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A guest post by my wife, Jessie:

For a long time, I have wanted to learn to play banjo, and so this year Jake and I finally purchased one for me to learn on. It’s a handmade, open-back style banjo, the kind used in old-tyme and folk music, the kind you play clawhammer style (as opposed to bluegrass style, for those of you familiar with those styles of playing the banjo). I like the banjo for it’s plunky sound, and because it is easier for me to fret the chords on a banjo rather than on a guitar with my small hands. Anyway, I get frustrated with the learning process often as it’s always difficult to learn something new, so I’ve been making myself listen to more artists lately that include banjo in their music. It’s actually relatively easy to find bands that have a banjo-ist included that are not bluegrass or old-tyme bands now that banjo is becoming one of the more “hip” instruments to play, thanks to Bela Fleck, Iron and Wine, Sufjan Stevens, and others.

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Following along in the line of my very CCM posts lately, I found a bit of news I wanted to pass on to those interested.  Since I don’t normally follow CCM happenings, this is new to me, but you may already know.

Bart Millard, the voice behind MercyMe, first produced an album of redone hymns in 2005.  I took no notice, through no fault of his.  But now in August 2008, he released another album he calls Hymned Again, and I think it’s definitely worth a look.  Go on over to his MySpace to take a listen.  It’s really good and very different from other Christian music out there.

I’ve heard hymns redone by all sorts of bands, and I’ve always like them, but with Hymned, Millard gets to the heart of the matter.  Drawing heavily on country and bluegrass, Millard makes these hymns shine.  I’ve never been a huge country fan (especially not the more modern stuff), but for some reason it just works on this album.  Maybe I’m more of a hick than I realize.

But it’s not all country.  There’s definitely a lot of that going around, but there’s also jazz influences, blues overtones, and all sorts of musical styles slipping in.

Anyway check it out, and then someone send me a copy of the album to review, alright?  🙂

Brenton Brown is a name many of you may know already.  He’s not exactly some obscure Christian indie guy.

On the other hand, in a market (worship music) that’s dominated by heavyweights like Chris Tomlin, the unholy Trinity of Phillips, Craig, and Dean, and the David Crowder Band, anybody else seems obscure and indie in comparison.

Brenton Brown is a worship guy who’s been around with Vineyard for a while.  He’s done a solo album.  He’s appeared on worship compilations.  He’s had his songs covered by Lincoln Brewster and Chis Tomlin, among others.  He’s travelled around leading worship concerts.  He’s just generally doing the stuff worship guys do.

I got my hands on his latest album, Because of Your Love, released in July of this year, and while it doesn’t open up any new territory in the worship genre, it’s a good, solid offering in the category.

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Even though I said I was back a couple weeks ago, life hadn’t really settled down until yesterday, so finally I can do another post today.  I hope to do more regular posting this fall, as the summer craziness fades away.

What was I up to the past few weeks?  Well, I mentioned I took my family to the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming for some much-needed time away (see a pic here if you haven’t already).  Then I filled in for a friend doing two paper routes at night.  Then my in-laws came up from Virginia for a week.  Then we cranked high-speed on the church / coffeehouse remodel, in order to be up and running for our biggest outreach event of the year.  Then I headed up for a week in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota for a men’s canoe trip.  Now I’m finally back into normal life, the server issues are dealt with, and I’m looking forward to getting some blogging going again.

But that’s not really what I want to write about.  I wanna clue you all in to the soon-to-be-released latest album by Woven Hand (or Wovenhand if you wanna look really hip) – Ten Stones.

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