I know it’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time to announce this year’s special Hutchmoot concert. Jill Phillips is both one of Nashville’s best songwriters and one of its most extraordinary vocalists, and she’s been working on a new record for most of the past year. There’s no firm release date yet, but I can tell you for 100% certain that on Friday night, October 10th, at Hutchmoot 2014, folks will be treated to a full evening of Jill and a stellar band of players performing the songs from the new record (and more). If you’ve only seen Jill perform solo, you’re in for a special night—prepare to be blown away.
The new album is called Mortar and Stone and those who have heard the new material know this record is going to be yet another fantastic collection in Jill’s line-up of classics. We couldn’t be more delighted to have Jill play such a big part in this year’s moot.
Don’t have tickets to Hutchmoot? You can also see Jill (along with Andy Gullahorn, Jeremy Casella, and Andrew Osenga) tonight at The Local Show (tickets available here).
I’ll go ahead and assume everyone’s already heard that U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, is available for free from iTunes. That’s a great deal right there. I’m a giant U2 fan and I’m still waiting for a chance to listen to the record. My fingers are crossed. The release reminded me of this, though, which I meant to share several weeks ago. It’s a cover of U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” by Jenny & Tyler, with special guests Sara Groves and a virtual choir of internet folks (anyone here in that choir?). It’s pretty darned awesome. Check it out.
There’s less than a month left until Hutchmoot 2014! I can’t believe how quickly it’s sneaking up on us. Ninety percent of the sessions are set, and I’m hoping to get the website updated with the schedule very soon. It’s time to start making name tags and printing linocut folders, so look for an email later today to confirm the names associated with your tickets. I’ve been contacted by a couple of folks who are trying to sell their tickets, so if you find yourself in need of one at this late hour, send me an email ([email protected]) and I’ll see if I can put you in touch with someone who might be able to help.
Next up: The Local Show. We had a packed house last week for the first show, and the songwriters treated us all to a great evening. We got to hear new music from everyone involved, which was pretty darned awesome. A personal favorite was a new tune from a grumpy Eric Peters (is there any other kind?). The next show is coming up this Tuesday, and the featured songwriters are Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, Andrew Osenga, and Jeremy Casella. Tickets are on sale now. $12 in advance, $15 at the door, or just $5 if you are a Rabbit Room member. Come out and enjoy the show. Here’s Randall and his wife Amy at the September 2nd show singing one of the best songs ever:
Sam Smith is “Sticking it to God” in his latest post. We’re not entirely sure what “it” is, but we hope he’s not using duct tape to do it—that stuff is almighty painful when it comes off. In all fairness, the subtitle of the post does hint at meatier fare: “Rebellious Stories as a Cliche to Play Against.” As his editor, I choose not to point out that the correct subtitle would have been “Rebellious Stories Against Which to Play,” because that would seem rebellious and I don’t want Sam to play against me or duct tape me to a pole. His post, however, is far more edifying than this description would lead you to believe. If you’re feeling like a rebel, don’t click here to read it.
Jonathan Rogers’ The World According to Narnia has been out of print for years, but Rabbit Room Press is rectifying that situation. The new edition is in the final phase of production and we should have them in hand within the next week or so. Pre-order now and we’ll get your order in the mail just as soon as the books arrive. Available in the Rabbit Room store.
Jen Rose has a new post up called “The S Towns” in which she reveals that there’s an actual town called “Seekonk,” which was named after one of the entries in Pembrick’s Creaturepedia. Okay, that last bit isn’t entirely true, but we wish it were. All Seekonking aside, Jen writes about the need to sometimes get lost in order to really know where you’re going. Read the post here.
We gave away quite a few tickets to this past week’s Tokens Show. Congratulations to the winners. We hope you enjoyed the show. I know I did. The topic of the night was “Shame and Presence: Fig Leaves, Truth-Telling, and the Encumbrance of Things Hidden”—did you get all that? Well, over the course of the show, we actually did get all that, believe it or not. It was a fine evening featuring music by Ellie Holcomb, Andy Gullahorn, and some crazy-talented kids called Brother Parker. Brother Preacher brought the comedy, Odessa Settles brought the soul, and Al Andrews of Porters Call brought the wisdom. Great show. Thanks for coming.
Andrew Osenga recently released the second EP of his Heart & Soul, Flesh & Bone project, which many of us kickstarted. This time around the music’s got a groove and Andy gave us a song-by-song breakdown of the record in Monday’s post. Check it out, listen to the tracks, and pick up the EP in the Rabbit Room store if you like what you hear. What I want to know is whether or not the next EP, Flesh, is going to be entirely comprised of Bobby McFerrin-style music using only sounds made by Andy thumping his chest and beatboxing—because that would be awesome.
Chris Yokel delivered a great post called “The Thin Places of Fantasy,” in which he discusses the ache we feel for enchantment in our stories and our lives. If you’ve ever peeked at the back of a wardrobe—you know, just in case—then this post is for you. It’s also got some Elizabeth Barrett Browning poetry to recommend it. Read the post here.
From Smallest Seed is a new album put out by a whole slew of familiar songwriters. It’s part of the A Rocha Project, and Sandra McCracken wrote a great post describing its origins. A Rocha is a great organization centered on creation care, something that goes sadly overlooked in far too many churches. The album features folks like Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, Don and Lori Chaffer, Rain for Roots, Julie Lee, Buddy Greene, Sarah Masen, Sara Groves, and lots of others including Sandra. Click here to read about it and here to pick up a copy in the Rabbit Room store.
Thanks for all the entries, folks. The contest is now over and we’ve chosen four couples for the eight available tickets. The winners will receive an email in the next few minutes with details. If you missed out, tickets are still available at TokensShow.com. If you’re a Rabbit Room member, check your email for a special treat. We’ll see you at the show.
Jonathan Rogers’ new (old) book is heading off to the printer today and we thought we’d give you a look at the final cover, which was ably designed by our own Chris Stewart (who also designed the covers for The Molehill). Pre-orders are available here. We expect to start shipping the books in the next couple of weeks.
Friday night at North Wind Manor we hosted the venerable Michael Card for an evening of discussion about the Gospel of John. Andrew Peterson both kicked off the evening and closed it with a song (one of them brand new), and in the intervening 90 minutes Michael kept the room spellbound as he talked about his approach to the gospels and researching his commentaries on each of them. He has a way of talking about Scripture that kind of blows my mind. His knack for putting things in context and enabling the listener to see the story come alive in new and exciting ways is something I’ve rarely experienced. Here’s hoping he’ll be back for more in the months to come.
But enough about last Friday night. Tonight kicks off the first of what we hope will be a long-standing tradition: The Local Show. It’s at The Well Coffeehouse in Brentwood (right off I-65) and each show will feature a different line-up of songwriters and special guests. Tonight we’ve got Don Chaffer (of Waterdeep), Randall Goodgame, Eric Peters, and Sandra McCracken. They’ll be playing in the round and having a blast starting at 8pm. Doors open at 7pm and you’re invited. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door (Rabbit Room members can flash their cards at the door to get in for only $5).
Tonight at North Wind Manor we’re delighted to be hosting Michael Card. Mike, who Andrew affectionately dubbed the “Gandalf of Nashville,” has just published the last of his Gospel commentaries, this one on the Gospel of St. John. He’ll be at the Manor tonight to discuss the book, and more importantly the Gospel. Seats are filled for this event. If you RSVPed, don’t forget to bring a snack to share. The event begins at 7:00pm.
Join us at The Well coffeehouse in Brentwood next Tuesday for the first of what we hope will become a long-running tradition: The Local Show. This first show will feature Don Chaffer, Eric Peters, Randall Goodgame, Sandra McCracken, and at least one special guest. The Local Show will take place every other Tuesday in September, and then we’ll ramp it up to EVERY Tuesday night in October. You never know who’ll show up, so you may as well come every chance you get. Tickets are $12 in advance, and $15 at the door. If you’re a Rabbit Room member, just flash your card at the door and you can get in for only $5.
Jonathan Rogers has just unveiled a writing seminar he’ll be leading called “From Memory to Story.” It takes place on Thursday October 10th from 10am-3pm so if you’re coming to Hutchmoot this is a golden opportunity to come a little early and get a little more out of your time in Nashville. Here’s how he describes the course:
“You have a story to tell–many stories, no doubt. You need to tell your story, not only to be understood, but in order to understand yourself. In this one-day seminar on the short memoir, Jonathan Rogers will help you find your voice and shape your memories into written stories.”
David Bruno fears he may have permanently scarred his children by exposing them to Les Miserables a few years too early. But might some scars be worth carrying? We should clarify that we’re talking about the theater production here; No one will ever be old enough to avoid being scarred by the movie abomination—and those are definitely not the sort of scars you want to be saddled with. Read the entire affair in “Comic Parenting Guilt.”
We had an excellent guest post from Shannon McDermott in which she discusses how the Wingfeather Saga has taken old superstitions about names and naming and used them for better ends. The piece is called “A Superstition Transformed” and it’s a worthy read. Sadly, however, it does not address why my wife has forbidden me to eat any animal we’ve named (our chickens for instance—good thing we don’t name the eggs).
Russ Ramsey has taken a step into true manhood by committing an entire year of his life to the music of the Boss, Bruce Springsteen. Not only does Russ now have more hair on his chest, he’s also got a little gravel in his throat, and way more hats hanging out of his back pockets. He’s written this great post about the experience, and I have it on good authority that he plans to dedicate next year to Lita Ford.
Sarah Clarkson, student of Oxford University, was in London recently when Britain observed the anniversary of their entrance into World War One. This post about her experience at a concert that evening is extraordinary. Don’t miss “Light Eternal in London.
Next Thursday, Joseph Pearce, renowned biographer of Christian literary figures such as Lewis, Tolkien, and Chesterton, is giving his inaugural lecture as Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College. The lecture is entitled “The Evangelizing Power of Beauty: Converting the Culture,” and it will rely heavily on the work of both Lewis and Tolkien.
Sounds like interesting stuff, and it’s free to the public. We hope to see some of you there. For more information about the lecture, visit the event page at Aquinas College’s website.
The big news of the week is the announcement that renowned author and poet Luci Shaw will be our featured speaker this year at Hutchmoot 2014.
By way of introduction, Andrew Peterson wrote up a post featuring some great quotes from Luci about the imagination and how it intersects with our faith. If you aren’t familiar with her work, I encourage you to read a couple of her books (Breath for the Bones is a good place to start) and check out her website. We also marked the occasion by releasing a few more tickets to Hutchmoot. If you got one, congratulations! If you missed this last chance, don’t worry, we’re sure to moot again next year.
That wasn’t the only big announcement this week. We also pulled back the curtain on the re-release of Jonathan Rogers’ long-out-of-print The World According to Narnia. Rabbit Room Press is issuing a new edition that will be available in early September. Click here to read an excerpt from the most excellent introduction, and you can pre-order the book here.
Heidi Johnston, our resident resident of Ireland, brought us a reflection from her studies of Deuteronomy and Lamentations in the form of a post called “The Inevitable Plot Line.” Much like the Israelites of old, Heidi knows what it’s like to stand, filled with expectation, on the cusp of the Promised Land, only to find herself later weeping in its empty streets. Beautiful post. Read it here.
And a couple more quick notes:
1. Congratulations to Ben Shive on a whopping THREE Dove nominations!
2. Congratulations to Lanier Ivester and Sarah Clarkson on being accepted to Oxford University!
3. Mark August 29th on your calendar. That’s the date for the next live event at North Wind Manor. More on that next week.
Have a great weekend.
The fall of 2005 was a big time for the Time Warner media empire. On the movie side of things, they put out the Dukes of Hazzard. Time Warner Book Group, meanwhile, was publishing Jonathan Rogers’ book, The World According to Narnia: Christian Themes in C.S. Lewis’s Beloved Chronicles. The excitement, apparently, was more than Time Warner could handle. The very next year, Time Warner sold its book division to Hachette Book Group, and shortly after that The World According to Narnia ceased to exist as a paperback book. (The Dukes of Hazzard, on the other hand, seems to be doing just fine).
But Time Warner’s loss is the Rabbit Room’s gain. We are happy to announce the new, Rabbit Room Press edition of The World According to Narnia. We are now taking orders, to be shipped in early September. If you order now, you will be helping to fund the first print run. We appreciate all orders, of course, but pre-orders help us order bigger print runs and save per-unit.
To give you an idea of what to expect from The World According to Narnia, here’s an excerpt from the introduction. If you like what you read, order here.
Introduction: Imagining Reality
C.S. Lewis once received a letter from the mother of a nine-year-old boy named Laurence. Laurence was afraid the Chronicles of Narnia had led him into idolatry: he felt he loved the Great Lion Aslan more than he loved Jesus. What, the mother wanted to know, should she say to her son?
We’re in the process of lining up another event at North Wind Manor and we hope to announce it next week, so look for that news soon. We’ve also got another big announcement coming up regarding this year’s Hutchmoot special guest, and if you missed out on getting a Hutchmoot ticket, you’ll want to pay special attention to the blog next week. There may be some new…opportunities. More on that next week.
Elsewhere in the Rabbit Room…
In Nashville earlier this week, Stephen Trafton performed the latest of his “Living Letters,” this one entitled Encountering Colossians. We had a good turn out and and Stephen put on a great show. His ability to shine new light on scripture in this way is pretty incredible. If you get the chance to see one of these shows, do not miss it. And I bet Stephen would love to talk to you about performing at your home church. Visit his website for details.
From the “bench at the bend in the trail” Andrew Peterson delivered a post called “Digging Tunnels,” both literal and metaphorical. “Something about having a few acres wakes up the survivalist in a man, which is part of why I so enjoy gardening nowadays. The less I depend on the machine the more connected I feel to the remnants of Eden shimmering at the edges of the natural world. Before you think me too hippie, I should remind you that I’m writing this on a computer, and I enjoy my Netflix account.” Read the entire post here.
Chris Yokel popped up last week to stir the Hobbit pot. He’s one of those oddities who think the second Hobbit movie wasn’t awful (yes, I’m serious), but despite that strike against him, he’s got a good discussion going on about the nature of adaptation and the expectations we bring to such things. Read the post here and join the conversation. We’d love to know what you think.
This past Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of Flannery O’Connor’s death. Far be it from O’Connor maven (yes, maven) Jonathan Rogers to let such a day go unobserved. His post, “Beyond the Region of Thunder,” sums of a good deal of what made O’Connor so complex, so fascinating, and so unique. It also contains some of Dr. Rogers best writing, and if you haven’t read his O’Connor biography, The Terrible Speed of Mercy, you’re missing out on a great book. Read his post here.
Thomas McKenzie tackled The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in the One Minute Review. This is my favorite movie of the year so far, and I agree with Thomas: Get thee to a theater. Movies this good don’t come around very often. Hail, Caesar. Click here to watch the review.
August 4th marked another notable literary date: the 100th birthday of Sheldon Vanauken, author of A Severe Mercy, which is Lanier Ivester’s favorite book. She celebrated the day with a post called “O, Cavalier,” and treated us to a poem of her own dedicated to Sheldon “Van” Vanauken. Read the post, and the poem, here.
Andrew Peterson is in the studio this week re-recording a bunch of old favorites for his forthcoming best-of album, so we featured an old AP favorite as the Song of the Week. Here you can listen to a rare live recording of “Canaan Bound” and get a coupon code to use when buying the album (Appendix A) in the Rabbit Room store.
Jill Phillips is also working on a new record and Matt Conner interviewed her about the project. The album will be out later this year and here’s part of how she describes it in the interview: “It’s been bittersweet, sad to watch people struggle, sad to watch people die, sad to watch things happen that you don’t want to happen to people that you love. At the same time, my faith has been increased a hundredfold. So that’s where I want to write. I want to write in that place, the place that a good friend of mine calls the “both/and.” The honesty of the struggle and the hope.” Read the entire interview here.
And finally, Jamin Still gave us a little taste of what he’s been painting lately: a set of Christmas cards—one of which is a snow-covered rabbit topiary. What’ll be next? I’m putting in my vote for a T-rex. Click here to read the post.
There’s been a lot going on for the past couple of weeks and I’ll cover it all, but first let me urge you to circle August 4th on your calendar. Stephen Trafton, whom many of you will remember from his performance of Encountering Philippians at Hutchmoot 2012, will be back in Nashville to perform his new show, Encountering Colossians, at the Church of the Redeemer. The show starts at 7pm and the event is open to everyone. It’s also totally free, but we will take up a love offering to help support Stephen in his ministry. Please help us spread the word through Facebook and Twitter, as well as the more traditional grapevine. Hope to see you guys there. You’ll be glad you came. Click here for the Event page.
Speaking of Rabbit Room events—last week we held the first-ever house show at North Wind Manor. Son of Laughter (Chris Slaten) played to a packed house (literally) and I think it’s safe to say that we all had a grand old time. I especially enjoyed the chance to hear the new songs Chris has been writing for the new full-length record that he and Ben Shive are working on—it’s going to be great. After the show, folks hung around until almost midnight to chat on the porch, visit with friends in the library, and snack on desserts in the kitchen. It made me and Jennifer happy to see so many people enjoying the house and the fellowship. We’re hoping to host a monthly Rabbit Room event at the Manor, so keep an eye on the Rabbit Room website to find out what we’ve got planned for August.
Tuesday was the big day for The Proprietor (Andrew Peterson) who released the final volume of The Wingfeather Saga into the world. There was a release party for The Warden and the Wolf King at Parnassus Books in Nashville and the place was jam-packed with people of all ages, many of whom were dressed up as characters from the books. There were Flabbits, and Sara Cobblers, and Florid Swords, and Podos, and Rockroaches, not to mention Toothy Cows. Oskar Nos Reteep even made an appearance and made wild claims in his mad attempts to cast doubt on the true authorship of the Wingfeather books. If he and Andrew ever meet in person, I expect there will be fireworks.
The Warden and the Wolf King is now available wherever great books are sold. Look for Pembrick’s Creaturepedia, hardback editions of The Monster in the Hollows, and full-color maps of Aerwiar to be available soon.
Rebecca Reynolds wrote a couple of remarkable poems last week, and nothing I say about them is going to be as useful as simply going and reading them. You should do that now. Great job, Rebecca. Click here for “Glory Be (I)” and here for “Glory Be (II).”
The newly wed Chris and Jen Yokel have been moving into a new apartment and making it their own, and in Chris’s latest Rabbit Room post he discovers the poetry inherent in the everyday work of bringing color, shape, light, and life into an empty space and making it a home. Click here to read “The Making of a Home.”
Barbara Lane recently took a sabbatical at a monastery in New Mexico, and while there, she found herself pulling up weeds, both literal and metaphorical. In her post, “Gonna Take a While…” she learns that a fruitful garden isn’t grown in a day.
Matt Conner flexed his music journalism muscles this week and nailed an interview with none other than the Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz. They talked about the Crows’ new album (coming out in September) and the unique sense of hope in one of the new songs, “Possibility Days.” We also learned that Adam is a fan of Sunday in the Park with George, which is kind of awesome. Read the entire interview here.
And yesterday, Lanier Ivester posted a recollection of her experience with the first Hutchmoot and how that has in many ways shaped her perception of what it means to be an artist. The post is called “Waiting for the Artist” and you can read it here.
And speaking of Hutchmoot, look for an announcement about our special guest speaker next week. We think you’ll be pleased.
At Hutchmoot 2012, one of the most memorable parts of the weekend was Stephen Trafton’s one-man performance of Encountering Philippians (yep, that’s Jennifer Trafton’s Broadway-veteran brother). His Living Letters series is a project that Stephen has developed over the last few years that’s designed to bring Scripture to life in a way that audiences almost certainly haven’t experienced before. It’s a dramatic performance, a piece of genuine theatre, and it casts you, yes you, in the role of a first-century Christian hearing for the first time a letter that Paul has addressed directly to your local church family. Stephen sets the scene, introduces the characters, and delivers Paul’s letter in one seamless performance.
Speaking personally, it’s a powerful experience. When Stephen first told me about the show, I admit I was skeptical. I thought it sounded a little Sunday-schoolish. But boy was I wrong. Hearing and seeing Paul’s letter delivered (in a way very like it might have been to the first-century Philippians) moved me in the best ways; it shifted my perspective on the text enough to let me see in it new colors, new angles, new life. I think it’s kind of like poetry—it’s one thing on the page, read silently in your head, but often quite another when it’s made vocal and visual, enacted bodily. It makes for great theater, as well as great Bible-study.
Since that memorable performance at Hutchmoot, Stephen has performed Encountering Philippians for thousands of people all over the country, and now he’s developed a new show centered on another of Paul’s letters. On Monday night, August 4th, at the Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, you’re invited to join us for his performance of Encountering Colossians.
The show will run about an hour and I’m pretty sure Stephen will hang around afterward to talk with folks and answer questions. Hope to see a lot of you there. There’s no admission fee, but we will take up a love offering for Stephen after the show. Spread the word. Bring a friend or a fellow Rabbit. It’s going to be a fun night.
When: August 4th @ 7pm
Where: Church of the Redeemer, 920 Caldwell Lane, Nashville 37204
Admission is free
Last year, Chris Slaten (Son of Laughter) delivered a roundhouse kick to my brain with his EP The Mantis and the Moon, and I’m pretty sure his performance at Hutchmoot brought a full Van Damme down on quite a few other brains as well. Since then he’s been all over the country playing house shows and raising money to record his first full-length record (for which he’s already written all the songs).
Part of our vision for North Wind Manor is that it be a unique house-show venue, and we’ve asked Son of Laughter to be our inaugural guinea pig. With that in mind, we’ve been working hard to get the house and grounds in order. Rooms to paint, weeds to pull, air conditioning to install, flowers to plant, screen doors to fix—the list is enough to make me tired just thinking about it. But we’re looking forward to having a big group of all of you out next Friday night to put the place through its paces.
Tickets are just $5 (free to Rabbit Room members) and we’re limiting the show to 40 people. We also ask that you bring a snack or side dish to share. We’ll provide the drinks. The event begins at 7:30pm and you’re welcome to stick around and enjoy fellowship with friends after the show. We will also be taking donations for Chris, which will go toward funding his new record.
We think you’re in for a real treat. Here’s what another house show host had to say:
“Chris Slaten’s songs . . . reminded us of longings and hurts and loves we had not known how to voice . . . He provided for us a space and a common language in which to reveal our lives to one another.” —Dr. Tim Basselin, Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Worship – Dallas Theological Seminary
And here’s a taste of Son of Laughter’s particular genius in the form of a song from the current EP, The Mantis and the Moon. It’s called “The Fiddler” and . . . well . . . just listen.
Click here for tickets. We’ll see you at the door.
[Note: If you aren't able to make the show at the North Wind, Chris has another show the following night at the Riverside Assembly Hall, also in Nashville. Click here for more information on that show.]
It took us a little longer than expected to get the new mugs sent out to all of our members, but they are finally in the mail. Here’s a look at the new design and color (the brown actually has a bit of a purple fleck in it which is hard to capture on camera). These are available exclusively through Rabbit Room membership (which you can find out about here).