Thursday, December 27, 2007
Every year it's an issue: how does one stomach the onset of holiday music? With an endless stream of overplayed pop stars stirring what Sufjan Stevens calls "That Creepy Christmas Feeling," how does one navigate the sound of the season? Back in 2001, Stevens began making annual EPs of traditional carols and songs mixed with his own holiday-themed tunes. With 2006 and Volume 5, he's compiled a perfect gift for the Christmas-inclined indie rockster: all five EPs in one box, separately slipcased, plus a booklet filled with lyric sheets, chord charts, a Rick Moody essay, and more. Yes, Stevens knows that "Jingle Bells" features him playing (as he notes) "insipid piano," but he also writes gorgeous arrangements. Check out the three versions of "O Come O Come Emmanuel"; each aches. And "O Holy Night" from Volume 3 is lo-fi genius, never mind anyone's resistance to theology; it's a time-stopper. Stevens's own tunes are unmistakably his, hushed vocals highlighting a unique mix of whimsy and yearning--much like the justly-lauded Illinois and Michigan. In the end of the liner essay, Stevens writes that the Christmas story is about love, and on that note, he proclaims that these songs and the "Creepy Christmas Feeling" prompt "a transformation of the heart" for him and bring out affection and reflection. Isn't that a great holiday vibe? --Andrew Bartlett
Sunday, December 16, 2007
An album like this could cement Sarah McLachlan as a middle-of-the-road crooner ready for the Andy Williams Christmas Show, but there's more beneath the surface of Wintersong than just Christmas chestnuts, over-roasting on an open fire. Longtime McLachlan producer Pierre Marchand blurs the borders with ambient sound effects, distorted guitars, and subtle echoes. He adds a Mark Isham-esque muted trumpet solo emerging out of reverse echoes on "I'll Be Home for Christmas" as if viewing the song through a distorted mirror. Violins that sound like they're being blown through a Leslie speaker combine unpredictably with a banjo on "O Little Town of Bethlehem." And on the seventh song, McLachlan finally kicks the album into another gear, turning "The First Noël" into a storming entreaty backed by tribal drums and surging low strings. Her voice is like the serene angel amidst the raging storm. I wish McLachlan had taken more chances like this, instead of the subtle framing she employs around melodies that remain true to form. Surprisingly, the more contemporary songs by John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, and Gordon Lightfoot are the least inventive. Her reading of Mitchell's incandescently wistful "River" is overly faithful to the original, and Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" sounds like karaoke, right down to the Spector-esque production and children's choir. But given that Lennon's prayer for peace still remains unanswered, that fidelity could be intentional. Regardless, this is familiar Christmas fare delivered in an intimate and ethereal fashion that will satisfy those who believe in the nostalgic spirit of the season. --John Diliberto
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
#5 A Charlie Brown Christmas
Now I'm certain that for many people this would be tops on their list of Christmas albums. I'm not knockin' it, but I'm also not raking my albums in any particular order (sorry for those of you who like to watch those VH1 "most _fill in the blank_ celebrity" countdown shows). Regardless, this one is a classic. : )
#6 Christmas with the Chipmunks
I want to see the new Chipmunks movie. It looks like a lot of fun in that pop-culture glossy-eyed kind of way. I don't really recall watching much of the chipmunks, but I do remember hanging out in the basement in Montana as a kid listening to the record player blast out those shrill chipmunk harmonies. Who knew something so annoying would be so AWESOME!
#7 Mannheim Steamroller: Fresh Aire Christmas
And, to finish up this trio of market savvy Christmas faves, I'd like to say that this is one of those childhood albums that that just transports me back in time. In particular, in 1991 when my oldest brother was performing with the local high school band for the annual Christmas concert, he played the "Cantique De Noel (O Holy Night)" arrangement from Mr. Chip Davis on piano with a flute soloist and left the auditorium absolutely stunned. It truly was beautiful. And I was very proud of my brother. I still am.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I you love vocal jazz, these guys are top notch. Grab a glass of wine and enjoy the smooth sounds of Take 6 this Christmas.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Of all the piano-Christmas albums out there, this one has always just had a special place in my heart--it' just seems to bring out the holiday spirit in me.
Funny thing is that it's the ONLY George Winston album I own.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
#1 Christmas Songs with the Ray Brown Trio
My supervisor and partner in crime in the music department at the church found this CD in the discount rack a few years ago and purchased it on a whim. She let me listen to and instantly fell in love with the groove as layed down by Ray Brown (my favorite bass player) and his powerful trio and guest artists.
AMAZON.COM has this to say:
Ray Brown's got the right idea about making Christmas music: swing it, shout it, blues it up and down, riff with it, and, above all, never let it become boring. With a handful of top-line jazz vocalists on board, and a sax and guitar sitting in with the trio, he and his cool company can't miss the mirth of improvising or the mistletoe magic of rejuvenating a baker's dozen seasonal standards. Dee Dee Bridgewater demonstrates her versatility on "Away in a Manager" while the sublime Diana Krall scats with the creeping bass line on "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." With Nancy King, Etta Jones, Marlena Shaw, Vanessa Rubin, and Kevin Mahogany singing, Brown delivers the goods musically (just check out his lyrical work on "Rudolph."). --Martin Keller
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Happy Thanksgiving. I hope that everyone is finding this day to be restful (not too stressful) and full of good things to be thankful for. I've got family in town (my parents from Montana) and we'll be enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with some friends here in the valley.
Last night we celebrated at church with a joint worship service between Congregation B'nai Tikvah and Saint Matthew. It was an amazing evening that truly gave testimony of the good relationship between our two congregations and the spirit of thankfulness that can be found in being unified in God's love for us all. We shared in music and readings, a little bit from all traditions and then, as per our tradition at Saint Matthew, the annual pie fest! People bring pies, we eat them after the service and the the left overs are donated to familes in need as a Thanksgiving meal is provided by a compassion agency in the Contra Costa valley. Good times.
Well, don't eat too much. We've still got all of December to make it through.
Monday, November 5, 2007
I've felt the pinch of our current method of operation on two levels that affect how we lead in worship. 1) We aren't spending the time together on a regular basis to really work on the vocal dynamics we really need to work on...the whole blend has been off lately. This is nobody's fault, but it's a symptom of our current schedule. 2) We aren't connecting as a community as much. Our time together is more dictated by "what function or project must I complete" versus spending time together singing God's praises and praying for one another. Doing both of these things, I think, are invaluable for our worship leadership on Sunday mornings and I think our current schedule has created a road block for us.
What do you think? Am I just imagining this?
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Check out more of the movie at www.bellathemovie.com
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
This is a 7-hour experience for worship leaders, choir members, soloists, recording artists, and even the casual "shower" singer (we know you're out there!). Participants are engaged throughout the event, singing, answering questions from Tim Carson, watching video clips, taking notes, learning and practicing new vocal exercises as a group, analyzing audio clips, laughing at Tim's over-the-top demonstrations, and even providing feedback for Tim's live coaching sessions.
If you're interested in attending, it's $75 total charge. For those of you who participate in the Saint Matthew music programs, your cost will be cut in half (the church will pay for the other half). Let Jason know if you'd like to participate in this event.
Monday, October 15, 2007
For some reason, this webcam doesn't work in Mozilla Firefox, but it definitely works in Internet Explorer. : )
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I am the father of a 13-year-old daughter whose mother has been taking her to an evangelical Christian church her whole life. Her mother's family is entirely Christian. I am not a Christian, and in fact think that organized religion is actively harmful to her development into a rational adult. None of my friends are Christian, nor any of my family. Read More
Thursday, October 11, 2007
And, here's a short video clip from that tour. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Poi3imQkQsQ
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
Pastor Kevin Murphy will be teaching a class at Fuller Seminary of Northern California this fall, and is going to condense the thirty hours of class time into five weeks of high impact material for those who would like a leadership intensive at Saint Matthew. Starting on Wednesday, October 3rd and running for the five weeks of October, Pastor Kevin will help the participants explore their own temperaments to best determine how God might use them as leaders. Please sign up at the welcome center if you would like to be part of this special seminar.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
I've got only 4 videos that have been uploaded so far, but I'll be uploading more soon. I captured about 40 minutes of video of the demolition of Wagner last week and I'll be posting my edited down versions shortly. Enjoy!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I do have a photo that the webcam captured of the second day of demolition. You'll see that most of Wagner is gone and most of the debris have been hauled away. This picture was taken around 2pm on Sept 27th.I'll let you know more about the webcam when it's up and running again!
You can also check out the building blog that Pastor Jeff has been keeping at http://building.saintmatthew.org.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Young Americans harbor significant levels of frustration, doubt, and disillusionment with Christianity. How can you address their concerns and critiques, while maintaining a sense of biblical truth and grace? In his first book, David Kinnaman, president of The Barna Group, offers a compelling description of what a new generation really thinks about Christianity in unChristian. Read an excerpt here.
Monday, September 24, 2007
You can watch at anytime, day or night (although the daytime will be more exciting) and view the progress being made. Click here to view the webcam from your own computer!
<-- Click on the picture to subscribe to the Saint Matthew Sermon Podcast!
Each Sunday in worship an amazing sermon is preached and God's Word is continually revealed to us through the inspired messages from the leadership at Saint Matthew. Maybe you missed a Sunday and have heard people talking about the sermon. Or maybe your children wouldn't sit still for the entire service and most of your attention was directed to keeping them quiet resulting in yet another missed worship experience. Well, you can still hear the message by subscribing to the Saint Matthew Sermon Podcast.
If you don't have iTunes, click here to download for free! Click on the picture above and you'll be automatically subscribed (using iTunes) to the Saint Matthew Podcast.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
You can find a website for this project here.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
This past weekend, some friends of our got married! Myself along with my brothers Aaron and Sean and Geoff Carter, who plays piano regularly at Saint Matthew played for the wedding reception. It was mucho fun!
I suckered my bros into playing for worship on Sunday morning, too! At the end of the service we had a little jam session. We'd like to call it a postlude! Click on the link and enjoy a funky jam!
Friday, September 14, 2007
A "Saint Matthew Building Project" blog has been created so y'all can get the latest news and information about the progress of our new buildings at Saint Matthew. You can check it out at http://saintmatthewbuilding.wordpress.com/
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
If you'd like to hear his message from the event, you can download it from the Zondervan podcast here (using iTunes).
Here's an excerpt from his book published in Christianity Today:
The Real Worship War
Forget about choruses versus hymns—what about justice?
by Mark Labberton
At a worship service I attended, my attention was drawn to the enthusiastic worship leader. He opened our time with prayer, asking God to meet us and draw us into the Lord's presence. Then he stood with eyes closed and the band playing. He lifted his hands and offered his joyful praise to God.
That's when I really took notice, for as he sang so rapturously, he kept stepping on the feet of the people behind him. Not just once or twice but repeatedly throughout the singing. No apology. No acknowledgment of his "tromping in the spirit." He was just praising God while oblivious to his neighbor. More
Saturday, September 8, 2007
The Men's and Women's retreats are coming up! Men's is in three weeks (Sept.28-30) and the women's is two weeks later (Oct 12-14). Get signed up now if you haven't yet! Cost is $150 and it's due on Monday at the latest (for the men).
Here's a little promo video!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Ephesians 3:14-19 TNIV
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
What a beautiful passage! So, I ended up writing a song for Sara's ordination. It's called "How Deep How Wide"
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The pastor's name is Rob Bell. If you've ever seen a Nooma video, then you'll know who Rob Bell is. The music they do at Mars Hill is pretty fun and not unlike what we do at Saint Matthew. You can check out the Music at Mars Myspace page and get a nice sample of the music.
The songs they've got playing on the page are:
"Let it Rise", "I Want Jesus To Walk With Me", "You Are" and my personal favorite, "Changed." Enjoy!
Monday, August 27, 2007
if you need password info, e-mail directly.
WOW, we had a great time on Sunday night at the concert. Keenan and I had tons of fun playing and singing together. We shared half a dozen original tunes as well as some brand new songs from Hillsong. It really was a wonderful, worshipful night. Praise God.
It was all recorded and I'll be mixing stuff down. The recording process was fun and it opens the door to more recording that we could be doing as a worship team. People get ready!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
You are invited to a free concert at Saint Matthew Lutheran Church
Worship Leader at Saint Matthew
former organist at Saint Matthew and Julliard Student.
Keenan Boswell, an amazingly gifted young man who has played the organ at Saint Matthew for the last few years and is now a student at Julliard, has been cutting his teeth writing some tunes for worship. He’ll play piano and organ and Jason Bendickson, worship leader at Saint Matthew, will be accompanying him on guitar and will also share some original compositions. It should be a great and fun evening of new music, and a few good ‘ol sing-a-long stand-bys.Who: Jason Bendickson & Keenan Boswell
What: Free concert
When: April 26th, 7pm
Where: Saint Matthew Lutheran Church map
Why: Why not?
Hope to see you there!
Monday, August 20, 2007
Tomorrow evening at 7pm, folks from the Saint Matthew Worship Team are invited to gather at Marisa Barley's House here in Walnut Creek MAP for a little BBQ as we look towards the end of summer and the beginning of a new program year at Saint Matthew.
See you then!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
If you'd prefer the more savvy method, you can subscribe to the Saint Matthew sermon podcast using iTunes. Click on the button below and you'll be automatically subscribed to the podcast.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
You can check out Pastor Dave's Blog here.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The Men's Retreat theme is "Miracles Among Us" and is September 28-30. The retreat speaker is Roger Dill. Cost $150.
The Women's Retreat theme is "Google Heaven." The retreat is October 12-14, the and the speaker is Mary Naegli. Cost is $150.
Both retreats are taking sign ups at the Welcome Center or e-mail Nancy Pierce at Saint Matthew.
On Tuesday (last week), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America waged a war on illiteracy. But it didn't tackle the challenge of how to read words. The group addressed the challenge of how to understand and interpret The Word, otherwise known as the Bible.
The five-year Book of Faith initiative is intended to boost study of the Bible throughout the 4.8 million-member church. It is also a response to church research that shows 32 percent of Evangelical Lutherans believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, which is not the position of the Evangelical Lutheran church.
"In our culture, particularly around issues of immorality, the prevailing understanding tends to be a literal understanding of Scripture, which is not a Lutheran understanding," said Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. Full Story
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
The historic decision, made today at a national assembly at Navy Pier, was spearheaded by Bishop Paul Landahl of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod. Full Story
More stories at Google News if you'd like to read more!
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Invite your friends and neighbors for a men's breakfast on Saturday, August 11 at 8:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Speaker: Jim Crowley, Founder of Cops for Christ. Cost: $6.00. Sign up at the Welcome Center.
If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to the Saint Matthew sermon podcast here
You can also find the Saint Matthew podcast on thepodlounge.com if you don't use iTunes.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Video of their performance on YouTube!
Saturday, August 4, 2007
I've started a blog to help keep y'all updated on the goings on of the Saint Matthew music ministry and other things (such as new music I find, neat web finds, helpful tools for daily living and devotional material). For now, let' just say this is also a great place for you to see that the music page has been updated for your use.
if you need the username and password, e-mail me directly.