The Uniting Church's second national gathering for songwriters for worship will be held in Adelaide in June next year. The venue is Adelaide west Uniting Church, and we're delighted that Rev Malcolm Gordon from New Zealand will be present to provide input, along with a range of musicians from across Australia.
Cost and registration information will be available in January 2015.
"The Better Angels", "Strong Wine and Spirits" - John Francis - THIS GUY is just SENSATIONAL. He was at Greenbelt but we didn't hear him, although I read a recommendation by Arlo Guthrie. So I bought his 2 albums for $20 and they're BRILLIANT. He sounds like Freddie Mercury, Jeff Buckley and 10 other people. Great songs, great singing.
"Universal Mother", "I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss" - Sinead O'Connor - an oldie and a newie. saw her at Greenbelt.
"Half Way Home" - Angel Olsen - sounds like 60's/70's California. Mamas & Papas meets Joni Mitchell.
"Trouble's Door" - Ash Grunwald - extremely capable Aussie bluesman. he nails it.
"Mechanical Bull" - Kings of Leon - fine but not exceptional album from Nashville rockers
"Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne" - Various artists including Lucinda Williams, Bruce Springsteen, Lyle Lovett, Keb Mo, Bonnie Raitt, Dave Lindley, Bruce Hornsby, Don Henley, Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin and Ben Harper - really good covers of excellent songs by a stellar cast, but few really standout moments
"The Last Place" - Army Navy - love this. jangly guitars. like a West Coast US version of Teenage Fanclub.
"My Dearest Darkest Neighbor" - Hurray For The Riff Raff - another great band. Alt-Americana. sultry singing. sitting on the front porch. guitars, fiddle and assorted instruments. lovely.
I wrote a lyric for a song for Advent/Christmas, and Allan Hoare has written a melody for it (I helped to tweak it a bit). I met Allan at "SongWrite" the Uniting Chuch national songwriters gathering in Canberra last February. So we've been collaborating online between Adelaide and Melbourne. It's been quite a buzz to get the latest version of the tune and go and play it and then send back suggestions to Allan.
Here are the lyrics:
Sing of a Promise
Sing of a star light glimpsed in the heavens Sing of a beacon, guides from afar Sing of a promise, shines like tomorrow Bringing a child who’ll carry us far
Sing of a town where trav’llers are passing Sing of a place where families come home Sing of a host that welcomes strangers Making a bed where love might be born
Sing of a silence harbouring twilight Sing of the herders watching the night Sing of the choir whose song opens heaven Gifting us peace to make the world right
Sing of three gifts of balm, gold and incense Sing of the treasures wise people bring Sing from our hearts our humble-self giving Off’ring the Child whose praises we ring
Sing of the child who rocks on the waters Sing of the landless seeking a shore Sing of the lives still broken by sorrow Open our hearts And make them a home
Sing of the morn when justice is coming Sing of the day when love comes to town Sing of the time when peace is our pathway Glory to Christ who makes all his own
“Behold the Spirit” - William Tyler - acoustic/electric guitar instrumental stuff. that's it.
“Digital Frame”, “Fragments of a Cold, Broken Day” and “Gray Light” - Arvo Part - insanely talented Estonian composer makes brilliant instrumental music - electronic/ambient and then not...
“Queen of Denmark” and “Pale Green Ghosts” - John Grant - just catching up with this guy. A real mixture of interesting songs, some quite gentle and folky, others more electronic and funky. Well worth a listen.
“Eagle Rock Fire” - Joe Purdy - croony, raspy, laid-back cowboy music
“Nickel Creek” - Nickel Creek - newbie from Chris Thile and his harmonious bluegrass companions
“Piano and Ambience” - All India Radio - rounding out my ambient collection while they were giving their albums away for free last month. always wonderful, inventive, spacey...
“The Take Off and Landing of Everything” - Elbow - disappointing new album from Mr Garvey and co. I dunno, the songs just aren't there...
I'm working with two Adelaide city churches on three shows for the 2014 Adelaide Fringe Festival which start in a couple of weeks. This will be a brilliant comedy show. I've known Dennis Clare for over 25 years, and he is a remakable mime artist and visul comic (and he says wise and funny things too!). I've seen Tony Williams perform at NCYC 89 as 1/2 of Glass Canoe and then had he and Dennies perform in Brisbane in the late 80s as well. Tony is an exceptionally talented singer/songrwiter.
The aim is to combine arts and spirituality, in this case through humour, one of the best ways to open up to God's Spirit.
The show is on for 10 nights. So book a ticket, tell your friends and help us sell 400 tickets.
OK here's my top 15, in no particular order... roots/folk/pop, nushoegaze, afrojazz, britfolk, Radelaide nulounge, disco-reboot, truelove swamp, stillinthe80s, indiestilltrying, skamadness, broodingamericana, nohashtags....
"Crown Electric" - Kathryn Williams - simply gorgeous, delicate folk plus Aimee Mann-type tunes
"Ghost Republic" - Willard Grant Conspiracy - apparently this is "Americana Garage folk". Think Tindersticks. Sombre, brooding.
"Adelphia Has To Fly" - Lucy Ward - another lovely English folk voice
"Savane" - Ali Farka Toure - notable blues album from the late African guitarist
"Negativity" - Deer Tick - their most commercial album yet. varied in style. exceptional. Wilco meets Green on Red meets Deer Tick...
"New Seasons" - The Sadies - Canadian country/western/rock, like The Jayhawks mixed with Blue Rodeo.
"Unmap" - Volcano Choir - new group project featuring Bon Iver (Justin Vernon). experimental, spacious, cinematic - The Polyphonic Spree meet The Boards of Canada and start listening to All India Radio...
"Hoodoo" - Tony Joe White - the king of southern swamp music cracks out a brilliant boord of songs. The way that the Cruel Sea wished they sounded. It he Nick Cave's lost father?
"Happy Birthday Flutterby" - Butterfly Boucher - Ms Boucher re-records her first album to celebrate its 10th anniversary (ans circumvent her former record company)
"Faint Not" and "Open Your Doors" - Jenny & Tyler - from Noisetrade - very tasteful folky set from Christian duo. at times Mumford and Sons - other times Patty Griffin (?), pretty churchy / conservative /dated in language though, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. lovely harmonies.
"A Taste of Silver" - Until the Ribbon Breaks - excellent RnB, sampled, remixed, electronicked... think James Blake...
"We Ache For The Moon" - Evoletah - very impressive, spacious, down-tempo, textured ballads from local Adelaide band. first rate.
Gungor - 6 CD set - "From the Ground", "Ghosts Upon the Earth", "A Creation Liturgy", "Ancient Skies", "I Am Mountain", "Beautiful Things" - lots to like here, lyrically and musically, although some is too much "worship band" for my tastes.
Recently I played guitar and mandolin in the worship band for our synod meeting. Jenni Hughes and Sean Gilbert did an excellent job of choosing great music (OK, maybe one or two exceptions.) The worship resources are listed here on the website of the Centre for Music, Liturgy and the Arts. I've been pondering why some songs seemed to work for this particular community and why others didn't.
Malcolm Gordon, a musician and minister from NZ (Presbyterian) was visiting Australia. He's an accomplished musician and songwriter, though not in the mould of 'famous' Christian 'artists'. His website, One Voice, is less a personal blog and more a broad project about music and the creative arts.
Malcolm shared some great music at our Synod meeting (see above video) and spoke about "Songs That Unite", the music and image website that was set up recently by the Uniting Church's National Assembly. The site has some excellent Australian and NZ music and images. Check it out.