Monday, December 19, 2016

C'MON! (Chapter Eleven: Adrenaline Rush)

My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation
(The 5th Anniversary Edition)
- Christopher Long -


Adrenaline Rush

I’ve spent pretty much my entire life connected to the music industry. And despite my spiritual awakening, I continue to have a passion for music. I believe that music is a gift from God — yes, even rock and roll. GASP! And unlike my Sunday school teachers back in the ‘70s, I certainly am not suddenly going to condemn rock music — I’ll always be a rock dude at heart. However, I will say that by the summer of 2010, the music of Led Zeppelin and AC/DC no longer was speaking to me as it once did. So I began seeking out new sounds that rocked, from artists with an edge — but who also could offer me something more satisfying spiritually than my longtime secular favorites. And as I made these subsequent discoveries, I promoted them gleefully through my various feature stories, reviews and websites.

I also no longer was interested in the typical shock jock-type content of my former favorite radio stations — I simply had lost interest in hearing lowbrow penis jokes and details of upcoming area wet T-shirt events. And except for tuning in to catch headlines on the local Fox News station, I now was listening to my hometown Christian station, 91.5 FM WMIE, almost exclusively.



The Word
I always had perceived most modern-day contemporary Christian music as being either too vanilla-sounding for my taste, or mere churched-up knock-offs of current secular hit makers who bored me to no end. I loved the message, but I wanted to hear music that was more unique, personal and compelling than what I thought was being offered. I wanted to discover new artists who could thwack me in a fashion similar to Steve Taylor in 1984. My expectations were kinda low — that is until I discovered Sara Groves.

I was driving along the highway in May 2010, listening to WMIE, when I heard a wonderfully edgy little pop song by a female singer. Like many radio stations, WMIE rarely announces artists or song titles. So I literally had to steer my car with my knees as I jotted down key lyrics of the song on a piece of scrap paper. When I got home, I started making calls immediately to various Christian friends who I thought could solve the mystery. Once again, I reached out to Paul Peters who put me in touch with his wife. Kim knew exactly what I was talking about. She informed me that the artist was Springfield, Missouri native, Sara Groves, and the song was called, “The Word.”

A few of my favorites from Sara Groves.


I went online post haste and ordered Groves’ Conversations CD which included “The Word.” In my world, screaming vocals and distorted guitar sounds are not prerequisites for having an edge. It’s all about being bold and transparent. It also has to do with telling a good story. First and foremost, Sara Groves is an amazing storyteller. As if she were telling my story, Groves' music hit home in a chilling way. Thwack!

Soon, I had purchased several Sara Groves records and I listened to little else all summer, as I found her music to be life-changing and magical. But one artist does not a comprehensive collection make. I continued seeking new music from other edgy inspirational artists.

I was sitting in the main worship hall at ECCC one Sunday in September when I heard a distinctive song playing over the sound system before the morning service. Although it was a rather mellow, acoustic-based tune, it definitely had an “edge.” Paul and Kim Peters recently had relocated to Destin, Florida so I slipped a note to Bill Munsey, the new church soundman, inquiring about the artist. He immediately motioned me into the production booth and showed me the screen on his iPhone indicating the song was called “Yahweh” by Tal & Acacia.

Upon returning home after the service, I went online and Googled Tal & Acacia. I discovered that the act is a Portland, Maine-based duo comprised of sister singer / songwriters Talitha and Acacia Walters-Wulfing. The song “Yahweh” appeared on their newly released debut record, Wake Me.



As I surfed the Net seeking additional information on Tal & Acacia, I discovered various audio and video clips promoting their music. Their fun, high energy, three-minute, get-to-the-hook pop songs hit me like a double shot of adrenaline. I ordered Tal & Acacia’s record immediately and it has become one of my two all-time favorites. In fact, I jokingly told a friend I was going to Krazy Glue my copy of  Wake Me into my car CD player so that it never could be removed! Actually, I was only half-joking.

One of my two all-time favorite records.
Man of Steel
Perhaps described best (by me) as the "Jimi Hendrix” of pedal steel, Robert Randolph (along with his Family Band), released their debut record, Live at the Wetlands in 2002. Just 24 at the time, Randolph electrified the music world with his unique blend of authentic funk-flavored R&B and traditional soul-inspired blues. Geared more towards mainstream audiences, subsequent records, Unclassified (2003) and Colorblind (2006) were followed-up in 2010 by We Walk This Road — a passion-filled record that brought Randolph back to his early gospel roots. And I was thrilled when a promo copy arrived at my office.



Produced by Grammy-winner T-Bone Burnett (Elvis Costello, Counting Crows, Elton John), We Walk This Road is an all-star effort featuring an array of top session players as well as songwriting contributions from Bob Dylan (“Shot of Love“), Prince (“Walk Don’t Walk”) and John Lennon (“I Don’t Want to be a Soldier Mama”).

Highlights include the down-home “Traveling Shoes," the aforementioned Dylan penned “Shot of Love” and “I Still Belong to Jesus.” Simply put, We Walk This Road is honest, pure and refreshingly inspirational. Make no mistake, Jesus and I both agree that this one is the real deal.

Jesus and I both LOVE Robert Randolph!



Read C'MON! in it's entirety 

Copyright 2012 / 2016 Christopher Long

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