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A good friend included me on an email notice. Raul Midon was coming to town. He was on the concert ticket at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.

This would take a little explanation. I never heard of this artist. But, that isn’t a testament to Midon’s lack of notoriety. Rather it is a revelation that I don’t know jazz.

My friend sent me a short explanation. I was intrigued. Mostly, however, I greatly respect my friends musical talent. He would not give me a recommendation for a night of music if it wasn’t going to be special. I was very very pleased.

Midon is a one-man band. That doesn’t just mean that he does a solo act without accompaniment. It is true that he is on stage without any other supporting musicians. However, the moniker of being a one-man band hints at his versatility and expansive talent.

In his musical presentation he not only plays amazing guitar he also adds brass support, percussion and bass lines all while singing with a soulful velvet voice. During my introduction to Midon I not only thoroughly enjoyed the concert, I kept cocking my head with the reaction, “How’s he doing that?”

Several times during the concert I closed my eyes and imagined what I would be seeing if I didn’t know that this was a single artist on stage. A small ensemble made more sense to my ears than what my eyes told me was happening in my very presence. How can one man add layers of sound and mix those sounds all by himself. It was remarkable.

Midon is a self-proclaimed genre bender. I liked that. There was so much story in his lyrics that I easily tracked with the episodes in life that he was painting for us. I’m not musical purist. So I am attracted to something enjoyable that is also something easy to relate to.

Oh, by the way. Midon is blind. He has been from birth. As a premature child he was a victim of the early light treatment that caused his blindness.

Yet, with this handicap he clearly has a winsome personality. He is positive about life. Humor is a feature in his concert that gives him a great appeal.

Overcoming adversity and demonstrating amazing impact on others is truly commendable. So, the soul inside of me clapped in syncopated rhythm with Midon’s music. My bride and I were transported into one of God’s greatest gifts to His creation, the world of rapturous music.

photo credit: google image

In all of life there are repeated simplicities that have lasting value.  One of those basic truths is that the pursuit of a humility is well worth all of the effort required to obtain it.  It takes a lifetime but the satisfaction is constant.

Over the years I have been straining to obtain this measure of life.  Both during the good times and the bad times, the chase for humility is constantly on my mind.  One of the clues left to me by others is that we can gain ground on this elusive treasure by being a student throughout our lives.

When we are constantly learning there is an openness in our spirit.  We submit our lives to others and we grow in knowledge and our spirit is left realizing how much it does not know.  It has been my habit throughout life to regularly put myself in a learning mode.

During the beginning of my professional career I took piano lessons as an adult.  Some of my fellow classmates who excelled beyond my skills were younger than my own children.  But, I loved learning.

When my children were young adolescents they were all learning martial arts.  I joined in with gusto.  It was fun even while I was applying my sore muscle ointments.

I took a class on how to play soccer.  Most of the collegians were faster, had far more endurance than me but I learned.  To this day I appreciate that sport.

Then, I took a class on volleyball.  Most of the other collegians in the class weren’t there to learn.  They obviously already knew how to play and play well.  Others helped the “old guy” and I learned.  It was certainly humbling on many occasions but I did learn a lot.

Photography is an art form.  Others have made an honest living at it.  My fascination of it has put me in a learning mode.  I read, ask, listen and watch.  For sure I am learning.

Each week I pour hours and hours into studying a passage of Scripture so that I understand it.  Then, I shape a sermon, give it life and freshness.  There is never a time when I am NOT learning more and more about what God is saying to us.

An excruciating pain comes from letting truth fillet your spirit. But, out of that extraordinary pain comes amazing discovery.  Nevertheless, I learn.

photo credit: google image

The McCormick Conference Center in Chicago is a good hike from O’Hare airport. Our plane was scheduled for take off at 2:20PM. It would be tight as we planned our schedule for the day.

We watched the clock. The speaker was not done. But, we had to leave in time to catch a cab and plan for the unpredictable Chicago traffic.

Both of us wanted to stay. The speaker was fabulous. But, who wants to miss their flight home?

Outside of the conference center, a long line of cabs waited for a fare. We hopped into the next one in line. Everything was going smoothly until we merged on to the highway.

It’s like jumping into a swimming pool full of sludge. We made our way up the acceleration ramp by slowing down. Traffic was jammed up. Fabulous conversation kept us distracted. Still time marched on and the fare kept climbing.

Once at ORD we checked the departure board. Our flight to SFO from ORD flashed on the screen. The departure time was different from our memory.

Our flight was delayed by 25 minutes. Hopefully, it would be the only reschedule for our trip home. When I see a delayed or rescheduled flight my heart sinks. I want to go home!

At least we had time for lunch. We paraded past all of the fast food offerings. None of us opted for any of the national chains.

Instead, we stopped in at Wolfgang-Puck’s. There I scanned over the menu. I selected a spinach salad with goat cheese, beets and pecans. It was refreshing and delicious.

Once on the plane I was relieved that there were no other delays. The plane was packed and of course our seats were jammed, tight quarters and with few options to vary my sitting position.

I was ready for the long 4+ hour journey. My Kindle was in hand. It was loaded with great books to read.

Also, my I-pod was fully charged and filled with music. Good ear phones dulled the sounds of the jet engines. Nothing like personally chosen cool sounds to soothingly pass the time.

Just to get some variety in my distractions, I picked up a snack for the journey. It was a vegetable tray with ranch dressing. The food was gone, the music played through a round and I knocked off a lot of pages of my reading to get done. Hey, I’m home!

photo credit: google image

For most of my Saturday I was busy with errands, studying and enjoying Yvonne’s company.  This Saturday, however, I had an eye on the clock.  At 7PM I was signed up for a Bassist Clinic held at our church.

It’s a new thing for me.  Playing bass guitar is not a strength of mine.  But, I know how important this instrument is to worship.

Every ensemble  builds on the foundation that the bassist lays.  That instrument interfaces with the drummer, lending tone to the rhythm of the percussionist.  Their tag team music gives the band the structure to establish a link.

So, I was curious to sit in on the clinic taught by Norm Stockton.  He is a professional bassist playing with major worship groups, sponsored by major labels and music sponsors.  We are blessed at Sunset Church to have a connection with him through our Worship Director, Claura.

My life doesn’t cross roads with this world of worship and music from the performance level.  I value this talent pool as much as any, but I don’t share that talent with them.  If I could take a pill to enable me to be one of them, I would do so without hesitation.

Through a very stormy night I made my way to our CE auditorium.  A gathering of musicians took their seats.  I enjoyed meeting a number of new people.

The clock struck 7PM and the clinic began.  Norm introduced himself, won a friendly rapport with us in the audience, then, substantiated his skills with a solo bass piece that left me with my mouth open.  It was stunning!

I didn’t if I should gaze at his left hand dancing among the frets of the neck or stare at his right hand thumping, plucking, slapping or picking at the five strings on his 535 bass guitar.  What we as an audience of worshippers usually “feel” during meaningful praise is what we were treated to hear unfettered on Saturday night.  It left me smiling, deeply curious and thoughtfully contemplative.

After the clinic, I met Norm in person.  He was ver approachable, whimsical, thoughtful, fun, cheerful and sensitive to the things of God.  We had a delightful first meeting. 

Over the next months I’ll get to know him better.  I will connect with him on FB and Twitter.  But, even more I’ll hear the sounds and rumble from his CD that is now mine.

photo credit: google image

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