In the opening, the church looks very similar to Our Place Christian Church, dark, candles, big video screens, worship stations... And the clips of Solomon's Porch made it look surprisingly small to me. Not that size matters... (See my blog on Is Bigger Better?)
BTW, is there an Emergent Cohort in Portland yet? If you know of one, let me know.
Reverend Ken & The Bluesmen are on a mission from God to spread the good news of the Blues to any and all who will hear their gospel message!
"Blues music is spiritual for us," says frontman and lead guitarist Reverend Ken. "There's something about the blues than transcends race, religion, age, culture... the blues is a universal language that everyone can understand and relate to, because everyone has had the blues. There's something very cathartic about expressing our emotions through music, especially through the music and creativity of the great blues artists of the past and present."
"When I play the blues, something inside of me just opens up, and my emotions get to come out in a whole different way. I'm not really a shredder or speed player, so I focus on tone and feeling."
"I'm all about the phrase, the lick, the melodic underpinning. It's not so much a technical performance (though the truly subtle technicalities of the blues are some of the toughest to cop!). It's more like a sharing of sentiment, opening my heart through my voice and my fingers and sharing that with an audience... that is, on a good night anyway!"
"I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I just can't get into it, for whatever reason. I really have to be loose to feel like I'm playing my best. There's something so emotional, even spiritual, about blues music. So I try to approach each song with the intention of just totally letting loose and going for broke and seeing what happens. And when it's good, it's a god-thing, like I don't even know where that lick I just played came from, it just happened, like it was given to me."
"Playing the blues definitely gets me closer to God."
When we played the Hideout festival a few years ago(an outdoor Christian music festival), that was the one time I really got to push those power tubes in a live gigging situation. And to be honest, it was probably too loud then too! But the tone was sweet. Tubular bliss. You know it sounds good when you have: 1. Preamp distortion, 2. Power amp distortion, 3. Speaker cone distortion!! Yeah baby!
So anyway, I posted the Mesa rig on Craigslist a couple times and had it sold within a month. I then took the proceeds and went shopping. I listened to a bunch of amps... Budda, Orange, Dr. Z, Tone King, VHT... and finally settled on a used TopHat King Royale. Its a 35 watt, Class A, hand built, point-to-point wired, 2x12" combo. I am SO happy with the tone! I put it on top of my 1960a cab and it really cooks. It has a defeatable master volume, which I have defeated most of the time so the power tubes are running all out. This is an amp I get to crank! It has 4 EL84 power tubes, which sound awesome. The design is based on the classic Vox AC30s from the 60s. It has two channels, and the lower gain channel is so simple as to have only "volume" and "tone" controls! But it doesn't need anything else.
I play in basically two main styles, Worship and Chicago Blues. For worship, I lead with electric guitar in two of our three gatherings, and I play a lot of open chord and barre chord progressions. I rely very much on string dynamics and picking attack to control my tone, and the TopHat really shines here. I get to play softly during the verses, and the tone is very clean, yet warm, with lots of definition. But when the chorus kicks in, I just dig in with the pick and I get awesome distorted chords, rich and sustaining, and full of harmonics and overtones leading to mellow feedback. And for a little more, I have my trusty BOSS CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer (MIJ) that makes the notes SING! So I don't even need to channel switch. I get it all out of one channel on the TopHat.
This is something that I really appreciate while facilitating worship. It allows me so much more expression. I have so much to work with, from quiet clean arpeggiated patterns to rockin' power chords and everything in between, all based on string dynamics. So I don't have to do a tap dance of channel switching between song sections. I can focus on the worship, on setting an example. Song memorization is important to this as well. I try my best to memorize songs so I'm not tied to a chord sheet or a presentation screen. Most of the time I can just close my eyes and worship. This amp let's me do that. The tone is there, and the versatility is there, and I don't have to think about it. I just play. That's what I've been looking for in an amp for a long time. Thanks TopHat!
So there you go, I'm very happy with my new amp, as you can tell, and I haven't even gotten to the part about how my Strat WAILS through it playing the blues. Reverend Ken & The Bluesmen are just about to start gigging, and this amp is making such a difference in my blues tone. I think its actually making me play better! I don't miss the Road King at all. Even though it was a fantastic amp.
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church
*Sent via Blackberry
Psalm 142:7 has been my life verse for over 10 years now. Most people that know me know that I spent most of my teens and early 20s in institutions and jails due to my addictions and anger. I rededicated my life to Christ while awaiting sentencing on a Battery charge, and subsequently spent 30 months in prison. During that time, the 142nd Psalm meant so much to me. It was God's promise to me. It was prophecy over my life.
I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living." Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
I used to read that over and over again, day after day, night after night. It was my deal with God.
"God, if You set me free from this prison, I will praise You. I will worship You. That's what I will dedicate my life to."
He did, and I have.
What's even more amazing is that through His blessing and guidance I have become a Pastor. And through His church He has surrounded me with righteous people. Not by my work, but because of His goodness to me. That is awesome! When I look back at being in prison and praying over that scripture, I see so clearly that He is true to His Word!