Spoiled For Riches
I grew up surrounded by music, theater and art. My father was a composer, my mother a singer-dancer and most of the ‘adults’ who visited our home were musicians and singers, fine-artists, playwrights, actors, dancers and ‘circus people’. The walls of our house were adorned with original artwork from local painters and photographers… and there was a high value placed, not on excellence (for that would be too limiting), but on soulfulness… a kind of permission ‘to lift up your own soul when you create art or play music so that you inspire or move the souls of others.’
There was another rule that governed the goings on in our little community… and that was… to have fun when you are ‘making music.’
I would, after leaving school, go into the family business and after 10 years or so, working as a professional musician and musical arranger I accepted a position as music director in my local Church. In a way, the atmosphere within this faith community was a spiritual version of my upbringing… but this time the high value was placed upon ‘waiting’ or being still in God’s presence. I was encouraged to spend as much time as I needed ‘in the quiet’… and so, most days, I would go for a long walk along the beach, or sit for hours upon a craggy rock near the lighthouse… knowing that my role in the community was to bring so much more than just the music to our gatherings.
Perhaps I was spoiled by these rich experiences, for as I began to travel around the world, especially within the faith communities, I saw the difficulties facing most creative people… to put it harshly, they are often treated as the unwanted child in a world dominated by pen pushers, bureaucrats and business minded people. Unfortunately, the artist has been, for the most part, devalued to merely creating greeting cards, writing jingles and performing uninspiring sacred music… more afraid of playing a wrong note than ministering to the souls around them.
Artists are born to be fearless… and their role in each community is vital… not just to lead sing-a-longs but to be a voice of change… a carrier of fresh water from the well… a source of merriment and laughter… a melodic instrument of healing.
I guess I got tired of banging my head against the wall, waiting for community leaders to recognize the problem and or to ask for my help… and so, with a few friends like me, we started Planted by The Water as a kind of sign post… pointing to an alternative method of reaching out to communities (of all kinds)… with artists and musicians leading the way.
So far we have performed concerts, thrown parties or put on workshops in Prisons, Hospitals, Town Squares, Theaters, Churches, Living Rooms, Gardens, Clubs, Pubs, Restaurants, Vineyards, Castle Towers, Art Galleries, Schools, Colleges, Arenas and even Stadiums… in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, The UK, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
We like to connect and interact with all kinds of people; young, old, rich, poor… urban hipsters and easing going country folk… and so we are not set on any one form of artistic expression. We love all kinds of music; from Folk and Country and Americana to Jazz, Latin, Pop, Gospel, Blues or Rock. We haven’t tried our hand at Opera yet… but we are willing if you are.
Sometimes we take ‘half a band’, from our own community, to a certain town and by pulling together some of the local talent, we come up a new sound… a collaboration of experience and raw talent… that enriches all.
Inclusion is a key that opens many doors.
We also feel that part of our mission is to inspire and encourage artists, musicians and leaders in the faith communities to break down any of the traditions or practices that isolate them from the ‘outside world’.. so as to learn how to ‘take it (the love) to the streets’. It is quite common for us to spend several weeks in one town or region, perhaps playing night after night in clubs, restaurants or ‘house concerts’ Monday-Saturday, and then throwing a big celebration service at the local Church of a Sunday.
Our preferred venue’s and events are within the market place for it is there that our gifts of healing and wellness are most needed… and, dare I say it, most appreciated.
We receive incredible feedback from the patrons attending our market-place events. For some… they just have a good time. Others make a connection… the beginning of a new friendship either with one of our team members or (better yet) with one of our ‘local partners.’ Some write to us to tell of their experiences… like an unexpected joy that made them want to dance or even laugh. Others suffering with depression or grief have sensed the heaviness lift off their shoulders, right there in a bar or club. Some have said they have had a genuine first time encounter with Jesus during ‘a particular song’ and… from time to time, someone will tell us they had been healed of either a physical or emotional ailment while they sat their listening to the music. Not in a Church but in a market place venue.
Some people have such a great time that they bring all their friends to the next event. For example, In LA, we threw a simple party on a Thursday night in ‘our’ Loft, providing music and food for 15 people. We threw the party again the following week… and this time we had 30 people… and we didn’t invite anyone new… the guests from the first event did that for us. Three months down the road we had 300 people attending every event.
And so, while not part of the original plans, but subsequent to all these performances and ‘God experiences’ outside the Church, we have, over the last few years, helped plant several new Churches in Europe and the USA. Some of these new Church plants were in market place venues such as Bars, Theaters and Colleges, a concept with which the traditional Church is still coming to terms.
We prefer hands on training… including other artists and musicians in our events, however from time to time, our arms suitably twisted, we do facilitate lectures and workshops for the likes of Vanguard University, Fuller Theological Seminary, Zebra Collective, LAFSC, Creative Institute, The Grove Center and Churches, large and small, with an intent of helping creative teams find their true artistic identities.
We also have market-place clients who seek our creative wisdom and know how. Since 2006 we have been developing various training modules for Apple and Moviola and staged numerous workshops for Apple, ASCAP, M-Audio, Line-6 and Avid.