Thursday, October 23, 2014

Trying Out Tumblr

In short, read my latest posts on Tumblr.

Over the past few days, I've been exploring Tumblr as a possible replacement option for Blogger. The reason is simple: traffic. But it's more complicated than that.

The number one reason to switch is that more people will see what I write; and after all, that's why we all write, right? Tumblr has a better built-in system for organic searches and finding new or related posts.

In addition, Tumblr is committed to updating their iOS app. This is huge because the majority of my posts are written on the go.

Finally, the reader-side format is easy to read, navigate and share.

So there you have it.

At this point, the jury is still out; but in the meantime, while I'm testing out Tumblr, you should really follow me over there:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Three Concerts You Should Go To

I'm getting back in to going to concerts. Not that I wasn't into going to concerts before, but it's just that going to a concert is expensive. The biggest cost is usually the ticket, then travel, then the hassle of the crowd, etc. But I like crowds, first off. And secondly, I also realize that concerts give people experiences unlike any other. Music is better live. Better when it's experiences with others.

Over the next three months, there are three concerts I think you should go to—if you live near Chicago. Here you go:

1. Switchfoot with Gungor. 9/19 at Olivet Nazarene University. One of the best alternative bands around. Fantastic songwriting and just plain nice guys. Not so sure about these Gungor folks, but my brother really likes them, so they're probably okay. The venue probably isn't the best, but it's only 90 minutes away from the Fox Valley; and besides, this might be one of Chicago's last chances to see Switchfoot play—ever.

2. John Mark McMillan. 9/21 at First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn. This dude is an incredible songwriter. And even though he writes some of the modern "hits," he understands songwriting aesthetics. Excellent lyrics. Likely a nice, intimate space with average sound (unless he provides his own back-line).

3. Josh Garrels with Will Reagan. 10/25 at Wheaton College. Really unique voice. A groove that hits that sweet spot. I have a lot of respect for a guy who gives away so much of his music for the greater good: spreading the love (and getting more fans out to live shows). This show will be a highlight of the season for me—in addition to the future birth of my second daughter!

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Man with a Gear Problem

My wife and I don't have a lot of money. But somehow, over the past couple of years, I've somehow found enough of it sitting around in our bank accounts to make a few gear purchases. Recent purchases include a couple new microphones, a very nice mic preamp, and a sweet Telecaster electric guitar (it's not actually, technically a Telecaster...).

But recently, I've started to feel a bit of a reckless pull—towards whimsically buying whatever I want, when I want it, when it comes to music equipment. I might be in trouble.

For the past eight weeks, I've been talking about buying another mic preamp in order to better handle recording live drums. It seemed like the most logical next purchase for my studio, though I knew that I also likely ought to own a Les Paul, in order to round out my guitar sound/palette...

But I've also known for a while—since about March—that there was a good chance that I'd be needing to buy an electric bass guitar. Why? Because I had a friend who, for six years, conveniently let me house his bass at the studio. In March, he came by to bring his instrument back home. The clock was ticking.

The need for a bass came to a head when, just a couple weeks ago, the bassist I had lined up for some session work fell through. I needed somebody to thump out some lines pronto; and, although there was an offer on the table for me to borrow a quality instrument, I knew my time was better spent elsewhere. It was quicker to run to Guitar Center, buy a bass, and drive back to the studio than to drive all the way out to a different friend's place, grab his, and come all the way back. The decision was made.

Here's a picture of what I got...

2011 G&L Custom JB Bass

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

...On Moonlighting

Tonight, I'm moonlighting. Y'all know what that is, right? Here's how I like to describe it:
Moonlighting is doing what you love after those whom you love are fast asleep.
(Follow me on Twitter for more profound one-liners such as this :) ---> HERE.

Moonlighting is honestly one of the hardest ways I can think of to sustain or develop a career or business. Bravo to everyone who is in it, into it, does it, and works hard at the work he or she really, really wants. You rock.

I, on the other hand, struggle to find balance, often caving into the desire (or need) for rest, relaxation, or recreation.

Tonight is my first time moonlighting in nearly seven months. I hope it will be the first of many more nights like this to come in the coming weeks and months—but not too many. Because I'd rather be doing this as a full-time gig during the day. Yes, I can dream, can't I?

What I'm working on: A soundtrack and narration of The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm, illustrated by Gail Schoonmaker.

Monday, April 28, 2014

We're Buying a House!

My wife and I are buying our first house. Today began the five-day attorney review period. We are excited, feeling blessed, but also quite stressed out.

We have three, young children, so on top of the ordinary stress of three under five, the usual music business stress—bringing home the green, finishing up a new record for summer—and the fact that we are expecting our fourth child in September, we have gotten to view homes for sale, negotiate, and scramble with finding an attorney, an inspector, and locking in a mortgage rate. Yum.

We love our children. Each day we feel inadequate to parent them. They deserve better. These facts make us rely all the more on Jesus for the strength and wisdom to parent and lead our children well. And, it gives us all the more reason to remind our children that they have a Heavenly Father who is perfect, who will always treat them fairly, who is always there, and who loves them unconditionally, without even a single lapse in displaying his affection for them. In Jesus, they do get better.

We trust and pray that our new home—our first home—will be a place where our children feel safe and loved—but only so that it reminds them of the much greater belonging they should feel for being a part of God's family, adopted as his sons and daughters, by His grace.

We trust and pray that our presence in the community will be a shining witness of God's grace in our lives and that through us, the Holy Spirit would work miracles in our midst, building meaningful relationships with our neighbors and helping many to understand the good news of the Gospel in new and extraordinary ways. May our home help us to do that.

We trust and pray that our marriage and our home will be filled with compassion and grace, generosity and an eagerness to share, and will resonate with Gospel melody: Christ's love for us on display through the mundane and the magnificent.

We are financing our home. But we do not presume upon God's grace to provide for our family's needs. We submit ourselves to his loving care and, in faith, believe that he will do what he says he will do: give us all that we need to live by faith.

He has called us to steward the resources he has given us to the best of our abilities, always seeking to honor him with what he provides; and for many—including us—we believe that this means operating within the broken mortgage banking system.

Why? Because buying and renting cost nearly the same. It's about monthly cash flow. We could rent, but buying allows us to reinvest our money. Yes, we are "stuck" because of taking on a mortgage, but we are also putting down roots, committing to invest ourselves in a particular community—for the long haul.

And we can't wait.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade? That is the Question

Reason 7's Rack Effects and Virtual Instrument Modules

I use Logic Pro for almost all of my recording. I like the interface way more that Pro Tools, and I know all of the key commands, and I love the virtual instruments and plug-ins. I'm currently running Logic Pro 9.1.8, which is, most likely, one of the very last updates to their version 9 software. A while back, I raised a stink about certain features not being in Logic Pro, the lack of updates, and how Propellerhead's Reason software was constantly being improved, where Apple's Logic seemed to be stuck inside a major corporation unwilling to innovate for their pro audio users. Enter Logic Pro X. Finally, an update. A big one. But is it worth it?

When Reason 7 came out, I vowed to leave Logic Pro behind, but that hasn't panned out—at least not yet. I was in the middle of several really big projects (and still am) and had started them in Logic, so it's difficult to migrate them over—especially to Reason. It's just such a different kind of animal. Much more analog-like, and definitely in the baby stages of development when it comes to key commands and back end features. Of course, Propheads would say they've stripped out the junk that is rarely used and left what is musically useful.

Also know that I exclusively use Reason 7 to create electronic music for Argo the Ship, and I love it for that platform.

But I'm thinking about testing out Logic Pro X to see if the updates are useful enough to make the switch up to version 10. Why? Probably because I'm familiar with Logic and by sticking with it, I don't have to waste precious minutes learning a new interface. I can spend more time creating instead of fiddling, figuratively speaking. Pro Tools is out. It's down to Reason 7 and Logic X, both of which I know, use regularly, and love.

Taking the plunge with a trial in mid-November...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Life After Kickstarter

This past Saturday (well, very early Sunday, actually), I completed my very first Kickstarter campaign. And, I am happy to say that our project was successfully funded! One of the "bands" I'm heavily involved in, Restoration Project, needed to raise funds–$10,000, actually–to cover recording and production costs for a new EP series. Firm Foundation will be a collection of remade Sunday School songs, featuring familiar melodies but with additional lyrics and new music. We are so, so happy with how our campaign did, and we'd consider it a success on every level.

Last plug before I get to the meat of this post: Even if you missed our Kickstarter campaign, you can still pre-order our Firm Foundation series in the web store. The first EP drops in November; the second in summer 2014.

So what's it like to complete a successful Kickstarter campaign?

Three things come to mind when I think about our work and what it means:

1. It's Just Beginning. Maybe you'd think that there would be a respite for project creators after a successful campaign; but the truth is, instead of getting easier, the work gets harder. I expect the next 60 days to include a plethora of sleepless nights as I work to complete these recordings well before Christmas.

2. Obligation. I have to tell you, I was blind-sided by this: the feeling of obligation I have towards all those who have pledged towards our campaign. I don't want to let anybody down. I want these to be great recordings, great songs, and I want to finish them on a really, really tight time table. I want these songs to be as good as I seem to make them out to be.

3. Gratitude. So many people gave so generously. I am grateful to them, and I am grateful to God for placing his hand over our campaign and bringing in the necessary funding. It makes me hopeful for the future, too, that we could, potentially, successfully do this again in a year. On that, we'll see...

Thank you all for your continuous support of my music. I do hope these new recordings will make you proud to be a part of this work.