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This coming Thursday is a big day for Ryan Paul & The Ardent, as we will be releasing the Cute Souvenirs EP, which we recorded with my good friend Matt Patrick.  The show is at the Bryant Lake Bowl, and the City Pages was kind enough to write a little bit about it, so check that out.

NOTEWORTHY: A couple of my good friends and former students Alex Young and Mark Schwandt will be joining me on drums for a massive drumageddon to close the show.  I’m not kidding.

This is a great read. It’s an interview with ?uestlove featured in the latest installment of Pitchfork’s 5-10-15-20 series, where they interview artists about music they during their life according to 5-year intervals. I had a lot of fun reading this.

HT: MinuteCynic

Last year the Jason Harms Quintet spent some time in the UK. This year we’ve been invited to Romania, and I’m pretty excited about it.  Here’s a promo video about the trip…

I’m sure many of you who read this blog know about Jason’s music/message and the trips we take, but here’s a little background information on the above video for those of you who aren’t familiar with the JHQ…

I’m a Christian.  I don’t spend much time talking about it on this blog since the topic here is music, but if you know me personally then you know my faith in Christ is the primary component of my identity.  It’s something I love to discuss, especially in light of the way the term “Christian” is tossed around these days – so maybe someday I will start a blog about it.  Ha.  Seriously though, I actually don’t even have real educational background in music because I spent my college years getting a Biblical and Theological Studies degree, which seems odd since I make my living playing music, but it really comes in handy when thinking about and discussing Christianity and religion in general.  So anyway, there’s something you might not know about me if you only read this blog for music reasons and don’t know me personally.

I am thankful that my life contains lots of opportunities for my faith and my music to collide.  I do a ton of church gigs, I play with a handful of Christian artists, and I teach music at two Christian colleges in the Twin Cities.  Jason Harms is one of the Christian artists I play with, and Jason is often invited to partner with other Christian organizations in international efforts.  I’ve been all over the world with him, and the opportunities just keep coming.  It seems that Jazz is uniquely equipped for cross-cultural translation, which is definitely the case in this August’s trip to Romania.  The lower social class in Romania, referred to as Gypsies, has their own musical style very similar to Jazz.  Some of the church leaders over there heard Jason’s music and have invited us to play a handful of shows in the Gypsy communities in an effort to build relationships with them on the commonality of our music. The dude in the video is one of the church leaders in Romania – a guy named Larry Agnew.  He’s leading our trip and is responsible for the networking that booked our shows.

The hope is that our music will be a bit of an in-road with a Romanian subculture that is otherwise quite standoff-ish and difficult to get to know.  It seems like a great opportunity for me to marry my music and my faith… using my playing to serve the broader purpose of loving people in the name of Jesus Christ.  We’re also going to have some chances to experience the Gypsy music/culture first hand, and I’m hoping to learn some cool things from that.

You’ve probably figured out by now that our trip is a “missions trip”… which basically means that we’re not going there to make money or sign autographs.  The purpose of the trip, like I mentioned, is to build relationships with the Romanian Gypsies in an attempt to clarify for them what being a Christian really means.  The gigs we’re doing won’t have ticket prices or cover charges, and we’re not going to be selling merch.  Instead we’re doing some fund raising over the next few months to cover the costs of the trip, which is what the “donations accepted” part of the video was all about.  Jason has a non-profit organization that conducts our funding, so if you’re the kind of person that wants to get on board with a trip like this and you’d like to contribute, you can do that at jasonharms.com.  Just click on the “donate” button under the promo video.

Please don’t think of this fund raising thing as a sales pitch.  I’m just throwing it out there for those of you who would want to partner with us in that way.  I’ll hopefully have plenty of pictures and videos to share when the trip happens in August, so stay tuned.

Dear Tama,

Thank you for manufacturing the Rhythm Watch, which really is a great metronome. I love the individual subdivision faders and the “click 2” tone option. However, please consider revamping your design for the engage buttons. You see, they constantly break. I often daydream about someday owning a Rhythm Watch with an engage button that functions properly for longer than 4 months. Boy that would be swell.

Love,
Steve

I gave a shout out my friend Jason Gerling a couple years ago when his DVD first came out, but now he deserves another one because CNN ran a full story on him last week!  Those of you who don’t know Jason really need to check this out.

I’m a Nirvana fan, because I have ears, but also because I love Dave Grohl. However, many people don’t know that Nirvana had a different drummer prior to Grohl, a dude named Chad Channing. Channing played most of the tracks on Nirvana’s debut record Bleach, and was fired shortly after… kinda like the Nirvana version of Pete Best or Dave Krusen.

If you’ve ever wondered why you don’t like the drumming on Bleach as much as the later Nirvana recordings, Channing is why.  To quote my good friend Chris Morrissey: “Chad Channing makes Meg White sound like Manu Katche.”

There’s probably gonna be a lot of youtube videos in the blog post content this summer.  I’ve got a bunch of traveling and other busy-ness happening, but that doesn’t make Jack DeJohnette any less inspiring…

Check out this great BBC audio documentary on the legendary Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, narrated by Dave Grohl.  Seriously… do it.

The John Bonham Story

HT: Dollar Bill Radintz

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