First House Concert of 2018

We have officially kicked off the 2018 House Concert season with a great Party in the Casa Clark gardens in San Juan Capistrano. It will be the first of many, not just locally in southern California but also in homes & gardens all across the US, NZ, Australia and Europe. We are in the planning mode…  so watch this space for an upcoming event near you.

This first one was sold out, with standing room only. 60 people of all ages and backgrounds shared food, wine and stories (many of them meeting for the first time) while us musicians played several sets of our favorite tunes, a mixture of folk, jazz, soul, gospel and world music.

The band featured the world renowned British musician Terl Bryant (Iona, Peter Gabriel, John Paul Jones) on drums, Danny Ybarra on percussion, Sandra Stephens and Cerissa Mc Queen on vocals and Chris Falson on vocals, guitar and bad jokes.

Click here if you are interested in hosting one of these events. 

Or to get a little taste of the evening, check out these other videos posted (by audience members) on Facebook.

 

Let it Go-‘Live’

I have been taking the “Let it Go” show on the road of late as part of the Identity Series.

Synopsis: In His presence… as I begin to let go of who I think I am, of the hurts and struggles of the past, of the sins of my father and the guilt and disappointments that have held captive my heart… I make room for the real me to emerge. Like Lazarus materializing from the tomb, once strangled by that deathly shroud of the old man, of my old ways, I come alive… I am reborn… to be the person I was always meant to be… the precious child God knew before I was born.  Jer 1:5 “Before you were born I knew you…”

This is a process of healing that begins in worship and continues with the learned prayer practices of Letting Go… of casting not just my cares upon the Lord but everything that keeps me in that prison of false or misshapen identity.

The Closer I am to Him, the closer I am to myself… the closer I am to myself… the closer I am to Him.

Here’s a video of a live session from CBC, the Church family that helped us move to California back in 93.

My bit starts at 4:41.

Cheers.

 

Let It Go from Capo Beach Church on Vimeo.

November 8, 2015
Chris Falson

A Piece of the Puzzle

I was thinking today of the deep sense of belonging I have when, after I am able to find the quietness in me, I can be still long enough to ‘enter’ God’s presence. All I need is a moment, and the weight of the world falls from my shoulders and I remember once again who I am… and that I have some value… and an important job to do.

 

I am not sure what your typical day looks like but mine is mostly one of chaos in which I am constantly battling my way through a jungle of work, stress, finances, emotional ups and downs, fatigue, ‘getting older’, other people’s expectations of me and my own distorted view of the path ahead.

 

When David so beautifully wrote “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere…” he knew what he was talking about.
We are each designed to be an important part of a puzzle… of God’s great plan. The plan doesn’t make sense unless all the pieces of the puzzle are in place.
I need you to be you as much as you need me to be me.
We spend so much of our time not really knowing who we are or believing the lie that we don’t have anything of value to offer our community… and or we see more value in another and so then we try to be like him or her… and that doesn’t work… no matter how hard we try.This is why… the one moment alone with our “Dad’ is so imperative.
Without water we dehydrate, without oxygen we suffocate, and without some aloneness with His spirit we depreciate our own spirit, our identity and our value to each other.
So please do me a favor will you… put down your phone… and take a stroll along the beach or sit for a few minutes in the garden or hide yourself away in the attic, or turn off the car radio on your way home from the office… and be silent and try to enter that mysterious place of welcome, of identity, of permission… to be encouraged, to be reminded of the simplicity of who you are and how valuable you are to the rest of us.
I need you.
Cheers,
Chris

 

Falling in Love Again

A story of escaping the prison of professionalism after finding love inside the music.

I was raised to be a professional musician. To play all the right notes at the right time. Nothing more and nothing less. Do the job, take the money and move on to the next gig.Barry-300x300

Like a coal miner’s son I was born into a trade and a tribe that I would serve, through good times and bad for the rest of my days. They’d bury me with my guitar and my union card.

I had a dinner suit for the bigger clubs and casino shows, blue jeans, black T’s and doc martins for the smaller pubs and seedier clubs, an array of guitars and amps, skills and ‘guitar licks’ enough in the genre’s of jazz, blues, rock and country music to make a decent living. After several hundred club gigs I graduated up into the recording studio brotherhood and, as a professional I was on time, I played my parts proficiently and I got the job done.  I continued to rise through the ranks and soon I was performing on network Television.

I had made it and as much as a guitar player can be, I was model professional.

Now and then in the midst of this professional journey I would be foolish and play music for fun… on my own of course, in a room somewhere private… where no one could hear me… and I would fall upon little treasures that I didn’t understand or know what to do with… and so, I would keep them to myself and then go off onto my next professional gig, keep my head down and do my job.

But, like a child reading his first Agatha Christie novel… I could not put ‘the book’ down… or stay away from my closet musings with my guitar and these little noodlings or melodies of childlike lyrics… all of which… was very unlike the professional I was trained to be. For, without realizing it, I was falling in love… with music and these simple little musical ideas and chordal shapes.

imgres-2I would stumble upon a basic uncomplicated chord progression and begin to imagine a rock pool or a mountain stream and I would sit there and let the peace wash over me. Then I would hear someone walking down the hall towards my hideout and I would hurriedly put my guitar away as if I had been caught doing something naughty.

Continue reading “Falling in Love Again”

I Know Nothing

EB1251-001-300x300Last week a singer-songwriter, who had been most insistent (like the old woman and the judge) that we get together for a ‘one on one’, dropped by my office. The songwriter hoped that I would agree to  a) be her songwriting coach  and b) introduce her to producer‘s or labels that would be interested in signing her.

After we had moved on from discussing the weather and completed the usual pleasantries associated with meeting someone new, she took out her acoustic guitar and played some of her original songs for me.

I could hear the makings of a good writer in her… and I can honestly say that I was impressed with bits and pieces of each song… a melody here and a lyric there.

But that’s like saying that the parts of the apple the worm hasn’t eaten are quite edible.

Continue reading “I Know Nothing”

The Curious Music Maker

What happens when the curious child in us makes music or writes songs?

When we feel no pressure from adults, from peers or society, trends, the popular people, the FB likes, our audience or fans, the leaders of our community and or the Boss that signs the checks… we are free to say what we want and… how we want.
dartpainterWe can write absolute nonsense and it wouldn’t matter.

We could experiment with topics, rhymes, beats, time, instrumentation, lyrics and so on.

We could, in a sense, throw musical paint at a canvas to see what it looks/sounds like.

Or we could just turn the canvas upside down? It might be what we had in mind but couldn’t say in an upright position.

With no one to impress… what can you hear or see in your curious child imagination?

Continue reading “The Curious Music Maker”

Getting off the High Horse

It can be difficult as a ‘professional’ to step down from the ‘lofty’ stage-platform to enjoy music as much as the fan or the amateur. When I listen to my live recordings with my professional ears I hear flat notes, wrong chords, jumbles lyrics, imbalanced mixes and the occasional annoying cough from an audience member (would someone please pray for that person).

And so I need, from time to time to be reminded that, often the most beautiful recordings, perhaps like people, are the slightly broken or imperfect ones. And… I should know this… because it is in these ‘live’ moments that I am at my best within myself, collaborating with the other musicians and singers and of course, the most important people in the room… the audience.

Quite recently, a good friend was thanking me for my new live album and as he mumbled on about how he and his wife had been fighting over the CD… I wondered to myself… ‘What new live album?’ I soon understood that he was talking about this mix of live recordings I had collected over a few years and had (in a weak moment) given to him as a present.

The thing is… the request for the live concert recordings is becoming all to common… and while I battle with the sliding scale of quality I am gradually weakening my resolve in favor of the lovely messy moments of live music making… and like Jesus… I am stepping down off my throne… and setting the mixes free. For, my fan ears tell me that there is something lovely in these recordings… and these same fan ears allow me to enjoy or enter into the moments of worship as I listen to these tracks.

And so… I want to make this available to all the people that have encouraged or prayed or supported me over these many years. It is a live worship merry Christmas present (without the carols and bonbons).

Enjoy.

 

Houston We Have Problem

You stand on stage before a crowd of people, many of whom are in desperate need of love and acceptance … and they each wonder… “Could love  really be unconditional, kind, patient and all embracing”… and right on cue, as if you can read their thoughts… you whisper to yourself… “Boy have they  come to the right place… and I have just the song for them.”

Opera-viking-ladyAnd so,  as if on auto-pilot, you take a big breath and begin to belt out the chorus of “I LOVE YOU WITH ALL OF MY HEART!”

“But wait… stop… STOP SINGING!?” I say, holding up my hand like a traffic cop.

“Huh” you reply with a confused and bewildered expression on your face. “Why are you interrupting me? I am trying to love these people with my tender song about love and intimacy.”

And I counter with…

“But why are you shouting this song out as if the person you love is on a mountain top many miles away.”

You are even more perplexed now and so I sit you down, give you a moment to gather yourself before I continue…

“Imagine yourself, not on stage but in a lovely restaurant.

Rose-Dinner-800x800You are having a romantic dinner with the love of your life. You have a private table in the corner of the room. The red rose you bought her/him sits in a fine crystal vase on a matching red linen table cloth. You hold hands and look into each others eyes as the flickering candles throw a soft light onto your faces.

In this long anticipated moment, your hands begin to perspire. You desperately want to tell this special person about the deep love and desire you have for them. You had considered a card, a scented love letter perhaps… even a plane flying over her/his house with a banner saying “I Love You with all of my Heart”. But in the end you knew that, to convey both your passion and the feelings of tenderness you must sing this lovely song.

So consider carefully.

Do you stand up on your chair and belt out the song for all to hear, including the other diners in the restaurant and the cooks in the kitchen? Or do you look deeply into this loved one’s eyes and sing in a half whisper, in a tone of voice that sounds slightly broken, as if he/she is the only person in the whole wide world that matters to you in this moment?

If you can understand my little allegory, then you are ready to return to the stage and share your love song with your audience.

 

If not, then Houston we have a problem!

houston-we-have-a-problem

Please… No More Singalongs!

If you visit any village pub in Ireland of a Saturday night you can join the locals as they sing their favored folk, traditional or drinking sings. A soloist will often lead the chorus and stir up the congregation in unrestrained harmony but, when it comes time to share the much anticipated lament or Caoineadh, the time honored telling of great hardship, loss, betrayel or brokenness, a respectful quietness will settle upon the flock… and towards the end of the telling there will not be a dry eye in the house.

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And this is not so much to do with the sad tale itself, but rather the gift of the story teller… for the sweet angelic soprano bar maid or the french hornlike baritone farmer will draw the audience inside the story… and make them feel that the telling was just for them.  These balladeers carry in themselves a deep understanding of both the sacred shared moment and, their responsibility to lead their spiritual kinfolk across troubled waters.

They are not given the story telling duties just because they have a fine voice, or for any physical beauty, youth, wisdom or their standing in the community. They are called to this role  because they carry the gift. And, for reasons not quite known or understood, they have an anointing to move the hearts of young and old, rich or poor.

If you visit most any Church on Sunday morning, more often than not you can join in a fine sing along. Some of these event centers specialize in joyful sounds, others more traditional and on occasion there will be tears amongst the congregation members as the deeper meaning of a hymn or song hits home. But rarely, will a singer or musician carry an understanding or authority to reach into the hearts of the visitors and deposit a treasure so fine or tender as the song of the Irish bar maid.

In the Irish community (and many other tribal or non corporate communities around the world) the gift to move the hearts of men, woman and children (through music, song, fine art, theater) is considered a high honor. Those that give themselves to this calling are treasured while the youngsters that show inklings of the natural talent are encouraged to fan into flames these giftings and apprentice themselves to the musical ‘Gandalf’s’ or  experienced anointed one’s near or far.

In the modern world, the concept or word ‘Anointed’ has been belittled as if it belonged to another time… an ancient word no longer in use… or, if someone speaks of it today they are often labelled as so ‘last century’. But a simple meaning; to be anointed is to be enabled… or allowed… or given permission. It is most difficult to develop a natural gift when permission is denied… even if it goes unsaid.

If you are happy with plain old singalongs then far be it for me to be a stone in your  shoe… or a fly in your ointment. But I have no time for them. I also have no time for ever trite happily- resolved testimonies or predictable faith based movies, or hallmark designed artwork.  I would rather go without than suffer a life of mediocrity. But that’s me. I’m weird like that.

I do have a lot of time however for those with the natural gift to sing and play music or create and tell stories through their various art expression. My heart aches for them in fact. Sheep without a shepherd.

If you want to continue this discussion or would like to have some old geezer from last century visit your community to pour a drop or two of oil on your musicians, artists and communicators, then contact us at Planted by the Water. You can also leave a disagreeable comment… we like open discussions. It comes from hanging out in Irish bars.