Monday, November 7, 2016

Politics. Hate. Love.

I’ve been alive through Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, & Barak Obama. I was of age to vote only during the last two Presidents so my historical context of how elections have gone is pretty short.

I don’t remember either of the Reagan elections. I remember that the guy who ran against the first Bush had a funny name but that’s about it. I recall my parents & grandparents watching Rush Limbaugh on television during the Clinton presidency. Since my life was in the middle of conservative western Pennsylvania, I was ingrained with such political leanings. I went to a community college in south western New York where most of the political leanings also were conservative but there was one professor I had that was overjoyed when Hillary Clinton won a seat in the Senate through New York as the Clinton’s moved out of the White House…no one else seemed to be particularly happy about it. Those early years of having attained voting age I did use my ability to do so & shaped by my limited worldview at that point & by my upbringing, I voted Republican.

My college years were during the Bush presidency, terrorist attacks, & war. Though even my time at a four year college was in a primarily conservative part of the country, I began to be shaped by experiences & the deepening of my faith which raised political questions. I wrestled with the life issue as a holistic one. While I remained opposed to abortion in general, I wondered how we could support war or the death penalty. Since taxes were now a reality for me, I did not like having money taken by the government yet I wanted to see the least of these taken care of (that also brought the question…where are the churches?). I don’t particularly understand the need for so many laws when common sense should dictate one to abide by the more simple ones but yet I’d see the lack of common sense in others warranting such laws. I grew up a hunter so I opposed the idea of taking away gun rights but I also realized it to be absurd as a hunter to carry a bazooka or machine gun.
I graduated the year Bush was re-elected. I voted Bush then as well. I was ignorant to the “third party” options of the time (I believe one was Nader) but could not find any reason to vote John Kerry. The man ran on a platform that he was not Bush and Bush was “WRONG” while never clearly explaining (by my view) what he would do differently. It seemed all these people who were for the war when the time came to take such action now would oppose it because they were not Bush. While they opposed the war, no other plan seemed to be in place so I went with what we had then figuring “stay the course” made sense.

I moved around during these next four years. I experienced more of my own life being shaped by those things around me. I started out working with churches (having one awful experience with a case of deception included) then added in some social service type work to make ends meet. Sometimes making ends meet was difficult but I would get by. I worked with those with disabilities. I worked with those in “treatment” detention facilities. I worked with those getting out of prison having sex offense convictions & were trying to start a new life. I worked amongst the least of these while really having little financially to separate myself from them. I cared for these people. The more I did this work, the more I worked in the churches…the more I embraced the call of the Gospel to Love God & others. The more I embraced this, the more it would influence my vote if I chose to make one.

When the time came for the next presidential election, I had come to live in Cincinnati, Ohio working in an interesting & diverse neighborhood. One with rich folks & poor folks…and of course a certain level of gentrification. I read the writings of Shane Claiborne, first Irresistible Revolution then Jesus For President. I found The Simple Way to be enticing as well as the lifestyle of members of mewithoutYou & the Psalters who seemed to live intentional community on donations, dumpster diving, & embracing an economy of "enough." There seemed to be revolution & even anarchy in their ways. I liked the ideas. I implemented some of it into my own “punk” way of living while also trying to pay back student loans that I owed. I found community with others who believed in this way. All this shaped my views in regards to politics in a way that wanted nothing to do with the establishment.

Many poor black folks attended the church that I worked with at the time in Cincinnati. Many of them were excited for the promised change from Barak Obama. I was torn for a while with this election. While the man said a lot of nice things, his platform embraced things I did not agree withsuch as big governmnet & abortion. On the otherside of the ticket was an old military veteran & a lady with a funny accent from Alaska. Did we really need more war? How do we care for the poor? Those questions remained in regard to the Republican ticket.

So…McCain & Palin vs Obama & Biden.

I guess it made sense. The first black presidential hopeful with youth to help win the young vote teamed up with an old establishment guy on one side and on the other an old established military guy teamed up with the first woman vice presidential hopeful also relatively young to help with the youth vote. As that election grew near, I began seeking an alternative because I did not want either of the mainstream options. I read an article by Derek Webb regarding voting & not voting. As I studied on my own I had many of the thoughts people are vocalizing in today’s scenario…is a third party vote a waste or does it put the more evil one in office? I called my friend Ross & discussed with him how to pick in this election (at the time it seemed hard...boy, to look back now how simple it was then). He is educated well in politics. He happened to be conservative. In college, we had many good discussions & seemed to agree a lot so I hoped he’d have some advice. He had the same issues I felt regarding the Republicans but hoped Ms. Palin would be a good option in the event that McCain didn’t survive the term. I ended up swallowing a bitter pill & voting Republican.

Well, Barak Obama won & people rejoiced around me. Folks bragged about putting the first black guy in office. Many spoke as though he was a Messiah. I was bothered by the idea so I wrote a blog t the time as I was more prone to do than I have been lately in which I stated that Mr. Obama was not my Messiah & not my President. I think if that were now, I’d probably have left that last part off. I think at the time, I was more or less writing from a place of anarchy & belief that what he did as President had little if anything to do with my life. I still feel that to be true but I likely would have been less harsh in my title if that blog were today.

I continued working in that church through the first couple years of the Obama presidency & lived in the neighborhood through his entire first term as well as working with the least of these. Mitt Romney came on the scene to oppose Obama for the next round. I felt pretty sure that no matter what, Obama would be winning his re-election bid. I did not find any part of me that could vote for either major party candidate. I did not take the time to research “third party” so I decided that time I would not vote. As I went into my overnight shift on election night, strangely in a hospital as my in home care client had been checked in, the news broke that Obama had won…people rejoiced. I felt indifference. I did not care either way because I did not see either option making a difference once again. I was in the process of moving to Pittsburgh during this time so really any vote I made in Cincinnati would not affect me as I would no longer be there.

I did not choose to vote again until this primary & now this presidential election. I have no regrets as I believe to vote or not to vote is a choice one can make for himself. No one should guilt another into voting nor who to vote for if they decide to vote. I decided to go ahead & vote this time around so I voted. I voted my conscience for those who I felt made the most sense to my worldview & how I would like to see things run.

I voted on a Pennsylvania ballot (I know, I know…I live in Chicago. I exploited a loophole I guess. Deal with it). On the Pennsylvania ballot it says it is a “Secret Ballot” so I am not going to say who I voted for as it is no one else’s business. Really, it’s no one else’s business whether I choose to vote at all but I did say I voted already so there’s that. You know I voted but you won’t know for who.
Once again, the mainstream parties gave options that I find repulsive…much more so than I recall ever being the case in the past. I find it strange to watch those who support either of these people as they attack each other, sometimes personally over their choice. Christians on both sides try to say their chosen candidate best exemplifies Christian virtues while I struggle to find any evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in either of them. When I’ve asked what evidence the supporters of either see, the responses never answer that but point to how they aren’t as bad at the other one or point to celebrity "Christian" endorsements as why they must be good Christians – celebrities who I would question their fruits as well if my opinion were to mean anything. Any further attempt to gain understanding seems to instead bring more anger & hatred from my Christian brothers & sisters who have pledged their allegiance to their chosen candidates. In some cases I decided to just shut up & try to avoid entangling myself in the matters of politics. In other cases, the bridges were burnt very quickly & appear that rebuilding may take time. Questioning these establishment mainstream candidates has brought ridicule, accosting, anger, resentment, & rejection. Respect lost. Friendships lost. Communication blocked.

It seems I am not the only one to have experience or see such deep divisions amongst us over this year’s politics. It seems to that those who believe in Love have a lot of work to do to pull us together in the aftermath of what this election process has brought. Thankfully, I have had encountered folks out there who were able to engage in reasonable discussion on these matters. They have chosen Love over hate. I know of one who is actively fasting & praying for the people of this nation in this time. I am very appreciative of him doing so.

I hope that we can still love one another even if our vote is for different people. There is good work yet to be done. We can still do it whether we politically agree or not. We are not the enemies of each other even if our viewpoints are different. Even if we want to think each other the enemy, Jesus calls for us to love our enemy. Regardless how you vote this time around…Love. Love your neighbors. Love your enemies. Don’t let the real enemy win by tearing us apart.

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Casting My Ballot

Saturday, July 11, 2015

LIFE In Film Form (revisited & updated)

I have another blog page where I post videos & sometimes a little explanation of why I filmed it. The majority of them are live music clips. I decided to compile a couple of playlists (which are embedded & linked at the bottom of this post) of the footage I shot over the years in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, & Mansfield before that. There is some "vintage" footage from an old analog tape camera when I lived in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Meadville, PA, & the beginning years in Mansfield, Ohio. There is a Chicago playlist of the shared life w/ Elphie in the making as well for these new clips I've been making.

I realize that my life hasn't quite turned out to be the typical life, at least by the average American standards. I never set out for that, but it's turned out quite differently in some aspects than I thought it would when I began moving into adulthood. I went to college studying religion & got a degree then set out to work in ministry. Though I have had my opportunities to do that, & believe that others will come as well, I felt a call toward something different than what I've experienced most to believe ministry to be. That's not to say it was entirely a failure. I have met some great people along the way. Some have encouraged me to continue pursuing my dream & others have walked the line alongside me. Those who haven't, well they also served a purpose.

I never cared for the idea of a 9-5 office job & I've not really stuck with the same job let alone the in same place for too least so far. I guess I took on a philosophy that if I'm not enjoying it, it's not worth living it. That's not to say that I don't see value in work. I absolutely do and I work for what I believe to be important. Besides, sometimes "work" can be enjoyable. Also, I know that pain & suffering is unfortunately a part of life & there are necessities we all seemingly must endure day to day that are typically not quite so enjoyable but nonetheless they are necessary to one's survival & well being. In such times, I pursue to overcome these obstacles & find joy in all circumstances. I try to keep a positive outlook as much as possible though it's hard at times. Overall, I feel I have accomplished this. I can look back over the years with the choices that I've made & say that though there were hard times, I've enjoyed life most of the time. I live one day at a time & try to go with the flow of wherever life takes me or where the LORD leads. This is the mindset I have & it's brought me this far. It's brought me to this place. It's an adventure. I depend on the LORD to guide me forward...especially when I can't see the next step.

What is to come? I have no clue but these videos highlight in part where I've least since I started filming & fiddling around with a camera. I started editing & posting videos to YouTube in 2007 after acquiring a MacBook with Final Cut Express installed on it. I started though using iMovie but grew frustrated by its limitations so I explored the Final Cut world. I later purchased a Mac Mini & Final Cut Pro. I am continually learning new things & hopefully improving my craft.

Some folks blog a lot detailing their life through words. Others tell the story of their life with photographs. Though I also do both those to some degree (and I feel that I'm better at the words than the photography), I have come to enjoy trying to tell a story even MY story with video. I don't believe I am that great at this as much as it is a passion of mine but I am trying to learn the craft. I don't expect folks to drop everything to watch the videos I create…I just don't see that my stuff is that important to demand anyone's time or that interesting for that matter. I do hope there are some out there that do enjoy these videos I make from time to time & maybe one day something will be special enough to reach someone in a profound way or some doors will be opened through what I do with a camera...who knows?!

I purchased a video from The Chariot in 2005 which documented their first tour. I found it interesting & quite funny. I decided it would be fun to do similar things when I went to music festivals & took it into the rest of life if something interesting was going on. Other bands followed in this trend too but first thanks goes to The Chariot for the inspiration!
In the meantime, here is what I got as far as "Life" videos that show a little bit of the life I get to live for those who care to see it.

Chicago: A Shared Life (2014 - ?)
Life in Chicago started at the end of 2014. There are a few other clips in here highlighting important events shared with Elphie from the Pittsburgh years as well.

Joel & Elphie's Wedding - 06.13.15
This playlist has both the live footage from the concert the night before, the live stream of the wedding ceremony, the recut & edited wedding ceremony, & other footage surrounding the celebration

LIFE (2012 - 2014) Pittsburgh Years
It was a much shorter chapter than I expected when I first moved to Pittsburgh. Though I met Elphie while in Cincinnati, our relationship developed more quickly shortly after I arrived in Pittsburgh & for it to continue to the place we are now meant leaving Pittsburgh. I was blessed with the opportunity to live with good friends while in Pittsburgh & reconnect with old friends. I was able to hunt once again which is an activity I enjoy. I also watched my favorite sports teams (ALL PITTSBURGH!) quite a lot. Going to shows decreased significantly but I suppose that's ok. Though the time was short, it was good.

LIFE (2007 - 2012) Cincinnati Years
My time in Cincinnati centered a lot in the music scene. I was able to try my hand in booking & promotion & was part of the start of a venue - The 86. I worked my own venue first at Covenant then did house shows when my living arrangements allowed. My most significant learning in video work (though the learning will continue of course) was during this time & I utilized it as much as I could in other areas such as w/ Covenant & The 86.

The 86
These clips highlight the shows as well as "shenanigans" of those of us who spent a lot of our time at The 86.

LIFE @ Covenant (2007 - 2012) - these clips fall into the Cincinnati era

The first few years I spent in Cincinnati I worked with Covenant - a Nazarene church in Northside. I tried to share what was going on in the ministry through my video work. I also had the opportunity to book & promote shows there prior to my leaving & moving on to do my own thing.
LIFE (2005 - 2007) Mansfield Years
These are some of the first videos I shot & edited. They aren't so great but shows a little bit of my life at that time. I got interested in doing this after watching the tour video put out by The Chariot (and other artists who followed suit) so there may be a few references to things I saw in that.

LIFE (2004 & 2005) "Vintage" TigerRAWk footage - encompasses life in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Meadville, PA, & Mansfield, Ohio
Prior to retiring the analog video camera, I took all the footage I shot at Cornerstone & a few places I lived to show whatever was of life in those places. This isn't good footage really but it was life then.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 - The End of the Ohio Era; 2013 - A New Beginning

2012. In some ways this year began with prospects of stability. In the end there was quite a bit of transition that shaped not only this year but the direction I am going as well.

There are things I wish never would have happened this past year and other things I wish would have continued a while longer. In all, the year was good in most ways.

I started the year working with UTS getting more than 40 hours a week driving a van around Cincinnati. It didn’t interfere too much with the other aspects of my life that I love (these are the things I would work to afford to do...essentially paying jobs have been more like a fundraiser to live my life haha). I continued in my role at The 86 where I was able to book a couple punk shows for my friends in FBS which led to one of the better things to happen in 2012 - the band Crash Cap Hooligans.

Crash Cap Hooligans only lasted for 2 months. We practiced at Witler where house shows continued. As it turned out, the last house show was also the only planned shows for the band (we played one other show but it was unplanned and probably ill advised). There was never any real plan for the Hooligans other than to play a show with FBS at the house. There was some chaos from the start...the idea came from conversation at a show early in 2012 with Davie Slagle regarding music tastes we happened to share and a desire to do something. Davie recruited Irish Mike to do vocals and had someone lined up to play drums who couldn’t make the first practice so I talked to my friend, Russ Ott about playing with us and he came on board. I really enjoyed playing the music but the end of the band and the end of house shows came in May.

When I was no longer permitted to host shows (technically no longer permitted to do anything but exist) at 4114 Witler, I decided it was time for a change. Summer brought about a shortage of hours at work. I made a trip to Pittsburgh on my way to visit with family and started to really consider the idea of moving there but it would mean leaving something that I loved - The 86. I took some time to think about it, and attended the “last” Cornerstone festival in June. In July, I was contacted by a friend, Wendell about coming back to work with Walk of Joy. I decided to do so in August because it would provide me 40 hours a week and the arrangement gave me weekends off.

In October I finally was able to begin pursuing the idea of moving to Pittsburgh. I prayed about it and sought out advice from others. It felt like the right move so I finally decided to go for it. I found a job at Partners For Quality within 3 weeks of pursuing employment (much quicker than when I decided to move to Cincinnati) so I agreed to come to work with them and began transitioning my life to Pittsburgh...moving the weekend after Thankgiving and coming back to Cincinnati in December just to gather a few more belongings and to clean out 4114 Witler the best that I could.

4114 Witler was a good place with the original living arrangement. The plan when I first moved in was to have a community house there but those plans were disrupted by an uncooperative house mate who ended up being the upstairs neighbor once it got to be unbearable sharing the space with him and detrimental to the way of life I was hoping to achieve. It was able to continue to be used as I desired it to until an unfortunate series of events ended those things. As much as I enjoyed the shows, band practices, and hosting folks at the house, when all that ended I no longer cared to be in that house making it much easier to move.

The harder part of the move was leaving The 86. The family I found in those at The 86 will always be family. I wish I could have brought all that with me to Pittsburgh but for most of them, Cincinnati is their home while Cincinnati was not my home. I hope the best for them and the club and intend to stay involved as much as I can though I no longer live there.
In Pittsburgh, I am beginning my life here in community at the Greenway House with Dylan Rooke - a friend I met through booking shows in Cincinnati. So far, I have enjoyed living with him and the others at the house. I have found what seems to be a good church community at Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community in Pittsburgh’s Southside. I hope to eventually get back into booking/promoting shows like i did at Witler. I don’t know how soon that will happen. I have been given ideas of ways to go about this without the need for a space (at least to start) so I just need to become more familiar with the Pittsburgh music scene. The shows I’ve gone to so far have been pretty cool.

2013. I look forward to what this year will bring. I am excited for the new possibilities the new surroundings hold and the new friends I will be meeting throughout living this life in Pittsburgh. I hope there is a good alternative to the void left by Cornerstone either at the same location with Occupy Cornerstone or somewhere new. I hope to find my place to live the life I desire within God’s will and that my place is here in Pittsburgh amongst the established friends I have here and the new ones to come.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Recently I have been thinking of the life I lead. At 32 years old and single there have been days where I wonder if the path I have chosen was really for the best but most of the time I think of how blessed I have been to live this way.

I spent a little time earlier this year in Los Angeles with a friend who aspires to be an Actor in Hollywood. For him, watching movies and TV shows brings him joy. I have some other friends who are similar to him and find joy in these forms of entertainment. Others find joy through sports. Some through art, some through endeavors such as photography. I know quite a few who find it by playing music.

I happen to enjoy many, many things. I enjoy a good movie or tv show, I enjoy sports when it involves the great teams from Pittsburgh, I enjoy filmmaking typically in relation to my biggest joy - LIVE music.

I have been blessed to be part of a group who started a venue a little over a year ago called The 86. Prior to that I did my own endeavor at Covenant and have also over the last year or so did shows in the basement of the house in which I dwell (at least I did until recently - sorry on why that ended is posted over at my shows blog - TigerRAWkShows).

Some conversations I have had recently revolved around how one spends their extra money if they happen to be lucky enough to have it and if they don't how they spend the money they don't have but spend it anyways.

For me, ultimately it seems I spend money on music more than anything else. While I enjoy a good movie in the theatre I realized my mindset on this is that I'd rather go to see a band live over going to a movie because that particular show is a one time event and never will happen exactly the same way ever again. Yeah, sometimes it's a disappointment but there are those times when a show has something special that sticks with you forever. There have been many of those moments I can look back to and remember with joy that I was able to be there on that night in that place.

Sometimes, I have been fortunate enough to capture it to some degree on video (and those are posted at my youtube channel - called TigerRAWk). I could watch a movie in a theatre and yes, it's usually a better experience than one can get at home but the movie itself will likely always be there in some form to be watched (dvd or netflix or whatever). The live show itself is only live once. You might be able to watch a youtube clip or whatever and that's cool, As many of you know I have posted over 2,400 videos to youtube and most are of live music so I'm certainly not knocking it but the truth is, video only can capture so much of that experience and the emotion from the moment will never be replicated again.

There are special ones with bands who do happen to share my beliefs or background or I can relate to on some level and happen to put on a great performance that I can get into and enjoy. Those are the best moments and the ones that stick with me as well as other people. Yes, I watch bands of all sorts of styles with all sorts of lifestyles, backgrounds, beliefs, and agendas. I don't always agree with what a band stands for….often times I don't but they may still put on a great show and so I can enjoy the time spent and the money I invested in it. Those are also good times of community with other music lovers and friends and often the artists too but it is the times I mentioned first that make the most special nights that will live in my heart for years to come and for someone who works at a venue or otherwise books shows, it is those moments that make it worth our while and I for one hope I don't become jaded like seems to happen to many who also do this.

Sadly though, it seems such moments are becoming more rare. Things in this life are changing. Some of it could be getting older on my part but I think there's deeper issues than that on a grander scheme. There is the economic impact from both the world economy and the changing of the music industry with the digital age that has made it difficult to make a "living" as a musician today. I have noticed that there also seems to be apathy amongst the "music fans" and the "scene" these days where some folks don't seem to care to support those who make the music they love when they come around and then complain that there's "no good shows anymore" when their favorite band decides to quit touring or quit altogether or a venue (and festivals) shuts down.

For example, one of the places where I've enjoyed seeing some of the best performances from bands was Cornerstone over the last 9 years (counting this final one next week). Due to the increasingly shrinking numbers of folks attending over the last few years, the crappy economy, and the demand of some bands for outrageously large payouts it has killed what I believe to be the best music festival there has ever been. As a Christian, I have attended other Christian marketed festivals in the region I have lived but none compared. Those other festivals were geared toward a certain demographic I never really quite fit…at least not any longer by the time I started attending the festivals. Cornerstone offered a week with a large variety of bands, musical styles, and scenes co-existing for the most part that weren't available at most other Christian marketed festivals (at least not until recently) and the freedom to choose how you wanted to spend your time there…no limits to the space you could claim to be your camp, no shutting down vendors to force you to listen to someone speak/preach, and for the most part freedom to enjoy the bands in whatever fashion you wanted (moshing, etc.) without a security guard stopping you not to mention the freedom of the bands to relatively play their music without the fear of censorship. Yeah, there were some rules of course, it's how a society works to have some sort of code of conduct naturally but it wasn't restrictive as certain other festivals seem to be but this may just be my opinion.

After this coming week that comes to an end and it may be the case with at least a few of those other festivals as well. The economy has taken it's toll for sure along with the evolution of the "music industry, and the aforementioned apathy of the people who claim to love their scene or whatever,

Bands have to constantly "sell" themselves and prove to be something different in the ocean of noise that's out there currently which is definitely hard. It seems everything has been done before and no one seems to be doing anything new so why should we care about this band or that band? For me, you don't necessarily have to be doing something new but doing it with passion and love is what will make you special to me and I believe will get attention of the music "scene" or the fans. My hope is that you will continue despite these obstacles and give us, the fans, something real and something to remember for whatever reason you choose.

I don't say this to point blame at everyone who doesn't go to shows. In all honesty these coming months will probably mean that I can attend very few due to the lack of cash-flow with my current work situation. Nonetheless this is an activity that has brought me joy or entertains me still even as I grow older as it has for like 20 years or so now. Many at this stage in life look back with certain fondness on their days going to the shows of their teenage and college years. So far, I don't have to look too far back to reminisce on these times and have every desire in my heart to continue going for years to come and supporting the bands and the "scene" for whatever the may mean. There is a calling I believe in my life to be part of this that is ground so much deeper than the entertainment aspects of it and though some of the joy comes from being entertained, it comes more so from that place I have been called to be of serving those who love live music and those who make it.

I certainly hope with the end of an era with the death of Cornerstone that the bands I have grown to love don't stop touring. I also hope more bands born out of the scenes will also carry the torch when those older bands do have to eventually quit touring.  I do believe it will probably be harder if something doesn't come along to take the place of Cornerstone. There are a few weekend events here and there that are reaching to the demographic Cornerstone once reached. There will likely not be a festival quite like Cornerstone but I hope there will at least be something to bring together some of the people that I was able to fellowship with most every year at Cornerstone for the last 8 years and this one last time next week.

As I look back on what I've written here I suppose it's sort of rambling and may not make sense to the readers so here I will quickly summarize it I guess:

Essentially for me my favorite form of entertainment and what brings most joy to my life in and outside of my relationship with God is live music at this point in time. The live show is a one time experience for good or bad that can never be experienced in it's fullness again whereas say a movie can be watched again and again and again….live music is a beautiful thing that I hope to continue to have in my life for many years to come regardless of where I am in life (in all ways that can be interpreted).

Saturday, December 31, 2011


I look at this blog here and realize there's a lot more I would have liked to have written over the last 12 months. I don't have a good excuse for this other than time was spent on other things. Much of the time was wasted I must admit though some of it was spent doing things I enjoy or had made a commitment to do so it just didn't get done. There are things in my head that I hope to one day articulate into this blog. I hope to be a person that is transparent in my life…an open book. I often wonder though if some things once I written out should be kept for personal reflection. I guess in the end that will be a decision I will make and will be known most likely only be me.

Anyway this is not the time for those things but to reflect on how 2011 turned out. Like 2010 and all year's past in reflection I see nothing less than that God is faithful. Here are 11 moments or things from 2011 that will stick with me for one reason or another:

1. Opening The 86. It took close to a year for us to get this thing open and on April 1st, 2011 that is what happened. It is what kept me here in Cincinnati. It has had it's share of difficulties but has brought a ton of joy as well. The crew at The 86 is family and I wouldn't want to work with anyone else. We have had some great shows over the last few months. Here is the footage so far with more to come as soon as I have time to edit and post:

2. Thank You For Being A Friend Tour happening at my house. Dan Smith contacted me and The 86 about this tour. The problem that arose was that the date given was a Sunday. I offered my house and after the unsuccessful search for other locations it was finally confirmed that this would happen. Lisa, who also works at The 86 offered to help me put this on so I didn't have to try to collect money, deal with sound, and other little things. Another music scene friend Carissa came out to support along with many, many other friends. This was a show that likely will never be topped as far as house shows go. The turnout was probably larger than my basement could handle so it was a good thing that Derek Zanetti of The Homeless Gospel Choir came up with the idea to do it in the back yard. Josh Scogin, vocalist for The Chariot, was also on this little tour. He brought up the idea of shooting a The Chariot video in my basement. I am all for it if it were to happen. Anyway, this night was a snapshot of why I open my house for these kind of events to build community with other music lovers. It also seems to open up conversation of eternal things with the artists and others who come to enjoy the event most of the time as well. I believe God is using these opportunities. This is why I do what I do. Here are the playlists that highlight that night:

3. Cornerstone 2011. It started with a bang…literally. We were blindsided by a storm the first night we were there. So much for the plan to have a relaxing first day before the gates open. Though my little "slug" tent survived and I got to sleep in it while the others had to sleep in cars, we spent the next day rebuilding the many destroyed tents and canopy. We also spent time at a laundromat for those who needed to dry their bedding and clothes. After all that excitement, then we got to enjoy the live music and community that Cornerstone provides each year. There was speculation this could be the end of Cornerstone but it appears that this favorite annual event will go on. Here is a playlist of all that Cornerstone was to me:

4. Growing Closer To My Friends. Going to shows with a few other people this year instead of always doing it alone allowed me to grow closer to some friends. Lisa, Josh, Tara, Gabrielle, and Russ all were traveling friends to one or more shows. Working at The 86 allowed this to happen with some of the same friends and some others. Booking my own shows also did this. This I no doubt believe will continue beyond this year but it was important to me so I included it here.

5. GothiCon. New friends were made and I saw a beautiful communal gathering of a subculture often misunderstood. Many things came against the ministry that put this together as well as against those of us of The 86 who opened our venue and our lives to this event but God used all of it for good. We enjoyed it and hope it can occur again soon.

6. Headnoise/Deadhorse Show. Once again I recruited help from Lisa and Carissa came by as well and things went pretty good for this show until Deadhorse was nearing the climatic end of their set and the power went out. Upon further investigation it was found that the whole block was without power at least if not a greater area and power was not expected to be restored for several hours. Headnoise decided to do their very first acoustic set of three songs on the front porch where a little light from a neighboring building that likely has a generator allowed us to see a little bit and listen. Robert Goodwin said a prayer to close the evening and there were many great conversations about what it is we do and how our faith is in it. I hope to have another opportunity to work with Headnoise again in the future.

7. Destroy Nate Allen Show. I think what makes this particular show stand out in my mind over the others that I didn't mention on here was the aftershow. Nate contacted me first in 2010 when I didn't have a space to use for a show. He contacted me again early in 2011 trying to set up the summer tour but originally it didn't look like it would work out. In the end it did as I delayed my trip to Warren, PA by a day. This show happened the day after returning from Cornerstone. The DNA set happened outside in the yard like the Listener show and though what DNA does is a bit bizarre, it was a good time. After the show, Nate & his wife and performance partner asked to go out for dinner and spend more time together. Lisa called me to see if the show was still going on. She ended up having to work. She ended up meeting us at Skyline to eat. I learned during the dinner conversation some things I feel will benefit me moving forward with my personal ministry with both The 86 and doing house shows. It also seemed that Nate and I have dealt with some similar issues in our desire to minister to the people we are in constant contact and community with through the live music scene. I appreciated this time we had. Here are the playlists from that show:

8. Shows In General. All the shows I went to were great! All the shows I worked on either at The 86 or at the house were also great! It is my joy working with bands regardless of where. I love live music. In my opinion there is nothing like it. The potential to build community with others who support independent and local music is why I do this. Oftentimes the opportunity to share my faith comes through this. As I said before, some friendships were strengthened through the shared experience of the live shows and traveling to/from them. The performance is another reason I love live music. The music itself is great but there is something special that only comes from a performance. That is why I film a lot of live shows too. The house shows were able to continue even with the strife in the house and the separation of it. Philip has the two upper floors and I have the first and basement. Pomegranates practiced for a time when there were no shows going on and I had anywhere from one to five happen per month. I will continue doing this as long as I can. I will always enjoy live music

9. Pittsburgh. The Pirates were competitive for the first time in nearly 20 years and I had the opportunity to catch a game at PNC Park so I did. I also got to visit with my friend Joe for the first time in several years at Rolland's - a restaurant where he serves. I enjoyed a free meal before the game and we hung out for a while afterwards before I returned to my parent's in the wee hours of the morning before my return to Cincinnati. Pittsburgh feels like home. Will it be? I don't know but I am open for the possibility.

10. Going HD. I switched up some of what I use to create the videos I have created. I first bought Final Cut Pro for a great price (about 1/3 retail) on ebay and came to find that my macbook was not up to the proper standards to handle Final Cut Pro. I returned to ebay to find another great deal on a mac mini which I would run through my HD television. I went to ebay once again to find another great deal and picked up a high definition JVC camera. Unfortunately the first one was stolen but God blessed me with a second one for even cheaper on ebay. I lost about 6 hours of footage which bummed me out but I was able to replace and move forward rather quickly and important events such as Cornerstone was documented for those of us who care to see.

11. Going vinyl. I became closer friends with Brent Lakes who runs Broken Circles Records. Some similar tastes in music led to my purchases of artists who he was pressing to vinyl. I borrowed my parents stereo to start but then purchased my own and have come to enjoy the difference in vinyl enough that I keep my eye out for vinyl editions of albums from bands I happen to like quite a bit.

2011's best music I acquired (in my debatable opinion)

1. Beneath The Oaks (ep)
2. Blindside - With Shivering Hearts We Wait
3. Civil Wars - Barton Hollow
4. Cool Hand Luke - Of Man
5. The Homeless Gospel Choir - You Work So Hard Just To Be Like Everyone Else
6. Jawbone - Loss Of Innocence
7. Josh Garrels - Love & War & The Sea In Between
8. Life In Your Way - Kingdoms
9. Pomegranates - In Your Face Theives/Chestnut Attic
10. Sleeping Giant - Kingdom Days In An Evil Age
11. The Scurvies - Don't Let Me Go

*honorable mention goes to Wooden Heart by Listener…not a 2011 release but released in 2011 on vinyl by Broken Circles Records which is when I got it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The 86 - Blood, Sweat, & Tears!
On Friday, April 1st, 2011, the 86 opened to the public...this was nearly a year in the making and two and a half years in the waiting for what was to come!
When the 86 was coming together and a location was being found, I was leaving Covenant with some question about what it was I would do. God’s timing is great while at times quite stressful. Throughout the process of purchasing the building where the ministry of The 86 takes place, Chris and Monica Human took a leap of faith believing that the money would be there when it was needed and at the last possible moment, it was there! Anytime during the cleaning and renovating that supplies or help was needed the funds, supplies, or people would be there! So many of us involved in this thing don’t have the most financially stable lives or jobs but we believe in the vision of Chris and Monica and in this ministry and put everything we could into it alongside them.
The week leading up to the opening many long days were put in trying to get everything done. We didn’t get everything done but enough was accomplished to open without much of a hitch. Tom Conlon, one of the artists scheduled to perform during the Grand Opening, was at the club helping until 4am in the morning on Friday so that things could be ready to go at 8pm on Friday night. People worked right up until the doors opened to get things done. When all was said and done, it felt right to be back with these people working to provide not just entertainment but a community of hope and love to a population that doesn’t feel they are loved or a sense of hope in this dark world.
The location of The 86 is perfect to be reaching the people we feel led to minister among...the very same people that seem to be drawn to us for some reason or another. The name of the club alludes to the rejection by society (and in some ways the rejection of society) of the rocknroll crowd. Many of us involved in the ministry also have been the rejected. We have found a hope in Jesus Christ the fulfilled us and gave us a purpose in this life and we want to share that hope to everyone that crosses our path.
The 86 will be a welcome place. We believe it will be life changing. There are so many other things in the works for The 86 such as studios, practice spacs, artist and band development, and apartments as well as the various ministries that each of these opportunities will bring. We are committed to this and have great anticipation for what is to come now that we are on the other side of the grand opening!
Financial needs remain unfortunately...if you happen to have anything you could give please visit the ministry website and donate. Your money goes completely into serving the community with this club.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I've been in Ohio for the most part since the fall of 2001. While attending Mount Vernon Nazarene University I was still technically a Pennsylvania resident so my loyalty to Pittsburgh was more scoffed than questioned by the Brownie fans that I was surrounded by as well as the Bungles fans. Even when I moved to Mansfield in 2005 the fact that I am from Pennsylvania made sense on why I am a Pittsburgh fan. It wasn't until I moved to Cincinnati in 2007 that people had expectation that I would abandon the teams I grew up rooting for in favor of the Bungles?!? Sorry guys, but that's just not going to happen.

My move to Ohio has had nothing to do with sports but for opportunities in ministry. I am currently in Cincinnati because a ministry brought me here...I remain because of an opportunity I believe in called The 86 Club. No, it wasn't the sports that brought me here but God and it has been God that's kept me here along with an amazing music scene and community.

I was born in 1980 so I missed the glory years of the 1970s when Pittsburgh was the city of Champions. The Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl a few months before I was born in early 1980 and from what I can tell, the 80s was a decade to forget for Pittsburgh fans. That's ok, because I didn't really pay attention to sports at that time.

In 1990 the Pirates ended the decade slump for professional sports by winning the Eastern Division and going to the NL Championship where they would lose to the Reds and they went on to win the World Series. The Pirates won the Eastern Division again in 1991 and 1992 and lost the NL Championship to the Atlanta Braves those years spawning and intense dislike for that team. And so began what stands at this point is an 18 season losing streak with no end in site.

In 1991 and 1992 the Penguins won their first ever Stanley Cups making Pittsburgh a City of Champions again. Though it was a bit of a roller coaster ride in the years in between, the Penguins have again risen to greatness and won another Stanley Cup in 2009 with a revenge beating of the Detroit Red Wings after coming up just short the year before losing to the Red Wings. Currently expectations are high that the Penguins will continue to be a contender for the forseeable future.

The Steelers remained competitive year in and year out since Cowher took over having only three losing seasons. Cowher was able to take them to two Super Bowls and win one of those and now Tomlin has matched that in less time possibly surpassing it if the Steelers win this Sunday against the Packers.

In college sports my loyalties lie with Penn State (Joe Paterno) and University of Pittsburgh. Penn State won two National Championships in my lifetime and is a consistent competitor for the Big Ten Championship every year. Pitt is a consistent contender for the title of the Big East in both football and basketball.


I began to pay attention to sports in the 90s when I started to play. Naturally I was a Pittsburgh fan due in part to the location of my upbringing, in part due to the success of the Pirates and the Penguins at the time, and largely due to my family influence of Pittsburgh support. My parents and Uncles were around to experience the greatness of the 70s. My grandfather had to suffer through the inept teams the preceded the Noll era and the winning. At least for him, the Pirates won Championships in the 1960 and 1971. Strangely, at that time, in Warren, PA we didn't get Pittsburgh channels. The cable provider explained that the hills were too big when asked why. Apparently the hills shrunk by the late 90s and I was able to watch Fox Sports Pittsburgh but as a pay per view channel. After leaving for college it changed to free so when I am back I get a chance to watch it still. Prior to the hills shrinkage, I would get to see the Pirattes on TBS, a New York network that showed the Mets, occasionally on ESPN if the game wasn't blacked out, and on WGN when visiting my great grandparents in Tidioute - a town south of Warren who got Fox Sports Pittsburgh a few years sooner than Warren.

I suppose since Warren, PA is about equal distance from Cleveland as from Pittsburgh I could have given my support to the teams there or maybe Buffalo which is a bit closer. In the early 90s, the Bills were able to get into the Super Bowl four times in a row which is quite the achievement. I rooted for them each time but they lost each time and then the Steelers returned to their winning ways. The Sabres made it to the Stanley Cup finals in '99 and once again I rooted for Buffalo but they lost. The Cleveland Indians made it to the World Series in the 90s and I rooted for them in '95 (they were playing the hated Braves) but I had to go with the former PIrates manager Jim Leyland leading the Marlins to victory in '97. These other cities with major league professional sports closest to my hometown have not been the City of Champions like Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has brought two Super Bowl Championships with hope for a third this week and three Stanley Cup Championships. It is indeed the City of Champions!

Pittsburgh has a blue collar mentality and it shows in its teams. The Steelers are easily the toughest football team out there. Say what you want about Ben Roethlisberger's personal life (I know you Brownie fans will continue to tastelessly point that out) but he is the toughest quarterback in the league. Steeler football has been known for its run offense and defense. Roethlisberger has brought a new element with his ability to shake off hits and make passing plays and occasionally run the ball himself. The Penguins especially this year has become a tough team with adding guys not afraid to drop the gloves and they are proving they can winwithout their superstars

In moving to Ohio, I did not abandon my roots nor will I ever. I am loyal to Pittsburgh sports. When people tell me I should become a Cincinnati fan I ask would they switch if they were to move to Pittsburgh. That remark is met with disgust and should be enough proof as to why I haven't switched loyalty just because I switched geography. Certainly it helps when Pittsburgh teams are proven winners and with the exception of the Pirates the management makes a point to ensure a consistency of winning teams. For the record, I do root for the Cincinnati Cyclones who have had two championship teams since I've moved to Cincinnati...but that is minor league (the only Ohio major league sports team to win a championship in my lifetime is the Cincinnati Reds and they beat the Pirates to get there).

In football, I have more respect for Bengals fans than I do Brownie fans. The Bengals fans have realistic expectations of their team and realize when they aren't playing so great whereas the Brownie fans will believe they are on the verge of a Super Bowl even when it is impossible for them to get there (such as having been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention). Both sets of fans seem to have an undeserved sense of entitlement though but the Brownie fans are much more obnoxious about it. Typically you have to win to earn the right to talk trash…

In the event that Pittsburgh isn't in a playoff for whatever reason, I will often root for the Bengals, Reds, or Bills if they were to make it. I cannot bring myself to root for Cleveland teams (since '95 when I rooted for the Indians). Besides the legacy of losing in Cleveland, I just plain don't like that city nor the teams there. I find it hilarious when they lose. I do have friends there that l love and enjoyed a few good rock shows up that way over the years but generally, Cleveland just plain sucks. It's a shame I have to drive through it to get from Cincinnati back to Warren, PA. No matter how rough a day may be, the realization that I'm not in or from Cleveland is enough to make things much better!

Yes, I am a born and raised western Pennsylvanian Pittsburgh sports fan and proud of it and that won't change. I have a glimmer of hope that the Pirates will one day end the 18 season losing streak but live in the reality that the real sports happen in the fall and winter. In my lifetime I have been witness to three Stanely Cup winning seasons for the Penguins and two Super Bowl winning Steelers teams out of three appearances. The Steelers have the most Super Bowl Champions in the NFL and will be trying to win a third for my lifetime and seventh overall. I believe that they will win it and I will be watching on Sunday with my terrible towel in hand right after I watch the Pittsburgh Penguins play and hopefully beat the Capitals. I know there will be seasons were the teams I love won't do well and I will acknowledge when it happens. For the Penguins and the Steelers…this is not that year!

Friday, December 31, 2010

The 10 Great Things Of 2010

I had a habit of trying to write out a year in review the last couple years but I don't feel like doing so this time so Here's a highlight of 10 moments that are worth thinking about from 2010:

1. God is faithful. God is alive and moving. This could have been a very rough year but there was peace throughout the uncertainty and chaos that can only come through God. Leaving behind some of the things that come with denominations and doctrine was helpful in opening me to experience this. God is too big to be defined by one person's ideology. I feel I came to better understand this over the last few years and though I am thankful for my roots and what I have been taught, I know there is more of God to be experienced and I don't want to limit how God works with preconceived ideas. I am trying to be open to the possibilities beyond what I am comfortable with or know about. Thanks to those who have been part of Witler House, the 86'd crew and all the communities surrounding them both. You have meant more than you could ever know.

2. 86Ministries and the 86 Club beginning and taking shape and the ministry that has already begun. I believe this is will be an incredible ministry and has been key to my staying in Cincinnati. It's been a leap of faith for so many of us involved but God has provided when we needed it. On a personal, side note: if you are able, it would mean a lot if you could support what we are doing. go to then go to give and see what areas in which we need help.

3. My house! 4114 Witler is home for now and I am excited about the possibilities of what can be done in this space. So far, I have opened it up for a few concerts and allowed friends in bands to stay when they needed. I do intend to submit the house to RYFO to hopefully expand the ability to help artists who need it by providing a place to rest or play a small house show. Currently Phillip Smith is the only other resident in a house that can easily hold up to five people so in the coming year I hope to find others interested in living in community at this house to join us here.

4. The last show I booked/put on at Covenant. The lineup and all the people involved in it made this a night to remember for a very long time. I can't think of a better way to end my time with Covenant than what happened that night and with my friends new and old.

5. The show at Covenant on Good Friday. There was a special movement of the Spirit that night that I for one felt and even with some uncertainty swirling around me as to the future there was peace on this night and Mark Nicks (of Cool Hand Luke) had some good things to say and good music to share.

6. Having bands play house shows in my house. It was a thrill to have Deadhorse, The Never Setting Suns, Sacred Spirits, Jonathan Hape, Silent Tongues, Bear (The Ghost), and Wild Talents amongst others play in the basement. Hoping this continues in some way even after the 86 Club opens.

7. All the wonderful friends I met through putting together concerts. This bleeds back to 2009 as well. I am so glad that I could continue to work with you even after the end of my time at Covenant. I am excited to see what is to come. Most importantly, I am glad to know each of you and call you my friends.

8. Cornerstone. This will probably always be on a list of highlights of my year because simply it is a highlight of every year. I will add to this for the third year a highlight of the autumn season has been going to Unified Underground. both events have been inspiring and refreshing each time I go.

9. Building relationships in the Cincinnati D.IY. community and the opportunities to reach out within that to host shows that probably would otherwise never have come to Covenant which has led to the opportunity to open up my basement for some shows since moving in to the house. There are great things going on within this and hopefully it can continue strong.

10. Reconciliation…enough said.

Favorite 10 Albums of 2010 (that I can think of currently); going to go with Alphabetical Order by Artist here:

1. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devil's Tattoo
2. The Chariot - Long Live
3. Deadhorse - We Can Create Our Own World
4, Flatfoot56 - Black Thorn
5. For Today - Breaker
6. Never Setting Suns - And Now We Are Not Alone
7. Pomegranates - One Of Us
8. Psalters - Ch. 7
9. Strength Within - Things We Speak Of
10. The Trigger Code - No Preparation For Parting

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Am Thankful

This year, I am very aware that God is in control and couldn't possibly be more thankful that that is true. I lived with so much uncertainty the first few months of the year and if it was up to me, I probably would have left Cincinnati shortly after Cornerstone to live in Pittsburgh or something. Instead with my exit from Covenant along with my losing the resources to book and promote shows came a new opportunity to get on board with whatever is in store with The 86 Club and 86ministries. The final two shows at Covenant were great! Many friends shared those last days with me and it was apparent to me that God was there too and the Holy Spirit moved in the place. After the exit, I have been blessed with the time to help with the destruction and renovations of the 86. In this time I continued in another transition to working with Walk of Joy exclusively (and leaving SupportCare) along with a paper route. Though these aren't the most ideal job situations, they have allowed me to pay all my bills mostly on time and afford some extra things here and there as well. I am so excited to see what comes in 2011 with the opening of the 86 and Vineyard Uptown who has joined in and will share the ministry space with the 86.

I am also thankful for the new place to live at a very affordable price. Part of the 86 Club building is two apartments. I had asked to live in one and was waiting for the renovations to complete for that to happen when I was asked if I might want to move into a house on Witler Street. I checked the place out and was amazed that it was in such good condition for such a low monthly rent with no lease. I accepted the offer and just after officially moving in, put on my first house show! At this point I have one other house mate and hope in time that a few others will move in as well. I also plan to make the house available when I can for other shows when I'm not involved with one at the 86 Club as well as make the house available for bands needing somewhere to stay during their travels.

I am thankful for the many friends I have in Cincinnati that supported me through the year in prayer and giving correction and advice when I needed it. I have never been happier in a "church" as I have been at the Witler House and love that I now live just two doors down from it. I am very excited about the opportunity to be starting into a new ministry ( with Chris and Monica Human as well as the rest of the crew (Josh, Cindy, Chris, Jon & Becky, and Melissa). There is a vision here that cannot be ignored and so far the blessings of God to make it this far have been amazing and so fun to see as they happen. I am thankful as well for my family and the fact they support what I want to do and feel called to do even if it doesn't make sense to them.

Finally, I am thankful for reconciliation. Life is too short for people to hold things against each other. I don't want to hold on to any anger or bitterness and certainly hope that others don't hold anything against me. I have made a point to reconcile with a few others this past year and hope that forgiveness has come from those I have forgiven.

If there is anything I have learned recently, it is to trust in God to lead. God does a better job than we can ever do on our own. Often times we aren't patient or faithful enough to wait on God to lead or even listen when He does but as I have come to be open to the Truth even more this year, I have also come to experience the joy of following the Holy Spirit's leading.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Three Years in Cincinnati

It's been just over three years as a resident of Cincinnati and more specifically, Northside. I reflected on my first year anniversary of living here but didn't take the time to do so at the second. I guess partially due to my being busy booking shows at that time with Covenant, working full time with SupportCare and trying to manage a way to step down to part time if I could swing getting financial support from Covenant or something.

I guess I decided to write at this time to share the exciting journey through life that God has given me this past year which surpasses anything that happened the previous years.

Ever since moving here I desired a more significant role at Covenant but never was too sure what that meant. After that first year was completed, Covenant moved into a new building providing an opportunity to embrace something I felt that Lord had placed in me so I brought it up to Abe (pastor of Covenant). I was serving with him and his wife Joni at Covenant. Covenant was my reason for even moving to Cincinnati in the first place. I worked for SupportCare because it was the first job I could find that would allow me to go through the open door. I found a small apartment on the corner of Hamilton and Chase that was suitable though a bit cramped.

Around the same time as Covenant was blessed with a larger building to occupy, I along with my friend Chris Human went to Unified Underground where I felt compelled to be involved in some way in the local underground music scene...personally I felt most drawn to the punk subculture but in Cincinnati its rather small.. It seemed from the conversation with Abe that this was something Covenant would also like to embrace so I began seeking the opportunities to do so. It took until January 2009 for the first of what would be many opportunities to book and manage a show. That opportunity came with a good friend from my days in Mansfield, Jonathan Hape. That first show was an enjoyable though low key event lasting little more than an hour and a half but laid the ground work of what was to come. The next opportunity came in early April where I used the room designated for shows though this was probably more suitable than sanctuary with another northern Ohio friend who now resides in Nashville.

As the year went on I had the privilege of working with many bands and in July at Cornerstone Festival I felt a deeper calling in that I wanted to work with bands who weren't necessarily Christians and whose audience was not necessarily Christians. I began feeling that my place may not be at Covenant and when bringing up the possibility of working outside Christian music to Abe I was prepared to walk away if he did not see the value in this. Abe once again seems to embrace my vision so I continued on doing shows at Covenant. As things progressed and became very busy and more and more responsibility was being required of me at SupportCare, I asked Covenant to provide some financial support so I could dedicate myself to the ministry to the artists and the subculture. Though it wasn't quite what I asked for and took longer to kick in, the support finally came in November. In the meantime I attended the Cincinnati CCDA event where I learned a few things and noticed a focus on racial reconciliation that is very important though I feel even more important would be a focus on changing the culture than making folks feel guilty for being born in white middle class America. The weekend before this I once again went to Unified Underground where God affirmed my calling to work in the musical subcultures and with artists. I got to see a number of friends from bands and other towns and observed other artists I wanted to work with and would in the coming year.

It was also around this time that I found myself involved with the Witler Street house church and community surrounding it. I began to feel more that this was my home church than Covenant as I felt more and more disconnected from Covenant. I wasn't really in the loop as to what was going on there anymore but I continued to pursue my calling booking mostly indie bands though now and then getting the opportunity to work with punk, hardcore, and even goth. In December, I had the privilege to finally put on a show that was without any Christian bands. It went very well, the bands were very respectful of my requests there were in place out of respect for the church facility and the ministries that occur there. It was such a good event that we decided to do a second event in January that went equally as well.

Though the shows were going well and having an amazing impact, My life was headed into a cloud of uncertainty as 2010 began. One of the developmentally disabled individuals I worked with at my now part time job ended up dying in mid January as I was waiting for the financial issues at Covenant to be ironed out with the promise that I would be reimbursed. I was in a pretty rough spot financially. In a meeting with Abe I  was told that I would not be receiving support any longer. That night I worked on one of the toughest shows so far. It was a Haiti benefit show that was with punk bands that aren't Christians and though it was a great outreach, they were much less respectful of the requests I had given as before to respect the church facility and ministries that occur there than the previous attempts.

At the meeting that day as Abe left and I began setting things up for the show, I felt I needed to re-evaluate what to do. I told Abe to find another van driver for that Sunday at least and ended up not attending service at Covenant. I was a bit upset by the decision that I would not be supported any longer and felt it better to take time away than to go there with the bitterness I felt and possibly say or do something I could regret. From there I ended up covering some shifts at work that interfered with Sunday services and eventually took on a permanent Sunday shift that would not allow for me to attend Covenant on Sundays. I tried for a while to continue attending Wednesday evening services regularly but in time that became less frequent. In March, I booked the two shows for the month on back to back nights. I had to cancel one of the shows two days prior to it happening due to a scheduling conflict at Covenant which was out of my hands. After dealing with this, I requested a calendar of events which led to another meeting with Abe and this time Joni was there as well. Sadly, this meeting didn't go very well from my perspective. I went into it feeling this was probably going to reveal my time at Covenant would be coming to a close. I was asked what my plans were and I did not have a clear answer. There were two concerts planned for April and so I was told that they would be my last until I could determine my plans from this point. I respected that decision though what was said next was taken hard by me and confirmed the end of my working relationship with Covenant. I was asked if I wanted to continue with Covenant I must find employment that will work around Covenant anytime that they wanted me to be available. I felt this was an unreasonable request. Along with this was a debate on the start time of the last scheduled show. This led to harsh words. I felt I was being reasonable to ask for compromise but it seems Abe and Joni didn't see it that way and so we could not come to an agreement.

I made a few calls and confirmed a few bands to make these final shows the best they could possibly be as well as let a few close friends know that my time with Covenant would be done after April. I was given some good advice and had some good feedback and went on with the plans for these shows.

Both shows were amazing and Spirit filled and had fairly good turnouts. Many friends were at the last one especially which was a night to remember. After the shows I moved all the gear out to my tiny apartment and made one last appearance on a Sunday morning at Covenant to say my goodbye. Things continued to be somewhat strained between Covenant and I but I want to be sure it is known that some reconciliation was made in October that should allow for healing. There were wrongs on both sides and things said that should never have been said. I would say the reasons are because I invested a lot into Covenant as did Abe and Joni and we both cared for the aspects we were part of so the passion led to tempers flaming. No excuses really but it's sadly the way things go with humanity.

In the time since leaving Covenant, The 86 Club ( became my passion. I only work 20 hours a week now, mostly on the weekends. This is with Walk of Joy who I joined technically in October. I quit with SupportCare in May due to being frustrated with where the company was heading. I was also doing a paper route by this time every night so I didn't need to continue working all 3 jobs. Things moved forward with the purchase of Top Cats in Clifton and the Humans made The 86 Club a reality so I have spent many weekdays helping with the renovations and at this point the club should open in January 2011. In the meantime we have held a Bible Study called the Connection. I have also continued to be part of the Witler community and as usual went back to Cornerstone.

Part of the plans for the 86 Club include apartments in the building. I had interest in living in one of the apartments and was waiting for this to happen. In August, a house was shown to me on Witler Street just two houses down from "The Witler House" so I checked it out and was blessed to move into the house. The plan for this house is to have a total of 5 guys living in community in the house as well as use the basement for live music. Three shows have happened so far: Deadhorse with locals twice and a hardcore show. So far it seems these shows are going well.

What does this mean?

I definitely feel that I am to minister in the music scene. I will use this house to do it by providing space for bands to stay if they need it and hosting house shows in the basement when I'm not working with the 86 Club. Once things get somewhat organized in the house after the move I will submit the house to RYFO to join the network and become available to those traveling artists needing hospitality. I will be helping in all ways possible at the 86 Club in whatever ways they chose to put me to use. Besides the live concert venue and the Connection Bible Study, there is plans for studios, practice spaces, and hostels for bands to use and plans to be open during the week for folks to come in for coffee or to relax. Basically, There is a ton of potential with this club and ministry that I will plug into in whatever ways I can and they need me to. The Vineyard church is also going to be meeting at the 86 Club location so I will see if there is a place to minister alongside the Vineyard. I felt in the midst of the chaos that clouded much of the beginning of this year I wasn't sure I was going to stay in Cincinnati but it seems God has purpose for me here and I will continue doing whatever it takes to follow whatever God is leading me to do. Cincinnati is home for the now. God is good and this year has been a blessing even as crazy as it seemed.