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Steven S. Billings

Pic of Steve

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

PIC OF THE DAY
Mann
 
Gracie, Jed, Rose, Clarisse, and Samantha in the tall corn at Maybury State Park.
9:51 pm edt

AMAZED IN THE MAZE IN THE MAIZE
 
Saturday I got to enjoy a day-trip to Maybury State Park with members of the Mann family.  Jean and seven of her eight children were along for the fun.  We saw horses and cows and sheep and goats (even some baby ones!) and turkeys and chickens and roosters and all kinds of really cool farm implements.
 
Jean (Mom), Ben, Samantha, Rozelle, Grace, Jed, Olivia and Clarisse (my newest goddaughter) and I all enjoyed walking (well ... Clarisse was carried) through the maze in the really tall cornfield.  And we got to ride on the horse-drawn wagon out to the cornfield and back, which was really fun!  (Though I can't imagine riding cross-country on one of those things, like they used to do in the old days.  I think my back wouldn't be able to take it!)
 
"Uncle" Steve (or Uncle Pastor, as I am sometimes referred to by Jed) sure enjoyed all the hugs and affection he soaked-up from his adopted nieces and nephews.  Many thanks to Jean and her loveable family for taking me under their collective wing!
9:43 pm edt

Saturday, September 24, 2005

PIC OF THE DAY
Chet
 
My long-time friend Chet Chambers, manager of the Sweetwater Sound recording studios in Fort Wayne, Indiana, plying his trade to "The Spirit in You."  Wait 'til you hear the results!
 
5:38 pm edt

RECORDING UPDATE
 
Had my second day of recording in the big studio yesterday.  What fun!  The first session a couple of weeks ago was pretty much just the foundational stuff for several of my songs -- bass and drums -- so it's kinda hard to get a feel for what the studio production is going to sound like.  Yesterday three of the songs really began to take shape.
 
Chet, the keyboardist and producer, is a remarkable talent in both regards.  His piano work is especially wonderful, and his keyboard strings, organ, bass and percussion are absolutely amazing.  Chris Liepe, the guitarist and engineer, is incredibly skilled and intuitive.  He even has put down some real bass stuff, which is exactly what was needed for certain sections of some of the songs.
 
Add all this on top of Mark Peckinpaugh's rock-solid, tasteful drums, and I'll have some flat-out super instrumental beds to pile my multi-layered voices on.  I can't wait to start singing in the big studio!
 
In the meantime, I have completed three instrumental beds for the remaining six demos.  I have to finish writing the last song for the album and I'd like to complete all the remaining instrumental beds for before I start singing the demos for the second half of the album.
 
Needless to say, I am thrilled to be working on this project.  It truly is a life-long dream come true.  God be praised!
5:12 pm edt

Friday, September 23, 2005

PIC OF THE DAY
Bridefest
 
Some of the Bridefest attendees: Michael Mann, Lisa Dopke, Jean Mann, Gail Schettenhelm, Grace Mann and Rozelle Mann.  A good time was had by all!
12:29 am edt

Thursday, September 22, 2005

BEER, BRATS & BRIDE
Princess
 
It happens every year, usually around the third Saturday in September.  All over the country, Lutheran lovers of the movie "The Princess Bride" gather at 4:00 p.m. EST to partake of the film, and traditional "Lutheran" beverages and food.
 
I've hosted the annual Bridefest a few times now, the most recent being this past Saturday.  My dear friends the Mann family (Michael, Jean, Samantha, Ben, Rozelle, Grace, Jed, Olivia and Clarisse) were present, together with the Dopke family (Lisa, Ben, Alex and Rebecca) and Gail Schettenhelm.
 
How did this get started?  A number years ago, a discussion of favorite movies began on the Cat41 Table Talk discussion list.  More than a few of the participants mentioned this particular film.  Barb Kavouras, a pastor's wife in Cleveland, Ohio, suggested the idea of the "Beer, Brats (Bratwurst) & Bride" parties.  These parties, it was suggested, would be held regionally, with participants gathering at a host location near them.  And that's exactly what has happened ever since.
 
If you've never seen the film, I highly recommend it.  It's an adorable story with great acting and good family-friendly humor, delightfully directed by Rob Reiner.  It's the type of film which produces for its fans a penchant for the quoting of numerous "favorite lines."  ("Anybody wanna peanut?")  Check the link above to read more about the movie.
 
But perhaps more important than the movie itself, is that this is a wonderful opportunity for Lutherans to gather and just enjoy a time of fun and fellowship together.  Heaven knows, in the midst of tumultuous times we could all stand a little more fun and frolic with people very much like ourselves.
 
I know I enjoy being with family and friends.  Many thanks to these dear friends for being a part of my life and for bringing a little joyful "noise" into what for me is often a rather dull and quiet existence.
11:54 pm edt

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

PIC OF THE DAY
Steve
 
Gee ... do I look tired?  This was the last day of my vacation in Virginia ... hangin' wit' my ol' buddy Nathaniel (my favorite 8-year-old nephew ... his little brother Ethan is my favorite 1-year-old nephew -  he he).  Boy, do I miss those guys already!  Not to mention their big sisters Marissa and Chanel and their mom and dad!  Thanks, guys, for a wonderful visit!
6:31 pm edt

Friday, September 9, 2005

TODAY IS THE DAY!!
 
I think I first had thoughts of recording my songs when I was in the sixth grade.  So, after about 33 years or so, I finally get to begin my album project.
 
What took so long?  Life.  Ask any recording artist, and they will tell you that life often gets in the way of art.  Different ambitions, multiple distractions, lack of moral support ... all of these things contributed to my getting derailed from this goal.  But no more.  Yay!
 
Today, I go into the studio managed by perhaps my oldest friend in the world: Chet Chambers.  Chet and I met in seventh grade.  He sat behind me in home room.  We became the best of friends.  We used to love to get together at each other's houses, or take the bus down to the Allen County Public Library and listen to records.  He became quite the musician at an early age.  I may never forget (nor will any in attendance) the performance he gave in our Junior High School talent show playing and singing Elton John's version of "Pinball Wizard."  The crowd went wild, and Chet was so juiced from the excitement of it all that he split open one of his fingers, leaving blood all over the piano keys!
 
Over the years Chet and I talked about doing a project together.  We did produce one of my songs when I was in college.  I have the recording in my library of a song called "Frustrated Romantic," on which Chet plays keyboards and sings some of the backgrounds.  And for a brief time we even worked for the same music production company: LaBov and Beyond.  Then I went off to seminary and he went to work for Chuck Surrack at Sweetwater Sound Productions, the very place we will be recording today.
 
I thank God for this opportunity.  I have no idea where all this will lead, but I am thrilled to be able finally to realize a life-long dream.
8:01 am edt

PIC OF THE DAY
Pic
 
This picture of Mom in the third grade is one she and I viewed together on Wednesday of her last week.  She enjoyed reminiscing to me that she hadn't had time after gym class to change her shoes.  Funny, the things we remember!
7:40 am edt

Friday, September 2, 2005

AHHHH ... VACATION!
 
How do you spend your vacation?  Sometimes I like to spend time just vegetating and catching up on rest and relaxation.  Right now, I'm visiting my friend Louise and her family in Pennsylvania.  In a couple of days I'll be joining my brother and his family in Virginia.  I can't wait to see my nieces and nephews!
 
I also find that in the midst of "chilling out" my creative energies begin to flow.  I've already written two songs this week ... one on Monday on my drive to Pennsylvania, and another one yesterday.  I'll be working on those demos when I get home.
 
In the meantime, you can hear one of the songs I wrote back in May, recently posted on the "Me" Stuff page.  There are four such demos posted there.  This one is called "The Evil We Love."  Here are the lyrics:
 
Intro

It's my favorite attraction
It can always catch my eye
There's a physical reaction
And I feel like I can fly
Right up through the heavens
And to the stars above
I'm addicted to the evil I love.

Verse 1

I was driving past the nightclub
With nothing on my mind
Til I heard its siren whisper
"Come and see what you might find
In here you won't be lonely
You'll find what you're dreaming of
You can't deny the evil you love."

In the morning I felt guilty
I couldn't stand the pain
Of knowing I had stumbled
And fallen once again
But how could I resist it
When it fit me like a glove?
I was shackled to the evil I love!

Chorus

When the evil you love
Has got a strangle-hold on you
No matter how you fight it
Seems there's nothing you can do
The Father sent His Son
For times when push turns into shove
And they nailed Him up for the evil you love.

Verse 2

Well, I cried out to my Savior
And fell down to my knees
"Oh, Lord God, I need You
Dear Jesus, help me please!
Take this thorn and free me
From those things I'm guilty of
Release me from the evil I love."

He said: "Son, I know you're hurting
I can see it on your face
But you're gonna have to trust Me
And lean upon My grace
For this is why I suffered
And gave my flesh and blood
I'm sufficient for the evil you love"

Chorus

When the evil you love
Has got a strangle-hold on you
No matter how you fight it
Seems there's nothing you can do
The Father sent His Son
For times when push turns into shove
And they nailed Him up for the evil you love.

Verse 3

Now I know that I'm not perfect
On this side of the veil
But I know I am forgiven
Despite how I might fail
But I also am empowered
By the Spirit from above
To turn my back on the evil I love!

Chorus

When the evil you love
Has got a strangle-hold on you
No matter how you fight it
Seems there's nothing you can do
The Father sent His Son
For times when push turns into shove
And they nailed Him up for the evil you love.

And He rose again for the evil we love!

3:11 pm edt

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Click one of the links above to view earlier posts.

For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:21)

Be sure to get in touch so I know you're out there!