Tuesday, November 27, 2007

some photos from last night

Friday, November 23, 2007

bradley's wedding

Monday, November 19, 2007

november 28. bottletree. 8pm. brad lyons / jon black

I've known brad for I guess over a decade now. he's one of the better musicians I know, and he recently moved back to birmingham after a long time in nashville. brad's been writing some fantastic songs and since he's been in town I've enjoyed many late nights, long conversations, and late-into-the-night music sessions. we're playing a show at bottletree, the wednesday after thanksgiving. gonna be a short, simple set. me and clint wells filling up all sorts of sonic space behind brad. and afterwards, our friend jon black is going to play some more songs.

brad and jon are two of my favorite musicians in birmingham, both are talented songwriters. here are 7 reasons I am going to see you at bottletree next week:

1. you have been given plenty of advance notice (CJ)
2. cover is only $5.
3. music is seriously going to make you punch your sister in the knee.
4. show starts at 8pm, so you can still go to bed at a reasonable hour.
5. there's nothing else going on on wednesday nights, and if there is, bring them to the show instead.
6. the food at bottletree is really good, so you can have an all-inclusive night out (some call this a date)
7. clint wells will be playing his electronical guitar.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

the religious left scares me, maybe as much as the religious right.

What is the religious right? I don’t know. but I guess it could be described as people who generally are anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, pro-war, pro-death penalty, pro-prayer in schools, anti–government programs that help the poor, etc.

What is the religious left? I don’t know, but I feel like I’m somewhat immersed in it when it comes to my local city politics. I’d attempt to define it as people who are very much for government programs that help the poor, and everything that is done and said is laced with religiosity. It’s scary. It really is.

Tuesday afternoon, I attended the inauguration for the new mayor of birmingham (a new mayor who promptly spent his next day – his first full morning in office – in court). the inauguration opened and closed with prayer (the closing prayer was actually called “the benediction”). there were two gospel songs in the middle of the program. after taking the oath of office, the mayor was presented a bible, which is fairly ceremonial, but when he was given the bible, for about 15 minutes, a local pastor machine gunned catchy bible verses, the cadence of his voice becoming more powerful and inspiring with each passing minute; his timing and delivery more perfect and calculating than a satellite guided missile. he repeatedly highlighted the idea that god promises to reward and care for those who are faithful to him, and all the while the crowd was climbing to their feet, reaching their arms into the air, singing a chorus of amens. the mayor, during his speech where he said that he would build a dome stadium, rebuild our communities, fix mass transit, and empower the police officers, mentioned that “when god is for you, who can be against you?” and also said that he teaches a bible study every tuesday morning, and that “anyone is welcome to attend, but you are not allowed to tell me what you think, because the word of god interprets itself.” again, wild applause. another strong chorus of amens as people raised their hands to the heavens.

Apparently the new mayor has a direct link to the god of the universe, and is able to perfectly interpret one of the more difficult-to-interpret books of all time.

The only thing that was missing from the inauguration was a baptism. Or more accurately, a mass baptism, of, oh I don’t know, several hundred people. I had visions of heavenly water opening up from the ceiling and all of us getting soaked as we recommitted our lives to jesus. and I thought at any moment that snakes might appear for me to handle. In my mind I was slicing open the snake bellies with my teeth and drinking the venom right out of the still-quivering snake body and trusting jesus to not let me die as the venom quickly entered into my bloodstream. I was actually pretty surprised this didn’t happen.

Here’s the deal. it is okay for people to believe in jesus. I think it’s great to live in america and have freedom of religion – to not be persecuted for my faith – all that. but I am very uncomfortable with how clearly my city’s local government is married to christianity – it doesn’t feel like freedom of religion – it feels like government sanctioned christianity. I’m actually a little willing to give my new mayor, and my city government, the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe they just haven’t thought through how damaging their message can be – how hurtful it can be to people who have been badly burned by the church – or how much what they do and say can actually push people away from the gospel.

I want to believe that they don’t just say these things for political reasons – because it helps keep them in office – or that they are using this warped gospel presentation for sheer political gain – but man – they sure do make that a hard thing to believe.

The religious left. It’s terrifying.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

this breaks my heart of stone

(the new record from red mountain church)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

canada is a lovely place

this past weekend, we traveled to a church in ontario. played some music for a conference, did a concert, met some lovely people, sold out of cds way faster than we had planned, and had a generally wonderful time. I'm thankful for opportunities to share our music. it's encouraging to find that these songs are meaningful to people so far away.

I didn't have my good camera with me, but I still managed a few pictures.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

sad, sad news.

last night I recorded josh ritter down at laser's edge. It was great. then this morning, I get this email from fred, the owner of my favorite local record store:

Those of you who were in attendance already know this, but for those of you who we missed at last night's Josh Ritter post-show Halloween extravaganza at the store...well, it was one of the best events in the 16.5 year history of Laser's Edge. No, no, the best. Hands down. And we missed you. Josh was a prince, as always, barefoot and in a toga, and played a marvelous set for us that lasted well after midnight. I stopped counting at a hundred people, but even with the tight crowd and the very late hour - or perhaps because of it - the in-store was intimate and emotional. As Josh is clearly an inspiration to so many of you, he has also been a generous and true friend to me and to this store over the years.

So, today I straggle in as my leftover buzz is numbed by a receding hangover and another more pressing matter at hand. Today is the day that I let you all know that Laser's Edge is closing its doors.

This shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone who moves about in the real world. We're all reminded daily via NPR segments, TV features, newspaper and magazine editorials, weblogs and conversations that the music business has changed. It used to be merely "changing." Now, for this store, it has indeed "changed."

It has, in fact, been changed for a number of years. What has kept Laser's Edge open and running for the last few years, despite pretty clear financial indicators, is a solid group of loyal patrons. Some of you have been shopping here since 1991, some of you have just recently discovered the store, but all of you bring an energy with you when you visit Laser's Edge that has kept the place going. In essence, you have kept its heart beating.

It has been my pleasure to know you, and my privelege to provide you with a place to find diversion and entertainment. Thank you.

The lease on the building here in Homewood is up in three months, and I do not expect to be open past the Christmas holidays, save possibly for a few special events within the store space during January. I will, of course, inform you of those as they are confirmed.

Meantime, the store will be open Monday through Saturday as usual, but will open one hour later, at 11:00 am. Closing will continue to be 7:00 pm daily.

The store is still fully stocked. I would love for all of the carefully chosen items in the store's inventory to find a home. Maybe this is the year that an iTunes gift card is displaced under the Christmas Tree by a classic Rudy van Gelder Blue Note jazz CD, a Ryan Adams vinyl record, a live Sam Bush performance DVD, or a recording by Josh Ritter. It's all here, and much, much more.

I will entertain any offers you may have on store fixtures or memorabilia, but the store will not be dismantled until it has ceased its function as a store. There are quite a lot of unique signed items and art pieces in the "collection" here that will most likely be auctioned off at a later date.

This is a ridiculously difficult type of letter to write, and I have deleted much more from its text than is being delivered to you. But I do want to thank you again, and I hope to see many of you in the coming weeks.


please make sure to visit fred often in the coming weeks - tell him thanks for keeping his store open as long as he did - and of course buy as many records from him as you can.

fred - I'll miss your constant supply of tasteful, excellent music, and your relentless support of local musicians. you and your store are irreplaceable, and you will be missed.