Friday, December 04, 2009

Chirstmas Tour Time

Year two for the Bethlehem Skyline Tour has arrived and I am excited! We have such a great team of people working behind the scenes to put all of this together and I have the privilege of showing up and making music with some of my favorite people on the planet for 15 nights. Last year when we started this thing I knew there was some "magic" to it and I was really hoping we'd be able to be out again this year.
Even though that "magic" was there it wasn't all easy last year. The first year of anything new is always difficult but Centricity really believed in this idea. We were telling stories while we ate lunch today about some of last year's experiences. Some awful food, some unbelievably magnificent food, a security guard who was so rude we think he was fired after we left, the cold and snow and delicious scones at the Grays house in Minnesota.
Well this year's tour seems to have started much stronger as far as our preparedness and last night's show in Nashville felt pretty good. It was awesome to have such a great crowd in a town where you expect the crowds to be tired of music. Maybe that's just our insecurities coming out but we were glad so many were there and that so many of our friends were there too.
It'll be a busy few weeks. We'll be working hard and we'll be away from our families but even with all the difficulties I still count it a blessing and an honor to be able to make music for a living and especially to be able to do that with people I love. Looking forward to what's coming next!



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Been Working

Whoaaaaaaa. What? July?? Really?

I hate doing these kinds of blogs but I think it is necessary seeing as it's what?? November?!?! HOLY CRAP!

Well since July . . . August was filled with being on the road driving across Canada. That trip lasted into September. Then September kept me busy with the Hark The Herons side project I've been working on. We planned on starting to record in September so between recording and getting songs prepared for recording that ended up being a busy month. October saw us back in Canada, Alberta to be exact, for a week long tour ending at the Canadian Gospel Music Awards. Plus lots of editing and continued recording for the aforementioned HTH project. And here we are in November, still working on the album plus touring plus trying to maintain a healthy home life. Blogging has taken a back seat.

I have been reading though. Here's a couple of books I've read lately. The Grand Weaver and The Ice Master. Very different books but both really good.

And the one I am currently reading, Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy. I've liked Dekker's books before and this one is turning out to be pretty good too.

And here are a few pics from the recording process. For those of you who have asked, expect the album in the Spring sometime and a website in the new year. We'll try to get all official in 2010!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Outliers, The Story Of Success - Malcolm Gladwell

I've been wanting to get my hands on this book for a while. I've read both "The Tipping Point" and "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell and really enjoyed them so I figured Outliers would be good too. I saw an interview with him on "The Hour" (a Canadian talk show) and back in January I heard about the 10,000 hour rule he talks about and really wanted to get into this book. The library finally got to me in their queue of holds and now that I've read it I'm thinking about things differently. I'm looking at things through the "Outliers" lens.

It's got me thinking, how do I raise my children in such a way that they will have the best opportunities to succeed? I've thought that before but not in this way. You see, this book talks about how successful people, REALLY successful people, like top athletes, musicians, scientists . . . all worked hard but not only that had a series of seemingly random events in their life that brought them to the top of their profession. Without those events, without meeting specific people, without world events happening like they did, without being born in their specific month or year, their successes may have eluded them. So is there any way to manufacture that?

It's also got me wondering, what am I spending 10,000 hours on? What am I going to become an expert in, if anything? Gladwell explains a study which was done that tells how people who spend 10,000 hours at a specific task are the ones that become the top in their field. The study suggests "there are no naturals". What sets people apart in their ability is how much time they have spent on their skill.

"In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again."
Daniel Levitin
This goes against my understanding of how things work but as I look through this lens I can see how it can make sense. So now I wonder if the gifted ones or "naturals" are really just the ones who enjoy working on their specific skill the most which enables them to get in their 10,000 hours? Who knows? I do know that this book was a great read and one I'm sure you would enjoy.



Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Glorieta Baldy Challenge

**If you have run Glorieta Baldy I'd love to keep a tally of the best times here so drop a comment with your time and I'll keep updating the blog with the newest times.**

I've spent the last week in Glorieta New Mexico which sits at about 7500 feet above sea level. So for the first few days I was constantly out of breath and needing to drink lots of water. After a couple of days which included some short runs and some extra napping I was feeling like my body had acclimatized so I decided at the end of the week I would try a pretty crazy run, at least by my standards.

There is a mountain peak here called Glorieta Baldy with a trail that takes you right to the top. The peak puts you at about 10,300 feet. It's a pretty advanced hiking trail with some serious elevation changes over short distances. The rumour around the camp here is that someone has run up and down in just under 2 hours. So I thought I would give it a try and see how close I could come.

I started in front of our hotel, The Hall of States, ran to the trailhead and continued up to Baldy only stopping my watch when I got to the top. My time to the peak was 1:31:23 The last 1.5 miles feel like they are pretty much straight up and are very difficult to do any running in. But when I reached the top the view was worth all the work. Here's a picture from the top looking down at the camp.

And this is the lookout tower you can climb up to get above the tree line for a great 360 view.

Coming down was much quicker and hurt just as much, just in different places. I made it back to the hotel in 2:27:53.

Here are some stats on the trail.

Total climb - 2,699 ft.
Top Elevation - 10,200 ft.
Distance up - 5.1 mi (from trailhead)


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Living Green On The Road

Road life isn't exactly conducive to reducing, reusing or recycling. My northern friends would be surprised at the lack of recycling options there are down south. We drink a lot of water when we are on the road which means a ton of water bottles that usually just get thrown in the garbage. Plus since we are eating out a lot we often have packaging for our food or Styrofoam plates that all just get thrown out. This has been nagging at me. There's gotta be a better way to be a better steward of what we have. So for starters I'm trying this out.

Instead of water bottles or Styrofoam cups I'm going to try and just refill this aluminum Sigg bottle with tap water wherever I'm at. It's been fun to watch people's reaction when I ask for tap water. It's almost like they can't believe someone would actually drink it. Well I'll do it. I'll give it a shot.

Next will be bringing out my own dishes so I don't use Styrofoam. I heard that Canadian rocker Sam Roberts or his wife does that. We'll see . . .


Friday, May 22, 2009

Garden Pics, Espaliered Trees, Rain Barrel

After days of hard work here's how our garden is looking today. For those of you who wanted to know, you'll see our espaliered fruit trees and our rain barrel too. Looking forward to seeing how everything looks when I get back from my next trip!

Facebook Photo Album


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness

An interesting thing about this book is that is was written by one of my label mates, Andrew Peterson. Writing music and books! Wow. Inspiring.

I just spent the weekend in Denmark with my band. A weekend overseas means lots of travel time for reading. A sleepless night while in Denmark also allowed for much reading time! So with all that time to read I just finished Andrew's book "On the Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness."

I like reading children's books. Partly because I'm sort of afraid of reading adult books. They're scary.

If you are into books like Harry Potter or Narnia this book is in that same realm of children's fantasy. Andrew has created quite an imaginary world and has infused his own humour throughout the book. I don't know Andrew all that well but he had me chuckling to myself quite a bit throughout. I'll admit that the beginning felt a bit slow to me but I think that was due in part to learning the characters and the context for the story. Once things got moving I didn't want to put it down. That may have had something to do with my sleepless night in Denmark! And since I read most of it straight through my mind was a little warped. I was thinking about thwaps in my home garden and wondering if I'd have any. And I hoped Slarb, a Fang from Dang wouldn't be anywhere near my children.

Support a great musician and author. Pick up this book and tell your friends about it! While you're there why not grab Andrew's newest album Resurrection Letters Volume 2. I can vouch for the quality of that record too!



Monday, May 11, 2009

Chirstmas Music, Sping and 11 Years of Marriage

The last few weeks have been quite busy as you can observe by my lack of posts! Fun busy though. We (Downhere) completed recording our first Christmas album. I gotta say it's pretty dang good. It will release in September and is called How Many Kings. We recorded some traditional Christmas songs a few of our own and a few that are just a little wacky. We had fun with it for sure! Marc wrote a post after it was completed.

Then during my home time Sherri and I have been busy working in our gardens. Our gardens, the ones we own! I'm still a little in awe about owning our own property. It is such a gift to be able to own a home. So for our first spring in our home we have been out in the garden quite a bit. I've been able to get my espaliered trees planted and pruned and tied up. A Macintosh apple, Honeycrisp apple and a Redhaven peach tree. We also planted a couple of blueberry bushes to go with our strawberries and raspberries. I'll post some pictures soon. We've planted and transplanted lots!! And the vegetable garden is still to come. I think we'll plant that next week as we have a frost warning still even tonight.

Then this past week Sherri and I celebrated our 11th anniversary! I can honestly say without a doubt this past year was the best one of our marriage and I'm so excited to see what the future will bring for us and our family! Sherri you are a wonderful woman and I feel blessed beyond all measure to have you in my life let alone being my wife! I love you! Sherri did a post about our 10th anniversary last year which we celebrated in style. This year however, only dinner and a movie. Oh well.



Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rain Barrel Line Up

At the crack of 7:30AM I left the house to go get a subsidized rain barrel for my yard. I was hoping to get a couple but didn't organize myself fast enough to enlist the help of neighbours. The deal is you can get one from the region for only $30 but only 1 per family/household. First come first served. Anyway, below is a quick little video of the line up Dad and I had to wait in to pick ours up. It was HUGE!!! Our town is crazy about rain barrels I guess!!

The nice thing was we spent the day out in the yard trying to get things looking good. We finished cleaning up and I saw some dark clouds coming so I thought I might be able to get the down spout in place before the rain started, then I would catch myself some rain. I was totally soaked by the end of it but we now have ourselves a full barrel of rain water which we can use for our garden.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Free Show in Nashville

Our label Centricity Music is putting on a free showcase this Monday night in Nashville so if you are anywhere close come on out and enjoy a free night of live music!


Monday, April 13, 2009

DYB & Impact Brass Anniversary

This past weekend I spent Saturday in what felt somewhat like a time warp. I attended the 25th anniversary of the brass band I played in as a teenager. I was able to participate by playing in the Alumni Band as well as watch and listen to the current band. When I was involved it was called the Ontario South Divisional Youth Band or DYB. Since then the Ontario South Division of the Salvation Army has changed which in turn required a name change of the band so now it is the much more sleek sounding "Impact Brass".

The photo above is from our trip to England. I'm the guy standing in case you can't tell.

This was the first real "anniversary" type thing I've attended where I'm starting to realize how much time is passing. I guess this kind of thing is only going to happen more often and more rapidly as I age.

I started playing cornet at the age of 5 and come from a long line of brass players. My Father plays the euphonium, Grandfather played the cornet, my Papa on my Mom's side played tenor horn, my Great Grandfather played tuba and I think it may go on beyond that but we've kind of lost track. So playing in the brass band was something I just did as a kid and it seemed like the normal thing to do. This was where I really learned how to be a musician, what melody was, how to play with others and how harmony parts fit in within music. The years I developed this the most was while I was a teenager. The strong music program at my high school really helped round out my musical abilities - writing, singing, guitar, bass and even some percussion. But it was the DYB that really challenged me in my principal instrument to reach towards my full potential. I still miss those days of reading and playing challenging music with a big band like that. When everyone gets it right there is a sense of accomplishment as well as the journey that a well crafted piece of music will take you through. These are all such great things for a kid to experience.

Beyond the music there is of course the camaraderie of the band members which will last a lifetime. There is something special about making music together that creates a bond. I think it has something to do with the need to give of yourself to allow the others to play their part and shine. There is always give and take in music whether it's a brass band or a rock band. This giving of ourselves brings us closer to what I believe God's purpose is for all of us which is why I think it is so rewarding.

In the alumni band I sat next to an old friend whom I haven't seen in maybe 12 years or more. We used to sit next to each other in the "good old days" so it was really great to have him playing next to me. Although we did both mention how we wished another cornet player was sitting up there with us. (Rod!) Then I looked over my music stand and all the old familiar faces were in all the old familiar places. Almost all anyway. One old friend has passed, some have moved away and some just couldn't be there. I understand it'll never be what it was but all the same it was great to see everyone as well as play together once again.

Lastly, I was very proud to see how the band is doing today under its current leadership. Impact Brass is such an appropriate name as the kids playing there now will come to realize as they move on and look back on their time there. I hope all the best for them and maybe one day I can continue on the tradition and send my boys in with whatever brass instruments they end up playing. (Cornet of course, it's the coolest.)

Since I'm on the topic I thought I'd include this old video of my Grandfather Norman Lavender (on the right) and my step Grandfather who we call Grandpa French (on the left). Grandpa French by the way is 94 now and still up and about, still driving a car and exercising daily.



Sunday, March 29, 2009

Downhere Wins 3rd Juno!

Wow!! We were pleasantly surprised and honoured to receive our 3rd ever Juno in Vancouver for our album "Ending Is Beginning". Past albums, the self titled "Downhere" and "Wide-Eyed and Mystified" were the other two wins. The Contemporary Christian category has only been getting stronger every year. This year the other great Canadian artists we were with were Starfield, Article One, newworldson and Life Support. So if you haven't yet, check out their music!!

Winning a Juno in the Contemporary Christian category is an interesting thing. There were 32 awards given out tonight so we were just one in a long list and I'm sure we were one category that most people had no clue about. As we approached the stage to receive our award I heard one guy say to us as we passed, "Go Christians." That ensured I had a smile on my face the rest of the way up to the stage if I didn't already! This was the Juno Gala Dinner and Awards so people are generally eating or drinking while they hand out awards. If you are not well known (like us) it can be difficult to hold attention. So we gave our thank you's, some people listened, heck Sarah McLachlan, BNL and Feist were in the room maybe listening and I find that to be pretty cool! (sidenote, I hung around like the fan that I am after the dinner in hopes I'd see Feist, but no luck!) Then after we finished our thank you's they took us to a media area where there was one guy from a Christian radio station in Lethbridge Alberta who knew who we were and cared and about 30-40 other media folks who had no clue and didn't care at all. Kind of funny when they are asking if there are any more questions and while no one responds I'm just waiting for someone to say, who are you guys anyway??

All that to say we had a great time tonight. It was laid back and fun. We got to hear some great music and were able to get a glimpse of all the great things happening in Canadian music right now. I'm proud to be a part of it.

Looking forward to being at tomorrow night's live broadcast!



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cambridge Songwriting Competition

This fine city I live in has always seemed lacking in the arts. Or maybe I just don't know where to find the art in Cambridge. My high school had a great music program and there does seem to be a few art type cafe's around but overall it definitely does not have that "creative" feel to it.

Instead of complaining about it I thought I needed to get involved to find out more about the scene and hopefully be able to be a part of it in some fashion. So I'll be helping out in the judging of the 1st Annual Cambridge Songwriting Competition. Here's a link to their Facebook page too. If you are from the area check it out, come be a part of it! I'll be there to judge on April 15th, come out and say hi!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Final Thoughts on Hero

In case you didn't read my first or second post on Hero, it's a book written by my friend Fred Stoeker and his son Jasen. Here's a brief description from Amazon:

You already know it’s not easy being a single man in this culture today. But it is easy to be overwhelmed, to feel helpless and hopeless about living by God’s high standards for singles. It’s easy to cave in to the pressures of this sex-soaked world and accept defeat–blaming the media, the culture, even girlfriends who don’t know how tough it can be.

But many men have read books like Every Young Man’s Battle and Tactics and have committed themselves to stand strong and pure in the power of God, and to go on the offensive against the onslaught of negative stereotypes. Some have suffered. Some have fallen. But many have experienced victory–and you can be among them.

What makes those committed men so desirable to women? Be Her Hero is their motto. From best-selling author Fred Stoeker, along with his son Jasen, come the straightforward insight and real-life examples you’re looking for to help you take personal purity to its logical conclusion. Here’s straight truth with irrefutable evidence of what makes an ultimate hero to women who long for men of faith–men who stand by their convictions and make their world a safer and better place.

Are you ready to accept the challenge?

As I was finishing Hero I started to have some interesting thoughts. First of all I'm a blessed man as I met my wife at age 15 and was married by 21 so a book about being a single male may not sound like it would be applicable for me. I do however have lots of single guy friends and two boys of my own that I have been entrusted with to raise. It was my boys I was thinking about as I read about Jasen having his first ever kiss on his wedding day. It was my boys I was thinking about as I read about Jasen being made fun of for excusing himself from class as they watched a PG13 movie. I read Jasen's story and couldn't help but keep thinking, is this how I need to raise my kids? Is it worth the social pains and awkward questions they would have to endure?

I already posted this but it's worth mentioning again. Here's what Rose, Jasen's wife, said:
"but because Jasen had been pure, he could offer me this one place of perfect security in my life where I knew I'd never be compared to another woman. What a gift - one that few women will receive from their husbands."
Do I love my boys and my future daughters-in-law enough to at least teach this to my boys? To encourage them to be somewhat of an outcast at school and in their social circles? To be so dramatically different in how they approach this "sex-soaked" world? To make their search for a wife even more difficult if they hold her to these same standards? I trust that God's plan is best and this seems to be very much His plan. Because of my love for my kids and their future spouses I need to do all I can to teach them how to live according to God's purposes in all aspects of their lives. I obviously can't control what my kids will do but my responsibility lies in teaching them and praying desperately that they will respond to God's call in their lives.

To check out more of Fred's books follow this link. I think my favorite book of Fred's from that list would have to be Every Man's Marriage. Check them all out.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eating Bugs

I ate some bugs yesterday. Just some ants and scorpion. Also had some beetle juice. So did Sherri. Here are the pics to prove it. It was pretty tasty!!


Leave Every Girl Better Off For Having Known You

As I mentioned in my last post I wanted to write more about the book Hero that I read over the weekend. This is an important book for males of all ages who are in a dating relationship or are looking to be in one. It asks, are you leaving every girl you have a relationship with better off for having known you?

Authors, Fred and Jasen Stoeker are father and son. Fred is known for his best selling Every Man's Battle series of books. A series of books devoted to maintaining your purity. I believe this may be Jasen's first author credit but he sure brings an incredible story and example for us all to see.

Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book.

Fred speaking of his son Jasen:

"He took on the truest mark of manhood early on and never looked back. What mark? His complete willingness to embrace social pain for a higher cause."
This higher cause was his love for the Lord and for his future wife. Because Jasen loved his wife so much before he even knew who she was he was able to give her a rare gift.

From Rose, Jasen's wife:
"but because Jasen had been pure, he could offer me this one place of perfect security in my life where I knew I'd never be compared to another woman. What a gift - one that few women will receive from their husbands."
This quote just seemed so true!
"Without a doubt, the biggest danger of sex outside of marriage is not the risk of an STD or a pregnancy, but the illusion of closeness and intimacy that comes with it."
A good portion of the book is devoted to breaking down some of the most common lies when it comes to sex outside of marriage. Here are a few of those myths that I'm really glad were tackled in this book.
Myth - I was born sexual, and I have to express that, whether single or not. I'm just wired that way and it's unfair for God to ask otherwise.
Myth - I need to date a lot now so I know what I want in a girl and how to win my bride when I meet her.
Myth - Good sex is key to developing good romance, and the more sex you have, the more you'll know whether she's marriage material.
Myth - A physical connection brings out the emotional connection. Setting boundries on the physical inhibits your relationship from growing.
Myth - I'm afraid I won't be a good kisser when it counts, and what about the rest of my skills? If I don't practice beforehand, I'll embarrass myself on my wedding night.
In my last post Jennifer made a comment wondering if this book would be appropriate for her 18 year old. To that all I can say is I wish I had this when I was 13!! YES! YES!! This book is especially great for boys in high school. Tackling this in a youth group would also be a great idea. If the church could turn out men that looked like this we'd be living in a better world!



Monday, March 16, 2009

Sexual Purity - "Hero" The Book

Over the past two days I spent eleven hours driving, visited seven cities, rushed through five airports, crammed onto four planes, and played two gigs. It sounds busy, but there were actually lots of times where I was just sitting without much to do. These are the times that allow me to get my reading done. This time it was a brand new book entitled “Hero” by my friend Fred Stoeker. I want to say much about this book so this will be the first of maybe 3 posts about it.

This book “Hero” subtitle: “Becoming the Man She Desires” is a very special book. Written by Fred and his son Jasen with some powerful excerpts from Jasen’s wife Rose, we are offered a glimpse into a Godly family where the men truly are heroes. As a father to two boys this book has provided inspiration and guidance for how I’d like to raise my boys and see my future family tree.

You may have heard of the book “Every Man’s Battle” that Fred wrote back in 2000. Or you may have heard of the “Every Man” series as there are now many other books that have since followed. Fred is, I think, the first person I heard to speak out about the battle us men have to fight for sexual purity. It was so refreshing and freeing to first read Every Man’s Battle. In a time where the internet, television, movies and all of culture have made staying pure feel impossible for men, Fred has offered his story and Biblical principles as a great example to help us continue to win this battle every day. I don’t believe this is a battle we can one day say on this Earth, “I won, I did it!” This is a daily, sometimes hourly battle that is made up of hundreds of victories and Fred, with the help of his other co writers, has offered many tools to aid along the way.

I’m certainly no book reviewer but I’d like to share some of my highlights from the book.

Immediately in chapter 1 I had welled up with tears. I think as I age I’m getting softer! This is a good thing. The beautiful picture of a wedding and marriage that is painted directly from the lives of Jasen and Rose is alone worth reading. You can’t help but be brought to tears when you see truth and beauty so clearly. All I could think was, yes! Yes! This is exactly what God wants for His children!! This is how it’s supposed to be. I couldn’t wait to read on to see how they got to this place.

Chapter 2 provided somewhat of a foundation for the rest of the book. Fred compared today's sex-crazed culture to that of the Baal-worshiping Canaanites. Even God's chosen people the Israelites eventually bowed to the Idol. The similarities are so close they are scary. I won't go into all of them but the one that stood out most to me was the link between today's abortions and the Canaanites child sacrifice. It seems like a stretch when I just type it here but as Fred provides background and context you may be surprised. The Canaanites sacrificed their children to Baal as an act of adoration. Our culture adores sex and ourselves so much that we are willing to sacrifice our children in order to appease our desires.

You can see why I had no trouble plowing through the book in two days. I'll share some of my favorite quotes in my next post.



Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guitar String Jewelry

I recently did a post about the guitar string jewelry my wife and I make out of used Downhere strings. Ever since I keep getting questions about an online store. Well it's officially up and running! You can find our jewelry at: (Think Glenn, Sherri Lavender or (G)uitar (S)tring (L)avender)

The inventory will constantly be changing so check back if there's a specific type of bracelet or necklace you are looking for or leave us a message on our store telling us what you're interested in and we'll do our best to make it happen!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Michael Tait New Lead Singer For The Newsboys

"After 22 years and more than 2000 shows, newsboys frontman Peter Furler will no longer front the band in concert. Michael Tait will be touring with the band as lead singer with Peter making special appearances throughout the year."

Full article.

The Beatles minus Lennon = No Beatles
Led Zeppelin minus John Bonham = no Led Zeppelin
Queen minus Freddie Mercury = definitely not Queen
The Newsboys minus Peter Furler and Phil Joel . . . I will certainly miss the Newsboys!


Friday, February 27, 2009

Juno Award As an Instrument

Today we started recording our Christmas album in Nashville. Not exactly the kind of weather to bring about the Christmas spirit but I think we live in the Christmas spirit all year long so we haven't been having any trouble. I've been getting some video of the process and will be uploading it to YouTube throughout. Today was the first day we started to record and we used it to record We Wish You A Merry Christmas. We had some real fun with it. Besides all of us singing together my favorite part was playing the Juno Award for percussion. It sort of had a Triangle quality to it. It worked well as part of the percussion ensemble we created behind the song. You see that wavy metal part going around the glass dude. Well that's what I hit. Jason's Juno does have a few dents in it now but he thought it was well worth it!

I didn't catch that on video but if you're curious about what we did get we have a couple of short clips on the bands YouTube page so check it out when you have a chance.



Friday, February 06, 2009

Downhere guitar string bracelets and necklaces - OPEN HOUSE!!

*** Update - Online store now open at ***

So if you read my wife's blog you'll notice this is pretty much an exact replica. I've been getting lots of comments online and from friends about our guitar string jewelry and figured it was time to make them available to our local friends.

We are also working on an online store and hope to have that ready to go early next week. We'll post about it once it's up! Now onto the post!!

"On February 17 & 18, Glenn and I are hosting an open house from 7:30pm to 9:30pm each night to sell our guitar string jewelry. We make each piece from guitar strings used in performance by the band. The clasps are sterling silver. Each piece comes with a tag with some written detail as to where the string was played, when, and/or by whom.

In celebration of downhere's recent Juno Award nomination we are also going to have their nominated album, "Ending is Beginning" available for purchase and a limited number of two other albums as well.

If you live in the area Cambridge, Ontario, we would LOVE for you to stop by! If you don't have our address, send me an email or facebook message, give me a call, or leave a comment here with a piece of your contact information that will allow me to pass our address onto you! If you know anyone who enjoys downhere's music and might be interested in stopping by, please pass this information along to them!"

These bracelets are all made from electric or acoustic guitar
strings. The beads you see are the anchors normally
attached to the strings and holding the string onto the guitar.

In the middle is a bass string bracelet. To the right
and left are bass string necklaces. The bass strings
and anchors are bigger than the acoustic and electric.

This picture focuses on a bass guitar string necklace.

downhere's newest release,
just nominated for a Juno Award

This was a digital release only although copies
were made for sale at the band's merch table.
This is an album for die-hard fans who want
to hear rough recordings of demos of songs
that weren't chosen for any albums.

downhere's 2003 release


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Brother Lawrence

We finally dug out a box of our books which Sherri unpacked to one of our few bookshelves. I found our copy of The Practice Of The Presence Of God by Brother Lawrence and have been enjoying picking my way through it. To live like Brother Lawrence seems so distant from how I think I can live but it is really inspiring. Here's a portion of what I read today. I'm not unwell but reading this sure is a good reminder about how to react to suffering.

You can read the entire book online here.

Eleventh Letter: I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains; but I pray earnestly that God gives you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases. Comfort yourself with Him who holds you fastened to the cross. He will loose you when He thinks fit. Happy are those who suffer with Him. Accustom yourself to suffer in that manner, and seek from Him the strength to endure as much, and as long, as He judges necessary for you.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Another Juno Nomination!

I just found out we (Downhere) were nominated for the 2009 Junos in the category of Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year! The nomination is for our album Ending Is Beginning. The Juno Awards are Canada's version of the Grammy's. It is a huge honour to get the nomination and be in the company we are in. We are truly blessed. Congrats Jeremy, Jason and Marc. It sure is fun to make music with you guys!

To see all the nominees follow this link.



Monday, February 02, 2009

Trashing My Football MVP Trophy

Back when I was a teenager I won a few awards here and there. Some of them pretty decent awards too. One of my favorites would be MVP for the football team I played for in my first year in high school. I like that one because I'm not much of a football fan. In fact, I didn't even turn on the TV last night when the Superbowl was on! So it just seems funny to me now that I was an MVP in football. Then another favorite would be my Jakes Award. I'm honestly not even sure what it was for except it meant I did something good at my high school in music!

Recently my Mom found all these old awards in her house and sent them over to us. We didn't know what to do with them until we remembered what we always do with these types of things. Take pictures of them then get rid of them! Pictures take up much less room and I'm certainly not going to be displaying my plaque for Student Activities Council Executive! So here they are. I'm puting them on display on my blog as a last farewell. Now to the garbage or Goodwill???


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jack Bauer, Runner's World and Buyology

Having a few days on the road this week has allowed me to catch up on a few things. I've been able to catch up on my Jack Bauer, I mean 24 watching (very important) as well as my Runner's World reading plus I've nearly finished a book I just borrowed from Jess called Buy-ology. Which reminds me, I had some serious muscle tension in my neck and back the other day so Sherri massaged me for a while then I threw on a heat relaxer from Jess/Live Beautiful and man did I feel better. Support home grown business and go buy one here!!

24 has been great so far. We PVR'd them at home (yes my American friends we call it PVR and not DVR, don't ask, I don't know) but my best chance to watch things usually comes while I am traveling which makes the PVR not so helpful in those moments. The internet however can be very useful. I was able to get caught up by watching the episodes streaming at Fox's web site. A great thing to do when your flight is delayed.

Runner's World had some great nuggets in it. I'm feeling inspired once again to work on my core (abs, lower back, etc.) and I'm feeling it today from my first workout two days ago!

Buyology has been an interesting book. I'm not that into sales and marketing but doing what I do there needs to be some attention paid to it. This book is the result of a neuromarketing study where volunteers allowed the author and others to essentially peer inside their brains while they observed or experienced marketing. Things learned so far . . . logos ain't so important, rituals help sell, a black lung warning on a cigarette package only makes the smoker want a cigarette! Very interesting results. Once I complete the book I'll post more about it. Until then . . .



Saturday, January 17, 2009

Midway Airport Chicago

As I sit here at Midway in Chicago waiting for my next flight, I'm enjoying a really good sandwich! I've been here enough that I figure it's time to blog about it. Potbelly Sandwich Works is the place to go if you happen to be here on a layover. Line ups are almost always long but that's because the food is so good. So if you have a decent layover and it's time to eat check it out. Their drink selection is pretty decent too! Nantucket Nectars and IBC Root Beer usually make me a happy man!

On another note, these darn moving sidewalks are frustrating me again!!!! A previous post will explain.



Friday, January 16, 2009

Lessons From Nashville - Follow Up Part 2

In response to some of the other comments here we go!

Kathryn said:

"man and woman in relationship together reveal God"

Is this referring to marriage or just how men and woman are as individuals? and how they each have a 'half' in themselves that becomes a 'whole' when they relate to each other?? I suspect maybe both.
This was a quote from Dan Allender. I think what he was getting at was that when we are in relationship, especially a married relationship we reveal God. When we come together as husband and wife the two become one. This is a mysterious thing that we don't completely understand but somehow, sometimes it makes complete sense. I think this is a window into understanding the 3 in 1 triune God; how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit can be one. At times this makes complete sense to me too but mostly I just can't comprehend it. I don't think this was the only aspect of the married relationship revealing God we were to understand but it is the part I took away.

I'd like to also mention another quote I missed and I'll need to paraphrase it as I didn't write it down.
"In a marriage you experience the Hell you won't have to endure and the Heaven you don't deserve."

Holly and mgb were wanting to hear more about creating as a Christian. One quote I had there was from Reed Arvin and it said this:
"There is confusion in the Christian writer between earnestness & soulfulness."
I think it took me a while to understand what he was trying to say. I say that because I fear I won't convey his thoughts well but here goes. By earnestness he is saying that the Christian writer is saying, "I'm trying to convince you by how much I mean what I say, or sing." This almost feels like a sales pitch.

"C'mon, God is really great. Really, He's so good, you'll love Him!"

Earnestness tends to come more from the head than the heart, a way of explaining why you should believe the lyric. Soulfullness however, comes from the heart. It's more of a human to human conversation. Maybe even more of a statement of how you are feeling with no attachment of 'you should feel this too'. I'll attempt to provide an example that ties into the previous one.

"I saw the birth of both my boys, I felt the magnitude and weight of the mountains around me as I once tried to run up one, nightly I hear my wife say "I love you" before I fall asleep. At all of these occasions the greatness of God is so obvious to me."

So rather than try to convince you about God's greatness I tell you from my heart what I know to be great about God. And this I think, is what Reed was getting at. This also is what he feels is missing from so much Christian music.

I hope that gives you some insight into what I learned last week. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to revisit it and hopefully help plant it a little deeper into my mind.



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lessons From Nashville - Follow Up Part 1

I had some great comments from my last post and wanted to try and address them.

First off Carla said this:

"Skill has been displaced due to it not being necessary. What is necessary and most valuable today are ideas."

Is that what IS necessary and valuable, or what has been DEEMED as such? Is it referring to musicians or the behind-the-scenes aspects of music production?
This quote was from a "writers retreat" for musicians so that is the context for everything.

This was a quote from Reed Arvin. I'll try to do him some justice here but my words will not be near as eloquent. Reed received his Masters in piano performance so he knows what it is to spend countless hours practicing, perfecting his craft. Nothing can really replace a human playing a piece of music perfectly but the truth is that with technology where it is today the skilled player isn't nearly as necessary.

For instance, I record a piano part for a demo (I am not at all a piano player). It's sloppy, there are wrong notes, it's not quite in time and I wasn't able to play the little 16th note run I wanted to play. After playing it, I select all the notes and choose quantize from my menu in my software and the timing is all lined up. I can then go in and draw in all the notes I wanted to play and delete the ones I didn't! I had a great idea for a part but not the skill to play it. However, with the use of technology that skill is not needed. If I only had skill to play the part and no idea I would be nowhere. I think that is the gist of what he's getting at. Anyone with a Mac has Garageband and with that the ability to make some pretty decent sounding songs. The same is true for video. "Skill has been displaced, ideas are what's valuable."

Next comment, cousin Sue said this:
"Never hurry, never rest." I think I understand the point of what is trying to be said here, but I disagree with how it's stated. Yes we need to make the best use of our time and I agree that hurrying and rushing is bad as it tends to lead to carelessness and mistakes. However, I strongly disagree with the never rest part. I think the Bible clearly gives us a mandate to set time apart for resting. God did it, Jesus did it, we're told to too. Am I misinterpreting?
This was also a quote from Reed Arvin. I have to agree with you here Sue and I think Reed would as well although I can't speak for him. If we think about this statement in relation to the writing process it makes more sense. The idea here is if you always hurry you'll never rest and if you always rest you'll always need to hurry. So the way I look at this idea is that I need to stay consistent in my writing. Spend a little time every day on it. Sort of like training for a marathon. Just a few steps everyday and next thing you know you have a small library of music you can work from. That's my interpretation.

I'll respond to the other comments in my next post!



Thursday, January 08, 2009

Lessons From Nashville

I've ingested a lot of mental material over the past couple of days while attending a songwriters retreat thanks to our label Centricity Music as well as a marriage retreat thanks to Porters Call. Speakers I heard include Reed Arvin, Dr. Dan Allender and artist Cindy Morgan as well as others. I would like to share more about it but I am just too fried right now to dig into it too deeply so here are a few key quotes/ideas I'd like to share for starters.

Concerning the technological revolution going on in music today:

-Skill has been displaced due to it not being necessary. What is necessary and most valuable today are ideas.
-We have less silence than any other humans before us. What kills ideas is the lack of quiet.
Concerning creating as a Christian:
-Christians tend to be distrustful of the deepest parts of their lives.
-There is confusion in the Christian writer between earnestness & soulfulness.
Concerning productivity:
-Never hurry, never rest.
-My talent is only set by how much focused work/time I am willing to put in.
-"It is wisdom to savor what is good."
Concerning songs:
-The verse is yours the chorus is the audiences.
-Songs should always stand without a set up.
Concerning men and women and God:
-Man struggles with not being enough and woman struggles with being too much.
-Man and woman in relationship together reveal God.
-Your face has been grafted by God. Every face reveals His glory. Do you love your face? Can you say it's beautiful?
-4 areas too dangerous to talk about, sex, money, children and in-laws.
I know I kind of left these quotes naked, without explanation. If there are ones you are more curious about mention it in a comment and I'll post more in depth in the coming week.



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