Few nights in life are more action packed than tonight. I’m traveling this summer with a band from Liberty named Exodus and we’ve been in St. Louis for the last couple of days before heading out to Kansas City. This afternoon we found out that my favorite band (Switchfoot) was playing 20 minutes away this evening for FREE. Needless to say, it was a no-brainer that we’d make the trek to watch them.

After the first song they played, Jon Foreman stepped out onto a platform closer to the crowd and looked at me. I pointed at him and yelled, “You found it!” and he pointed right back and mouthed, “No, you did.” It was an awesome moment. When the sun started setting, fireworks complimented the show. It was truly fantastic getting to see such a crazy show with my friends. 

Happy Fourth!

Things I Learned on Campus Band

Hey, my name is Jesse. Some of you might be new to my blog, and that’s totally fine because I don’t keep up with it very well. The last two years of my life has been an amazing blur and it’s been hard to write posts during all of it. Just to give you a little background:

In 2012 I moved from Nashville, TN back to my college hometown of Lynchburg, VA to pursue a Master’s in Business as well as play for Liberty’s Campus Band (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oswClU8RVws&list=PLQ45npVgqqoEc_T5Ep01zL-5KWZ_TTLix). It’s been such a humbling opportunity to be able to play music for 10,000+ people 4 times a week. Now, in 2014, I’m about to go to my last Campus Church sound check and play 3 last times with some of the closest friends I’ve ever had. In the midst of all the activity that the end of each semester brings I wanted to pause and reflect on my time here and share some things I’ve learned with you.

God Is Bigger Than I Thought

This is a weird statement, but I will never forget the moment I walked out onto stage in my first Campus Church and saw a crowd that had gathered to experience something supernatural. It floored me. They were not there to see me, the clothes I wore, the bass I played, or anything else… they were there to let God speak to them and I had the privilege to be a small part of the night. God is and has been at center stage in my life ever since. That moment will not leave me and continues to humble me after 2 years doing it week in and week out.

Talent Can Get You To Places, But Character Will Keep You There

I had a professor in my undergrad that used to say this often. Your talent will put you in places and situations that will only be short lived if your character and integrity do not match up. There has been a lot of invisible pressure put on me the last few years. I feel like people are watching me when I go into Starbucks, or when I pump my gas, or when I hang out at the library. It’s partly because I’m a familiar face and they might think I’m in their BIO101 class or something… but it has made me constantly think about how I am behaving. It has forced me to be introspective and see what’s in my heart so that I can know that my gut reaction won’t be to cuss someone out if they cut me off. And the Lord knows that Lynchburg’s road system in itself is enough to make someone want to use naughty words. I appreciate the accountability that it has given me and will continue to be grateful for it when I move on in a few weeks.

Community Is Essential

This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while here at Liberty. I’m 80% introverted and can be fine for long periods of time without human interaction. I thrive in solitude. BUT there is nothing that compares to having people around you who genuinely care for you and pray for you on a regular basis. The support system I have here is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. My introverted tendencies do not compare to the overwhelming warmth I get from being around people like Bryce Rodgers and Justin Kintzel. (I’m not saying that the other Campus Band members don’t give me warm fuzzies… just figured I’d solo out 2 for now… haha.) God has spoken to me through this community countless times. If you do not have godly community: seek it out. It will change your life.

Lastly, I am so thankful for all of the little interactions I’ve had over the last 2 years. So many of you guys have been so encouraging to me without even knowing me. I appreciate the compliments at jazzman’s and the conversations I’ve had with so many of you randomly walking around campus and throughout the town of Lynchburg.

It has been such a blessing getting to serve on Campus Band. My life is changed because of it. Thanks for reading.

Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.
Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.

Oswald Chambers

My generation is weird.  We are probably the most arrogant, self-consumed, know-it-all generation that has ever lived.  We are content to nibble on poorly articulated, bite-sized pieces of information on social media rather than stilling ourselves long enough to read a book.  We create ideas in our heads that seem so novel to us because we haven’t read authors who have already come to the same epiphanies decades before we were even born.  There is so much irony in marveling at our novelty when the originality of our ideas has already been uttered in novels. 

This is not to say that I’m not a fan of the tools and resources that are available to my generation.  The iPhone in itself may be one of the greatest inventions of all time, but even still it has consumed my peers to a crippling point.  Interactions with people I’m friends with on Facebook is difficult because they only see the sides of me I wish to portray on social media.  Since my “public image” on social media is goofy I tend to get a lot of awkward social interaction with my acquaintances.  It is hard to move past the acquaintance level with someone when your only interaction is a “like” on Facebook and a goofy “hello” while passing them on the way to class. TV shows like “New Girl” capture these weird modern relationships perfectly.  We are a generation of awkward one-liners.

(Sidenote: It is also ironic to think that the medium that I’m using to post these thoughts is online.  I’m sure that these conversations should rather be held in an obscurely lit coffeeshop surrounded by disgruntled hipsters waiting for b rate coffee that is marketed well.  But I guess that they’ll see this post anyway since they’ll have their laptops open to Tumblr while at that coffeeshop.)

But anyway, I’m going to stop being such an old soul now and play some Call of Duty before the Packers and Niners game…

The Death of Bridges

            For as long as I can remember I have loved pop music. There are a few moments in my life that have proved this. One of those moments was when I lived in Seattle as a kid. One winter evening I plugged in our dial up modem, logged onto AOL, and streamed NSYNC’s Christmas album the night before it released.

But other embarrassing stories aside, I have noticed a gradual change in the way pop songs are written. Besides the diminishing use of chord extensions in pop music writing (forgive the pun), I’ve noticed that Bridges in songs are disappearing. The bridge used to be one of the most climactic parts of a song and it is now being used as a way to space out a song so that we don’t wind up singing the chorus 4 times in a row.

For those of you who are not familiar with song form, this may be a weird post to read, but I think it’s applicable to anyone who follows music. The reason I think it is relevant is because we live in a completely new time of the music industry’s life. We are seeing the decline of full album’s and the rise of singles. With the ability to buy our favorite songs off of iTunes without having to purchase an entire CD we’ve changed the way writers write songs to sell.

Choruses have become the main bread and butter of the modern songwriter. Choruses have always been one of (if not THE) biggest parts of a song. However, since choruses sell a song these days, songwriters have been pumping out hits with catchy hooks and almost meaningless verses and bridges.

An example of a modern bridge is found in Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble”. It’s only 4 and a half measures long. It basically doesn’t exist. It’s sole purpose is to have a break between choruses. Just one album ago (Speak Now – 2010), she had 20 measures in the bridge of “The Story of Us.” Similarly, Katy Perry shortened the length of her bridges from 12 measures on Teenage Dream to 6 in Roar. The bridge of Roar isn’t even really a bridge since there are no lyrics and the music pretty much dies down completely.

I have other examples of bridges that were longer in the 90’s (i.e. Mariah Carey – Emotion), but I’m sure there are a ton of songs with short bridges in that time period too. It’s not a rule to write by, but I do think we can see a definite shift in pop hits in which bridges are a dying thing. I don’t think the bridge will completely die away, but it is an interesting thing to look at.

And this is what I think about at 2 in the morning… I’m gonna go now. Haha. Good night.

My brain rarely stops to soak in moments. There are usually 2 or 3 trains of thought that snake their way through my mind at any given time. But tonight, for some reason, my brain focused on one event of this past year: my father helping me put together my bookshelf and dresser. As menial and frustrating as putting that stuff together was, it is such a sweet memory for me. 
It was a mundane event, but in my mind it plays back like an episode of the Wonder Years where Kevin Arnold and his father go to the hardware store with Ron Howard narrating so perfectly. Maybe it’s the stereotypical male bonding moment between a father and son completing a labor-intense task or the fact that I hadn’t seen him in so long that whatever we chose to do would be fun; either way, this moment protrudes amongst the other trains of thought tonight.
That’s all I have to say for now.
I guess if you want to pull a moral or lesson from this post it would be this: appreciate the small moments with your parents and try to soak in the moment more. Oh, and watch the Wonder Years. It’s on Netflix. It’s fantastic.