Wednesday, December 28, 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 ><>

Sunday, December 25, 2011

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 . . . ><>

Friday, December 23, 2011

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 them in the same room, and then get them singing together . . . that what would happen next would be people becoming friends instead of enemies. People would listen better, and if not come to agreement, they would at least leave the room with respect for one another.

I believe this is true. I've seen in it happen several times in my life. The is power in song!

In fact, I've seen music and song . . .

-calm an anxious, worried or crying child
-bring a smile to a sick child
-help tears come to parents who have lost a child
-brought a smile to people who are walking into something difficult
-heal someone in their heart and spirit
-help two enemies shake hands and hug
-lead someone to ask another for forgiveness
-stop a fight
-become the rallying cry for a noble cause
-help people to be brave
-help people to say, "enough."
-help people to say, 'I need to do something about this."
-cause people to get up and do something positive.
-change the emotion in a room from negative to positive
-calm anger
-heal a broken heart
-help someone get through grief
-give someone strength to do something they need to do, that won't be easy
-help someone have hope
-be a "shot in the arm" that someone needed

And so, so, so, so much more . . .

This Christmas season is especially marked by music and song! How glad I am that this is part of our Christmas celebration.

On Christmas Eve, I have the honor, along with my trusty Guild 12-string guitar, to lead the Christmas Carols at our 5 PM Christmas Eve Family-Friendly service in our main sanctuary. It will be one of the highlights of my Advent experience. How powerful are the songs of Christmas. The experience would not be the same without them, at least for me.

How powerful is song in your own life?

For me, music and singing have given me the courage at age 54 to finally start down a theraputic music performance path that I wanted to start down many, many years ago, but was afraid to for many reasons, most of which I have forgotten . That's the power of song, because looking to change your daily focus at age 54 is just a bit scary.

There is power in song!

Gods grace, and the power of song, still amazes me . . . ><>
-

Monday, December 19, 2011

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 amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, December 18, 2011

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 www.firstmethodistgrapevine.org for more info on the themes of each service.

See you Saturday and Sunday!

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Grapevine Guitar Works update ...

January 5 is the date for the new Grapevine Guitars Works showroom to open up. I painted part of the new showroom today. It's going to be nice, comfortable, with a unique local flair.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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 . . . ><>

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Texas wines . . .

A great website to learn more about the wine industry here in the great State of Texas can be found at www.gotexanwine.org.

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 . . . ><>


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

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 totally different approach than acoustic.

My friend Scotty (a master Tele player, man he is good) gave me a set of D'Addario EXL110W Nickle wound strings last week . . . it's a set of "10's", and the G string is wound, like a lot of jazz and old school Tele players use. It's good to have friends like Scotty. So, I put them on my Strat. Scotty said I would notice the difference.

Yeah . . . I did. Not saying I love them. I haven't had them on long enough yet to come to that conclusion . . . but at the least these strings have me interested in trying a bit harder to put it all together. My goal . . . to be a decent rhythm electric guitar player. Bar-chords and power-chords are fine with me. I have a little more intonating to do . . . then we will see where this all leads.

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

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 Works can make a suggestion to me.

So . . . I left last night thinking . . . "not the quality performance I like to provide."

Today . . . I have already received 3-4 "hey, you did a great job last night!" from various people. They seemed sincere. I guess I did better than I thought.

Most of the venues I sing at, we do not need microphones or amps. At area children's hospitals, we actually walk around, more or less as traveling minstrels, to various places we have been assigned for the day. Using electronics . . . in truth . . . I still don't have much experience, and to say that I am unsatisfied with my current set up is an understatement.

It's time for some professional advice.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

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 good book. What is dissappointing, is that there are not that many really good books. But the two I am reading now are both worth the effort to take in every word.

Tomorrow I will be over at Grapevine Guitar Works for a couple hours of work, helping to front and merchandise the showroom. That will give me some energy because I enjoy doing something totally different on my day off.

Also, the wedding I will officiate at tomorrow . . . a great couple, with a lot of wonderful time ahead for them filled with many possibilities. Weddings fill me with energy.

Reading a Bible verse over and over . . . seeing others involved in random acts of kindness . . . risking the trust needed to develop truly deep relationships . . . all fill me with energy.

And then there are those special words and thoughts, which can only be from God. Today the word was . . . you are happy when you are busy . . . why?

A great question. I need to spend time figuring out the answer.

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

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 play it (Chicago style tuning / D-G-B-E) the strings are tuned to the bottom four strings of a guitar. Same with the bariton ukulele.

So, I am pretty much fingering guitar chords on all the instruments I play. Does tend to make things easier.

Guess I am going to take the old Kasuga over to Bill White at Grapevine Guitar Works for a once over.

The story . . . will continue . . . somehow, somewhere.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

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 better and better.

Thanks again, Josh!

God's grace still amazes me . . .

Monday, October 10, 2011

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 . . . ><>

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

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.

Monday, October 3, 2011

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 Hugworks.org, 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 temperature wise. Frank Riegleman, friend and BSA executive played with me on two of the songs. I later sang "Bullfrogs and Butterflys" and "Friends of the Family" as solos. I left my first major regional music performance with the opinion that I could not have done much better. It was in exhilirating feeling.

I hope to return to Philmont in the summer of 2013 as a chaplain during the summer. That's a ways off, but we will see. I need to start now with planning if it will happen at all.

As far as guitars, I took both the Guild jumbo's, but relied mostly on the F50R 6 string, mostly because we were playing in the cold of the morning or evening. I was able to get it just a few days before leaving, thanks to the help (once again!) of Sean Simon at Grapevine Guitar Works. It is a workhorse, and I fell in deep love with it. Guild's are good "money" guitars. And they stand up to adverse conditions I would not put other guitars through.

Just an awesome experience.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

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 hospitals and nursing homes, I am going to sing songs from my Theraputic Music Entertainment catalog. Probably in school and after-school settings as well. At parks, campgrounds, community and church events, etc., I can provide music from the 60's and 70's, classic rock, some classic country, a whole lot of folk music, gospel, campfire songs, etc.

Fourth, I can be the lead for the program, or provide music support for the main speaker.

Fifth, I come professionally dressed. Usually a black shirt with khaki pants or nice jeans. I will wear a colored shirt for the kids. My appearance will be appreciated by audiences of all ages, especially an older crowd.

Sixth, I am a professional. I repeat, I am a professional. It's not about me. It's all about entertaining those I have been invited to sing to. I come prepared, will do many of the songs from memory, others sung out of a notebook. I don't use any suggestive actions or language. But I do engage the audience, and I am very good at getting people of all ages to sing with the songs.

With me, music makes a difference!

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

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 . . . ><>

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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 around in the back of my Saturn Vue, and carry them in with me where ever I go.

I think in the long run, the Guild's will last me longer in the course of regular professional use. Again my opinion.

Granted, a Martin J-40 or D-28 with my name on it is still out there somewhere . . . and down the road at some point we will connect. In the mean time . . . for music played the way I play it, where I play it . . . the Guilds are going to work for me just fine.

And yes . . . my two Guilds are the same models that John Denver used at one point in his career. And yes . . . that also had a little something to do with my decision to go with Guild as well. Just a little bit, mind you.

And yes . . . Jim, Paul, Larry and I all play Guild's when we perform for Hugworks. That says something about their durability, as Jim has played his F-412 for over 30 years.

A lot of good reasons, and a lot of good recommendations that led me to making a good ad "sound" professional choice. This was a no-brainer.

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

Monday, September 5, 2011

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, weeks, months and years I have left . . . is to sing and play in order to help change the world for the better. I do this as my way of living out Psalm 100: 1-2, by making a joyful noise wherever I am, or to cause a joyful noise to be made for God's glory, and for peace, healing and wholeness.

I don't have the time or luxury in life any more to be distracted by things, ideas, or causes that do not reflect my core values and beliefs. Music is very near the center core value of who I am. Music reflects so much about who I am, what I believe, who I worship, who I love, and who I want to help.

'Nuff said.

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

Saturday, September 3, 2011

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 . . . ><>

Thursday, September 1, 2011

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 Hugworks.org.

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 Marshall, my dear long-time friends who always offered encouragement and support.

-To everyone at the First United Methodist Church in Grapevine, TX (the best church in the world!!!) for allowing music and singing to be an important part of my ministry. From day one, Ken Diehm gave his full support toward my working toward my goal of becoming a certified TME. John Mollet graciously told me to "go for it" to get it all finished, and to keep singing whenever and wherever I can.

-Thank you, God . . . for the strength that can only come from the passion fueled by a calling in one's heart.

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

Monday, August 22, 2011

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

Friends,

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 respect each other. He really still, after all these years . . . longs for a world of peace.

I figured out this morning . . . that I want to help change the world, the little bit that I can, in the same way. I sing and play guitar / tenor banjo / baritone uke to help make the world a little better place.

I sing and play to help people who are different sing together . . . talk together . . . come to the table together.

I sing and play so children can take a mental and emotional break from the stress of a hospital stay.

I sing and play so that senior adults can have a break from the soul and life sucking monotony of living in a nursing home.

I sing and play . . . so people might have some peace.

I sing and play . . . hoping to help make people smile.

The song "Stand By Me" from the "Playing for Change" website, is one of the songs we sing in children's hospitals and in nursing homes. I love the video below. I hope you enjoy it.

God's grace still amazes me, as does the power of music . . . ><>



Sunday, August 21, 2011

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 . . . ><>


Monday, August 15, 2011

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!

Enjoy!

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.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

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, we don't do this for applause. These were children and their parents who were waiting to see a doctor. Some of the kids would have procedures. Others would have exams. All would not have much of a vote as to what would happen to them.

Theraputic Music Entertainment provides a needed and necessary distraction from the stress of being a child or adult in a hospital. You know as a TME performer that you have succesfully done what you were supposed to do . . . when both children and adults wave when you walk by, and say, "thank you!"

I think I am a very good distraction . . . for the record!

God's grace still amazes me . . . it blows me away sometimes . . . ><>

Saturday, August 6, 2011

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 hugworks@hugworks.org for VIP tickets ($150 each)

Visit McGonigal's Mucky Duck for regular tickets ($55-$60 each)


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)

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 . . . ><>

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

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 satin finish. I worry that it will not handle hard use like an 18 or 28 with gloss finish mahogany or rosewood.

I will probably never find a guitar that sounds as sweet as Marty. Oh, it has that Martin depth which Martin is so famous for. But not that sweet balance of lows, mids and highs that you get with the higher dollar Guilds.

In my humble opinion, of course.

Welcome home Marty. I plan to have you around for a long while, safe where you belong.

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

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 Larry on August 11th and the 18th at Children's.

Hopefully, I do my solo (final test) in late August or in early September.

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



Thursday, July 28, 2011

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-time, the point at which music memorization becomes easier.

In the end, I am going to come out of the entire process a better singer and guitarist. And, I will continue to improve, and never again take what I do for granted.

It has been a good journey.

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

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 . . . ><>

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

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 home.

I am not sure what I expected to get out of this workshop, but I did realize that I know far more songs from memory than I thought I did. That in and of itself made all 3 days very much worth my time. I am glad I took part in this.

I will be singing at Children's again several times in August. After that, I am hopeful that we can arrange for my "solo" (final test) and certification.

For more info about Hugworks, check out www.hugworks.org.

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

Monday, July 11, 2011

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, many years . . . probably back to first time I was introduced to this great music resource in 1979 at a Youth Directors training camp held at the UMC Canyon Camp in Oklahoma.

I enjoyed some private coaching time with Jim Newton today. Jim is a good friend, and to be honest, I have greatly admired him from afar for many years. I have owned most of the albums, tapes and CD's that he, Paul G. Hill and Noel Paul Stookey have put out over the years under the Celebration Shop/Hugworks banner, not to mention the accompanying song books. Jim made a couple of suggestions that I will take deeply to heart. Paul Hill helped with identifying the basic songs for my personal song catalog. Great friends both. Great teachers/mentors both!

And . . . the Guild 12-string more than carried it's weight today!!! An awesome instrument. I need to take the Martin 12-string to Children's Hospital in Dallas on Wednesday. Tomorrow we will be at Cook's Children's in Fort Worth.

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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

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 has helped me. Not only is he my sponsor, but also a dear friend.

Please consider doing business with GGW for your guitar and accessories needs. You will be glad you did. And if you see me painting or hanging guitars . . . please say "Hi", and I'll be glad to tell you more about Hugworks and Theraputic music.

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

Friday, July 8, 2011

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 . . . ><>

Thursday, July 7, 2011

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 good. The acoustics in the room were awesome!

One little girl ran up next to me and did all the actions for "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round." She was so cute. She ran back later and hugged my leg.

Yeah, I about melted . . .

I hope I get to do this again soon.

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hugworks Intensive TME Workshop reminder . . .

A friendly reminder to those interested . . .

Hugworks (www.hugworks.org) 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 . . . ><>

Saturday, July 2, 2011

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 . . . ><>


Friday, July 1, 2011

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.

Awesome.

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!!! ><>

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

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 fascination since the early 1970's.

My first band was all acoustic, except for my brother playing bass guitar. We sang in small churches mostly, venues that didn't usually get good singing groups other than youth choirs that toured during the summer. In truth, we probably looked and sounded a lot like the New Christie Minstrels, except we all had denim shirts and had long hair.

The way I play acoustic guitar . . . well, the technique, to say the least, does not lend itself to electric . . . even for playing rhythm, which is my first love. I play to hard, and my knowledge of amps leads a lot to be desired. Sean told me I would not like the T-5, that I was expecting too much from it. He was right.

Sitting not 6 feet from where I am writing this is a neat 1979 Martin EM-18 solid body electric, and an equally nice Squire Stratocaster. Both great guitars. But I haven't taken either out of the case in over a year. Sad, because they are both great guitars.

One day, I may take lessons from an electric teacher. As much as I really enjoy watching people play the electric guitar . . . I will be mediocre at best.

Tomorrow . . . I will apologize to my Guild F-512, and take it to both VBS sessions, and bang the heck out of it . . . and it will sound juuuuuuuuuuuuust fine.

Electric guitars are out of my system, again . . . for a while.

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


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

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 . . . ><>


Saturday, June 11, 2011

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.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

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 . . . ><>

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

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 it when I am by myself. I don't care that it's a jumbo, and heavy, and cumbersome to carry around, and the case won't stand like I want because of the double buckles on the bottom. It is just a fun guitar to play.

I took out my Martin D12-16 the other day. Funny thing, I could play it just as I have been playing the Guild . . . with intro bass line runs, and scale progressions between certain chords.

Yeah, it's the rehearsal. As much as I tend to believe that electric players can sound better through pedals and amps, I think the acoustic player simply has to put time into practice and rehearsal. Well, anyone who wants to get better at any instrument can only really do so through practice.

But this Guild is really FUN to play.

I think I need to practice some more.

Funny how journeys go. I was convinced that "the" guitar would be a Martin. Or that I would settle for a Taylor (a fine guitar by-the-way). I'd never really considered a Guild, even though my friends Jim Newton and Paul G. Hill at Hugworks.org have played Guilds for years. Why? Because I never saw one in a music store!! I frequent and give most of my guitar business to local guitar stores . . . and I can't remember the last time I saw a Guild jumbo in a guitar shop.

But, I did notice "my" Guild at the right time and at the right place, I guess.

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

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 living in a nursing home has ever asked me to do so.

And, I hope they never do!!!!

As if that wasn't funny enough, the ladies sitting on either side of her start whacking and punching her . . . and telling her, "That's the Methodist preacher!!!"

The poor thing, she looked so embarrassed . . . and later she told me that she was indeed a new resident, and hoped that she had not caused me distress.

Actually, I told her I hadn't found anything as funny in quite a while! She cheered the loudest of anyone else there for all our remaining songs.

I'm still giggling about it!

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


Monday, May 23, 2011

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 . . . ><>

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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 still amazes me . . . ><>

Monday, May 16, 2011

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 eyes and ears open for something, perhaps a new opportunity for mission, or something I am going to invited to consider, or a new movement to join. There is something soon to discover, either about myself, or in becoming aware, introduced if you will, to a new way that God is working among us.

I'm nervous, excited, and a bit anxious. In it all, God will provide. That I claim as my act of faith in this moment.

"Lord, open my eyes that I may see!"

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



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 . . . ><>

Saturday, May 14, 2011

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 . . . ><>

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

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.

Enjoy.

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

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Next week . . . an increased singing schedule

Next week . . . I will finally be back on a regular singing schedule. Nursing and Retirement homes, along with continuing in full earnest my TME certification apprenticeship.

It's good to be back on track.

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

Monday, May 2, 2011

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 . . . ><>


Sunday, May 1, 2011

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 as Harry Chapin was. His songs were all well told stories, all a bit too detailed for songs, which is probably why most of his songs ran 4-6 minutes in length, way to long for radio.

I also admire how Harry used his music to influence people, especially other celebratries, to attempt to address world hunger.

I just discovered a new website about all the performing members of the Chapin Family. Click here to go to that site. There you will find stuff about Harry, his late father, Jim, along with info about his brothers, Tom and Steve, and Harry's daughter, Jen.

Now I need to go to YouTube to find a good Harry Chapin song to watch and listen to.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

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 . . . ><>

Monday, April 25, 2011

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:

-Today, I have decided to continue with my diet, and to include bike riding 1-2 times a week.

-Today, I am making fly fishing lanyards again.

-Today, I resume my TME apprenticeship, attending a meeting and rehearsal time tonight.

-Today, I am actively looking for new places to sing and play guitar.

-Today, I am actively preparing for my Philmont upcoming experience this September.

Today, I move forward, still sad about Ken's death, but counting it as a blessing that I knew him, and had the honor and privilege of working with him. Today I look less toward the past, and more toward a new future, perhaps not so secure as I once saw it to be . . . but a future non-the-less.

God's grace and love amaze me daily . . . ><>

Sunday, April 24, 2011

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 Worship Team meeting here shortly at 8 AM. Then the first of 5 Easter services here at the downtown campus (English and Spanish) this morning starts at 8:50 AM. The Heritage Campus service is at 10:30 AM . . . with Louis preaching his first Easter sermon as the Heritage Campus pastor.

Truthfully . . . it's going to be a long morning. But I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I especially need it to be Easter today!!!!

Amen!

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

______________

2nd entry - 12:25 PM

Yes!!!!!! We had mighty Easter worship in each and every service.

I needed Easter! And it came today!!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

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 76053

hugworks@hugworks.org

817-268-0020 - Phone
817-285-9548 - Fax

New website for Grapevine Guitar Works with forum's

Sean has upgraded the GGW website (www.grapevineguitarworks.com), 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 . . . ><>

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

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 children in hospitals, and at camps and community events. Why?

I like getting my hands "dirty" that way.

Part of the expression of who I am as a person is centered in how I live out a life of faith. I am at the age where I realize that practicing one's faith only within a "comfort zone" is in reality a very poor decision. For one's faith to grow, it has to be stretched . . . it has to be challenged . . . it has to be put into practice. That's why the idea of having a personal "mission" is so important to me, and why I share the concept with as many people as I can.

Having a personal mission gets you out of your comfort zone, and into the real world that is going on around us. Leaving the comfort of my very nice church office (seriously, I have a very, very nice and very comfortable office) . . . carrying a guitar, amp, backpack with music, cables and extension cords, music stand, etc. out to the car . . . driving to the place I am going . . . unloading it all . . . setting it up . . . and then singing "theraputically" in an activity room or in an individual patient room with the goal of building people up about how they feel about themselves, singing to make people feel better . . . for me personally, that is putting my faith to practice . . . I am getting my hands dirty.

"Dirty" theology . . . "Dirty" faith . . . is not bad. It's good! Getting my hands and life dirty in this way helps me to draw closer to God, and it helps me grow in the understanding of who I am physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I am leaving the confirms of my safe home study here shortly to go to a nursing home in Keller, TX where I have sung every 3rd Wednesday for the past 4 years. I promise you, that I will be a different person when I leave there. Singing and playing the guitar, as a way of helping people feel better . . . makes me feel better also.

Find "your" way to get "your" hands dirty in some way. Helping others is always a good thing.

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

Monday, April 18, 2011

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 have seen one in a guitar store, but Fuller Vintage Guitars from Houston had brought one up to the Guitar Festival.

Mercy! It sounded like an organ. Plugged into an acoustic amp, it sounded like a BIG organ. This is a song leading guitar in the tradition of Pete Seeger and Johann Anderson. Just freaking awesome.

It was one of those moments when, at the time, you don't know what to say because you are pretty much speechless. . . . Finally a soft "Thank You" comes out of your mouth as you gaze in wonderment and awe.

I cannot remember the last time I was as humbled by, and appreciative of, my friendship with someone. Well, yes I can . . . it was when my friends Joe and Floyd both helped me get my first Martin back in 2005.

Before leaving Dallas, I got to visit with Mike Fuller himself, owner of Fuller Vintage Guitars. What a gracious gentleman! He wished me luck, and even offered me and the guitar a blessing. He had personally picked this guitar out to bring to the Festival. Getting to visit with Mike was an additional blessing.

That evening, I played the F-512 at home for my wife. I played and sang for over 30 minutes. She says, "Congratulations!" I guess I looked at her funny, the sort of look on one's face that asks for an explanation. She says, "you have been searching your entire adult life for "THE" guitar. Congratulations, because "THE" guitar just fell from the sky into your lap. Whether you know it yet or not . . . this is "THE" guitar for you."

(Insert picture here of me with my mouth open, jaw bouncing off the floor . . . .)

I hope and pray that she is right.

As fickle as I have been known to be about guitars (I can hear Sean, Joe and Floyd all laughing right now . . . and I do admit that I have made more bad decisions about guitars than good ones) . . . I don't know yet if this is "THE" guitar. We will see. But I always trust my wife's intuition. And I trust Sean's advice and friendship.

A long time ago, I quit trying to speak for God, and trying to figure out everything related to the stuff in my life . . . at times wondering if / how God was involved or had planned where I found myself along my faith journey. As I have grown older, and hopefully more mentally, emotionally and spiritually mature, I have become more OK with the idea that some things in life just can't be explained. Better to accept some them on faith alone which, as I have grown older, has become what I usually do. I figure a lot of things you experience on a journey, especially a faith journey, are better explained and understood somewhere down the road.

Yet . . . I have to acknowledge that the entire experience surrounding this particular guitar has been a "Divine" moment for me. What else can I say, other than I treasure my friendship with Sean, as I do with my friends Floyd and Joe. What else can I say, except that I truly feel blessed and thankful as a result.

Gifts of grace, whether from God or people, are just that . . . gifts! All one can do . . . all I can do . . . is to again say, "thank you!"

God's grace, music, and my good friends still amaze me . . . ><>

Thursday, April 14, 2011

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 than buying from the vendors. However, it is a very good guitar market right now . . . lots and lots and lots of good competition between the big name builders and between the "boutique" builders. People buying guitars are asking for a lot of guitar for the money. I think Martin and Taylor are now building some of the best guitars in their respective histories.

It should be fun.

God's grace and music still amaze me . . . ><>