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JFH Staff Blog | February 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Featured Fan - Abby Bayle


Abby Bayle and Laren Barlow

Favorite Band/Artist: BarlowGirl
Featured Fan: Abby Bayle
Location: Clymer, NY
When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken:  Kingdom Bound 2010
What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You: I love BarlowGirl's music because they are so passionate about God. Their songs are fun and easy to relate to for teen girls like me.
Favorite Album by This Artist:  Love and War
Favorite Song by This Artist: "Time For You To Go," "Running Out of Time," "5 Minutes of Fame," "She Walked Away"
Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 1
Favorite Live Show Experience:  Kingdom Bound
Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: My 2 tshirts, my tote bag, my signed poster, or the hand decorated TOMS shoes I won from JFH!
Website: N/A

Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


 (Before I begin this post, let it be known that poor John from Jesus Freak Hideout asked me in the fall of '08 to do a blog post for him. That was 2 and a half years ago! I don't know if he should get a prize for patience, or if I should get a prize for finally following through! At any rate, thanks for sharing your platform with me. I hope this becomes a regular thing! Here goes nothing...  -Mark Lee, Third Day)

"Three billion people in the world, and I only know a few."  

lyric from "Worldwide" by Adam Again (lyrics) (iTunes link)

A few weeks ago, Third Day had the opportunity to travel to Brazil to perform a concert. Just a few days later we traveled to Haiti with World Vision to see some of the work they are doing there. During the brief time at home between I mentioned the two trips to a friend of mine. He promptly replied "Man, you guys are going worldwide!" Now, being the musician I am, my brain will quickly connect statements it hears into song lyrics, and my internal stereo will start to play the corresponding song. It's great in a case like this when the result is a killer song like Adam Again's "Worldwide". Not so good when somebody uses "karma chameleon" in a sentence. 
As I pondered the lyrics to this song, I could relate to the frustration that writer Gene Eugene must have felt. There were big problems in the world and horrible things happening for no apparent reason. He wanted to do something about them, but he didn't know where to start. And besides, the best you can hope for is for a few people to "put stickers on their bumper". There are still big problems in the world, not to mention the fact that there are now seven billion people instead of Gene's three. It's enough to make you want to throw your hands up in the air and give up.
But then I think of some of the other things we've seen as we've traveled "worldwide". We've seen the generosity of people working with groups like World Vision and Habitat for Humanity in places like Lesotho and South Africa, doing their own small part to make a difference. We've seen thousands of people in a field in New Zealand or a rock club in London, raising their hands in worship. We've seen people of different colors worshipping together in South Africa, singing praises to God in different languages. We've seen the passion of hundreds of thousands of people in Brazil, singing every word to every song of praise to God, again in a language I don't comprehend. And just recently we saw in Haiti worship being lead by a band of students who were all sponsored by World Vision.
I see things like this and I get fired up. Maybe I do only know a few people. But I take heart in the fact that I know God, and I've seen glimpses of what he's up to. I may not know all these people I see, but they all share my goal of knowing God. Yes, there are a lot of horrible things happening in the world. But God is also doing some amazing things all over the world, and he wants us to be a part of it. And that is an encouraging thought.
If the only thing that comes out of this post is that you track down and listen to the awesomeness that is "Worldwide", I say hang the banner, mission accomplished. But think about doing a little more. Try to see the world from God's perspective. We've drawn up borders creating different countries and the world expects us to only care about those within our own borders. To do this is to sell ourselves a little short. And God wants more. He wants us to think "worldwide". 
Check out "Worldwide" by Adam Again (iTunes link). Read Matthew 28:16-20, and pray for God to give you a "worldwide" perspective.
-Mark Lee
(Pssst! You can also keep up with Third Day at Also check out my "regular" blog at Thanks!)

Monday, February 21, 2011

We Recommend - Future Of Forestry, 'Twilight'

The last couple years in the history of Future of Forestry have certainly been interesting.  With the release of a magnificent trilogy of EPs found in the Travel series as well as a sequel to their finely-crafted Advent Christmas EP (not to mention Credential Recordings recently releasing a “best-of” collection of the band’s work), Eric Owyoung and friends do a effective  job of staying consistent and memorable in their listeners minds.  Stepping back from their current course, however, one should not forsake where FOF first began in 2007’s Twilight.

It’s a shame this record shares its title with a certain series of novels dealing with vampires and werewolves, but ignoring these regrettable connotations, this record has one of the best ethereal rock sounds this industry has seen.  Flawlessly mixing unique worship and masterful instrumentation, tracks such as “All I Want,” “Gazing,” and “Stay Beside Me” wonderfully exemplify congregational worship without sacrificing an artistic tendency.  Many songs carry long instrumental periods without vocals full of resounding guitars and keyboards, which prove to be just about as powerful as the lyrics.  It’s also worth mentioning that the title track is sincerely one of my favorite love songs of all time, capturing the tensions of entering communication with both the Lord and a loved one (“When we sat down to pray/if you saw my eyes/You'd know I just couldn't close them/not all night”).  It’s this atmospheric, echoing style that makes Twilight so distinctive and so unforgettable.

It’s astonishing to believe that this is the only official full-length album from FOF, but hopefully it won’t be the last. Though the band has evolved quite a bit in their existence, including untraceable personnel changes and opting for shorter, more frequent projects, Twilight is a record no fan of both worship and rock genres should bypass.

- Roger Gelwicks

Future of Forestry
Twilight (2007)

Click here for our review of the album.

Our synopsis: "Ethereal indie rock with a propensity of worship fuel Future of Forestry’s unashamed and dexterous 2007 debut." (Recommended by JFH's Roger Gelwicks)
Perfect For: Divine Romance, Adoration and Worship, Self-reflection
Song Highlights: "Open Wide,” “All I Want,” “Twilight”, “Sunrising,” “If You Find Her”, “Stay Beside Me"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Twilight? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Attending The 2011 Dove Awards Press Conference

42nd Annual Dove Award Press Conference
February 16, 2011 (Report by Ryan Barbee)

Atlanta. Home of Coca-Cola, the 1996 Olympics, decent fried chicken, and some of the most popular mainstream hip hop. In addition to these fine attributes, Atlanta will be the home of this year’s Dove Awards. Is it a natural fit? Some would say, “Oh yes!”  To me? Not really.

This past Wednesday I had the privilege of attending the Dove Award Press Conference at The Fabulous Fox Theatre (Yes it is called “The Fabulous…” I’m not being flamboyantly excited about the place – that’s just the literal name of the building.)

As I left my car in a sketchy parking lot with a police officer arresting a homeless person I kept thinking, “Is this really the place they thought would best suit the Dove Awards?” With my cynicism in high gear and a smile on my face I walked the two blocks over to the theatre in high hopes for what I was about to see. But as I approached the building it was eerily quiet. I asked myself, “Is this the right place?” Thankfully a sign saying “42nd Annual Dove Awards Press Conference: Upstairs,” let me know that I wasn’t crazy.

The information I was sent said that the press conference would begin at 10 o’clock SHARP! And according to southern tradition (please forgive the twang) – if ya 15 minutes early den ya on-time. If ya on-time den ya late! If ya late, ya fired! With this mindset in play I figured it would be wise to arrive 15 minutes early. And thus begins my recording of the event… please excuse my sarcasm (I actually enjoyed myself.)

9:45 (I’ve inserted this time just for time reasons.)
I have arrived. Get my computer out and look like I’m doing something.

The GMA crew is still setting up for the Press Conference. They’re trying to set up a TV and it looks like it’s not working very well at all.

One of the organizers named Jules comes out to greet everyone. She’s very polite and cordial but looks like she’s as stressed as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. The crowd has people from Gospel Music Channel, TBN, etc.

Some Dove “Trophies” are put out for all to see. How pretty! J

Elevator music begins to fill the room. It’s kind of pitiful the way the music sounds. Why not play some of the music that’s being nominated? Maybe that’s too practical… it’s just a suggestion.

The photographer in front of me asks what time it is. The pictures he’s taken so far are amazing. And he takes them like it’s nothing. His work is beautiful, simple, and he makes it look effortless…

Haven’t started yet… so much for SHARP

Everyone’s mingling… I’m not. I’m not that kind of guy. Mingling always wigs me out.

The tech guys are still testing the microphones. OH! And one of the tech guys just knocked over a Dove… awesome!

GMA’s sharpness is looking to be about as sharp as a 3 year olds plastic butter knife.

Let’s get this show on the road!

People are having “pretend” conversations… with fake laughs and religious banter. Either that or “Professional Christians” are really just that shallow.

They’ve decided to put up another TV. It took them about 20 minutes to set the other one up… Let’s see how this one does. These TVs look like they’ve been thrown around in the back of a garbage truck for the past 4 years.

Jules announces that they’ll be beginning soon so everyone starts to take their seats.

Such intriguing conversations…

This one guy has a great time cutting his dog’s hair… tulips are totally in this season… I give expensive presents on Valentine’s Day.

Oh Lord, save me!

They begin…

The Chairman says that Atlanta is so well known for Christian music… he must be confused. We’ve got Coca-Cola, the ’96 Olympics, and Ludacris! Yeah, we’ve got a few artists who make their home in the metro Atlanta area but just cuz you bake with an easy bake oven doesn’t make you the Ace of Cakes!

The artists walk out… together.  They remind me of the original American Gladiators. Not in the way they look but… I mean come on! That’s a bunch of Christian Artist MEGA STARS!

Wow - Mac Powell really does look like Jesus.

Everyone in the audience clears their throat at the same time. That was weird. I guess I missed the memo on “what time to clear your throat.”

Carlos Whitaker is as tough looking as his album cover makes him look.

Bishop Morton opens the conference up in prayer. Very nice!

Once started… it doesn’t stop! I could barely breathe. They announced the nominees for their respective categories. (click here for the FULL list)

Third Day
Francesca Batistelli

That was a lot of information in a very short amount of time.

The GMA Chair mentions that this year they will have the Dove Awards focusing on the pastors and church choirs this year. Paying honor where honor is due. Which I think is a very cool thing.

Bishop Morton closes us in prayer. This guy is good. He doesn’t pray exasperatingly too long but aims straight at the heart of prayer. Many thanks Bishop! 

News crews and reporters bum rush the artists. I should probably stand out of the way.

My overall thought of the nominees is very mixed. It seems more and more that the popular adult contemporary music is the only thing really highlighted. Yeah there are a few standout selections of rap, rock, and alternative, but as a whole… it’s the same artists every year. And if not the same artists – it’s just the same music with different packaging. While yes, my respect for the artists is there, my heart kind of sinks for those who really aren’t getting much recognition.

They should come up with a recipe for “How to Win a Dove Award.”
1 cup of contemporary recycled lyrics
3 ounces of 4 year aged CMR radio play
1 teaspoon of Chris Tomlin
½ cup of butter
Stir until it sounds like what won in previous years.
Bake at 350 degrees for 14 months or until it’s reached Gold status in sales.
Voila! A Dove Award!

This might sound like I’m trying to bash the Dove Awards. I’m not. I honestly respect what all of these artists do. They give music that honors God and blesses the listener. But to deny the reality of what is… would be lying. However on the bright side, looking at what is to come this year it’s as if the Doves will have no option but to recognize the greatness that will be released. Think about it: Switchfoot, Blindside, Eisley, David Crowder*Band, Phil Wickham, Leeland, Family Force 5… 2011 is a year for music! And that’s something to celebrate. So if we don’t hear them receiving recognition during next year’s awards… maybe we should start a riot. Not really – cause that would be bad. But hey, that might fit-in in Atlanta just right.

I’ve arrived back at my car. That was fun.

~ Ryan Barbee

Featured Fan - Cameron Dietrich


House of Heroes, Cameron, and a friend

Favorite Band/Artist: House Of Heroes
Featured Fan: Cameron Dietrich
Location: Iowa
When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken:  February 13, 2010 at Iowa State University
What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You: Their music has a lot of depth both lyrically and instrumentally. I love their style and the energy they have.
Favorite Album by This Artist:  The End is Not the End
Favorite Song by This Artist: "Code Name: Raven" or "Friday Night"
Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 2
Favorite Live Show Experience:  The whole show at the M-Shop at Iowa State was awesome, but I especially enjoyed "Buckets for Bullet Wounds"
Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: T-shirt signed by lead singer Tim Skipper (as shown in the picture).
Website: N/A

Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

At 30,000 Feet

So here I sit on a red eye flight from Honolulu to Phoenix. It's the dead of night. It seems like everyone is sleeping on this plane but me. As I look out the window, all I see is darkness, and I all I know is that I'm somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in all its vastness.

And in this boredom, I've just been doing a lot of thinking. Or maybe what I've actually been doing is marveling at the richness of God's creation. Below me, an ocean so big that none can fathom. Above me, stars and planets whose mysteries only He can see through. Around me, diverseness of human life, people from a multitude of cultures. With me, the God who made it all. The One who has blessed my life so fully that at 30,000 feet on a metal bullet soaring through the sky, I can sit here in admiration and feel the power of a contentment only He can offer. ~ Logan


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reflections On The 2011 Dove Nominees

So yesterday, the 42nd Annual GMA Dove Award nominations were announced. (Check out the FULL List of nominees here) This marks the very first year the awards ceremony has relocated from Nashville, TN to Atlanta, GA (due to the show's biggest sponsor - Gospel Music Channel - being based in Atlanta).

My first reaction to the nominations was a mix of confusion and surprise (and maybe a little disgust?). The reason I say confusion is because I noticed several late 2009 releases had made it onto the list of 2010 releases (further investigation on my part revealed that the releases I was thinking about -- Flyleaf, Switchfoot, and Casting Crowns were all released in November, 2009, and although songs from some of those releases were nominated or won last year, their respective albums were not nominated. And, like the Grammys, the Doves must include releases from later in the year two years prior in addition to the releases of the previous year). However, at the same time, I noticed it seems to have a bit more emphasis on Gospel and Southern Gospel artists this time around too (just look at the main category nominations). Also, it's always kind of irritated me a bit that, with so many releases debuting new music in a year, group/artist/vocalist/song, etc nominations seem to focus more on an artist's success at radio or on the road than their debuting of new music that year. I can understand if the artist had a solid new album and ruled the airwaves and touring circuit... but to highlight artists that didn't really do anything "new" in 2010?

Anyway, I'd love to hear your individual thoughts on the matter -- not to eat each other alive on here with your respective opinions (play nice, please), but to discuss your thoughts on the nominees for this year and maybe how the Dove Awards could improve for future years.

-- John

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We Come From A Land Down-Under

What’s going on?!

Hey.  If you’ve been around JfH for a while, you may remember me as one of the reviewers; otherwise, my prolonged absence due to second-year university studies, looking for a job (and getting one), and working in that aforementioned job might have rendered my name relatively unknown.  Anyways, I’ve had this little musical project going with my mates for almost 2 years now, called “New Day Dawning”; the idea I put to John (head honcho here) was a blog series on what it’s like to be in a start-up band, the trials and tribulations associated with it, and whether it experiences success or a lack of it.

A bit of backstory…

New Day Dawning started life as…err, we actually didn’t have a name for it back then.  We in due course came up with “Pentomuse”, but that was scrapped as people thought we were trying to rip-off Muse (we weren’t).

Myself and a friend came up with the idea for forming the band after our first musical project—“Off-Kilter”—went south due to a lack of spare time and commitment from some of the members.  To start off with we had 6 members: Matthew (bassist, previously rhythm guitar in Off-Kilter), Joseph (pianist, also in Off-Kilter), Jasher (lead guitarist), Sam (rhythm guitarist), David (drummer) and myself (lead vocalist and songwriter).  The year went by…and so did two of our members.  Joseph wasn’t as keen as the rest of us on performing, and Matthew ended up becoming a dairy farm worker, which took him away from us in Auckland (one of the principal cities in New Zealand) for long periods of time.  Fast forward about a year, and we acquired our new rhythm guitarist—David (we now call the drummer by his last name “Hubble” to avoid confusion); with Sam having already moved to fill the bassist’s position, he was a much needed addition to the band.

That was then, this is now

Last week we went through one of our most significant role re-shuffles ever: I stepped down as frontman and ceded the position to our rhythm guitarist, David, while I took the role as keyboardist.  When you’ve harboured aspirations of leading a rock band on stage, it is rather painful to admit that you may not be the best man for the job and let someone else take the spotlight.  But if it helps the band, then it’s worth it.  I hope.

Looks like I’m holding a pity-party—anyone got the consolation-cake?  :-D

Ha ha, ANYWAY.  Ahem.  So far, 2011 looks like it might be the IT year for the band.  To this date, we haven’t performed live for anyone yet (I utterly refuse to acknowledge the talent show as a performance, because it’s a bad memory and I wish to wipe that stain from the annals of band history.  Don’t ask), but that’s about to change.  Our first gig will be at David’s 21st birthday party on the 5th of March, which will be the perfect dress rehearsal for our second gig at a youth music venue in West Auckland called Zeal, at 7:00 PM on the 11th of March.  I’d say I’m nervous, but I reckon most of that will fall onto David now—I’m just the key-lackey (hey, there ARE advantages to not being the frontman anymore!  Positive thinking, right there for ya).

Jasher and David are staying with me while I housesit for my family, who are enjoying a beach holiday for 12 days.  Hopefully, we’ll have more opportunities to practice our songs because of it.  I’ll keep you all posted.

God bless!
Adam Dawson

Monday, February 14, 2011

We Recommend - Between Thieves, 'Between Thieves'

I'm going to go out on a limb here, as I usually do with these recommendations, and feature a little known project by a band called Between Thieves. I often find myself recommending music on here that would be deemed fairly old (maybe even out-dated), but I think part of the bonus of this recommendation blog series is to encourage people to check out good music that has been long forgotten.

In 1997, the now long-defunct record label Tattoo Records released the self-titled debut album from Between Thieves. It was an unashamedly pop rock effort with boldly faith-filled lyrics that often bordered on being worship music before there was really a modern worship movement. The opener "Despite The Rain" is an excellent, encouraging song about fighting feelings of guilt and focusing on joy and freedom in Christ. It's one of those albums that really reached into my soul as a teenager and related to the tough times while also injecting a lot of hope -- it kind of brought light to those painful times and encouraged the listener to refocus their viewpoint away from themselves and onto Jesus. "Kindle" was another wonderful track pleading the Lord to "kindle the flame and rake the coals, purify my inner soul." and "Consuming fire in my life, let the spirit take control. It's finally time I realize that I am not my own." "Now" is another gem that follows in a similar fashion while "To The End" addresses sticking to our convictions and not slipping from them despite outward influences. "Take My Hand" is a lovely song about a couple becoming one through marriage and uniting with Christ. Amy and I actually used it as our wedding song. It's not a conventional, over-used song you normally hear at weddings, which was also pretty appealing (and I think its rock ballad style is more fitting for me). Finally, one of my favorite songs of all time is the closer, titled "Privately." It clocks in at just over seven minutes in length and is an electronic-glazed soft rock song that addresses loneliness and the inability to shake it sometimes. But Between Thieves, like with each song, brings the focus back to Christ in the final verse, "Refuge for my spirit, catch my silent tears / Speak to my heart, oh Father with words I cannot hear."

The band's follow-up and, consequently, final album, Water, wasn't quite as good or memorable, but their self-titled debut is one that has stuck with me and I expect it to be one I'll continue to return to from time to time for many more years...  - John DiBiase

Between Thieves
Between Thieves (1997)

Click here for our review of the album.

Our synopsis: "A unique and under-rated alt-pop/rock late 90's record that still sounds good even today..." (Recommended by JFH's John DiBiase)
Perfect For: Forgiveness, Perseverance, Loneliness
Song Highlights: "Despite The Rain," "Now," "Kindle," "Take My Hand," "No More," "Privately"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Between Thieves? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Featured Fan - James Bianco


James Bianco and John Reuben

Favorite Band/Artist: John Reuben
Featured Fan: James Bianco
Location: Florida
When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken:  October 17th in Jacksonville, while he was on the Fly Me to the Show tour.
What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You: Mostly, his music inspires me to be creative, in everything I do. Also, his music really just makes you think. Especially his last 2 or 3 albums.
Favorite Album by This Artist:  Has to be Word of Mouth, not one song on that album isn't amazing.
Favorite Song by This Artist: For the longest time is was "Boy VS the Cynic." After that it was "Word of Mouth" and now it's "In the Air." I don't know anyone who can hear "In the Air"and not love it.
Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 1
Favorite Live Show Experience:  Seeing him in Jacksonville, I traveled like 6 hours to see him there, stood in line outside for like 2. And when he finally came on stage, it was great. First and last time I've seen him live.
Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: Either my John Reuben shirt or the Soon to be in Your Community DVD.
Website: (I remix christian rap... There's my remix website)

Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is Music Piracy An Issue?

An issue I feel is very current in the music industry, as well as very relevant, is music piracy.  The following is an excerpt from a paper I wrote a paper on the subject.  This is indeed a controversial topic, so I’d love to see what comments you all have.


Hard rock/metal quintet Oh, Sleeper is a band very vocal about the broad dangers and problems with music piracy.  To illustrate their point, guitarist Shane Blay detailed out the expenses and payrolls for which the band is responsible [via a Facebook note].  Blay explains there are two main ways by which the band can earn profit: guaranties and merchandise sales.  For any given show, the band makes their money through $300 they have in each area.  To start with guaranties, which are the amounts every band in a show is promised by the venue as payment for performing, the band manager and booking agent each receive 15% and 10% respectively.  With the gas bill averaging $150 for each show as well as food costs averaging $10 for each member of the band and their merchandise manager, these are subtracted from the total.  To sum up guaranties, the band earns around $15 as the net total.  For merchandise, Oh, Sleeper sells their t-shirts for $15 per show, and it costs the band $7.50 to print each shirt.  With half profit made for each shirt, half of the average $300 in merchandise sales goes back to the t-shirt manufacturer.  Many venues, however, charge what are called “merch rates,” where around 25% of the profits of the sold merchandise are paid to the venue.  When both the guaranties and merchandise sales are added together, the band makes around $13.12 per band member, and this total does not include miscellaneous expenses such as hotels, auto repair bills, broken musical equipment and replacements, etc.  Blay concludes his article with the words, “STOP STEALING OUR CDs PLEASE [sic].”

It is a myth that all musicians today make the “big bucks.”  For a band such as Oh, Sleeper to make the amount of money they do as a signed band, it is surprising how little the band really receives for their wages.  In this age of digital music, where outlets such as iTunes and AmazonMP3 are quickly becoming the major sources of music for consumers, the sale of physical CDs is becoming more and more slim.  Digital sales are quite easy for the sellers, because they can make the money they would like very quickly, and consumers are satisfied because they receive the music they buy almost instantly.  But with this newfound convenience of MP3s, music piracy has become much more of a problem.  The infamous Napster closed down years ago because of copyright infringement issues, but this has not stopped some crafty consumers from continuing to steal music and/or give it away to friends, mostly because of the incredible ease.  One can easily burn songs to a CD and give the CD away, or even worse, sell the CD for a profit.  Some computer applications such as (the now defunct) LimeWire or Kazaa, while legitimate and legal peer-to-peer sharing networks for non-copywritten material, have also an easy avenue to find virtually any song they would like and freely download it to their computer’s hard drive.  Some also rationalize music piracy through borrowing albums from a local library, importing the CDs’ contents to their hard drive and returning the albums.  Others claim that since nobody they know has ever been arrested for the crime, they will not be subject to indictment either.  And what is possibly one of the worst aspects about music piracy is that many people partake in the activity without much thought of the consequences, including Christians.

Christians, like everyone else, are subject to the temptations to sin every day, and music piracy is no exception.  And because it is extremely easy to pirate music, many Christians participate, despite both its illegal and sinful nature; if they purposefully look for ways to obtain illegally-exchanged music, they will indeed find them.  I once was talking to a friend at my college about this issue, and he retorted with: “I’m okay with opening my mind to different types of music, but not with opening my wallet.”  But music consumers, Christians or not, cannot have it both ways.  Pirating music, any way it is performed, is a form of stealing, and with Scripture making a clear statement on the topic of theft and possessions, Christians have no place in the illegal activity.  Exodus 20:15 phrases it quite clearly with its four simple words, “You shall not steal.”  Like any other sin, piracy can be tempting, but resisting the urges is important to keep one’s heart blameless and keep our habits with money honest and pure.  For some, purchasing music from a retail store may be a better option to avoid the lure of the internet’s black market.  This should not stop consumers from using their stewardship skills, however; as long as the outlets chosen are legal, one should go and find the best deal they can on music in which they are interested.  Many digital music outlets periodically offer sales and bargains of which any consumer would be wise to take notice.

Knowing the facts about the reality of music piracy and its implications, consumers would do well to avoid the activity.  Besides its illegality, it hurts the artists and other music professionals and desensitizes the human heart towards stealing.  To keep artists such as The Lighthouse And The Whaler and Oh, Sleeper in the circle, making records and playing shows for their fans, music piracy has to end.  Truly valuing the art of music has two parts: listening to and appreciating the music, as well as giving these bands their due financial support as well.  The Lord calls Christians to be different, and the sooner Christians accept this call in this area of the arts, bands like Oh, Sleeper can survive and continue to bring innovative music to the table.

- Roger

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

'The Grass Is Always Greener' Song Story

I was surrounded by models. 

Not model toys or planes.  That would have been a bit easier than my situation.  I had moved to New York City and somehow found myself thrown into a group of people that not only looked like Greek gods and goddesses, they were also paid big bucks to place their faces and rock-hard bods in pictures and on catwalks all over the world.

At the time, I wasn't exactly what you'd call 'secure.'  My entire life, I had thumbed through magazines and parked on television shows that displayed society's supposed perfection—secretly coveting what I saw with envy that sparked nothing but comparison and insecurity (eventually ending up in a rehab facility for eating disorders.)  So to now be sitting in a room with the very people who had been the greatest reminder that I wasn't, in fact, perfect….well, let's just say it was anything but easy.

To make up for my lack of supermodel credentials, I had somehow fooled myself into believing that I needed to make up for who I wasn't.  I'd lug my guitar over to our hangouts, singing and entertaining when I could in an attempt to give them some reason for wanting to hang out with simple ole me.  (This wasn't true, of course, but it was my truth and I believed it more than I believed the sky was blue).

One beautiful Saturday afternoon as we sat overlooking the Hudson River from one of their high rise, ritzy apartments, someone finally piped up and said, 'Sing us a song, Christa.'  I didn't object, of course, secretly hoping for hours that the invitation would arise.  With chiseled faces and statuesque figures looking in my direction, I pulled out my old guitar, opened my mouth, and began to sing. 

The song ended, my task complete.  But instead of the normal praises, cheers, and smiles I was accustomed to, I noticed one breathtakingly gorgeous European model off to the side who looked a bit like her head was about to explode, which probably wouldn't have been very good for her modeling career.  The 6'0" tall, size 0 girl who had walked every catwalk between here and Milan sat with her long arms crossed in disdain, her foot shaking as if nervously wanting to bolt out of the room, and her face morphing into a fiery red. 

"Lauren, are you okay?"  I asked timidly, choosing my words carefully.  "Did I say something wrong or offensive?"

 Her response wasn't quite what I had expected that summer day in New York City.

"No, I'm not okay!" she blurted in a thick Belgian accent.  "You have the voice of an angel and all I do is walk the catwalk and pose, pose, pose—click, click, click—beauty, beauty, beauty!  You have ALL the talent and I have NO talent.  It's not fair!  I want to be you!"

Silence suspended in the air between us as I scooped my jaw up off the floor.

For as long as I could remember, I had compared my reflection in the mirror to her perfect physique.  I wasn't thin enough or I didn't have big enough boobs.  My knees were knobby or my hair didn't flop around like the girl on the Pantene commercial.  What I saw was never enough, no matter how good it was.  And yet, here was the object of my deepest desire—the top tier of world models—throwing a temper tantrum because she'd rather give up her looks and have my talent.

The grass truly is greener on the other side.

That moment was a defining moment for me.  Some call it an, 'Ah-ha' moment.  Instead of looking at myself and seeing all the things that I wasn't or could never be, I began to look deep inside the unique nature of my beautiful, one-of-a-kind soul and ask, 'Ok, Christa.  What were you created to be that no one on earth was created to be, and how can you become so secure in the treasure that is you, that you find out what it means to live in real peace?"

Peace has come, and is still coming.  The more I find out who I was created to be, then becoming that girl, the more my green pasture seems to be just fine. 


***FREE SONG DOWNLOAD!! -- The first five readers to Tweet about this blog and tag both @jfreakhideout and @godlovesuglybk will be given a free download of Christa's song "The Grass Is Always Greener!"***

Monday, February 7, 2011

Featured Fan - Micah Garnett

Micah and The Letter Black

Favorite Band/Artist: The Letter Black
Featured Fan: Micah Garnett
Location: Cassopolis, Michigan
When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken:  Awake And Alive Tour (part 2) - Lansing, Michigan
What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You: Their raw, honest passion for what they do. The Letter Black is some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.
Favorite Album by This Artist:  Hanging On By A Thread
Favorite Song by This Artist: "Hanging On By A Thread," "Invisible," "Wounded," "Care Too Much," "All I Want"... they're all pretty awesome
Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: Three
Favorite Live Show Experience:  Lifest 2010. They played "Wounded," which is just as awesome live as it is on the CD. Sarah's screams are amazing.
Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: My two TLB t-shirts. They're my favorite shirts that I own.
Website: Micah's Facebook

Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here!