News

Another Unsolicited Observation on Charlottesville

I’m not going to cite proof and show you charts and pictures because all of that is meaningless now. I don’t trust any version of events being described. I am simply going to tell you what I feel in my gut about all of this.

The opposing forces you see on your screens are not organic. They are funded by people with a shared goal of destabilizing our country. Don’t mishear me. I’m not saying racist people don’t exist. I’m not saying you and others don’t have an opinion. I’m just saying a few thousand racist nazis just didn’t magically feel compelled to appear out of thin air in a random Virginia city last week. There had to be an organizational factor involved.

How do we fight against this?

So, how can we fight against this? How can we actually make a difference?

I suggest you do business with people who are a different race or culture from you. In my experience, most people you meet are warm, open, and friendly. Not monsters who hate you because of your skin color. Make a point to demonstrate kindness, generosity, and compassion in your transaction. And gosh darnit, smile. 🙂

Go to a park or church and just be friendly with people. Ignore the way media wants you to behave.

Let people consumed with rage fight over statues, flags, and symbols. Fight with love. Don’t punch a Nazi – hug a Nazi. At least pray for him. He’s lost and seeking direction and identity in the wrong place.

Don’t punch a Nazi, hug a Nazi.

I’m not naive. I know these hate movements can not continue forever unchecked. But, I’m not talking about taking out the head of the snake. I’m suggesting starving its body from the anger and discontent it feeds upon. It’s hard to hate an entire race when you know one of those people truly care for you.

“All <insert ethnicity> people are bad,” for example, becomes, “Well, not all <insert ethnicity> people are bad.”

It’s a subtle step. But, it’s a first step in the right direction. You can be the catalyst of that change just by demonstrating the love of Jesus in your day-to-day life.

Many people are convinced we are on the verge of civil unrest. I reject this. This is a media-driven war and I won’t take up arms to fight it for them. I don’t need my friends to virtue signal on social media proclaiming you stand against racism, nazism, or any other -ism. If I thought you were any of those things, we wouldn’t be friends in the first place. Just be an excellent version of yourself and represent Christ well.

This season of racial animosity too shall pass…as soon as this mysterious destabilizing force realizes we aren’t going to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors.

Creatively Being Creative

Recording my newest album hit an unexpected snag. All of the songs were written. All of the instruments were recorded, and then, boom. Upper respiratory infection. Vocals were not happening. Like, for awhile. I’ve been shut down for a month and a half. 😦

The good news? I’m getting better. I’m probably going to restart tracking vocals this week. But, what do you do when you can’t be musically creative?

You be creative any way you can.

In the downtime, I’ve started a novel, worked on producing a board game, and started playing with my church’s praise and worship band. These things have helped me to not lose my mind while I have been unable to work on The Lesson of I.

Be creative any way you can.

The Novel

The concept is golden. I can’t divulge much, because you will gradually uncover these things as the book progresses – and I don’t want to ruin that! (Should you actually ever read it, that is.) I have never actually completed a novel, so I am hesitant to promise its release. But, so far, so good. I’ve had a lot of help.

The story of every story

This tutorial from Dan Harmon was incredibly eye opening on how the magic of storytelling is accomplished. Some PG-13 language warning, by the way. I mean, I knew some simple concepts, like all story is conflict. Otherwise, it’s “happily ever after.” But Harmon takes this all a step or two farther. This chart above, he claims, isn’t just how to write a good story. It is the very definition of a story. In other words, without it, it is almost impossible to even recognize something as a story. Fascinating.

All story is conflict, otherwise it’s “happily ever after.”

I’ve also been aided tremendously from the Better Novel Project and YouTube channels, like this one. If writing a novel is an unfulfilled dream of yours, I encourage you to go for it. There has never been more resources readily available to assist you.

The Board Game

Around the year 2000, I designed a medieval era warfare board game named Castle Valley. I repurposed some old Stratego game pieces, gathered a plethora of colored dice and sketched out a game map of a 20×20 grid onto yellow construction paper. I even laminated it! I typed up the rules in Microsoft Word and played several heated games with my wonderful wifey. I know everyone believes their ideas and creations are great, but I truly think this game is amazing and deserves a wider audience. That being said, I put the project on the back burner back then and promised myself eventually I’d seek out a way to publish the game. That hadn’t happened until recently.

Around a month ago, my son Logan discovered the bag of repurposed Stratego pieces and asked me about them. This has evolved into a lengthy father/son odyssey determined to bring Castle Valley back to life. We have: designed 3D pieces for computer games and printing, tweaked gameplay, rewrote the rule book. Logan has even sourced out the materials we need to produce all of the components needed at home.

I’ve never successfully produced a board game, either. But, I am confident this project possesses every possibility for success. As a bonus, it has been a wonderful shared experience with my son. Look for additional news in the future on this, as well!

The Praise and Worship Band

It had been a few years since being on stage in any capacity. It is easy to forget the thrill of interacting with fellow musicians. I had missed it all. The camaraderie and hanging out backstage, the fun of learning new songs, the “live” experience of being “in the arena.” It’s good times.

I had been assisting in the sound booth, where my experience was most needed. However, a sudden lack of church guitarists necessitated at least a temporary change of responsibility.

This is a cropped screengrab from one of the live broadcasts. I am usually much better-looking. 😉

Our church does the Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation stuff – as well as some originals. It’s simplistic, but also a great open canvas you can paint upon. I’ve enjoyed it, for sure!

Don’t Stop Being Creative!

When you hit a stop sign, ignore it.

Whoops.

When you hit a stop sign, ignore it. If you can’t break through, detour into something else! Don’t stop learning and improving yourself. Whether or not you reach your “goal,” or destination, you’re going to have more fun on the journey than the people who opted out!

Happy creating!


I’ve recently hit over 1,200 paid streams on Pandora. Listen to the hottest single right here!

 

Some Scenes From the First Six Videos

I thought you might like to get an early look at some stills from the upcoming video series detailing the making of The Lesson of I.

As I previously mentioned, this 12-part weekly series will culminate in the release of the new album. As of right now, that is still looking like late summer – which means the video series should begin early summer. In other words, REALLY SOON!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I feel like I get a lot better at these things after the first video or so, so hang in there with me once we get rolling. It is, as my wife and kids put it, weirdly hypnotically interesting. Aww yiss, I will draw you in…

Weirdly hypnotically interesting – Important people

I also have some cool stuff cooking for the next 6 videos to really kick it up a notch or two. I’m excited about that, as well. Oh yeah, and did I mention I am somehow actually recording an album in the middle of all of this?

Good times. It feels like you are all there with me this go around, even if you aren’t quite aware of it yet. Your presence has added an excitement to the process which has been new and inspiring for me. I believe that shared synergy will be more than evident in the final recordings.

So, thank you in advance. I don’t want to do this without you – so, don’t miss it!

You Are Not Forgotten – My family’s non-profit organization

A congratulations is in order for my wife, Lora Bratton, who has successfully navigated the legal hurdles standing in the way of forming her non-profit organization.

lora_greg_football_jerseys
She’s a Packer fan. I’m not as much. 😉

She lives out Galations 6:9, the scripture where it says, “be not weary in well doing.” As long as I have known her, she has always had her hand toward making the world better for someone less fortunate. Now, she has her own organization to grow and lead for that purpose.

Our children and I are happy to have the opportunity to serve alongside Lora as we fulfill the mission to bring resources, empowerment, and purpose to the neglected by demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ through hope, education, and the arts.

yanf_ill_8in_render_trans
youarenotforgotten.life

I hope you find a moment to visit the website, take a look at what we are doing, and consider partnering with us as we minister to some of the communities and neighborhoods that need it the most!

A Sneak Peek at Project #4, “The Lesson of I”

My previous feeble efforts at album releases have been to:

  1. Put in a tremendous amount of focus and energy into making a great album
  2. Once complete, blindly brainstorm poor ways to draw attention to said album

The field is incredibly crowded. Even children with no musical training can produce a professional-sounding track with a laptop and not much else. Furthermore, the pool of people who can actually discern and prefer the organic, human touch of mature musicianship dwindles each day.

Promotion and production needed equal roles.

With that fact in mind, I decided I was thinking of advertising all wrong. It could no longer be an afterthought. The promotion of my project needed to be just as important as the production of my project.

So, in response, I’ve decided to invite you in to watch the sausage be made.

I am very excited to announce I am producing a 12-part weekly series chronicling the making of The Lesson of I.

Each segment will be around 8-minutes long and focus on a different stage of production. Every topic will be discussed: songwriting, getting good tones, DAW processing, arranging, mixing, etc. The series will culminate in Part 12 – The Worldwide Release.

I have a permit for that selfie stick. It’s called the 2nd Amendment.

It’s been a little weird getting used to baring your soul to the camera, especially when talking about something as personal as your art. But, I feel I start to get a little more comfortable as the series progresses, so I hope you’ll bear with me through the beginning while I get my selfie sea legs.

I am not really creating this to be a “how-to” for music production, although I do believe there will be a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned. I think of it more as like a “Misfit Music Producer Bob Ross.” Even if you have no intention of ever painting, it’s still chill to just watch the guy ‘do what he do.’

Landscape G.O.A.T. Bob Ross

Also adding intrigue to this project is the fact it is unlike anything I have attempted before. The cameras will be rolling through the triumphs and the setbacks. I will be feeling my way through on faith and intuition. That could be fun to watch! I mean, I’m not exactly Nik Wallenda out here without a safety net, but things could go horribly wrong! I could get to the end and realize it is all garbage. Similar things have happened before…

Nik taking steps of FAITH!

When might we start seeing this project?

Even before I conceived of the video production component of the project, I felt as if I scheduled an ambitious completion date for this summer.

Recently, I’ve tried to tie album release dates with easily-remembered dates. Just What the World Is Looking For was released on the numerically-friendly 11/12/13Almost Alive was released New Year’s Day 2017.

My dream-come-true goal would be to release The Lesson of I on August 21, 2017, the date of the total eclipse across the United States. That date has been on my radar for over 4 years. I made my family promise years ago they would drop everything to see it when the day arrived. 🙂

August 21, 2017 – Make plans now!

Weather and circumstances permitting, I plan on loading the family up in a vehicle and spending the day in South Carolina with friends and strangers celebrating this rare celestial event – and hopefully a hugely-successful simultaneous album release!


In the meantime, add me to your Pandora station!