19 June 2008


So, I have a job, one that I've had for a little over a year now, minus my escapades in Vermont last summer. Technically my current job is part-time, but it's more or less the standard 9 to 5 with some wiggle room, and it pays the bills. I feel like music is definitely another job for me, as it is for a whole ton of folks here in Nashville ("Music City," we call ourselves), where I'm sometimes putting in upwards of 10-15 hours in a given week for prep and rehearsal and gigging when it's busy. Plus the things I do for my church--another few hours a week, and generally pretty much always in the back of my mind. Everybody's (hopefully) got those things in their lives that are fruitful labors, monetarily remunerated or not, juggled together with everything else that fills up the hours and days--rest/sleep, cook/eat, play soccer, read, socialize, do nothing time--let alone be married and raise a family for some of you all.

The idea was floated out there of paying me a bit for the things that I do for church, especially as the reponsibilities (and stress) have grown a bit the last few months compared to the stuff I started with last fall. I haven't figured that one out yet--the whole idea of Paul's having the rights of an apostle to earn his living off the Gospel, but choosing not to so that the Gospel would be free to all (I Corinthians 9). This isn't exactly that situation, but I haven't figured it out yet. I mean, I've certainly accepted honorariums in the past for the work I've done for and with my two home churches in Vermont, leading worship or directing the choir for a season. And that felt right, I appreciated their gestures of thanks for my labors at the end of those seasons, and because those churches were small, I felt like it came from each of the congregations as a whole as a gift back to me. But if it were to be a regular weekly paid job-esque thing, hmm...

If this were the kind of blog that solicited comments, here's where I'd say, "So what do you all think?" But, alas, it is not. And I like the illusion of not knowing exactly who's reading this and then being pleasantly surprised when someone mentions it to me. I mean, it's out there and public, I know, and I have no qualms about that. But since I feel more comfortable with my online community (facebook, myspace, blog) reflecting my real-life (offline? non-cyberspace? supra-virtual?) community, you all for the most part know how to reach me by other means anyways.

Not that you need to, that's really just a side point and a corollary to the fact that I am a late adopter to new technologies.

That is all. Back to work, in one or more of its various guises.

16 June 2008


Great show tonight at The Rutledge playing with Taylor Sorensen's acoustic side project, Kyiv. We were minus our keyboard/accordion player, so I took a bit more of the instrumental slack on cello. And I felt pretty good about it, thought I played pretty well overall, with a few moments that felt really solid. Video may or may not show up here in a few days. We added a couple songs tonight that we didn't do earlier this month at the Basement show, songs from his other band, The Trigger Code. I charted them out as he played them for me after sound check tonight, then played them for the first time in the show itself. And it worked out, actually had some of my favorite moments there. We even got an encore from the appreciative crowd of friends--an encore in the old-school sense of the word, since we had already played all the songs we knew, so we played our first song encore une fois à la fin du concert.

Most of the time I am pretty hard on myself when it comes to my playing. All kinds of things that I can get down on myself about. But there are also times like tonight when, even with a few mistakes here and there, spontaneous and excellent things happen because a group of people are making music and trying to create honest beauty in a live setting, before a responsive and engaged and encouraging (albeit small) audience. It reminds me what I love about making music and creating. Or just listening to music for that matter--hearing some great David Wilcox songs that I hadn't heard before as my house mate played them for me this past weekend, for example.

My friend Eric is starting to record his new project, with Ben Shive producing. Ben's own long-awaited, long-in-the-making solo project finally comes out this week, "The Ill-Tempered Klavier." Matthew Jones has a new one coming out in August, "Swallow the Sea." Saw him play some of the new material live with a band last month, and it's fantastic. Hear a couple tracks on his myspace, plus some tracks from his excellent last record, "Throwing Punches in the Dark."

So much music out there, I love it. It's a lot of who I am, who and what I think I'm supposed to be, as best I can.

14 June 2008

In the meantime...

It's a dreary overcast day in Nashville. A good day for reading, watching Euro 2008, and procrastinating from some music homework that I should get done. Some comfort for the day:

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

(Psalm 73:21-26)


Last night I went over to my friends' house for a surprise anniversary party that the husband was throwing for the wife. A lot of friends from our church community were there for the surprise and the grill-out and well-wishes and celebration of their marriage. It was a great time of hanging out and good conversation and just having fun together. One of my favorite moments was a hilarious conversation I had with a couple friends about movies--a chance to talk about something other than how sub-par I feel like I'm doing lately. Invaluable. And I needed the reminders that I am still a part of this community that I've started to get a little burnt out in lately.

At a certain point, the gathering transitioned into a second phase--most of the guests had left, someone plugged in their iPod, turned it up, and yes, we had a dance party in their living room. Just as things were starting to roll, a friend of mine was leaving, and I considered getting a quick ride home with her, since I had walked there. But I stayed, knowing that this would be one of the best opportunities for me to let go of some of my baggage.

Those of you who have known me for a while know that I do not dance in public. I enjoy dancing and movement when no one else is around, but I am just too self-conscious and inhibited in the company of other people, even good friends. When I'm around other people dancing to music that makes me want to move, I'll scurry on by and make some surreptitious, subtle body movements (in time to the music) as I make my way over to neutral ground.

But last night, instead of hanging back and hiding out in a side room, I willed myself into it, moving my arms and legs and hands and feet and head and body to the beat, just a handful of friends around. I certainly don't know any moves, was hardly familiar with the music that was playing, at times imitating the others, at times closing my eyes and just moving, at times unsure of myself. I have no idea how I looked to the other folks there. I also know that they didn't care one bit. Every now and then I'd get self-conscious, but for the first time in my life really, I would let it go and dance and enjoy it. Don't know what it'll be like the next time, but I am so grateful for the chance to find that moment of freedom and be a little bit more of myself.

04 June 2008


Show last night at the Basement with Old Bear and Kyiv was actually pretty solid, despite some minor mishaps and my own stumblings and intonation issues whenever I can't hear what's going on, which is semi-often when there's no time to do a sound check (that's just a cheap excuse--I'd have those problems on almost any gig involving a sound system, sigh). But a couple proud moments, too--I particularly liked a solo that I took on the last song of the night. Good music that I can enjoy with good friends whom I care about. I think it's the kind of gig that I'm looking for. I'm still figuring out where and how the music all fits into my life. Art. Beauty. Not sucking. But after a busy month and a half of rehearsals and gigs and recording, I've got a couple quieter weeks, I think, before things pick back up again in the second half of the month.

Went to a few of the plenary sessions of the Christian Community Health Fellowship annual conference here in Nashville last weekend, courtesy of the clinic I volunteer at. I am not a medical professional, of course, but since the central theme was the Kingdom of God, a lot of what the speakers were sharing was a broad call toward a focus on God's Kingdom and what we as followers of Christ are called to be/do in bringing that to bear in whatever spheres we find ourselves in. So it was good, I appreciated a lot of it, resonated with various things I've been thinking about as I've become steadily invested in my church community, its vision and my family there and our sense of place in East Nashville.

The weekend before that (Memorial Day weekend) I was a groomsman in a special little wedding here in town. A lot of folks poured out a lot of effort and energy and giftings to make it a really lovely celebration. All I had to do was show up in my tux. The next day I moved in with a friend of mine, so I'm finally a bit more settled, at least for the semi-indefinite future. Then spent the next day helping out a friend of mine from church who runs something called The Bridge (a program of the local YMCA), joining up with a bunch of folks for some cleaning and organizing and setting up for their summer enrichment program at a local middle school. Seems like it's pretty amazing and intense. They just started up this week.

What next? I might help out this weekend on a work project with some church friends for the Barefoot Republic summer camp. Or I might just have a quiet day. The push/pull of wanting to be busy and co-laboring with friends, but trying to take seriously my need for a bit of rest, too. We'll see, it's a game-time decision.

And yeah, I guess all those paragraphs are about things and programs and events and labors where you can see the Kingdom of God breaking through and transforming our life and culture and relationships, etc.

And it's June. Whaddya know.