The Archives

Hogan’s House of Music: The Why

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.

Isn’t The Green Ember Like Watership Down?

They're both rabbit books, after all... wdTheGreenEmber Cover I get asked this fairly often, so I want to go on record with my response. Here I stand, on the record. I can do no other. Short answer: No. Longer answer: I am in no way embarrassed about having written The Green Ember. It's my first book, and I hope I will improve as a writer. But I love the story, the characters, and I'm grateful for the tremendous response it's received from readers. I'm proud to have my name on it. I had heard of Watership Down for years, but never read it. My friend, Eric Peters, gave me a copy when I was in the process of writing The Green Ember. (Or it may have been just before I began, but after I had decided to turn the stories I had been telling my kids for years into a novel.) So I waited. And waited. I had heard it was great and I didn't want to read anything that would influence (or discourage) me. I avoided Redwall for a similar reason (and I still haven't read any of those.)  I wrote my book. Sometime after I was done writing Ember, I read Watership Down.

Live @ North Wind Manor: Cardiff State (w/ special guest Flo Paris Oakes)

For a long time now, in the midst of work, parenthood, and all the craziness of family life, our good friends Jaron and Katherine Kamin have been quietly whittling away at a collection of new songs. They've rebranded themselves as the duo Cardiff State, and they're unveiling their new EP, Unhaunted, on September 15th. If you you've picked up In the Round, you've already heard the title track (and you know why I've started calling Katherine "Sade"). On Saturday evening, September 19th, we're delighted to be able to host Cardiff State at North Wind Manor for their official release show. They'll be joined by special guest Flo Paris Oakes, and it'll be a fun, intimate night. We can't wait to celebrate this milestone with Jaron and Katherine. Admission is free and seats are limited. If you'd like to come, we just ask that you bring a snack to share and RSVP to [email protected] I'll respond with a confirmation and the address. We'll have the new EP for sale in the Rabbit Room Store on release day, but you can pre-order it now and get a free download at the Cardiff State page on Bandcamp. a2505066622_10

Pre-order Now: Hogan’s House of Music

Ron Block's forthcoming bluegrass album of epic banjofication, Hogan's House of Music, is now available for pre-order! This thing is like a who's-who of Nashville awesomeness, and we're super excited about the hard work Ron's put into the project (not to mention his new hat). The full-release isn't until 9/25, but when you pre-order now you can download a 3-track preview immediately. Get thee to the Rabbit Room Store! Here's a behind-scenes-video of "Smartville," one of the tracks you'll get when you order. IMG_4694 2

Interview: Eric Peters

[There are just a few hours left in Eric Peters' Kickstarter campaign for his new album/book project, Far Side of the Sea. Get on board while you can! Bailey Gillespie recently interviewed Eric about the project and we're delighted to welcome her to the Rabbit Room today. This is the first of a whole series of interviews she's doing on her blog, which you can check out here.] BG: Eric, you've described Far Side of the Sea as a concept album that, lyrically, highlights the imagined experiences of inanimate objects. What drew you to this idea, and are there any specific objects from your childhood that still hold significant meaning for you? EP: My Junior High school (boy, wasn’t that a fun time?) offered a sculpture class. Mr. Hotard, a short squatty man with a great grey walrus mustache, must have been a gentle and patient teacher as he had to manage semester’s-full of twelve & thirteen-year-old know-it-alls, all of us armed with the sundry sharp and blunt tools necessary to the projects. Our assignments were in a variety of media: clay, chalk, wood, clothes-hanger wire and pantyhose, paper mache. But the wood-sculpting project wound up being my favorite. Somehow, from a block of cedar, I carved a fish, and I felt mighty proud of what I’d made. What has stuck with me most about the process, however, was the mistake I made, an inadvertent slip of the chisel, that led me to resolving the tailfin shape that had confounded me. That error, that unintentional gouge, led me to a better, more representative piece. I still have the fish sculpture in all its shellacked glory. I suppose the concept for Far Side Of The Sea is of similar ilk: to allow overlooked objects (or people) the freedom to be themselves in the retelling of their stories, that maybe the mistakes or hurts or joys or defeats can cumulatively echo something more grand, more permanent. BG: Is this album a departure, musically, from your previous work --- or does it have a similar sound/style to past music in the Eric Peters canon?

The Burning Edge of Dawn, Part One – Live via Stageit

Greetings, folks! It's been too long since I've done one of these, but hey, it's fall. And fall means touring. And touring means rehearsal. And what more enjoyable excuse is there to rehearse than doing fun little living room shows via the interwebs? So once a week, starting tonight and leading up to the 10/9/15 release of my new album, I'm going to do one of these shows here at the Warren. (I haven't told Jamie yet, but I don't think she'll mind.) Hopefully I'll wrangle some friends into the deal, and I'm certain that there are some Peterson younglings running around here who would love to play along. In the meantime, you can head over to or iTunes and preorder THE BURNING EDGE OF DAWN, and when you do you get three early downloads to (hopefully) pique your itch to hear the whole record in October. Usually this is a $5 per ticket affair (there's that mortgage payment that comes around every...single...MONTH), but in celebration of the new songs, and since this is a weekly gig, it's a pay-what-you-can arrangement (though StageIt requires a minimum of 5 notes, or 50 cents). I'm hoping some of you guys will come back each week. Thanks for hanging out, folks! Can't wait for you to hear the new songs. AP

VIDEO: Matthew Perryman Jones, “Cold Answer (Live & Acoustic)”

Most of you are likely familiar with Matthew Perryman Jones. The talented singer and songwriter was the special guest on the 2012 tour of Behold The Lamb of God, and his last full-length album, Land of the Living, became an instant favorite for many of us at the Rabbit Room. The good news is that the wait for some new music from MPJ is finally over with the recent arrival of Cold Answer, a somber seven-song set that creates a proper home for not only new songs but familiar random tracks as well. The cornerstone of Cold Answer is undoubtedly the title track, a haunting number that stays with the listener long after its four-plus minutes are up. Check out a brand new acoustic performance video of the song below along with the lyrics. Remember saying all the places we'd go Once we've found the road to take us there But we spend too much time waiting by the window And ended up not going anywhere Never thought you'd be the kind for leaving But you always thought I'd be the one to run Yeah, but you can't get a stain out of the ceiling When you don't know where the water's coming from There's a room in everyone Where a cold answer can be found And if a word can knock down a wall Then this house is just a box on the ground Wonder if we're speaking the same language Nothing I hear makes much sense at all And I could never shake this foreign feeling And you could never tell me what it's called There's a room in everyone Where a cold answer can be found And if a word can knock down a wall Then this house is just a box on the ground And we ended up not going anywhere There's a room in everyone Where a cold answer can be found And if a word can knock down a wall Then this house is just a box on the ground Yeah, this house is just a box on the ground This house is just a box on the ground

From the North Wind Library: The Silence of God

He preached during the battle of Stalingrad in 1943, a fight that ended nearly two million stories. Written in the years of struggle and turmoil, German theologian Helmut Thielicke’s sermons grapple with deep questions and subjects. Opening his book, The Silence of God, is like opening a church door, stepping in, and coming away with deeper understanding.

The surprising thing in the biblical message is that it finds in love the opposite of fear and anxiety. There is no terror --- one might equally well say anxiety --- in love, we are told in I John. The surprising thing is that anxiety is not opposed by fortitude, courage or heroism, as one might expect. These are simply anxiety suppressed, not conquered. The positive force which defeats anxiety is love. What this means can be understood when we have tackled anxiety in what we have tried to see as its final root. That is to say, anxiety is a broken bond and love is the bond restored. Once we know in Christ that the world has a fatherly basis and that we are loved, we lose our anxiety. . . . If I am anxious, and I know Christ, I may rest assured that I am not alone with my anxiety; He has suffered it for me. The believer can also know that Christ is the goal of history. The primitive community knows that this One has not gone forever, but will come again. It thus has a new relationship to the future. This is no longer a mist-covered landscape into which I peer anxiously because of the sinister events which will there befall me. Everything is now different. We do not know what will come. But we know who will come. And if that last hour belongs to us, we do not need to fear the next minute. (8-9)

Fireballs, Fables, and Allies in Imagination

World Magazine's Emily Whitten (also of Redeemed Reader fame) interviewed Zach Franzen, Andrew Peterson, Randall Goodgame, and myself for a spot on World Radio's "The World and Everything In It." It features an intro to The Black Star of Kingston, a bit about Inkwell (Story Warren's Family Conference), and way too much credit to me. Also, I sound like I had been smoking, but I had just been (shocker) talking too much. Or maybe it was smoke inhalation from all the fireballs on the Black Star cover. It was a pleasure having Emily (and her girls) at Inkwell and we're grateful to her for sharing our work with the World. (That was a play on worlds.) If the player below doesn't work for you, then go here to listen.

Eric Peters: A Man With Something to Say

"After each album, I always make sure to quit my job. A man only has so much to say." Even after conducting what is now thousands of interviews, I still remember that line from a veteran songwriter. It came in the midst of a long rant against artists and bands who "don't know when to quit." Most artists face a steep climb toward longevity of any kind, but the criticism here was that some artists continue to make music because that's all they know. Facing the fear that he won't know when to quit, like the musicians he was critiquing, the songwriter wanted to make sure there was actually something to say with each new release. Looking through my own favorite artists, I understand his point. Some of my favorites have lost me somewhere along the way, with careers that seem top-heavy from early, important releases. It's a relatable pressure for me, akin to when I wondered how to illustrate yet another sermon after telling personal stories to the same community of believers every Sunday for a decade. A man only has so much to say. Sometimes, however, the opposite is true.

Pre-orders Open: The Burning Edge of Dawn

Pre-orders are now open for Andrew Peterson's forthcoming The Burning Edge of Dawn. The album won't be released until October 9th, but when you pre-order it you'll be able to immediately download three (!) tracks from the record: "We Will Survive," "The Rain Keeps Falling," and "The Power Of A Great Affection." Get thee to the Rabbit Room Store! 7ab5224593af4756df517434_610x610-1

Death and Desire in the Shadows

I've always considered Jon Foreman to be a prophet of sorts to the postmodern world. Ever since Switchfoot, his main musical venture, broke into the mainstream with “Meant to Live,” his songs have challenged us to consider the meaning of our existence here on earth, and our often futile chase after fleeting pleasures. Along with these themes, his songwriting has harbored an increasing focus on death, and seeking out true life in light of impending mortality. The lyrics of “Where I Belong” come to mind, from one of Switchfoot's more recent albums, Vice Verses:

But I'm not sentimental This skin and bones is a rental And no one makes it out alive

Until I die I'll sing these songs On the shores of Babylon Still looking for a home In a world where I belong

These themes of death and desire come to full fruition in Foreman's latest solo EP Shadows, which is part of a four EP project called The Wonderlands, a set of twenty-four songs moving through Sunlight, Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn.

One Minute Review: Straight Outta Compton

Fr. Thomas is back with Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E. Let's do this. One Minute Review: Straight Outta Compton from Thomas McKenzie on Vimeo.

Creating a Picture Book: Part II – Things I Didn’t Think About

[This is the second post about the creation of Ellen and the Winter Wolves. You can read part I here.] After finishing the text for Ellen and the Winter Wolves, I thought I would simply crank out twelve to fourteen illustrations and be done. (I thought twelve to fourteen would be the perfect number because that seemed manageable with my schedule.) So I sat down and broke the text up, attempting to make the breaks at natural transition points. I ended up with fourteen pages. A problem quickly became apparent to me, however. As I sat on the floor reading the pages aloud, I realized if I was reading this to a kid, each page would take way too long to get through. They would be bored. This story is somewhat text-heavy (at the time it was around 3,400 words) and so fourteen illustrations weren't going to be nearly enough.

Let’s Take It From The Top

Nick Flora debuted his new music video for "Let's Take it from the Top" on Monday. How many people in the video do you recognize? Good luck getting that "Only...Lonely" ear-worm out of your head. Come out to North Wind Manor this Saturday at 7:30pm and see Nick live with Jon Troast. It's going to be a fun night. Tickets available here.