Sunday Summary – Music: April 19, 2008

Whew – kids, I am busy! There are 10 songs that string parts scored for our DRIVE Conference, and beaucoup of stuff to do in the yard before it gets too hot (or my allergies take over!).

So sorry for the posting delay….

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This past Sunday was lots of fun. Eddie had a great line:

“I thought it was going to be a strong single-base hit, maybe even a ground rule double, but it turned out to be a good stand-up triple!”

(Now if only the Braves could rally some of that action…)

Andy started a new 2-part series called “God and Country”, talking about our national conscience, and how God is viewed in America. The first message was really good – certainly worth a listen!

We opened with our good buddy James David Carter singing the Rodney Atkins tune “It’s America”.

It turned out to be a lot of fun, and we even had Jeremy Moyers move over from Rhythm Guitar to Pedal Steel for the tune. (He toured playing Pedal Steel with Lonestar for years!). And kind Matt Melton came over from West to play Rhythm on that tune.

So it was something different, something fun, and it was a great setup for the series.

With the opener, plus baptism, we only had time for 2 worship tunes, so we chose something old and something new.

The oldie was Tomlin’s “Your Grace Is Enough”, which was well received by many, but I wasn’t real crazy about. Oh well..

The newbie was the Tim Hughes tune “Everything”, which we’ve done a couple times, and is one of my new favorite tunes. I absolutely love it , and really, really love playing it.

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East Band – Mike Gleason, James David Carter, Rachael Gillis, Danny Grady, Jeremy Moyers, Joe Thibodeau, Pat Malone, Me

West Band – Chrystina Fincher, Ryan Stuart, Matt Melton, Ben Snider, Brad Gage, Wayne Viar, Keith Thomas

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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…

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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

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Who are you a big fan of?

Sunday Summary – Music: January 18, 2009

I tell you – you want to get out of a rut? Shake things up, baby!

We’re all still adjusting to the learning curve of having Andy’s message live at all 3 campuses, and the growing pains associated with that.

If you’ve attended North Point, Buckhead Church of Browns Bridge over the last few weeks, hopefully you’ve experienced a seamless and satisfying worship service. Just know that there’s been a whole lot of planning and miracle working behind the scenes to make that happen!

Just like a good Quaterback and Offinsive Line can call an effective audible, so too have our 3 campuses been learning to adjust quickly and effectively.

Now obviously good planning means a minimal amount of chaos on Sunday, but still, the need and ability to be flexible in the small (yet crucial) things has presented itself as a more important skill set for our producers, Worship Leaders, musicians, and production volunteers.

Fortunately we work with some absolutely amazing people, so it’s been more of a fun adventure than a tragic endeavor!

It’s the balance of the host campus planning ahead and (also trimming as needed – including live!) so Andy is on stage and speaking about 3-5 minutes before the other 2 campuses need. The other two campuses buffer the message on a TiVo-type device, and then begin playback as needed.

BUT!!! The other 2 campuses also need to be prepared to stall / stretch if the host campus is late or if there’s a technical issue.

So that was us this week!

We planned some lengthy stuff at the top of the service that needed to be done anyway (a missions video, lots of beginning-of-the-year announcements, worship, baptisms, and even a prepared tag of a worship song).

Unfortunately a 3rd worship tune got left off that list, but some of the other stuff had to be done (missions video, announcements, baptism).

We did:

You Are by Todd Fields

Wonderful The Love by Mike Gleason

So we mixed up the tunes a bit – one familiar tune and one relatively new one. We also realized that the last couple weeks’ music have been a bit in the melancholy department, so we did a fast tune and an upper-mid tempo one. And one was written by one of yesterday’s Worship Leaders, and the second was written by the other WL.

See how much thought we put into song selection! And that’s just for two songs!

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East Band – Todd Fields, Ashley Appling, Pat Malone, Brad Avery, Ryan Stuart, Me

West Band – Mike Gleason, Mike Hines, Jeremy Moyers, Rachael Gillis, Earl South, Wayne Viar, Chris Arias

OK, a few stage shots from East during announcements (fed from West).

Ashley Appling (drums), Pat Malone (bass)

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Brad Avery:

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Todd Fields, Ryan Stuart:

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What are YOU adjusting to this New Year?

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Sunday Summary – Music: December 21, 2008

Christmas Music at North Point Community Church – December 21, 2008

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The Christmastravaganza is over.

Take a deep, deep breath. Now let it out slowly.

Repeat for the next two days. (OK, at least that’s been my prescription…)

The Sunday before Christmas is, without a doubt, one of the two most significant Sundays of the year. But we all know that, don’t we? Nevertheless, it’s the day us church music department folk work on for a long, long time. We say goodbye to our spouse and children after the Thanksgiving meal, until we return to their lives sometime around Christmas Day.

So first, let me offer a big horrah to all of you who work or volunteer with your church music and/or production teams. YOU make it possible. Thank you for everything you do for your church and the people you serve!

I’m pretty sure there’s a section of Heaven reserved for us – with top-of-the-line modern gear and rare, vintage instruments. And sound proof walls πŸ˜‰

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So what’d we do? Lots. So let’s start from the top.

THE OPENER:

As the entire Service Programming Division, we tossed around a handful of ideas for the theme of the service, from skits and special numbers, dramas, characters, etc. over the last couple months.

However, an idea that we – the Music Department – pitched for the first week of December was so well received, that the decision was made to save it and use the concept for the Christmas Service.

The concept, that is… The actual Opener would then take the next 3 weeks to be moulded, tweaked, and, well, slaved over…

(NOTE: For those just tuning in, we have two 2,800 +/- mirror Auditoriums – the East and the West. It’s the exact same service happening at the exact same time. The welcome and announcements are usually from one side and fed via video to the other side, then live worship on BOTH stages – yep, 2 live bands doing the same arrangements of the same songs, and then the message is live on the other side and fed via video to the other. Confused yet? Yeah, us too…)

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The bottom line was that we wanted to celebrate the one thing that drives us crazy most of the year – the fact that we’ve got two stages (East and West Auditoriums) doing the same service at the same time. The synchronization and programming issues that plague us most of the year were going to – for once – be to our benefit.

The genesis of the idea came when we were searching ideas for “Do You Hear What I Hear” for the conclusion of the Listen and Learn series which happen to fall on the first Sunday of December – a natural tie-in to both the series and the season…

While the tune was still fresh in our heads, Eddie happen to hear The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” and realized that the carol’s melody fit nicely over the Bittersweet chord changes.

THAT’s where it all started.

Then our music staff – Eddie Kirkland, Todd Fields, Karyn List, Jared Hamilton and I – brainstormed for a couple days, and had tallied a list of popular songs over which traditional Christmas carols could be sung.

We whittled down the list, and discussed how one could flow into the other – all the while envisioning how the eventual medley could not only flow from song to song, but also from stage to stage, and even eventually come together and play the final song as one giant band. We’re talking 2 drummers, 4 electrics, 2 acoustics, 2 keys 2 bassists, a handful of soloists and a 10 piece choir. Oh, and a couple of concert bass drums.

And Pro Tools tracks out the whazoo…. 48 to be exact, all mixed down to the Digi 002R’s 8 outputs, with all the loops, samples, sequences, orchestral programming, background vocal and choir overdubbing, clicks and count-offs.

(Yeah, so BIG props to Dave Stagl and Luke Roetman – our audio heros!)

Alright – now you’ve got a better understanding of the back-story, so here we go:

TUNE #1 – “Do You Hear What I Hear – Part 1”

Starts in WEST with Chris Coleman finger picking acoustic guitar and singing using a great minor chord progression that Todd came up with. Chris is joined by a 10 piece choir of some of our most incredible vocalists doing “ooh’s” on some great, rich stacked chords. Really thick and nice.

At the end of a verse and chorus, the chords become the progression of “Bittersweet Symphony”. Then the actual Bittersweet intro sample creeps under Chris’ vocal tags, and just when the strings reach the climax of the intro…

TUNE #2 – “Do You Hear What I Hear – Part 2”

… the EAST band hits the downbeat where the loop and groove start. Then Ryan Stuart, live in East, sings the second verse and chorus over the live East band. The band then drops out as Ryan finishes the vocal tags. It then leads into a short string transition I programmed while, out of nowhere, a concert bass drum on each side starts beating out a new, faster quarter-note tempo. The strings then lead into…

TUNE #3 – “Angels We Have Heard On High”

… the Intro of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”, complete with a mammoth orchestral track, and band, live from the WEST.

(CONFESSION: The track ended up being 3 different karaoke tracks I bought on iTunes that were simply stacked on top of one another in Pro Tools. Each track was great in its own right, but stacking them created an absolutely gargantuan, lush, rich and powerful track. One had a great attack and bite on the strings, while another was dark and rich, and the third added just that much more power.)

Eddie sings the melody of Angels over top the Viva track, and the kicker for this piece was after a verse and a chorus, the 16 piece choir has split to 8 per side, all singing “Gloria” to the descant line of the original Viva tune. So live band and lead singer in West, and live choir and concert bass drum in BOTH auditoriums. Throw in some pre-recorded stacked choir parts, and you’ve got a four coupon orchestral ride, my friends!

Two words: Goose Bumps. Big time!

Eddie then joins the choir for a few more passes at the the soaring descant line, and then, on the downbeat of the next phrase…

TUNE #4 – “Go Tell It On The Mountain – Part 1”

… the EAST band hits a big ol’ windmill chord overtop a big, nasty half-time groove (half of Viva’s 138 bpm). Although we didn’t use the sample, think of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – you’ll get the idea. Ashley Appling on WEST is playing drums along with the East band at this point. Add to that the concert bass drums on both sides, and it’s a drumfest. Todd then sings two choruses of Go Tell It, and at the end of the second phrase…

TUNE #5 – “Go Tell It On The Mountain – Part 2”

… BOTH EAST and WEST bands simultaneously launch into a full on 138 bpm Black Gospel assault. That’s movin’! Think of the church scene with James Brown from The Blues Brothers movie. Again, you’ll get the idea…

Now keep in mind, BOTH bands are also simultaneously being heard on BOTH auditoriums! So needless to say, we had to divi up some parts. John Carrozza in East on piano, Chris Arias in West on B3. Don’t even get me started with the 4 electric guitars and two bass players each doing a walking bass line. Good times!!

And so, accompanied by both bands, Jen Carrozza and her incredible, powerful voice sang a verse from West, then Ryan turned on the soul and sang a verse from East.

And then – yep, you guessed it – the drummers traded solos. Scott Meeder in East for two bars, then Ashley in West for two. Then East one, West one, East half, West half, East quarter, West quarter, then a free for all leading into…

… the end shout choruses, complete with stacked choir, and Jen and Ryan blowing (improvising) over the top. All leading into a big, old, nasty trash can ending. One for the ages….

And, by special request, we even included an over-the-top reprise of the shout choruses and ending. But a little bigger the second time… πŸ˜‰

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And here’s a point of interest: The original demo we pitched was 4 minutes longer and had two more songs – one additional song for each auditorium. The Opener had been chopped, tweaked and edited more than a dozen times before it was all finished, including a few major edits after Wednesday’s rehearsal and even a couple on the Sunday morning…

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The rest of the morning was, obviously, a little more subdued, and far more along the lines of our normal musical styles.

CAROLS:

We did a couple corporate carols, including Fee’s All Creation Sing (Joy To The World) using a bunch of the North Point Music Multitracks, and a peppy version of O Come All Ye Faithful that we kinda, well, just came up with!

SPECIAL:

In place of a message, we did something pretty cool this year. Our media guys made a short film called “Footnote”. It’s essentially a history of Caesar Augustus with Andy as the host/narrator. Eddie and I were asked to score the film, and we were all really pleased with how it ended up. I’m sure there’ll be more on the film elsewhere soon, and I’ll elaborate more later…

However, coming out of the film we did a tune called “Here With Us” – an incredible and powerful song done by Joy Williams. We had Trammell Starks program the incredible orchestral track, but the piano and band were still live. Karyn List sang it in West and Mandy Miller was in East, and both ladies were terrific.

Let me talk about Trammell’s track for a minute, though. It was spot on the original, but recreated with virtual instruments – not live ones. And he did it in a day. His incredible use of samples and capturing and interpreting them to emulate real instruments is truly second to none. Really incredible stuff. Eddie, Jared and I just want to go over to his studio and watch him in action.

WORSHIP:

Andy then set up the candle lighting, and we moved into some great worship – something that sometimes gets left behind at Christmas as so many of us turn to the traditional carols when programming services. And with the candle lighting we sang:

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

Son Of God

and then celebrated on an up note with the really up version of Angels We Have Heard on High that the Fee boys had worked up the week before.

WALK OUT MUSIC:

Yeah, we went back to the Black Gospel “Go Tell It…” vamp from the Opener, complete with the guitars trading solos. (Can you blame us?)

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East Band – Todd Fields, Danny Howes, Danny Grady, Scott Meeder, Earl South, John Carrozza, Ryan Stuart, Mandy Miller

West Band – Eddie Kirkland, Mike Hines, Jeremy Moyers, Ashley Appling, Richard Meeder, Chris Arias, Jordan Watts, Jen Carrozza, Karyn List


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Man, I’m exhausted just reliving it. I need to go play with my kids….


Sunday Summary – Music: November 2, 2008

OK, I can’t be too honest about this past week because I wasn’t there.

Jennie and I took the kids up to Nashville to visit my sister Ashley and brother-in-law Michael, plus my parents came down on their annual “Southern Swing” to visit their kiddos… LOTS of fun!

And we even skipped church altogether on Sunday morning. (Shh – don’t tell…)

BUT, meanwhile, back at the ranch, reports were good for what we did on Sunday.

Andy’s “Why Worry” series started here this week. He’s actually doing the messages live at Browns Bridge and taping them for the other two campuses.

We opened with John Legend‘s arrangement of Stevie Wonder‘s tune “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” . The melody and tempo is a lot like Stevie’s original version, but the instrumentation and BGVs are pretty unique. Legend’s version is just piano, percussion and vocals – which we did – but we also added an upright bass.

The reaction was really positive – a nice departure from our usual rock and roll stuff.

Jamie Portee sang AND played piano, Steve Florzcykowski on upright bass, Monique Anderson, Ryan Stuart and Eddie Kirkland on BGVs, a handful of our drummers and players as percussionists, and a pretty thick percussion track. Legend’s version has a dad-gum percussion orchestra – something we were not going to adequately replicate live, so we needed some help.

For the percussion tracks, I used Pro Tools as the host DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and used a combination of Stylus RMX, Reason 4 and Digidesign A.I.R.’s Xpand! as plugins / sound sources.

After that was worship, and Kristian Stanfill and Eddie Kirkland did a great job of capturing the engaging energy of the opener into worship.

WORSHIP:

Everlasting God (bumped up the tempo a few bpm’s and started with full band rockin’ Chorus chord progression. That helped increase the energy of this tune – one that is normally reserved for a “second, slower song” spot…)

Glory To God


Lift High

East Band (Worship) – Kristian Stanfill, Danny Howes, Jeremy Moyers, Ashley Appling, Brad Gage, Chris Arias, Dee Dee Maillian

West Band – Eddie Kirkland, Mike Hines, Ben Snider, Scott Meeder, Earl South, Mike Bielenberg, Ryan Stuart

So there you go. Sorry, no photos this week (unless you want pictures of us at Michael and Ashley’s house cheering on the Tennessee Titans – 8-0 baby!!!)