Todd Fields’ CD Release – Video Photos

Todd’s new CD releases this weekend, and we had a concert for it Friday night.

Needless to say, it was an incredible experience, not only musically, but personally as well. The chance to make incredible music with incredible people is such an amazing blessing.

You MUST get the new CD, which will be available exclusively through North Point Resources until it hits iTunes in late June.

And our buddy, Matt Gibson, shot a behind-the-scenes video that will, hopefully one day be available for public viewing. In the meantime, here are some screenshots I captured from my favorite scenes of his incredible handiwork, along with some simple impromptu photo titles……

“Microphone & Light”

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“Snare & Sticks”

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“Praying Lady”

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“Set List”

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“From the Front Row”

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“Reflection”

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“Malone”

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“Appling”

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“Avery”

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“Hoard”

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“Stuart”

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“Greven”

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“Fincher”

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“Tuning”

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“Silhouette”

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“Pleased”

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“The Most Important Thing”

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– – – – –

Todd Fields – lead vocals, electric guitar

Ashley Appling – drums

Pat Malone – Bass

Jason Hoard – electric guitar

Brad Avery – electric guitar

Reid Greven – keyboards, acoustic guitar

Ryan Stuart – backing vocals

Jordan Watts – special guest backing vocals

Jayce Fincher – front of house mixing

Tyler Freeman – monitor mixing

A big thanks to Matt Williams, Dan Stonaker, Suzy Gray, Rick Holliday, Andy Stanley, Bill Willits, David Hill, and all the members of North Point Resources that made this possible!

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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Song Markers in Pro Tools for Live Performance

Fun Seeker John asks:

I have recently started using ProTools for loops/programming and click tracks for several of our songs. I’m using ProTools on stage with my Mbox 2 Pro. Sending my loops/programming out 1 & 2 and my click out 3.

The difficulty I’m having is the time it takes to close one file and load the next song – takes too long and makes it impossible to do two songs back to back with Pro Tools.”


John,

Thanks for asking… We actually put all loops / programming for an entire worship set in one single Pro Tools session, and simply (and instantly) move from song to song with only click of the mouse!

It means adding Markers for each song along the length of the session, and appropriate tempo and time signature changes at those points. You can also customize your click subdivision when you add a tempo marker.

Here’s an excerpt from our North Point Music Multi Tracks Users Manual – included free with every North Point Music Multi Track!

Steps 5 & 7 are what you’re looking for.

Hope it helps!

– – – – –

Pro Tools – Step 5: Creating New Markers, Tempos, and Meter Changes

At bar 1/1/000 you will see a yellow “Marker” (a.k.a. Memory Location) with the name of the first song you imported, along with a tempo (e.g. quarter note = 120 bpm) and meter (e.g. 4/4).

You will need to create new Marker, Tempo and Meter markings for each subsequent song.

1. Marker (Memory Location): Make sure you have selected “Grid” mode (button in the upper left hand of the main screen). Line up the cursor with the bar you wish the second song to begin (e.g. Bar 154) and simply click OR type the desired bar number in the main locater window (top middle of the main screen). This will indicate where you wish the new marker to be located.

Next, click the “+” sign next to the word “Markers” found near the upper-left side of the main page. This will open a new window in which to name the new song.

2. Tempo: Click the “+” sign next to the word “Tempo” found near the upper-left side of the main page. This will open a new window in which to select the tempo of the new song. The tempo is found as part of the song’s Mono Click & Countoff File”

3. Meter: Click the “+” sign next to the word “Meter” found near the upper-left side of the main page. This will open a new window in which to select the meter of the new song. Most songs are the default 4/4 time, but you may need to change to 6/8, or whatever the chart specifies or song requires.

Here are a few screenshot examples:

#1 – Session with multiple tracks per song:

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#2 – Just a few files per song with track heights on “medium” – 1 loop on Song 1, Loop and Tambourine on Song 2, 1 Loop on Song 3, multiple programmed files on Song 4:

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#3 – Same song as above, but with track heights on “small”

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#4 – Close-up of Tempo, Meter and Markers timeline:

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Pro Tools – Step 7: Using Markers / Memory Locations Window for Live Playback

The Memory Locations window is accessed through the “Windows” drop-down menu. This window is essential for ease of live performance playback.

During a live performance, each song is immediately accessed by clicking on the song title in the Memory Locations window.

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Try it now using the following steps, and listen along using the headphone jack on your Mbox 2 or 002R unit.

– Click any song title in the Memory Locations window

– Press Spacebar (Start); the song will start playing

– Press Spacebar again (Stop)

– Click on another song in the Memory Locations window and press Spacebar (Start)

(You can even start a new tune by clicking on its Marker without even stopping via the spacebar!)

NOTE: You can also click on the blue Markers line and Tab between Markers (opt+Tab for backwards). Some guys prefer to use that once they’re comfortable with the software.

It’s that simple during live performance!

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 😉

– – – – –

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… 😉

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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…

– – – – –

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?)

– – – – –

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


– – – – –

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


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.

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

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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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