Cathleen Falsani 8-31-2012

New music from Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan, The Avett Brothers, Dave Matthews Band, Kathy Mattea, and David Byrne & St. Vincent.

Steve Stockman 8-29-2012
Bill Fay in 2012. Photo courtesy of the artist via Amazon.

Bill Fay in 2012. Photo courtesy of the artist via Amazon.

Bill Fay is a story.

And the British singer-songwriter's new album Life is People — his first in more than 40 years — is a gem of a record that comes out of nowhere and makes an impression beyond great songs and great playing.

About 10 years ago I conjured the idea of a novel: A rock star releases two great records in the late '60s and then leaves the scene. Why? Would an ordinary job be more fulfilling than wealth and celebrity? I wanted to work out those questions in a novel-length story. 

Fay just might be that story, but he certainly isn’t fiction.

Bryan Moyer leading children in song

Bryan Moyer leading children in song

This year, as we start Sunday School and churches come back from summer schedule, I want to introduce you to one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Bryan Moyer Suderman. It’s rare that you find music that appeals to all ages with a strong social justice focus, healthy theology, inclusive language, environmental concern, and really good musicianship. 

As Brian McLaren and Dave Csinos wrote in the intro to Bryan’s new CD:

Bryan takes up the challenge of uniting the old and the young, the tall and the small, with songs of faith that echo the depth, beauty, struggle, complexity, and unconventionality of walking in the way of Jesus.

Bryan is a minstrel, a prophet, a visionary, and a follower of Jesus who invites listeners of all ages to join him in “infiltrating the world with the love of God.” His music is captivating, his lyrics are theologically-rich and thought-provoking, and his voice invites us all to live God’s kingdom wherever we are. 

the Web Editors 8-17-2012

At the last Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College, Brian Walsh interviewed singer / songwriter Bruce Cockburn. The following is the six-part interview. And continue scrolling to get the audio of Cathleen Falsani's 2006 "God Factor" interview with Cockburn. 

the Web Editors 8-17-2012
Petna Ndaliko

Petna Ndaliko


“The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.” — Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh

How do you combat violence, institutionalized rape, a corrupt government, and years of injustice? With more violence, better weapons, or more strategic strikes?

For Petna Ndaliko, you do it through art. In spite of attempts by the Congolese government and militia groups to silence them, Petna created a stage for local youth to express themselves. They sing about oppression, about corruption, and about the people’s ability to overcome.

Art heals. It unites a community. And it can ignite a spark for change. Film can inspire rape survivors to find their voices and tell their stories. From a grassroots level, music moves people to action.

Petna calls himself a small light from which a huge fire starts growing. For many Christians, this echoes Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Petna’s hope is for the flame to spread through the youth of Congo, to carry the message of hope forward to future generations, finding creative ways to combat injustice.

Cathleen Falsani 8-17-2012

New music from Rufus Wainwright, World Party, Beth Orton, Glen Hansard, Alanis Morissette, and the wonderful new Anglo-Ugandan singer songwriter Michael Kiwanuka.

Joshua Witchger 8-16-2012

Neighborhood Film Company reaches out to homeless people in Philadelphia --- interview with The Book's founder Nick Zammuto --- This American Life's "The Convert" --- Pixar's new short film "Partysaurus Rex" --- musicians Silversun Pickups vs. the Romney campaign --- Stride gum parodies Apple --- Over the Rhine documentary from Nowhere Farm in Ohio. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Joshua Witchger 8-15-2012

National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest selects 11 winners out of 12,000+ entries --- Kirby Ferguson's TED talk on originality, creativity, and remixing --- billboards play on Shell's slogan, stick it to the corporate oil giant --- world's first all-female Street Art conference kicks off --- pickin' tunes from the Milk Carton Kids. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Cathleen Falsani 8-10-2012

New music from :

  • Mary Chapin Carpenter (with James Taylor),
  • Sixpence None the Richer,
  • Matisyahu,
  • Old Crow Medicine Show,
  • The Avett Brothers,
  • and Band of Horses.
Joshua Witchger 8-09-2012

Usain Bolt vs. a cheetah --- Beck plans to release new album entirely in sheet music --- Longform launches debut podcast --- Shark Week finds rival with "animals that act like sharks week" --- fascinating infographics on Olympic bodies. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Cathleen Falsani 8-08-2012
Babel — the forthcoming album from Mumford & Sons.

Babel — the forthcoming album from Mumford & Sons.

Rarely — frankly never before, if my memory is correct — have I literally burst into tears upon hearing a song for the first time. But that is exactly what happened when I listened to Mumford & Sons' new single, "I Will Wait," this morning.

This summer has been a difficult season for my family of origin. My parents are getting older and facing physical challenges that are testing all of our resolve and the core of our spirits. I've been away from my own family in California for a month — the longest I've ever been apart from my son. And it has been ... the word "hard" doesn't quite capture the feeling. Soul wrenching is closer.

In the midst of a roiling sea of emotions, I'm clinging to faith like a life raft, while at the same time wondering desperately what God's up to in all of this tsouris, as my rabbi friend might say.

Perhaps that's why "I Will Wait" put a lump in my throat and filled my weary eyes with hot tears. The author Frederick Buechner says that we should pay careful attention to the things that bring about such reactions, because they are signs that the holy is drawing nigh.

Joshua Witchger 8-07-2012

Peter Jackson releases a second trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey --- feminist Ryan Gosling to become coffee table book --- animals forming their own bands --- Conan O'Brien's "Clueless Gamer" --- Sesame Street minimalist art --- Stephen Colbert's music performance festival Setphest Colbchella. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Tom Morello

Tom Morello's approach to politics is as unique and incisive as his best guitar solos.

Joshua Witchger 7-31-2012

Break out the tambourines and rise up singing! A hymn revival is happening … again.

This month, The Lower Lights continue to shine as they release a second stand-out collection of hymns, aptly titled, “A Hymn Revival II.” And this time around, the group of 20+ musicians expands their repertoire outside of the “American Protestant” catalog, and into the wider collection of folk music, including country classics like Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light” and “Calling You,” the African-American spiritual “Go Down Moses,” and the familiar Irish hymn “Be Thou My Vision.”  

Each of the 16 tracks on “A Hymn Revival Vol. II,” glow with intention. Whether it’s the soft but steady pulse of the song “Nearer My God to Thee,” or the call-and-response elicited from snappy chorus of “In the Sweet By and By,” The Lower Lights’ sophomore album presents another authentic look at the joy of the Christian life found in community and comradery, all propelled by the sacred art of making music.

Tripp Hudgins 7-30-2012
The band Old Crow Medicine Show, via

The band Old Crow Medicine Show, via

Old Crow Medicine Show's Ketch Secor and Critter Fuqua first met in the seventh grade in Harrisonburg, Virginia in Rockingham County, and began playing music together. They performed open mics at the Little Grill diner which was "really the first chance that . . Critter had to play on stage." Being "a bit younger" than the "college students at James Madison University who typically hung out there" Secor "was considered a townie." As Secor says today: "They knew that we had talent, but it was raw. I mean, I was up there beating on a jaw harp when I was 13." (wiki)

Virginia boys.... Amen.

Watch the video for the band's song "Wagon Wheel" inside the blog ...

Joshua Witchger 7-27-2012

Olympic enthusiasts beware: here's a video of slow motion, French music, and men throwing rocks with their non-dominant hand --- 2012 Newport Folk Festival --- the wisdom of Ralph Wiggum --- Arrested Development script revealed --- what's happening to all the watermelon seeds --- Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, and Jon Hamm stop by The Daily Show. See the complete list of today's Links of Awesomeness...

Jack Palmer 7-26-2012

Not only are they the best athletes of their generation, but they’re also solid lip syncers…

Yes, it’s the video you’ve all been waiting for:

The USA Olympic Swimming Team takes some time off from the pool and does ‘Call Me Maybe’!

Watch it ... inside the blog.

Joshua Witchger 7-26-2012

Highlights of the 2012 Euro tournament are reenacted with string --- Tim Heidecker beats Bob Dylan in releasing a song about the Titanic --- Philadelphia to open world's first Pizza restaurant and museum -- Wilco delivers a powerful performance on Late Night. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Steve Stockman 7-17-2012
Patti Smith. Photo by Angelo Cricchi via

Patti Smith. Photo by Angelo Cricchi via

"Oh Lord let me die on the back of adventure/ With a brush and an eye full of light."

These lines from the 10-minute "Constantine’s Dream" sum up Banga — the latest album from musical iconoclast Patti Smith — even as they aptly describe the career of CBGB's Queen of Punk.

For the better part of four decades, Smith has been all about adventure. The brush is a symbol of her broad artistic canvas (she sees herself more a poet than a musician, as well as an author and photographer), and she’s ever in pursuit of what the best rock music always is interested in – light, truth and better world.

Smith's “Oh Lord” at the start of that line is no accident, it would appear. This album particularly is full of God and religious images. The song "Constantine's Dream" finds Smith on pilgrimage to Assisi, following in the footsteps of St. Francis.

Joshua Witchger 7-17-2012
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Image via the band's website.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Image via the band's website,

This summer I’ve been a little lax on monitoriing my musical radar as closely as I usually do, but one album that’s been in constant rotation around my turntable is Here, the first of two albums that Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros –  a 10+ member collective from Los Angeles – plans to release this year.

As I listen to Here,  flowery vibes flood my mind with peace and goodwill. It's the psychedelic dream of a bygone era I never knew. But as a Millennial pursuer of peace, justice, and equality, these tunes perfectly fuel my endeavors and also, I believe, the larger work we do at Sojourners. And they’re pretty damn catchy, too.