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!


You can’t NOT laugh. Good times…


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


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 😉

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

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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“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: April 26, 2009

You don’t need a big rock band.

You can effectively lead people in worship with much, much less.

I think the only thing you really, really cannot do without is passion and conviction.

Throw in a dash of energy and charisma, and you’re definitely on your way.

And a heap load of musical ability doesn’t hurt either!!!!

(Nor do all the fancy lights 😉 )

Take a look at what was on the East stage yesterday:


Yep. Other than Luke (one of our Audio gurus) on the far left and the camera dude on the right stairs, there are only two musicians on stage.

On East, Eddie Kirkland (leading) and Ashley Appling (playing the Cajon) tore it up, with reckless abandon. Couldn’t ask for more…

And on West, Chrystina Fincher led with Steve Thomason on acoustic / BGV. Again, much tearing up was done….


All Because of Jesus

Jesus Reigns (Todd’s new tune)

Glorious One

The only downside we noticed was that we lost the crowd in the 2nd (new) tune. We’d already done it a couple times, but it was still too new for them to really sing along in the sonic vacuum (meaning no full band).

So if you do a week like this, be sure to pick VERY FAMILIAR tunes that lend themselves really well to letting one acoustic carry the load.

Oh, and some killer lights help… 🙂

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

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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!