I have been working with a great bunch of musicians in our town in the past few months and exploring Bluegrass music a bit which has been so much fun! We are writing some original tunes as well as taking some songs we all know and love and giving them a Bluegrass/Alt country treatment.
The band consists of Jesse Padgett on Banjo, Joshua Smith on guitar, Shamma Sabir of fiddle and yours truly on Guitar. Us three lads all play the upright between us too. Here’s a sample of some of the music we are exploring together. We recorded it at Bottega Farm Inn Studios in Kelowna and we just all played together and pressed record.
I Just had to post about this…A while back I got hold of a really sweet Doghouse (upright double Bass). I have been learning to play it as part of a new Bluegrass band I have been putting together with some good friends. The band is called The Trips’ and we are starting to do a few gigs in our area. Anyway back to the Bass! Every instrument needs a name right? so I called the bass Elvis! not sure why it just seemed to fit it’s character.
One of the guys in the band Jesse Padgett is not only a great banjo player but also a fine artist as well. He asked if he could paint Elvis on the back of the bass. I was a bit apprehensive at first cos I didn’t know what to expect, but after he showed me his vision I asked him to go nuts and paint it. The result is quite stunning. A full size painting of Elvis Presley Singing into a mic while playing the guitar. It is stunning! We are now looking forward to performing with Elvis and showing him off to more of his adoring fans. Not many people can say they have been in a band with Elvis, but I can now.
The Bluegrass band “The Trips” consists of Jesse Padgett – Banjo and Bass, Joshua Smith – Guitar and Bass, Shamma Sabir – Fiddle (with no Bass!) and yours truly on Guitar, Mandolin and Bass. We all take turns to sing.
One of my good friends Dorte Meyer came up with an idea quite a few years ago to host an interactive evening of the arts which focused around the subject of grace. On may 5th this dream became a reality as together with Tribehouse Artist collective we hosted an evening called the Grace Experience.
The concept was quite simple, ask artists to exhibit work that spoke of grace and invite people to walk around the exhibit interacting with the artists and actually experience grace through the art. To pull this off was quite feat though. It ended up involving over 25 artists many of which we were present and others who sent work in to be either displayed or broadcast on a big screen. There was pottery, music, poetry, dance, video, live visual art, writing and so on. What transpired was a hugely successful evening held at Bo.ttega Farm Inn, Kelowna on May 5th 2013.
The event was really well attended as a constant stream of participants filed through over a two hour period. Some people slowly walked around the building others sat and observed the goings on, some knelt on the floor, while others got involved by making their own art or writing on rocks that were provided. It was a stunning evening on many levels. The art was quite amazing but so too was peoples reactions.
Grace comes from a Greek word karis it is where we get the English word Charisma. Grace is a gift when we share the gift we shine and this is what I saw the other night. It really was a Grace Experience.
From the title you may think I have become insecure again about my lack of notoriety, but no, it’s actually the title of a song I wrote based on the words of an imprisoned Russian dissident called Alexander Ogorodnikov back in 1987. During the 1980’s and into the early 90’s I was involved in taking aid and scriptures to the Eastern Block. I became involved with an advocacy group called The Jubilee Campaign which was started by Danny Smith and David Alton MP. The jubilee campaign did a lot to speak up for religious freedoms and during this time two of the people we spoke out for were Valeri Barinov A Russian musician who wrote a gospel ‘Rock Musical’ called The ‘Trumpet Call’, and also Alexander Ogorodnikov who had been imprisoned for 9 years in the Gulag because of his religious activity. ock
Recently I heard that Koenraad De Wolf had written a book about Alexander entitled ‘Dissident for life’ and the publishes informed me that my song was mentioned in the book. I feel proud that in some small way it did something to bring to light the plight of Alexander and other people who are prisoners of conscience/faith. The original recording was a cassette tape so I made a digital copy of it and made this simple video of the song for those interested in hearing it again. The song was performed on BBC TV by Martyn Joseph who is a musical hero of mine but sadly I didn’t hear it as I was in New Zealand at the time, which incidentally, is why I didn’t sing it myself.
As I have reflected on this song again after all these years I have been stirred to think again about how the Arts are so powerful in bringing issues of social justice to the mind of the public. Music is a powerful tool in bringing social change and I feel so honoured to look over many years of occasionally seeing this in my own life and work. A simple song can achieve a lot and I need to remember this when it all seems pointless.
If you are interested in reading more about Alexander’s amazing life story, and it truly is amazing! then the book is available from Eerdmans publishing house
I am pretty stoked to be involved in Kelowna’s first Levite summit coming up soon Feb 15 -16th. It’s essentially a gathering of musicians, dancers and visual artists who are interested in ways of exploring their Art both in the faith context (church) and also in the wider community. I have had a heart for this kind of thing for as long as I can remember. I was originally inspired by the ideas that the author, Francis Schaeffer shared when he said that it is artists who translate lofty theological and philosophical concepts to the general public. I really believe that the Arts are a powerful way to share ideas with others. I am especially looking forward to playing music with some great musicians and learning some new stuff from some really talented communicators. The details of the summit can be seen by clicking here: Levite Summit