Would David Hasselhoff win America's Got Talent?

I don’t think so.

So why is he a judge?



Family man

I’ve mentioned Andrew Peterson before; he’s a guy with a lot of talent whose book I reviewed a while back, and he’s also a talented musician, singer, and songwriter.

One of Andrew’s songs that I love is “Family Man”-- it’s one of those songs that I wonder at how he ever performs live, because I don’t understand how he doesn’t choke up with tears.

Well, others love this song too. One church staffer created a video for the song, and it’s a pretty incredible video. Take a look:

"Family Man" from Trevor Little on Vimeo.


Our bluegrass church

Some of you may not know that we have a professional bluegrass band in our congregation, called Cypress Creek. At least, we have a significant part of it-- two full members of the band (and one who regularly joins them) are members of our church.

They’re a lot of fun, and they’re also really good. They play gigs all over the mid-south, and every now and then we get a bluegrass number as an offertory or for special music during worship.

They’ll also be playing at the Vicky Williams Benefit that the church is holding and hosting in early August. If you’re able (and you’re in the area), come out on August 9th from 4-8pm and hear Cypress Creek.

Update: Sorry about the bad link from earlier; I was using an old link. To make up for it, I’ve posted THREE videos now!

Here they are in the studio:


Not taking ourselves too seriously

At the recommendation of my St. Louis friend Steve Hughes, I started watching Last Comic Standing on NBC this summer. Funny stuff-- I’ve always enjoyed stand-up comedy, and this is a fun reality show.

On the first show, a pair came on that really hit on something good. They present themselves as a “Christian folk duo with a message” and (after looking them up on the web) I think they really are Christians who are also comedians and want to poke fun at the sub-culture that has, sadly, emerged as perhaps representative of Christianity in our world. Here’s their first clip:


So, I entered a drawing...

There's a contest (or drawing... is there a difference?) that I entered on another blog. The idea is this: this other blogger is giving away 20 sets of 18 CDs, apparently provided to her by WOW-- which is a group that produces compilation CDs of Christian music. (HT: Megan)

Who knows if I'll win? But if I do, it'll be an interesting experiment. I haven't listened to very much "Christian" music for years. The only musicians who market themselves as "Christian music" that I've bought in the last decade are: Wes King, Andrew Peterson, Bob Bennett, Michael Card, and Bebo Norman.

I'm sure there's some decent stuff out there, but I can't bring myself to listen to the local Christian music radio station to find it-- and there wasn't a Christian music radio station in St. Louis, even if I had wanted to. (I know-- hard to believe, isn't it?) So this is an opportunity for me to be re-introduced to what's worth listening to.

Here's an interesting twist: of the 17 artists listed in the give-away, five of them are names that I have bought before (over a decade ago): Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Newsboys, Third Day, and Point of Grace. They either have aged well, or the Christian music being offered today sounds surprisingly like early 90s pop. You decide...

Essential non-obvious bands of the 80s

Following up on my post from Tuesday, I got to thinking about bands that didn't have one stand-out album that defined them or a part of 80s music, and that also weren't obvious stand-out bands.

Okay, apart from Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, The Police, U2, Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson (yes, admit it), Prince, and a few other HUGE bands, which ones were the real essential, non-obvious bands and/or artists?

  • REO Speedwagon. A great band with a big sound, these guys had a clever knack that came through their songs and even their album names-- with albums called things like "You Get What You Play For," "You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish," and "Hi Infidelity." Favorites: Roll with the changes, Time for me to fly, Keep on Loving You, Take it on the run, Can't fight this feeling.

  • Styx. Tons of hit songs came out of this powerhouse, which was plagued by the (apparently common) problem of a frontman with a distinctive talent and sound along with a HUGE ego that eventually made it impossible for the band to stay together. Still, they had a ton of hits (spanning both the 70s and 80s) and their music is still great. Favorites: Lady, Come Sail Away, Babe, The Best of Times, Don't Let It End, Foolin' Yourself.

  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Another band that spanned the 70s and 80s (and 90s!), and another one that churned out hit after hit. While none of their 14 albums had more than two or three hits, the collective result is fodder for box sets and fun greatest hits discs. Favorites: Breakdown, American Girl, Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, Stop Draggin' My Heart Around, You Got Lucky, Don't Come Around Here No More, Jammin' Me, Runnin' Down a Dream, Free Fallin', You Don't Know How It Feels.

  • Men at Work. This band was so quirky, but wow, did they have a great sound-- sort of aussie-rock with a hint of reggae thrown in. The lead singer, Colin Hay, has a great voice (and crazy eyes), and a great sense of self-effacing humor. Favorites: Be Good Johnny, Down Under, Who Can It Be Now? Overkill, It's A Mistake.

  • The Bangles. While they weren't the first all-girl band of the 80s to hit it big (The Go-Gos beat them to it by a year), They had a longer and more successful career, and I think were a tighter band. Favorites: Manic Monday, If She Knew What She Wants, Walk Like an Egyptian, Hazy Shade of Winter.

  • Journey. It's difficult to overestimate the powerhouse that Journey was in the 80s, for me at least. With a career that started in the mid-70s, they had this arena-rock sound that persevered well into the 80s (and is still solid today). Though they seemed to do the unthinkable in replacing Steve Perry as lead singer (see above reference to distinctive and difficult frontmen), the word is that the guy who replaced him (also named Steve) both looks and sounds like him. Freaky. Favorites: Wheel in the Sky, Lights, Feeling That Way/Anytime, Any Way You Want It, Who's Crying Now, Don't Stop Believin', Faithfully, Send Her My Love, Be Good to Yourself, Girl Can't Help It, I'll Be Alright Without You, Only the Young.

  • Genesis/Phil Collins. These two seem to run together-- I have difficulty keeping straight which songs Collins released as solo work and which were done with the band. But it seems like every year or so, there was a hit song from either Genesis or a solo tune from Collins. Favorites: Invisible Touch, Sussudio, Against All Odds, One More Night, That's All, Turn It On Again, Throwing It All Away.

  • The Cars. Another band that got its start in the 70s (noticing a theme?), these guys had sort of a funk/new wave sound to some of their stuff that played well as 80s pop. They were also quick to embrace creativity with music videos in the 80s, which lent them more success. Favorites: Just What I Needed, My Best Friend's Girl, Let's Go, Shake It Up, You Might Think, Magic, Hello Again.

  • Bryan Adams. Fresh from Canada, this guy was another who had a bunch of records with a couple of real hits from each. He had a clean-cut look and a good voice, which lent to his success. Favorites: Cuts Like a Knife, Run to You, Summer of '69, It's Only Love, Please Forgive Me.

  • Hall & Oates. What a great combination of 70s funk/R&B with early 80s pop-rock! These guys churned out the hits too-- every few months there was a new one on the radio. Favorites: She's Gone, Sara Smile, Rich Girl, You Make My Dreams Come True, Kiss on My List, Private Eyes, Family Man, Maneater, I Can't Go for That (No Can Do), Out of Touch.

  • John Cougar Mellencamp. Maybe the worst stage name ever for a rock musician, John "Cougar" broke into stardom with American Fool, which made honorable mention in my list on Tuesday. He has a rootsy, almost country sound (indeed, he sounds more country than a lot of country musicians today), reflecting his Indiana upbringing. Favorites: Jack and Diane, Crumblin' Down, Pink Houses, Authority Song, Lonely Ol' Night, Small Town, Rain on the Scarecrow, Rumbleseat, Paper in Fire, Check It Out, Wild Night, Our Country.


Essential non-obvious 80s albums

My friend (and fellow pastor) Russell Smith pointed me to a post at the Evangelical Outpost where Joe Carter is reminiscing about his favorite (non-obvious) 80s music. Since I love 80s music perhaps above all else except folk, I bit.

Russell has a good addition to Joe's list (and those in the comments), though I disagree with him on a few points. Here are my picks for the essential non-obvious ones.

  • The Connells, Fun & Games. The first time I heard "Sal" I knew I was breaking through to a new dimension of music; in the midst of the Classic Rock, 80s pop, and semi-folk that I had grown up with, The Connells offered a freshness and creative spin on rock that was a welcome addition to my library (and to others to whom I introduced it). Favorite tracks: Sal, Motel, Hey Wow, Something to Say.

  • Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls. I thought I knew what contemporary folk music was (think: Jimmy Buffett and James Taylor) until I heard these two-- man, was I blown away! This was my true introduction to a love of modern folk that continues today. The 'Girls went on to produce many fine albums (and they're still at it), but the grit and honesty of this disc remains a great listen. Favorite tracks: Secure Yourself, Prince of Darkness, Tried to Be True, Love's Recovery, and, of course, Closer to Fine.

  • Van Halen, 1984. Is this one obvious? It is to me-- but then I was a VH nut for a while. I don't think there is a better example of 80s rock (NOT pop) than side one of the 1984 tape. (Side two has a totally different feel to it, though also quite good.) Favorite tracks: Jump, Panama, Top Jimmy, I'll Wait.

  • Amy Grant, Lead Me On. I'll go with my friend Russell on this one. This was a huge album-- loaded with great songs that are still good today. Russell's summary of it's importance is all that needs to be said. Favorite tracks: Lead Me On, Saved by Love, If These Walls Could Speak, Faithless Heart.

  • Peter Gabriel, So. I'm with Joe Carter on this one (and the next). A great collection of music-- there's much more here than "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time," including the time-tested "In Your Eyes" and a handful of other great ones. Gabriel was the original creative force behind the band Genesis, and went on to a critically-successful career (if not always on the charts). Favorite tracks: In Your Eyes, Red Rain, Don't Give Up, Mercy Street.

  • Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms. Bought it for the amazing guitar intro on "Money for Nothing" and was quickly won over by the amazing breadth and depth on the rest of this disc (actually, I had it on tape). The other hit from this album, "Walk of Life," is also fun-- but there is a lot of good music to be found here. Favorite tracks: Walk of Life, Your Latest Trick, Brothers in Arms, Why Worry, So Far Away.

  • Paul Simon, Graceland. Chock-full of great music with a definitive African influence, this one re-established Paul Simon as a star for a new generation. Everyone knew "You Can Call Me Al" from the radio-- which is, admittedly, a very fun song. But if you want to get a great (and diverse) taste of good music, check out the rest of the disc. Still plays regularly at the Eubanks house. Favorite tracks: You Can Call Me Al, Graceland, Diamonds in the Soles of Her Shoes, Under African Skies, I Know What I Know.

  • U2, The Joshua Tree. This was the album that carried them from semi-obscure, slightly agitated activist rockers to mainstream, heir-to-The Police band of the late century and early 2000s. Who can forget this awesome disc? Favorite tracks: Where the Streets Have No Name, With or Without You, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, In God's Country.

  • The Police, Every Breath You Take: The Singles. Summing up an amazing career with numerous hit albums and singles, the was to be the culmination of their career. (They later released a few other collections.) Suffice to say, every song (or nearly so) on here is familiar to just about everyone my age, and this is a standby and staple when looking for some good 80s tunes. Favorite tracks: Can't Stand Looking You, Message in a Bottle, Walking on the Moon, King of Pain, Wrapped Around Your Finger.

  • Asia, Asia. This was another great one, with many fond memories (many of them of riding in Russell's Bronco II). Asia was a great band with an underlying sense of faith and belief. Favorite tracks: Heat of the Moment, Only Time Will Tell, One Step Closer, Wildest Dreams, Cutting It Fine, Here Comes the Feeling

Runners-up: The Hooters, Nervous Night; REM, Automatic for the People; Hank Williams, Jr., Greatest Hits; John Cougar (Mellencamp), American Fool; Genesis, Invisible Touch.