Alistair Begg

August 29th, 2008 |

I am of the opinion that blogging by constantly linking to something cool you found on the net is a clear sign of hack blogsmanship. With that said, I intend to do just that.

If Martin Luther had been a Scotsman, and if Martin Luther was alive today, I am convinced that he would sound and preach a lot like Alistair Begg. Begg’s stinging wit and unflinching dedication to accurately expositing the Word of God reminds me so much of the writings of Martin Luther. Somehow Alistair is able to cut you wide open with the truth and make you laugh while he’s doing it.

I highly recommend listening to the sermon on this page called “The Evangelical Crisis, Part A.” Scroll down a little bit. It’s under “Recent Broadcasts” from August 27. If you don’t want to listen to the entire thing at least fast forward to 11:20 and listen to the next seven or eight minutes. His take on the current trends in the church hits the nail on the head so hard that I blew milk out of my nose. And I wasn’t even drinking milk.


August 28th, 2008 |

Last night I was doing some work on the back end of my site getting things updated and whatnot. I ended up looking at some of the stats for the site and there were a few things that really shocked me.

The demo I did of me playing the intro to “Little Wing” to demonstrate the sound of my Tonelab pedal has been downloaded 260 times.

The mp3 of my rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” has been downloaded 283 times.

The mp3 of me showing some of the capabilities of my electronic drum kit has been downloaded 306 times.

Now, I am aware that these numbers are really small potatoes compared to a proper website, but for my little narcissistic project here I think that’s not too bad.

The Purdie Shuffle

August 27th, 2008 |

There a certain songs where the chord changes, or the drum beat, or the guitar part become more famous than the song itself. These parts often go on to spawn many songs of their own.

One example of this would be the twelve-bar blues. I’m sure we covered the origin of this set of chord changes in college but I was probably asleep that day.

Another ubiquitous set of chord changes would be the “rhythm changes.” These are the chord changes to “I Got Rhythm.” There are countless Jazz tunes written over these chords and it is quite a milestone in a young Jazz musician’s life when they learn to tackle rhythm changes. One of the tunes I did in my junior recital in college was written over rhythm changes and I distinctly remember getting lost early in my solo and attempted to fake it by playing modal over the thing which never, ever works.

Another set of famous changes are the changes to Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”. Learning to solo over this tune is considered by many to be the holy grail of improvisational accomplishment. Check out this video I found of the album version of “Giant Steps.” This is way cool and shows the brilliance of Trane. Make sure you watch it at least until he starts the solo.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because I just recorded a demo of a new tune and I think it should have the “Purdie Shuffle” (or something like it) as its beat.

Bernard Purdie was one of Steely Dan’s drummers and the wicked beat he played on the tune “Home At Last” has become more famous than the tune itself.

There are a bunch of videos on You Tube with guys demonstrating this beat in its various forms and I think it is totally fascinating.

Here’s Purdie playing a kind of 6/8 version of this shuffle.

Here is a guy playing it in probably the closest way to the way I want to use it. This is a little fast but close.

Here is Jeff Porcaro showing how he used the “Purdie Suffle” as the basis for his drum part in Toto’s “Rosanna.”

At lastly, here’s a ten year old kid playing this beat. This is just plain impressive. This beat is a lot harder to play than it looks.

Riley’s Tooth

August 25th, 2008 |

Riley lost his first tooth today at school. The nurse sent a tooth home with him in an envelope labeled “Bradley Johnson.” I don’t know who Bradley Johnson is but if you see him tell him we’ve got his tooth.

I Am Frank Zappa

August 23rd, 2008 |

There are occasions when I spend an inordinate amount of time amusing myself by recording music that is completely worthless but is wickedly entertaining…to me at least. This morning was one of those occasions.

I was lying in bed and had an idea. I wondered what it would sound like if I recorded a drum solo and then took the MIDI information in that solo and transferred it to a different instrument such as piano. So I tried it and the results were pretty interesting.

I took the drum notes and kind of split them up between three pianos, two electric pianos, and one bass. This took a few hours but it proved to be a rip roarin’ good time.

I took some of the highlights from this eight minute monstrosity and (poorly) edited them together into one mp3 that is a little less than two minutes long.

If Frank Zappa had ever written music for a piano band this is what it would have sounded like.

Click here to download the mp3.

Angel’s Quote Of The Day

August 21st, 2008 |

We were all goofing around in the back yard tonight and Angel was playing fetch with Lilly when Lilly stepped right in a pile of her own poo poo.

Lilly’s piles are sizeable to say the least. You don’t really step in one as much as you trip over one. But Lilly managed to plant her foot right in the middle of it. Angel said “Those flies are probably thinking ‘Get your foot out of our food, dog! That’s totally disgusting!'”

My Soda Manifesto

August 20th, 2008 |

I have decided that there is no such thing as bad root beer.

Since Angel is no longer working we’ve had to make some sacrifices – horrible, gut-wrenching sacrifices such as buying cheap soda instead of Coke.

Root beer has proven to be quite the little trooper when it comes to flavor at any price point. You can buy Aldi’s root beer for something like $1.29 for a fifty pound bag and it still tastes awesome. Why is this never the case with cola? Cheap cola always tastes like garbage.

Coke is clearly the standard by which all cola must be judged. Don’t even try and step to me with your Pepsi filth. I can own the Pepsi challenge 100 times out of 100. It’s like asking me if I can tell the difference between strawberries and compost.

Though Pepsi has clearly established itself as a complete failure in the cola market I will concede the fact that they almost redeemed themselves a few years ago with Pepsi Blue. Does anybody remember that stuff? I think is was a mixture of cotton candy and amphetamines. Twenty ounces of that stuff coupled with a Pop Tart would turn me into a workaholic machine in the morning. It would push back my morning crash until 7:45 AM at the earliest.

The new Mountain Dew Voltage is pretty much a Pepsi Blue redux. It contains ginseng this time instead of uppers but we all know that ginseng is the poor man’s crack so it’s basically a wash.

I usually try to stay away from soft drinks with words like “Voltage” in the title. It seems like those sorts of drinks are usually reserved for community college football players and guys who have Billy Squire songs as their ring tones. But even though I try not to look the cashier girl in the eye when I buy one, I have to say that “Voltage” really gives my taste buds a charge.

Sorry for that.

A few more of my favorite, though lesser known, sodas and I’ll shut up.

Dr. Slice. The only place around here that has it is the walk-up Chinese joint. What gives? I love this stuff. Their use of “Dr.” is nowhere near as laughable as Wal-Mart’s Dr. Thunder but I’ll give it a solid C+ on the name choice.

A&W’s cream soda. This is not that pink stuff that some posers would like to call cream soda. This is old school cream soda, that looks like urine. Classic. Love it.

Daniel Lanois

August 17th, 2008 |

The first time I saw the movie Sling Blade I was completely floored by the soundtrack. As the movie was playing I didn’t know who did the soundtrack but I did know that whoever it was had to be the coolest person alive. It turned out that the coolest person alive was Daniel Lanois.

Daniel Lanois is probably best known as the genius who produced U2’s “Joshua Tree” album, probably one of the top ten greatest rock albums in history if you ask me.

The Sling Blade soundtrack had such a huge impact on me that I found myself in band practices repeatedly saying “I want it to sound like Lanois”. The work I did on “The Six Comforts” album probably most reflects the Lanois influence, especially the song on that page listed as “Electric Guitar Solo”. That is a bold faced rip off if I ever heard one.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve been writing some new music for the new band and there is an instrumental section at the end of one of the tunes where I want to do another Lanios type of thing. So I was looking around on You Tube to see if I could find any of Lanios’ stuff to let the guys hear it. Here are a couple of videos I found that wonderfully demonstrate the vibe I want to portray. This style of playing just never gets old to me.

This first one is Lanois playing one of the tunes from the soundtrack live.

And here is that same sort of thing used in the movie.

It’s All In Your Head

August 15th, 2008 |

During a rain delay in the Cardinals game the other night they played a half hour special highlighting the life and career of Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright. This was an extremely interesting special because Wainwright was so candid in the interview.

One of the things he talked about that was so meaningful to me was how important the mindset of a pitcher can be in determining their success or failure as a big leaguer. He talked about how superstitious he was as a minor leaguer and how he always had to wear the same shirt the night before a start and how everything had to be just right before the game for him have a successful outing. After years of this approach he learned that if everything didn’t go exactly according to plan before the game then he was already defeated even before setting foot on the mound.

He talked about what a huge influence Chris Carpenter (Cardinals ace pitcher) was in bringing him out of this whole mindset. Wainright asked Carpenter how he was able to go from being an average pitcher with the Blue Jays to being a Cy Young winner with the Cardinals. Carpenter told him it was all mental and coached him on how to control the game with his confidence and presence, not his “stuff”.

This was very meaningful to me because I’ve had incidents playing music over the years that really took me off my game mentally for extended periods of time.

The biggest incident for me was in the Drew Johnson Band era. We were playing a show at The Side Door and Steve (our bass player) invited John Ferber to come to the show. I had gone to college with John but only knew him enough to say hi and that was mostly because of how intimidated I was by his guitar playing.

So John came to the show and we hung out with him beforehand which was pretty cool for me but by the time we took the stage I was so psyched out by the fact that this wicked guitar player was in the crowd that I was scared to death.

The show was horrible. Every time I took a guitar solo I choked. I played notes that don’t even exist in western music. In fact I played lots of them. In one song it got so bad that I stopped playing in the middle of the solo, walked up to the mic and said “My mom always told me that if you can’t play any nice notes, don’t play any at all” to which John yelled out “Well said.”

That show began my descent into total fear of playing guitar solos. I started writing fewer and fewer songs with solos and started leaving songs out of the set list that had them. This went on for years.

I still struggle with this same fear to a certain extent and it’s totally a mental thing. I am a far, far better guitar player than I was when I was in my early twenties but I watch videos of my playing then and wish that I still had that same confidence and swagger. I realize that it was just blind arrogance that helped me play that way but I wish I could get that back.

Riley’s First Day

August 13th, 2008 |

Today was Riley’s first day in the first grade.

We decided we’d have him ride the bus this year. I guess I’d never really given it much thought until today but there is something very strange about putting your only son in a vehicle driven by someone you’ve never met and just hoping they’ll actually bring him back. They did. We’re relieved.