The methodical elements assembly continues with the redesigned Cephas Hour website. Previously it was a single page; now it has far more content with much more to come: artist bios, past show playlists and whatever else I can come up with.
Reaction thus far has been mixed; the design appeals to some and overpowers/turns off others. Ah well.
John Donne was quite correct when he noted that no man is an island, although in addition to his dour framing of this truism there is also a positive interpretation. There are no truly solo artists in life. Each of us benefits from the works of others, who hopefully in turn benefit from our works. This is the Christian way; each of us fulfilling our part by carrying out our mission as all of us are joined together into one body of believers by Christ.
I note this to both set a background for my assorted electronic ink scribbles this time through and properly thank a couple of people without whom Cephas Hour would not exist. There are many people to thank, but these two deserve special praise. First, there is Gene Savage who owns and runs BlackLight Radio. Gene is kind enough to turn his baby over to me for a couple of hours each week, in the course of doing so stepping away from the station’s 1980s hits format as I play the music to close to my, and it should be noted his, heart. Also, there is Adel Meisenheimer who has taken on the herculean effort of making the massive catalog of Frontline Records, on which many of the artists I play were associated, available in proper form after years of first slapdash chopped-up re-release abuse and then neglect. Not content to stop there, Adel has also brought back music from artists across multiple labels, working out all the logistics and legalities that go into such an effort. She and Gene deserve massive accolades for doing the work to make beautiful things happen. Me? I’ve got it easy. All I have to do is once a week pick sixty minutes worth of awesome music from a bountiful supply. Piece of cake. They’re doing the work. They’re doing something.
What does it mean to do something?
It means there is an effort; an outreach beyond trotting out the same ol’ same ol’ for an existing fan base. Doing something isn’t performing for an already enraptured audience. It’s not the home team putting on a show during batting practice. It’s when, to quote one of the artists in my book, you’re shooting arrows over the horizon. Ofttimes unrewarding, at least in the immediate. You don’t know who you’re reaching or so much as if you are reaching anyone. But you do the work anyway, because it has been pressed on your heart that this is what you must do regardless of whether it is known to be paying off. Or, for that matter, whether it pays period.
Compare this with the looming silliness of a convention, allegedly designed to promote a singular political philosophy, that is actively barring people of like mind from participating due to that epidural condition commonly known as a near if not utterly terminal case of thin skin. Or sub-gatherings at such a convention getting together to throw a party that boast loud and long of their numerous sponsors, yet leaving gentle and good people doing the very work supposedly supported by the aforementioned sub-gathering dependent on the charity of others to attend. Classy.
It’s easy and highly tempting to dismiss works that on the surface seem like futile efforts as failures. Others grab awards and headlines, while the apparently despite their dogged determination unsuccessful receive for their reward at best polite indifference and usually open scorn. Not quite the wished-for support if you are on the receiving end. Yet, those looked down upon press on regardless, for they know what they must do. Namely, that which they have been called to do.
Which is nothing less than planting the seeds of cultural revolution.
There is much talk these days within conservative new media of the need to have a bigger impact on a world seemingly consumed with a passion for unknowing self-destruction on many fronts: political, economic, societal. It is nice talk. Pretty words. Unfortunately it is also, as that noted societal commentator Johnny Rotten noted a few decades ago, pretty vacant. Why is this?
Simply put, it is the unwillingness to reach beyond the comfort zone and do something — anything — beyond what is already known to earn accolades, and if played properly cash rewards, from a self-satiated circle proclaiming it wants to change the world yet in deed refusing to perform anything apart from what feeds the other circle member’s individual and collective ego, expecting the same in return. We say we want to change the culture. Great. An endless recycling and promotion by, in and of the same organizations, the same shows, the same guests, the same conventions that didn’t stop the societal/cultural downward spiral before, and aren’t stopping it now, is somehow going to suddenly not only stem the tide but reverse its course? Really now. We are familiar with the repetitive action definition of insanity, correct? Perhaps it is time we stopped indulging ourselves in the aforementioned insanity by getting off of our happy selves and doing something other than preach to the chorale at the Echo Chamber Cathedral, in the course of this “action” firmly believing pinning notes on its bulletin board constitutes genuine and effective outreach.
It is not the high flyers within a bubble that soar. It is the people who, to repeat an earlier word picture, are shooting arrows over the horizon. They are the ones doing the work, not the mutual admiration society. Only when and only if those who honestly believe doing nothing but talking to those already on their side catch the vision and embrace those who strive to reaching others where they are will there be actual progress. Until then, they remain the self-nominated beautiful people sending excuses while those they look down on accept the invitation to the only party that truly matters. Namely, the banquet at the world’s end.
I threw together a blog post about the need for conservative new media to break out of its echo chamber mindset and start embracing/promoting those who are actively reaching out in ways not always overtly political, which was first tweeted by Ladd Ehlinger Jr. and from there incorporated into a blog post by Ace over at Breitbart. It also led to a pleasant, positive chat about things with Liberty Chick, who yesterday wrote an excellent post about whether social media is breeding monsters, referencing a similar sentiment I expressed about the need to positively influence culture as a means of turning this mess around. Some of the aforementioned monsters were referenced in a post by Stacy McCain, who focused on them while neglecting to mention the need to effect cultural change aspect detailed by Liberty Chick, Ace and myself. C’mon, Stacy, paint the entire picture.
The more we incorporate something other than 100% political talk into our online lives, the better we are. Politics have their place. But how much repetition of the same message by a thousand voices to each other do we need? Far better to offer something that cuts across barriers, be they political, religious or what have you, and creates common ground from which we can converse with one another. To integrate our beliefs into the daily fabric of our lives, refusing to isolate ourselves from others who see things differently, should be our objective. We need to effectively address the culture, engaging people where they are and from there walking together toward where we ought to be.
Yes, a most interesting ordinary extraordinary day. With a touch of strangeness mixed in.
Thanksgiving is this Thursday. It’ll be a somewhat melancholy one for me; first holidays without are brutal and this will be the first one without my oldest brother. Nevertheless, I will give thanks for what I have been given. Which is quite a bit, actually.
I was thinking about giving thanks while preparing next week’s Cephas Hour. It occurred to me that the debt I and so many owe these artists for not only taking the road less traveled, but building it even as those who should have supported them either ignored or jeered their efforts, is indeed great. While the book and the show are in no small part my way of saying thank you, it should be said more often.
Below is a list of all the artists on this past Sunday’s show and, where available (or at least known by me), some social media information for them. This Thanksgiving, if their music and ministry ever meant anything to you please take a moment and thank them personally, directly. Let them know their efforts were not in vain and are still bearing fruit even today. I have no doubt they will appreciate it.