New song for Maundy Thursday just a bit late...

April 7, 2015

I forgot to share this last week. Here's a recording I did for Maundy Thursday.

I set music to Sydney Carter's lyrics to "Bitter Was the Night" and paired it with the chorus from Steve Merkel's "Lord Have Mercy".

Hope you like it as much as I do.

Robin Williams, depression, The Church, and me.

August 12, 2014

I suffer from depression and anxiety.  I thought about the many ways I could begin a post about the loss of Robin Williams and honestly, I think it's just best if I say this out loud: I was clinically diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and adult attention deficit disorder. But more about me in a minute...

Robin Williams killed himself yesterday. If that isn't a wakeup call, I don't know what is.

Depression is a subject that has a stigma to it, even though 1 out of 9 Americans report suffering from it. So why is it such a taboo subject? Why are we afraid to talk about mental health issues?

I am a worship leader and I believe that we in the Church (with a capital C meaning all churches) need to start talking about it. Regularly. 

We need to remove the stigma from mental health issues. People who suffer need to know they are not alone -- that they are not "doing something wrong". They need to know that it's okay to seek out help. And they need to know that it's okay to do more than just pray for healing. God gives us miracles every day through modern medicine.  

Four years ago I decided it was time to do something about my A.D.D.  I had lost a job over it and after leaving another job to pursue music full time I was having a lot of trouble getting anything done at home without the discipline that comes from an actual boss. So, after reading this article in Relevant Magazine, I decided I should go and do something about it. 

I went through a battery of tests and came to find out--and by "find out" I mean, admit--that I have depression and anxiety issues on top of the A.D.D.

And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with me that can't be taken care of by medicine. Since going on medicine my life is better. It's not perfect and I still have a lot of work to do, but it's better. 

There are still long periods of depression for me. To be even more transparent than I've already been here, I'm in one now.  Often times, the other 8 out of 9 Americans who have never dealt with depression seem to think depression is conditional. So some people might hear me say that I'm depressed and assume it's because one of my heroes died yesterday. It's not. There is a chemical imbalance in my brain that medicine does its best to fix, but it's not always gonna happen.

The medicine does allow me to better cope however. If you take nothing else from this than that, take that. If you are suffering from depression or other mental issues, take it seriously. Take it as seriously as you would a bleeding wound that won't heal and go to the doctor.

I no longer lay in bed and fantasize about not waking up. Yes, that was me a few years ago.  This comes as a shock to people when they hear it from me. They equate that I'm funny with me being happy. I am a funny person. I don't have to be modest about that. It's just a fact. Ask anyone who knows me. I'm frickin' hilarious sometimes. If I didn't have musical ability I might have wanted to be a comedian. But to be honest, being a comedian is a heck of a lot harder. 

And a TON of funny people suffer from depression and other mental issues. That's why we've lost so many of them to suicide and overdoses. Comedic greats like Freddie Prinze, Richard Jeni, and Greg Giraldo all killed themselves. John Belushi, Chris Farley, Mitch Hedberg and others did it accidentally because they tried to cope using drugs that never produced the high that being on a stage making people laugh provided.

And now we add Robin Williams to the list. He was probably my first favorite comedian. The only other stand-up that came close was Bill Cosby. But Robin made me laugh harder. He made me laugh harder than anyone on television. He taught me on Mork and Mindy that, as Time Magazine said yesterday, "weirdness wasn't just o.k.--it was amazing."

Between his movies and his appearances on late night shows from Carson to Letterman to Fallon, he shaped my view of adults. As a grown up I know that it's okay to be silly sometimes and still expect people to take me seriously. I had never thought of it until this very moment, but he really had a great impression on that aspect of my personality.

Taking a cursory glance at Robin's IMDB page, I was amazed to see how many of his movies I not only had seen, but had loved. In fact, I've seen almost all of his movies. I mean, I am a cinephile, but come on...that's pretty rare. Come to think of it, within the past year I've shown my kids Aladdin, Hook, Ferngully, Jumanji, Happy Feet and the first two Night at the Museum films. That's seven movies in one year that my family truly enjoyed. (Yeah, we watch a lot of movies.)

He was like a family member that most of us never had the good fortune to meet. My cousin Jennifer and I have noted on many occasions that as he was getting older, Robin was beginning to look more and more like a Coomer. As I created the artwork above, I could not help but be overwhelmed by that.

There's a reason why there was a point yesterday where most if not all of the top trending topics in the United States on Twitter were based on his death. Robin Williams is a part of our fabric. It's why we (and the news stations) are talking about it so much when there are other things we need to be talking about like Iraq and ISIS and Ferguson, MO. and Israel. But in some it or not, this is more important to us. We've lost someone very near and dear to our hearts.

Two good things can come out of this loss. The first is that we will experience the healing power of laughter as we watch his movies and television appearances again. The singular trending Twitter topic that regarding him as I finish this post is #RobinWilliamsWillLiveOnForever.

The second is that we can begin to talk about depression. We can bring it out into the open. We can destigmatize it, demystify it. And we can begin to heal.

My friend Lindsey's tweet brings me to my final question: "When was the last time I was brave enough to ask (or even lovingly confront) someone about their depression... Or to open up to them about mine?"

How can we be the hands and feet of Christ and reach out to them to let them know we are here, to let them know God is here. How can we be the sign from God that they need? How can we be the butterfly on the cliff from which they're about to jump?

Update - My EP still isn't out because it was stolen and what I'm doing about it.

May 7, 2014

Trying to think of a funny way to start this. I can’t think of one at the moment.

It’s been nearly two years since I recorded my five song EP, “The Vast Configuration of Things”, and it’s still not out. One delay after another has pushed it back. When I finally had all of the money I needed and felt the music was ready I began the process of getting my music to online retailers and realized…it was already there?

Yes, it turns out my EP had been released to just about every online retailer possible. Now, I have A.D.D., and I forget sometimes when I do something, but this wasn’t one of those times. It turns out a record company downloaded the music and artwork from my website via Bandcamp—the only place it was available—and distributed it under the guise that I had signed with them. I did no such thing. This is 2014 and I’d much rather be an independent artist than be signed to a small label.

What this means is that if anyone has purchased my EP from one of these retailers (iTunes or Amazon for instance), I haven’t seen a penny of it.

The product that has been distributed wasn’t even the final version. There is new artwork and I have added a ton of production and tracks (meaning musical parts, not new songs). So, I although I have the finished product, I can’t release it because of the confusion it would cause if I were to tweet something like, “Go to iTunes and download my EP,” because if the incorrect one is purchased you wouldn’t get the final product and I wouldn’t get paid.

As of this morning, my lawyer has sent out a cease and desist letter and, for now, the waiting game continues.

Some of my favorite albums, including several by Sixpence None the Richer, took a long time to be released, but they were worth the wait. I hope you will be able to say the same about the final version of “The Vast Configuration of Things” when it finally sees the light of day.

For now, I ask for your prayers and continued support.

Thank you,

2014 Oscar Nominees You Can Watch at Home

January 18, 2014

    2014 Oscar Nominees You Can Watch at Home on DVD, Blu-Ray or Instant Streaming

    The nominees for the 2014 Academy Awards were announced this week and as my cousin Jennifer and I were discussing the nominees, we mentioned our curiosity as to which ones are already available to view at home (whether on DVD/Blu-Ray or instant streaming).  There are quite a few. Unfortunately, all of the big contenders (films with four or more nominations) are unavailable for now, but three of the biggest movies (Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity) will be available for home viewing before the Oscars air on March 2. I'm missed all of those in the theatre, so I'll be taking advantage of that.

    Realistically, I'm not going to make it out to more than one or maybe two movies between now and the awards, so (based on nomination count) I'm going to shoot for seeing American Hustle and maybe 12 Years a Slave. There's a rumor that Nebraska will be released in February. Most of the remaining major nominees are projected to be released in March or April.

    So here they are in order of nominations. I didn't include any of the films in the Short categories, because they're always difficult to find. I'll update this list as more dates become available.

    Already Available
    • Blue Jasmine (Actress, Supporting Actress, Orig. Screenplay)
    • The Grandmaster (Score, Costume Design)
    • Despicable Me 2 (Animated, Song)
    • The Great Gatsby (Costume Design, Production Design)
    • The Lone Ranger (Makeup/Hairstyling, Visual Effects)
    • All Is Lost (Sound Editing)
    • The Act of Killing (Documentary Feature)
    • Before Midnight (Adapted Screenplay)
    • The Broken Circle Breakdown (Foreign - Belgium)
    • The Croods (Animated)
    • Cutie and the Boxer (Documentary Feature)
    • Dirty Wars (Documentary Feature)
    • Ernest & Celestine (Animated)
    • The Hunt (Foreign Feature - Denmark)
    • Iron Man 3 (Visual Effects)
    • Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Makeup/Hairstyling)
    • The Lone Ranger (Makeup/Hairstyling, Visual Editing)
    • Prisoners (Cinematography) 
    • The Square (Documentary Feature)
    • Star Trek: Into Darkness (Visual Effects)
    • 20 Feet From Stardom (Documentary Feature)

    Coming Soon

    • Captain Phillips (Picture, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing) - 01/21
    • Dallas Buyers Club (Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Orig. Screenplay, Editing, Makeup/Hairstyling) - 02/04
    • Gravity (Picture, Director, Actress, Score, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing) - 02/25

    See it in the Theatre

    • American Hustle (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Orig. Screenplay, Costume Design, Editing, Production Design)
    • 12 Years a Slave (Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design, Editing, Production Design)
    • Nebraska (Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, Orig. Screenplay, Cinematography)
    • Her (Picture, Orig. Screenplay, Song, Score, Production Design)
    • The Wolf of Wall Street (Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay)
    • Philomena (Picture, Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Score) - 03/04
    • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, 
    • August: Osage County (Actress, Supporting Actress)
    • Frozen (Animated Feature, Song)  - 03/18
    • Inside Llewyn Davis (Cinematography, Sound Mixing)
    • Lone Survivor (Sound Mixing, Sound Editing)
    • Alone Yet Not Alone (Song)
    • Book Thief (Score) - 03/11
    • The Invisible Woman (Costume Design)
    • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Song) - 03/18
    • The Missing Picture (Foreign Feature - Cambodia)
    • Omar (Foreign Feature - Palestinian Territories)
    • Saving Mr. Banks (Score)
    • The Wind Rises (Animated) - 05/22