2013 – Mackenzie’s State Solo Performance

Every year during middle school, the girls have taken a solo to district music competition.  If you score a 1st or 1st Superior, you advance to the state competition.  We always go to state!  This year is no exception, and Mackenzie took her piece to the state competition and scored a 1st Superior there as well.

Here’s the video I shot of her performance.  We’re very proud of you Mackenzie!



A Family Tradition

“I am very proud, of my daddy’s name.  Although his kinda music, and mine ain’t exactly the same”.  Those lyrics are from Hank Williams Jr’s song, Family Tradition.  They sort of apply to me in this situation.  My dad and his family have a family tradition of singing Southern Gospel music.  I remember tagging along to gospel singings when I was a kid, but I never took up the calling.

I did take up the guitar some time ago and I’ve enjoyed jamming with some friends, attending some bluegrass festivals, and even played in a band for a little while.  But over the past year or so, I keep running into people that I don’t even know that inquire about my family and the southern gospel quartet. One random incident I could over look.  Two incidents I could call a coincidence  But when it happened a 3rd & 4th time, I figured maybe somebody was trying to tell me something.

So, today I answered that call and played with the Praise Band at Church.  Contemporary praise and worship music isn’t necessarily the same as the Southern Gospel stuff that I grew up with, hence the title of this blog post.  Nonetheless, I strapped on my guitar and played with a great bunch of folks at 3 services today.

In short, I had a blast and look forward to playing with the praise band more often.  Carie and the girls took a few photos from the balcony this morning.




2013 Bob Seger Concert

In the late 70’s I was introduced to Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band when my uncle purchased “Live Bullet” on 8-track and left it at our house. I listened to that recording of a live performance at Detroit’s Cobo Hall until I could sing every word of every song and parrot every word that Seger spoke between songs during this live show.

Over the years, media formats have changed and I’ve owned that album in five different formats; 8-Track, LP, cassette, CD, and mp3. I have several other albums, but none that I’ve enjoyed as much as Live Bullet.

Seger took a break from the music business for several years and I was afraid that I’d never get to see him tour. But when he toured in 2006, I treated myself to a couple of tickets as a birthday present and took my uncle to the show. It was awesome!

Just as I was introduced to Seger, a classmate of mine also became a fan while we were in high school. We were college roommates and enjoyed the classic rock and roll of Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band during our college years. Although we don’t see one another nearly as much I’d like, we’re still good friends. And this time around when Seger toured, we made plans to go to the show.

We met for dinner along with another classmate and all of our wives. It was great to see them and have a chance to catch up. Funny thing is, it was though no time had passed. Sure we’re all a little older and we’ve got kids that aren’t babies anymore, but we picked up like we’d just had dinner together yesterday. Then we headed off to the show where Seger put on one heck of a show.

Bob Seger at Scottrade

Seger at the piano doing “Turn the Page”

Bob Seger at Scottrade

3rd Encore – Night Moves

Thanks for the great show Bob, and thanks for giving old friends a chance to gather and reconnect.

Hey Jeff, Jan, Kevin, & Julie, lets not wait 15 years to get together again!


PS, sorry for the crappy cell phone pics.

It’s All About the Harmony

When I was very young, there was always music in the house.  My father and his family have a long history in Southern Gospel music.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with Southern Gospel music, it’s most often a quartet with lots of harmonies.  I remember riding in the backseat, listening to gospel music and learning to sing harmony.  Of course, after my voice changed I couldn’t sing the high harmony any longer.  🙂

Nonetheless, I think one of the things that attracts me to musical genres like Bluegrass is that same vocal harmony that I grew up with.  I enjoy playing music with friends and I’ve been playing the guitar and singing for the past 15 years or so.  Unfortunately, we don’t get together as often as we used to and I do miss that experience.

So if you can’t find folks to play and sing with, you find a way to do it with technology.  I recently acquired a vocal harmonizer from a company called Digitech.  You plug your guitar and your microphone into this device, and then attach it to your PA system.  The device then analyzes the note that you’re singing and the notes that you’re playing to determine where the harmonies are.  You can chose male or female voices, high harmonies, low harmonies, double the melodies, or even a high or low octave.  It’s pretty cool stuff.

While it doesn’t replace the fun of getting together to play with friends, it has gotten me playing the guitar more and it’s fun to add harmonies to a variety of songs.

Here’s a short clip that I recorded for a friend.  Oh, and the song selection is a bit of an inside joke.  😉

And, here’s a clip of my Father & Bother singing in a Southern Gospel quartet.


2012 Belleville East Marching Lancers – McKendree University Performance

As you’ve seen already this fall, Madison is participating as a member of the Color Guard for the Belleville East High School Marching Lancers.  We’re busy with parades, football games, and marching competitions.  (Who knew there was a marching band competition season?)

I’ve been pitching in as a member of the “crew”.  That’s a dozen or so dads who assist with transporting the gear from one location to the next.  This puts me in a position to get some up close photos and in this case shoot a little video, albeit from the backside of the field.

In this clip taken near the end of the field show, Madison is the 3rd flag from the left.  This was their class winning performance at the competition at McKendree University.


2012 Labor Day

Once again, we’ve wrapped up a Labor Day visits with family visiting for the holiday.  This year, we stayed the course with the kids playing together while the adults visited and I BBQ’d ribs & brisket.

The slight change to the schedule this year had to do with Madison marching in the Labor Day Parade with the Belleville East Marching Lancers.  We had to drop her at the school early on Monday and our guests departed while she was marching.  She was a little sad to have to say good-bye so early, but we’ll see them all again at Thanksgiving.

A few photos, and a link to the rest.

Happy Labor Day,


Poolside Tunes – AirGo Speaker Review

Ever since we put the pool in, I’ve toyed with how to provide music on the patio without dragging out a  portable stereo every time we wanted music, without running wires and permanently mounting speakers outside, and at the same time giving us the flexibility of accessing our iTunes library or internet music easily.

Well, I finally solved the problem.  I discovered an outdoor speaker solution that leverages an Apple Airport Express and supports Apple’s Airplay feature.  It’s from the folks at Russound and it’s called an AirGo.  It’s a weather resistant, portable speaker solution.  The sound quality is great and it is plenty loud for our backyard area.

The cool thing about this device is that it actually has a compartment on the back that a houses an Airport Express (sold separately)  The Airport Express is basically a wireless router.  In this implementation , it’s connects to my WiFi network for the purposes of connecting other devices.  It has speaker connections (it has USB and Ethernet connections also) that are connected to the AirGo.  But the magic is the AirPlay feature in iTunes.  Either from my Mac or my iPhone (iPad, iPod Touch, etc.) I can redirect the music output to any AirPlay supported device.  In this case, my AirGo.

Additionally, many of the music services that have apps for iOS support AirPlay as well.  That means that I can stream music from Pandora, Spotify, iHeart Radio, etc. to the AirGo.

My family and I spent most of Saturday hanging out and taking turns q-ing up music from our iPhones.  It works so well and sounds so good, we’ll be getting a ton of use from this solution.

Here’s a short video on the product from it’s announcement at CES.