Snow Big Deal

In tribute to recent weather events.

Kudos to Vince Pinkerton for another awesome video.

Of course this song is available on our latest CD, “On The Air”. More info at the X-Alt Website.


Hi guys.  Long time, no post.  I’ll be getting back in the habit soon, I hope.  But first, I’d like to tell you about something.

My band, X-Alt is finally, finally ready to release our latest studio project, On The Air.  It will officially go on sale May 31st at Revival 2009

Here is a video Ford Prefect made with little 10-second samples of most of the tracks.  I am amazed by the diversity of sound we’ve produced.

We’ve got not only our usual rollicking R&B tinged praise numbers, but also some rockers, jazzy ballads, a rock-comedy song I wrote about how southern cities act during snowstorms (special guest appearance by a Nashville weatherman you all know and love), a renaissance fair version of “Come Thou Fount”, and many guest appearances by some awesome musicians.  To top it all off, we tapped into our old school roots, and made On The Air a concept album.

This project took a very long time – I wish I could give you some VH1 Behind The Music drama as a reason, but alas, it was just life.  Illnesses, surgeries, day jobs, and running short on money were major contributors 🙂

I’m quite proud of what we’ve produced.  Certainly we’ll be selling the CD in all the usual places (including iTunes), but I’d suggest coming to the big Revival May 29-31, because you’ll not only hear our new stuff, but also some of the most diverse music and preaching to be heard in Nashville.

Posted in X-Alt. 1 Comment »

Come Join The Celebration!

New Beginnings Christmas

New Beginnings Christmas

I’d like to invite all of you to what has become an annual tradition: the X-Alt Christmas Coffeehouse at New Beginnings Church in Bellevue.  There will be lots of music to get you and your family in the Christmas spirit, along with the usual coffees and baked goodies, all upcoming this Saturday night.

This will be the only time this year we will drag our Christmas set out of mothballs (and we have some unique arrangements), so this is your only chance to hear it.

But, for those of you who need a little extra urging, Jim Weber, singer-songwriter extrodinaire, will be there.  Every time we’ve had Jim at a coffeehouse, he’s brought the house down.

There are others who will join in the celebration, but the one you just absolutely HAVE to see is a musician named David Parr.  We know him from way back (I haven’t seen David in years).  He plays the most unique instrument I’ve ever seen, the Chapman Stick .  The best description I know for it is it’s a stringed instrument, but it’s played like a piano.  All I know is that when in Parr’s very talented hands, it’s one of the most beautiful instruments I’ve ever heard.

Finally, on a personal note, this would be a good chance to see Fat Slarti, before I go on another weight loss quest.    Also, you can see Skinny Susie (ask her about her unorthodox weight loss plan – I’m a believer now!), and greet the recently ordained Pastor (Reverend? Brother?  Most Excellent?) Mark Mills.

The fun starts Saturday night at 6:00 pm, at New Beginnings Church (7700 George E Horn Road, 37221).  We’d love to see you there.

Posted in Music, X-Alt. 1 Comment »

A Little Bit of Heaven In Bordeaux

I didn’t want to let too much time pass before I mentioned the incredible experience I had this weekend.

X-Alt took part this past Saturday in an open house event for the community in Bordeaux at Word of Life Christian Center.  The church had gone all out with marvelous food, inflatable slides for the kids, “fair” fare (snow cones, cotton candy), and music.

Politicians were there (including the local legend Thelma Harper), and there was some speechifying.  There was some not-so-subtle campaigning, and although many in our band probably won’t vote the same way as many present, one had to be struck by the sense of urgency and commitment felt by most present. 

Anyway, that was only a tiny part of the proceedings, and when the music started, it was hard not to be swept up by the spirit present in this very hot and sticky (and windy) outdoor venue.

Susie has her own God Sighting about the event at her place (hurray, Susie’s blogging!)

Our set was not bad (we REALLY miss Mark Mills!), and by the end of the second set, we had hit our stride.  The members of the Nashville “biker church” had showed up, and that coincided with us starting our rock set.  The timing couldn’t have been better. 

You haven’t lived till you’ve won over a crowd of bikers with your version of “Jesus is Just Alright”.

When the church’s praise team did their set, things really started rolling.  I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this group.  It’s just hard not to get excited when they are singing.

I sometimes forget to thank God for the incredible gift I’ve been given.  I have been given a small view of the width and breadth of the way Christians of all backgrounds worship Christ.  I have been in high churches with great organs and soaring choirs, singing some of the greatest hymns ever written by some of the greatest composers in history.  I’ve seen the quiet, somber worship of those struggling to overcome addictions.  I’ve heard great scriptural teachings, and liturgies that have been spoken for centuries, and heartfelt prayers inspired on the spot.  I’ve worshipped with prisoners who sing, and feel, every word of ‘Amazing Grace’.

Jesus left us with a specific prayer, and He told us that we would one day worship in spirit and in truth, but He pretty much left the ‘how’ open.  He did not tell us to face a certain direction, or say ‘x’ number of prayers per day, or do this or that meditation to reach enlightenment.  He did not dictate rituals that must be performed by His followers.  He did not tell us to make a pilgrimage to a geographic spot, or to sing certain songs, if we sing at all.

Now, we Christians argue over these things;  we have for centuries now.  But, I really feel in my heart that God is pleased, not dismayed, by the almost unlimited ways His children display their love for him.

I only say this because I was struck by one particular moment.  The Sounds of Life sang their wonderfully soulful version of “Trading My Sorrows”.  Several people started an impromptu dance.  Before I knew it, I looked up, and there were 50 or so people doing a variation of the Electric Slide.  Church members, community members who had just walked up when they heard the music, tattooed bikers in full regalia, old and young, some of us west-siders – all of us singing, and dancing and shouting “Yes, Lord!” 

This event was not billed as a worship service, but that’s what it was. 

Surely, this is the stuff of Heaven, no?

I sure hope Ford got some good pictures for the X-alt blog.  Y’all check later, it was really a great day.

Posted in Music, X-Alt. 1 Comment »

Thoughts From My Weekend

  • It’s funny sometimes, the things we use to mark the passage of time.  I receive exactly two sunburns a year.  I ALWAYS burn at the first Titans home game, and I always, always,always get my first sunburn of the year at the Bellevue Picnic.  You’d think one day I’d learn to use sunscreen on those two days.
  • We played at West Nashville Baptist church yesterday, and it was quite a blessing.  This was the first time we have done an altar call where someone answered the call.  Having been a Methodist for six years , but having been a Baptist in my youth, I had forgotten just how emotional a moment like that can be.  I had a hard time playing, with tears welling up in my eyes, seeing a young man “come to the Lord”, as we used to say.
  • I really like the pastor.  He spoke of an evangelical and charismatic movement within mainline churches, and he used the term Pentebaptist to describe himself, and Methocostals to describe the members of X-Alt.  I like it.  I am proud to call myself a Methocostal.  It describes my beliefs perfectly.
  • Luke 21:1-4
    As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.”I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”  – I’ve understood this verse for years, but I’ve really never felt it before, until yesterday.  I don’t know how much more I can say, except that I’m in awe and that some gifts are very hard to accept.
  • I got lost finding the church yesterday, and in my wandering around I discovered something shocking:  there are parts of The Nations that are being gentrified.  The NATIONS!  What’s next?  Woodbine?  Could be. It didn’t seem so long ago, I couldn’t go into Sylvan Park after dark, for fear of crime.  Now, i can’t go into Sylvan Park after dark because I might get pulled over for disturbing the trendy rich people.  Life is strange, if you live it long enough.
  • Susie had a little mishap with her car yesterday.  I know it was upsetting, and I’m sorry for the damage to her car.  BUT, I am grateful that it was only a replaceable window that was lost, and not my dear friend and singing partner.
  • To all you young people: getting old sucks.  Beats the alternative, but it sucks nonetheless.  During the load-out yesterday, I must have pulled something in my back, overcompensating for my tailbone injury.  Now, I hurt from my back all the way down to my backside.  Drugs.  More drugs.
  • I am REALLY looking forward to seeing my parents and brother this weekend.  It’s a long drive, (and we’re making two round trips in two weeks), but it will be worth it to see family, and to allow my kids to have their first little taste of independence, and grand-parental spoiling.
  • Boy, what a difference new tires make on a Chrysler Town and Country!
  • The weekend is too short.

Various and Sundry

So, what’s been going on in my life?  What HASN’T Been going on?  I now present to you the random bits and pieces of thoughts that have been swirling around in my head lately.

  • I was puffed up and extremely humbled within the space of one hour this past Sunday.  X-Alt went back to prison, and before we did my new song, Ford Prefect said some kind words about my writing ability, for which I am most appreciative.  Yet, I wasn’t even the best songwriter in the room that day.  The men did a couple of songs for us, and there was one that had the hook: “I am more than flesh and bone”.  Y’all.  I can’t tell you how well this song was written.  The phrasing, the storyline, the hook – if I can ever write like that, then I’d call myself a writer.

I was taken aback by the men’s reaction when a speaker said “There are demons out there.  There are demons in this place”. Their vehement agreement made me shudder to think what they go through on a daily basis.

  • BTW, I’m here to tell you that the community is safe.  If any vagabond do-gooders ever tried to break INTO prison, they  would be stopped at every turn.  Somebody forgot to leave a memo about our visit at the front desk, and we sat there for well over an hour as the coordinator and the prison staff tried to work things out.  We knew the men were expecting us, and we didn’t want to let them down.  As a result, we got started late and had to cut things short.

As usual, I think we got more out of the service than the men did.

  • On another note, my kids and I have decided that if any of us is ever elected president, we will scrap “Hail To The Cheif”, and will instead have them play the theme song to “Good Eats” upon entering the room.  Or “Rock Me Amadeus”, with the crowd singing “We the people, we the people!” instead of “Amadeus, Amadeus!” 

Now I’ve given you an earworm I’m sure you don’t appreciate.

  • Lintilla doesn’t like lawn-mowing season, because it means she has to check me for ticks.  Now,this sort of thing was fun when we were 25, but …

 What?  I’m sorry, but being 43 years old, there’s now parts of me I can’t see on my own anymore.   You don’t want me to get Lyme Disease, do you?

  • Speaking of ticks, I’m working on a post that is sure to tick many folks off.  I’m still developing my thoughts, but it involves cliques and bullies in political discussions.  In essence, the way the right treats patriotism and the way the left treats compassion are two sides of the same coin.  Each side has bullies, and they are tolerated, even encouraged.  These “enforcers” will rhetorically beat into submission any who attempt to join their clique while not wearing the right “clothes”.  Stay tuned…

And no, I’m not whining.

  • I have an overwhelming desire to see the episode of Sanford and Son where BB King performed “How Blue Can You Get”.  It was also the first time I ever heard the name “Lipshitz”.  The memory of the way Bubba said it still makes me laugh to the day.

Did anyone else love that show asmuch as I did?

  • Bold prediction: The final three in DWTS will be Mario, Jason Taylor, and Kristi Yamaguchi.  That being said, Shannon Elizabeth’s waltz was simply mesmerising.  It was so beautiful it almost made you feel that dull, longing ache one feels when confronted with an indescribably overwhelming beauty.

The fact that I not only watch but actully like DWTS causes me far more ribbing than my Ugly Betty thing.

  • Something that affects me, both at work and beyond: I’m a “big picture” thinker.  I understand, I thrive on understanding complex systems and their interdependencies.  I can’t tell you how many times I can see clearly a whole end-to-end system, but I have the hardest time explaining what’s in my head to my single-task oriented coworkers.  I also seem to have the same communication gap outside of work with policy wonks.  We might as well be speaking Apache and Cantonese. 

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this roller coaster journey into my brain.  I promise, soon I’ll give you something a little less disjointed.

PS – I haven’t seen some of you in quite a while.  I think it’s time we remedied that.

PPSS – If there are any misspellings in this post, you can blame that on the fact that I can’t find the spell checker in the new WordPress text editor.  Next thing you know, they’ll expect me to do math without a calculator.  🙂

Lots Of Random Thoughts

Here are some random thoughts for your Thursday.

Things around my house are slowly getting around to normal.  For those of you who know me personally, sorry I went off the deep end lately.  I need to remember the number one rule of swimming: if you are drowning, stop flailing.

In my house, Jesus Christ is savior.  He does however, have a new assistant: Effexor.  Hopefully, my insurance will pay for it (right now, they are balking).

Lintilla is officially back to her job today.  This is her first day doing actual patient care, after 3 months of being away from it.  She promised me she’d take it easy.

Jesus’ other assistant is snow.  My kids were so excited to be out of school yesterday, they got along the entire day.

Lost in my own drama is the incredible story of my friend Mark Mills.  If you haven’t yet, go to Ginger’s site and read it.  When it comes to prayer, God may not be an ATM, maybe we can’t name it and claim it, but sometimes, I think, He uses prayer (and answers them) to remind us of His awesome power, if we will only bend our knees to Him.

You may not like Michael Medved, but this post is very wise.

Note to Tennessee liberals: YOU are supposed to be the “intelligent” ones.  Why do you allow your “lessors” to play you like a cheap violinevery presidential election cycle?  Lots and lots of people who didn’t know Obama’s middle name do now, because of your very vocal outrage.  It doesn’t matter if you are “right”, and that this is a dirty trick.  You guys better get out in front of the “Obama is in league with or will be soft on Islamists” meme, or you will lose.  I don’t care how outraged you are.

Update – Read this article  for context.

My ambition overcame my phobia last week.  I actually picked up the phone, dialed a number, and after a few days of phone tag, talked with a producer at NPR about an Ugly Betty story they are doing.  (No, they aren’t featuring ME, although they should – my task is to find fans in the LA area for them to interview).  It was during this conversation that I realised I have an “NPR” voice.  I don’t use it very often, but it’s funny how I have many different “voices” I can pull out like tools from a toolbox.

Can’t the Preds play defense anymore?


I find it weird that our sexual attractions age with us.  Yesterday, while watching some commercial for this or that wonder-drug, one of the smiling faces was a partially white haired, fifty-something woman.  And it shocked me when the thought popped into my head:  “She’s pretty hot!”  Later, the news did a story on the MTSU poll, and it showed the students conducting the poll. 

Now, in my world, “college girls” and “girls who are pleasing to look at” were synonymous.  But yesterday, I looked at the young ladies and saw little girls.  To be attracted to them would make me feel like a dirty old man.  What the heck is happening to my brain?

That’s all I’ve got right now.

Laying Out Gate Clothes

I am in the middle of writing a song for the soon-to-be-recorded X-Alt CD (tentatively titled “Funky Shui”).  I’m having a really hard time finishing it, because it’s so different from most Christian music, and it’s such a different perspective than the one I usually put forth.

On its surface, it is not an optimistic song at all.  It is not written from the mountain top, looking back with thanksgiving over the recently travelled valley.  It is a song written from deep inside the valley.

It is one step short of despair.  It makes the listener ache.

The song is more about a mood than any one thing.  I put myself inside the minds of the prisoners we visit.  I’m writing from the perspective of my friends who have dire medical situations.  I’m writing from the point of view of my brothers – one has a degenerative muscle disease that has been stealing his strength since he was 17, the other just got laid off by an employer he served for 27 years.  I even borrowed from our own money situation (up until last week); savings gone, no more coming in.

Mostly, I was inspired by the story of Sascha Weinzheimer (as told in Ken Burns’ documentary The War).  In short, she was a girl roughly my own daughter’s age in 1942, part of a wealthy family who owned a sugar plantation near Manila when the Japanese took over.  She ended up, with the rest of her family,  in the internment camp the Japanese set up on the walled campus of the Santo Tomas University.  There, her life slowly descended into Hell. After almost 3 years, they were finally rescued by the 1st Cavalry Division on February 3, 1945.

I won’t totally recount her story here, in fact, I’d like you go to this site,  and read the chronological excerpts from her diary. It truly is compelling.  I’ll wait for you.

Two excerpts that appear back-to-back stand out to me:

January 12.
People are dying every day from starvation. Fred Fairman and Mrs. Everett yesterday. We have such a short time to go ““ what a pity they couldn’t hang on to life just a while longer. Mother weighs only 73 pounds ““she used to weigh 148 ““ and Dr. Allen says she has to stay in bed from now because she can’t walk.

January 17.

Buddy’s favorite expression is, “Let’s talk about food.” He has a favorite suit, too, which he calls his “Gate suit.” He’s been taking this suit out almost every day for months, putting it on the bed and saying, “I’ll put my Gate things right here Mummy, so I can be ready.” All of us have something saved to wear out the Gate. All of us except Daddy who has been bare-footed now for six months. “I don’t need a thing for the Gate except two good legs to walk out with,” he said.

“what a pity they couldn’t hang on to life just a while longer.”

“All of us have something saved to wear out the Gate.”

This is the place I’m writing the song from.

On second thought, this might be the most optimistic song I’ve ever written.  It’s about that moment when you are chained to the floor, when everything in the universe has lined up against you, and you can see no way out.

Yet, you defiantly believe there is a way out, nonetheless.

The Universe tells you to curse God and die.  Against all hope, you lay a suit out on the bed.

I think this is going to be a pretty good song.  I hope to get it completed soon.  Going to that place is a little draining.

It’s Neat, But I Cringe

A while back, I told you that X-Alt had gone to the studio and recorded a new theme song for the locally-produced television show, Nashville Gospel.  Well, Ford Prefect had a surprise for us this morning.  He’s edited the new show opening, and posted a sneak peek:

This is quite snazzy.  Ford is a very good producer.  The interesting thing is, after I left the studio that day, they finished the mix and brought my vocal up to lead level.  It makes me cringe a little; this one was right at the edge of my range.  Everyone else did a spectacular job of singing.  But, like I said, Ford can produce the heck out of video.  You can also hear Ginger prominently in this one.  The song, done in an old-time style, was written by Mark Mills.

I can’t wait to see Nashvill Gospel “on the air” again!

Also, today is Ford’s (OK, his real name is Vince) birthday!  I know how old he is, but I won’t post that here.

I Wonder If There Will Be Swag?

This looks to be pretty interesting:

Músico a Músico announces Nashville Conference of Praise and Worshiping Arts

I wonder if they’d want X-Alt to present on how to navigate church politics?  How to re-invent yourself after you’ve been fired?  How to fit 11 people on a 15-foot stage? How to vary your service based on the congregation (for vagabond acts such as ourselves)? How to develop a thick skin, because grumpy, picky congregants are not shy?


Seriously, I’m very interested, if only as  an attendee.  To say that Nashville has a thriving praise and worship scene is an understatement.  There is some real worship going on out there, in little churches dotted across our city, if you look past the megachurches.  And even there, you can find worship. 

I’ve been in more diverse churches, diverse in every way, in the past 3 years than most people see in their entire lives.  Most people lack that perspective; I wish you could see what I’ve seen!  I’ve seen every type of worship there is; some focus on “spirit”,  some on “truth”, the best ones have a balance.  If it is Christ-focused, it’s ALL good.