Studio Blog Day 3: The Long and Winding Road

Greetings again. 
The new album is starting to take a bit more shape after the last few days. For starters, it looks a lot more like a Westminster Adult Worship Team Album (or WAWTA) than it does a solo joint. The gang seems pretty pumped to be a part of this, so I'm trying to work my way through my parts now as quickly as I can so we can get them involved. 
Here are some highlights that I'm looking forward to in the coming weeks:
  • There are spaces set up in each track for four, count em, four different vocalists (me, Ed, Alan, and Linda). Now if only I were as good as the other three...
  • In addition to the worship band, we're hoping to have special guest spots for cool people like Curt Scott, Dan Shaffer, Ben Beitzel, and a bunch of other people. Rock.
  • Speaking of Dan Shaffer, we're going to have a percussion day, where we set up a ton of percussion instruments (as well as items that were not intended to be percussion instruments but can be) and playing along in a room. Should be interesting
  • We're looking to add one or both of the kids choirs on "Loving Wings" to end the album. I have big plans.
Today I spent some time setting up some more acoustic guitar tracks. I finished "Hold Me Closer" and "Lights of Eden", as well as the intro track tentatively titled "Prelude" (I swear before it comes out I will come up with a better name than that...anyone have any suggestions?) I don't have my chart with me at home, but I think I only have 4 or 5 more songs to do for the acoustic. Then I'm going to go back and lay down some scratch vocals. Then Ed has to set up his two songs. Then we have to get the rest of the band in the studio. Then we have to bring in special guests. Man, we have a lot to do!

My goal this week is to get all of my stuff set up enough that people can start recording over it next week. I think that's reasonable, especially if I block out some time on Tuesday for a solid session. 

And if I can keep myself from playing too much Mario Kart in the breaks...
Last post will come later tonight. Topic: Plans.


Sunday Post-Game: Where have you been?

(I searched "Where have you been?" in Google images, and an alarming number of cats showed up. This one is the creepiest.)
Hey everybody!
I have been far away, and I'm so very sorry about that. I think it was necessary though, to just unplug and have some time to focus. I have a bunch to update you on, so I'm going to try to push through 3 blog posts today (!) to keep everything organized in it's nice neat little place. Ready? 
This weekend was a big weekend of worship for us. Last night we some chums (Fred, Ben, and Jeff) and I traveled to Peter's Creek Church ( to lead their Saturday Worship service. I am so very lazy, so we did the same set list both last night and this morning. It looked a lot like this:
  • Hold Me Closer
  • God of Wonders
  • Save Your People Oh Lord (New Song)
  • Amazing Grace (Campfire)
  • Mighty to Save 
  • Let it rise
It took me until we were half way through the sermon last night to realize that it was one of the first sets I had done in a while that didn't include a Crowder song (gasp!) I made up for it by wearing my DC*B squirrel shirt today, which led several people to ask me why a squirrel was their logo. Yes, why indeed...
That's nuts! (Pun intended)
On Tuesdays, pastor Jim has started including the staff in a discussion about his intended sermon for the week. While this is incredibly benefical to the preacher in question, I have been finding it especially benefitial for us in worship leadership. If we have an hour's worth of discussion that gives me a bit of insight to the direction he's taking, I can do a better job of lining up the theme of the songs with the theme of his message. A bunch of people came up to me and said that the songs and the sermon went together
(Eh, this is people's choice. Pick your favorite analogy)
People genuinely seemed to have fun this morning too, so we're moving in the right direction. I think I might have some exciting news for us on the technology front soon too. 
Coming soon: Studio Blog Day 3

Studio Blog Day 2

Hello everybody!
I am so sorry I've been missing for a little while here. I've been busy. 
Ed went to Hawaii and left me in charge for another week. Matt came to Veritas that Wednesday (which was what, like a month ago?) and filled in. He did spectacular! When Ed got home, we started gearing up for a meeting we have tomorrow about our future goals and plans for Veritas. It has been one of the most exciting weeks for me in Youth Ministry, to think of all the plans that we're working on right now, if even 2% of them come true, I will be super pumped. We're going in the right direction.
Last Friday we played a show at Westminster. It was supposed to be at Farmhouse, but they accidentally double booked the show (don't worry, we'll be back soon) so we moved it back home. It was an awesome time! Ed, Ben (Beitzel) and Curt played with me, and we didn't have that bad of a crowd either. It was awesome.
All that focus on the music side of my Dr. Jeckle/Mr. Hyde had me all kinds of jazzed to get into the studio and work on some stuff. Today I finished guitar tracking on Chemwehmweh and Loving Wings, and I completely finished my role on Redemption Song. Though after the discussions we were having Tuesday night, it may turn into a band album rather than a solo album by the time things are said and done. Good things are in the works. 
But all of this is by way of saying I may not be around the blog much in the coming days. You'll all just have to learn to suffer through without me. 


I am way behind on this thing.
It's because I've been up to important things.
Like this:

Kids these days...

Hey bloggers,
Tonight was a big night. Sarah and I joined the Rubinos for the Upper Saint Clair High School Production of 42nd Street (or USCHSPOFSSt if you'd like to abbreviate). I did the musical all three years in my high school days (9th grade happened at the Jr. High), so I'm always pretty pumped to get to go see what they're doing each year at USC. Tonight however sparked a thought for a blog post, and it came from me being silly. 
For those of you who haven't seen 42nd Street, it is a quite dance-heavy number. Not just moving your hips or whatever, but actual tap dance skill is involved here. And every time the kids did a particularly hard routine, the audience would applaud. And I would whisper under my breath "I could do that..."
A few examples of people who have said those words and been wrong:

(I don't care what any of you say, that last one will be one of my favorite videos for years to come. How does that kid end up like that? How? Does he try to dive and fail miserably? What goes through one's mind? Did he think it would turn out well to be in such a position? Anyway, I digress...)

But the point of the matter was, all those times we were applauding and I was stating my own ability to accomplish what the kids were doing, there was no way I would have been able to do it. Never mind the fact that I lack the flexibility and the drive to get it done, these kids were just spectacular!
So perhaps we as a society should give our kids a little bit more credit. If they can do this, what else can they do that we've been doubting? What else are they capable of? What else are they already doing while we grown up types aren't watching? I think this is why I am so drawn to work with this age of children, because it's when they truly start figuring out who they are, and what they're capable of.
So if you were in the production this evening, kudos all around. You really blew my mind. And if you were a dancer, how about you show me some of your moves so that next time I can say "I could do that" and mean it. 
Yeah, you're right. It would never happen...

Wednesday Night Post-Game: Lois

Hello everybody!
I'm sitting at Farmhouse Coffee, waiting for a meeting. Last night was an awesome night of youth ministry. Tons of good fun. Let's take a look!
For starters, you guys have to check the video in the last post. Two of our kids decided that they would help Ed and I out and do the J and Ed Variety Show for us. I nearly peed my pants. It was so wonderful! Ridiculous!
Ed is still in Hawaii on his honeymoon. The above photograph represents the first and only photo I could post after searching "beach bum" (I really need to re-think my search criteria!). The lovely and beautiful Matt came and helped out. It was also Pajama night. The Rubinos never do anything half way! Marilyn came in with hair in rollers and everything!
It was great. I got to teach the middle school kids, which is something that hasn't happened in quite a while. It was good good fun. We talked about how far they would be willing to go for their faith, using a couple of stories from Acts. It was great. 
In completely un-related news, I have a new Crowder inspired file sorting system:

More to come later!


JED 18


Monday Morning Update

Gooday everybody!
Apparently these no longer take place in the morning. I've been a busy little beaver today, so I just haven't had time in the morning to get stuff out on the blog. Deal with it. I am however drinking a cup of coffee, so it feels like the morning to me!
I have kind of fallen away from the new-years resolution version of the monday updates, so I've changed the categories a little bit. Again, if this offends you, read someone else's blog.
Current Listening: A couple of weeks ago, on the way home from Ed's Bachelor Party, Ben Beitzel (check him out here) introduced me to Brett Dennen. Three weeks later, I bought his album, and I am absolutely in love! Drop what you are doing now and go get one of his albums. NOW! It's beautiful music. 
I have also been chewing on U2's new album, and I don't know if I have any official thoughts yet other than "Get On Your Boots" is pretty dang catchy!
Weight Loss Goal: As I mentioned, I'm changing up the categories. I had fallen away from going to the gym all the time, and this depressed me. That in conjunction with a visit to my Doctor's office today, has led me to try to find a more comprehensive weight loss plan. My doctor gave me a plan, and that included a book. As soon as I'm done here, I'm plannin on sinking my teeth into it's pages. The goal is 50 pounds in 6 months. A steep goal, but doc says it's doable. Pray, pray, pray!
Recording: I am in the midst of recording a new album as mentioned in previous posts. I like where's it's going so far, but so far we're in the beginning stages. I actually started recording this album once around the new year, but I gave up on it because it just wasn't shaping up the way I wanted it to. I think I was trying to force too much rock into it. This album is gearing up to be a bit more chilled out, like a Jack Johnson or a Dave Matthews CD. Of the 12 tracks I'm thinking of including, I've set up 5 of them. If I have some time, I'm going to set up one or two more tonight, including a new one I wrote yesterday called "The Rising Sun". Totally new for me, not at all the style of music I typically do.
Where I'm at Spiritually:Pretty good. It was nice to have a sermon I felt proud of yesterday, and then to write the song in the evening was good. I always feel a bit more plugged into God when songs come that easy, as if he was handing them to me himself.

That's all for now. More later!


Sunday Post-Game: Lent week two


Greetings friends.
What an amazing day of worship today! I don't know about those of you who attend, but it seems to me lately that the Bridge is growing in the ways that we haven't been able to put words to. You wouldn't be able to look around and notice the changes physically, but it's been there. Every Sunday has been a pretty consistent experience of God's love for us in singing and in prayer and all kinds of ways. It's just been good.

(PS--this photo is SUCH a keeper)
Mandi was the worship leader this morning. It's been such a joy to have her voice be a part of our worship leadership. She's a great person to work opposite me and Ed, just to give us a bit of spice in our leadership. It's been wonderful. She was joined by Ian Gallo on the bass and the (can you even handle this?) electric cello, Kristi Reismeyer on the electric violin, and me on a variety of hand drums and percussion. Such drums always make me feel like this:

(actually, not a bad representation of me this mornin, what with the coffee and all)
Mandi's set list:
  • O Worship The King
  • I will worship/Worth of my praise
  • Prince of Peace 
  • Heart of worship
  • Blessed be your name.
Heart of Worship had to be one of my favorite moments of worship in a while. I just laid out of it, and let the strings and Mandi carry it. It was so wonderful.

Today's sermon was about peace, but more about what peace is not. As you saw when I was teasing the sermon, I was kind of taking a shot at those people in the world who think that if you have enough stuff, if your financial needs are met, then you'll have peace. I don't think so. I talked to the people who think that winning whatever argument they're in will bring them peace, even though I don't think it will. I talked about people who assume that if you simply avoid suffering, you'll be ok. If you sneak through life without offending anyone, without bothering any people, you'll work it out. It doesn't work like that. Jesus was SOOOOO willing to offend people, and so should we. (as long as we're simply speaking truth.) True peace, being none of these ideas, requires us to be satisfied in the love of Christ. I love the quote "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." Good thought.

I have an afternoon off. The Pens have won 5 straight. At 6 it gets serious. Let's go Pens!

More later,



Studio Blog Day 1.5

Greetings bloggers!
I wrapped up the sermon yesterday. I'm pretty pumped about it. Deffinately old school J Freyer preachin. We'll see how it turns out tomorrow I suppose.
About a month ago I started working on a follow up record to my critically acclaimed "Between the Trees" (if everyone's a critic, and my mom liked it, then it's critically acclaimed.)At the moment the studio has moved into my house, and I'm starting out with some pre-production. Basically, figuring out which songs I want to include on the CD, what tempos they're going to be recorded at, and if I'm lucky, I'll set up the track for people to play along to later. I started on "Chemwehmweh", and had to give up because my fingers weren't doing as they were told. So a quick blogging break to get me out of my own head, and then I'm back to the grind. It would be nice to have this CD done by the sum sum summertime. 
Keep me in your prayers!

Sermon Teaser

Just some thoughts running through my head for Sunday:

Wednesday Night Post-Game: Go-Karts and Temptation

Greetings bloggers,
Last night was pretty awesome. Not so much for the planned activities on the night, but more for the stuff that came before and after the planned activities. It was just a good night of youth ministry, which was very badly needed. 
The day started with some craziness around Ed's mission trip. Last year we planned a trip to grand rapids for some mission work. No one signed up. This of course is best represented by the following image:
But then as Ed planned a trip to South Carolina this year, the number of people interested switched the image to look something like this:
I felt horrible, but we actually had to turn a couple of kids away from the trip. Too many people signed up. The good news? This all happened a week before the deadline. A week people! Our kids are on top of things!
For a game this week we played Gold Rush. It s a simple game in which people attempt to move tennis balls from one side of the gym to the other. Good times. No one died either, and that was wonderful.
Ed led the worships, and then we split for talk time. Honestly, it felt like the kids were in and out of focus for the official talk portion of the evening. Again, that would have bothered me more if we hadn't had such a great time with the kids before and after Veritas, getting to know what they were going through, what they were dealing with, and what was on their minds. It was an actual great night of youth ministry, as opposed to the nights which more often resemble this:
That's all for now. See you soon!



Two very important things!

Arguably one of the best bands in the world released an album today. The very first review I read of it did not favor them very well, so I'm going to listen to No Line on the Horizon today and give a full review later. Two tracks in though, it sounds pretty good.

Turns out failblog is still on youtube, you just need to know where to look. It also turns out that they are picking up the slack in finding me appropriate videos for technology fails.
More later,
From our friends at Pensblog, a brief description of the weather in Pittsburgh lately:

Monday Morning Update

Good morning faithful readers. It's time for the Monday Morning update, a useless recounting of what's going on in my world. Go grab that cup of coffee, and let's dive in.
Current Listening: I got totally pumped when I found out that No Doubt was coming to town in June. I was less excited when I realized it was Matt's wedding date. However, this has not stopped me from listening to "Rock Steady" all week. Plus, No Doubt's new promo photo is sick business:

Current Reading: Back into Jesus for President. I'm hoping to finish it today, because I'm contemplating a sermon about Religion and Politics. Am I nuts???
Bible Study: One of the only new years resolutions that I'm still hot on the trail of. Must stay strong!
The Gym: Ed and Matt have been helping me get back into it. Need to keep it up.
Big Project: Nothing at all. It is a lazy day!

Catch ya later!


Sunday Post-Game: Lent week one.

See this? A piece very much like this is required to get the signal from my laptop to the projector in the WROC. About 20 minutes before the Bridge was to start, it became clear that we could not find this piece of plastic.
You get the picture. 
Huge props go to Dave Debor, fellow MAC enthusist, who brought me his adapter. At which point, all of our tech issues from the day had passed!
So happy!
For the first time in what feels like a long while, Jim was able to give me a theme early enough in the week that I could shape the set list around it. And I think it worked out beautifully!
  • Sing to the King
  • Here is Our King
  • O Praise Him (All this for a King)
  • Wholly Yours (An awesome version with me Ed (banjo) and Elise)
  • Saviour King
Christ the King
The whole set went really well, but in particular I lost myself in the midst of Here is Our King and O Praise Him. It was just one of those moments that felt so right. It was an awesome day of worship. Plus we got a new microphone for Jim. We had been calling these microphones Britney Spear's mics:
It has occurred to us that this might be too girly a name for the mic used primarily by me, Jim, and Ed. So the new mic shall hence forth and forever more be referred to as the Garth Brooks mic. 
All in all it was a great Sunday. Only problem now is that I am up for preaching on Sunday, and I have no idea what to talk about. Any suggestions?