New Stuff @ The Online Store

~ A quick note

There’s new stuff in the store!   You can now purchase physical CDs as well as upcoming concert tickets at Johnny-Newman.com!

This includes my upcoming concert opening for Gone in April at the Valarium on Thursday, October 4th, the More Than Ever cd, as well as the limited stock of Progressing Deviation.

ALSO,   I have a very special & limited-time offer – You can purchase a ticket for Johnny Newman opening for Gone in April as well as a cd of ‘More Than Ever‘ for $10 !

Please take time to take part in this limited time offer and come out at experience a great metal concert!

‘Waiting on the Lord’ – Recording Finished

Blogging here on the fly – nothing pre meditated – Just finished recording all the audio for my new solo guitar album “Waiting on the Lord” – I am so overjoyed!

I originally set off recording the album as solo electronic record. It was to be a testimony album; portraying the current season my wife and I are in – both of us out of college, trying to get both our careers started, move into a new home and stand on our own two feet so-to-say, all while deepening our relationship with each other and our heavenly Father as we look Him to move mountains.

With problems in the recording & performance process – dealing with equipment and software that was both too unpredictable and unreliable – I set off to re-work the album for solo electric guitar & loop machine.

I dug into the capabilities & idiosyncrasies of using delay and loop machines dynamically with distortion in a minimalist manner making the most of musical motifs, layering, and compositional shape. Using only notes on staff paper and rough-sketch recordings, I composed and recorded the album over the course of Spring & Summer 2012, both loving the project, and hating the whole process at the same time. The result is a very real & organic soul-bearing solo guitar album. No multitracking; only piecing different sections of composition together at it’s most technical aspects; if not recording the whole song in a single take.

Waiting on the Lord is now in the process of a very minimal editing & mixing process to maintain its authenticity & minimalist nature and will be available in the rather near future.

Waiting on the Lord – 2012

  1. pushing for a new season
  2. waiting on the Lord
  3. defining moments
  4. God move!
  5. things unseen

Ambience | A New Role For Guitar in Worship

I’m a huge fan of ambient textures and their use in post rock, progressive, & experimental genres.  I’ve found that these textures are functional in worship; however, the content of the ambience can’t be the same.

English: Close-up of the Transducer inside a S...

English: Close-up of the Transducer inside a Spring Reverb Tank. Català: Detall del Transductor a un contenidor de Reverberació de molles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When using a guitar ambience, or any effect during worship, you don’t want the focus to be on you or your crafty sound, but rather the prayer, meditation, or sermon you’re augmenting. The ambience serves as a foundation & often a transition point for worship no matter where it occurs in the service.

In this setting, to not take any glory away from the Holy Spirit – I keep my ambience settings to not much more than reverb & delay in conjunction with a volume pedal. In my settings below, you’ll notice I do use a mod delay as well as a light, slow oscillating, phaser; however, it’s barely noticeable in the video clip below.

Here is a sum of the settings I use to achieve this effect.

  • Light Crunch – About 11 o’clock on Drive & Bass, Mid & Treble at 12 o’clock
  • Spring Reverb – 100% mix, 80% decay, pre-delay about 150ms
  • Analog Chorus – Speed about 0 or 1 (an extremely low setting), 70% deep, about 50% mix
  • Analog Delay + Mod about 670ms decay, feed back about 80% (definitely keep high), mod setting (if available) very low 0 or 1, 75% depth, mix 80%
  • Reverb (not totally necessary) – 0 pre-delay, decay – 50%, mix – 42%

All the above used in conjunction of a Volume Pedal

Distortion in Worship | Crafting that Perfect Guitar Tone

Hitting that distortion button may be tricky business if you’re afraid it may be ‘too heavy’ or

Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: dominic bartolini)

‘too loud’ for your congregation; especially playing in a band that is highly improvisatory & dependent on the Holy Spirit. Here are some things I try to develop in my guitar tone to best suit the needs of the band & congregation.

  • Clarity – Can you distinguish all 6 strings in a bar chord? If not, your distortion may be either too heavy, grainy, or saturated. Get it to that point where it sounds clear & resonant at the hardest you’ll be playing.
  • Sustain – How well do your single notes carry? In other words, how long does the note last after you’ve picked it and you’re still depressing the string to the neck? If you have trouble keeping your gain/distortion low enough for clarity, yet maintaining a decent sustain, try pairing your distortion with a good-sounding reverb or tape-delay.
  • Warmth – As a preference – I like warm guitar tones better – and it will vary between your amp + whatever effects/distortion you’re using. Be aware of those ‘low,’ ‘mid,’ and ‘high’ knobs; they do work in crafting the tone that suits your needs.
  • Versatility For getting the most out of a distortion – I like to use velocity as a variable. Velocity is more of a synthesizer/midi term meaning how hard you attack/pick/articulate the note. In this instance, playing with more velocity will create a heavier distortion & less velocity will yield a cleaner sound (less distortion)  I feel having this characteristic in a distortion to be favorable because of the following;      1). I’m not pressing so many stomp boxes for every song section.                                2). I can easily adapt to the improvisation & fluctuation of dynamics during worship just by changing how hard I’m playing.                                                                        3). I can focus on changing effects (chorus, delay, phaser) for subtle changes instead of the abrupt & sometimes awkward & unfitting heavy/soft distortion.
  • Buzzless – Stay away from distortion units/effects that cause a buzz whenever you
    SWR BASS 350 RedFace

    SWR BASS 350 RedFace (Photo credit: jovino)

    stop playing. There’s no better way to sound like an amateur or distract others from worship than with an annoying buzz. Also, in regards to this – other causes of such buzz may be your amplifier, pickups, occasionally bad cables, and even cellphones (a la, Blackberry often causes radio interference near cables, amps, & other audio equipment).

In terms of what distortions I really enjoy, check out the below couple of links for some really good & favorable examples.

Jesus Culture – Rooftops

Michael Ketterer – You’re Beautiful

E-iron Sharpening E-iron | We Cannot Help Tweeting About

[Have you heard God speak through a tweet?]

I have.

If you live in the southeast U.S., and are on facebook and/or twitter, I’m sure you have a friend that is always posting scripture or something that includes the name Jesus or the infamous book:verse 1:23 in their status

I am that friend.

I’m always tweeting & often including scripture, encouragements, or being simply open with my faith. In fact, most of my friends do this, as well. It’s a new way of keeping each other accountable, sharing burdens, moving mountains & prayer.

It’s e-iron sharpening e-iron

It’s certainly a blessing to be a part of a community of believers that are plugged into their

Twitter Layout 01/2009

Twitter Layout 01/2009 (Photo credit: Andy Ciordia)

social networks. I receive tweets from people I’m subscribed to and am perpetually encouraged and kept accountable throughout the day and I would certainly encourage you to find a community or a brother/sister of faith & tweet/facebook encouragements/scripture or even share something revealed to you during your time with the Almighty.

And for those on the opposite end of the spectrum – whether you find it annoying or not as a believer or non – seeing tweets & statuses in the name of the Father… from those on fire….

…”We cannot help speaking about what we’ve seen and heard” (Acts 4:20)

Man on Fire | Ars Nova of Recorded Worship

As a composer, performer, & recording artist – the goal is simple: Write, Record, Sell

Jesus Culture

Jesus Culture (Photo credit: AdamRozanas)

And even after you put the word ‘Christian into the mix, ‘Christian, composer, performer, recording artist‘ – I feel the goal is still percieved the same – ‘Write, Record, Sell‘ only with a different target market. This is due largely to

  1. the enormity of the Christian music market & its vast sub markets & genres
  2. the oft luke-warm & negative connotations of the word Christian.

When one is on fire for Jesus – or
when one’s only concern is furthering His kingdom – or
when one’s upmost desire is attaining the presence of God – or
whatever word or phrase that represents this choice in life combined with ‘composer, performer, & recording artist‘ do you get a different goal.

Yes, you still write, record, and sell your music, BUT, the goal is the above list. The goal is in

  • Jesus & sharing Him, and
  • longing for His presence & advancing His kingdom. It’s in
  • capturing the Holy Spirit in the recording.

This goal is the pinnacle of the Ars Nova (new art, if you will) of Worship. And it is this pinnacle that’s behind why I enjoy & connect with live worship albums so much.

Just the other day, it was blazing hot – in the upper 90’s if not 100’s – I was driving with the windows down listening to one of Jesus Culture’s live recordings of ‘You Are My Passion,’ getting cold chills all over my body (mind you how hot it was) hearing the words ‘I belong to Jesus’ being sang with so many in His presence.

The Holy Spirit is not something so much captured in the studio, the old art, but in real live worship captured, recorded, in front of the King; shared with oh so many more.

There’s something so much more right and much more biblical in including those worshiping, and not just the ones leading, in recorded ‘praise & worship’ music.

Minimalism Saves | Accessibility in Worship

For the longest time – I was the biggest advocate for virtuosity in Christian music

Fire-Call

Fire-Call (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

arguably most in worship music. In fact – I still am an advocate for this. If you check out my post back in March – I’m all for finding ways to make our worship music beautiful and ornate & I’m all against being complacent and not challenging ourselves to compose more smartly for the Kingdom.

But, when I was writing papers in college on ‘how‘ and ‘why‘ we should change the way praise & worship music is composed – I was missing one obvious characteristic

Accessibility

As much as I would love the congregations of the protestant church to dance a polyrhythm or sing modulations through a circle of mediants (uhh… what?) – The fact remains that they would have to learn the music before they could worship – and that whole act of learning these compositions would take time AND glory away from the Creator.

We must remember  – Christianity isn’t North Korea. We don’t have to put on a show to please a dictator.

We don’t have to do more.                                                                                                            Jesus already loves us.

In fact, our worship music is often best when it is reflective of His very yoke – Easy 

Line art drawing of a yoke

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 I can only imagine how many have been won & saved by simple 4 (or less) chords 4/4 time signature worship songs.

  • How He Loves – John Mark McMillan 
  • Break Every Chain – Will Reagan
  • Name Above Every Other Name – Justin Rizzo
  • Where You Go I Go – Brian Johnson
  • You Won’t Relent – Misty Edwards
  • Sweetest Name – Will Reagan
  • Revelation Song – Jennie Lee Riddle
  • Our God is Greater – Chris Tomlin

the list goes on…

The more accessible we compose our worship music, the easier God can be felt coming through the mix speaking to us.

In light of this, I’m nearly convicted to write a 2 chord worship song and make it extravagant!

Free Coffee | July 4th Awakening

In celebration of July 4th – Starbucks is giving away One Free Tall Cup of Hot coffee to EVERYONE 

You do not need

English: Starbucks in the Financial District n...

English: Starbucks in the Financial District near South Station in Boston, United States. October 2007 photo by John Stephen Dwyer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • A Starbucks card
  • An ID
  • A sense of humor
  • Good hygiene

In fact, you really don’t need anything. It’s free. From: Starbucks, To: The United States

But inevitably, someone will complain.

“But I don’t like coffee, can I get tea instead?”

“It’s really hot outside, how about iced coffee?”

“Can’t you just give me a Grande instead; that’s what I usually get.”

There’s just something not right about complaining over what’s being given free as a gift to us.

On Christmas morning, you don’t say “Oh, I don’t want this mp3 player; I really wanted an iPod”

or

“Thanks Mom for making dinner, but I’d rather you do my homework instead.”

or

“Thank You Jesus for dying for my sins, but I’d rather have…

  • a lot of money
  • carefree casual sex
  • an easy life
  • nothing to do with You

 WHAT?!  Did I just compare free coffee to Jesus dying on the cross for our sins? Yes; however, Jesus loves us more than Starbucks does.

If something isn’t our ‘cup of tea,’ we’re hesitant to change our ways for it whether it’s better for us or not. At least, that’s how it is in western culture. But the real question is – What is it really going to cost you to not accept what is being given to you for free.

Just as you have to come to Starbucks to receive that free hot tall cup of coffee…

…You have to come to Jesus for salvation.

if you want it.

Chillin’ With My Creator | Coffee, Jesus, & Journaling

For each of us – our Jesus time looks a bit different. Ya know… that time we take to really connect with the Almighty.

I would so love to claim that time for me being in front of a piano or guitar during worship services – but the truth is.. during that time, I’m at work, albeit very wonderful, pleasing, & uplifting work…but still workI’m totally focusing on chords, improvising, listening to the rest of the band, & occasionally transposing on the spot. I can’t even really listen to music during my time with the Lord – I end up analyzing too much of the compositions – BAH!

My real time chillin’ with Jesus looks something like this – I’ll usually have one of my several journals out at a table, with one of my favorite pens, next to my pocket Bible. And if I’m fortunate enough – I do get to enjoy a tasty beverage (usually a Black Tea Lemonade or a dark roast coffee) during an already sweet time journaling. Emotionally & spiritually, this continually strengthens my walk & I can definitely tell a difference between the days I take time for this and the days I don’t.

… but that’s just me – I know a lot of people who go out running, or listen to praise music, or even just find a quiet place.  Everyone’s relationship with the Almighty looks a bit different.

What’s this time look like for you?

A Leap Second | On Cursed Ground

Well, we’ve gained an entire second this year and what a second it has been! Of course, I

The Passage of Time

The Passage of Time (Photo credit: ToniVC)

just think they should have added the extra second to the New Year’s countdown in Time’s Square. At least we would’ve noticed it…perhaps.

Scientists say that the earth is spinning just a bit slow & the second is to make up for the time that can accumulate over time to avoid having nighttime during the day and summer in the winter and so forth.

For me, I’m just fascinated by man’s attempts to make tools to fit the creations of God. Even though this may not seem like a”painful toil” (Genesis 3:17), it is still of the cursed (slowly spinning) ground of the Earth AND man is still trying to fit the square peg to the inevitable round hole by having to adjust our tool of time to fit the earthly creation.

If only I could feel that extra second come 5am. Phew…