Tag Archives: Music

Take 5 with Jade Harrell

17 Aug

Nineteen year-old Jade Harrell is bringing a little soul, a lot of funk, and even some pop to her debut album, Class Reject (Revolution Art).  From songs like the dance track “Me & My Radio to Jade’s cover of “What a Fool Believes,” this album is full of varied styles that appeal to fans of many genres.  It’s impossible to listen to Jade Harrell’s music without going into full-on dance mood (or chair groove for the uncoordinated).  Jade was kind enough to take the time to “Take 5” with Backseat Writer.  Read on to learn more about this dynamic and talented young singer!

*Your debut album is called Class Reject, but you seem like anything but a class reject! What’s the story here?

I grew up somewhat as an outcast. Even since elementary school and all throughout high school, I was picked on. It made me feel like I didn’t belong. So as I was brainstorming for a title for the album, those memories came to mind. Then I realized that the reason I felt like I didn’t fit in was because God meant for me to stand out! As long as you’re a child of God, you’re going to be rejected by the world, and life is nothing but a huge classroom; therefore, Class Reject.

* “Me & My Radio” is a fun song.  I remember the days of sitting in my bedroom as a teenager rockin’ out to my radio (and dancing badly).  What do you think of when you sing this song and why did you write it?

Well, when I first hear it come on, I say to myself, “Holy smokes, this is me!” But I wrote this song because I find myself rockin’ out to my favorite jams when I’m alone in the confines of my room! It happens to be more fun that way

*I love your rendition of the Doobie Brothers’ song, “What a Fool Believes.”  What is it about this song that you like?

It tells a story, which is something I feel that today’s music doesn’t really do anymore. It’s the kind of song that when you cut it on, it just makes you wanna groove. (If you can’t tell by now, I love to dance!)

*You’re a young artist bringing a whole new set of beats to Christian music, especially R&B/techno—so what challenges have you faced working in a genre that isn’t as defined as others in the Christian industry?

Some people don’t take my music seriously, or they call me a sell out. It doesn’t bother me though because I know my target audience can relate to me and that’s what matters the most! It’s really about them.

http://myspace.com/jadeharrell

*On your MySpace page you cite Michael Jackson as one of your influences.  Since Jackson’s death, we’ve all been thinking about what his music has meant to us, but how has his career influenced and/or inspired you?

MJ definitely made it clear that there’s no age restriction to having a music career; he started out so early! For me, that leaves no room for excuses. He inspired me because he made both music that made me want to dance and music that had a message. He was an awesome songwriter and vocalist–he was just simply amazing!

Recycling Christmas:: 12 Days of Toto in Africa

13 Dec

I like to recycle, and as such, I’m posting another cheery video from last year, again this year to make you smile.  You should be allowed to see some cute guys singing “The 12 Days of Christmas” for more than just one year, right?   If you take notice, there are 12 guys singing–one for each day of Christmas. Plus, they end using the melody from “Africa” by Toto, which is just cool. Sarah would probably love to have Christmas in Africa. She is the force behind putting the black Santa ornament on our fiber optic Christmas tree. :) A big shout-out to Peggikaye, who introduced me to this video.

All twelve of the original members of Straight No Chaser (SNC) had reunited since performing this song a capella at Indiana University and recording a Christmas album called Holiday Spirits, which was just released this year!

“Africa” by Toto is one of the weirdest music videos ever made, so I posted that for you, too. I love this song. It makes me want to become an archaeologist in Africa with the lead singer of Toto. That is, until the spear goes into the wall and the place burns down.

Review :: Wonder of the World – Rush of Fools

16 Sep

By Clay W. Ginn Coming off a somewhat out of nowhere debut, Rush of Fools returns with their sophomore release, Wonder of the World. A wonderfully consistent recording, the new CD showcases an acoustic-based, modern rock sound. This talented quintet from Birmingham, Ala. has crafted an aurally mesmerizing sound, not soft enough for adult contemporary, but not ragged enough to be called hard rock.

As far as worship music goes, the band hits the mark. Rush of Fools has garnered a great deal of attention in the last year, collecting several Dove Award nominations, including Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and New Artist of the Year.

One of the things that stands out to me in this album is the strength of the lyrics. Having not been exposed to much of their music before, it was a phenomenal surprise to hear such unique music attached to such praise-centered lyrics.

There is a mix of different sounds on the album, from the eclectic funk sound of “How Much” to the airiness of “Escape”. The mellow title track, “Wonder of the World”, is destined to be sung in contemporary worship services. “Holy One” has some of the best lyrics on the album:

“Face to the ground, I’m not proud
Of all you must see when you look at me
I tremble at first, as You wash the dirt
The dirt from my feet
And I see my need for thee”

Honestly, how many times do you see the word “thee” weave its way into a modern song? Even better, it doesn’t seem out of place, like it was chosen just to rhyme with “me.”

One complaint that I have with the album is that many of the songs tend to have the same makeup: soft beginning ramping up into a more driving chorus, a short interlude of the mellow music, and ending with the driving rock again. While never straying too far from their basic formula, Rush of Fools puts together a quality album.

Print copy of review.

Clay W Ginn My real job is as a software developer for a small company in North Texas. I’ve been married for nearly 12 years and am the father of three. I’m an avid reader, weather nut, and love playing my guitar and singing. My wife and I are huge fans of Walt Disney World, trying to get there once every couple of years. I grew up on a farm in rural Kansas, and attended seven different colleges before completing a Bachelor’s degree in Business Information Technology and a Master’s degree in Information Systems. In the past I’ve been a youth leader, worship leader, police dispatcher, accounting clerk, customer service representative, and a gumball machine builder. I love writing anything, from movie and music reviews to political screeds to comparisons of culture and faith. I’m even working on a novel as well.

In the Headlights :: The Christian Manifesto

10 Sep

Have I ever told you about the fine folks at The Christian Manifesto?  No, but I should have.  Ever since Cal (that’s what I call C.E. Moore, founder and head honcho over at TCM), left a comment here on Backseat Writer, we became fast friends and decided that collaboration is the way to go.  As we work together to provide you with the best in art, music, books, and what not, we want you to know that our sites will still independently feature the things you love.

Last week, Cal decided that I should be a big internet star (his words, not mine.  OK, they’re my words) after listening to my interview with Bebo Norman.   After editing it, mixing it, and making it sound very cool, I’m pleased to announce that the interview will be available for your listening pleasure over at The Christian Manifesto and my article about Bebo Norman’s latest project will be available here on Backseat Writer.  It’s truly the best of both worlds!

Plus, Cal and Wayne Beason do a weekly podcast that is pretty darn amusing, so you should definitely check that out while you’re hopping around the site, as well as the great content available for your consumption!

So much to say, so much to say!

19 Aug

This week I’m “unofficially” on vacation, which means I’m backing off from writing a bit to step back and consider the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. Or it could be that Sarah has off all week and we’ve got great plans like an overnight beach trip with two of our pals! Well, whatever, I’m not really here, am I?

However, in prepping to be away I’ve been making sure that Backseat Writer can move along swimmingly and have been negligent of my poor little corner of cyberspace here and I’ve got SO MUCH TO SAY!

Heres is one of my concert photos.  The dimly lit room and my lack of a $500 camera made for mediocre photos.  But theyre my mediocre photos so theyre special.

Here's is one of my concert photos. The dimly lit room and my lack of a $500 camera made for mediocre photos. But they're my mediocre photos so they're special.

First order of business–Derek Webb!!! As I’ve announced via Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, text message, and in random conversations with strangers, I saw Derek Webb for the first time in concert on Sunday night. I was thinking you always remember your first time–the first time you rode a bike, the first time you went on a date, the first time you saw Derek Webb live in concert and so on. I wrote up a review which will be posted on Backseat Writer later this week, but–WOW!–what an exciting experience for me (and Sarah)! It was such a low-key laid back event. The fact that Derek could command an audience in his white t-shirt/blue jeans ensemble, his voice, and an acoustic guitar was impressive. So, yes, it was everything I thought it would be and I can hardly wait to see him and the rest of his gang on Oct. 4 on the Art*Music*Justice Tour. Christa Banister told me last week that she met her husband at a Derek Webb concert, so I was very hopeful the same would be true for me. It so wasn’t.

Second order of business–baby rabbits everywhere! On Saturday, I stumbled upon a nest of baby rabbits in the

Heres the first escapee on the run!

Here's the first escapee on the run!

large grassy area behind our apartment, which is frequented by small children and hairy dogs. Since I had my camera with me, I snapped a couple pictures of the little dears. As I walked away, one of the babies decided to hightail it out of the nest. I ran into the house to get a towel, caught the escapee, and put it back in its nest, which caused bunny #2 to jump out. I caught bunny #2 and put it back in the nest, when bunny #1 apparently wanted another taste of freedom. At this point I decided they were in a phase of rebellion and used a stick to cover the nest as best as I could. I checked on the baby-on-the-run a couple of times, who had decided to set up camp under the water spout. A little before midnight, the babies were safely nestled back in their little nest because their mother had come to feed them and care for them. How sweet!

Last night when Sarah and I took the dogs for their nightly bathroom break, the nest had once again been torn asunder. And one of the babies was hanging out near the nest which Maddy the shih tzu found especially interesting. She seems to think they’re “her babies”. As we headed back in, the little trickster had moved back into its nest! How they don’t get run over by the lawn mower is beyond me! Yet I know the best thing is for them to be where they are so they can be taken care of by their mother. Although smuggling them into the apartment and raising the little ones has crossed my mind.

Cover of This Beautiful Republic's latest, Perceptions.

Third order of business–crazy album releases! It’s like everyone who wanted to release a new album sat down and said, “August 19! That is the day we shall all release a new album in a show of solidarity!” There are sophomore albums from the likes of Brandon Heath, Family Force 5, This Beautiful Republic (A shout out to my friend Ben Olin!), and Jimmy Needham as well as new albums from Mercy Me’s Bart Millard, Charlie Hall, Ten Shekel Shirt, and my old buddies, The Wrecking (formerly Kingpin Wrecking Crew). Lots of new music to check out–no wonder I need an unofficial vacation!

Fourth order of business–what’s up with the release of the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’s release being moved back to June? Didn’t they just release the trailer? Are the powers-that-be toying with us? (Article)

And lastly, did you hear about these yahoos who claimed they found a Bigfoot corpse in the woods and it turned out to be a hoax? Surprise, surprise! The funniest part of the whole thing is that the “body” was, in fact, a sasquatch Halloween costume. I mean, did they really think they’d be fooling anyone with that? Believe me, the full story is worth reading.

So, that’s about it, sorry to lump it all together like this, but I’ve got some R&R to do. Have a nice day!

Female Power Songs

3 Aug
Image from Corbis.com

Image from Corbis.com

We all have songs that we listen to when we’re feeling sad, party tunes we rock out to with company, and ballads that make us feel, well, powerful. Some of these group “power” songs can be heard at sporting events such as Queen’s ever-popular “We Will Rock You.”

We women have our own genre of “power songs” sung by female divas that command our attention and unite us in our heartache, independence, and prowess. I was musing about this today when I was in a bit of a down mood. I started blasting “Leave the Pieces” by The Wreckers and singing along loudly (and off-key). Somewhere between, “It’s alright/Yeah, I’ll be fine/Don’t worry about this heart of mine/Just take your love and hit the road” and “There’s nothing you can do or say/You’re going to break my heart anyway/Just leave the pieces when you go,” I suddenly felt much better. Yeah, life hurts and hearts get broken…but this is a song about independence and moving on after heartache. Instead of wallowing in doubt, I suddenly felt less broken, and like I had a choice and that life really does go on.

Obviously, if you listen to this song, it’s about a guy who doesn’t want to commit and a girl telling him to get lost because she’s tired of his flip-flopping. But there are so many times I need to remind myself that I do have a choice–I can tell the world to get lost, even though it s so painful. I can tell sin to get lost, even though my sins break God’s heart (and mine, too). And isn’t a contrite spirit almost one that is broken, sometimes in pieces, after we’ve told who or whatever to get out of our lives? I know many times after my own stupidity or because of the stupidity of others, I’ve sat with my heart in pieces crying my eyes out. Yet God always takes those pieces and puts them back together.

God just spoke to me so powerfully through this song. Yes, life will hurt, but I can give Him the pieces. Yes, my heart will bust wide open, but I can move past my mistakes. And, yes, I will be fine because God’s holding this heart of mine. Amazing how God can work through a song like “Leave the Pieces,” but whoever said we can only find God in the worship section at the Christian bookstore anyway?

While many female power songs don’t always hit me straight in the heart, there are a few I like to rock out to as well like “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benetar, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie (how I love Deborah Harry), “Defying Gravity” from Wicked (I just love that soundtrack), “Take a Chance of Me” (Come on, it’s a woman saying “Hey, baby, look this way!” It’s even funnier when you watch MAMMA MIA!), “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera (who’d have thunk it?), “This One’s For the Girls” by Martina McBride, “Reflections” from Mulan (the ultimate warrior chick), “Go Your Own Way” the Cranberries cover version of course, and my ultimate female power song–”You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. Ah, Carly, you’re my girl!

So, ladies (or gents), what’s one of your “power” songs for your spiritual or emotional health? Post it, proclaim it, rock out to it!

Review :: Revelation – Third Day

28 Jul

By Clay W. Ginn – Back in 1995, sitting in my dorm room at college, one of my friends came in and said “You’ve gotta hear this band! They’re awesome!” He yanks out whatever was in my CD player at the time, tosses it aside, and sticks in a disc by a group of guys I’d never heard of. They had a distinctive sound, at least compared to what was on the Christian scene at the time. While so many bands have come and gone in the subsequent years, Third Day has continued to grow musically, spiritually, and in popularity. Three Grammy awards, 23 Dove awards, 10 studio albums, and 13 years later the Georgia-based band release their 11th album, Revelation.

The first half of this album rocks. “This Is Who I Am” is a raucous kick-start to the album, relying on hard-strumming acoustic guitar, heavy drums, and the electric sound so many are used to hearing. The next track, “Slow Down”, brings the Revelation train back a gear, but not by much. This song, which also features Chris Daughtry, is a well-crafted plea that all of us could heed, to slow down and let God take over.

“Call My Name”, released back in April as a single, is mellow and melodic, while maintaining a solid guitar backbone. It plays out like a love song from Jesus to us. Hard-driving drums introduce “Run To You”, steadily keeping time to this discordant and quite beautiful song. The title track, “Revelation”, begins with a piano solo, but is quickly joined by the rest of the band. “Give me a revelation/I’ve got nothing without you” is the central theme of the song, asking God for a fresh view of His grace. Closing out the first half of the album is “Otherside”, a bluesy, Clapton-esqe tune that reminds me a great deal of the song “Blackbird” from their 1995 major label debut.

The second half of Revelation eases up off the throttle, retaining the classic Third Day sound, but with a lighter quality. “Let Me Love You” is a breezy, radio-ready love song, which would probably get heavy airplay on mainstream radio. The catchy “I Will Always Be True” has the same basic qualities as the previous song, with just a little harder edge. Not that it’s a bad song, it’s just odd that two songs with such similarities would be back-to-back on the album. “Born Again”, a duet with Flyleaf’s Lacey Mosely, describes a journey from the realization by the singer that he isn’t a good as he thought he was, to the feeling of being born again.

Bluegrass makes an appearance in “Give Love”, which gives way to “Caught Up In Yourself”, a steady, almost James Bond-sounding cautionary tale to those of us who have a hard time surrendering ourselves to God. “Ready” returns Third Day to their rock roots, driving the album steadily to its final song, “Take It All”. Nearly a praise chorus, the lyrics are a plea to God to “Take it all/Cause I can’t take it any longer/With all I have/I can’t make it on my own/Take the first, take the last/Take the good and take the rest/Here I am, all I have/Take it all”.

Overall, Revelation is a good album. The music is a maturation of the classic Southern rock Third Day is known for to something more modern, all while maintaining their identity. Topped with Mac Powell’s inimitable voice, Third Day has the ingredients for another hugely popular and artistic album. The only complaint that I have is that it seemed to get down into a rut in the middle of the disc. Revelation is a worthy addition to your music collection whether you are a old Third Day fan or a new one.

Print copy of review.

We haven’t done a Carman video in a while….

3 Jul

…so here’s one that starts out good and then goes downhill when he starts singing. My BFF Sarah told me that she MISSED the Carman videos. I bring you “America Again” in honor of the 4th of July.

Carman Video of the Week

17 May

It’s been months and months since I posted a “Carman Video of the Week” for you guys, and for that, I feel terrible. But Carman is back in the house and better than ever. Seriously, this guy is legend.


Here’s when Carman went through that nasty rapping phase–”Who’s In the House?” J.C.!

Interview: Making Friends with Hawk Nelson’s Jason Dunn

27 Mar

By Amy Sondova “I’m talking to you and painting my kitchen,” cheerfully announces Hawk Nelson’s lead singer, Jason Dunn, as he carefully colors his walls Olympus white. “It’s actually lightish gray,” he explains, then distastefully adds, “I’m not sure if I really like the color, but I don’t have much of a choice now, do I?” It’s this type of amusing conversation that has endeared listeners to the pop-punk quartet know as Hawk Nelson.

The Canadian rockers release their fourth full-length album, Hawk Nelson Is My Friend (BEC) on April 1. The guys in Hawk Nelson—Dunn, bassist Daniel Biro, guitarist Jonathan Steingard, and drummer Aaron Totsi—decided to dedicate their latest offering to the people who matter most—their friends. Though it should be noted, the band doesn’t have “fans”, it has friends. “Fan just sounds kind of arrogant,” explains Jason nonchalantly. “I think famous people have fans and we’re not famous, but we have a lot of friends.”

Since arriving on the scene with Letters to the President (BEC) in 2004, Hawk Nelson has been featured in countless magazines including Billboard and Tiger Beat, performed on “Good Morning America”, Nickelodeon, and even had a cameo singing “Bring ‘Em Out” in the movie Yours, Mine, & Ours. Hawk Nelson appeared on NBC’s “American Dreams” as The Who singing “My Generation.” According to Jason, the band wasn’t allow to reenact The Who’s famous performance on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”, in which Keith Moon blew up his drum set and the rest of the band smashed their guitars. “It would have been great,” he says reminiscently.

Candid and talkative, 25 year-old Jason Dunn relishes the fact he’s far from typical. The night before the interview Jason and his friends were eating at a restaurant after a full day of snow tubing, “I started blowing bubbles in my Diet Coke, and it was going all over the table,” he laughs. His quirky restaurant behavior isn’t the only thing that sets Jason apart from the crowds.

Jason is one of the 3 million Americans who lives with Type 1 diabetes, the form of the disease in which the body produces no insulin to break down sugars. Diagnosed at the age of 12, Jason says, “I’ve been on insulin for 13 years. The crazy thing is that no one else in my family suffers from it.” Despite the demands of touring, Jason’s been able to maintain his blood sugar well, “A few years ago, I got an insulin pump and that’s really changed my life.” Instead of administering insulin shots and dealing with blood sugars that are too high or too low, Jason’s insulin pump gives him the amount of insulin he needs throughout the day.

And it’s long days filled with friendly faces, performances, and a sea of green shirts that Hawk Nelson looks forward to as they headline the spring 2008 “Green T Tour”. Coinciding with the release of the new album, Hawk Nelson is offering a super deal at their “Green T” ticket buyers— a free limited-edition green T, which enables the wearer to receive special seating, attend an exclusive listening party, and a chance to pre-buy Hawk Nelson Is My Friend. The green t-shirt is a recreation of one of the band’s original designs, “When we first started playing locally, we had this shirt that said, ‘Hawk Nelson is my friend.’ Originally we thought it was funny to have people think that Hawk Nelson was just one guy,” shares Jason, who adds that the van the band first used was also green.

“We put hundreds of thousands of miles on that van. Our audience would show up and support us,” he remembers. “Now it’s five years later. We’re a little older and a little more successful, and they’re still coming to our shows. Literally, we would not have the success we have without them. They’ve been so good to us; they deserve a record made just for them, so we did it.”

Born out of the intense loyalty to their audience, Hawk Nelson Is My Friend is a very relational album that spans the gambit both musically and topically. “The whole record has been a lot more real to me; this album is a lot more personal,” explains Jason, who seems surprisingly unaware that “Friend Like That” (video link) has already skyrocketed to the top of radio charts. “It’s a feel-good song that’s fun to play live.”

“Let’s Dance” is another song that begs to be heard by a live audience, yet it’s far from feel-good. “It’s one of those songs talking about how the media tries to make you a certain way to fit an ideal image. I’m saying that you can’t make me look a certain way to make you money, I’m just going to be me,” says Jason.

Dealing with the dark side of relationships, Jason started writing “Just Like Me” when he was in high school. “When I was 16, I considered this girl my friend. She was my friend to my face—and she was like this with everyone—but then behind my back she would make fun of everyone to the point where she has no friends left.” He sighs and admits, “I was almost at the point where I was being judgmental of her, but we’ve all done that. We’ve all talked smack about someone behind their backs. We need to change the way we think and the way we talk about people.”

Co-written with Matthew Gerrard, one of the minds behind the wildly popular “High School Musical” movies, Jason doubts he’ll make an appearance in “High School Musical 3” due out later this year, “That would be cool, but I can’t dance or sing like that.” Hawk Nelson worked with other collaborators to craft the album, though Jason says the contributions were mostly musical, “I’m kind of picky about lyrics. I would rather sing my own.” Yet collaborating with other musicians including long-time friend Trevor McNevan of Thousand Foot Krutch (read interview with TFK’s Trevor McNevan) has been a positive experience for the band, “I learned so much through working with other people. Everybody needs help.”

The song, “One Little Miracle” co-written with Richard “Right Here Waiting” Marx, comes from an unlikely inspiration. “You know those World Vision commercials with those starving kids? I was thinking about that in my head when I wrote the song, how one little thing can make a difference,” Jason thoughtfully shares. While “I Still Miss You” is a deeply meaningful to Jason, who wrote it in honor of his deceased grandmother, he names “Somebody Else” as his favorite song on the album. “It’s about asking questions. All the guys are married now except for me. I have to be honest; it’s way better being single. You have your whole life to get married, right?” Knowing meeting the right girl would change everything, he says, “Then all of a sudden a girl comes in. She’s the love of your life and your dreams start to change a little. All of a sudden this girl’s taken over my dream.”

Yet Jason’s dream is still his own as he exclaims, “I like what I’m doing. It’s my favorite thing in the whole, wide world. I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” he pauses, and then adds, “Except maybe ride a motorcycle around the world.”

“I don’t even really want to do that,” he admits with a chuckle. “One day I hope to look back and say, ‘Wow, I did it.’” Then, almost poetically, Jason updates his painting progress proudly announcing, “I got a whole wall done and it looks pretty marvelous.” Walls, albums, lives—Hawk Nelson’s Jason Dunn will continue to paint each with his special touch, and look back to see a job well done.

Print copy of article.

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