It's been a while since I have written you and WOW, what a difference a couple of months make!
I remember distinctly sharing with you via YouTube what type of year it was going to be for SounDoctrine, My Personal Plans, how I was gonna blog more, Our Production & Performance Schedule, 'yada-yada' and just like that, it all changed and here we are...facing September!
Proverbs 19:21 says "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is The Lord's purpose that prevails," this truth really defines some of the changes that have occurred in a really short time, in spite of how meticulously I tried to plan out my year.
Some of these changes were definitely for the better and obviously some were challenges to overcome. Through them all, I am grateful for the lessons these experiences have taught-and in many respects, changed me.
In early February, shortly before my birthday, I was helping my youngest sister move and I picked up a desk the wrong way which ended up twisting my spine, simultaneously compressing my L4 & L5 to the point where the doctors were saying that I would need surgery (at worse) or at least begin and maintain a regular treatment of shots directly into my spinal cord to alleviate the pain and pressure (at best??) I was literally on my back for 7 weeks and with the exception of recurring visits to my doctor and chiropractor, I could not leave the house. Talk about a time of reflection! I was totally and completely dependent upon my wife and daughters for everything and could not even help them bring in the groceries, or cut the grass or take out the trash or even drive!!
This was truly a life altering situation and if you know me, even in the slightest way, I am NOT a man known for sitting still for more than 20 minutes, no less having to lay flat and not move. You can believe that everything changed during that season: My Love & Appreciation for My Family, whom again, if it were not for my beautiful wife Lori and our daughters waiting on me hand and foot, I don't know how I could have made it. My priorities changed immediately - Issues & Things that I thought were of major importance no longer had the value I was attributing to them, be they Meetings, Boards, Organizations and groups - including SounDoctrine - everything had to be reevaluated, because if I could no longer function as I had been (and that's what the one doctor was saying) then how much of my life could I really devote to them? I must say that when I could, I would crawl up and down the steps to my home studio to continue recording, sometimes note by note and chord by chord - I was determined that this was the one component which wouldn't be lost...though I had been told that I wouldn't be able to play my drums again.
Obviously my Prayer Life increased DRASTICALLY!
You Know, It's One Thing to Pray for Someone Else to be healed and believe God for a Miracle and it's quite another to cry out to Him when you need Him Most and to Exercise FAITH that He IS who He Said He IS - My Healer! And boy did I call upon Him
r e p e a t e d l y !!
God sent the healing in the form of Dr. Ronald Ruscitti (yes this IS a personal endorsement and he was referred to me by another brother whom I highly love & respect!) Doc Ruscitti was very thorough in his evaluation and subsequent decompression treatments and before I knew it, I could walk, drive, help out with chores and PLAY MY DRUMS!!!
I learned a deeper lesson in Compassion through this season. I'd like to feel that I have always been a compassionate person, but admittedly, if someone told me they could not do this or lift that because they had "a back problem," I would be prone to think..'OK' - but now you can imagine that my entire perspective has been completely altered!
I want to thank all my Pastors and Church Family at Victory Christian Center and additional Family & Friends who truly went overboard to assist us in every way while I was laid up. I am conflicted here to name Names because I would have the tendency to forget someone who deserved mentioning. You are all important to me and I appreciate You -and- You KNOW what You Did for our family to get back to normalcy - Please accept this acknowledgment as my sincere Thank You - and then come on over and let's hang out!
In mid April, after Lori & I celebrated our 17th Wedding Anniversary, we began to really pray toward and implement our plan in purchasing a new house and were able to move in to our dream home on June 2.
There's a lot of Red Tape in purchasing a home...
God opened doors and provided us access to His divine favor. There was a real moment where it seemed that the underwriters were not going to secure the financing, attributing it to the still current housing bubble debacle, but at the last second, due to the extraordinary gifts of Juan Santiago and a dear lady I'd only met once, Maria - we were approved and a new chapter unfolds!
Now this new chapter did bring about the need for me to seek additional employment to keep the bills at bay and rebuild the nest egg we raided to access our new surroundings. It has been 10 years since I held a steady "day job" and My Goodness - how the landscape has changed!!
Working More Hours for Less Pay is the undisputed standard now. Forced Overtime with limited options has been a rude wake-up call and a very real challenge for me to continue to apply "Perseverance" & "Endurance" to becoming so successful in this business - not to provide for my family only, but toward providing steady income and opportunities for others to succeed in their dreams as well...and with God's help,
I Am, I Shall, I Will!
Previously, in the midst of my earlier convalescence, the move and my new employ, I was still planning the Youngstown Jazz Fest , which took place on July 7, along with Lori Factor, Lyndsey Hughes and Phil Moore. Securing supergroup Pieces of a Dream and showcasing regional giants Alton Merrell, Laura Varcho and John Reese - along with SounDoctrine was a delight! The overflowing crowd was sensational, the bands were off the hook and my incredible team consisting of Dana Dumas, Dale Fisher, Antonio Dent, Rosie Mezzapesso, Adrian Watson, Jerry Thompson and Demetrius Allen along with Dr. Gus & Donna Biscardimade the night flow with ease! I can't wait till next year and you should also begin preparing - it's gonna be HOTT!!
The event was also a bittersweet one as Kim Hines, our longtime brother & percussionist; sound engineer to SounDoctrine and for last year's YJF made his transition just a week and a half before the show, having folded in his battle with brain cancer.
We celebrated Kim's life through many tears and honored him throughout the evening with a life size pic of him hanging from the stage. Everyone, including members of POAD respectfully eulogized him through the music he loved the most: Jazz!
The Official Title for this Year was "The Kim Hines Memorial Youngstown Jazz Fest"
Kim's influence on us was most impressionable during the recording of "Endurance" where he played congas and various percussion throughout the recording. He also performed live with us on stage and TV. He was very well known throughout the industry for running FOH across the globe for various legendary artists including Marion Meadows and Bob Baldwin(who attended and gave a musical tribute at his homegoing service). Kim's very active page is still visible on Facebook
, with tributes still pouring in.
In the midst of Kim's passing, the planning, purchasing, production and performances - changes were surfacing within the SounDoctrine Family.
As is the norm in the Jazz World, Musicians tend to drift in and out of certain bands, backing up other artists, working on separate projects and moving on. This truly has been the history of the SD Story since its incipience. Yet, I must admit that I was beginning to feel that the configuration of Jonnie Austin (keys), Nate Barnes (Bass), Rick Young (Guitar) and myself were gelling to the point of being The Core, while we were auditioning a steady saxophonist.
However, while recuperating, I had to cancel practice after practice, eventually letting the fellas know that I had no idea when we would be able to resume.This is a difficult situation, because I obviously could not ask anyone to pass up another project, yet I knew that upon my return I would be forced to rebuild the band.
When the dust settled, Rick and I found within three young men incredible inspiration in the persons of Mitch Lawrence (sax), Dylan Waters (Bass) & Frank Walton (keys and trumpet). We introduced them at YJF and they were very well received. We are most comfortable with this crew being the foundation of our present configuration. As I think about the future of SounDoctrine and some of the music we are revisiting, I am leaning toward adding a few more elements and vocalists, which means a larger ensemble, but one that focuses more on the total sphere of what SounDoctrine represents and not just the jazz angle we've been presenting on stage.
No doubt we will utilize the fall and winter months preparing this Old\New concept for 2013, ever mindful of Proverbs 19:21
On this Sunday, we play the Unity Fest at Cascade Park in New Castle and will change our sound again by having a flutist sit in with us - the outstanding Berklee School of Music grad, Jeremy Lopez!
New Horizons in an Ever Changing Year!
To Almighty God be All of the Glory, Honor & Praise!
SounDoctrine: Moving Forward!