29th April 2016
*This interview was originally from March 2012. Since then, Tom has released a fantastic new book on revival, ‘Scotland: Land of Many Revivals (Christian Focus Publications)’:
1) As a music reviewer, how do you think Contemporary Worship Music has changed over the past number of years?
I’m not sure there’s been a truly significant change in the essence of popular worship music in the past decade or so, to be honest. Pop/rock praise anthems, with punchy hook lines and congregationally singable choruses have been very much the order of the day in modern worship music for many years now, and that’s still the same today. British worship writers/musicians like Matt Redman and Tim Hughes remain hugely popular both sides of the Atlantic, as do American dudes like Chris Tomlin and David Crowder. What changes over time is the number of new names in worship that are cropping up – the market is saturated with worship albums and mp3s, and so much of it is really good. My only issue is there’s often not much variability – much contemporary worship music sticks to a very similar, indistinct format.
I am impressed, though, with a number of fresh sounds in worship that are cropping up from time to time. I’m thinking, for example of that Northern Irish team, The Rend Collective Experiment. or that energetic group from Colorado, known as Gungor and led my Michael Gungor. Or the original, rootsy sound of Australian four-piece Sons Of Korah, who have yet to become widely recognised, but who’s impressive output focuses almost exclusively on the Psalms, into which biblical pieces they breathe wonderfully fresh and inspirational life.
2) You mentioned in Cross Rhythms that two of your all time favourites ‘Back Home’ by Caedmon’s Call and ‘Myself When I Am Real’ by Bebo Norman, is that still the case or have you changed from that?
I’m listening to Caedmon’s Call right now as I write – their Chronicles album! Love that group. their combination of folk and rock with catchy melodies and great harmonies really appeals to me. And yeh, I still think Bebo Norman is great too. His songwriting skills are first-rate; in terms of both lyrical content, which is rich in spiritual depth, and in catchy hook-lines, which stay with you. He has a great voice, too. Among other favourites, I’d include the above-mentioned Sons Of Korah, Jadon Lavik and Canadian Steve Bell. Actually, one of the most beautiful, Spirit-led worship albums I know of is a very early recording by Rita Springer called ‘Love Covers’. It’s out of print these days, and very hard to come by, but the album contains a whole string of the most spiritually-sensitive piano-led worship songs I’ve ever heard. Love listening to that album (or I would do, if only my friend would return it to me!). Another worship beauty is ‘Divine Whisper’ by former Vineyard worship leader (now based in Seoul, South Korea), Scott Brenner. Gentle songs of adoration – utterly heaven-inspired. And then there’s Misty Edwards, one of Kansas City IHOP’s worship musicians. Her album ‘Relentless’ is powerful, prophetic and wonderfully engaging.
3) Any up and coming acts you think are ones to watch, or any good albums from old favourites (g.Stuart Townend, Graham Kendrick)?
Loads of up and coming musicians out there who are worth watching for, including some already mentioned above. One guy who’s been making a big mark on the Scottish music scene is Steph Macleod. Now well-know in his native land, but still undiscovered by many, Steph’s distinctly bluesy vocals and impressive songs are most noteworthy. Or how about Dutch worship musician, Kees Kraayenoord, almost completely unkown in the UK – his album ‘Speak The Word’s is full of ear-catching p&w sounds. Or again, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.
You mention Graham Kendrick. Some of his output in the last ten or fifteen years has been excellent. He kinda went through a period in the late 80s and 90s when his music wasn’t too exciting. But then came ‘What Grace’ – with guest appearances from ‘youngsters’ Martin Smith and Matt Redman. A gorgeous album of diverse worship sounds. He’s done the same thing more recently with ‘Banquet released in 2011. Remarkably it’s his 30th album to date – which makes it all the more impressive that it sounds so fresh and interesting from start to finish. Another worship veteran, Robin Mark’s most recent recording ‘Fly’ is also worth checking out.
28th April 2016
*This interview was originally from March 2012. Since then, Tom has released a new book on revival, ‘Scotland: Land of Many Revivals’:
Tom Lennie was born and raised in the beautiful parish of Orphir, in Orkney. Earning a degree at Aberdeen University, he worked in accountancy for some years. Though debilitated by chronic fatigue syndrome, Tom has served as a music and book reviewer for many years. With a particular passion for spiritual revivals worldwide, he owns a sizeable library of revival literature of books and journals from all over the world. He presently resides in Edinburgh, where he is working on the next volume of his trilogy on Scottish revival movements. His first book, Glory In The Glen, was released in 2009 through Christian Focus Publishing. To contact Tom or find out more information, please visit http://www.scottishrevivals.co.uk/.
1) Can you name some occasions where music has played a prominent role in a revival?
Music has played a prominent part in virtually every revival I’ve read about.
22nd April 2016
Thank you to all who enjoyed the article on Ringo Starr. Here’s the 2nd drummer in this 4-part feature – Steve Jordan.
Steve Jordan is definitely one of my favourite drummers. I actually did a full-on book project on him when I was at University. I think its so important to find out about new drummers and develop an interest in those whom we enjoy listening to. It really helps us as drummers become better listeners, better players, and also helps us to play with a band more effectively. In short, we mature as musicians. So without further ado, here’s a bit about Steve, why I think his contribution to music over the past 30 years is significant, and also some wisdom in the form of comments from the man himself as well as a few groove transcriptions.
Steve Jordan was born on January 14th, 1957 in New York. After studying as a classical percussionist at the famous LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in NYC, Steve Jordan launched a legendary career in rock, collaborating with artists such as Keith Richards, Don Henley, John Mayer, The Pretenders, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Bob Dylan and Alicia Keys. As a Grammy Award-winning record producer, his inspired presence and craft have raised the standard. Steve Jordan is well known as a multi-instrumentalist, musical director, producer and a writer of exceptional quality. In addition to his late 70’s / early 80’s tenure with Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman, Steve has been one of the most in demand session drummers in the world. He has recorded and toured with such artists as The Rolling Stones, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, BB King, Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow and many more. Steve has evolved into a Grammy Award winning producer with Robert Crays’ album ‘Take Your Shoes Off’ and the nominated ‘Bring ‘Em In’ by Buddy Guy. While he has played on countless hits, from Alicia Keys ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Devils and Dust’, and he continues to produce with such works as the John Mayer Trio album ‘Try!’, the John Mayer album ‘Continuum’, John Scofield’s ‘That’s What I Say,’ ‘Possiblilties’ by Herbie Hancock, among many others. As a musical director, Steve has worked on such high profile projects as Superbowl XXXX, the Martin Scorsese/Antoine Fuqua film ‘Lightning in a Bottle’ and the Kennedy Center Honors.
Steve Jordan is one of the most influential and sought after session drummers in the world. He has accomplished more in his drumming career than he ever could have imagined. Steve isn’t known in the music industry for playing the hardest licks ever known to the human mind, or for the technical skills that would make even the late, great Buddy Rich squirm (although he has great technique and soloing ability!). What Steve Jordan is best known for is making the drums sound good in any musical situation. He can take a simple beat and make it sound great. He can take a more complicated beat and make it sound so fluid and simple. He has taken his drumming beyond technique, having studied formally, and found his own sound, making the music the best it can be on each record he appears on. He has taken his influences, from Kenny Clarke to Carlton Barrett to David Garibaldi to Steve Gadd, and formed his own unique voice, and continues to inspire countless drummers today. Steve Jordan is one of my favourite drummers ever, and has made an amazing mark on the music industry.
Some Steve quotes:
“Every building has a strong foundation. When you’re building a rhythm track, you have to provide the foundation. The drummer has to be strong and solid.”
(The Groove Is Here DVD, 2002)
“When drummers practice with time, they usually practice with a metronome. That’s fine except a key ingredient to the secret of timekeeping is overlooked. I realise that in drumming you start the note but don’t stop it. That opened me up to a whole new world for me. You need to know the full length of a quarter note.”
On the subject of groove in an interview with Modern Drummer magazine: “That’s why people play so much stuff, because they can’t play a steady beat. But when you get into playing a steady groove and you can hypnotize somebody with that beat, that’s the bomb. And it takes confidence to know you can do that and not care what anybody says. People might think you don’t play fills because you can’t, but you have to do away with all that. They’ll feel it when it’s good” (Modern Drummer October 2010).
“Simplicity is not stupidity. Just because some- thing sounds good in your mind doesn’t mean that it’s dumb.”
“WHO DID YOU THINK I WAS” by John Mayer Trio (from the record ‘Try!’)
14th April 2016
The New Scottish Hymns Band are releasing a new album on May 19th, 2016, and touring throughout May and June. This will be a great tour featuring wonderful new hymns written by Greg deBlieck. The band features Ellyn Oliver on vocals, Greg deBlieck on acoustic guitar and vocals (Greg is also the bandleader and will be sharing the stories behind the songs throughout the tour), Pete Crockett on keys, Gus Stirrat on bass, Richard Kennedy on drums (I will be playing kit for the dates Richard can’t do) and myself on percussion for some dates. Danny Robinson will be doing the live sound for each event. Really looking forward to being a part of this exciting tour and all the great Christian music currently coming out of Scotland!