About Me

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I’m from New York but my driver’s license lists that my address is Ohio. My passport has a number of stamps in it. I’m the youngest of six, yet oldest son. I have a number after my initials, but not my name. I like music. I drink coffee at all times of the day. I am a follower of Jesus. I own my own business. I watch bonus features on DVD’s. For four months each year my wife and I are the same age. “I pledge allegiance to a country without borders, without politicians.” I am an ordained pastor. I’ve eaten raw horse meat. I’m fifteen inches taller than my wife, but I look up to her. I still prefer buying CDs to downloading music. I’m a night owl, who doesn’t mind getting up early. I like to shop, and my wife doesn’t. I like to play games. I moved to another country nine days after my wedding. I sometimes quote random lyrics. I believe in miracles. I prefer desktops to laptops. I like listening to audio books. I listen to hockey games on the internet. I have five sons. I'm living life mid sentence.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Latest from Derek Webb--Ctrl

In the mid-90’s I was introduced to a number of new bands by a college roommate.  One of the bands, Caedmon’s Call, was unlike most other bands that were out at the time.  Their music was an eclectic mix of acoustic, rock, ballads, and included both male and female lead vocals. Looking back at early Caedmon’s Call, I am not sure if the band was shaped by Derek Webb’s presence, or if Webb’s involvement in the band helped to shape him as the solo artist he would become.  In either case, what I have seen from Webb over the past nine years has worked for me.

There are some artists who make a shift artistically, and leave you wondering what they were thinking.  Webb, while continually stretching himself and reinventing his art, has always left me looking back thinking that he was able to pull off what few others would have been able to.  Whether it was going from being a young man who didn’t sway too much from his Caedmon’s Call roots, in She Must and Shall Go Free, to a seasoned artist who isn’t afraid to take risks, as seen in Stockholm Syndrome and to a lesser extent this new album Ctrl, Webb doesn’t seem content with making music to just sell albums.  He is an artist first, and a marketer second.  Or, as Webb said himself several years ago in the song “Zeros Ones”, he’s “a prophet by trade and a salesman by blood.”  Webb goes beyond entertaining his listeners, and his music encourages people to think.  Few artists are able to pull this off, and Webb makes it into an even more elite club of artists who do it effectively.  

Having spent a couple days with Ctrl now, I will say it is an album that will likely take a little time for some to warm up to.  Webb returns to a more acoustic sound, while interweaving drum machine beats that were the driving force on much of Stockholm Syndrome.  What is likely to take some people time to adjust to is the addition of Sacred Harp backing vocals.  The addition, which at times is sampled, makes its way into most of the songs on the album.  As one who was not familiar with Sacred Harp, at first listen the vocals seemed out of place and somewhat distracting.  However, after a few times through the album I was coming around to enjoy the artistic addition. 

Ctrl is best described as a mood album.  From start to end the album has a tone it sets, that keeps me coming back for more.  You can get a a three song sample of the album for free on Webb’s creation, Noisetrade.com, but I would encourage you to go to Webb’s website and spend nine dollars to experience the album in its entirety.  

Thursday, August 09, 2012

What Have I Become--Revisited

Seven and a half years ago I wrote a blog entitled "What Have I Become?".  In the blog I talked about how some people get stuck, at some point in their life, and time seems to stand still.  They stop listening to new artists, they stop updating their wardrobe, and basically become trapped in a time warp.  Now, I believe, I am joining their ranks.

When I drafted the original blog I was a 26 year old radio newscaster, who was keeping up with new trends in music, fashion, and technology.  I was single, living by myself, and somewhat carefree.  Now I am 34, married with three sons, in a different line of work, and have many things to concern myself about.  While my wardrobe hasn't changed much since 2005, since after all diapers, doctors, and other expenses that come along with having a family aren't cheep, and while I no longer keep up with the cutting edge of technology, for some of the same reasons stated earlier, I would not trade places with the carefree version of myself from the yesteryear for anything.  Carefree can be fun at times, but the life I have now is much more rewarding.

While I somewhat resemble the person described in the original blog in regards to my music listening habits, I have not simply turned my music player from "shuffle to repeat".  However, over the years, I've become more selective in what music I choose to buy.  Certain artists I will buy whatever they put out, while others, even some artists I think are good, I will pass on.  In a sense, I have separated the great artists from the good artists over time, and have decided that only the great ones are worth the investment.  Two such artists have new albums coming out in the coming weeks, and I hope to offer my thoughts about the artists and their albums in the coming days.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Admitting Ignorance in a Land of Experts

When you are online, it doesn’t take too long to realize that the internet has given people the false sense that they are experts in a number of fields. Whether it is through posts on social media sites, reviews for products at online stores or comments on news stories, many people believe that they are self-taught experts whenever they communicate.

Part of the reasoning behind people’s belief that they are experts likely comes down to they want justification that what they think, feel or bought is right or the best, and so they will talk up their position to that end. They don’t want to hold a position and then find out their position is wrong. They don’t want to buy a product and then find out they got what we paid for. So, instead of acknowledging that a position may not be as black and white as originally thought, or that those headphones that cost the same as a few Starbucks drinks are poorly constructed and sound like they cost ten dollars, people talk up their position to what seems like limitless ends.

 In regards to beliefs, the George W. Bush-esque “either you’re with us or against us” tends to be the rallying cry of many, who then will draw lines in the sand, that may or may not be necessary. And once those lines are drawn, those on either side feel it necessary to stand their ground and fight for their position at all cost. After all, many feel that if they change their mind then what they say no longer will be taken seriously. In other words, they view fluidity in any position or opinion to be a shot at their integrity and character.

 Maybe it is time for people to stand up and say “I don’t know it all, I’m not an expert, and I’m OK with that.” Will that happen? Probably not! There may be a small remnant willing to be honest, but most people are not comfortable revealing their vulnerabilities. So, as time passes more people will draw the line in the sand over issues and positions they won’t remember years later, more people will look back at the Bob Doles and Howard Deans that they voted for asking themselves what they were thinking, and more people, who are buying ten dollar headphones online, will claim that they bought these to add to their fictitious collection of three hundred dollars headphones—which, of course, don’t sound as good as their new purchase.