Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sunday and Salt

Sitting here, listening to Andy Osenga's acoustic version of a new song Early in the Morning, I can't help but think of the Sabbath. This moment marks the end of another Sunday. Andy's song is based on the form of Steinbeck's The Pastures of Heaven. The novel is a group of stories about people living in a small secluded valley in California. It brings me to think of the beauty and community and completeness of the Sabbath that is to come. It makes these days feel so broken in comparison and wells up a longing in me that is bittersweet. It frightens me a bit that I might get so accustomed to that yearning that I would choose it over a true wholeness, but I don't suppose that will be possible at the advent of Glory. And still, I struggle.

I find that I have so much trouble with the Sabbath. I tend to like weekdays better. I feel more able to be prayerful on those days. I feel like it's easier to know God's presence in my daily life. On Sundays, I feel crappy usually. This might sound stupid, but I think my face actually gets that oily I-need-a-shower-NOW feeling quicker on Sunday. We always eat a big meal at my parents' house and I want to take a nap. I usually gain a couple hard-lost pounds on Sunday that linger in the shadows of my belly button when the next weekend rolls around. I get a headache that stems from allergies when I snooze at my parents' house. All this adds up to make Sunday anything but the most pleasant day of the week. And this bothers me. I could blame it on my allergies or on the fact that I have to get up early to go play bass or on the communication difficulties in my family, but all this is merely trivia. I want very badly to enjoy this day and be filled with the presence of God on it more than any other day like I feel that I should. Yes, "to another man, every day is the same." But to be in the presence of God's people should not be a burden. That reveals something evil in my heart, something that I desperately want lifted away.

My dog constantly licks my hands when I'm here. I've wondered why she's begun to be addicted to the taste of my fingers. She's never done this before these past few months. She is now old, deaf, and mostly blind, but still retains the vitality of a dog half her age. I can only credit this to the love that is alive within the walls of my family's house. She's been around since I was eight, so that makes her....old. Fourteen, I guess. I don't know if you know this, but there's something very soothing about having a dog lick your hands (unless you're my wife, who reacts somewhat like Lucy Van Pelt). I've allowed myself the deluded thought that it's because she really loves me that much, and it's kind of like grasping hands with a close friend. But it's probably just because my skin tastes like salt.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Knoxville News

New City Cafe is beginning a new chapter in it's short yet extensive history. I was privileged to gather with some of the directors today and learn firsthand about the coming change. Let me dispel all rumors by saying that New City Cafe is NOT closing. I repeat: NOT closing. We are taking a much needed Sabbath as a community. The last regular concert will be September 30th. How fitting that it should be a cd release concert for Andy Peterson's The Far Country. That album in itself (and most of Andrew's work, really) seems to be about the coming of the Great Sabbath that will make history of our tears and our pain. The Sabbath is a time of rest and reflection, a time of joy and communion. As much as this might seem like an end to some (like it did to me at first), it now seems a new beginning to me. Like turning the page between Good Friday and Easter Morning, there's a funny breath of fresh cool morning air dancing round. I really can't wait to see where God is going to take this community.

I've also started a new job at Starbucks. While a lot of people think Starbucks is the giant evil empire (run by Dr. Evil from the Space Needle), what I've learned might just blow your mind. I've nothing more to say about that except that a lot of churches could stand to take lessons from this great 'evil empire' about servanthood, humility, and values. So, do a little digging if you please. You'll have to, because I found out that this company doesn't toot its own horn.

And now, the news.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Electronic Rigamarole

For those of you who didn't know and came to the show Saturday, we recorded it. My dad was in the back pulling a direct line out of the house board. Now, experience with live recording tells me that it's not going to turn out that great, especially with a setup like that. And especially when I can't really hear my voice in the monitors. It makes me tend to oversing, and that makes me lose pitch and tone. But, I shall take the massive 1-track recording to Jared's house and we'll see what we can pull off of it. Burn Away sounds pretty good. Come Thou Fount and Swing Low Sweet Chariot sound even better (since they were just me and my guitar - easy mixing). We might even be able to pull off Fast Asleep. Jared's pretty good with Goldwave, so who knows.

I also talked to Karen Reynolds about doing an on-air interview and some songs on Writer's Block on WDVX in Knoxville. They have a pretty widespread demographic through webcast, so publicity and such would be great. But Karen's reply was that things would go better with a cd to pitch. So I'm back to my old friend, square one. However, things might be looking up in that arena. I've just secured a job at Starbucks, so I will be able (bills notwithstanding) to save up a little income and finally put together an album. I think it's finally and actually the next step in the process of songwriting. I've got some good sources where I can put things together for fairly cheap. I'm also going to be looking for some new equipment. So if anyone has an LRBaggs Para-acoustic DI, a Boss DD-3, or the Boss RV-5 (and any of these that they're willing to get rid of or sell for cheap, I will soon enter the market. My friend Nathan put a Dark Earth pickup in my Maton for me, and it sounds so much better than the crappy ProMag I had. But I think he got me addicted to better control of my sound. Problem with the ParaAcoustic is, I'll have to carry around a sack of 9V's with me, but enough people swear by it that I'll certainly give it a go. I might be putting some practice amps on eBay soon as well, but I'll let you know. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Weekend Review

Jared took us out Saturday afternoon for lunch at the Lakeside Tavern. And I ended up with the remnants of a bottle of wine from Francis Ford Coppola's vineyard in California. It's beautiful stuff with a dark velvet fruit taste. Great souvenir bottle too. I'm collecting some to make a lamp out of them or something. I wanted to copy an idea I saw at the Melting Pot many moons ago. They had a bottomless copper box made of metal plates. A bulb was hung inside with differently colored wine bottles hanging around it. The effect was really cool. Who know though...may change my mind.

The show Saturday night was phenomenal. It's been a while since I've had so much fun playing music. Usually Sunday mornings comprise my performance experience for the most part, and while they're not all that bad, an escape to a more performance-oriented artist-friendly venue is a blessing. So, it was a great turnout for the New City show. As usual, Grant stepped up to the plate as a drummer, and knocked it clear of left field. So, between Grant and Rob on guitar, these dusty old sketches of songs were turned into an impressionistic magnum opus. We scaled the walls of quite a few genres, skipping from jazz to country to rock to an old spiritual. My wife sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and I've never been so proud. I had a blast the whole night. And lo and behold, some folks came out from a discipleship group that I had played at with my sister Emily a couple weeks ago. They didn't even know it was me playing that night, nor did I know they were coming, but it was really cool to meet sort-of-familiar faces. It was also a great opportunity to talk with the guys from Sefrona (who I always appreciate hearing) and see some great friends.

These past few days have been spent in making what money I can. But they seem to run together. I am becoming more aware of my everyday need for Christ. It's something I'm going to have to take more seriously. But nothing feels better to a heavy soul than contentment in inadequacy. I wish I was better at maintaining knowledge of my own weakness.