The Archives

Jonny Jimison Presents: Martin and Marco

I've always been a storyteller, because I've always needed stories. Facts, arguments, charts, and diagrams---they're all a bit lost on me. But wrap your discussion in a story and I'll dive into its narrative without a second thought. Living inside the story makes things specific and personal, and suddenly everything clicks---the abstract thought that once made me shrug becomes real when encountered through the experience of a story. As far back as I can remember, I made up elaborate stories to explain anything I didn't understand---which was plenty! One of those stories was The Hidden Lantern, which I set to paper in May of 2004. Here's an excerpt:

The great and proud country of Arsendol to the west of Linoriath was far from the terror of Tor Danosh and therefore did not fear what they had not seen. But the great kingdom of Ramish west of the desert was near to the southernmost mountains of the country where the enemy lay, and their northern borders had already been assailed, so they soon offered to help the Nandor.
Yikes. Can you tell I was reading The Silmarillion? I've kept The Hidden Lantern hidden for years---for obvious reasons. When Tolkien writes like that, it's brilliant. When I do, it's pretentious at best. But while I kept the story hidden, it stayed alive---and over time it began to change. Tolkien's horse lords and Witch-Kings---drawn from his background in classic English literature---were replaced by swashbucklers and bandits drawn from my background in classic adventure films. The overwrought Middle English dialect was gradually replaced by snappy banter and silly puns. I began speaking a language that I knew. As a child, I spent most of my time in worlds drawn by Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, and Uncle Scrooge creator Carl Barks. My taste in comics has expanded and diversified over the years, but those three men still define my style, because absorbing their work taught me the language of comics. It was thrilling---and eye-opening---to read newer comic works like Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet, Jeff Smith's Bone, and Ben Hatke's Zita the Space Girl and see the whimsy, humor, and carefree adventure of my favorite childhood comics being put to work in service of epic, ambitious, and often thought-provoking fantasy stories. That's when I pulled out The Hidden Lantern and changed the name to Martin and Marco. Suddenly, the characters began observing pratfalls instead of delivering soliloquies. The cursed object that Marco acquires was no longer a wooden box but a child's backpack with a goofy grin stitched onto it. The story thrived when I brought it into my own unique imagination and began to create out of what I knew rather than what I thought I should be. Authenticity paid off! And once Martin and Marco got started, there was no stopping them. Three years of planning the story, scripting, thumbnailing, designing characters, reconceiving scenes and sometimes entire storylines---it's all lead to a five-volume series of graphic novels called The Dragon Lord Saga. And at long last, the first volume, Martin and Marco, is ready for print and up on Kickstarter! Happily, the bones of the story held up as I changed the skin. At its heart, this is a story about adventurers---characters on an unpredictable and dangerous journey. Dragons loom on the horizon, hoarding gold and power. But dragons also loom within, hoarding secrets and desires. This is a story I'm living. To those who believe in this project, who have backed the Kickstarter, who have spread the word---it means the world to me that you're sharing this vision. If you haven't met Martin and Marco yet---I'd love to introduce you. Visit them on Kickstarter (the campaign ends soon!) and at my website. I hope you'll be a part of the story and join the adventure! (Click the image below to view full size.) pages

Julie Lee & Friends @ North Wind Manor

Here's a little taste of what might be going on at North Wind Manor this Saturday night during our Julie Lee & Friends (Sarah Masen Dark, Corrie Covell, and Ron Block) house concert. The first is Julie and Ron Block playing "Battlefield" at Nashville's own Belcourt Theater. The second, from Under the Radar, is Sarah Masen singing "The Human Scale" backed by Julie Lee and Corrie Covell. There are just a few tickets left and they are available here.

After All These Years: Preorder now!

On November 10th (in a mere three weeks!) my newest album, After All These Years: A Collection, will be released into the wild, so we're commencing with preorders.What is this collection, you ask? It's a total of eighteen songs spanning the last fifteen years or so of music---and that track list includes four (FOUR!) new ones and eight (EIGHT!) brand-spanking-new recordings of older songs (SONGS!). The new recordings of old songs were made in two days with some great friends and great musicians who I've had the honor of working with over the years: Ben Shive, Andy Gullahorn, Ken Lewis, Matt Pierson, Joe Causey, and Jill Phillips. Re-recording those old songs was strange and wonderful, especially since we reimagined some of them, which sort of gave them some new clothes to wear---clothes that fit better now than they did fifteen years ago. I can't wait for you to hear them. Here's the quick highlight reel of the new songs: "After All These Years" was written right after my 40th birthday this year, as a deliberate exercise in gratitude. It felt appropriate to write a song that would be a sort of Ebenezer stone in the wilderness---a song of thanksgiving to God for his abiding love over the last four decades, and one that I would have to sing every night for the next few years. A lot has changed in my life in a short amount of time, and I'm prone to some boneheaded grumbling these days. This song (and this record, for that matter) is my way of stacking stones, a cairn on the hilltop that I'll be able to see from the valley floor in the days and years to come. "To All the Poets" was co-written with Gloria Gaither, and is an ode to the many poets, songwriters, and storytellers who have carried the fire and given us all words to pray when we had none of our own. (I'm looking at you, Rich Mullins and C. S. Lewis.) "Romans 11 (Doxology)" was written right after we recorded Love & Thunder, but it never made it to an official album. I included the demo of it on Appendix A and then forgot about it, more or less. Then I met a guy named Charlie, a song leader from Michigan, who told me that he had been using it for years as the closing doxology at the retreat center where he works. When I sang it at the show that night I was overwhelmed by the sound of the congregation singing it back to me and decided to include it on this collection. Thanks, Charlie. "Everybody's Got a Song" was finished backstage at the Ryman Auditorium right before the Behold the Lamb of God show in 2012. It's a love song to Nashville, my family and friends here, and to the coming Kingdom. This one features Nate Dugger on lap steel and the great Stuart Duncan on fiddle. This link will whoosh you to the Rabbit Room Store, where you will not only be able to preview the tracks, you'll be presented with three (THREE!) irresistible offers. 1) Preorder the download of all 20 songs for a mere $10. 2) Preorder the disc (which would only fit 18 of the songs). 3) Preorder the download of all 20 songs AND the physical copy (which includes a pretty extensive booklet featuring an essay by Mark Geil). All three of these options helps me pay the mortgage, so we Petersons give you a hearty thanks. I hope these songs are a blessing to you and yours. AP

Rich Mullins Cover Night @ The Local Show

We're super excited about tonight's Local Show for a couple of reasons. First, it's the first Local Show to feature a theme---something we hope to see more of as the show evolves. And second, it's going to be an entire night of Rich Mullins songs as a slew of artists pay homage to the man who inspired so many of us. We hope you'll join us tonight for this special show. It's going to be a ton of fun. To give you just a taste of what might happen, here's a video of Jill Phillips, Andy Gullahorn, Jeremy Casella, and Andy Osenga covering "Calling Out Your Name" at a show a last month. Get your tickets here.

The Local Show - "Calling Out Your Name" from The Rabbit Room on Vimeo.

Listening to the Right Voices

Eleven years ago I knew exactly what kind of parent I was going to be. I had decided what books my daughters would read, what songs they would love to sing and how I would handle difficult situations. It turns out that life cares little for my theories. The challenges facing our children seem to grow on a daily basis and the truth is that some days I go to bed feeling like every choice I made turned out to be the wrong one. It feels like the future is approaching at an ever-increasing pace, relentlessly mocking my naïve arrogance and tempting me to give in to the fear that I have not adequately prepared my daughters for what lies ahead. For me, one of the most sobering moments in the entire Old Testament narrative is when the children of Israel discover that the land they are ready to conquer is inhabited by giants. Crippled by fear for the future of their children, the Israelites turn back and head for the wilderness. Every time I read it I wonder whether I would have acted any differently in their shoes. Honestly, I doubt it. Sometimes, when I look at the world around me, the temptation to retreat can be almost overwhelming. It strikes me that the thing which swayed the Israelites more than any other was the voice they chose to listen to. All twelve of the spies saw the same thing when they looked at Canaan. Giants. Strongholds. Danger. The facts were inescapable.

Live at North Wind Manor: Julie Lee & Friends

Next Saturday night we're hosting a house concert for Julie Lee at North Wind Manor. We told you last week that Julie would be joined by Corrie Covell and Sarah Masen Dark, and this week were happy to announce that Ron Block will be joining in as well. We can't wait to have you over for the evening. Bring a snack and enjoy the music (and the company). There are only about 20 tickets remaining and they're available here. Unfamiliar with Julie's music? Check out this video of her performing the title track from her most recent album, Till & Mule. And don't forget about Rich Mullins Cover Night at next week's Local Show. Tickets here.

Pre-order now: Mortar & Stone

Jill Phillips premiered the songs from her forthcoming album, Mortar & Stone, at Hutchmoot last week, and those who were there even got the chance to buy advanced copies of the CD. The official release day isn't until November 18th, but today we're happy to announce that pre-orders are open to the rest of the world. When you pre-order, you'll be able to instantly download two tracks from the album: "Mortar & Stone" and "Bear With You." Click here to pre-order. If you picked up a copy of the record at the show, let the rest of our readers know what you think. Here's one of the tracks you'll be able to download when you pre-order: "Bear With You" by Jill Phillips from the album Mortar & Stone [audio:Bearwith.mp3]

Hutchmoot 2014: Re-entry

The fifth annual Hutchmoot has come to an end. It's hard to compare one Hutchmoot to another because each one has had such a different flavor, but this year was one of my favorite of the bunch. From Luci Shaw's keynote (not to mention her presence with us all weekend) to Jill Phillips's concert to the Local Show to session after session that I wish I had been able to attend, we were overwhelmed by good stories, good music, good food, and time to think deeply about beauty, calling, obedience, and the Kingdom. Now comes the tricky part. Now comes the daily grind, the reintegration into our vocations, our churches, our families, the long work of building the Kingdom brick by brick, book by book, meal by meal, day by day. I want to offer a resounding THANK YOU to all the volunteers, session leaders, kitchen masters, trash haulers, painters, organizers, and encouragers who gave so much of themselves this weekend, and to give each of you a chance to sound off on the impact of the weekend. What were your favorite parts? What did God teach you? In the words of Stephen Trafton at the end of Encountering Colossians, "You know you have been changed. How?"  

Live at North Wind Manor: Julie Lee

On Saturday, October 25th, we're hosting Julie Lee for an intimate house show at North Wind Manor. There are only 30 seats available. She'll be joined by Sarah Masen Dark and Corrie Covell. This is going to be an awesome show, and if you aren't familiar with Julie's music, you are in for a real treat. You're all invited. Please bring a snack to share---we've got the drinks and music under control. What: Julie Lee---with Sarah Masen Dark and Corrie Covell When: The show starts at 7:30pm on October 25th. Doors open at 7:00pm Where: North Wind Manor, Nashville, Tennessee Why: Because you love great music Click here for your tickets. Rabbit Room members, don't forget to use your member discount. 2133956

The Christian Message of David Fincher’s Gone Girl . . . (Not Really)

It happens all the time. I get an email from an angry reader who says, “Why are you wasting time talking about the technical aspects of a movie? What really matters is the message!” From now on, when that happens I’ll probably encourage the disgruntled reader to read an article called “Lazy Cultural Engagement,” which was published today at Christianity Today. One of my favorite writers on the subject of art, faith, and culture — Alissa Wilkinson — has seen Gone Girl, the new film by David Fincher. I know a lot of Christians who will ask, “Why did she give any attention to Gone Girl? It’s dark. It’s violent. It’s R-rated. And there’s nothing Christian about that movie!” I know others who are likely to hear from their pastor, or read on a “progressive” Christian website, that Fincher’s film is about “the wages of sin,” or it’s about “Christian themes,” or it’s about “what happens to marriages when husbands and wives don’t know Jesus” … and they’ll decide it’s worth a look. For what it’s worth, I’ve been both of those people at different points in my journey of faith. And in both cases, I was looking at art through glasses that distorted my vision and prevented me from having a rich, meaningful experience. That’s because there is a distressing delusion at the heart of so much Christian engagement with art: It’s the delusion that says “The style and the substance are two different things. We should care much, much more about substance than we do about style.” Here’s the thing:  Style is substance.

2014 Rabbit Room Pipes: “The Gruffman”

[Editor's note: Brian Rowley handcrafted a set of Rabbit Room pipes for last year's Hutchmoot, and we're honored that he's back again this year with more. What follows is a short message from Brian about this year's set. They'll be available at Hutchmoot for $295 each.] It's that time of year again. The shape has finally been decided upon and blocks have been selected for the 2nd annual Rabbit Room Pipe of the Year! Seven pipes have been crafted to be the same in size and shape, but completely unique in finish. Each has it's own look and feel and character, so you can chose the one that speaks to you. And each is stamped with the Rabbit Room stamp solidifying their belonging to the set. Without further ado, I present: The Gruffman So, you're not the conversational type. Don't let them hold it against you. There’s plenty of talk to go around, and even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent. This is the pipe for you, the quiet one, the one who watches the others from the edge of the room. It doesn’t mind if you're mulling over the latest commentary on Plutarch or simply enjoying the evening air. Quiet is quiet. This is a pipe that recognizes that one of the marks of good friendship is the capacity to sit together and say nothing at all. ---Panegyrics by Adam Whipple HM-2014-POY The Gruffman is my version of a classic Danish Rhodesian, which is a member of the Bulldog family. A Bulldog is known for it's diamond shank and canted bowl, with rings separating the top and lower half. While the Bulldog typically has stark straight lines, the Rhodesian is a sleek curvy cousin, trading it's straight diamond shank for smooth sloping curves. The wood used to create these particular pipes is Erica Arborea, which we know to be called Briar. The briar I use comes direct from Italy, from the best supplier in the world. The stems are each individually hand carved from German Ebonite and German Acrylic. I am honored and excited once again be able to present the Rabbit Room community with these pipes. ---Brian

Song of the Week: “The Mantis & The Moon”

We were honored to host Chris Slaten, a.k.a. Son of Laughter, for the inaugural house show at North Wind Manor earlier this summer. Chris is currently working with producer Ben Shive on a new album, and the new songs peppered throughout the show gave beautiful glimpses of the full-length record to come. The night was also highlighted by familiar songs we've grown to love, and our song of the week is the title track from Chris's debut EP, The Mantis & The Moon. Few songwriters can craft such meaningful stories, let alone keep things as beautiful and lively as Son of Laughter. "The Mantis & The Moon" is a great example of why we all fell in love with this EP in the first place. “The Mantis & The Moon” by Son of Laughter from the album The Mantis & The Moon [audio:Mantis.mp3] [Use coupon code "Mantis" to get 20% off the EP in the Rabbit Room store this week. And grab your tickets to tonight's Local Show featuring Andrew Peterson, Buddy Greene, Ben Shive, and Lori Chaffer.]

Rembrandt Is in the Wind

[The following is an excerpt from my essay by the same title in the forthcoming Molehill, Vol. III.] Rembrandt is in the wind. The sea surges and swells. The little fishing boat has no hope of holding on to the churning foam below. The bow rides up the back of one white breaker while the stern dips in the valley beneath it and the next.  Waves break over the sides. The half dozen men to Rembrandt’s right shout and strain at the sails, struggling to keep the ship from capsizing. The five men to his left plead with Jesus of Nazareth to save them. Rembrandt stands in the middle of the boat, his right hand tightly clutching a rope, and his left pinning his hat to his head. His name is scrawled across the useless rudder, as though this is his boat on his sea and they are all caught in his storm. He and everyone else in the ship are soon to be lost unless their leader intervenes. The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt’s only known seascape, is one of his most dramatic paintings, capturing that moment just after the disciples knew they would die if Jesus didn’t save them and just before he did. The five foot by four foot canvas hung in the Dutch Room on the second floor of the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum for close to one hundred years. Everyone who looked at it saw the same thing; Rembrandt looking out through the frame to us---looking us dead in the eye. The terror on his face asked us what the disciples were asking Jesus: “Don’t you care that we’re perishing here?”

Rabbit Room Recap 09-26-14

photo-mainHutchmoot planning is in full swing. We made the big announcement last week that Jill Phillip's will be the musical anchor for the weekend as she celebrates the release of her new album, Mortar & Stone (which will be available for pre-order soon). She'll be playing a full-band show on Friday night---you guys are in for an evening of fantastic songs. Hutchmoot-20141-535x266Hutchmoot sessions are nearly finalized and we're lining up a few extra guests and special events. No spoilers though. You'll just have to wait and see. Click here to take a gander at how the sessions are lining up. Singer-songwriter team Jenny & Tyler got together with Sara Groves and a whole slew of internet folks to record this awesome cover of U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Speaking of U2, what's everyone thinking of the new album? Last week's Local Show was a blast. The show featured Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, Andrew Osenga, and Jeremy Casella---who realized once they got on stage that they all went to college together. We didn't plan that, but it was great to see old friends supporting one another. They closed the evening with a beautiful Rich Mullins cover, which you can see below. Tickets are now on sale for next week's show, which features Andrew Peterson, Buddy Greene, Lori Chaffer, and Ben Shive. The Local Show - "Calling Out Your Name" from The Rabbit Room on Vimeo. mirny-diamond-mine-russia-Cum1David Bruno has been reading his Wendell Berry. Check out Dave's post, "Sustainability & Place" in which he discusses the importance of finding a place and sticking to it. Easier said than done? Almost certainly. Worth the commitment? Dave thinks so. Let us know what you think. ed0239-signatureJen Rose Yokel takes a look back at how she fell in love with poetry in a post called "Emily & I." We'll give you three chances to guess who "Emily" is. Hint: It's not Emily Rose---but wouldn't it be awesome if it was? Read Jen's post here. lizard-sheddingDr. Rogers took a break from all his bow-tie wearing, grumbling, and waffle-eating to share some sage advice for writers. In a post called "Tradecraft: Seeing What You See," he points out that writing down the concrete details of what's happening around you often makes for far more interesting reading than you may at first suspect. Listen to Dr. Rogers. Smart he is. cover_clippingAnd speaking of Dr. Rogers, he's got a new (old) book available. The World According to Narnia has been out of print for years, and Rabbit Room Press has amended that situation. The book is now out in a brand new edition and is available wherever great books are sold. Not to be stopped at merely offering advice and writing books, Dr. Rogers also has an online writing class and an in-person seminar coming up. Click here for details. Cat HairAnd yesterday, Joe Sutphin recounted the nearly-fatal tale of "Bonnifer Squoon and the Cat Hair of Doom." This should not be confused with the Dog Hair of Doom, which is, even now, lurking along the baseboards of North Wind Manor and awaiting the howl of a Hoover. That's it for now. Grab your Local Show tickets now. They are going fast.    

Bonifer Squoon and the Cat Hair of Doom

This past February, the Wolf King team hit crunch time. I was in full swing, inking one illustration per evening after work and two per day on the weekends. I was also in the throes of finalizing art for an early readers picture book. I was on the home stretch and had reached a scene with the brothers and good old Bonifer Squoon, which I was anticipating with excitement. I began cranking away at inking the "Spidifer" scene and was about 75% finished when it happened. After one of my frequent dips into the inkwell I realized there was a small cat hair resting on my nib. Without a second thought, I blew a quick puff at the hair to toss it off. And then my eyes focused on the illustration below and the spray of black acrylic ink that freckled its once-pristine surface. My heart cramped. My instinct was to somehow brush this dust off of my drawing. But it wasn't dust, and I knew it. It was there to stay. I could barely believe it had happened.