Music Friday Redux: Chris Bathgate’s Crawdaddy SXSW Session

April 29, 2011 at 8:51 am

Earlier today I introduced you to one of my new favorite artists, Chris Bathgate. I included one video of him doing a live backyard session for Crawdaddy but the thing is just so good I wanted to post the entire session today. Enjoy:

Here is “No Silver”

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This is is “Eliza (Hue)” from Salt Year:

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“Everything (Overture)”

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And, last but not least, “Wild Mountain Thyme”

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The Weekly Town Crier

April 29, 2011 at 7:16 am

Welcome to you. Thanks for stopping by. Why don’t you browse a bit. This thing here is what we like to call The Weekly Town Crier. A collection of links it is, really, for you and for me. Some weeks there are more, some weeks there are less. Come on now, don’t complain, it just is what it is. And now, link and click away:

Be my friend on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

Subscribe to our occasional music/interview podcast The Habañero Hour in iTunes.

Follow the Habañero Hour on Twitter for regular music/arts news updates, podcast and Phoenix house show announcements.

Become a fan of The Habañero Hour on Facebook for even more goodies and to help spread the love and world domination.

Register for October’s Together For Adoption conference here in Phoenix.

Preserve your iPhone with Steve Jobs preserved in carbonite.

Browse as Lollapalooza announces its 2001 lineup.

Read/listen as NPR reconsiders the discography of The Kinks.

Read as Slate considers the top 5 “non-religious” books on living a “good life.”

Browse as Paste considers 23 band names inspired by literature.

Read as Tim Keller shows us how Martin Lloyd-Jones dismantled the idea of video preaching.

See the trailer for the final Harry Potter installment.

See Hipstamatic’s iPhone case.

R.I.P. David Wilkerson.

Read this profile/interview with/of The Head And The Heart.

See the recent Railroad Revival Tour’s stop in Phoenix in photos.

Read as NPR suggests that it’s high time to stop all the social science analyzing of pop charts.

Read as Jason Schwartzman signs on for the next Wes Anderson movie.

Read about Dutch police using GPS to track speeders.

Read once again as NPR wonders about the future of the music industry.

Read as Trevin Wax warns preachers against furthering urban myths as sermon illustrations.

Browse as NPR suggests three books to take to a fist fight.

Read as the National Catholic Register suggests the top ten rap songs for Catholics.

Read as Justin Taylor interviews N.D. Wilson about writing the screenplay version of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce.

Check out The Missional Manifesto.

Music Friday: Chris Bathgate; Your New Favorite

April 29, 2011 at 6:52 am

I had never heard of Chris Bathgate until last week when my friend Eldon introduced me to his music (yes, every so often he comes up with something good).

Bathgate plays what many would consider to be “hushed folk” or “Americana” or “alt. country” or something in the middle of all three of those. Yes, Becky, I like lots of mellow(er) music. He’s great at creating a mood, just just songs. His new album Salt Year is shaping up to be one of 2011′s favorites for me.



Here is Bathgate performing “Serpentine” from 2007′s A Cork Tale Wake for Bandstand Busking:



Here is “Salt Year,” the title track from the new album at a radio station:


Here is “Eliza (Hue)” from Salt Year in a backyard during SXSW:

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  • Visit Bathgate’s official website
  • Watch a great live set for Crawdaddy

The Water And The Blood (A Review)

April 28, 2011 at 10:24 am

It’s an exciting time in music for the Church (and I use that term quite intentionally rather than “Christian” music or even the less helpful “Praise and Worship” but those are thoughts for another time).

R.U.F. Music helped kicked off a renaissance of sorts in the revitalization of hymns leading to several solid releases by Indelible Grace. Pagce CXVI, Red Mountain Music and Christopher Miner have also breathed new life into old hymns while The Opiate Mass have not only visited old hymns but written new material for the church. Bifrost Arts is bringing new life to old spirituals and hymns, and, Sovereign Grace Music is writing new music for the church while Soma Communities have recorded an album of songs inspired by the storyline of Scripture and The Rizers set Scripture to music for kids.

While “CCM”-style “Christian” music continues to lag behind popular trends and production styles, music for the church has largely been among the most creative and well-produced (I would argue that this is driven as much, if not more by theology than aesthetics, but that’s another post in and of itself) and at the fore of this creative and well-produced music for the church has been Sojourn Music.

Birthed out of the music ministry of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY, Sojourn Music (hereafter simply called Sojourn) has now put out seven albums, of mostly original material, a split EP between Jamie Barnes and Brooks Ritter (read my review of that EP here) and now two albums of re-worked hymns by Isaac Watts. The new album The Water and The Blood is Sojourn’s follow-up to 2009′s Over The Grave, a terrific album of hymns by Isaac Watts.

Sojourn has continually raised the bar of expectation. With each new release, they have pushed their own boundaries as they blur genres. It always seemed like they were trying to push themselves as artists while also always keeping the Church and “congregational singing” in their view; not an easy task by any means.

In many ways, the new album picks up where Over The Grave left off, exploring the hymns of Watts, but in other ways, The Water And The Blood is an entirely different record, as it should be. The mood is often hushed and there seems to be a somber tone to many of the songs. While Over The Grave pushed genres in an often celebratory tone (think “Warrior” and the closing 80′s rocker “Savior King”), The Water And The Blood seems preoccupied with the valleys instead of the mountaintops with song titles like “Absent From Flesh,” “From My Distress,” and “Death Has Lost Its Sting.”

The album opens with a take on a song Jamie Barnes included on the split EP: “Absent From Flesh” and it’s hard not to compare the two. While Barnes opens with stomping banjo and slide guitar and moves to bouncing horns, bringing an almost New Orleans backbeat flavor, this take eases into things with hushed reverb and gentle acoustic guitar and shaker, whispering hints of Lanois. When Barnes’ chorus hits, you want to shout along. When this one comes, there’s a somber restraint. While it may not be entirely fair to compare the two versions, the differences hint at the direction of the new album.

What happens when a band who so consistently stretches themselves release a more mellow album with a pretty consistent feel? That’s what fans will have to wrestle with here. While there are few standout tracks like “Warrior,” it is an amazingly consistent album, both in musicianship and feel. The shadow of Daniel Lanois looms large and that is a good thing, pedal steel and reverb gently float in and out, never taking the focus and always in just the right spot. “From Deep Distress” comes closest to breaking the generally mellow tone of the album but there’s still a hint of restraint even in the bluesy riffs.

It’s this feel of restraint through the album that actually lends the mellowness of many of the songs a sense of immediacy and its what keeps me coming back to this album. The Christian life is not always shouting in joy. Sometimes it is spent in anxious waiting and quiet reflection. This seems to me to be an album for those times and I’m thankful that Sojourn did not feel the need to repeat themselves. We need music reflecting the totality of the Christian life. Sojourn has produced a solid album that will accompany many of us through the quiet moments of the soul. If you’re looking for some of the bold experimentation that has colored their other work, this might not be the best place in their catalog to start. But if you need music that’s comfortable in the best sense of the term, like it’s been part of your life all along, music that meets you where you are and leads you to reflection on God’s faithfulness, this is your album.

It’s an interesting situation when such an incredibly solid album feels like a pause in a musical catalog. And let’s be clear, this is an incredibly solid album with perhaps a more consistent “feel” than some past Sojourn releases. It’s almost as if they’re reflecting on their identity as a musical entity while finding joy  in making a true “band” record. Recorded live with analog equipment, there is a warm and rich tone that lends itself perfectly to the more mellow feel of the album.

I am thankful for these songs and their players. I am thankful that we are in such a rich time of new and revived music for the Church and I am thankful for Sojourn for leading the way.

Soma Communities and Living In Gospel-Centered Community On Mission

April 27, 2011 at 9:26 am

Our friends at the Verge Network recently created this video profile of our family from Soma Communities in Tacoma, WA and it’s definitely worth passing on. It’s this kind of heart that has led, in part to Soma Communities having such an impact on our Church of the Cross family:

Soma Communities – Tacoma, WA from Verge Network on Vimeo.

(What Should Be) The Sting Of Church Discipline

April 27, 2011 at 8:56 am

In the circles I travel (small “r” reformed, striving to be missional church plants, etc.), there is a lot of talk about the relationship between church “membership” and and “church discipline” with the common assumption being that if you don’t have some sort of official “membership” then you can’t perform church discipline on someone.

If you’re not familiar with the terms here, the idea of “church discipline” is largely derived from Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5 and other passages. Though the church is made up of sinners saved by grace, we are not to tolerate ongoing, unrepentant sin in our midst; rather, we are to hold one another accountable and “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). As some point, if someone persists in unrepentant sin, they are to be put out of the local community of Believers. Whatever Jesus meant in Luke 6:37, saying: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned,” He did not mean that we should turn a blind eye to one another’s sin.

But let’s be honest, it’s often uncomfortable calling someone else out on their sin, especially when we are aware of our own sins. What’s more, we live in an age in which, if I put someone out of a local body of believers, the threat of lawsuit looms large on the horizon. The answer for many is to institute church “membership.” This is usually some sort of class that new people must go through covering the basics of that local church; what they believe, how they do things, etc. This oftentimes culminates in some lessons on church discipline and the signing of a waiver, that if, God forbid, that person find themselves under the discipline of the Body, they will not seek retaliation.

In many of our minds, there has come to be an intimate connection between church “membership” and church discipline. After all, you can’t put someone out of something if they were never really in in the first place, right? But, does church “membership” (yes, I’m going to keep putting it in parentheses) mean that much in most cases of church discipline? Is it really the act of having your “membership” revoked that carries with it the sting of your sin?

While I applaud the desire to make church “membership” meaningful, requiring things of believers, I’m not convinced that it is necessary or even all that helpful in cases where discipline is required. After all, even if I’m a “member” and I get the boot, most likely, I’ll just go to the church down the street and start all over and no one will be any the wiser. In many cases of discipline, even where there is “membership,” is there really any sting to the last steps of Matthew 18?

I have wondered aloud here before about church membership, so I won’t do that here. But what I will say is that it’s all well and fine if you insist on a class before someone can participate as a Christian in your local church. But, if that’s all there is, is there really any finality to “membership” being revoked? What if we truly build cultures of community that live together as family, bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), showing one another hospitality without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9), weeping and rejoicing with one another (Romans 12:15)? Exclusion from this sort of community should be the real sting of church discipline, whether or not you have “membership.” “Membership” does not create these things, so it should not be the litmus test of whether or not we can adequately practice discipline.

I wonder if we’ve looked to formal processes to determine “who’s in” and “who’s out” because we no longer really live together as family?

You Are So Loved, So Loved, So Loved

April 26, 2011 at 3:21 pm