A Couple Things You Should Know About–The Arcadians and the New Electric Sound

I can think of few things more intimidating than a battle of the bands. I would never compete in one personally, because I’d lose and then I’d be devastated for the next two decades. But check out the Arcadians. They just won the battle of the bands at Velour. You know people are moving to Provo just to be part of the music scene here? That makes the win at Velour all the more meaningful. The Arcadians are topping off their victory with a CD release concert. Check them out in one week. Saturday, July 28th, 8pm at Velour.

And have you seen this? I don’t know much about the New Electric Sound, other than they come highly recommended. But the real bad dude with the axe is my friend Gavin Bentley:

The Song That Changed My Life

If you haven’t seen this series, you’ve got to check it out. This particular episode was put together by my good friend Jed Wells, and it looks so good. I’ve recently gotten to know Robbie (the crazy haired guitarist on the left)–one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. In fact, I’ve got some video footage of him jamming with my nine-year-old rocker son. Yep, Robbie’s that generous.

But the bottom line is, when I grow up, I’m gonna be like Fictionist. Check’em out:

Ever Heard Led Zeppelin In Sacrament Meeting?

I have. It was a missionary farewell, and a friend of the missionary brought his acoustic guitar up to the stand and played a beautiful number. I didn’t know it was Led Zeppelin, but all the boys 5-10 years older than me knew exactly what it was.

Can a guitar convey the Spirit? Silly question. Of course it can.

Here are three deeply moving “rock” songs that in my opinion, are profoundly spiritual. Keep in mind I’m more moved by “Upon the Cross at Calvary” than I am by “Scatter Sunshine”:

1. Mercy Street, Peter Gabriel

2. Falling At Your Feet, Daniel Lanois with Bono

3. Still Reaching, Fictionist

Tune in next time for a review of The Lower Lights, A Hymn Revival, Volume 2.

Nashville Music Party

One of the funnest parts of visiting my in-laws in Tennessee (our home away from home) is the music parties they throw. Musicians gather to perform for each other just for the fun of it. People as famous as Dan Truman from Diamond Rio and producer Jason Deere have attended in the past. This time, we were graced with the presence of Nashville Symphony first clarinet James Zimmerman, bluegrass dynamic duo Drew and Lacey, jazz singer Stacey Haslam, and rocker Shane Adams. My mother-in-law Marilyn Tolk, Julliard graduate and infamous music party entertainer, can be seen in the photo below goofing off to a PDQ Bach piece. Click on my TN/Atlanta photo album to see more photos of the music party.

Marilyn Tolk goofs around at a Nashville Music Party

I didn’t get a photo of Amy and me performing our Briarhouse number, but here’s Amy enjoying the other numbers. Click here for more photos.

Amy Tolk from Briarhouse at a Nashville Music Party

David Tolk Christmas

After eighteen years of a perfect driving record, I got a speeding ticket this weekend, thanks to new age pianist David Tolk. I was absorbed with his new Christmas music and neglected to reduce my speed while passing through the rural town of Levan. Oops. Ninety bucks later I’m back to the music.

Tolk is known for his contemplative instrumental arrangements with yearning harmonies–often nostalgically weaving multiple timeless melodies together. Instrumentalists on this album include Ryan Tilby on all sorts of guitars (Ryan also produced the album), Aaron Ashton on violin, and Daron Bradford on various woodwind instruments.

Tolk throws a few surprises at us with this album. There is a wider variety of instrumentation–more vocals (provided by his daughter MacKenzie), more keyboard, even an organ. Fans of electronica will enjoy David’s arrangements of “What Child is This” and “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” The unplugged devotees will enjoy David’s traditional sounds in “The Holly and the Ivy” and “Still Still Still.” My favorite moment of all (yep, the one that sent shivers up my spine) happens in “I Saw Three Ships.” Guitar strings dance in a gentle flurry and then it happens: strings soar in from above to the tune of “Joy to the World.” Take it from me you’ll want to listen to this part at full volume. David Tolk Christmas is worth buying for that moment alone–not to mention the awesome front cover:)

Check it out at davidtolk.com.

The Lower Lights: A Hymn Revival

Okay, before you do anything else, click here and check out Jed Wells’ amazing videography of the Lower Lights project. (Yes, that’s just one amazing guy and his camera.) And while you’re there, be sure to register for project updates.

Now for a quick review. I snagged a copy of the upcoming music album The Lower Lights: A Hymn Revival from producer Scott Wiley. I’ve been a fan of Scott’s for years now, ever since I heard the energy in his music and his impeccable attention to production details. Over the years, Scott has become producer to a wide variety of the best talent around–and he brought them all together in this compilation of hymns.

I’ll cut to the chase: the tracks that gave me goosebumps (yes I looked down at the hairs on my legs while I was driving in the car and they were standing straight up) were “For The Beauty of The Earth” and “There Is A Green Hill Far Away”. For the Beauty has silky vocals built on a gentle march. ‘Made me literally imagine the saints and their march toward heaven.

I don’t know how many vocalists there are in this project–people you’ve heard of like Mindy Gledhill, Cherie Call, Sarah Sample, Paul Jacobsen and more–each voice has its own perfect texture, even when weaved in and out of other traditionally soloist voices. It is a pure thrill to hear them collaborate. I also loved the instrumental tracks–I never expected to hear bluegrass instrumentation on “If You Could Hie to Kolob” and “We Thank Thee O God for A Prophet”.

Okay you get the idea. When they say “revival”, they mean it. The album has a vintage flavor I hope you’ll love. At the very least, this deserves a listen. You won’t regret it. Now back to business: go back and register on the Lower Lights website!

Briarhouse Photos

I was hoping we would have finished our Briarhouse album by now, for an autumn release. It’s been a busier summer than I had anticipated, so it looks like we’re going to shoot for next summer. In the meantime, here are some Briarhouse photos Amy and I took on a recent rare date without children in tow. We didn’t have a photographer, so we took turns taking pictures of each other and did a little editing after the fact.

I Designed David Tolk’s New Album

I’m not a professional graphic designer, but any time David Tolk asks me to collaborate, I’m more than happy to do whatever I can.  He’s about to release a new Christmas album with my painting on the cover.  I’ll give you a review of the album itself when it comes out, but for now, let me show you what the design looks like.  It was a bit of a challenge for me to design something around this painting of mine.  The modern, sweeping, curved lines were hard to compliment with design elements.  In the end, I ended up stripping down the design to something very simple in order to showcase the art and not distract from it.  I hope you like it–I know you’re going to enjoy David’s music!

Front Cover

Back Cover, Trayliner

Did a photo shoot with David to get the image for the inside booklet. Again, simple design.

And here’s a rough idea of what you see when you open the CD: another painting of mine, and paint texture through the clear tray.

My Little Recording Studio

I’ve been wanting to put this studio together for a long time!  Thanks for indulging me by taking the time to look at my photos.  Hopefully we’ll be able to get some good music recorded in this little space.

Before and After

Before and After

Before and After

Before and After

We put an extra layer of sheetrock up and glued it with green glue, which is supposed to keep the sound out. Thanks for the tip, Scott Wiley!

This is the sweet shuffleboard floor that was underneath the carpet. It reminds me of the Love Boat.