Thursday, July 30, 2009

As musicians grow old

I remember when Frank Sinatra died. More importantly, I remember the final years of his life. I never saw him live, but watched a documentary or two, and saw footage of some of his final concerts. Sinatra only seemed to get better as he aged. There was a mellowing, as he seemed to grow richer and deeper in life. If anything, he grew in dignity, and became more of a presence on that platform. Sinatra aged well.

I don't remember when Sammy Davis Jr. died, but I've listened to recordings he made, and seen video clips of some of his later work. Again, he aged well. He brought a dignity to his work; his lyric and dance seemed to carry the weight of the ages - in a good way. One would watch him and see a life well lived, an embrace of the wisdom of decades that had passed. He seemed to fill out his role as "elder statesman." Sammy aged well.

What was it about that generation that helped them age well? That allowed them to maintain their dignity and passion, living with youthful hearts but aged souls? How did they finish so well?

I ask only because it seems today's artists never learned that trait. Madonna, in her 50s, is still dancing about the stage in her underwear. The Stones still strut and growl as if they were teenagers. And Michael Jackson died a freak - who knows where he would have ended had he lived another 30 years? What did Frank and Sammy know that Michael didn't? And what does it say about our world when our "stars" seem unable to grow up? When our seniors still behave like randy college students?

And who do you want to be when you are old? Over the years Karina and I have talked about aging well, of maintaining youthful spirits without denying our true biological age. When I was 30, I wanted to be good for 30. Now that I'm 40 I realize it's foolish to pretend I'm still 18. I simply want to be healthy and youth-ful in my 40s. And when I'm 60? I don't want to be "old," but neither do I wish to be a 60-year-old still behaving like a 20-year old. And when I'm 80? I still hope I can laugh, can hike trails and walk barefoot in the surf; I also hope I can maintain the dignity of age.

It seems we've lost the ability to live the age we really are. In a culture so fixated on "forever 21," in a culture that glorifies youth and wild living and lack of responsibility and smooth skin, it seems we no longer can accept the passage of time. And so our stars, who so often reflect our own desires, simply live out the fantasy that a geriatric can still be hot and sexy and cool like a teenager.

So at the end, which would you prefer to be - Sammy and Frank? Or Michael and Madonna?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

GHPSO Seeks Sponsors, musicians, volunteers

The Gig Harbor Peninsula Symphony Orchestra is seeking sponsors for our upcoming 5th Anniversary Season. Local Individuals and businesses who wish to donate to the orchestra will receive publicity in our concert brochures. They will also prove to the world they are people of fine taste and sophistication.

In addition, the GHPSO has openings for more musicians. Specifically, we are looking for more string players, oboe, bassoon, and french horn.

If you (or someone you know) are interested in playing or being a sponsor, please let me know, or contact the orchestra through our website.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Random Tuesday

- Some are forecasting that tomorrow will be the hottest day ever recorded in the Seattle area. I suppose it's too late to get my pool put in.

- While the temperature has been rising, the Mariners are in the midst of an uncontrollable plummet. Surely one of the nice surprises of this year's baseball season, they seem, sadly, to have returned back to earth.

- Tomorrow morning, around 10:00, Lakebay Community Church has our meeting with the Pierce County planning folks, as we continue the process of acquiring the conditional use permit on our KP Highway property.

- Yeah, I know. We're way behind the times. But Karina and I finally watched Slumdog Millionaire last night.

- In case you missed it, William Shatner reciting Sarah Palin's farewell speech.

- Speaking of politics. . .Remember back in the 90s, when a certain type of conservative spent way too much time and energy trying to uncover supposed hidden crimes of then-President Clinton? It all started with Whitewater, then went on to many supposed rapes, and ended up wasting how much money and time in a failed impeachment, all because he lied under oath about a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky? And so, rather than accomplishing anything positive, instead of moving ahead and setting out a worthwhile agenda, the Republicans spent their time acting out of spite and bitterness in an ill-fated attempt to besmirch Clinton. You know, the classic junior high game of "If I can't beat you, I'll call you names." Right. And now we're at it all over again, with this "birther" movement. Rather than actually doing something positive for this country, we're simply going to sling mud at the rightfully-elected president. Listen, folks. We have two options. We can be adults, and move forward on fixing this country, or we can behave like petulant children who would rather pout over in the corner, complaining about "how unfair it all is." And no, I'm not necessarily a fan of Obama; I'd just rather see us focusing on More Important Issues, and not becoming bogged down in mud-slinging.

- Finally, from the Covenant Website: "Annette Knofel, 59, wife of Evangelical Covenant Church Pastor Bruce Knofel, was killed Sunday evening in a traffic accident near Anchorage. . ." Lord, have mercy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Missing My Destination

Seems a Doubles Day. We begin with the same song done by two master artists (personally, I prefer the David Wilcox rendition). Then two states. The Stringdusters show up twice, Counting Crows doubles up, as does Emmylou Harris.

I've felt for a long time that Mrs. Potter's Lullaby is a lyrical masterpiece. "If you've never stared off in the distance than your life is a shame." and "You can see a million miles tonight, but you can't get very far." Yep. I like this set today.

Missing You - Alison Krauss and John Waite
Missing You - David Wilcox
Mississippi - Dixie Chicks
Montana - Peter Ostroushko
Moon Man - Infamous Stringdusters
More of It - Leigh Nash
Motion - Plumb
Mr. Jones - Counting Crows
Mrs. Potter's Lullaby - Counting Crows
My Antonia - Emmylou Harris and Dave Matthews
My Baby Needs a Shepherd - Emmylou Harris
My Destination - Infamous Stringdusters

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where's the Fun in Christian Music?

Back in the early days of Christian Music, one of the dominant artists was Steve Taylor. His music was known for its biting satire, social commentary, and the ubiquitous 80s synth pads. But it was also a lot of fun. The kind of music that made you smile and laugh, with hits including "I Want to be a Clone" and "Meltdown at Madam Tussaud's" (check out Blair from The Facts of Life doing the video intro).

In the early-mid 90s other groups came along that kept up that mantle of fun. Groups like Jacobs Trouble, Dakota Motor Company, and the Lost Dogs all made good music, and put a smile on the face of their listeners at the same time. Toe-tapping rhythms, social commentary, and humor marked much of their work. It could be powerful, it could be painful, but through it all ran a theme of joy and fun.

Around the same time the Newsboys began to make a splash. Their albums and live shows were action-packed, infectious, full of surprises and Aussie-humor. Steve Taylor himself came along to produce and write for the Newsboys, and they released some of the all-time CCM classics like Shine and Breakfast. Where else would you get lyrics like "When you let it shine you will inspire the kind of entire turnaround that'd make a bouncer take ballet - even bouncers who aren't. . .happy"? Or a treatise on the lack of breakfast cereals in hell?

And then, two of the all-time Christian fun-bands took over the scene, in the form of the Orange County Supertones and Five Iron Frenzy. The Supertones brought tight, fast rhythms and rhymes that spoke of happiness and sunshine and joy; they were the epitome of fun in the sun, southern California cool. And Five Iron Frenzy? They took fun (and funny) to a whole new level. Who else could release an epic recording replete with barnyard animals praising Jesus, or a rock opera dedicated to a discussion of the ownership of a pair of pants?

All these bands brought a serious message, all brought glory to Christ and encouragement to the Body, and all were a lot of fun.

But the Supertones and FIF both broke up, the Newsboys are going in different directions, Jacobs Trouble is no more, The Lost Dogs are still recording and touring, but not getting much airplay. Now I turn on the local Christian radio station and hear so much of the same, Mercy Me-ish sound. Not that there's anything wrong with that; Christian radio is still full of bands praising God and taking his message to the masses. It's just that, they're all so serious about it. Where's the fun gone in Christian Music? Where is the laughter, the sly sarcasm, the humor-for-the-sake-of-humor? Have I missed it somewhere? Is there any band that's taken up the mantle from The Supertones and FIF?

Some might make the case that David Crowder is filling that gap, and certainly his zany live shows do carry an element of Fun. But Fun to DCB seems to be more a byproduct than the central theme.

Is it the market? I know the money for CCM is drying up rapidly, but that was half the joy of bands like FIF - they seemed like starving college students out there for the love of playing and touring, and not worrying about making it big.

I can't seem to think of any bands still carrying the torch for "good-clean-fun." If there is such a band out there, please point me in their direction. It seems to me that, especially in these troubling times, the Church ought to prove to the world that we still know how to laugh and play a little.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Growing Up

Yesterday afternoon we drove over to Cascades Camp and dropped off Olivia for her first ever week at camp. She's doing the program at Brightwood Station - Cascades' version of a train camp. It was a quick drop-off; we signed her in, loaded her luggage on the luggage cart, took her up to Brightwood and met her counselor, and then we walked away with her sitting down to the opening camp activities.

Our Turlockian-friend Chelsea, and her boyfriend, are up visiting, so we showed them around Cascades. It was a beautiful afternoon, with clear views of Mt. Rainier looming overhead and a calm sheen upon the lake. Cascades truly is a special place - one of the premier camps in the Evangelical Covenant Church. And we're trusting Olivia will have an incredible week over there.

This morning we ran Clara and a friend up to the Civic Center for the first day of WayPoint Church's VBS. When I picked them up at noon they were full of great stories and new songs, so it appears they had a great time.

So Olivia's at summer camp, Clara's at VBS, Chelsea's got a boyfriend. . .everybody's growing up. And all moving in the right direction, as well.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Road Trip Redux

One of the things that struck me on our trip is the amazing diversity of this state of Washington. From the lush Puget Sound lowlands wherein we live, up to the reaching Alpine heights rich in forest and granite wall, to the fertile prairies and the deep, barren coulees of eastern Washington; we really have three states in one.

We also experienced a rich diversity of social structure. On the one hand, we left world-class Seattle and Tacoma, and spent time in Spokane, a grand city in its own right. On the other, we were able to spend three days about as far off the grid as you can get, up in the Yaak.

So perhaps variety was the theme of this vacation.

And, yes, it was a good trip, and we feel relaxed and refreshed, and, no, I'm not ready to get back to work yet.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Blackout Dates

This space to remain silent 7/6-16. Heading for the hills and some swimming, hiking, camping, family-visiting, and touristing. Look for a much more refreshed Dan back in a couple weeks.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Bike Ride Report

Route: Southern Key Peninsula to Penrose Pt. State Park
Distance: 10.3 miles
Time: 1 hour
Weather: absolutely perfect

Nothing of much interest to report, other than the glory of Mt. Rainier rising over green rolling farmland, and the smooth waters of Puget Sound lapping at the Penrose Pt. bulkhead.

However, beside the joy of exercise and the exhilaration of riding through the most beautiful scenery in the world, the greatest reward came at the end with a bush full of huckleberries, and the first thimble berry of the summer.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Man - Million

In which John Denver shows up three times. . .

Forgive a couple moments of reminiscing. 15 years ago (or so) I went with some friends, and some kids from our youth group, to see Peter, Paul, and Mary live at the Hollywood Bowl. A couple of these kids had just graduated, and were soon to head off to college; one or two were really dear friends, and there was a sense of this being a special moment before we all went our separate ways. So, when PP&M moved into "Leavin' on a Jetplane" it was all the more poignant as we faced many of those same feelings. In the middle of the song I leaned back, my arm around the shoulder of one who was like a little sister to me, one who was leaving, I glanced up into the sky, and what should fly over at that moment but the Space Shuttle/Mir Space Station combination, high in orbit overhead. It was. . .magical.

7 years ago (0r so) Karina, Olivia, and I had gone up after Christmas to visit the Gibbs' cabin, high in the Sierra. We'd visited the Big Trees, we'd played in the snow, we'd had a fun time together. We left late one evening, heading down through a snowstorm, driving the Jeep along treacherous, icy roads as the coming storm began to dump thick snow upon us. And I have this one moment locked in my mind - of driving through town, watching the snowfall illuminated by overhead street lights, just at the moment Sixpence were singing "Like a Million Parachutes," a song all about snow falling onto the cold ground. Again, it was nothing short of magical.

Man on the Moon - R.E.M.
Margaret Ann Robertson - Lewis and Clark Original Soundtrack
Martyrs and Thieves - Jennifer Knapp
Matthew - John Denver
Maybe You'll Be There - Diana Krall
Me and My Uncle - John Denver
Medley: Leaving on a Jet Plane/Goodbye Again - John Denver
Melody of You - Sixpence None the Richer
Mexico - James Taylor
Michelangelo - Emmylou Harris
A Mighty Fortress is our God - St. Olaf Choir
A Million Parachutes - Sixpence None the Richer

It's the end of the World as we Know It

Alan Keyes, a man I believe I once voted for in a presidential primary, has announced that he believes President Obama is about to stage terror attacks in the U.S., declare martial law, suspend the constitution, cancel the 2012 election, and essentially turn us all into communists.

Forgive me if I don't immediately panic. Just like I don't buy into the hooey that George W. was behind the 9-11 attacks, I tend to doubt the sensationalistic anti-Obama smears as well.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Slowly making progress

Key Peninsula Advisory Commission
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Business
Conditional Use Permit/Administrative Design Review
Lakebay Community Church