"But music was his life, it was not his livelihood, and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good. And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul. He did not know how well he sang; it just made him whole." - Harry Chapin - chorus of "Mr. Tanner."

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 . . . ><>