Arthur Alligood has a nice surprise for all of us this week with the unexpected release of a brand new album, The Shadow Can’t Have Me.
For those who’ve heard Arthur play his newer material, whether at North Wind Manor, the Local Show, or Hutchmoot, you’ll recognize the vulnerable beauty at work throughout these songs that document the journey into and through the valley of the shadow of death. A community reading of Psalm 23 is the introduction to the album, and the psalm’s theme is woven throughout the ten songs.
Arthur writes the following about the album:
“I am of the opinion that it’s never too late to bring some good news into the world. Well, my current good news, or “gospel” if you will, comes in the form of a new album entitled, The Shadow Can’t Have Me. This is not a perfect album, it’s mostly a collection of one-take demos, some even written on the spot. The fragile nature of the record is fitting because these songs arose out of the last couple of years of my life—a very broken season for me. These are gospel songs for those in the valley—songs that confess the shattered nature of everything and in the same breath point to a hope that is real and eternal. In summation, this is an album for people walking through hell. If you are in the thick of such a journey I pray these songs do what I would hope any song of mine might do. I pray they help.”
You can stream the song “This Is The Way” below. The album is available for free at Noisetrade, but if you’d like to support Arthur (and his family) it’s also for sale here in the Rabbit Room Store.Tweet
It’s the the epic fantasy of The Lord of the Rings and the playful humor of Calvin and Hobbes—all rolled up in one hand-drawn, rollicking burst of fire-breathing fun! It’s The Dragon Lord Saga, and last year, a band of Kickstarter backers helped me publish this story that’s so close to my heart.
And now book 1, Martin and Marco, is going online—one sequence per week—in the Webtoons challenge league! Check out the first six scenes today, each view, share, rate, and like is a vote for Martin and Marco to become a featured comic and supports further volumes of the Dragon Lord Saga!
One new sequence each Friday!Tweet
Most years I read at least one book that shakes me to the core. A couple dozen books into 2015 I read Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (Spiegel & Grau, 2014) and it shook me up good. I simply cannot recommend this book enough. Please read it. Stevenson’s story of fighting injustice in our legal system is heartbreaking but nevertheless impossibly hopeful. We often think hopefulness comes from strength. In some instances, perhaps it does. Yet, Stevenson shows how the brightest light of hopefulness shines through the cracks of the broken human heart. Late in the book he offers this reflection on brokenness.
When I hung up the phone that night I had a wet face and a broken heart. The lack of compassion I witnessed every day had finally exhausted me. I looked around my crowded office, at the stacks of records and papers, each pile filled with tragic stories, and I suddenly didn’t want to be surrounded by all this anguish and misery. As I sat there, I thought myself a fool for having tried to fix situations that were so fatally broken. It’s time to stop. I can’t do this anymore.
For the first time I realized my life was just full of brokenness. I worked in a broken system of justice. My clients were broken by mental illness, poverty, and racism. They were torn apart by disease, drugs and alcohol, pride, fear, and anger. I thought of Joe Sullivan and of Trina, Antonio, Ian, and dozens of other broken children we worked with, struggling to survive in prison. I thought of people broken by war, like Herbert Richardson; people broken by poverty, like Marsha Colbey; people broken by disability, like Avery Jenkins. In their broken state, they were judged and condemned by people whose commitment to fairness had been broken by cynicism, hopelessness, and prejudice.
I looked at my computer and at the calendar on the wall. I looked again around my office at the stacks of files. I saw the list of our staff, which had grown to nearly forty people. And before I knew it, I was talking to myself aloud: “I can just leave. Why am I doing this?”
It took me a while to sort it out, but I realized something sitting there while Jimmy Dill was being killed at Holman prison. After working for more than twenty-five years, I understood that I don’t do what I do because it’s required or necessary or important. I don’t do it because I have no choice.
I do what I do because I’m broken, too.
A lot of you long-time Rabbit Room readers know Ron Block from his thought-provoking posts, his playing along side Andrew Peterson at the Ryman every Christmas, his sessions at Hutchmoot, or his nights at the Local Show in Nashville. But here’s the thing about Ron: He’s a humble guy, and it’s easy to miss the fact that he is also in one of the most successful bands of all time. Dude has won 14 Grammys. He’s toured toured with Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, and lots more. He’s played on the albums of major recording artists like Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Darius Rucker, Alan Jackson, Little Big Town, Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, and Vince Gill. He’s even played at the White House—twice. I mean, come on! And in light of all that, one more thing I love about Ron: After twenty years in Nashville, Ron Block is still the only musician that has ever invited me over for dinner and said, “Bring your guitar.”
I was in college when my ears first melted to the groundbreaking bluegrass of Alison Krauss and Union Station. Since then, bluegrass music has not-so-silently taken over the world, with AKUS as its standard bearer. The musicians of AKUS have always been some of the worlds best, including Ron, the band’s long time banjo player.
Always stage left, stalwart and steady as the flow of the Appalachian’s mighty Nantahala, Ron has brought that most identifiable of bluegrass instruments to life for AKUS for over twenty years. And now, Ron has released his fourth studio album and first all-instrumental bluegrass album, Hogan’s House of Music.Tweet
The jam-packed session schedule for Hutchmoot 2015 has now been published. Check out www.Hutchmoot.com to see what we’ve got planned. We’ll be sending out a survey to registrants to collect information on which sessions you’d like to attend. The choices you make aren’t binding, but they do help us determine basic attendance expectations in order to place the session in the most appropriate room.
Also, Hutchmoot is only two weeks away! What?Tweet
Being able to spend every day of life immersed in your passion is a dream for many of us. I am tremendously and gratefully humbled to say that I am able to do that. But for sixteen years, my wife Gina and I strived for this life, pleaded for it, worked away all spare time for it, always able to see its existence, but never sure when it would arrive, some days wondering if it really would. Some days we just didn’t have it in us to keep carrying the fire. Maybe that is you.
There were times when deadlines were mounting at my day job, and her job was wearing her thin. I would feel like the dream was futile. I would feel that failure was imminent. Like maybe it was all foolishness and I should give up and face what looked like reality. One difficult day alone could crush my soul. But then, on one of those soul-crushing days, I sent Gina an email from my desk at work. Somewhere in that email I paraphrased Edward Bloom from Tim Burton’s film, Big Fish.
“THIS ISN’T HOW WE DIE.”Tweet
If you’ve followed me for the past several years you may have noticed some big changes lately. Here’s why:
I’ve played with Alison Krauss & Union Station for 24 years and have been content to remain in the background. I’ve always been committed to the band for as long and as far as we go, and I still am. That band will always be my first priority in music. I love the chemistry of AKUS, the push and pull of those personalities in the music. Each one of us has a strong musical identity, and somehow those personalities create a unique chemistry. I have been a solid believer in the band, in its members, and in Alison in particular, for my entire tenure. They’re great people and some of the best musicians I know.
Almost four years ago, we published our first issue of The Molehill. The intent for the book, an anthology, was that it would give us an opportunity to showcase the works of different people in the community and hopefully introduce readers to writer’s they hadn’t encountered before. The Molehill, Vol. 4 is now in the making, and I think it’s safe to say the series is a success.
So let me introduce In the Round, Vol. 1. Think of it as The Molehill for musicians. We’ve pulled together a compilation album from within the Rabbit Room community in the hopes that it will not only be a fun collection of music, but that it will give you a first taste of a talented bunch of musicians that you might not have heard before.
Singer, Songwriter, Author
S. D. Smith
Singer, songwriter, musician
writer, music journalist
Singer, Songwriter, artist, bibliophile
Pastor, author, Film Critic
David Michael Bruno
writer, poet, teacher
singer, songwriter, teacher
poet, writer, teacher, musician
Jen Rose Yokel