Artist Gathering…now I know I’m not crazy!

Hi guys!

I know what you’re thinking…two posts in one week and he’s not on tour…what’s the deal? The ‘deal’ was a gathering of artists from all disciplines and genres, held this past Tuesday night at the Chapel of the People’s Church in Franklin, TN (where we’ve plugged in as a family), and hosted by Randy Elrod and Ken Davis. Randy is another one of us crazy folks who’ve stepped away from their career to follow God’s call. For the past years Randy has been the Worship Arts Pastor at TPC, and has been a great influence to me in the short time we’ve been here, both on and off stage.

Several folks shared their vision and callings, and you can follow the link above to hear Randy’s new mission (to develop a facility in the Nashville area to equip and encourage artists). But the underlying message was that God is raising up artists in every area to a new work and style of ministry. I’m not talking artistic style…but the realization that God is NOT calling us to ‘business as usual’.

As I sat in this room with about 50 other artists (many ‘names’ that you’d instantly recognize; and many other ‘unknowns’ like me), I was overwhelmed by the comfort of Holy Spirit as He once again confirmed in my heart and spirit the ‘rightness’ of where we’ve been called. I can’t tell you just how many times I’ve questioned everything about this move and this call. I’m almost ashamed to admit my distrust, as God has done some incredible things just to get us here…and He has been faithful to provide in many miraculous ways in the past nine months.

I was so moved by this gathering, I went up to Randy afterward to express my thanks. But all I could get out of my mouth was the phrase “now I know I’m not crazy”! I know that he knew exactly what I meant. I mean…it’s crazy to leave a great job and risk your family and life in such adventures. Project Onefifty is a few years old now and I’m still trying to figure it all out!

But thank God I know someone who does have it all figured out. He knows full well ‘the plan’ and our place. Thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing to support us. Continue to pray that we will faithfully follow the Call.

Love you guys!

GV

Weekend in Review

Ok…sounds like a Sunday morning talk show! Just trying to be consistent in this whole ‘blog thing’. I have to have faith that someone out there may actually read these posts in order to keep up with me and Project Onefifty, so here goes!

I was once again back in Birmingham, Alabama for a few days. Thursday night I played the ‘big room’ in town…the Civic Center Coliseum. Along with home boys Barry Page on bass, Steve Sample on drums, horn players Mart Avant and Rich Davison (and Chad the unknown T-bone guy), and Michael Addler and company from Shades Mt. BC on BGVs, we played for Birmingham alum Charles Billingsley. He has been in groups like Newsong and is currently the music leader for the David Jeremiah Crusade ministry. It was just such a crusade that brought us all together at the Coliseum for a great night of music and preaching. It should appear on TV at some point, so I’ll try to get you the info in a timely manner.

The rest of the weekend found me playing with my friends out at ClearBranch United Methodist Church in Argo, AL. Their student ministry presented an original musical called “Fifteen For A Moment”. The premise was a recently departed lady looking back on her 9th grade year and all the trials and turmoil that led to her accepting Christ. My role was that of bass player, which led me full circle to my early days at Erwin High School playing bass in the pit for shows like “Bye Bye Birdie”. I keep waiting for my Tony Award…maybe they don’t have my new address in Tennessee!

Anyway, it was a fun week and a fantastic way to help pay the bills. I have asked many of you to pray that work would head my way, and I do believe your prayers and mine are being answered. As always, keep Project Onefifty on your list.

I actually have about 10 days or so off before heading back on the road. School ends this Thursday, and Justin (recently turned 19, and Brandon, 22!) will be heading to Chicago for the summer playing at a LifeWay Centrifuge camp. I’m hoping we can use this down time to do some fun family stuff around town (lots to do and see here).

I’m also hoping to use this time to do more work on songs and demos for a follow-up to my “Spheres of Influence” CD. I actually have 2 complete projects I want to do…but first things first, as they say.

Finally, my good buddy Glenn Garrett has finally completed his long-awaited CD titled “Mysteries and Dreams” (keep checking www.glenngarrett.com for more info). I am so excited about this…I ended up playing all the bass parts (with the exception of 2 tunes with synth bass) and alot of guitar parts as well. I am humbled to be on these tracks along with Glenn and session heavyweights Dave Cleveland on guitars, Tony Morra, Chester Thompson (yes, THE Chester Thompson!) on drums, as well as Lisa Bevill on BGVs. Heck, even my buddies Tom Lane and Jamie Rogan got to help on a few tracks (on guitars and percussion, respectively).

The new CD has been released to 240 radio stations and Glenn has already started booking concerts. Glenn and I go way back (he’s also a Birmingham guy from about 20 years ago). I used in play in his road band back toward the end of his CCM career, and I actually helped he and Kathy move to Franklin. It was one of those ‘God moments’ that put Glenn and I back together again last year, leading ultimately to our move to the area (Kathy was also our realtor…lol!).

Alrighty, then…enough review! Have a great week and I hope to see you soon!

GV

Project Onefifty



I was sitting and thinking about the incredible journey that I’ve been on the past several years, and I realized that many of you may not know how this whole Project Onefifty thing got started. And while you can go to the P150 website and get the ‘Cliff Notes’ version, I thought it’d be fun to reminsce.

It was about this time of year back in 2002 that I went on a music/missions trip to Italy and Switzerland led by my buddy Dan Moran. Joining me were Barry & Jill Page, Josh Cooper, David Gaines, Steve Wingo, and Deb and Seth Moran (Dan’s wife and son). Our local ministry contact was Scott Steelman of the Italy for Christ ministry.

Our mission was simple; play music and let Dan preach. And play and preach we did. But the amazing thing to me was when we were simply playing music…and seeing people respond to a move of Holy Spirit, just from us jamming!

God had been tapping on my shoulder about doing this sort of ministry for several years. But in Paul’s prison in Rome, he stopped tapping and pretty much slammed me! The next few days found me examining my motives, dreams and desires, and running all this by Carol back in the States.

After an incredible 10 days or so, I arrived back home in Birmingham after a long flight. But during that 12 hours or so, the entire concept for P150 dropped in my lap…name and all. Even down to the details of how we partner with other ministries, finances, etc.

To develop this ministry, we decided to go slow, determined to be obedient in every step. The process led to my first solo CD “Spheres of Influence”, the actual creation of the business entity of Project Onefifty, finding a board of directors, etc. It would not be until July 2004 that we debuted Project Onefifty at our CD release event at the Church at Brook Hills.

Jumping back to today, May 17 2006…we now find ourselves living in a new city (Thompson’s Station, TN, about 30 minutes south of Nashville), with new friends and opportunities for music and ministry. The People’s Church in Franklin, TN has opened their arms to us in a huge way, even allowing us to host an event there this coming July to introduce P150 to more folks in our area. There have been great times and times of struggle…but God has been faithful in every step along the way.

Thank you for the way many of you support us each month, through finances, encouragement, and most of all prayer. Since that trip to Italy and Switzerland back in ’02, I’ve been able to use my music in Ireland, Japan, the Middle East, and all over the Southeast. My music is being heard literally all over the world through online outlets such as iTunes, Napster, CD Baby, and about 30 others.

And so it goes. Tomorrow I head down to Birmingham to play for CCM artist Charles Billingsly at a big rally with David Jeremiah, and then to finish the weekend helping my friends at ClearBranch with a student musical. I am thankful that I’m allowed to use these skills in His service.

Ok…thanks for indulging my little stroll down Memory Lane. Glad I had you along…

Later!

GV

Vulcan Classic

This past Saturday I played at the Vulcan Classic at the Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham. No, I’m not talking about the motorcycle…this Vulcan Classic is a body-building championship. Yes, I know what you’re thinking…what the heck was I doing there? My friends Brian Taunton and the God’s House Band played the intermission of the show and they asked me to come play with them (I had worked on their recording project at Kevin Derryberry’s Ark Studio).

And while the gig went very well, I think I know how it would feel be on an alien planet. We were surrounded all evening by men and women who looked like Greek gods and goddesses…needless to say I went around all night with my stomach pulled in as tight as I could…lol.

This whole event was Brian’s brainchild (he is into that whole body-building world), and his dream was to have a time during the night where the Gospel would be clearly presented. God’s House Band has great songs filled with truth, and toward the end of our set, Brian gave a powerful message of how Christ can change a life. He closed with a simple invitation to accept this message…over 5 people asked Christ into their life for the first time, and 6 others re-dedicated their lives!

God is challenging people all around the world to find new ways to present His love. For me and Project Onefifty, it’s music. For Brian Taunton…it’s reaching out to body-builders. But the fact remains that we need to go beyond the walls of the Church to “be Christ” to the people who won’t come to us.

I’m proud to be part of this type of cutting-edge ministry. Brian tells me that next years Classic will be bigger and better than ever…

I’d better start working out now!

GV

The long and winding road…


Well, April is almost over…and I’m off the road for a bit. And what a road it was! 25 out of 30 days found me on the road (or in the air) for a total of just over 11,000 miles!! Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we were able to go so many places in such a short time.

What’s even more incredible is what transpired during these journeys. It’s not ‘evangelistic exaggeration’ to say that literally hundreds of people heard about Christ…through word, song, and actions. From playing in pubs and venues in Ireland, storm ravaged schools and churches on the Gulf Coast, to helping other ministries with recording projects and events here close to home, the Good News was made clear. Many of the folks we met are now great friends…others we saw made important decisions about their spiritual condition. In any event, we were able to be an influence through our music. Me and the band were also able to help a Birmingham mental health agency raise over $10,000 in support for their programs…all through this gift of music!

And I have to thank many of you for all this. Your support through prayer and giving made this possible. From keeping us in eats and diapers on the home-front to covering travel costs to far-flung lands (and parts of Mississippi, too!), all of it mattered greatly in this effort. Thank you…thank you, thank you, thank you!!

But we’re not stopping here. Plans are already underway to return (with the band) to Ireland next April. We’re also working on doing some events down on the Gulf Coast. I saw firsthand how powerful and encouraging music can be in the lives of people dealing with disaster. And this year we hope to return to the studio for a follow-up to “Spheres of Influence” (many of you have already helped us determine what this project should look and sound like). Lastly, we want to help local churches too. We love leading worship and are planning a series of ‘house concerts’…if you want to host one of these, let me know!

Let me close by asking you to once again pray for us. I have been challenged greatly of late to go even farther beyond the walls of the church than ever before. I’m praying that God will open the right doors at the right time to take our music into places we as a ministry have never been. I honestly don’t know or understand exactly what this means…that’s why I need your prayers, so that our path will be made absolutely clear!

And please remember Project Onefifty in your financial giving. More than ever we need your help to help us continue to have months like this past April. I can honestly say that we don’t care where we go…we simply want to be used to help spread the Good News. By the grace of God, we will…

God bless you!!

GV

Gulf Coast Tour wrap-up


It’s Sunday night around 11:15pm Eastern time and I just checked into my hotel for the next two nights in beautiful Asheville, NC. And while the Gulf Coast tour with Reveal, the student choir of the Biltmore Baptist Church was over for me on Friday night, my work with Biltmore is not quite finished. The next two days will find me playing guitar on a recording project for their worship ministry.

Let me get you up to speed on the tour. Wednesday night we played to a packed house at the First Baptist Church of Biloxi, MS, where five different youth groups came together for an incredible event. Kevin and I and the band started the evening off with worship…the energy and excitement in the room was palpable.

Reveal came up and continued to lead us, and our speaker Gary Permenter tied all the lyrical threads together and delivered a powerful message. There were several decisions to follow Christ…to be honest, the room was so packed that it was difficult to see all that was taking place. But to say that God showed up and showed off would be an accurate statement.

The next two days were pretty much the same (school event in the morning for the band, work projects for the choir, and an evening concert for the entire group). I don’t want to overlook what God did in these events, but I don’t want this message to stretch into novel length either…lol. Our final concert on Friday took place in Bogalusa, Louisiana (about 2 hours north of the coast). Our contact there, John, told us some pretty hair-raising stories about his contact with Katrina. But it was a comment he made to Kevin afterward that I’d like to share. John said that the last 6 months or so have been the most depressing period in his life…and not only for him, but the entire community. This small town is virtually abandoned due to the devastation caused by the storm. But our concert that night brought new life and energy to the people there…dare I say that our music and vibrant relationships with Christ as expressed in our music has literally inspired the people to have hope.

That pretty much sums up the entire tour. It has also confirmed to me that my desire to bring the Project Onefifty band down to the coast is not just something that would be nice, but would be a huge benefit. I’ll be sharing more in the weeks and months to come about these plans.

For now, let me sign off. My day starts early tomorrow and I’m pretty wiped from all the recent travel. On a personal note, thank you for praying for Audra; she had her CAT scan this past Friday and Carol is meeting with the doctors tomorrow for the results. Please continue to pray…

Love you guys!

Midweek ‘mystery’…


Hi everyone!

Sorry for no update yesterday, but boy…it was a busy day! Call was at 6:00am and we hit the ground running! We played 3 events yesterday (yes…at different venues). Two of them were for Christian clubs at two different schools (one in the morning before classes and the other after school). The last was our evening concert featuring Kevin and the band, the choir, and our speaker Gary Permenter. I must say that David Gaines knows how to keep folks busy!

Today we played another school event and then I had the day ‘off’. I’m sitting in the student auditorium of FBC Biloxi where tonight’s event is happening. It’s the usual story of ‘hurry up and wait’ while the crew gets everything ready. But I know it’s going to be a great concert, as we are expecting not only the usual crowd at this church, but all the folks we’ve invited from the various school events. We are praying that it’s an SRO crowd…not for the sake of numbers, but for as many people to have the chance to hear the Good News about the difference Christ has made in our lives.

During my free time today, I drove into Mobile and then around the area, just observing the damage, the clean-up efforts, etc. To be honest, I was very pre-occupied about some personal issues…Audra is having some tests done Friday; while that is nerve-wracking enough, the fact that I can’t be there is hard. But I know that God has both Audra and my fears and concerns well in hand. I can go ahead and thank you for praying, because I know you will!

But even with my thoughts of family and home, I couldn’t help but be affected by the sights of the area. Everywhere you turn, you see evidence of a storm long past…blue tarps are everywhere. Some places are simply empty lots…you can tell that some home or other structure used to be there, but now is simply gone.

But even with the devastation, you see signs of hope. Relief teams are in plain sight, working hard and selflessly to repair homes and to bring normalcy to the lives of the people in this region. The students from Biltmore are working no less hard than any of the other teams and it makes you proud that students (grades 6-12) are doing their part to be Christ in such a physical way. I’m proud to have even a small part in this trip.

Ok…the crew is done and the band is jamming…the choir is about to sound check and soon the doors will open. In a few hours, we’ll reveal in a variety of ways the love of Christ, and the mystery that is the work of Holy Spirit will be evident as people will be drawn to make eternal decisions.

Thanks for praying and for helping me be here this week. God bless!

GV

New week…new adventure!

The wonderful thing about being a musician (or one that gets to travel) is getting to go to interesting places. So far this month, I’ve logged trips to Asheville, NC, Ireland (both the Republic Of and the Northern one), Birmingham, AL, and now this week’s tour on the Gulf Coast.

I’m down in Gulfport, MS working with some of my best friends in the world. David Gaines (keyboard wiz) is on staff with the Biltmore Baptist Church in Asheville, NC, and his student choir is touring down here. Another great friend and great player down here with us is my longtime partner in musical crime, Kevin Williams. Kevin and I go way back…I played on his 2 recording projects, have served together on a church staff, and I play guitar in his road band. Kevin and I have been tasked with fronting the choir’s student band (some decent players, too).

Our mission this week is multi-faceted. This entire region is still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Katrina (seven months after the fact), and the students will be helping in various relief projects (building, painting, cleaning, etc). The choir will be playing in area churches at night, and we’ll be opening and closing the concerts. Our good friend Gary Permenter will be speaking…he is hilarious! But he really drives home the message of truth in a way unlike any other youth speaker (and I’ve heard a bunch of ’em!).

During the day, the band will be playing in school assemblies as a teaser for our nighttime concerts. Tonight we all rolled into town around 7pm, checked into our hotel and then went to a local church for a rehearsal. Tomorrow we hit the ground running at 6am for our first event; an assembly before school for a Christian club. Then it’s off to another school where we’ll do basically the same deal. Somewhere in between those two events will be a radio interview, hopefully some lunch and some rest before our evening concert.

So welcome to the Biltmore Student Choir Tour! Be praying that we can positively affect the lives of the people in this area and be Christ in a multitude of ways. Rest assured that while we’ll lending our hands in a physical fashion, we’ll do all this in the spirit of Christ and be looking for ways to share truth wherever we can.

Oh yeah…we’ll play some music too!

Be praying! Love you guys!

GV

Easter and beyond

Ok…I think my body knows what day and time it’s supposed to be since my Irish tour. Our church in Franklin, TN has a Saturday night service which my family and I will be attending (as I’m helping my friend Kellee McCoy down at Dawson in Birmingham, AL on Easter Sunday).
 
After that, it’s back home for the night and then I head out for a weeks’ tour in Gulfport, MS. My friend Kevin Williams and I will be helping the Biltmore Baptist Church (Asheville, NC) student choir with their tour down there. It’s gonna be a blast!
 
Please remember Christ’s sacrifice and especially the difference between Him and all other ‘paths’ to God…He’s the only one who predicted He’d rise from the dead (and then did so!).
 
What a savior!!

GV

Last night in Ireland

Well, its hard to believe it, but our Ireland trip is drawing to a close. Jason and I are at our lodging for the night in Blackrock, a suburb of Dublin…its around 11:30pm and call time in the morning is 6am!

Im not sure where to begin! We had a pretty early call this morning, as Mike Mullins drove us down from Buncrana to Derry in order to catch the bus to Dublin. I didnt realize it, but Derry is right across the border in Northern Ireland and was the sight of the Bloody Sunday massacre. Most of us think of this as just a U2 song, but Mike took us through town to the actual site where the Catholic protesters were marching. History tells us that a shot rang out, and then the British troops opened fire on the marchers. Derry reminded me of Belfast, with slogans and murals decorating the various buildings. Even the curbs are marked with colors denoting the different neighborhoods (and factions). While the peace is thankfully still in effect (even with the recent assassination of a former British agent in the IRA), there are reminders everywhere of the Troubles that have plagued this country for so long. Both Mike Mullins and my friend up in Belfast, Fr. Martin Curley agree that the only thing that will ever bring peace to this island is the love of Jesus Christ.


Let me tell you about our final gig here. We played in the Irish Cultural Center (I cannot even begin to spell the Irish name for it!); this is a beautiful building in a grand old neighborhood, and this facility is a treasure trove of Irish music. If you want to learn about the history of this incredible music (and learn how to play it), then this is the place! And boy…I got a crash course, too! At the end of the night, our host, Cormac Shaw and a friend (also named Cormac) invited me to play along with them on a couple of traditional Irish melodies (these guys play the fiddle and the flute). I got thrown to the wolves! The two Cormacs are great players and I was struggling to keep up…I had never heard these jigs before, but it was a blast to play. What an incredible honor!

Tonight was another of our songwriting seminars. After playing a few opening songs, we launched into our session, with some great interaction with the participants. We played a few more of our tunes and then we turned the evening into an open mic night. There is a friend of Laura Robinson (Durand’s 17 year old daughter who is on the tour with us)…a girl named Lisa who played and sang one of her songs…wow! This place is teeming with incredible talent.

We took a quick break to talk to the folks in the crowd, who were so very gracious to us. When we came back, we played a few more tunes, and ended (as always) with Amazing Grace. I had the opportunity to introduce the song, where I shared with the crowd (a mix of believers and non-believers alike) how the grace of this hymn/folk song has been so very real and important in my own life. It was a small seed we planted, but a seed nonetheless that our contacts here will cultivate.

And that is pretty much our mission; to use our music to help the local church reach into their communities and cultivate friendships with seekers. And while this was really a scouting trip for a future tour with the whole band, it was far more successful in that ministries in Newbridge, Buncrana, and Dublin were able to meet new friends and to minister to people who would never come to just another church service.

Jason is fast asleep as I type this, and Im trying not to weep aloud as I think about the people just this week weve met and ministered to; Sinead at the restaurant in Newbridge, and the wedding party at the pub…Seamus and Mary at the Drift Inn at Buncrana…some lads who chatted with us on the street in Buncrana after our first pub date up north (I gave them a CD)…and the many faces of the people I talked to tonight. The names are running together, but God knows each and every one of them and I pray that our friends here will be able to be Christ to them in the days and months ahead.

I just cant believe that God would use me and this music in such a way, but I am so thankful He has. Thank you for making this trip possible and especially for all your prayers. You are all special people in my life and Im glad to be in this journey with you.

Ok…to bed and then to the airport! Until our next trip, keep praying!

God bless you all…

GV