Alternate Arts

blogging the hell out of art

March 19, 2017
by jimwall

T-Bone to Chuck to Keith to…

Chuck Berry passed away March 18, 2017. He was 90 years old.

Art is a stream that flows from one generation to the next. It’s up to every artist to get their words, music, painting, film into that stream.

For T-Bone Walker, it was Call it Stormy Monday, (but Tuesday is Just as Bad).

Released in 1947, Stormy Monday is a classic blues tune which goes straight to the gut. Nestled among the song’s 7th and 9th chords is a solo which contains the essential elements of rock and roll guitar. Note bending, chromatic runs, double stops: it’s all there – measured, paced, prowling, ready.

Chuck Berry picked up this vibe in the 1950’s and helped launched rock and roll. Rolling over Beethoven while riding along in his automobile, Berry borrowed liberally from the stream that Walker, Robert Johnson, and many others had sent his way. Berry picked up the note bends and double stops, while adding speed and energy.

As the 50’s blended into the 60’s, Keith Richards and others added distortion and volume. Underneath it all though, the same stream still flowed.

Richards, Page, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, R. L. Burnside, the slides and bends of John Mayer’s guitar on Gravity. Taking from the stream, putting something back in.

We all live in constant motion, learning and borrowing from those who came before us.

Rest in peace Chuck Berry. You put in more than you took out.

March 11, 2017
by jimwall

What Worship is All About

James K. A. Smith’s book, You Are What You Love, offers a great description of what worship is all about…

“While worship is entirely embodied, it is not only material; and though worship is wholly natural, it is not only natural. Christian worship is nothing less than an invitation to participate in the life of the Triune God. In short, the centrality of embodiment should not be understood as a naturalizing of worship that would deny the dynamic presence of the Spirit. To the contrary, the Spirit meets, nourishes, transforms, and empowers us through and in such material practices. The Church’s worship is a uniquely intense site of the Spirit’s transformative presence. As Marva Dawn has put it, God is both the subject and object of our worship. The whole point of ‘liturgical lines and rituals’ is to create ‘a powerful environment of God-centeredness.’ Worship is not for me – it’s not primarily meant to be an experience that ‘meets my felt needs,’ nor should we reduce it to merely a pedagogy of desire (which would be just a more sophisticated pro me construal of worship); rather, worship is about and for God. To say that God is both subject and object is to emphasize that the Triune God is both the audience and the agent of worship; worship is to and for God,  and God is active in worship in the Word and the sacraments.”