Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Many Redeemed Artists May Avoid "The Industry" Because It Costs Too Much

Fiat Lux features gorgeous lyrics from redeemed artist, Ian Jacoby
Just read a blog post on "What's Wrong With the Christian Music Industry" recommended by my nephew. Since the piece really resonated with him, I think it will appeal to lots of others out there.

As for my opinion? SO many thoughts. Since my nephew is a really intelligent and perceptive guy who can argue a point without letting things get personal, I think I'll put this out there as my response. JUST my opinion so school me as you will.

1) The Music: Michael, are you suggesting that an artist, any artist, maintains complete freedom once he obtains a patron? Artists take commissions to support themselves. If your record company is looking for something you're not comfortable creating, don't take their money. The Christian Music Industry is a business. They are satisfying a market and doing so very profitably. I would suggest a more honest title for the article would be "I hope not, but I apparently have mild contempt for my audience since they are mindless Beckys satisfied with mediocre music produced by the company for which I work." A solution might be to start your own record label. But, I have a feeling that even then you'll want a say in which artists you represent. And there probably will be a blogger right behind you saying you aren't edgy, raw or real enough.

2) The Bars: Michael, some might call it patronizing to assume you know how the worldlings think. For all we know, the bar owners are glad it's "Christian Music Night" so they can give their bartenders a night off and get a crew in to deep clean the dried vomit and urine in the restrooms. And around the back door. And I'm not sure but I think I got the bouncer's shoes, too.

3) The Artist: If the Living God has gifted one with the ability to compose and perform music, it is the artist who must stand before the Lord and answer for what they did with that gift. The redeemed of Christ are everywhere. Some in the biz, some alongside Sufjan and LAARKS, some playing after their day job so they can feed themselves and still make music.

4) The End Product Ready for the Consumer: In the daily battle for my heart and mind, I cannot exaggerate the importance that Christian radio and industry songs play in my sanctification. I half listen to some songs, full on worship to others. Cringe at some of the lyrics or the commercial feel to some of the stuff. HOWEVER, I know that God uses "flawed" vessels so it would be arrogant to think every single song should minister TO ME and pass the acid test of my personal musical preferences. Who am I to judge God's Servant? "Why do you call me good?" Plus, I still haven't sent the new LAARKS CD to Harlan at WHEM, which is a shame because he'd play it. Because he's generous and awesome and brave.

So, Michael, I think your beef is with more than the industry. It seems to be with the Body itself; its tastes, its behaviors, its spending habits. And, as with any time we are frustrated and impatient with The Body, we are usually putting ourselves above them. We know better. We've gone further. We're more enlightened. Yuk. The real answer, our true consolation, is to bring it all before the Father. He alone can change hearts, appetites and actions. And He usually starts with our own.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Merch at Caron's in Eau Claire!

For sale beginning Saturday, November 23rd at Caron's Christmas Shopping Extravaganza at Caron's Christmas Tree Farm: 6760 Curvue Road, Eau Claire, Wisconsin 54703. You will not be disappointed at the wonderland awaiting you at Caron's this year! New managers, Sean and Brittney Malone have sought out many, many area artisans in order to provide shoppers with an opportunity to buy local, handmade, unique creations in Caron's magical log cabin gift shop. Of course you'll also find lots of gorgeous greens, wreaths, trees, decorating classes, cocoa - everything the family needs for a memorable time together in the beautiful Wisconsin woods!

Caron's Christmas Tree Farm
Open November 23rd  through  December 21st
Fridays and Saturdays 10am - 6pm
Sundays 11am - 5pm

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"All I remember is, they had great candy..."

This past summer, a forty-something man was lingering in front of our house. I put down my gardening trowel, strode over, and said hello. He smiled and said, "Hi, I'm visiting from the west coast, but a long time ago, I grew up in this neighborhood." We chatted for a bit and then I asked him, "Did you know the Vances, the couple who built this house?" He responded with this life-changing comment, "I didn't really know them. All I remember is they always had great Halloween candy." In that moment, a self conscious half smile flitted across his face and erased thirty years. And just like that, I knew a torch had been passed. I wanted us to be known like that; known for abundant generosity and a sweetness of spirit towards the young. So it's movie size candy for the kids this year. It's fine if our names are lost to the ages if we can deserve this epitaph, "They had great candy..."

Movie size candy: $1/box from Walgreens. A bargain for all that happiness!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Too Busy Not to Nurture Creativity

Moss inspires me. I think moss is my spirit animal.
When life gets complicated and busy, a focus on obtaining the fundamentals of food, shelter and safety is what gets us through. We build the solid granite base of Maslow's pyramid. When time and money are limited, keeping our nose to the grindstone and working hard seems the responsible thing to do - particularly when others depend on us. Why is this noble single mindedness often stressful instead of satisfying? Why are we pulled to take our eyes off the vital tasks at hand? Are we lazy? Addicted to entertainment? Amusing ourselves to death?  No. We look up and our thoughts stray because we are complex organisms and the stuff that makes us smile and feel inspired, the "quality of life" stuff is being crowded out by the time consuming process of keeping body and soul together and we're lonely for our heart's home. Shaking this distraction off and briskly returning to the hamster wheel of work is not the answer.

Regularly exercising the creative aspect of the soul is essential for everyone. Every human being carries a glowing ember of the pure and perfect ancient spark that set this whole world in motion. In this spark resides the essence of our humanity. It's a piece of our Creator; a piece so clearly not manufactured by ourselves that it can feel foreign, unmanageable and superfluous. But it is the exact opposite of that. God put this fire in us for a reason. And the reason isn't to serve as a carrot on a stick, propelling us on to a far off time when we have "the luxury" of nurturing creativity. The spark is for now. It's to ignite the fire that makes the entire engine run each day.

Being mindful of the whole, the reason why you are and who you are happens with creative thought and activity. Am I advocating oil painting for veterinarians? Lunch time poetry slams for the business executive? Interpretive dance for bankers? Maybe.... But incorporating an artistic exercise routine into ones day needn't be lofty, odd or even time consuming. It needn't take us out of our comfort zone.

Here is a simple exercise that happens to be my favorite. For me, creativity is basically translation work. Or a math problem. And in the interest of practicing what I preach, I will be creative and use a math-y analogy instead of a language-y one just because it's a stretch.

Given x.  x = thing or concept.  y = unrelated thing or concept. Synthesize x with y to make x=y. 
Show your work.*

*I'm showing my work only because I am illustrating the process. During the day, I mostly do this in my busy, busy mind. However, I've found using a journal or notebook is extremely satisfying; especially if you're a doodler.

          x = victory  y = horses  make x (victory) = (y) horses

Victory is what one wants when one is in a battle. I am the simplest of soldiers. No special training. Enlisted man. A Private. A very private Private with imperfectly mastered skills learned at boot camp.The battle is tiring me and draining me of energy and hope - am I fighting completely alone? The enemy is larger, stronger, and very big. I feel before I hear. Rhythmic vibration on the ground. Something powerful is coming. The movement morphs into sound - the sound of a hundred horse cavalry. As the horses come closer, the enemy flees in the face this magnificent adversary. I stand on the now deserted hill alone., watching growing clouds of dust stirred up by the approaching hundred hooves And in the last few minutes before the reinforcements arrive, I plant a flag of victory in the bloodstained earth of the battlefield.

Therefore, victory = horses

Give it a try. Make the two things as disparate as possible. Don't be afraid of cliches - they can help break the ice. Consider leaving a comment or message with your results. I'd love to hear what you come up with - I'll get it. I'll recognize it. Because your thoughts began with the same fire that fuel mine.

P.S.  I'm getting into the challenge of this idea. Here's a proposition: I promise to synthesize any two words into a cohesive analogy or will send you one dozen home baked cookies - recipe of your choice. If I fail, you can email me contact information for cookie delivery. IF I fail. Post your challenge in the comments or on my facebook page.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best End of the Deal

August 2013= 25 Years with this fine fellow!
I once read somewhere that the happiest marriages are those in which each party secretly thinks they got the best end of the deal.
I don't think there's any secret here - just look at this adorable man. I only wish he had a blog so I could check to see if he (secretly) feels the same.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Justine Childs Has a Blog!

My old partner in crime (The Market) has FINALLY started a blog! It's called "Vintage Hearts at Home" and I think you will love it! Justine has a sweet, charming, generous spirit - and that comes through in each and every blog post. Not limited to decorating (although it's a great place to glean inspiration and information for all things home decor) Justine shares tutorials, what's on her heart and fun family adventures! Here are a few pics from her blog which convey Justine's sensibility: vintage, timeless, whimsical and family centered. Have fun exploring Vintage Hearts at Home!
Enduring love affair with black & white
Cabinet in Justine's Studio  - charming, charming, charming!
Justine's gorgeous ever changing dining room...

"hi ho" Kurt Vonnegut

The local venue for selling SJD jewelry and art (The Market at Banbury Place) has closed. Still processing that. Still thinking about the ideas of ventures failing vs running their course. Yessir, this change along with the whole issue of a "calling" or vocation have generated lots of food for thought this summer. Lots of food but little appetite. I think about where my gifts and talents would be best used - what would make the world a better place but also what would satisfy the very human need for a sense of accomplishment, for a sense of meaning. 'hi ho' as dear Uncle Kurt would say. hi ho.