Monday, June 14, 2010


     Patty Griffin released her gospel project DOWNTOWN CHURCH on Credential Recordings earlier this year.  It begins with the slow 'House of Gold' that showcases her powerful voice.  The song stresses that having assurance of where your soul is going is more important than having wealth.  Tell that to Wall Street!  Death and what follows it are recurrent themes on the album.  'Move Up' is a rockabilly Elvis style tune that speaks of going to see Jesus and relatives that have gone before.  'Death's Got a Warrant' is super heavy on the percussion and reminds us we can't escape death: "God's got your number/He knows where you live."  Buddy Miller joins Griffin on 'Never Grow Old'.  It talks of how we will praise God forever 'when our work here is done.'  'We Shall all be Reunited' gives us the hope that heaven has no sorrow or separation.
     Griffin shares some Bible stories on DOWNTOWN CHURCH.  This is something oft lacking in CCM songs.  'If I had my Way' is a bluesy song telling the tale of Samson and Delilah.  'The Strange Man' tells both the story of the Samaritan woman who meets Christ at the well, and the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Jesus is the 'Strange Man' because of the countercultural ways he deals with these ladies.  'I Smell a Rat' is the funnest song.  I could hear either Dolly Parton or Christina Aguilera singing it!  It is both fun and accusatory: "You won't tell me where you been/Whiskey running all down your chin." 
     I highly recommend this CD to anyone wanting to hear a truly authentic album by a genuine artist. Visit for more info on her.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


     What will I remember most about Dana Key?  First of all, I will never forget the strong, evangelical Christian message, he and partner Eddie DeGarmo presented over the years through their songs.  They encouraged their listeners to own their faith in Christ, grow closer to Christ, and share Christ with others.  Songs like 'Casual Christian' and 'Rock Solid'  sought to build a vibrant, unshakeable faith.  With 'Boycott Hell', the urgency of saving souls was portrayed.  'Six Six Six', the first Christian video on MTV, warned of the Antichrist.  DeGarmo and Key also built the self-esteem of folks up, with tunes like 'I'm Accepted'.  Eddie and Dana also sang songs on topics such as teen suicide, premarital sex, and violence in schools.  They encouraged Christians to look out for one another if they were heading down a dangerous path or were discouraged.  As a teen and even into my thirties now, these songs have helped shape my faith, likely more than many sermons I have heard.
     When I remember Dana Key, I will also remember his incredible guitar work on songs like 'Hangin' by a Scarlet Thread' and 'Let's Get Upset'.  The man could really rock!  DeGarmo and Key's last studio album TO EXTREMES (1994) rocked harder than ever.  This was a band that had opportunity to go mainstream but did not want to compromise or water down their message.  Dana and Eddie, usually backed by Tommy Cathey on bass, and Greg Morrow on drums, knew how to put on an entertaining show and minister the Gospel.  There was always great anticipation for a D and K show!  Along with Petra, and Whitecross, these guys were heroes to me. 
     Dana defended Christian rock against critics in his 1989 book 'Don't Stop the Music'.  DeGarmo and Key helped upstart bands such as dctalk, Audio Adrenaline, and Big Tent Revival, by letting them open for them. 
     Dana released two solo albums.  The first, THE JOURNEY, traced the life of Christ in song.  The second, PART OF THE MYSTERY, included the songs 'Dear Mr. Clapton' about Eric's child's death, and 'Liar, Lunatic, or Lord', asking the listener to choose which of the three they thought Christ was. 
     Since they disbanded around 1995, D and K played a handful of reunion shows, including one at Cornerstone Festival's 25th year Anniversary in 2008.  Dana was currently pastor at The Love of Christ Church in Memphis, TN (  He leaves behind a wife, and three children. 
     Thank you Dana for helping shape who I am today and what I believe.  If you're not familiar with DeGarmo and Key's music, check them out on itunes or youtube. Pictured above: Dave Alward, Dana Key, Mark Alward (my bro), and Eddie DeGarmo at Kingdom Bound 1994.
     My favourite DeGarmo and Key albums are 1987's D and K, 1989's THE PLEDGE, 1992's DESTINED TO WIN: THE CLASSIC ROCK COLLECTION, and 1994's TO EXTREMES.
     I believe I saw D and K about four times between 1989-ish and 1994, and I saw Dana solo in Paris, Ontario circa 1994.  Memories I will cherish for sure!


     I just finished reading my autographed copy of David and Sonya Cameron's THE REST OF HEALTH.  He is a family physician, while she is a liscenced marriage and family therapist.  I had the pleasure of attending Emmanuel Bible College with Sonya!  Are you feeling stressed out?  Having marriage problems?  Difficulties with co-workers?  Wondering who God is and how He relates to your everyday life?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you.

     I liked this book because it does not minimize the problems we encounter in our daily lives, and frankly it does not give overnight solutions to them.  Much of the advice given, and many of the strategies presented, have to be worked hard at, and applied over and over.  Afterall, anything worth having isn't come by easily.

     I will touch on a few of the more interesting concepts to me in the book.  The Cameron's examine fifteen faulty thinking patterns we can fall into and offer healthy alternatives.  I studied some of these in an anxiety group I attended not so long ago.  Examples of faulty thinking include: negative filtering, thinking in extremes, pessimistic predictions, imagining a disaster, taking things too personally, and assuming emotion is truth.  I find the whole topic of faulty thinking fascinating.  There are some patterns I know describe me to the full.  There are some I thought I had, but now realize I don't.  As well, there are some I likely have, but am too blind to see it!  The book is worth picking up for this section alone.

     David and Sonya also write about the importance of physical health, exercise, and what one eats.   They offer some specific advice on these topics and show a direct relationship between our physical health and mental well-being that works both ways.  They also write about the importance of setting boundaries.  Are you the type of person who can't say no to others, to the point of burnout?  No worries, this book will show you how to break free of that!

     A final topic of interest to me was that of apology and forgiveness.  This is a very personal topic.  Resolving conflict in relationships is vital to our overall health, but so rarely done properly it seems. I have a lot to learn here.  David and Sonya walk the reader through steps to healing that both acknowledge the wrongs committed and the effects they had, and release the offender and victim from guilt and shame, so both parties can move on, and even potentially reconcile in many cases. 

     The Cameron's present all of these concepts and more, through the story of a fictional couple, Mike and Sara Forrester, which is effective.  My only beef with the book is minor-some of the humour is fairly corny.  I have been accused of the same though!

     For more on the book and the Cameron's, visit and  Also, visit a bookstore near you and get your copy today!

Saturday, June 05, 2010


     DEAR JOHN, like THE NOTEBOOK, is based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks.  Amanda Seyfried, who plays Savannah, and was in MEAN GIRLS, and is also in CHLOE, which I have yet to see, was mainly what drew me to rent this movie.  At times I loved her character as she is cute, down to earth, and good hearted, and at one point I despised her character.  Watch the movie and you can likely figure out at which point that was.  Channing Tatum plays her love interest, John.  While some male heartthrobs irritate me, such as Josh Hartnett at times, Tatum does not in this movie and acts quiet well and has good chemistry with Seyfried.
     DEAR JOHN examines long distance relationships brought on by one partner being in the military.  Long distance relationships of any kind require a reliance on strong communication and going through frequent bouts with loneliness.  Doesn't sound like much fun, eh?  The benefit though is a strong relationship if one perserveres.
     This film also looks at people who are not considered normal in our society-particularly the autistic and the obsessive, reclusive types.  The fast pace of our lives and our uncertainty on how to interact with these folks often leads us not to.  This movie shows healthy ways we can be involved that are beneficial to both parties.  Patience is key. For more on autism watch the special features on the dvd. 
     I give DEAR JOHN four out of five stars!