Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do the Black Crowes Needtobreathe?

I'm a huge music lover. Live music in particular gets me moving in a way that nothing else can. Earlier this month, tour buses from two of my favorite live bands, the Black Crowes and Needtobreathe, each made stops in Portland within a four-day window! I was in rock 'n' roll heaven, so to speak.
On Saturday night, the Black Crowes chose the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall as one of the final stops on their 2010 farewell tour. Though their collective world view differs vastly from mine, I've been into the Crowes' music since the 1990s. There was something about their free, decidedly non-modern rock approach to music that got my attention as a high schooler. Then, after seeing them play live with some of my college buddies, I was hooked. In concert, the grooves and swells of their jammed out performances of originals and cover songs manage to be both tight and spontaneous, simultaneously. IMG_7307.JPGFrom that year on, I've caught every local Black Crowes show since 1998, including the one from their aptly titled "Souled Out Tour" a few years back. Their music has soul to spare, and yet I don't hesitate to pray for each of their own souls whenever I feel led.

My conflicted feelings about the Black Crowes have been echoed by Christian rock band Third Day, who continue to be influenced by their sound. In "Blackbird," their thinly veiled tribute/challenge to the Black Crowes, front man Mac Powell tells them that Jesus loves them and sings, "Black bird, how I love to hear your songs/ I could spend all of my time in the shade/ Of the trees and listen all day long." The song, peppered with references to Crowes lyrics (and, when played live, sounds at times like a straight up cover of "Remedy" with reworked lyrics) continues with a paraphrase of Jesus referencing Isaiah 6:9-10 in Matthew 13:14-15: "But you're ever hearing, never understanding/ Ever seeing but your heart has grown calloused/ You're in a storm and lost your way/ Won't you fly to heaven and be saved today?"

The Crowes' lyrics may not always portray a particularly high view of Christ or His followers, and stories abound about perpetuating their stereotypical rock star lifestyle. However, their versatile musicianship and stunning cohesiveness as a band is rarely expressed with vulgarity, and their songwriting is often underscored with pleas for love and peace.

That's a good start.

IMG_7330.JPGA few days after the Black Crowes show, my friend Joe and I caught Needtobreathe at the Roseland Theater.

Being as they are one of my other favorite live acts, I was disappointed last year to suffer the most intense headache of my life on the very day that Kathy and I saw Needtobreathe previously at the Hawthorne Theater. This time around, I was ready to rock.

Chances are, many people have already unknowingly heard Needtobreathe's songs in films, TV shows, or movie trailers. They're not a household name yet, but Taylor Swift considered them hot enough to personally hand them the opening spot on her upcoming national tour (which begs the question, why would she want to try to follow them in concert?).

Click the thumbnail above to play short video clip of the mic-free, no-amp Needtobreathe acoustic encore at the Roseland Theater. I didn't bother to film much of the rowdier moments. I knew I wouldn't be able to stand still long enough to hold the camera steady, anyway.

The set list was a crowd pleasing mix of both familiar and yet to be released songs, with a few unexpectedly amped up versions of some their mellower fan favorites. Sadly, their show didn't even come close to matching (in length) the previous weekend's 3+ hour swan song of the Black Crowes, and I doubt that I was the only one in the crowd who was hoping to experience the epic worship of "Signature of the Divine (Yahweh)." These two small complaints aside, though, this was another amazing show from a band that is really hitting their stride!

Musically, Needtobreathe has evolved from the anthem rock of their debut album to their current eclectic blend of southern rock, Americana, and blues/soul. And their live show leaves their studio-recorded material in the dust. Sound familiar?

I thought so, too. Minutes before kicking off their diverse set of electric/acoustic/folk/piano/organ country rock, I couldn't help but smile as the last recorded song of the Needtobreathe pre-show music played… "Good Morning Captain," by the Black Crowes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Week of Musical Bliss

Originally uploaded by gkhamilton
Coming soon... A rundown of my two favorite rock 'n' roll bands to catch live (not counting U2, who skipped Portland on this year's world tour). I pray for one group, and I worship along with the other. Amazingly, I caught both bands' shows in town last week!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

E.P.I.C. Student Ministry Newsletter- Sep 2010

Since returning from International Youth Convention in Orlando last month, our students at Aloha Church of God have enjoyed a month of spiritual encouragement from the book of Philippians, fellowship, and laid back summer fun. Among the latest highlights:

Crazy games during E.P.I.C. Wednesday nights

IMG_5839.JPGSharing about IYC Orlando with the students back at home

Campmeeting at Warner Pacific College

IMG_6148.JPGIMG_6153.JPGDual fundraisers holding signs for a car dealership, earning money for our upcoming summer activities

Water balloon fight!

IMG_6247_edited-1.JPGHiking in the Columbia River Gorge

Cruising in the Jeep

IMG_5841.JPGPlaystation 3 gaming at Garth and Kathy's new house

Our young people thank you for your prayers. We've had a fun summer!

In Christ,
Youth Pastors Garth and Kathy Hamilton

P.S. I'm having some difficulties getting our youth camping/boating pictures uploaded. In the meantime, here are some other bonus pics from this summer:

BLAM!! Collision on home plate!

IMG_6121.JPGThe infamous banana cake, in honor of Garth's birthday

The dominant team goes deep field to win the water balloon toss

Kenny gets pwned by Brandon and Patrick at the E.P.I.C. water fight!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Student Ministry Newsletter- September 2009

Note: My latest post for September 2010 is still in "draft" mode (as this one has been), so I'm posting this 2009 entry for a fun look at what we did last year at this time. As soon as I finish uploading recent pics from this summer, I'll publish the new entry. Enjoy!

IMG_3029.JPGThis has been a fun and action packed summer for our student ministry. We created many memories together, and remembering God's blessings have been a key theme from our teachings this past month. We've been following Israel's story as the Lord led them further from their slavery in Egypt, preparing them for a new life of freedom and obedience in the Promised Land. We can also be free to experience God's promises by relying on the Holy Spirit to set us apart for His calling (as Moses and Aaron were anointed for ministry), acknowledging that everything we have belongs to God (as demonstrated by God's instructions for the Year of Jubilee), and learning to be grateful for God's blessings (in contrast to the Israelite's grumbling and complaining in the desert).

In addition to this summer's day hikes, backpacking/ camping trips, swimming, and boating excursions, we always consider OR/SW WA State Campmeeting to be a highlight. IMG_2905.JPGWill operated the camera on the opening night as this year's theme, "A Hope and a Future," was introduced. A group of students also took part in Warner Pacific College Night on Wednesday.

IMG_2943.JPGAs always, we celebrated the end of summer with laughs and thrills at our annual camping/waterskiing weekend in Washington State. IMG_2946.JPGAfter setting up camp near the town of Couger, we had dinner together and walked down to Yale Lake for a brisk twilight swim.
IMG_2975.JPGBack at camp, we explored the area, toasted s'mores, and enjoyed interesting conversations around the campfire.

IMG_2984_edited-1.JPGGarth's dad, Bo, made a surprise appearance at camp the next morning while Garth was leading morning devotions.

After sharing a delicious pancake and sausage breakfast at camp, we launched Bo's boat in Yale Lake and cranked up the fun.

Our toys of choice were the wakeboard, the kneeboard, and the water tube. Bo pulled each of us behind his boat according to our own preference of speed, sharp turns, and craziness.IMG_3022.JPG
It was a great weekend of camping and boating, and we look forward to next year!

Thanks in advance for remembering our student ministry in your prayers for the upcoming school year. Details on the launch of our new E.P.I.C. Student Ministry will follow next month!

In His grip,
Youth Pastors Garth and Kathy Hamilton

Here are some blog-exclusive bonus photos for this month:


Playing Tree on Garth's birthday


Taste testing different blends of joe at Coffee Stop, narrowing down options for the upcoming Aloha Church of God Blend

IMG_3028.JPGNot one, but TWO soaking wet water balloon fights.
We had a Slip 'N' Slide contest before we dried off. Derek G.(pictured) easily took the top honors.


And finally... observing communion together on the playground (after one of the water fights) at the end of Garth's teaching

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Having a BLAST at Home

Originally uploaded by gkhamilton
I was living the bachelor life at home last week, while Kathy was leading (in my place, as mentioned in my last blog entry) our student ministry’s trip to International Youth Convention in Orlando. Though it provided some good sermon material for that week, was bummed about missing the trip and missed having Kathy with me. My injured leg prevented me from doing anything active (I wasn’t even able to drive until earlier in the week), so there were only a few minor tweaks in my current routine: enjoying some “Garth time,” eating unhealthy foods, having my students over to the house more often, and playing my movies and music louder.

That last part, about cranking up my home theater system, wasn’t nearly enough to drown out the series of loud booms that drew our new neighbors and me together late Thursday night. I thought the first blast at around 10:40 was coming from my rear surround sound speakers, as part of the fireworks display from the rock concert that I had blaring in my living room. The second boom rattled things on my walls and sent me hopping out to the front porch, grabbing a crutch on my way out. I glanced over across the street to see if Dave my neighbor had driven into his garage door or something.

From my front porch I heard the third and final, biggest, deepest boom of all… followed by a cloud of black smoke billowing into the sky. My first thought was that the Intel Aloha Campus was blowing up, one section at a time. Chills shot down my spine at the fear of a major meltdown at an industrial plant that I could see from my living room. We could have been in big trouble if Intel was going down in flames. As Doug, my neighbor, so comfortingly put it, “We’re right in the blast zone.”


The flames were coming from the corner, however, at the Aloha Garbage and Recycling plant, just west of the Intel Campus. Two garbage trucks were destroyed by the flames, reportedly causing over $350,000 in damage. As bad as this was, I audibly thanked God that this was not the more potentially catastrophic crisis that I had feared.

I hobbled across the street to the corner, joining the growing number of gawking onlookers that came running from blocks away.

Police cars and fire trucks had Blanton Street completely blocked off.

IMAG0235.jpgLocal affiliates from all four networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX showed up on the scene within minutes.
IMAG0236.jpgI was interviewed on camera by news crews from KGW and KPTV, and I encouraged them to also talk to my neighbor Brett (pictured), who was the first to see the flames erupt.

Channel 8 and Channel 12 broadcasted my interviews live on Thursday night (I think), and clips from my interviews were repeated at least every 30 minutes on both channels all morning, at noon, and during the afternoon and evening news on Friday. I was floored by the dozens of people who called or Facebooked me (including one guy who I’d never even met, on Monday) throughout the week about seeing those interviews. If only my paid work in print ads and TV commercials was that popular!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Student Ministry Newsletter- August 2009

I am so excited that our high school students from Aloha Church of God are in Orlando this week experiencing International Youth Convention 2010! At the last minute, it was determined that my recent leg injury from work would unfortunately prevent me from leading our group's trip to IYC Orlando. Now that the students are away, however, (and considering the fact that I am mostly couch-bound), I have some spare time on my hands... to upload a classic blog!
Here's what our students were up to last year at this time:


We serve a God who delivers us from our circumstances and calls us to live a new place, in the Kingdom of God. When God protected the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt, God made it clear that following Him also meant a new way of living.

Our student ministry sessions at Aloha Church of God are currently examining God's instructions, including the Ten Commandments, which He gave to His people after freeing them from slavery. We have also discovered how the intention behind Jewish rituals and celebrations such as the Passover, Pentecost, and Purim remains relevant in pointing out our own need to remember what God has done for us in our lives.

Our student-led congregational service was one of our ministry's finest moments yet this year.
After weeks of preparation, we had our final practice the Wednesday evening before the big Sunday. During the actual Sunday morning service, our students served in the following roles: Flow person- Ben; Praise team- Ben and Eleanor; Information table- Jessica; IMG_2450.JPGGreeters- Brandon W., Jackie, Kenny; Ushers- Brandon E., Jackie, Juana, Kaila. After Garth preached his sermon titled, "Prison Break!," Will delivered the closing prayer. We were so proud of how well our students led Big Church!

IMG_2496.JPGIMG_2515.JPGThe week after fellowshipping at the Fourth of July picnic…

IMG_2561.JPG…A few of the guys backpacked 15 miles (round trip) along the Eagle Creek Trail to a remote campsite in Oregon's Mark Hatfield Wilderness.
After marching their heavy backpacks past (and even under) seven gorgeous waterfalls to the 7.5 mile mark, Garth, Ben, Brandon E., Dean (visiting from Pennsylvania), and Will set up camp and went for an evening swim.

IMG_2623.JPGThe weather was so nice that everyone slept under the stars after dinner...

IMG_2630.JPG...waking up just in time for morning devotions.

A much needed stop for a refreshing swim at a popular cove notwithstanding, the pace was quickened for the next day's hike back to civilization.

Later in July, we picked the hottest weekend of the year (so far) to hold our car wash fundraiser for International Youth Convention 2010, to be held in Orlando, Florida. We took in enough money to set a new car wash record since Garth and Kathy came on board in 2001!
We enjoyed spending time with new student Jessica Hayden, who recently moved here from Salem for her senior year at Aloha High School.

Most of us managed to stay hydrated amid the water fights, car cleansings, and a purse snatching/ recovery from the brave Wendy Peterson.

We are so thankful that God is watching over and blessing our student ministry!

In Christ,
Youth Pastors Garth and Kathy Hamilton