Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Mission Transcends The Music Part 3

Jesus was once asked which of the commands was the greatest. He replied, "To love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength...And to love your neighbor as yourself."

Worship is vertical, aimed at God alone, but apart from love of the people around us, is incomplete. Let's not forget that the Pharisees and Saducees loved God fervently but judged the whole lot of folks around them as unworthy. So was their love for God really love? Part of loving God is loving what God loves. This is horizontal. This is the cross where worship and mission meet.

Lord help us to be infused with your love for the world around us.

This is the place our work, and music, and art, and worship should strive for. It's not that everything we do needs to be some deep, mystical, and worshipful experience, but that our lives are directed by the mission of loving God first and our neighbors as ourselves. However we will find that some pretty common things can be very spiritual, and on the flip side some things that seem spiritual are just pretending.

The Mission Transcends The Music Part 2

So what about the mission as it relates to worship music?

Worship music should be the soundtrack to what God is doing. Sure worship is directed Godward but it is also enfused with his heart for people. When I think back on worship CDs and songs that have impacted me personally oever the years they all have been produced by artists with a very definate missional sensability. A few examples:

1. Enter The Worship Circle - 100 Portraits and Waterdeep
This CD was chock full very subversive and dangerous stuff. Birthed out of community and missions the songs spread like wildfire through college ministries, and youth groups, and churches throughout the United States. It's ironic that in these days of polished-perfect, market-driven worship CDs that Enter The Worship Circle's lo-fi earthiness struck such a big chord. I believe that part of it was due to the movement of God that it accompanied. 100 Portraits and Waterdeep had cultivated relationships with college students all across America by helping engage in outreach and missions. These songs were the soundtrack to what they were doing. They were'nt cool worship songs, just real worship songs. To this day the members of both bands are involved with missional pursutes around the country.

2. Fragrant Oil - David Ruis
This is another lo-fi worship project that is very honest. No overdubs here, just what God was doing in the church in Winapeg Canada that he pastored. David Ruis is one of those worship leaders who definately has let the Fathers' heart infect him with compasion for the broken and beaten down. *I was very encouraged to see David Ruis the week after Katrina hit working with relief to our area. He didn't come down here as David Ruis, the big Vineyard worship leader, but as a servant alongside everyone else who was trying to help the area.

3. Kiss The Son - Kevin Prosch
Ther is a video out there of Kevin Prosch and the Black Peppercorns' tour of Europe back in 1996 I believe. To watch it is to see the intersection of worship and missions. Kiss the Son - the live worship CD from that era is filled with worship written from that vantage point.

4. Matt Redman - Facedown
From the beginning Matt Redman has been an outreach minded worship leader gaining widespread recognition through the Soul Survivor conferences in England where thousands of youth would descend on a community to do outreach. You can tell that this has been central in his songwriting and worship.

These are just a few examples of missional worship leaders and their soundtracks to what God is doing.

More to come...

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Mission Transcends The Music Part 1

Lately I've been feeling more like a missionary than a musician but the feeling has helped remind me of some important things about music. Much of my experience with music within the last 13 years has been in the context or inspired by Missions. Over half of the songs on the first CD I ever recorded "Through These Pinholes" were written on a missions trip to Costa Rica in 1993. In the 3 months of missions work in the jungles and mountains of Costa Rica God began to give me a little bit of His heart for people and radically altered my perspective on life, worship, and music. Through that experience I was able to glimpse something far bigger than my little "American Dreams". By 1996 I had been on several missions trips and ended up leading a missions trip with the college ministry I pastored to Amsterdam, Hungary, and Poland. It was on this trip that my band Mary's den was concieved. Over the next 6 years Mary's den was continually fuelled by a heart for missions. Sure we loved playing music together but there was something so much bigger than our music that drove us on.

In recent posts I have written about the importance of the micro-community of "The Band" in music. Another contextual issue is the importance of "the Mission" in music. I am personally a much better musician, songwriter, and performer when I am connected with the mission.

What is the Mission?

The mission is that thing that trancends the very music we make. The mission is about helping the broken, effecting positive change in the world, getting down in the pit with the depressed and lending an ear, and reaching out a hand of mercy to the ones in need. The mission is the ideal that fuels the songwriter with passion and grounds him to the real world.

I know I use U2 for a lot of examples here but I'll use them again. U2 is a band that from the begining realized that 4 guys in a band can really bring about change in the world. I know of no band as passionate, but it's not random or blind passion though, it's the passion fuelled by the mission. It's hard to imagine a U2 void of mission. In the past 5 years U2 has not simply turned out good music, but has done so much to eliminate debts of third world countries, and help the sick and orphaned in Africa. U2 has a real sense that there is something that transcends their rock-n-roll.

Sure, some bands are just good bands, and some songwriters just turn out good songs, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I believe there's a much better place to go with our music. Bob Dylan's lyrics don't just resonate with folks because they're well written but because they say something! and that something is connected to the idea that these songs can actually change the world for the better.

So what about worship music and the mission?

Katrina Update

As expected, once national news coverage has died down many think New orleans is back up and running. The truth is that New Orleans, a city of normally around 500,000 is only at about 60,000 at the moment. There are huge issues facing this whole region as the city tries to rebuild. I grow weary of hearing the name "Katrina". In fact I'm trying to make it a day without speaking that name. But, we cannot kid ourselves by pretending that the work is anywhere near done. I know Katrina updates have been kind of absent from my Blog because for sanity's sake I try to get my mind on other things. But this is just a note for everyone outside our area to continue to keep this region in your prayers and don't forget us just because attention in the media is shifting elsewhere. The good news is that Kenner, where we live, is coming back at a good pace. I believe within 6 months we should be back to normal and hopefully within a month my family will be in permanent housing. This will really put us in a much better position to help in rebuilding New Orleans. It's hard to help as much as we want when there is still so much damaged in our community. But as we get our city back we can help bring New Orleans back. So that's the Katrina News for this week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

You Got To Love Vineyard Churches!

A friend of mine recently visited the Trent Vineyard Church in Nottingham England. The church has a a full service pub inside their church. Check it out at http://www.trentvineyard.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=36&Itemid=48

Mary's Den Reunion

I know I'm just now getting caught up on news from Pre-Katrina, but this pic of an impromtu Mary's den reunion at Sugacanes in August was just sent to me recently from Stephanie Jones. Casey Campbell through his magic in on Search For You and In Your Eyes. Rumour has it that an official Den reunion may be in the works, You just never know...

Monday, November 21, 2005


Ready for a few days off! Tomorrow I'll be takin my first few days off since Katrina. I will be attempting my second try at smoking a turkey tomorrow. I tried the other day and ended up with one really black bird. It was quite tasty once you cut through the half inch of chared skin. Ever since we got the huge smokers from my friend from Blood and Fire ministries I've become quite a barbeque freak. As Phil, my pastor says, cooking is therapeutic. It's much more so when what you cooks turns out well. So I'm off to be thankful! You all be thankful too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Found What You're Looking For Yet?

A few posts back I referenced the Bono interview in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine. The following is the last question in the interview along with Bono's response.

RS: Have you found what you're looking for yet?

Bono: I used to think that one day I'd be able to resolve all of the different drives I have in different directions, the tension between the different people that I am. Now I realize that is who i am, and I'm more content to be discontent. I do feel that I'm getting closer to the song I hear in my head, getting closer to not compromising the melody with some crap words. I mean that on every level. I wasn't looking for grace, but luckily grace was looking for me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Rabbit Trail on Studio Musicians and Producers

I may have sounded a bit harsh about the studio musician thing on my last post. In no way do I wish to stereotype the studio musician by painting him as a mercinary who approaches music from a very cold and detached vantage-point. The problems I am addressing are systemic. The very best studio musicians and producers are those who can, like salt, draw out the unique flavors of artists and bands. In this regard I don't think U2 would have made nearly as big a splash had they not hooked up with Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno (producers behind U2's greatest albums). Daniel Lanois helped U2 find their sound. But Daniel Lanois approached the band as a friend and a fan and as a member on many occassions. His work with U2 was obviously was not detached or removed. He got down in their with them and in the proccess became an even better producer. More To Come. -C

Sunday, November 13, 2005

More on The Importance of The Band in music

In 1996 I recorded and released my 2nd solo CD called "The Sound of Rain". While I still play some songs in our live gigs off of that album and though I have rerecorded the song "Bridges" which first appeared on "The Sound of Rain"
for my latest CD Move, the band dynamic was missing on that '96 release. On "The Ssound of Rain" I opted to spend about $8,500.00 which was a lot for a guy who didn't even have a band. Come to mention it that was the most I've spent on any of my CDs to date. The recording budget included studio musicians, and prodcustion in a state-of-the-art studio in Dallas. While the CD came out with an impecable mix, and while the songs all sounded great (not to mention the awesome songwriting LOL), the whole project lacked the soul and honesty of my next project which would end up being "Songs From the Living Room" by Mary's Den. "Songs From the Living Room" captured the best of what I like about recording with a band. There was a whole lot of experimentation, a whole lot of learning, and because we were constantly playing music together we had an idea of which songs really connected with people. In fact over half of the songs were initially birthed in a live setting. Sure the CD had some flaws, many of which were on the bands' side but the CD had lots of heart and soul. There was something very spiritual about it and something very human. I still meet people to this day that say that "Songs From the Living Room" is still one of their favorite worship CDs. For as perfect sounding as "the Sound of Rain" was, i rarely ever meet anybody that still plays that one much. Part of this is due to the fact that studio musicians don't feel the same way about a song as a band does. They approach the song as outsiders. They approach the song analytically. They will play it technically better than anyone else but not neccessarily play the song the way it needs to be played. They play it because they get paid, because it's their job, but band members will play the song because they believe in it, because they helped create it, because it is a part of them. I know I'm starting to preach right now and I've got to go play some music, so more to come...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Relational Dynamics in Music

I flew in to Houston last night to do some recording for Vineyard Music. I got my vocal takes done so now I have some time for blogging. It is nice to be in a city void of devistation, a city with Starbucks, not to mention it was nice to sleep in a real bed last night. Not that I'm getting all soft though.

Last night in the airport I picked up a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine mainly to read the cover article/interview with Bono. A really insightful interview! One thing that really stood out to me was the relational aspect of the band and how it is part of the music they create and perform. (you can download a podcast of the interview at http://podcast.rbn.com/rstone/rstone/rss/bono_rs.xml ) U2 has been together now for about 29 years. And Bono has been married to the same woman for most of that time. Wow! Those are 2 things you rarely find in any rock bands.

You get the idea that Bono and the other guys in U2 are really good friends who love creating music together. Yeah they have their issues and problems but they stick it out and we get the benefits of it as consumers. This is one of the reasons I like bands.

It occured to me as I was reading this article that the relational side - the band side, if you will, of music seems to be in such short supply on radio stations and CDs.

I was reminded of my years with my band Mary's Den. In our 6 plus years together we turned out 3 CDs and spent a good deal of time traveling around the country. What was real cool is that we were all friends apart from the music. When we weren't playing gigs together we were hearing music together, hangin out together, barbequing together etc. In other words we didn't just work together. I would say it was this dynamic that probably made the most impact over the years. When we would lead worship at a local church we would seek to not just play music for a worship service but invite people into relationship with us and God. There are so many relationships that i have to this day that came out of those years. What was really cool was the creative proccess that came about. Our music came out of community. It was a team effort. Sure I wrote most of the songs but it was definately not a unilateral approach. Sure there were some very hard struggles in our relationships. But going through them only made the depth of creativity and character of our relationships stronger. To this day Ben Davis, (the former drummer of Mary's Den) remains one of my very closest friends and I still try to involve him in every creative endeavor that I undertake. I know working with him will keep the proccess honest, creative, and fun. King Solomon wrote "Wisdom is found in a multitude of councilors." I would say that good music is in turn found in a band of brothers.

I hear a lot of mainstream music that combines some of the best studio musicians, top producers, and state-of-the-art equipment that still fails to conect on the level of the soul. I really think that part of this is due to the fact that much of the music is created apart from community. However the music of bands like U2, Coldplay, Dave Mathews Band, connect at a deeper level. These bands weren't just put together to reach a demographic group and sell CDs like oh so many pop acts out there. The guys in Coldplay will redily admit that they are just average musicians but the sum of their music and impact is so much greater than the parts. Of course producers, and state of the art equipment have their place but so much of the soul of music and it's expression comes from the microcommunity of The Band. The music of U2 cannot be mass produced by great musicians and slick production because that's not the way it's arrived at. It comes from community.

More on this to come as I'm just thinking out loud here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sweetly Broken

In all of the craziness I failed to mention a new CD on which I did some vocals which just came out. The CD is a Vineyard Music Release called "Sweetly Broken". I sand on a song written by Casey Corum called "We Need Your Touch" - kind of a southern rock worship song. The title track is killer. It was written and performed by a guy named Jeremy Riddle. i haven't heard a song from this guy that I haven't liked yet. I will do some searching to see if he's got a solo project because he consistently has some real fresh songs coming out. We just did Sweetly Broken as a call to worship last weekend. Nice!

In other news I'm flying out to Houston in a couple of hours. I'll spend all day tomorrow re-recording a Black gospel version of "We Need Your Touch" with Casey. I'm really looking forward to this one. appearantly he's got a choir from memphis on the thing. It ought to be a great experience. I'll try and get some pics up. Well that's the news for today.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Jim Markway Quartet at Snug Harbor

Last night I went down to Snug Harbor, a jazz club down on Frenchman street on the edge of the French Quarter. Frenchmen street is definately coming back which is nice because it doesn't have all of the craziness and tourists that much of the other parts of the quarter are filled with. My friend George Alvey who played bass on a few songs on my last CD invited me after recommending the band highly. The band was off-the-charts good! All of the musicians played with such skill and soul. It was their first gig back in New Orleans and served as a good reminder of the mucial contributions of this region. If you are into Jazz pick this guy's CD up and support New Orleans music. http://www.jimmarkway.com/

Friday, November 04, 2005

Recontextualization of Songs

Remember September 11, 2001? I remember how U2's album All That You Can't Leave Behind became the soundtrack for the aftermath. A song like Beautiful Day resonated with such hope and the words to U2's Peace on Earth truely had a prophetic edge. U2's half time show at the 2002 Superbowl was one of the most memorable parts of the game as they paid tribute to the victims of the worldtrade center attacks.

It's now been about 10 weeks since Katrina came through and I am beginning to evaluate the songs and music that has made a difference in my life.

In worship I am finding that so many songs have been reframed in these recent days. Here's a list of some worship tunes that have seemed to mean a lot to me lately. I liked all of these songs before but they seem to have profound relevance as they have been brought into this new context.

1. "I Will Hold On" - From the Vineyard U.K. album Hold On.

2."They That Wait" by Kevin Prosch. "They That Wait" is full of words from Isaiah 40 about being strengthened by God as we wait on Him. I haven't sung this song much in church in the last few years until recently.

3. "I Will Trust You" by Chris Lizotte - This is great song about crying out to God in hard times. Chris' whole CD is one of my favorites right now.

4. "You Sustain Me" a song I wrote years ago is really meaning a lot lately as well.

5. "You Are The Reason" by Barry and Michelle Paterson. This is one of the simplest worship songs. It really brings one's heart into focus. It was originally released on a YWAM project called Dreams of God with Ben and Robin Pasley singing it. Barry and Michelle have the song on two of their CDs. Check their stuff out at http://barryandmichelle.com

Here's some artists/CDs I've been listening to lately as well.

1. Coldplay - all of their CDs. There is something so emotive about Coldplay that seems very comforting right now.

2. Daniel Lanois - "Shine" - a very good CD from my favorite producer. Full of real good songwriting and and interesting production as expected. Very worshipful as well in many places.

3. WWOZ - a local Jazz and Roots Music station in New Orleans just came back on the air. It's nice to hear some local music again. http://www.wwoz.com

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Binge and Purge Blogging

I've got a lot of pics that have been acummulating over the last 3 months so today will be a blogging binge. Included are some pre-katrina pics of the Possible World gig at Tips in NOLA.

Soul Food

Some pics from our makeshift kitchen at our church. You'll see Jimmy Jam Bordelon and wife Rachel in some of the pics who graciosly helped out on several occassions. By the way this is the famous Jimmy Jam mentioned in the song "Funky Jambalaya" available as a free download at www.crispinschroeder.com .

Backpacks for Schools

Here's some pics of distribution we did of backpacks and school supplies for schools in our area.

Pics From the Possible World Gig at Tipitinas

This will be the first of many postings that will cover life in the last 3 months. These are some pics from a gig I did with a newly formed band called Possible World at a club in New Orleans called Tipitinas. The gig was just 4 days before Katrina would hit. BTW Tipitinas is doing a lot to help area musicians. Check it out at www.tiptinas.com