Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Should Worship Look Like?

People are so different from one another.  In some cultures, we may see twice the tears over a death, and more crying out loud, because it’s more normative in other cultures to express themselves this way.  But, Americans tend to be more reserved. And, they differ among themselves, greatly.  The Great American Melting Pot.  People shaped by privacy and independence within the general culture, their family cultures, their personalities, and their individual experiences.  
Now, imagine a whole room full of people who come from different church backgrounds, or no church background.  People who haven’t been on their faith journey with other people until recently.  What is the normative worship expression of that group, during singing?  Is it really even very relevant?  
We know that God looks at the heart.  Man often has a hard time seeing the heart.  Maybe “What should worship look like?” is the wrong question for us.  “What could worship look like?” might be a better one.  Maybe even better: “How can we build up the body in unity?”  Or even, “What cultural trapping of mine could be getting in the way of what God is wanting to accomplish among His people?”  Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:1-2 comes to mind:  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Breathecast Album Review

A couple of weeks ago, we emailed a few folks in the online Christian Music scene letting them know that we had finished an album, and inviting a few editors to check it out.  Today I received an email from a place called Breathecast letting us know that a review had been done.  Below are a couple of quotes from the article.  To read the entire review, click on the link at the end of the page.

 "Prayers of the Saints is an intriguing project...prayers that span right through church history and set them to (mostly) newly crafted music."

 "In his inimitable ways, Currah has crafted contemporary tunes to go along with these ancient innovations making them accessible to our modern ears."

"In our culture of pithy lines and trite clich├ęs, "Prayers of the Saints" need some time to be acquainted to.  But if one should take the time to listen, mediate, reflect upon the words of these ancient prayers, they will deepen our theological appreciation of God.  And in times when we do struggle like many of God's saints had, these prayers supply us with the vocabulary to utter some of our inner most pain and angst to our heavenly Father."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Working on "Paris"

I spent the day in the Tri-Cities. Most of my thoughts of the day have been on what kind of lyrics to write for "Paris"... The most recent song that Mike and I have been working on.  No luck yet. Maybe tomorrow.. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Album is Now Finished!

After weeks of planning, days of pre-production and hours of recording... the album is finally finished.  Thanks to all family and friends for your support in the creation of this album. To hear samples of the album, click on the MUSIC tab on the blog's home page.  Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Progress on the Album Cover Mosaic

   Devonna has designed a mosaic for the album cover. To follow its construction, I took pictures of it...I hope to upload them into a gallery at some point.

The Unveiling of the Artwork (8/6/2013 - Transferred Archive)

Devonna has drawn the album cover of her choice for Prayers of the Saints.  She's chosen her tile colors, set up her desk.... Next, I cut a piece of hardy-backer to fit the electric chord organ which we will eventually install the finished mosaic onto. Now, she begins the mosaic.  More pics of the mosaic in progress, as well as the organ...soon.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Getting Ready with the Next Song (5/21/2012 - Transferred Archive)

I'm debating on whether or not to use piano, voice, or some other stringed instrument for one of the main melodies of P.O.F.  My son, Braedon, can easily play the part on piano, but he's in school during the week so I'm not sure I'll be able to utilize him or not.  I'll probably just pull him out of school and take him with me next week.  We'll see how it gos.

Blogging (7/5/2013 - Transferred Archive)

We're here in Tacoma... still waiting for our internet to be installed.  Kids are tired of hanging around the coffee shop.  The album is done, now I'm trying to get it copyrighted.  About a week before we left Colorado, we met a promoter who heard some of the album... She's trying to get us hooked up with someone in Nashville.  More on that later.

Aubri singing (6/22/2013 - Transferred Archive)

Aubriana was made to do this.  She likes it.  She has a great tone like her mother.  It was a bit nerve racking for her at first, but she got the hang of it.  Looking forward to working on the next album with her.

More Backups (5/18/2012 - Transferred Archive)

Braedon coaching Baelina in the studio

Baelina was a bit more open to singing than Andrea... as long as someone stayed with her in the dark cavernous isolation booth.  She's not too into isolation.  You'll really hear her voice somewhat isolated at the end of Psalm 148. Very beautiful little voice.  Good job Baelina!

The Girls on the Mic (6/21/2013 - Transferred Archive)

I've been looking forward to this... The kids weren't too excited about it, but once they heard a rough mix of the first couple of songs then they warmed up to the idea of doing additional backups.  Andrea (above) says she's more interested in keyboards or bass, so we'll look into lessons when we get back to Washington.  For now, I'm glad I could capture her tiny voice for this album.

Jonathan on Guitar and Bow (6/21/2013 - Transferred Archive)

One of Jonathan Keane's many talents in the musical arena.

Braedon on the Keys with Rob Horton (6/20/2013 - Transferred Archive)

Braedon with Rob Horton of Mastertouch Studios
Laying down the last of the keyboard parts.  Braedon has been putting in overtime practicing in order to nail the studio sessions.

Jonathan is Keen (6/20/2013 - Transferred Archive)

While recording in Evergree CO, I invited my friend Jonathan Keane to fly down and work on some of the songs with us.  It was nice to have an outside perspective on the recording.  I think I agreed with everything he suggested... it all seemed to be intuitive and make sense, except his desire to hear a beat.  I spent about a year really wanting to have some drum sounds to add to the album, but had just given up.  After having one drummer lined up, who suddenly sold all of his equipment the summer I went to record with him... and inviting a second drummer from KY who wasn't sure he wanted to come down, I'd just decided to forget about drums.  But Jon was convinced we needed something, and we ended up doing a lot with djembes.  So, Braedon and I went through each song and laid some new tracks down.  He played a few bongos, I did a snare and hi-hat on one song... I'm glad we did it.  It adds the dimension I was hungering for a couple of years ago when I'd given up on drums all together.

Keyboard Parts (6/18/2013 - Transferred Archive)

Braedon and I have been working hard to solidify keyboard parts that he will record.  He's usually done after 1 or 2 takes.  It's sounding good.  Once the keyboards are all done, we'll do some djembe drums, then our good friend Jonathan Keane will fly in to do some electric guitar with bow, then it's all the girls doing backups.  Then mixing... then.  Moving back to Washington!

More Acoustic (3/15/2013 - Transferred Archive)

I'm taking a lot of keyboards out, and some electric guitars that we've laid down.  I'm adding more piano, dulcimer and acoustic guitars to everything.  My hope is to be done with this entire album by the middle of June.  We'll see what happens.

New Song New Song (5/18/2012 - Transferred Archive)

    Woke up a couple of days ago 

    with a melody in my head, 

    and wrote a song in about 45 minutes. 

    Wish it was always that easy.

Sing Sum. Dim Sound (2/23/2013 - Transferred Archive)

So, I've got Aubri and the girls working on backups.  Here and there I'm just adding one of the girls.  A line here and some oooohs and aaaaahs.  Baelina's voice is so high - I need to find the right spot for her to sing.  There will be a lot of random parts that the girls need to memorize, in case we decide to play live.  Eventually, they should all find their little niches within the songs.

We had an odd experience in the studio.  Aubri seemed unable to hit any notes on one of the songs.  I couldn't believe it.  She has always had a good ear, and when we sing together she's always on key.  But for almost an hour we coached her to sing some backups for about 5 minutes worth of work.  It was drudgery.  Maybe she's just too nervous for the studio, I thought.  Maybe she can't handle the stress of people listening to her through an isolation booth window.  I was surprised.  Then it was Braedon's turn to sing a bit.  He'd recorded dozens of times before, so I wasn't worried.  He goes into the iso booth and within seconds he comes out and says "There's no sound coming through the head phones."  We all looked at Aubri with grins on our faces, and she says "Was I supposed to hear something through them?"  What a relief.  I can't believe she ever hit the right notes at all, not being able to hear a thing!

Sum Dun (2/12/2013 - Transferred Archive)

 I've actually had a few songs done for quite awhile now, but I'm still looking at hosting options.  There are many out there, and some charge a percentage... some charge a monthly flat fee.  Most charge for downloads - but some don't.  I think I'm pretty clear on which one I'm going with - it's just going to take some time to get it up and running.  I think some of these sites are great if you sell a song once in awhile, but if you sell a bunch, it's better to go with another.  Soon though.

Drum and Drummer (1/7/2013 - Transferred Archive)

So, the drums sound pretty good, but I decided to leave most drums out.  I'd rather be able to recreate the song live... and get my daughters to add their voices to the mixes instead of percussion. Now, three songs are done.  I just have to get them onto a site for downloading, and finish up some of the other songs on the album.

Kaos Surprises us (12/4/2012 - Transferred Archive)

I'd mentioned before that I'm not a drummer.  And, I have no drums to practice with.  But, the worship director at Hillside Community Church in Golden gave me free access to go in and play drums whenever I'd like. Super cool guy.  So, today was my first day trying to come up with parts.  During my three hours messing around on the kit, I'm remembering all of the drummers I've played with, and how easy they always made it look.  It so isn't.  I also decided that I'd probably do some Djembe on Breathe on Me.  And, maybe some hi-hat.  I'd love to have three songs done before we go to WA for Christmas.

Kaos surprises us (9/11/2012 - Transferred Archive)

So, we have 4 sets of renters. 2 houses, each with a detached mother-in-law (MIL).  A coupe of weeks ago, one of the sets of renters got into an argument with each other over the electric bill.  They were both growing marijuana , and neither had a clue that it would run their "joint" electric bill extremely "high" and out of reach.  They wanted me to step in and help pay for some of the electric bill.  Unbelievable.  Instead, we asked them to leave.  They thanked us by dumping loads of garbage all over our property.

About 3 days later, allegedly the renters of our other house drank a bit too much and apparently beat each other in the yard.  When a neighbor tried to stop them, it got crazy.  There are rumors of a pistol whipping, along with the permanent loss of site in one eye.   A drunk tenant wrecking havoc with a baseball bat for a few minutes, destroying siding, and a door.  The cops came just as one guy was threatening to kill the other, gun pointed at his head.  Estimated costs to repair the set of houses was roughly $18,000 if you include labor.

Meanwhile, I'm working 11 to 15 hour days, so my wife and I prayed and decided that it would be good for her to fly to WA and begin organizing volunteers for some restoring.  Two days after she flies out, I fall off a roof and am in and out of emergency.  Leg is jacked... 4 days later my boss lets me know that the company is shutting down due to high overhead costs.  Wife is working 15 hour days with 2 full time volunteers, and several part timers. I'm Shuttling the kids to and from school, working part time from home, and going back and forth from the doctor's office.

So, 3 of 4 rentals down, mortgages still due, unemployed, a pistol-whipped friend shell shocked and on anxiety meds, the other friend in jail for assault, a woman left with no employment or housing, or husband, lots of out of pocket expenses for all to go around, my kids weepy from missing their mom who's gone for 15 days.  Outcome thus far?  God provides friends (The Church) in the greater Tacoma, Seattle, Everett and Golden areas to help with: kids, restoring properties, cleaning rentals, killing/removing cockroaches and maggots, lending cars and trucks and homes and meals and elbow grease... all in the name of God's love and his people.  Other "close friends" in the area don't show up to help, but God does.

Nothing takes God by surprise.

Fireworks (7/4/2012 - Transferred Archive)

Braedon and I have been going over "Creed" for a few days now... Breathe on me, too, but I broke a string trying to tune his dulcitar this morning - so we'll have to work on that one another day.  So, tomorrow morning is just Creed in the studio.  I'm liking Braedon's piano parts.  Hopefully we'll be laying down vocal tracks as well.  Somehow, the whole project feels a bit more legitimate with Braedon playing piano on the record.  Looking forward to this.

Summer Drummer (6/10/2012 - Transferred Archive)

So, for the last 5 months, I've been planning to play the drums on my own... since I can't get the drummer that I've wanted. And, the drummers I've mentioned the project to, seem to not be too excited.  I'm not very good at the drums, but the parts are fairly simple, and it seems that simple live loops are better than keyboard drums.  Gonna pick a kick up tomorrow - I hope.

Breathe on Me and Creed (6/7/2012 - Transferred Archive)

Braedon and I are writing some new parts to these songs.
When we originally started recording these songs, we used keys and some guitar sounds to shape the song, and add some structure, but now it's time to get the sounds I was originally hoping for.  

Braedon comes up with some great stuff on piano and dulcitar.  I'm not able to get the drummer that I want, so for now I'm just going to brush up on my post college drumming skills.  Hopefully this week we'll be back in the studio with some songs being closer to being finished within the week!

Creed and Prayer of Freedom (5/22/2012 - Transferred Archive)

Alright, so Creed is sounding pretty good.  I need to change one thing that doesn't sound right -- that will be this Friday.  I've come up with my 5th arrangement of P. of F. over the past 2 years.  I think this will work the best.  I just need to decide if I want Braedon to play piano or the dulcitar / strum stick.... maybe the dulcitar with a bunch of reverb on it.  Can't wait to post some songs. By January, I'm hoping to have three songs done for this EP.  I brought my friend Ben Paris with me into the studio today.  He seems to have most of the same thoughts on the music that I did... and a lot of the same ideas that Rob H. expressed.  I'm hoping to work with him over the summer, but I'm not sure he's all that into music right now.

Getting ready with the next song (5/20/2012 - Transferred Archive)

    I'm debating on whether or not to use piano,
    voice, or some other stringed instrument for
    one of the main melodies of P.O.F. 
    My son, Braedon, can easily play the part on
    piano, but he's in school during the week so
    I'm not sure I'll be able to utilize him or not. 
    I'll probably just pull him out of school and take
    him with me next week.  We'll see how it goes.

Recording this week (5/18/2012 - Transferred Archive)

This week I spent 21 hours in the studio.... working on one song.  Recording is always frustrating at times, trying to get your thoughts spelled out and recorded to your artistic liking.  It always seems so simple in my head, the night before I get into the studio.  But when it comes down to it, it's not easy communicating to the engineer, and making the *clear*  thoughts in my head come out just right.

I've been recording with Rob Horton, the owner/engineer of Master Touch Studios in Evergreen, CO.  And, even though I find myself with similar frustrations as always, this recording experience has been my favorite one to date in my 20 years of recording off and on.  I can dream up almost any idea, and eventually it makes it's way to the speakers and plays back to us.  Sometimes it feels limiting to have another person, or "step", between me and the music, but I imagine that two creative heads are better than one - besides the fact that I am not an engineer.

The song we worked on is this week is based on Psalm 148, which has a reverent and majestic prayer within it, and I really  wanted the music to reflect the Psalm.  We did finish the song yesterday, and I really think it accomplishes what we set out to do.  I'm thinking of calling the song "Fiery from Your Soul" - from one of the lines in the song.  Can't wait to post the song here, and get some feedback from everyone.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Black Jack: Quitting and Splitting (5/17/2012 - Transferred Archive)

Top of Mount Evans in Colorado
On December 31st, 2009, my wife and I believe that God wants me to be done playing blackjack.  It came as a shock at first.  We thought I'd be playing blackjack for years to come.  When we prayed about what I was to do next, we sensed that he was leading me to record and perform music.  So, I began applying for music positions in various churches all over the US.  I just assumed that I should be looking for a job involving music - although, he ever said I'd find one. I'd  received many responses over the following month, from various parts of the country.  I had a couple of "first tier" interviews.  A Skype interview, and a phone interview.  Eventually, a church planter in Evergreen, CO who had responded to my application with some email questions, flew me out for a face to face interview.  It seemed like a great fit, for both the planter and myself.  He seemed like the type of guy that I would really enjoy working with, and his vision seemed to make sense to me.  But, I got an email from him, stating that it wasn't in the stars.  The Planter  felt as though the Spirit was telling him that I was not the one to be hired, even though we liked each other, and he liked the music I had written and played.  He later asked me to consider being a pastor of discipleship.  Although, we both knew that it would be some time before the plant would be ready to hire someone for that position.

Even before I had even flown out for the interview, I found myself drawn to Evergreen.  I was almost obsessed with the place.  What bothered me about the obsession,  is that I didn't seem to have any particular reason to be drawn there.  As I looked at pictures of the town, browsed web pages, and read stats on Wiki, there was nothing that stuck out to me as amazing or even very unusual.  But for whatever reason, the whole idea just seemed like it was so amazing.  Not just the idea of moving, but moving specifically to Evergreen.  A week later my wife told me that she was obsessed with the idea of moving to Evergreen as well.  I confessed my O.C.D thoughts back to her.  Does God really determine the times and places that men should live?  If so, he must turn our hearts whichever way he wishes.  Was this a "calling" to move, in which case it didn't have to "make sense", or even come in a vision or dream or audible voice? 

We'd told some friends of ours about our obsession, and they decided to browse about the web for morsels of Evergreen as well.  They were, and still are friends who seem to have many of the same ideas about the church and about how to approach life.  We'd been spending lots of time praying and hanging out with each other over about ten months leading up to the obsession.  

When I didn't get the job, my wife and I figured that Evergreen had just wormed it's way into our heads because of the job opportunity.  So, we tried to dismiss the whole notion of moving to a place that didn't make financial sense.  We told our friends that we were probably not going.  But, apparently, they'd begun their own obsession.  We wished them well, but didn't see ourselves moving to a city with no job, while not knowing anyone, and meanwhile, having no apparent *reason* to move at all!

A couple of weeks later, our friends came over for dinner and told us that they were definitely moving to Evergreen.  They were done wrestling with the thought, and their minds were made up. Crazy!  They just knew that God was asking them to make the move.  We weren't considering it anymore, but we'd been having that feeling that we were going to move somewhere.  And, even though we were still plagued by thoughts of moving to Evergreen, we tried to squelch all thoughts of it.  

After a few weeks of praying and thinking, my wife and I realized that God was asking us to move to Evergreen too and that our struggle with the notion was just trying to "make sense of it."  Because we didn't have any other reason to move, we'd been fighting it.  But, deep down,  we knew that it was going to happen.  So, we had double-family garage sales for a couple of weekends, and sold almost all of our stuff.  The rest is history.