guests).

So that leaves us with 2 things:

#1 – Shorter services (AKA time to fill…). Speakers other than Andy are alloted 35 minutes, and so that gives us an extra 5 minutes to either fill in content or get out a few minutes early – we’ll be doing some of both over the summer.

#2 – No Andy. Duh! It’s no secret that attendance dips a bit when it’s publicly known that he’s not speaking, so we’re going to do our best to help make the services this summer fantastic – at least as much as we can from a music and programming perspective.

So will we do a few more fun openers this summer? Oh, you betcha!

And we started this week with a great “Summer” song – Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69”.

Sam Tesh came and sang it for us – and dude, he’s amazing! He’s a great, charismatic performer with a voice perfect for Journey, Bryan Adams, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi – you get the picture. Oh, and all in the same keys as the originals! Yep – that’s high.

Oh, and giant kudos to our good buddy Steve Thomason, who, of course, covered the tones and solos to perfection. That boy has mastered the art of being faithful to the originals when it comes to classic rock. Love him!

Here’s Sam and the gang making the 80’s proud…


We, spearheaded by Eddie, have a real passion for this summer for our bands, singers and worship leaders to HAVE FUN! To enjoy themselves on stage. To bring a smile and encouragement to the congregations and attenders. To embrace what they’re singing and playing and have a RGT (really good time).

And our prayer is that will help soften the hearts and let down the guard of the stoics and skeptics. And anyone bummed about no Andy 😉


Man, we kept the blood pumpin’ with worship, too!

God Is Alive

Glorious (off of Todd’s new CD)

Everlasting God

Yep – not one tune under 105 bpm’s. In review some thought it was a little much. I could see their point, but I think the majority didn’t mind it. I thought it worked, especially going into the funny Title Package for the current series.

So we’ve got a few more things up our sleeves for this summer – should be fun!

– – – – –

East Band – Eddie Kirkland, Rachael Gillis, Steve Thomason, Danny Grady, Scott Meeder, Richard Meeder, John Carrozza, Sam Tesh

West Band – Ryan Stuart, Rebecca Iraheta, Mike Hines, Matt Melton, Wayne Viar, Earl South, Keith Thomas


Sunday Summary – Music: May 17, 2008

It’s amazing how your physical body can affect your experience of, well, anything!

Between pulling something in my lower back on Thursday, then totally overexerting myself Friday and Saturday, I was a wreck come Sunday morning. Literally – like a Mack truck hit me. I felt 90 years old. At one point that morning I didn’t even think I’d be able to put my socks on. Lame, I know…

So playing in East ended up being more of a chore than a pleasure. Which stinks, because it was an absolutely amazing band doing fantastic songs.

So there I was, doing one of my absolute favorite things to do in the whole world, with some of my favorite people to do worship and music with, in one of the most desirable situations and locations to do it – and all I could think of was how much I couldn’t wait to get back to the Green Room and lie on the floor!

So that brings up a thought…

No matter how perfect a scenario we create for those on stage or in the audience – sound, music, monitors, gear, lights, quality, content, professionalism, etc. – there will almost always be something in each person’s life that acts as an obstacle for enjoying their experience and ultimately connecting with God on a deeper level.

I’d say that it’s up to us to address those obstacles – give them a name. Then we can carefully enhance a scenario when possible or eliminate as many of those obstacles as we humanly can.

But obviously we, in our human strength and flawed minds, can’t do it all, or even always do what we do properly, so we always need to pray hard that God blesses our efforts, that they would be honoring to Him, and that He would take care of the rest.

– – – – –


How Great Thou Art

Glorious (new Todd Fields tune)

It Is Well (new Todd Fields arrangement)

The second two tunes are on Todd’s new CD!


– – – – –

East Band – Todd Fields, Brad Avery, Jason Hoard, Ashley Appling, Pat Malone, Rosie Pinkerman, Me

West Band – Ryan Stuart, Jen Carrozza, Mike Bielenberg, Mike Hines, Ben Snider, Scott Meeder, Earl South

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!

– – – – –

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

IMG_5686.JPG IMG_5698.JPG IMG_5709.JPG

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

IMG_5716.JPG IMG_5713.JPG

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 15th, 2008

Well, I was away this past weekend, so I’ll give you the 2nd hand reports…

We didn’t do any openers or closers – which usually makes for a simplified week, and this was no different. However, a couple of the tunes were newer, which means that not all the musicians had played them yet.

That brings up an observation. With our musician and Worship Leader schedules – like ’em or not – it can often mean that at a Wednesday night rehearsal there are guys in that week’s band that have played a tune a bunch, and sometimes others have not played it at all.

And what makes our musicians great is that the guys that are more experienced with a tune are quick to aid the ones that haven’t played it. They’ll kindly offer notes or suggestions based on their own past experiences. Pretty cool.

Alrighty, so here’s what we did – nothing elaborate or crazy, just a good, effective time of worship…

Salvation’s Chorus by Todd Fields

Hands of the Healer by Eddie Kirkland

Everything by Tim Hughes

I’m really digging that Everything tune. I’m a big Tim Hughes fan. Have I said that before? Not sure…

– – – – –

East Band – Mike Gleason, Trey McKnight, Earl South, Scott Meeder, Jeremy Moyers, Mike Hines, Chris Arias

West Band – Todd Fields, Ryan Stuart, Pat Malone, Ashley Appling, Danny Grady, Bill DeLoach

– – – – –

Who are you a big fan of?

Sunday Summary – Music: February 22, 2009

OK, we’ve recovered from last week…

We learned a lesson about song selection from last Sunday, and had an incredible Night of Worship on Thursday night.

FYI – in case you weren’t able to attend Thursday night, here was our set list…

Night of Worship – Feb 19.pdf

(50 points if you can spot my typo on the set list…)


On Sunday morning we had some cool stuff, as well as an interesting scenario.

First off, Andy was speaking here live, which meant that the content before the message needed to be shorter in order to broadcast the message feed to the other campuses.

Sooo, we did something we haven’t done before: We cut one of the worship tunes, but only for the first service! Meaning 2 worship tunes at the 9:00 AM service and 3 tunes at the 11:00 and 12:45.

This is because in the second service (11:00 AM) we use the recorded video of Andy from the first service. So everyone – East, West, Browns Bridge and Buckhead – are all watching the recorded 9:00 message while Andy rests his voice (and body and mind) off stage.

He’s then back live for the 12:45 service when he’s speaking at North Point, even though it’s not being broadcast to another campus. Browns Bridge uses the recorded video for their 12:45 service and Buckhead uses it for their 6:00 service.

Confused yet? Hold on…

This also means that we didn’t have to cut the top-of-the-service content for our 11:00 (video) and 12:45 (live but not broadcast) services, meaning we could add in that 3rd worship tune for those 2 services.

Now try getting that through to a group of Pavlovian Worship Leaders, musicians and production personnel who have already rehearsed and done one whole worship set and service a different way!

But they did it, and did it great!

Here’s the worship set:

God Is Alive (this was the one we cut for the first service)

Wonderful The Love

Lift High

After the worship set (in all 3 services) we did something we have hardly ever done here at North Point – an Offertory song!

Now if you grew up anything like I did, nary a week went by without an offertory song. Whether it was the choir or a soloist, or what – there was always an offertory! And, on a few occasions when I was a teenager, the offertory was me playing a newly learned classical piece.

One time, at the church back in Canada I grew up in, Jennie (my then girlfriend, now wife) and I did Great is Thy Faithfulness, with her on violin. That’s when our pastor said to my mom, “She’s the one, isn’t she?” 😉 That was a fond memory.

A not-so-fond memory was when I was about 15 and massacred a piano solo of “El Shaddai”. Butchered it. I put chords in there that don’t even exist.

That was the day I learned (the hard way) that I must practice something past the point of nausea, all the way to a healthy hatred for the song. True internalization. Muscle memory. Ability to play the song with your hands while having a conversation with your mouth and brain.

Otherwise, you’ll look like a fool. Trust me.

Alrighty then…

Nowadays, we only do an offertory if it’s a song that sets up the message, usually with tension or a question that the message will then address and possibly answer. They are a songs that might describe an imperfect scenario or situation. Basically not a song that would fit as a closer that would leave an audience with an answer, or basic sense or closure or hope. Now that’s not set in stone, but it’s a good rule of thumb…

So we did a tune called “Storm” by Lifehouse. A neat, moody song that is really quite haunting. Ryan Stuart‘s incredible vocal matched with the East band’s ability to master the song’s subtlety (plus some cool ethereal programming I did 🙂 ) made for a really unique, cool experience.

Give the song a listen and you’ll see just how polar it is to our usual Sunday AM content…

The song set up Andy’s first message in the series “He’s Still Got The Whole World In His Hands“. And it was a GOOOOD one!

– – – – –

East Band – Eddie Kirkland, Ryan Stuart, Danny Grady, Ben Snider, Scott Meeder, Earl South, Mike Bielenberg

West Band – Mike Gleason, Steve Thomason, Matt Melton, Pat Malone, Joe Lee, John Carrozza, Karen Bitzer

– – – –


Ohh, a little Digidesign Venue console action…


What song made you learn how to practice the hard way?