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Showing posts from 2011

White's Chapel UMC - Celebrate the Light

White's Chapel UMC, just a few miles down the road in Southlake, TX, put on a great Christmas light display using the outside of the front of their sanctuary.

Here is the YouTube display . . . awesome.

Rick ><>

Merry Christmas . . .

Merry Christmas! My hope and prayer are that you and your family may have peace this day.

And if you are reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 today . . . consider that the manger is mentioned 3 times!

Manger - a feed trough. The manger in Jesus day was probably rectangular in shape, chiseled out of the soft rock in the area. From a distance, it might have looked to us like a bread pan.

Bethlehem - "House of Bread."

Jesus - the "Bread of Life!"

Think about it!

Merry Christmas!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

The Power of Song

I finally had a rare free hour to sit on the couch in my office and watch the 2007 documentary about Pete Seeger, "The Power of Song."

Interesting how a line from another artist came up in my head over and over as I watched. Harry Chapin wrote, "if a man tried to take his life on earth, and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth . . . I wonder what would happen to this world?"

As Joan Baez put it, in referring to herself and many other singer/musicians, "all of us owe everything to Pete Seeger."

What I hope here is that we can agree to look beyond politics. I dont necessarily agree with some of the stuff and groups Pete sang for over the years. A lot of what he supports I wish I had the balls and heart to speak more openly about.

One thing I especially admire about Pete's life, was the power he felt music had for good in the world. He always said how he often longed to get people or groups in disagreement with one another, and get the…

Rick singing at the "Be Our Guest" Meal, Tuesday 12/20/11 ...

I will be doing a Christmas carol song set at the "Be Our Guest" meal at the First United Methodist Church in Grapevine. The meal starts at 6 PM.
This meal began several years ago, out of the desire of FUMC-Grapevine members who wanted to reach out to the neighbors around the church. We called the area the "ministry mile". Now that mile has grown to include several communities and 3 villages, including one in Costa Rica and in Kenya.
The meal is a full sit down dinner on a table with tablecloth, real plates and cutlery, cloth napkins . . . the works. We have up to 60 volunteers who come to serve as table hosts, servers, etc.
The food . . . oh, boy. Top notch holiday fair for the November and December meals, and other greats menus through out the year.
The etertainment . . . not half bad either, if I do say so myself. I usually get to sing twice a year. The "Be Our Guest" meal happens the 2nd Tuesday evening of each month.
God's grace still amaze…

December 24th "Family Friendly" service at 5 PM - Preaching on Christmas Day

This Saturday, Christmas Eve, at the 5 PM "Family Friendly" service in the main sanctuary, I will be playing guitar and leading the singing! All Christmas hymns, favorites of one and all.
I'm getting the Guild 12-string all ready!
We have services at 5 PM, 7 P and 9 PM at the Downtown Campus, and a service at 6 PM at the Heritage Campus.
I will also be bringing the message on Christmas morning. We will only have worship at 11:15 AM on December 25 at the Downtown Campus. A blessing of the presents will also take place.
Check out for more info on the themes of each service.
See you Saturday and Sunday!
God's graces still amazes me . . . ><>

New home for Grapevine Guitar Works . . .

It looks like the Grapevine Guitar Works showroom will be moving across the parking lot from where it is now, right next to excellent street access with plenty of parking. It will be very visible from the Northwest Highway. The new location should be open and going by the end of January.
Check out the GGW wegpage for upcoming announcements.

End of the year reflections ...

A good year.
Certification in therapeutic music entertainment has opened several previously closed doors to me. And at this time in my life, I picked up a guitar and walked through the door. Actually wasn't as hard as I thought. Perhaps it ist true, that I am the age where I know what I am about, what I have deep passions for.
As a result of some new doors opening to me, I am not that far from the time I will be singing and playing guitar about half the time each week.
That sounds pretty good to me.
A lesson learned here is that I wish I had pursued music earlier in my life. It is what I've been called to do all my life. I am pretty happy when I sing . . . and I think it shows when and where ever I perform.
A good year.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Texas wines . . .

A great website to learn more about the wine industry here in the great State of Texas can be found at
Or, just click here.
One of my favorite hobby activities is to visit area wineries around where we live or are visiting.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

I think I am going to like playing with a "wound" G . . .

I've made no bones about not admitting how difficult it is for me to play electric guitar. I'm an acoustic "boom-chucker" from way back. Too play louder, we just used a heavier pick and played harder.

Needless to say, my electric gutiar technique is, shall we say, "aggressive." I have really had to work to lighten up my touch.

A while back, I divested (a guitar players term for "traded in") all my electrics except for the Squire Strat that my friend Joe gave me a couple of years back. Actually, it is a Fender body, with the old Fender style neck with larger headstock. Bullet truss rod adjustment, and the old 3 screw neck to body joint.

I tried putting "9's", "10's", and "11's" on it . . . but that dad-gum non-wound G . . . I could never keep it in tune. I learned how to intonate an electric, adjust the neck, measure and change the radius. But still . . . no joy in Mudville . . . electric guitar is just a tot…

Concert difficulities . . .

Yesterday evening, I was asked to sing at our monthly "Be Our Guest" Dinner here at the church. This is a monthly meal where we provide a special sit-down dinner for the people who live around our church. It is well attended, with usually 100+ people joining us for dinner. Last night was no exception.

I took my Taylor NS-74 and plugged it in to the house system . . . and the troubles, at least in my mind, began. Something was shorting out . . . and the guitar just sounded "snotty" for want of a better term. I hate fighting a guitar, especially one that has been good to me in the past. I actually felt like smashing it on the floor.

OK . . . time for some counseling maybe??

So, I ran upstairs and got my Fishman amp. Problem with the guitar solved! Then the mic connectoin went out . . . so I plugged my mic into the amp, and hit the 100 watt button. Seemed to do the job.

I made the decision last night that I need to use a monitor more often. Hoping Sean at Grapevine Guitar…

A busy day . . .

My day began with my attending one of our Iron Men Bible Study locations. We have two that meet on Thursday mornings, and a new Thursday evening group that will begin meeting tonight.

Then I went to my office at the church to grab my Guild 12-string, then off to Dallas and Children's Medical Center. My TME (theraputic music entertainment) partner, Larry Dykstra, and I sang to over 200+ children and adults in several different clinics and other locations.

Lunch with my wife followed, a wonderful mid-day respite.

Then back to my office at the church for phone calls, and reading several chapters of John Eldridge's Wild at Heart, and Rob Bell's Love Wins, then I allowed myself a few minutes on the Martin Guitar website to lust after their new jumbo baritone guitar.

I will leave here shortly for a wedding rehearsal, then home.

A busy day.

As much as I write and talk about how singing and playing guitar "fills" me with energy, I have to admit that so does reading a really …

I unpacked the old Kasuga Tenor Banjo . . .

John Mollet, our senior pastor here at FUMC-Grapevine, gave me a Bela Fleck and Flecktones CD yesterday. He saw Bela and friends in concert this past weekend.

Seriously, what is there not to like about John!!!!

What ever style music Bela and the band plays, bluegrass-fusion-jazz . . . it's just awesome. The Flecktones are an incredible band. Each musician is as skilled on their instruments as Bela is on the banjo.

Now I am inspired!!!!

Mercy, when I have said that before, it always tends to cost me money.

So, I dug around my office here at the church and pulled out my old Kasuga 4-string tenor banjo. Needs a little bit of neck work, and I need to spring for new tuners.

Truth is, I haven't played my banjo here at FUMC-Grapevine, ever if I recall. I used to play this a lot back in the 1990's when I was the senior associate at FUMC-Waco. Played it every Sunday as a matter of fact. Moved to Godley, and then to Hewitt, and started playing more guitar.

A tenor banjo, at least the way I…

Thank you Joshua Ingram . . .

I had the honor of taking friend and fellow singer/songwriter/guitarist Joshua Ingram to lunch today, accompanied by his beautiful little 3 year old daughter.

Yep folks, if you know or have known Josh . . . he is an accomplished singer, guitarist and band leader, in addition to be being a pretty good dad!

The occasion of our lunch today was that I wanted to thank Josh for something. Several years ago, it was Josh who came by my office at the church and told me about the Theraputic Music Entertainment apprenticeship that Hugworks was starting up.

Having just completed the apprenticeship, and received my certification as a theraputic music entertainer, I thought an appropriate thank you to Josh was in order.

In other words . . . chicken fried steak at Old West Cafe here in Grapevine!!!

For more info on Josh's upcoming performance schedule, click here.>

He is a very good local home grown talent. He has an incredible number of songs memorized, and his vocals and guitar playing just get b…

Back to Philmont in 2012

This past Thursday, I received the official invite to return to the Philmont Scout Ranch in Northeast New Mexico as the chaplain for the Fall Training Event at the Philmont Training Center in September, 2012.

Outstanding! I will be looking forward to this all year!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Grapevine Guitar Works to carry Takamine . . .

I got a message from Sean Simon at Grapevine Guitar Works, that Takamine acoustic guitars will be in the showroom soon!

Advertised as the "Hardest working guitar" in showbiz, it will be a welcome addition to the Cordoba, Ramirez, Eastman and Taylor lines that Sean already has in stock.

Yamaha acoustics may also be in the works soon. More on that later.

My sincerest thanks to Sean's support of my theraputic music entertainment ministry. He has helped open some doors along the way. I am extremely grateful for his help, counsel and friendship.

A man and his guitar . . .

Here is a Baxter Black video of a poem he wrote about his Martin Guitar. I think it is a J-40.

Pretty good!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

TME certification presentation . . .

Yesterday in worship at the First United Methodist Church of Grapevine, TX . . . Jim Newton and Paul G. Hill, our special musical guests from, presented me with a certificate signifying the completion of my theraputic music entertainment apprenticeship.

As of yesterday, I am an official "certified" theraputic music entertainer.

I appreciate the work that Jim and Paul put in to helping me through the process. Both have become cherished friends and fellow music makers.

Another great day!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Philmont Report . . .

Well, we are back from Philmont and vacation. Awesome weather. Awesome country. I understand now why North East New Mexico is called "God's Country."

My Philmont Experience was a great success, if I say so myself. I played guitar, sang, and gave the message at 3 chapel services, 2 of which were at 6:30 AM. Yes, my friends, there is nothing like a chapel service facing the New Mexico sunrise with elk bugling out in the distance!

I also played guitar and sang at two evening sing-a-longs. It is hard to play guitar and sing when homemade dutch-oven cobblers are cooking on coals less than 20 feet away!

I also provided a bit of a back porch concert with the help of several other BSA execs, as they hosted several reps from various corporate groups who were at Philmont to explore future partnerships with BSA.

The highlight for me, was getting to sing 4 songs at the closing program on Friday night, outside in the Philmont Training Center Program Bowl ampitheater, in the 40's temp…

What to expect when you ask me to sing . . .

Lately, I've been getting an increased number of invitations to sing. That's a good thing.
First, when you call or email me, I have to check my church and personal calendars. Obviously, as a full-time senior associate pastor of a larger and growing church, I have to give priority to already scheduled events and meetings. However, sometimes things can be re-arranged.
If the calendars are open, and I can get to your venue without lengthy travel . . . it's probably something I can do.
Second, I am primarily an acoustic guitar player. I am going to arrive with either a Guild jumbo 12-string or 6-string . . . usually with both. I have a Fishman Loudbox amp and all the little accessories that make it work well. In many venues, all I use is a podium mic, as often that is all that is needed. In nursing homes or in hospitals, I do not use a mic or amp. A softer approach for these venues is more appropriate.
Third, I will tailor the program to your needs. Obviously, in hospi…

More music, more of the time . . .

Hoping to have something to announce after the 1st of October, concerning my being able to increase the number of times, dates and places I will be providing Theraputic Music Entertainment to children in hospitals in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area.
It's all a good thing!
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Guild's are one tough guitar . . .

Currently, my main performance guitars are a Guild F-512 (12 string) and a Guild F50R, which I just picked up today.
Although I am a first choice Martin guitar lover, I went with Guild for the guitars I play at hospitals, nursing homes and other community gigs.
Both my Guilds are jumbo's . . . as I play in a lot of acoustic only venues. I'm also 6'6" and 300 pounds . . . a jumbo doesn't exactly look small on me.
But more importantly . . . the Guild's are just plain "logs." Yes they are heavier than Martin's, but they are also, in my opinion, much tougher, and will stand up better long term in the venues I perform in. Granted my Martin DC-16 is the best sounding guitar I have ever heard . . . it is light weight, and banged against a door or a tree, it isn't going to last long.
I'm not saying that Martin's are brittle . . . not by any means . . . but a guitar with me is not exactly living in the safest world . . . as I haul them aro…

Should music make a difference?

Damn straight it should!!!!
I'm 54 years old . . . and truth is this . . . I would give my guitars to Sean at Grapevine Guitar Works to sell . . . and never sing another note ever . . . if I didn't think that music made some sort of a difference in people's lives.
As long as humanity struggles . . . there will be music.
As long as people need a respite from the problems they face . . . there will be music.
As long as people love each other . . . there will be music.
As long as people need answers to life's questions . . . there will be music.
As long as friends gather to celebrate, or to mourn . . . there will be music.
As long as people search for God and faith . . . there will be music.
As long as people stand up for the rights of others, and for causes that educate us about injustice, hatred and oppression . . . there will be music.
As long as I am alive and have voice, and have hands that can play a guitar, ukulele or banjo . . . there will be music.
My mission in the days,…

Another "Camp Ground Store" concert under my belt . . .

This morning I provided a two hour concert at the Vineyards Campground in Grapevine, TX, singing once again on the front porch of the Camp Ground Store.
The occasion? The store was having a clearance sale!
Aw . . . it was a hoot! About 50 people filtered through to make store purchases for need items, and many of them sang along with the songs. I sang about 5 songs to one little 4 year old girl, who wanted to sit and listen to the music. Her dad seemed to enjoy it too.
One older lady walked over as soon as I started, and stayed the entire two hours. What a trooper!
If you are into camping or RVing, you need to check out the Vineyards Campground. It has won several regional and national awards, and is very, very, very family oriented.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

September 1, 2011 . . . I be "certified!"

A good day!

This morning, I sang in several of the clinics at Children's Medical Center in Dallas, and in the process, fulfilled my solo performance requirement, the final requirement for certification as a Theraputic Music Entertainer through

I passed! I did pretty well.

I should be exicted. I find that my emotions are more centered in thankfulness.

So . . . I offer my thanks and gratitude to:

-My wife and family for their unwavering support.

-To Jim Newton, Paul G. Hill and Larry Dykstra at Hugworks. Their friendship, instruction, guidance and mentoring have, are now, and will always be valued and appreciated for years to come.

-To Sean Simon and Grapevine Guitar works, for helping me get to the place where I am finally playing professional quality guitars, which has helped raised my singing and guitar playing ability dramatically. Sean has also offered great advice and counsel, in addition to his friendship, which I greatly value.

-To Joe Laughlin and Floyd Marsha…

Closing in on 10,000 hits to this webpage . . .


Looks like we are soon approaching 10,000 hits from people who have checked out this little blog/journey of mine.

Seems there are a lot of people who still belive in music.

From my heart . . . thank you! I appreciate you all.

If we continue to make our individual "joyful noises" . . . it will continue to make a collective difference in the lives of the people around us.

God's grace, and the power of music still contiue to amaze me . . . ><>

I don't really have that much time left . . .

It hit me this morning . . . like it does many morning when I get out of bed, hoping my knees are going to work . . . hoping the tendenitis in my right heel will not be as bad as it usually is . . . hoping I can walk without screaming . . . hoping that the older ladies around our church will quit offering to help me cross the street . . .

It hit me . . . that I'm 54 years old.

In the grand scheme of things . . . I probably don't have much time left . . . at least not compared to the time I have lived so far.

That thought, for me at least . . . is motivating!!

It got me to thinking a bit . . . re-evaluating if you will . . . why I sing and play guitar. I mean beyond the "I like to" or "it makes me feel good" comments. I mean, I spent a night watching and listening to Noel Paul Stookey for crying out loud. It is obvious why he continues to sing and play at age 73. He has his reasons . . . the causes he believes in. He wants people to love, care for and respec…

Noel Paul Stookey is alive and oh, so well . . .

The Noel Paul Stookey benefit concert for Hugworks last night at Poor David's Pub in Dallas, was a great experience. Awesome is a very weak descriptive world. Double awesome. Triple awesome.
I had a blast.
Although not sold out as hoped, it was a comfortably full house, and Noel's performance was classic. He is a consumate singer, musician and showman, and at 73, he brings a lot of natural depth, maturity and integrity to what he does. Clear vocals. seasoned guitar playing, and the richness of one of the best song writing minds out there. You more than got your moneys worth. And all the proceeds went to Hugworks. Seems to be a win-win to me.
It struck me as a very intellectual concert. I'm glad I went.
A great night, listening to, and with the audience, singing along with one of my all-time music heroes.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Los Lobos . . . This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore

Just one of those meloncholy evenings . . . and found myself wanting to here some blues. Ahhh, that means it's time for Los Lobos!
God's grace and good music still amaze me . . . ><>

Noel Paul Stookey concert . . . August 20th in Dallas

A reminder . . . the Noel Paul Stookey Dallas area concert benefitting Hugworks is this Saturday evening, August 20th.
Dallas Concert
When: Saturday, August 20, 2011
Where: Poor David's Pub
1313 South Lamar Street
Dallas, TX 75215

Time: VIP Reception 5:30 pm - 7 pm
Concert - 8 pm
VIP Tickets include: (limited quantity!)

Private reception with Noel Paul Stookey prior to the show
Autographed CD by Noel Paul Stookey
Prime Seating for the concert
Visit Poor David's Pub for both VIP ($75 each) and regular tickets ($35-$40 each)

Hope to see you there. Hugworks staff and volunteers will have nametags on, so please feel free to talk to any one of us about what Hugworks is all about.

Singing solo at Children's Medical in Dallas . . .

Today, from 10 AM - 12 noon, I had the opportunity to sing and play guitar solo in several of the clinics at various locations within the Children's Medical Center in Dallas. My partner was unable to be there today due to a health issue, and . . . well . . . I was there, so what the heck . . . I went in and sang.

First . . . for the record . . . I DID NOT GET LOST! Not even once. I made it to each location, sang 5-6 songs, and then headed to the next stop. Children's Medical Center is a HUGE place with elevators, different levels, sky bridges . . . but today I made it around without help.

Truthfully . . . I had a blast! Nothing helps song memorization, both words and chords, more than the good stress of performing!

The response seemed to be positive. I have now concluded that every person in the world knows "Wheels on the Bus." "Old McDonald" got great participation from the kids. "I Believe in Music" got polite applause from the adults.

However, …

Noel Paul Stookey - Texas Concerts to benefit Hugworks

Noel Paul Stookey In Concert to Benefit Hugworks
Houston - August 19, 2011
Dallas - August 20, 2011

We are excited to announce that on Friday, August 19th and Saturday, August 20th, Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary fame, will be performing in two locations in Texas - Houston and Dallas.

Both concerts are in benefit of Hugworks, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide songs of healing and hope for children with special needs in hospitals, medical camps, schools and at The Hugworks Center.

Join us for a wonderful evening of music with Noel Paul Stookey!

Houston Concert
When: Friday, August 19, 2011
Where: McGonigel's Mucky Duck
2423 Norfolk
Houston, TX 77098

Time: VIP Reception 6 pm - 7 pm
Concert - 8 pm
VIP Tickets include: (limited quantity!)

Private reception with Noel Paul Stookey prior to the show
Autographed CD by Noel Paul Stookey
Prime Seating for the concert
Email for VIP tickets ($150 each)

Visit McGonigal's Mucky Duck for regular tickets ($…

Remodel at Grapevine Used Guitar is completed ...

It took us longer than I thought . . . but the remodel at the Grapevine Guitar Works store in Grapevine is pretty much completed. New paint on the walls, new displays, and more guitars and basses than Sean has ever had in stock before.

All the paint you see on the walls . . . was put there by my little Wooster roller or brush. Biggest painting job I have ever taken on.

Accessories are at the front as you come in. He also is carrying Korg keyboards, and Shure mics, besides guitar cables and other needed stuff.

Bill is redoing the guitar tech area. I'm taking him my Martin EM-18 for some needed work on the pickups.

Jordan is out front and is usually the first voice you hear if you come up or call.

It is a great looking store, and a real surprise when you walk up to the 2nd floor at the Grapevine Antique Mall and find a full service guitar store.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Marty will soon be retired . . .

I've never owned a nice enough guitar to ever feel like I needed to retire it at some point.
That is, until now.
"Marty", my Martin DC-16gte, the first nice guitar I ever owned, will be retired to my home study in the next month or so. Song writing and playing at home will be it's new assignment. It has earned some special TLC. It has served me very well these past 7+ years.
I am looking for a Guild F50R, or a good Guild dreadnaught for future 6 string use. Possibly an Eastman. I have really taken to Guilds this past year. They are very tough, very durable, and sound very good if you find the right guitar. Whatever I get, it has to stand up to campground and fireside use, hospital use, and travel in cramped quarters. In other words, it has to be tough. For an acoustic, it has to be a log.
Marty is tough . . . but Martin's as a rule are all pretty light weight. And it has some nicks and scratches that give it character . . . but it's a 16, with a s…

Singing at Children's Medical Center in Dallas tomorrow . . .

I will be joining Larry Dykstra, fellow Hugworks volunteer and TME Trainer, at Children's Medical Center in Dallas tomorrow. We will sing in various clinics in the Pavillion Building and then sing in patient rooms after lunch.
Yep, that's right . . . Jim Newton and Paul G. Hill will not be there . . . just Larry and I.

Larry was the first TME apprentice to go through the Hugworks TME program, and helps train new apprentices, in addition to editing the training program materials. He has some great stuff in the works, including some support research through a possible partnership with a local university.
And, he isn't a half-bad singer and guitarist.
I am looking forward to singing with Larry tomorrow, and in the future. I hope we can become "Team #2" at Hugworks, perhaps over time . . . with the blessing of Jim, Paul, and the Hugworks Board. We need more teams out there, bringing the healing power of music to children in hospitals.
I will also be singing with…

Singing a lot at Children's Medical in Dallas . . .

For the next 3-4 Thursdays, I will be singing with the Hugworks folks at Children's Medical in Dallas. These sessions will be my prep for a final solo, at which time I will have completed my Theraputic Music Entertainment (TME) apprenticeship.
The main focus now on my part is music memorization. My many year reliance on a notebook with words and chords has been the major roadblock for me in this process. It's hard enough carrying a Guild 12-string all around a hospital, but also a notebook and music stand?
Nope, just not practical, and it's just not professional either.
That, I believe is the take-away for me in this entire apprenticeship process . . . understanding that the songs I sing and play on guitar . . . are part of a craft . . . and treating always like a craft is how my approach to it needs to be for the rest of my life. The additional challenge is, of course, that my full-time job is as a United Methodist pastor, which allows me to sing a lot, but not full-…

Just heard that Dan Peek is no longer with us . . .y

Heard yesterday on our local 70's station that Dan Peek had died this past weekend at 60.
He was a founding member of the group, America, with Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley.
60 years old is too young. No news on a cause of death, and I am at the age where that doesn't interest me anymore. My former morbid curiosity is one of the things I have let go of in favor of spending what time I have left in more noble efforts.
Dan often had some of the lead intro's on guitar for America, and had the high vocal parts as well. He perhaps is best known for writing Lonely People. He left the group, tired of the drug scene and touring, and went solo for a while, recording Christian music later in his career, and performing with the Peek Family Band.
A sad day.

Tom McDermott

Good to see that Tom McDermott has a great new web site you can go to by clicking here. It's also a link in my "Storytellers Stuff" section below.
Tom is a very talented multi-talented musician, singer and master story teller.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Hugworks Intensive Workshop Day 2 and 3

I am a good tired!
Yesterday, we gathered at Cook's Childrens Hosptial in Ft. Worth for the second day of the Hugworks Intensive TME Workshop. We sang for several groups of children in day/game rooms, and did several in room singing sessions. We joined together after lunch for a long jam session in the central lobby area, which was a bunch of fun.
We finished the afternoon with a long singing time in one of the the long-term care rehab rooms, followed by several more room visits. After a meeting to go over stuff for today, we all called it quits.
Today, we met at Children's Hospital in Dallas. I did not realize how big Children's is. We walked and walked and walked. First a meeting, then over to sing in the lobbies of several clinics, which I really enjoyed. After lunch we played for a group of kids in one of the playrooms, followed by our being on the hospital TV station playing backup music for 2 sessions of Musical Bingo. After a closing review, we all headed h…

Hugworks Intensive Workshop Day 1

A long day at the Hugworks office in Hurst, TX. After reviewing the new TME apprentice training manual, we had a discussion with two music therapists for pointers on how we can better identify which songs we should be singing to children when we go into their hospital rooms. Interesting to hear that music therapy often has nothing to do with music, but in helping the patient/client have ownership of a decision. Their advice was practical. We will all become more effective now at "reading" the needs of those we sing to.

In the afternoon, we began a discussion about increasing the number of songs in the "other song" listing of the current TME music catalog. We each grabbed copies of Johann Anderson's "Songs" book and a couple hours later, we had a full legal pad sheet of songs that should past muster with the Child Life Specialists who will be recruited to vet out the songs. Speaking of the "Songs" book, I have had a current copy for many,…

Grapevine Guitar Works is expanding . . .

Over the past 3 months, I've been trying to help Sean with a remodel of the GGW showroom, located upstairs in the Grapevine Antique Mall.

Section by section, we've been repainting walls, and forming new areas for guitar displays. Sean's idea for how the store would look is starting to pan out really well.

Sean is now carrying new Fender and Squire electric guitars and basses, and new Fender acoustics. He is still one of the largest independent Taylor dealers in the country, as well as on of the few dealers carrying new G&L and Parker electrics as well as Eastman and Cordoba acoustics, including ukuleles.

Showroom hours are 10 AM - 6 PM Monday through Saturday. Sunday hours start a little later and end a little earlier. Check the GGW website for more info.

My thanks to Sean for sponsoring my Theraputic Music Entertainment ministry to area nursing homes and for children in hospitals for over 5 years now. I one day hope to be able to have helped Sean to the extent he …

A great video to learn more about Hugworks . . .

I meant to put this up a while back, and completely forgot! People ask me what Hugworks is all about, and I am happy to share my answer to that from my perspective. But the video below is in Jim Newton's own words.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

1st time to sing at a Ronald McDonald House . . .

My wife's company has a corporate sponsorship arrangement with Ronald McDonald Houses all over the country. This evening, my wife and fellow co-workers cooked and served dinner at the RMD House in Ft. Worth, TX.
I got to tag along, as I was invited to come provide music during the meal. I am very, very glad I went.
I mostly sang songs from the Hugworks TME (Theraputic Music Entertainment) catalog because they are the songs I am needing to memorize. These are the songs I sing for children with Jim Newton and Paul G. Hill (the Hugworks guys) at DFW area hospitals. They were a good choice for this evenings get together, as all the parents and children in attendance were there because of a child / sibling being at Cook's Children's Hospital just a block away.
I really enjoyed the evening, as my wife and her co-workers unselfishly gave of their time to cook, serve, wait on tables and clean up afterwards. I sang for about 90 minutes, and even I for once thought I did pretty …

Hugworks Intensive TME Workshop reminder . . .

A friendly reminder to those interested . . .
Hugworks ( is going to host a special "intensive" Theraputic Music Entertainment workshop beginning this coming Monday, July 11 through Wednesday July 13.
This special event will take place at the Hugworks office in Hurst, TX on Monday, and at several area children's hospitals on Tuesday and Wednesday, making this an intensive "hands on" TME experience, including singing to, for and with children.
Contact the Hugworks office ASAP for more info at 817-268-0020.

I Believe in Music . . .

To quote a favorite song of mine . . .
I could just sit around, making music all day long.
As long as I'm making my music ain't gonna do nobody no harm.
And who knows, maybe I'll come up with a song
To make people want to stop all this fussing and fighting
Long enough to sing along.

I believe in music. I believe in love
I believe in music. I believe in love

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Time to put it all together . . .

It's time. It's time to finish up the Theraputic Music Entertainment apprenticeship I started close to two years ago.
On July 11-13, I will be attending a Hugworks TME intensive workshop. Afterwards, I will finish up my song memorization requirements, and take my "final," which is a solo performance at an area hospital, under the observation of one of the Hugworks leaders.
It has been a positive experience, but like a lot of volunteer activities, what I was able to do and accomplish was very much affected by stuff at the church, including Ken Diehm's recent death.
I took off 3 months from the program until the time I knew that our new Senior Pastor had been selected. And now, my schedule is hopefully opening up enough to allow me to focus on the program and get it finished. Especially since our VBS efforts for this summer have concluded.
It's time.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Summer VBS . . . You gotta love it!

10 VBS sessions (AM and PM) in 5 days! Wow!
I am pretty sure we have over 500 total a couple of those days. Awesome.

I have written before, both as a pastor and as a singer/guitarist that I truly have a passion for Vacation Bible School. I have some wonderful memories of grand times, great fun, good food, and singing, singing, singing, singing.

Besides my late maternal grandmother, I cannot remember a place or time where I was encouraged to sing as much, as often, and as loud as those times when I attended VBS as a student, later as a youth helper, and as an adult leader.


The kids are tired. The youth helpers are tired. The adult leaders are tired. But everyone is smiling!

God's grace still amazes me . . . as does Summer VBS!!! ><>

I love watching an electric guitar being played . . . just as long as it's not me . . .

I know I know. It sounds corny. What can I say?
Let me start from the beginning.
Sean at Grapevine Guitar Works was kind enough to let me borrow a Taylor T-5 hollow body electric guitar for VBS, specifically a 12 string model. I can highlight the features of a T-5 for you from memory, and hoped that I would enjoy playing one when I had the chance to plug it in to my own amp and play the songs I like to play.
Well . . . it was a horrible experience. And I can't blame the T-5 either. I learned to play guitar years ago when to be heard, you banged away on your guitar as hard as you could without breaking the strings. And, you sang as loud as well. We didn't have amps around campfires at the beach at at church camp, and singing on front or back porches and in back yards. We played loud when we were allowed to sing during the evening worship service. Several of use played 12 strings because we thought they were louder. Probably why I have had a 12-string guitar fascinatio…

VBS coming soon . . .

Yay! VBS here at FUMC-Grapevine starts the last week of June. Evening sessions run Sunday (6/26) through Thursday (6/30), and morning sessions run Monday (6/27) through Friday (7/1).
I get to lead music during the big assembly and worship time for both groups. Getting ready to give the Guild F-512 a work out. I will find out what it is made of after 1o sessions by Friday morning.
I think it will more than hold it's own.
Nathan Firmin, our children's pastor reports that we are filling up fast. So get registered ASAP. Some of the younger classes may already be filled.
See you at VBS!
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

New training opportunity through Hugworks

Hugworks is going to host a special "intensive" Theraputic Music Entertainment event beginning on Monday, July 11 through Wednesday July 13, to take place at the Hugworks office in Hurst, TX and at several area children's hospitals.
This will indeed be an intensive "hands on" TME experience, including singing to, for and with children on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Contact the Hugworks office for more info at 817-268-0020.

Looking for space . . .

One of John Denver's lesser known songs, but one of his best, in my humble opinion, in terms of both music and lyric quality.

Listening to it just now sort of calmed me down a bit.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Can a single guitar make you a better guitar player?

My Guild F-512 12-string guitar is the only one I have played ever since I brought it home from the Dallas International Guitar Festival back in April. I've used it for the Sunday morning Children's Time, and at all nursing home, children's hospital visits, and local performances. It will be what I play for at ten VBS worship times this June.
Several people have told me, "that's the guitar!" "That's the one you've been searching for!"
I think they might be right. I can do things technically on this guitar that I haven't been able to do before. It's all pretty amazing. I think I have become a better guitar player.
Can a single guitar make you a better player? Maybe. I think, however, it's the amount of time I've been putting in playing. I've not rehearsed as much as I have in the past several months in a long time. The Guild is that fun to play. I pick it up all the time. I play it a lot. I take it home and play i…

I guess there is a first time for everything . . .

My friend and one of my musical mentor's, Russ Logan, joined me for a 8 song outdoor concert for our friends who attended the Grapevine Housing Authority spring picnic. These good folk are neighbors to us at the church, and I have been singing for them at Christmas, and also calling the monthly bingo game for the Tenant's Association meeting.
Yes, I call bingo . . . and I am very good at it I might add!
Today, we opened with "I Believe in Music" as I flailed away on my Guild 12-string while Russ provided back up on the mandolin.
There was this woman there who I had never seen before. I took it from the others that she was a new resident. As we concluded the song, she cries out jokingly, "Take your shirt off!"
That, my friends, was a new experience for me . . . I take it that at other types of concerts, male performers are apparently asked to take off their shirts. I cannot recall the last time a child in the hospital or at a church camp, or an adult l…

Barry McGuire - Bullfrogs and Butterflies

I didn't know that Barry McGuire was still doing his thing these days. Has a road show called "Trippin' to the Sixties." I've been watching some of the videos. Some good stuff.

I initially sought to organize our 1st Church String Band after the New Christy Minstrels, because everyone in our group pretty much plays guitar.

"Bullfrogs and Butterflies" was a song he wrote for his son.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Snark SN-1 digital tuner

Well, because of the "have-to-have-it-now" attitude I sometimes have (meaning I went to Guitar Center and paid $29.99) . . . I did get a Snark SN-1 Black Digitial Guitar Tuner.

So far so good . . . especially on the big jumbo Guild 12-string. I believe it's better than my Intellitouch . . . easier to see, and after tuning, the guitar sounds great.

I did find the SN-1 blue colored tuner on the internet for $12.99, and the red SN-2 All-Instrument tuner for $14.99. Even with shipping, I could have saved over $10.

Getting ready to order a couple more.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Harmon Killibrew died today . . .

One of my last great baseball idols, Harmon Killibrew died today at age 74. After being told by his doctors that they could not beat the cancer he was fighting, he chose to go home under hospice care and live out his last days with the dignity he lived life.
570+ home runs, making him 11th on the all-time list. All 570+ were steroid free as well.
Take that to the bank.
A great ball player. A great man.
A sad day.
But, God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

When good advice and counsel finds its way to you . . .

Today I had an appointment with a dear "slightly older" colleague in ministry. We had lunch together, and began chatting. By the end of the conversation, I was taking notes.

I do hope I am seeing a rebirth in the desire of people to seek out mentor's and coaches. By mentor or coach, I mean someone who has travelled life a while longer than you have, who has had a few more experiences, who has come to appreciate the wisdom that only maturity and experience brings.

Today, for me, was one of those days. I had someone who has travelled down a road I feel led to travel share with me about their experience. He never once told me what to do . . . just offered a suggestion here and there, and how to appreciate the process of making decisions along the way verses rushing into a decision out of an emotional response.

I left this meeting blessed. In fact, I lost track of time and was late to our church staff meeting.

I gained insight into some really good stuff today.

God's grace s…

Faith that reaches into the future . . .

My friend and fellow ministry partner, Nathan Firmin, led the pastoral prayer at the 11:15 AM service this past Sunday.
Part of his prayer included this, "Lord help us to have a faith that reaches into the future."
I was struck by that line . . . and have been thinking about it yesterday and today.
There is always a sense of unknown, and the accompanying anxiety, about the future. Was Nathan praying for us to have faith to handle what we cannot yet see or experiene? I don't know about you, but when I look into the future . . . the picture of what I see is cloudy or out-of-focus at best.
However, in looking toward the unknown future . . . it seems to me that I am in a teachable time. I get this feeling that I am getting ready to learn something. I need to be open to the movement of something . . . not sure what it is . . . but I am willing to let God deal with the uncertainty. I just hope to continue to move forward. That's always a good thing.
I need to keep my …
Music gives a soul to the universe,
Wings to the mind,
Flight to the imagination,
and life to everything.

I bet Harry Chapin could have written a great song with these words. Pete Seege has been living these words his 90+ years.

I hope to live them as well.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Some thoughts on music . . .

I saw these little wooden signs in the gift shop of
the Cracker Barrel my wife and I go to once a week.

I don't know how many times in my life I have found it to be true, that music is able to communicate what I cannot speak.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

1st time to sing at the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth . . .

Today, as part of a special "Change the World" local mission emphasis involving several area churches, I got to sing and preach at the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth. The Union Gospel Mission is a long-time homeless shelter and ministry to the poor and disenfranchised who gather in or near downtown Fort Worth.

My experience was a positive one, and I've been thinking about it most of the day. It caused me to consider that the homeless are children of God in every way that I believe myself to be. My first impressions of fear and uncertainty were unjustified. God provided to everyone present.

I don't know what will come next of all this, but I sense I am supposed to learn more.

Another faith journey to travel. A spiritual "teachable moment" for me personally.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Big Ol' Jet Airliner . . .

Steve Miller is actually one of the better old time electric rhythm guitarists in rock-n-roll. And he has written some great songs. Maybe his success was that he kept everything simple. Perhaps his Dallas, TX roots had something to do with that. Anyone who wants to argue that a Strat isn't an all-purpose electric guitar needs to watch Steve play one.
"Jet Airliner" is one of my favorites. This is a rendition he did with Kenny Chesney for a Crossroads show.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Pete Seeger - Living in the Country

Well . . . I found it! Pete Seeger playing "Living in the Country" a long time ago at a concert.
Now I'm done!
God's grace and the 12-string guitar simply amaze me . . . ><>

Leo Kotke - Living in the Country

A great 12 string rendition by Leo Kotke of Pete Seeger's instrumental, "Living in the Country."
Enjoy. It's been a mellow 12-string kinda night!
God's grace and the 12-string guitar simply amaze me . . . ><>

Pete Seeger - If I Had a Hammer

Pete plays a 12 string guitar, is credited by many with resurrecting the 12-string guitar from obscurity. Actually, Pete's 12-string is a 12-string baritone guitar. It's tuned lower than a standard 12-string, and uses heavier guage strings. A great song leaders guitar.
Pete wrote "If I Had a Hammer" with Lee Hayes. I've sung this song since the late 1960's, and will never ever forget the words.
God's grace, and 12-string guitar still amaze me . . . ><>

John Denver - Rhymes and Reasons

Sorta in a 12-string guitar ballad mood this evening. This is one of the first John Denver songs I ever learned, way back in the very early 1970's.
Mercy, I am getting old.
My Guild F-512 is very similar to the one John played in the video.
God's grace and 12-string guitar still amaze me . . . ><>

Everything "Chapin" . . .

I've never hid from the fact that I am a John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot fan. I've never hid from the fact that I am also a long-time fan of Peter, Paul and Mary as well as folk music in general.

I've never been ashamed that Peter Seeger is as close to a music mentor as I may ever have, even though I have never had the honor of meeting him.

I am sure that the reason I prefer to play a 12-string guitar is because of my love for the music of John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot and Pete Seeger.

I like rock-n-roll, especially southern rock-n-roll. Yet, I've never hid the fact that Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates fame is my favorite musical perfomers, and he is more of a blues/R and B type singer at heart, and an awfully good one I might ad. His web show, "Live From Daryl's House" is something I watch every month.
But, for the record, my favorite singer/songwriter of all-time is the late Harry Chapin. I think there has and may never again be as good a musical storyteller…

A busy next few days . . .

I am leaving here shortly for the Child Life volunteer training at Children's Medical Center in Dallas. A good two hours that will help make me a better pastor and theraputic music entertainer to children.

This Saturday, I will drive out to Bridgeport to sing and speak at the First United Methodist Church of Azle's Methodist Men's retreat. What a great honor! I am looking forward to it.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

As promised . . . a step of faith today . . .

I promised myself that after Easter, I would start back doing the other stuff in my life I enjoy doing, that I stopped doing after Ken Diehm's death on Feb. 19th.

On that day, I stopped singing and playing guitar except for church and the 1-2 nursing homes I have volunteered at the longest. I took a leave from my Theraputic Music Entertainment apprenticeship. I stopped making fly fishing lanyards. I stopped fishing. I pretty much stopped exercising except for walking. By exercising, I mean riding my bike or going on day hikes.
I knew I needed to do some constructive grieving . . . and that I had to be very proactive about it, or this was going to drag me down.
And, I needed time to live through the season of Lent . . . knowing that our Good Friday came on Feb. 19th, and not on April 22nd.

Easter was yesterday. I needed Easter to be yesterday . . . and it was EASTER!!!! A great day of celebration . . . a day of moving forward with not so hesitant steps.

So, today is the day after Easter…

I need it to be Easter today . . .

I awoke at 5:30 AM this morning, showered and dressed and then headed to our youth sponsored Easter Sunrise Service at the Grapevine Botanical Gardens.

What a sweet service . . . what a good way to start Easter Day.

I especially need it to be Easter today.

I stayed awake a lot last night thinking about my friend and ministry partner, Ken Diehm, who died suddenly on February 19th. I wasn't thinking sad thoughts. I was recalling things about Ken that I personally count as blessings.

Apparantly I count as blessings a lot of the stuff I did with Ken in almost 6 years of working together.

I especially need it to be Easter today.

Today I count many other blessings as well: my wife and family; my dear friends Joe, Floyd and Sean; the opportunity to serve this great church; singing and playing guitar in the community; my health as it continues to improve; and for a God who loves me so much that He sent His Son to die for me on the cross.

I especially need it to be Easter today.

We have our Worshi…

2nd Annual "BandWorks" benefitting Hugworks on May 1st . . .

Big Barn BBQ is hosting the 2nd Annual "BandWorks" benefiting Hugworks, as they continue to bring healing music to children with medical or other special needs. Sunday, May 1st is the date, from 1 - 9 PM. For more info, click here!
Big Barn BBQ is in North Richland Hills (corner of Davis Blvd at Main Street, and is a great family place serving great food. They are donating 10% of the days proceeds to Hugworks.
Great food, an entire afternoon and evenings worth of music. Hope you can come!
God's grace, and the ministry of Hugworks these past 30 years, simply amazes me . . . ><>

Hugworks is preparing to start a new apprentice class . . .

My good friends and Theraputic Music Entertainer teachers, Jim Newton and Paul Hill at Hugworks, are starting up a new apprentice class. The orientation meeting is this coming Monday evening, April 25th starting at 6 PM.
For more info, give the Hugworks office a call. The address and phone numbers are:
752 Mary Drive
Hurst, Texas 76053hugworks@hugworks.org817-268-0020 - Phone
817-285-9548 - Fax

New website for Grapevine Guitar Works with forum's

Sean has upgraded the GGW website (, adding a neat "social network" element to it with several forums.
I will be the initial moderator for the acoustic guitar forum, and I have about 10 posts up and going on various acoustic topics. Lot's of "what do you think / use?" stuff for acoustic players, both beginner and professional.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Thank You Mimosa Manor Care Center . . .

Today is the anniversary of my volunteer involvement at the Mimosa Manor Care Center in Keller, Texas. I've provided theraputic music entertainment for the residents there every 3rd Wednesday morning at 10 AM for the past 4 years.

And today, they were just all awesome. This group sings with me more than other venues I entertain at. They were in great form.

As I was getting ready to leave, the Activities Director there presented me with a very nice red and blue carry bag . . . with the Mimosa Manor logo on it. It's a really nice bag. April is Volunteer Appreciation Month there.
It feels good to be appreciated! Here's to another 4 years!!!

God's graces still amazes me . . . ><>

"Dirty theology" . . .

I am not sure which well known preacher of theologian coined the phrase "dirty theology," . . . but I like it.
People ask me why I've avoided singing in bars, clubs and other similar venues.
First, I don't really like them. The noise, the alcohol, the smoking . . . that has never really been "me." Too many negative memories from my police officer days I guess.
Second, most of those venues involve starting to sing at 10 PM or later. I'm usually in bed by 9:30 PM.
Third, if you don't do well (connecting with the audience well), you may not get paid. Getting paid for singing has never been important to me. Don't get me wrong, it's OK, but it's not the reason I sing. But if you bomb, it will be out in the grapevine and others will hear about it before you can get home.
Fourth, I will never, never, ever, ever write a drinking song. I will never, never, ever, ever sing one either.
I sing instead at retirement and nursing homes, to …

It fell from the sky into my arms . . .

I am humbled beyond understanding, and thankful for my friendship with Grapevine Guitar Works guitar store. I've done some work of various sorts for Sean these past 5 years. I've pretty much displayed most every guitar in the store at some point for the past two years. We laugh a lot that I am the "unofficial" Display Manager. Hey, I enjoy coming in on my day off and helping Sean and Bill out. It's fun, good exercise, and I get to borrow and play all sorts of new guitars that come in. I am currently in the process of painting the GGW showroom a section at a time as Sean continues to develop his vision for the future.
I spent this past Friday with Sean at his booth at the Dallas International Guitar Festival. On Sunday afternoon, I went back to the Guitar Festival to help Sean and Bill pack up to come home. That's when Sean gifted me with a once-in-a-lifetime guitar, a Guild F-512, the 12-string of all 12-strings. I truly cannot recall the last time I ha…

Dallas International Guitar Festival starts tomorrow, April 15

I will be going to the vendor's viewing tomorrow morning at the Dallas International Guitar Festival at Market Hall, thanks to Sean at Grapevine Guitar Works. I am going to work on the GGW display booth, the get to look around at the other displays.
I am hoping to find and try out a Martin J-15 and/or a Martin J-12-15. I had a D-15 mahogany a couple years ago, and foolishly traded it for an electric that I got rid of within a couple months of getting it.
I am not very proud about how the end of that story ended up.
I would like to play a Martin J-40 . . . my friend Joe has one. A bit steep for my price, at this time. Guess like anything else, if I want it bad enough, I will start saving toward that goal.
Guitar shows are very interesting, and I bet such will be the case with the Dallas show. With the price of gas, it is probably costing most of the vendors a bit more to attend than in the past. I am guessing that there will be more people there trying to sell their guitars tha…