Sunday Summary – Music: June 14, 2009

Redneck’s Famous Last Words: “Hey Y’all, watch this!!”

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Yeah kids, it was Bluegrass Sunday at North Point.

And I don’t mean we just added a fiddle to a couple tunes – I mean we went all out Bluegrass on both East and West stages for the Opener and all the worship tunes.

Each side had two acoustic guitars, mandolin, fiddle, scaled down drums, upright bass, and 3 fantastic three-part-harmonyin’ sangurs…

(OK, we had electric bass in East – so only a little cheating…)

Each side opened with an old tune called “The Fox”. It’s a Bluegrass standard, and we copied a version that Nickel Creek did a few years ago.

That song has, without a doubt, WAY too many words in it. But that’s part of what makes it a great, fun tune! Give it a listen on iTunes – see if you could spit those out!

Todd sang it in East, and Mike Hines did it in West, and both dudes did an amazing job!

WORSHIP:

I Saw The Light

– yep, an old tune made famous by Hank Williams, Sr. 130 bpm’s of hoedownin’ joy!

Let God Arise

– put your metronome on 140, play a double-time train beat (boom chug, boom chug, boom chug, boom chug), and flat-pick yer fingers off! Now straighten out the “Let God Arise” lyric leading into the chorus in 3 part harmony and you’ve got a heap load of fun. Add a fiddle and mandolin solo for taste, and you’ve got a recipe to burn the barn down!

Jesus Reigns

We did this one far closer to the original, but obviously substituted instrumentation. So the rhythms and melody were familiar, but it had a sweet twist with some beautiful fiddle and tasty mandolin fills. Think a lovely Alison Krauss tune…

Now was it as deep and spiritual experience as some may have liked? Maybe not. But it accomplished our goal of engaging the audience with something that put a smile on their faces and amazed them musically. It was such a treat to let some of our most accomplished players and singers really let loose – like unbridled stallions!

You will gain an audience’s respect when they are presented with a quality that is beyond their expectations, no matter the genre.

While can’t post video of this past Sunday, there’s an old video floating around YouTube of the old 7:22 band playing “I Saw The Light”, including Todd singing lead and Jason Hoard on mandolin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utMeR7IdLgk

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East Band – Todd Fields, Jason Hoard, Bethany Olds, Ashley Appling, Pat Malone, Danny Grady

West Band – Mike Gleason, Mike Hines, Rachael Gillis, Tim Huffman, Tiffany Watson, Scott Meeder, Steve Florczykowski

West – Check out Tim’s “Uncle Earl” outfit, complete with suspenders and straw cowboy hat πŸ™‚

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East – Bethany taking a solo…

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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…

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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 πŸ˜‰

WORSHIP:

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!

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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 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. πŸ˜‰

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: 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: 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….