TS10

TS10: Dream and Zombie

Time for a new TS10, my friends. Lots of ups and downs here, with a tip of the cap to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (I hope we remember you would have much preferred us fighting for your ideals more than just giving your memory a day…) and Dolores O’Riordan. One has certainly impacted me more than the other, but they are both worthy of remembering.

Dr. King, I will continue to fight. Thank you for your example.

Ms. O’Riordan, thank you for your art.

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Live Shows

Intergenerational Rocking with Project 86

Who do I belong to?

Not horrors

Not wretches

 

Who do I belong to?

Immortal

Eternal

I have a shirt bearing these lyrics. It’s a new shirt. New to me at least. I picked it up November 19 at a Project 86 show at the Red Sea Club in Minneapolis. I found it digging through a box of $10 shirts and I knew it was for me. Why? Well, first of all, it was one of the two shirts in the bin that would actually fit me. Second, I love the meaning in these words. They resonate deeply with me. And, it’s lyrics like these that drew me to Project 86 in the first place.

This was my third time seeing the Orange County stalwarts live, and it could well be the last. P86 is in the midst of their 20th anniversary tour, and who knows how much longer those guys will be melting faces. Just like the first two times, I was accompanied by my brother, the man who first introduced me to these guys over 15 years ago. However, we had a newbie on this adventure with us: my seven year old son, Joshua.

Joshua fell in love with P86 several years ago and they are still, generally speaking, his “go to” when we are riding around town. I still recall, when he was five years old, him belting out “Light ’em up! Light ’em up!” (from P86 anthem, Illuminate) in his carseat as we coasted down River Prairie Drive.  When the reality set in that he was going to see his favorite band with his favorite uncle in his favorite city in an Ethiopian club/restaurant (Joshua is from Ethiopia), he was beyond excited.

Before I get into the show itself, a word about Red Sea. We arrived around 5pm and had supper in their restaurant. We really enjoyed the feel of the place. It had a chill atmosphere with a blend of jazz and Ethiopian pop blessing our ears. And the food was great. But the highlight, by far, was when our server found out that Joshua was Ethiopian. Both of their faces lit up. It was beautiful watching my son, who lives in pasty Eau Claire, enjoy being in the midst of “his” people. He felt at home and it melted this daddy’s heart.

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From what we understood, the doors for the show were to open at 6pm with the show starting at 6:30. I hadn’t read anything about opening acts, but I assumed there would be one or two. Well, we walked into the club a little before 6pm and a band was already playing. So, we went in and listened. After a bit, we learned that there were a total of SEVEN bands playing before P86 and they weren’t going on until after 9pm, which led to a MUCH later night than I expected for this old man and his little boy. Regardless, we had a great time, taking several breaks and walking around Cedar Avenue, including a stop at a Hong Kong bakery/cafe. The entire experience was rich and truly unforgettable.

Now, onto Project 86. All night, we tried hard to stay close to the stage, so Joshua would have a good view of the band. In fact, when their show began, there was nothing between Joshua and the stage. And he was ready to rock. We were close enough to, in my bro’s words, get hit by Andrew Schwab’s spit and sweat (which actually happened). When the guys hit the stage, they started out with the intense, morose, and gentle lead-in to their song, PS. That first movement lasts a while, and Schwab hadn’t arrived yet. In the midst of that, Joshua turned to me and said, “This is boring.” I encouraged him to be patient… and that was the last time he was close to being bored that night.

Halfway through that first song, the crowd started to mobilize. I had forgotten about the “mosh pit” aspect of P86 shows. Soon, I found myself leaning over my boy to protect him from the violent dancing happening around us. I was pushed off balance a couple of times, but was able to effectively shield Joshua. In fact, he was oblivious. He was enthralled, with his head bobbing the whole time. The bass player came up to him a couple of times mid-song and touched his shoulder, making sure he was okay. This only served to Super Glue Joshua’s eyes, ears, mind, and heart to what was happening onstage. Later, Joshua asked me why I was leaning over him… he had no idea. He was rocking.

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The truth is… I couldn’t blame those folks for moving. My first experience with Project 86 was their Drawing Black Lines album about 15 years ago or so and that’s when they hooked me. But, when they really got me was the first time I went to see them live at Club 3 Degrees in Minneapolis about eight years ago. I was standing toward the back of the venue and I found that I could not keep my body from moving. I was compelled. And the concert seemed to have its very own culture. I felt like, for that snapshot in time, I was a part of a community, a movement. That’s when they got me for good. So, I can’t blame the kids for thrashing about.

Regardless, I moved Joshua around to the side of the stage where we were clear of the craziness and still had the band right in front of us. We were so close that I had to move my head several times to ensure I didn’t get clocked by the bass player. We could see it all going down. Better yet, we were experiencing it all together, father and son. It was beyond special. Every once and a while, I would tap on Joshua’s shoulder and ask if he was okay, to which he would give a thumbs-up in response. And we continued to rock.

I truly enjoyed the set list for the show. As advertised, they played a bunch of older songs in celebration of their 20 years and, we rocked out to EVERY last one of those songs. The list was heavy on Drawing Black Lines, including crowd favorites Chimes, Stein’s Theme, and Me Against Me (which was the fitting show-closer and the namesake for a recent TS10 playlist). We were also treated to Sincerely, Ichabod, Hollow Again, and The Spy Hunter. But the highlight of the show, for certain, came when the band returned to the stage for their obligatory encore.

When the first notes of hammered dulcimer hit our ear drums, Joshua turned and looked at me with a great big smile. It was his all-time favorite, Fall Goliath Fall. He’d been wearing sound-reducing headphones all night to protect those little ears, but I didn’t want anything getting in between him and that performance. So, off the headphones came. And, my little Ethio-Sconnie boy rocked his little heart out (see the video below).

When the show ended, we had a chance to connect with the bass player and thank him for his connection with Joshua and Joshua got the opportunity to give Schwab a high five. As the three of us walked out of the club, we did so with hearts full and floating. It was a truly beautiful night and experiencing it with my son and my brother made it exponentially better.

But why? Is it just the matter of shared experience? I mean, I share experiences with my son on a regular basis. And, we’ve hung out with Uncle Josh (yes, he’s a “Joshua” too) numerous times. But the x-factor in this experience was Project 86.

If you pay much attention to Tomme Suab, you know that Project 86 is a TS favorite. They’ve been featured on the TS10 more than just about anyone else. Their intensity, honesty, and hard-driving vibe has spoken to me for years. And, as I mentioned above, something in me shifted that first time I saw them live. Now, my son and I, along with Uncle Josh, have experienced that shift together. While my son cannot understand yet all the elements of Project 86’s music that connect with me so deeply, he certainly “gets” some of it. For right now, it’s a lot about their intensity and loudness. But, as time goes on and his mind and heart are ready to talk about it, we’ll get into the lyrics more and discuss the deep and sometimes painful themes that live in their songs.

For now, however, we’ll have that night at the Red Sea, and that is more than enough for the moment.

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Artist Focus, TS10

Project 86: 20 Years of Push, Challenge, and Raw

I have this friend named Josh. I’ve known Josh since 1995. When we first met, I was an addicted, self-absorbed jerk. Some folks who knew me then may not have seen me that way, but I know the junk that lived inside me back then. It was ugly. One of the manifestations of that ugly stuff was how I was strongly opinionated about what was good and what was not. I was the measuring stick. What I liked was good and what I didn’t like was bad. There is no better example of this personal dynamic than in my musical tastes. Basically, the way it worked was that other folks, like Josh, would talk about music they were into and I would immediately dismiss whatever they had to say about that music.

In those first few years I knew Josh, he was drawn to groups like Creed, Project 86, P.O.D., and Every Day Life. Of course, I assumed he had little taste and didn’t know what he was talking about. Thankfully, that didn’t last. In 2003 or so (yes, eight years after meeting Josh), I finally started paying some attention to some of those bands, one of which was Project 86. I was enrolling in one of the music clubs (like BMG or Columbia House) and Drawing Black Lines by P86 was one of the options for the introductory offer and I took the risk. SO glad I did.

I loved the raw authenticity I heard in the album. Project 86 made it’s break in the CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) world, but they sang about things that weren’t often fodder for CCM songs. References to suicide attempts and inward contempt were not normal for that milieu. Aside from the subject matter, I was immediately drawn to the intensity of their sound. I was a fan. And for me, their music pulled me in more and more as the next few albums came out. Truthless Heroes, Songs to Burn Bridges By, and …And the Rest Will Follow were all tremendous. …And the Rest Will Follow is one of my favorite albums of all time, period. These guys had lots to say about art, the music “industry,” God, the church, abuse, and various other controversial and/or provocative issues and they said it loudly and intensely.

I’ve never cared as much for their follow up to …And the Rest Will Follow, entitled Rival Factions. There are definitely highlights on the album, but I was honestly spoiled by its predecessor. However, I’ve always loved the song featured on this week’s TS10, The Forces of Radio Have Dropped a Viper in the Rhythm Section. It is so raucous and out of control. I think that’s the appeal for me, especially on an album that feels much more under control otherwise.

If you have followed Tomme Suab for a while and listen to the TS10 on a semi-regular basis, you may have notices there have been a few Project 86 songs featured. Don’t expect that to change. This is a band that has been screaming change and inviting listeners into deep introspection with an emotive and raucous style for two decades now and more of us ought to give them a listen. So, listen to them on the TS10, and if you’re interested in hearing more, click the links in this post or check out their site: www.project86.com.

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Music and Healing, Uncategorized

Textures and Colors

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There is very little, in my world at least, quite so cool as having my five-year-old son easily recognize songs from local artists or somewhat obscure indie groups when he hears them. And, if he knows the song well enough, he will belt it out with much gusto. I love it and can’t get enough of it. Whether it’s hearing him loudly sing Project 86‘s Illuminate or The Daredevil Christopher Wright‘s The Animal of Choice, it is awesome.

Obviously, I spend a lot of time listening to such music, finding ways to connect others to it, and just thinking about it. Those are the surface elements of this blog. But there is a deeper current running here. What started as a way to promote locally-rooted music has evolved into an ongoing discussion about how music makes us feel. To me, that is one of the most valuable parts of music. It has a strange,  but ultimately  very human, way of connecting us with an artist’s emotions and help us to more fully feel our own. This is a really good thing. Healthy, in fact. So, we talk about this stuff all the time in my house. It’s part of the fabric of the Hudgins household culture.

A few weeks ago, Joshua had his scrap paper out and was working on his own art. Now, I am clearly as biased as any other father would be when appreciating what his child creates. But, I was pretty blown away by what Joshua was putting together. He was using multi-colored paint blotter thingies and “randomly” placing various colors throughout his paper canvas. At first glance, I thought it was just pretty; a fun combination of colors. And then I asked him what he was painting.

His reply: “Your website.” Of course, I was enamored by the fact that he would even think to do that. But, I was also curious, so I asked him to describe what he meant. He couldn’t really do that, which was awesome in and of itself. The best I could gather is that all the colors represented different ways of feeling. I was amazed at how my little boy was able to grasp so well what Tomme Suab is… that it’s not just about music, but about the textures and colors of the music and how those things come together to stimulate emotional response. I was both proud of my little boy and humbled at the same time.

His painting is at the top of this post. Take it in. Enjoy. And, consider how the colors and textures of your favorite musicians have impacted your emotional world.

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Music and Healing, Poignant Songs, Uncategorized

Brokenness, Expression, and Healing

 

“The worse childhood you have, the better artist you become.”

The renowned visual artist, Marina Abramovic, made this statement during an interview for CBS Sunday Morning some time ago. It made an immediate mark on me and rang painfully true. I don’t know much about the details of her childhood, but based on this statement and the little bit I do know, it doesn’t seem to have been a very good one. For her, the pain of her childhood is the fuel for her art.

I think she is onto something very important with the above statement. For me, the most compelling music is that which seems to be borne out of pain, struggle, or discontent. When I was younger, I was all about angry and/or rebellious music. It’s what drew me to Rage Against the Machine, Project 86 , and U2. During the past several years, as I have experienced some significant emotional healing, I started listening to sadder stuff. The Civil Wars were the door into sad music for me.

The anger, rebellion, and sorrow that drew me to these artists and those like them came from my own childhood. Like so many of us (I would argue all of us), I was deeply wounded as a child. I experienced deep rejection, abuse, and neglect. In the years leading up to my healing experience, my response to these wounds was anger and rebellion. This anger was not healthy. It was aggressive and controlling. As I began to see with some clarity that I had been wounded, the anger began to melt into sadness and grief. Now that I have experienced some significant healing, I find myself drawn simply to what feels like genuine emotion. That’s what I write about here. And, I write about it because the emotionality of music has helped me fully feel what I have needed to feel as I have been getting well.

The reason I can relate to emotive music is the genuine emotion so many artists pour out in their music. Without that, I would not be able to connect with their songs the way I do. Furthermore, the emotion they share likely comes from similar places as the emotion I feel when listening to them. When I listen to Sanctuary Hum by Project 86, for example, I get amped up and angry. This makes sense, as the song focuses on emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse in a church setting, specifically by a church leader. This resonates deeply with me, as I have experienced spiritual abuse myself. My own wounds have led me to want to protect others from being wounded. The song is an anthem, encouraging the abused person to stand up in the truth and to not let the abuser win. Even writing about that, in this moment, has me a little charged up. The emotion and context of the song beat at the same rhythm as my heart. And, the obvious connection here is that the emotion and context of that song came from the writer’s (Andrew Schwab) own experience.

Here’s the simple truth: we are all broken. We have all, whether or not we see it yet, been abused and/or neglected. We are all “damaged goods.” If we don’t own up to that, we are simply fooling ourselves. We all need healing.

I am convinced that a powerful avenue of that healing is self-expression. We are all built with innate significance. Each one of us was given a voice. Among the different ways you may use your voice, one of the most important ways is taking what is in you, the good, bad, and ugly, and getting it out there for others to see. Sometimes, that simply means you share the story of your wounds with a trusted friend or with a small group committed to your recovery and well-being, like what we experience at Wounded at Valleybrook Church. Sometimes, it means that you create something that expresses the emotional responses to the wounds that live in your soul. For me, that has come out in a variety of ways: writing, creating “identity presentations,” and sharing my story verbally. These expressions have been a central part of my healing process. They have helped me gain clarity about who I am, as well as who I am not. They have helped me create a dividing line between the parts of me that are genuinely me and the parts that I have taken on from my wounds and from my negative responses to those wounds. They have helped me grow closer to wholeness.

If I was wired differently, my self-expression would also come out in music. But, alas, I am not wired that way. So, I am thankful for musicians and songwriters who are wired that way and who share their souls through their music. And, I am thankful for the ones that are honest about their brokenness, their woundedness. For me, they are the ones that create the most meaningful art.

 

 

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Music and Healing, Poignant Songs

Anger, Grief, and The Civil Wars

civil warsWhen I was growing up, heavy metal or hard rock was not okay in my house. It was the devil’s music. So, I never went near it until about 1986, when, in my youth group at church, I was introduced to Rez Band and Stryper, a couple of rock bands comprised by Christians. Rez (or The Resurrection Band) was gritty and raw, and I found that very appealing. And then there was Stryper, the opposite of gritty and raw, but still with a little edge (especially in light of the environment in which I grew up). These two bands were my introduction into harder music. As time went on, I gravitated more and more toward that stuff.

I think I was drawn to the intensity of harder music. One of the intense bands that I fell in love with was Project 86. What drew me into their music was that same rawness and grittiness I heard in Rez. But, I enjoyed P86 much more than Rez. They were honest about God, the church, and the dark stuff that happens in the church. And, they rocked hard. And, if I’m honest, there was some anger in their music and my heart resonated with that anger.

About three years ago, my hunger for angry music began to fade a bit. I remember when I first started listening to The Civil Wars around that time, and how their music was like a magnet for me and I couldn’t stop listening. The draw for me was the sorrow in so many of their songs. Those songs are sober, emotive, and heart-rending. One song in particular, “Falling,” grabbed a deep, firm hold of me during that time (more on that in a moment).

It is not coincidental that around that same time, in the fall of 2011, I participated in my first session of Wounded at Valleybrook Church. I mentioned something about this program in the ” The Song That Changed Everything” post. During that season, as I processed my own wounds, recognized their origins, and began to experience freedom, I learned about the dynamics of and relationship between anger and grief when it comes to the healing process.

For so many years, I was the angry young man who, sometimes boisterously and sometimes silently, was constantly bucking against the system, full of defiance. I began to see that my anger was not really about all the stuff I had been railing against. It was about my wounds. It was anger toward God and toward those who wounded me. As I processed through this truth, I was able to begin moving past being angry about my wounds and start feeling the sorrow for what I lost because of them. I was progressing from anger to grief.

So, it makes sense that I was more and more drawn to sad songs during that time. I was sad, and appropriately so. Much had been taken from me through the emotional wounds I had received in my childhood and young adult years.

And, during that season, I was also trying to figure out how to navigate life, especially in regard to my relationships with my wounders. In some of these relationships, I had lived in a lie for what felt like forever, believing things were good when they really were not. In fact, those relationships were dark, ugly, and harmful. But, I had been numb to those realities, and any time that I considered the possibility of something being wrong, I also numbed my emotions and found ways not to feel the anger and grief that were brimming under the surface.

This is why The Civil Wars’ “Falling” spoke to me on such a deep level. Consider the following lyrics:

Haven’t you seen me sleepwalking?
‘Cause I’ve been holding your hand
Haven’t you noticed me drifting?
Oh, let me tell you I am

Tell me it’s nothing
Try to convince me
That I’m not drowning
Oh let me tell you I am

Please, please tell me you know
I’ve got to let you go
I can’t help falling out of love with you

Why am I feeling so guilty?
Why am I holding my breath?
I’m worried ’bout everyone but me
And I just keep losing myself

Oh, won’t you read my mind
Don’t you let me lie here
And die here

The main folks that wounded me in my formative years had always convinced me, through word and action, that the way they did things was the way things should be done. I grew up believing that what I experienced was not only normal, but that it was, in fact, good. As I began to break away from this fantasy and see things for what they really were, I could heartily relate to the feelings in this song….

I’ve been going through the motions, even though I know something is amiss…

You keep trying to convince me that everything is good, when I know that I’m drowning…

Won’t you reach out to me? Can’t you see I’m dying a slow, painful emotional death?

Oh, how I could relate to those verses, those thoughts, those emotions. I will forever be grateful that The Civil Wars wrote and recorded that song. It has played a role in my personal healing process simply by saying things that I needed to say, by expressing emotions that had laid dormant within me for years, for decades. Again, this is the power of music.

Thankfully, as I have continued to heal, I’m finding that angry music can still speak to me. It can help me feel things I need to feel. The same can still be said for sad songs. After all, I am very much in the midst of the healing process. And, I can also embrace happy songs, love songs, and songs that are emotive in a variety of ways, because I am beginning to fully feel all my emotions and embrace them as part of who God created me to be, as a fully-functional human being. But, getting to this point has not been easy, and I have had my hand held throughout by The Civil Wars, Project 86, and any number of other gifted musicians who bare their souls, challenge me, resonate with deeply felt emotions, and help me find my own voice.

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