I was trying to find some place online where you can listen to Jason Upton’s music so you can hear maybe a little bit of the passion in his message. The 30 second preview snippets on Amazon just don’t do these songs justice. Thankfully, I found a few of his songs posted to YouTube, of all places. Here are two of the songs I mentioned in my previous post:

I Will Wait (actual recording from album with slideshow video)

Never Alone (live recording, lyrics a little different from the album)

And this is Joy’s favorite song of his: Faith (actual recording from album with slideshow video)

And this is another song that I did not mention in my previous post: Come Up Here (actual recording from album with worship dance video). You’ll have to click to see that one because embedding is disabled for that video.

Since I haven’t been posting much lately, you might guess that I must have something I really want to share. In this case that’s certainly true. As I think I have mentioned here before, I order a ton of stuff from Amazon, so their suggestion algorithm pretty frequently comes up with decent suggestions of other things I might be interested in. A couple of months ago it suggested a CD by Jason Upton. I had never heard of him before, but it looked like a Christian CD, so I went a read some of the reviews. This review was enough to get me to add the CD to my wishlist:

“Remember the first time you heard Keith Green? You knew you were listening to a minister who used music to get his message across, not an entertainer. That’s the same feeling you’ll get when listening to this CD. This was my introduction to Jason Upton, and I have to say, I was blown away. Almost every song on this CD will stop you in your tracks to listen. I have over 500 CDs, and I can safely say this one is my choice when I need something to help me find God in my day-to-day busy-ness. This is not mainstream radio music, as most of the tracks are well over 5 minutes long, but this is ministry.”

Fast forward a couple of months and it turns out that my mom got me Jason Upton’s “Faith” CD from my wishlist for father’s day. A few days later I pulled it up to listen to at work and pretty much stopped dead in my tracks. Unbelievable. God is at work though the music of Jason Upton. Full stop. It is by far the most amazing worship CD I have ever heard. I don’t know if it just meets me exactly where I am right now or what. I listed to the CD all day long, and all the next day, too. Then I went home and looked on Amazon for anything else by Jason Upton. They had two more CDs: “Great River Road” and “Beautiful People”. Joy’s mom had given me an Amazon gift certificate for father’s day, so I immediately ordered both of the other CDs. They came a couple of days later and I took them to work the very next day to listen to them. They were a couple of years newer than “Faith”, so the musical style was a bit different, but they still had the same amazing power of ministry to me. So that night I went home and scrounged the internet for anything else he might have done, maybe out of print CDs or something else. It turns out he also had eight more CDs that he had released independently (the three CDs I bought on Amazon were all on actual record labels, which is why Amazon had them). I found a place online that had all eight, so I ordered them on the spot. I’m still waiting for those to come in the mail, but in the interim I’ve been listening to the three CDs I have almost constantly.

It isn’t really so much music to sing along to (well some of the songs are, but certainly not all of them). In many ways it’s music to just listen to and let the truth speak over you. It’s music that makes me want to stop whatever I’m doing and just sit and listen. And while the musical style is not the same as Keith Green, Jason’s intensity and passion in his ministry is certainly similar. I just find the music and message extremely powerful and anointed. It makes me long to love and worship God with my whole heart. I’ve never heard music that speaks to me like this before in my life. I believe God is speaking directly to my heart through some of these songs. It’s almost like it was written just for me. So while I can’t claim that this is the perfect music for everyone, I can certainly say that is has touched my heart, and is continuing to do so. After the jump I’ve included some (partial) lyrics from a few of Jason’s songs.

Quite a few months ago (I’m behind on my blog posting) Joy and I saw the Dan Tyminski Band here in town. Dan Tyminski is best known to most people as the singing voice of George Clooney in the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, where he sings “Man of Constant Sorrow”. He’s also been a member of Union Station with Alison Krauss for many years.

We had front row tickets in the very center, and it was amazing to watch such talented musicians from so close. They played a lot of songs off their forthcoming album (which should be released in June), as well as many of the songs from Dan’s previous solo album, “Carry Me Across the Mountain”. Near the end of the concert they finally played “Think About You Every Day”, which is my very favorite song from Carry Me, and it was terrific, especially since I was beginning to think they weren’t going to play it. It was a great concert and I really enjoyed it (and Joy was very kind to humor me since bluegrass is not her favorite style of music).

Similar to my music shuffle post from a few days ago, this is basically the same thing except instead of using the songs to answer questions, you create the soundtrack for the movie of your life. The same rules/instructions apply:

1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. Press forward for each movie scene.
3. Use the song title as the soundtrack for the scene (even if it doesn’t make sense). And no cheating!

Opening Credits
Spiritual (Johnny Cash)

Waking Up
Fear (Sarah McLachlan)

Falling In Love
Josephine (Wallflowers)

Fight Scene
Since I Don’t Have You (The Skyliners)

Breaking Up
You’re Not There (Pierce Pettis)

Getting Back Together
Daybreak Blues (Three Pickers)

Secret Love
Everybody Wake Up (Dave Matthews Band)

Life’s Okay
Something (Harrod And Funck)

Mental Breakdown
Not My Friend (Norah Jones)

Shall I Tell You What I Think Of You (The King And I)

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina (Evita)

Happy Dance
This Ain’t Tennessee (Garth Brooks)

I Give You To His Heart (Alison Krauss)

Long Night Alone
Dancing Queen (Abba)

Final Battle
World Leader Pretend (REM)

Death Scene
The Other Side Of Me (Michael W. Smith)

Ending Credits
Just The Way You Are (Billy Joel)

I’ve seen this one on several different blogs around the internet and I thought I might be able to have some fun with it. I have a large and eclectic music collection, so I didn’t really know how this would turn out for me, but I had fun doing it and some of these are quite amusing.

1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. Press forward for each question.
3. Use the song title as the answer to the question (even if it doesn’t make sense). And no cheating!

The song title that I will use as the subject of this post?
I Will Live Forever (Vineyard)

How do I feel today?
Searching (Ron Block)

What was today like?
I Just Want To Praise You (Vineyard)

What is in store for this weekend?
I Saw The Light (David Crowder Band)

What does next year have in store for me?
Wake Me Up (Norah Jones)

How is my life going?
He Covers Me (Steve Camp)

What’s my outlook on life?
Stars (The Weepies)

What is the story of my life?
Where You Are (FFH)

What should I do with my life?
Witness (Sarah McLachlan)

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
Obsession (David Crowder Band)

What is my signature dancing song?
Come Holy Spirit (Veni Sancte Spiritus) (John Michael Talbot)

What is the best thing about me?
Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord (Vineyard)

What is some good advice for me?
Still Listening (Steven Curtis Chapman)

What is my favorite saying?
Voodoo Reprise (Cassandra Wilson)

What do I say when life gets too hard?
Beautiful Savior (Nichole Nordeman)

What song should they play on my birthday?
One (U2)

Will I have a fulfilling life?
After The Thrill Is Gone (Eagles)

Will I get far in life?
The Way Things Are (Fiona Apple)

Will I have a happy life?
High Flying, Adored (Evita)

Will I be successful in life?
Every Now And Then (FFH)

How can I get ahead in life?
Good To Me (Vineyard)

How can I make myself happy?
Man Of Sorrows (Jill Phillips)

What does my family think of me?
Little Lotte, The Mirror, Angel Of Music (Phantom Of The Opera)

What do my friends think of me?
Hole In The World (Eagles)

What do strangers think of me?
Big Yellow Taxi (Keb Mo)

What do my exes think of me?
The Sun Maid (Soul Asylum)

How does the world see me?
Empty Chairs At Empty Tables (Les Miserables)

What is my best friend’s theme song?
Who Will Ascend (Vineyard)

What song describes my parents?
There’s Your Trouble (Dixie Chicks)

What song describes my grandparents?
Night Driver (Tom Petty)

What was high school like?
If I Didn’t Know Any Better (Alison Krauss)

Am I good at school?
Down To The River To Pray (Alison Krauss)

What do I want as a career?
Cowboy Romance (Natalie Merchant)

What type of men/women do I like?
Love In Vain (Keb Mo)

How is my love life?
Duchess (Neko Case)

How will my love life be in the future?
Famous Last Words (Caedmon’s Call)

Will I get married?
Give Thanks (WOW)

What will the person I marry be like?
Sun Come Up (Charlie Peacock)

Where will I get married?
All Fall Down (Harrod and Funck)

What song will I dance to at my wedding?
Lonely Stranger (Eric Clapton)

Will I ever have children?
Out Of Love (Toto)

What will I name my children?
I Will Find Jill C (Harrod and Funck)

What will my children be like?
Devastation And Reform (Relient K)

How will I die?
39 (Harrod and Funck)

What song will they play at my funeral?
She Loves The Jerk (John Hiatt)

How will I be remembered?
Tell Me (Bethany Dillon)

Joy and I saw the African Children’s Choir here in town last month. The choir was started more than two decades ago by an Irish minister living in Canada who visited Africa to research a book he was writing. While working on his book, he saw the ravages of war in Uganda and was touched by the children living in extreme poverty and hardship. He decided that he wanted to do something to help and started the choir as a way to help children directly and to spread the message of the dire circumstances that many African children face daily. All of the children in the choir come from homes that have lost one or both parents, and many of them were rescued from a homeless existence living on the streets. Each year a new choir of approximately thirty children is created, and after they tour with the choir for a year, the foundation that runs the choir provides them with free housing and education (through college) at one of several centers they have throughout Africa. The intent is that the children will stay in Africa and help lead their generation.

It was a lot of fun to see the boundless energy and talent in the kids. The bulk of the program consisted of song and dance pieces depicting life and tradition in Africa, as well as some of the hardships that the kids have faced. At the end of the concert they did a very energetic gospel-flavored song that was terrific (“Walking in the Light of God”). Watching the concert, it was sobering to think of the many children suffering across the globe, without families, food, or medical care. But at the same time, watching the choir started years ago by one man with a vision to make things better, it was a great reminder that even one person can make a difference.

African Children’s Choir 1

African Children’s Choir 2

African Children’s Choir 3

African Children’s Choir 4

African Children’s Choir 5

“My place is of the sun and this place is of the dark,
I do not feel the romance, I do not catch the spark,
(By grace my sight grows stronger, grows stronger)
My place is of the sun and this place is of the dark,
I do not feel the romance, and I will not be a pawn
for the prince of darkness any longer.”

Joy and I had the chance to see an Indigo Girls concert a few nights ago. We had front row tickets, which was pretty cool. I subscribe to the “click refresh like a madman as soon as tickets go on sale” strategy for concert tickets, and once in a while it really pays off with unbelievably good seats. Even though both of us (and pretty much everyone else we know) listened to the Indigo Girls in high school and college, neither of us had ever seen them in concert before. They played a nice mix of older material along with quite a few songs from their latest album. Older classics included “Closer to Fine”, “Prince of Darkness”, “Three Hits”, “Galileo”, “Least Complicated”, and “Power of Two”. What struck me, besides how talented they were and how effortless they made everything seem, was how much they seemed to enjoy performing and how sincere they seemed in thanking the audience for their appreciation (and, to be sure, the sold out crowd was very appreciative and enthusiastic). Most of the time an artist saying “thank you” seems kind of like an obligatory line that you are supposed to say, but it didn’t come across that way from the Amy and Emily, so much so that it really stood out to me.

As a side note, I don’t agree with the Indigo Girls on everything they stand for politically and I wasn’t quite sure what one of their concerts would be like in that respect, but they kept commentary to a bare minimum. The only statements they made were pro YMCA (!?), anti death penalty, in support of breast cancer research, and in support of Amnesty International, and I’m not going to argue with any of that.

So overall, it was fun to have great seats for some great music that really brought back memories of our high school and college years. If a concert makes me nostalgic for those days “way back when”, does that mean I’m getting old? :-)

Indigo Girls

Joy and I went to see an Anuna concert a few weeks ago. They are a Celtic group that I had never heard of until they were one of the events in our season subscription. As it turned out, they were really good. The group is made up of about 15 singers, pretty evenly split between men and women, and four instrumentalists (guitar, harp, violin, and percussion). They don’t perform only traditional Celtic music, but also medieval and sacred works in various languages. I’ve always wondered how this kind of music would be performed live, and apparently this is how you do it (and do it well).

Some of the pieces were stunningly beautiful. “Marble Halls”, “Pie Jesu”, and “Greensleeves” were particularly good, but the highlight was “Jerusalem”. For “Jerusalem”, five female vocalists came down from the stage and positioned themselves around the lower floor of the theater, spread throughout the audience. Then they sang in what can best be described as a kind of round, while walking slowly around the theater aisles (not in a circle or anything, just kind of randomly). The unamplified voices swirled and soared, completely surrounding you with voices from every direction. I think that was possibly the most ethereal, beautiful music I have ever heard performed live. Really, it was truly amazing. If you ever have the chance, Anuna is a concert you don’t want to miss.

A few weeks ago Joy and I went to see Nickel Creek with some friends of ours. It was such a nice treat to go out to dinner and a concert with good friends. As always, the concert was great. They ran through all of their popular songs from all three albums, but I think they did fewer cover songs than last time they were here. They ended the first half with “The Fox”, which made me wonder what in the world they were going to do for a big number at the end of the concert. It turns out they were saving their cover of “Toxic” for the end, which they have now perfected in its craziness (lots of Chris dancing this time, which we didn’t see before). All in all a great show, and it makes me look forward all the more to Sara’s first solo album when it comes out next year. Oh, and I’ve been blogging long enough now that I can also refer you to my post from the last time Nickel Creek came through town.

Joy and I recently saw the Ten Tenors as part of a Broadway series we’re attending here in town in an effort to set aside time for us to get out together without the kids every now and then. I didn’t enjoy the concert as much as the Wynton Marsalis concert we saw a few weeks earlier, but parts of it were quite good. The somewhat heavily stylized opera bits were nice enough, and their covers of various well-known rock songs were certainly entertaining. The covers included Stayin’ Alive (Bee Gees), The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel), Who Wants To Live Forever (Queen), and Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen again). As you might expect, Bohemian Rhapsody was the crowd pleasing favorite of the night. In between the opera and the covers, though, they performed a number of songs that were basically overwrought adult contemporary numbers, none of which were particularly engaging or interesting. So all in all certainly not the greatest concert in the world, but still a nice evening for Joy and I to spend together.

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