Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Easter Sunday with Illini Life

Posted 27 Apr 2011 — by nick
Category Creation, Family, Friends, GCM, Illini Life, Jesus, Ministry, music, Photos, Spirituality

Being in campus ministry has it’s differences from being a community church. One of the obvious places we see this is during the holidays. Student and University schedules are built around being able to return home for Christmas, Thanksgiving and so on. At the University of Illinois some years Spring break falls at a time that allows students to celebrate Easter at home. Most often, though, it does not – leaving many on campus rather than travel quite a distance to visit family.

In this place we, Illini Life, get to step in and be a community that celebrates and remembers Christ’s death and resurrection together. It’s one of my favorite times of the year – we’re reminded that our God conquered the grave, the tomb was empty and in the same way we have been risen to new life in Him. A time worthy of celebrating such as this shouldn’t be contained behind the walls of a building nor in the solitude of loneliness.

Each year we gather those that are still on campus and celebrate the empty tomb together in an open air service right on the heart of campus – the Krannert Amphitheater. Afterwards we gather at a home in the community for a feast.

This past Sunday Amy and I enjoyed celebrating with our church home and our students. Early that morning I had gotten up to get on my bike and ride into the country. Enjoying the solitude and early morning sun I began singing the words of Charlie Hall’s “Marvelous light”

Sin has lost it’s power,
death has lost it’s sting.
From the grave you’ve risen

What a great God we serve!

Beautiful Things

Posted 24 Mar 2011 — by nick
Category Fun, Illini Life, Ministry, music, Spirituality, Videos

Recently I was introduced to the song “Beautiful Things” by Gungor. It was in a worship set when I was back home with Illini Life Christian Fellowship at University of Illinois. Since then I’ve heard it in several other churches as I’ve met with folks around the Chicagoland area.

It’s catchy and I love to simplicity of the chorus

You make beautiful things,
You make beautiful things out of dust.
You make beautiful things,
You make beautiful things out of us.


40 Acres of Truth

Posted 08 Mar 2011 — by nick
Category Fun, GCM, Ministry, music, Spirituality

Music has always been an important part of my life. Not that I play any instruments; I simply consume a lot, I always have. I’ve heard it  said that artists are the prophets of a generation – I think I agree. Some of the greats would being Dylan, the Beatles, Jeff Tweedy and maybe even Justin Bieber (not really though).

The messages that dance melodically into our ears shape the way we think about the world, inspire new vocabulary and raise social issues. At least the good music does.

An album that would make a top 10 list for me is 40 Acres by Caedmon’s Call. From start to finish it washes you with truth and honest, heart gripping stories of following God. Not long after I became a Christian I purchased this album. It was a little folksy for me at the time, but I came to love it. Listening to it again recently brought reminders of all the places and things I’ve been through in the past 12 years.

My response: Thankfulness for a God who walks with me. A needed reminder as I spend so much time on the road raising support.

I and Love and You

Posted 22 Jun 2010 — by nick
Category music, Poetry, Social Justice, Spirituality, Videos

Changing mood, aiding worship, motivating – the power of music. For as long as I can remember music has been an integral part of my life. From the days of grade school freedom listening to The New Kids On The Block or the happiness and hope of the country Christmas music of my family and childhood to the depression struggles in college with Damien Rice and Jeff Tweedy singing my sorrows. There also was the teen-angst phase of loud punk rock. These days I find myself listening to a lot of creative lyrics and unique musical arrangements; the likes of The Avett Brothers, Derek Webb, Josh Ritter, Spoon and of course Sufjan Stevens streaming past my ears.

Some have said, and I tend to agree, musicians are the prophets of our times. They have the power to bring up social issues, draw our hearts and attention to injustice and call for a higher way to live.

Lately the song “I and Love and You” by The Avett Brothers moves me to think and reflect. The story I hear is one of a man looking back at his life, how easy it was to fight and be harsh with his words and how overtime it wore him down. Left chasing after empty things and seeking fulfillment in nightlife, he comes to the realization that Love has been what he’s after, yet the simple three words, the most powerful words we can speak are hard to say – I and Love and You.

The whole album is beautiful, I highly recommend it.

Keepon Dancing – Don’t You Evah

Posted 30 May 2008 — by nick
Category Friends, Fun, music, Videos

I owe props to Ben Chase for pointing this out a while back, but thought I’d take a chance and post something light and easy to get back into the swing of posting more regularly.

(Click on the image to watch the video on YouTube)

In the past year or so Spoon has launched themselves into my standard music rotation and proved worthy of being listed in my top ten list. They do a lot of fun and interesting things with beats, breaking your expectations and fun vocal stuff – allowing them to catch my ear and spark my interest. If you don’t have any of their albums, I’d suggest starting with their newest: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Check them out on iTunes or eMusic.

Current Favorite Spoon Tracks:
Don’t You Evah (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga)
The Way We Get By (Kill the Moonlight)
Sister Jack (Gimme Fiction)
Finer Feelings (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga)
Stay Don’t Go (Kill the Moonlight)

Now playing: Spoon – Stay Don’t Go
via FoxyTunes

Cure for the Pain

Posted 25 Mar 2008 — by nick
Category Darkness, Friends, Jesus, Light, music, Spirituality

Tonight while hanging out with the Dawgs “Cure for the Pain” by Jon Foreman filled our small dinning room. This song pulls tears from me no matter the emotional state I’m in. The cause: maybe the sadness in Jon’s voice, maybe the ways it reminds me of how I’ve tried to cure my pain, or the ways I know trying to run would simply be a lie. Either way, tonight it causes me to stop and reflect on the healing journey God has me on and how these days I don’t feel quite as lonely as I once did. The tears change from ones of sadness to ones of thankfulness and remembrance.

And here tonight while the stars are blacking out
With every hope and dream I’ve ever had in doubt
I’ve spent ten years trying to sing these doubts away
But the water keeps on falling from my eyes

And heaven knows, heaven knows
I tried to find a cure for the pain
Oh my lord! to suffer like you do
It would be a lie to run away

Tomorrow Spring the next seasonal EP is released and I’ll be picking it up for sure. You can get it the EP’s here.

Music: Turrell and Foreman

Posted 15 Mar 2008 — by nick
Category Friends, music, Poetry, Winter

On recommendation of Paste Magazine I recently picked up Ford Turrell‘s debut album and Jon Foreman’s Fall and Winter EP’s.

To say I’m pleased with these finds would be an understatement.

The Jon Foreman EPs weren’t to much of a risk – I’ve been a long running fan of Switchfoot and Jon’s song writing. Raw, real and emotional come to mind as I stretch to describe them. The depressing undercurrent of Winter makes me think Jon and I might share some of the same predisposition to seasonal sadness (come soon Spring!).
Favorite Tracks: Behind Your Eyes (amazing track), A Cure for the Pain, Equally Skilled

Because of my affinity for Ray LaMontagne‘s work, I picked this album up. I might describe Ford’s style as a pleasing middle between the smoky voice and poetic lyrics of Ray LaMontagne and the folk sound and easy of Amos Lee. By the third spinning of this album I had decided I liked it, it took a couple listens, not an instant favorite. The same was true for Ray and Amos for me though. I’m glad I gave it a couple spins, it’s becoming a favorite.
Favorite Tracks: The Stillest Hour, Listen to Your Heartbeat

Now playing: Jon Foreman – Learning How to Die
via FoxyTunes

New Toy, I Mean Phone

Posted 13 Mar 2008 — by nick
Category Apple, Fun, Movies, music, News, Technology

This has always been more of an inevitable thing, my friends asking “when are you going to get one?” instead of “are you going to get one?”

It’s been about 3 weeks now since I purchased my iPhone, it’s sexy 🙂

Overall I’m happy with it, though it definitely shows the signs of an early product still being developed. Biggest complaints: iCal doesn’t support multiple calendars, wireless has known issues which make it interesting here on campus, and there is no way to delete learned wireless networks.

Apple announced the iPhone SDK last week for developers to be able to build custom applications for the iPhone as well as promised support for Microsoft Exchange making the iPhone more corporate friendly.

Now playing: The Fratellis – Flathead
via FoxyTunes

Sigur Rós – ‘Heima’

Posted 31 Jan 2008 — by nick
Category Friends, music, Videos

It never fails. Just after finishing that last post Chris calls me into the other room to show me a trailer for this new Sigur Rós DVD/Documentary thing. I’m pretty interested in checking it out. Here is the trailer for your viewing pleasure.


Posted 21 Jan 2008 — by nick
Category Friends, Fun, Movies, music

This weekend I had the chance to watch an excellent film, a rarity, the excellent part. Receiving high praise from friends whose musical taste I trust I decided it worth the adventure and rented Once to watch with Amy on Friday night. The film had been sold to me as a musical romance between two budding musicians, complete with a soundtrack begging to be purchased.

You need to see this film.

At first, describing the film as a musical left me uncomfortable. (This can probably be chalked up my general distaste for genre and misunderstanding of how everything is classified as either a “comedy” or “drama”). Thinking about it now, I am more content describing it as a musical. In all honesty, the story is told through the music. The characters lack names yet feel complete enough to be a good friend – we learn about them through their music and bond with them as their pain pours through their voices. After all, isn’t this part of the draw of music, the stories songs tell, the emotions they invoke, their empathy.

In honor of not sharing plot points or ruining the film for others, I’ll end on this note. My enjoyment resides strongly on the amazing soundtrack but also in the themes presented. Watching, I was reminded of the goodness of remaining faithful to commitment, the pain and worthwhileness of forgiving, the beauty of romance and the honor in being a person of moral character.

PS: The film has a low budget or indie film feel due to it’s minuscule budget of $160,000. More interesting back story, including how neither of the main characters are or plan on being professional actors, can be found here on the ever helpful wikipedia.