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Guitar Weenie

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Posted - 01 Aug 2006 :  16:42:23 Show Profile

Jesus Joshua 24:15 Newsletter - August 2006

The Band:
Bobby Shepherd: Drums
Steve Petit: Lead Vocals
Jay Woody: Bass
Will Rauser: Guitars

The Crew:
Mark Bussell: Webmaster, Computer Tech
Jim Bishop: Promotion, PR
Tammy Woody: Video Production, Wardrobe
Juli Rauser: Booking

Editor's Lead

Glad to have you here for the August edition of our newsletter. As most of you now know, Jesus Joshua 24:15 has been a busy band, but not necessarily musically. Everyone in the band has family obligations and church obligations as well... plus we all work at full time jobs.

Yet none of that keeps us from being dedicated to our calling. In fact, I would submit that the limited amount of time we have forces us to think really hard about our commitment. Life can get very tedious and tiresome. However - I can tell you from personal experience, that whenever I step into the practice room for band rehearsal or the studio for recording, I am bristling with energy and excitement. Even a long, hard day at work cannot diminish my enthusiasm for the vision that God has placed on me for this band.

The Scripture verse that is the band's surname - Joshua 24:15 - says, "Choose this day whom you will serve." Jesus is our answer to that call from Joshua. Even though today we may not think of ourselves as serving idols and false gods, life has a tendency to erode our commitments to those things which are Kingdom oriented. Of course, our families and our jobs are very important, certainly even high priority. But sometimes, we tend to use those high priorities as an excuse to eclipse God's priorities for the Kingdom.

The focus of Jesus Joshua 24:15 has less to do with music (even though we are a band of musicians) and more to do with pointing people to Jesus. That reality is continuing to become clearer to me, as I play my instrument in rehearsal or recording, as I perform live, or as I'm just shooting the breeze with my band-mates. As much as I love to play our music, I have come to realize more and more, that we have nothing to give this world of any value except for
the Gospel of Christ.

Jesus told His disciples that to follow Him one must count the cost. I guess that statement is easier said from the perspective of an easy chair. This band has been together now for almost 11 years. I am very proud to serve with these men. They are talented and they are dedicated. But the one thing that drives each of my band mates is not record deals, fame, or world wide recognition - it is the Gospel of Christ, and being obedient to the heavenly vision. Although the talent in my band mates is vast, they've counted the cost of what it means to serve in this ministry; and that cost may very well mean that those things that every musician desires may not be ours to have.


"Getting To Know The Band"

In our "Getting To Know The Band" segment our featured band member is none other than Jay Woody, Bass player extraordinaire. Though his time can be rather limited, we caught up with Jay to get at least some of his insights. Here are some of Jay's answers to a Q&A. We've posted ten of them here - the other ten will be featured next month.

1.How many instruments can you play with reasonable skill?

Well thats a matter of opinion.... but I can play guitar pretty well, bass pretty well, drums pretty well and piano a little bit, I am working on violin and the jug.

2.What instrument did you begin on?

A xylophone and then I graduated to the bells. I studied under Lynn Marrow in elementary school.

3.How old were you when you began playing?

I think I was ten.

4.What song, group, or musician inspired you to play?

Led Zeppelin

5.When did you become aware of your need for Christ?

When I was 13 but I quickly ran from God, it wasn't until I was about 20 years old when I made it real.

6.What event or personality prompted your decision to get Born Again?

I was getting ready to die miserably and alone, and God Himself asked me If I was ready.

7.How long have you been with Jesus Joshua 24:15?

Since 1996

8.How did you become in contact with the band when they first formed?

A friend of mine heard that I would only play for a band dedicated solely to doing the Fathers will, and hooked me up with Bobby.

9.What has been the most rewarding experience playing with Jesus Joshua?

Knowing that we have walked where God has ordered.

10.What has been the most difficult experience?

When I was kicked out for being slack toward my commitments.

More from Jay next month!


The "T-Bone File"

Also this month we have a new feature - "The T-Bone File". T-Bone is an enigmatic, wandering figure who just happens to enjoy doing interviews with Christian bands. Good thing, as he doesn't have any real employment! (Or any he can tell us about without killing us... you know the drill...) Anyhow, T-Bone caught up with Will Rauser, Guitar player for Jesus Joshua 24:15, to ask some serious questions about his take on the band.

Q. Jesus Joshua has been together now for eleven years. What is the key to keeping a band going for so long, in your opinion?

A. Well, I would say a couple of reasons:
  1. You need to have vision, or at least grab a hold of the vision presented to you. When Bobby first approached me, after we jammed together (of course!), we spent most of the time talking. Bobby spent a lot of time describing to me the vision that God gave him for this band.

    Every detail, from our stage presentation, performance, songwriting, and lyrical content was clearly marked out. Obviously, not EVERY situation was accounted for, but for the most part the plan has not changed, and has been consistent.

    What hooked me was that I could see everything that Bobby told me. I felt that clearly the vision that God gave Bob was MY vision as well. I caught hold of it, and I own it, so to speak. So it was easy for me to fall into place.

  2. You need to have a spirit of submission. I know that concept is foreign to most musicians, and unfortunately, even foreign to Christians (though it should not be). I think a wise Christian recognizes where the anointing falls. In our band we recognize where the authority is placed, and we want to serve each other. We first purpose not to lay our hands onto things that it is not meant for us to touch. Musicians are well known for their huge egos - and that is including Christian musicians. Well, I personally believe that "ego" is what causes many Christian bands to fold up. Somebody's little feelings got hurt, and so they take their ball and go home. Nobody wants to serve the greater mission of the ministry (and Jesus Joshua IS a ministry). Mostly, we all want to serve God. A spirit of submission to God, the leadership, and each other, has definitely made us a formidable success.

  3. The band is family. I am sure that we could all go and do other things; but as I have told Bob numerous times, "Where am I going to go? This is where God has called me." I just cannot imagine going on without these men. We have been through a lot of success together, and like I said before, we share the same vision. We don't all see it the same way, but we share it. I have never liked the "hired hand" mentality for a group. I prefer a shared passion for the same goals. Are there better drummers out there? Perhaps, but I would be hard pressed to find one, and Bob and I share an instinctive understanding of the music and the vision. We enjoy each other's company, and we are fast friends. Are there better bass players out there? If there are, I don't think that they have Jay's musicality. And NO ONE has Jay's knack for positive reinforcement. The guy's a walking compliment! Steve is a gem! He's passionate ad a man of deep integrity. And he always manages to deliver an incredible vocal.

    All of these men have a single minded focus to serve God. And, I get to count these men among my closest friends. No, more accurately, my brothers. It has been a great ride with these guys!

Q. Have you always played Christian music?

A. You mean, in a band? Or do you mean in practice? I have jammed with friends and we played secular music. Just for fun, nothing serious. But I have never played anything but Christian music in all of my serious bands. I had just determined to play only for God's Kingdom, if I ever had the opportunity to do it seriously. To this day, I have never played in a secular cover band. Not that I'm against that, but I just never was in a position to do so. And I didn't really want to. I like the music, but I could not reconcile the secular lifestyle that often accompanies it. Why? Do you need a Guitar player?

Q. Being a young Christian and wanting to play guitar, who were your biggest influences?

A. Well, what made me want to play guitar...I mean I HAD to play... was hearing Eddie Van Halen. I liked music, and rock especially. I even liked guitar. But I just HAD to play when I heard Edward. So obviously, He's my number one guy!

I would say that after Edward, I loved Randy Rhoads...well actually, ALL of the Ozzy guitar players. My favorite of them was Jake E. Lee. Personally, I liked Jake better than Randy, but that's just my particular taste.

I would also say that Journey's Neal Schon was huge for me! The boy could play fast or slow, but it was ALWAYS melodic. Plus he had really cool hair!

My other big influences were George Lynch, Michael Schenker and Gary Moore. If you hear those guys, you've basically pinned down my style.

Q. Must have been hard around the house learning guitar in the early eighties considering all the great bands were non Christian. How did your parents feel about it and how much support did you get from them early on?

A. Excellent question, T-Bone! You really know how to get the scoops!

Um, it wasn't really hard, so long as I kept the volume down - Waaay down, lol! My parents didn't really like the music that I was listening to and they would let me know that it didn't suit their tastes, but I already knew that! But I was never any trouble to my folks, so they really didn't interfere. I did get the "Rock Music can't be good for your mind" speech once or twice, but as long as I stayed out of trouble and stayed in church, they tolerated it.

But to be a little more honest, I kept most of what I listened to at a low profile. I mean, I didn't exactly parade my Ozzy cassettes in front of my folks. I didn't play "Bark At The Moon" at paint peeling volumes, just to tick off my folks. You know, I didn't exactly draw attention to who my heroes were. I bought all of my own music, and I didn't ask my folks to buy my music. So I still don't think they realize who I was listening to, and I'm 38!

As far as support for my music, they didn't try to stop me or hold me back - but I don't think that they, even to this day, really understand what I do, and it really doesn't matter to them. They know that I absolutely LOVE the guitar, and they do buy me guitar things (picks, strings, cables), but they would probably have preferred if I was a Praise and Worship leader in some church!

I will say that my Dad and Mom accept that I have something that is wholesome, even if it isn't to their particular taste. But they probably will never roadie for me!

Q. The Time Of My Return was the band's first release, and was recorded two years after the band formed. At the start of Jesus Joshua, what level would you say the band was on for an upstart Christian rock band?

A. If you had asked me that question five or six years ago, I would've said we were on the verge of being the next Stryper! But, hindsight (and experience) being 20/20, I think that we were probably pretty average. But we operated as if we were going to play Madison Square Garden! And I am very proud of that project, mistakes, rawness, and all. It shows what potential we had, and it was the very first time that I had EVER been in a recording studio. Period. I think that both Jay and Bobby had been in the studio before, but I had never been. I dreamed of it, but that was all I knew.

In retrospect, I think that I did well. I certainly was NOT flawless - but the writing was great and the songs were great and I was in awe of the process. It was fun... although, there WERE some frustrating moments during my recording sessions. But that was the result of inexperience on my part, and I wasn't completely satisfied with my sound. But that is because I didn't know how to get a good sound in the studio.

As a band, we really did a landmark recording, at least for us. And I do think that we were way ahead of some of our peers, at least locally. However, our second CD, and the new CD just blow the first recording out of the water in every way!

Q. Jesus Joshua is finishing up their third CD "Three The Hard Way". What have been some key elements to your personal success over the years?

A. Practice, practice, practice; Prayer, prayer, prayer; and Focus, focus, focus.

I also think that having great leadership (and recognizing it) has been instrumental in my personal success. I sincerely doubt that I would be at this level if I didn't have someone who forces me out of my guitar player "comfort zones". Bob doesn't know squat about guitar, except what he likes to hear. So when he's writing songs, he doesn't give two hoots about the technical side of playing.

Of course, that does sometimes tend to lead him to ask me to produce some unorthodox things... But I rarely tell him that I can't reproduce what he's looking for unless it requires fingers that I simply do not have! Usually, I try to work out the part until I can play it with authority. And thus, I learn something new!

Now for an answer that has less to do with music. I believe that two other things are also instrumental in my personal success: Being plugged into a Bible believing church, and a faithful, loving wife.

As far as church goes, I believe that in order to understand all of the things that I described before about submission, focus, and vision, a Christian musician needs to be plugged into a good church and serve there. Learn how to get in and serve - face the challenges of putting yourself aside and operating in submission even if it is not what you personally like (I hate P&W music, but I love to play in God's house!). Submission in church teaches you how to humble yourself before God, and loving your brothers and sisters, and being focused on what we Christians are to be doing: Lifting up Jesus before all men!

Now, having a loving, supportive, and understanding wife is indeed a treasure. They are your flesh. They can aid in your success, or your defeat, spiritually.

My wife sees my vision, and understands what drives me. She has learned not to interfere with it, and even lends her hands in service to it. She doesn't always "see" everything, but she has learned to trust my judgment in such matters. And having a good wife closes the door on the enemy, so he cannot hit me in that area.

I firmly believe that many Christian musicians fail because they do not understand the potential for influence that their spouse can have on their successes as well as their failures.

Q. Where to now?

A. Who knows! Personally, I have no inclination to change direction. I think we will continue to get better as a band both musically and ministerially. I think we will play to bigger audiences, and the vision will take on a grander scale. But we will always operate the same way we have for the last eleven years. God is still in charge of this band. We will stop when that is no longer the case. We won't have any choice, really!

We have never been influenced by the fickleness of the world. We continue to operate with integrity and professionalism. We do not have time for the winds and waves of worldly success. If we ever "make it" (whatever that means) it will be because God has made it so and not by our own making. But we have been very protective over this vision, and God has allowed us to keep hands out that do not belong touching it. That way we make the decisions, and we succeed or fail by our own decisions.

Will, thanks for takin the time to talk to us. You gonna see Bobby later on? Tell him I said Duh Huh.... he'll know whatcha mean!

A. Your welcome, T-Bone. By the way, that's a really nice tie!

interview by T-Bone July 26,2006


News and Events

  • A Huge "oops!" from the editor:

    Speaking of Jay Woody, we neglected to mention in July's edition that Jay was celebrating a birthday on July 4th! Now there's reason to celebrate! Happy Belated Birthday, Jay! Sorry we missed ya!

  • All of the material for the upcoming album release, entitled "3 The Hard Way" is written and arranged. However, not all of the final details have made the album complete, as of yet. The band is working steadily toward a quality project and will settle for nothing less. Although the new CD will be ready very soon, the whole production package has need for further fine tunings to pass the band's standards for quality. As such, the release date may be moved to October 1st. But the band is not content with resting on it's collective behind. Every effort is being made for this CD to be the finest release by Jesus Joshua 24:15.

  • In other news, we are happy to report that Jay has returned safely from a trip with the youth group from his church (Mt. Carmel Pentecostal). They had a fun filled week in Daytona, Florida. Jay reports that not only was there great fun to be had, but God moved in a mighty way in the lives of some of these young people. Jay is doing great with these kids and we look forward to hearing more good reports from him. But more importantly, we look forward to what God is going to do with these kids. And with Jay, too!


Guitar Points from Will

I am hoping to try and help provide some insight into playing guitar. Now there are plenty of books, magazines, and various other formats for learning the instrument, so there is no lack of information on the subject. And there are plenty of players out there with so many opinions and perspectives, that it can be difficult to sort out what you need. However, I would like to try and simplify some of the techniques for playing, performing, writing, and recording the guitar. The first thing that I will tell you is that these things do work for me, but they may not apply to your situation.If they don't, hey that's great! Always go with what you know. But don't disregard the voice of experience. It might come in handy one day!

Anyway, I would like to start with something very basic: The warm-up. There are countless artists and articles that praise the virtue of a good warm-up. There is very good reason why: protecting your hands! There's an old saying that goes, "No pain, No gain." Well, that DOES NOT apply to guitar playing. If you are playing with pain, STOP! You could be doing irreparable damage to your hands. A good, solid warm-up regimen will not only help protect your hands, but it will also help make you feel freer when you play.

Although it varies, I usually try to do a 20 to 30 minute warm-up every day. It isn't necessarily very musical, but you can try to be musical with your warm-up regimen, if you bore easily. Let us look at a very basic routine:

v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ 1E|-----------------------------------------1-2-3-4-| 2B|---------------------------------1-2-3-4---------| 3G|-------------------------1-2-3-4-----------------| 4D|-----------------1-2-3-4-------------------------| 5A|---------1-2-3-4---------------------------------| 6E|-1-2-3-4-----------------------------------------|

The idea is fairly simple: One finger per fret. The first finger will be placed on the first fret, the second finger on the second fret, and so on. The picking strokes follow a strict alternate (up and down) pattern, beginning with a down-stroke.

Now, once you reach the 4th fret on the 1st string, with your pinkie (4th finger), where do you go? Well, slide up to the 5th fret, and go back down, thus:

v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ 1E|-5-4-3-2-----------------------------------------| 2B|---------5-4-3-2---------------------------------| 3G|-----------------5-4-3-2-------------------------| 4D|-------------------------5-4-3-2-----------------| 5A|---------------------------------5-4-3-2---------| 6E|-----------------------------------------5-4-3-2-|

Continue this process, moving consecutively up the neck. Once you get to a place on the neck where it is too high to play this practically, reverse the process, and start back down. A couple of hints are in order:

  1. Always use strict alternate picking.

  2. Maintain the one-finger-per-fret standard.

  3. Try to maintain an even rhythm between each note, even when changing strings, and sliding to a new position. To help with that is the next hint:

  4. Always use a metronome, or other form of rhythmic constant (such as an oven timer). Set the metronome at a slow, even pace - you're warming up so slow is good. Use one click per finger per fret. Do this exercise for 5 minutes continuous, and your hand will feel all warm. After about a week, move the metronome up 1 notch, and repeat the process.

How can this exercise benefit you? Well, for one thing, it covers three different skills in one exercise: alternate picking, position shifting, and coordinating the two hands. It also teaches you how to maintain an even and consistent rhythm. And it teaches you patience!

Although very simple, and sometimes even boring, this warm-up exercise is not very musical, but it is very beneficial. And 5 minutes a day is all that it takes. You can do all of your other tricks and scales (a subject we will tackle later) and fancy-pants guitar acrobatics afterward. If you do not warm up properly, you will only hurt yourself in the long run.


A Final Thought

I would like to share a story with you. Although this story is completely fictional, it has a very salient point to it. There are plenty of Christians who run around, shouting "Thou shall not judge," whenever there are other Christians who make value judgments on things that are reasonably questionable. I think that, although bigotry and condemnation are wrong, Christians have to make decisions based on good discernment, even if all of the facts are not in. Even the Scripture, Proverbs tells us that "Bad company corrupts good character." How are you going to decide what exactly is "bad company" if you can never make value judgments on anything? As you ponder the above question, read this story, and then decide:

Many years ago, Indian youths would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees, bright with flowers. There he fasted. But on the third day, as he looked up at the surrounding mountains, he noticed one tall rugged peak, capped with dazzling snow. I will test myself against that mountain, he thought. He put on his buffalo-hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders and set off to climb the peak. When he reached the top he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke.

"I am about to die," said the snake. "It is too cold for me up here and I am freezing. There is no food and I am starving. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley."

"No," said the youth. "I am forewarned. I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite, and your bite will kill me."

"Not so," said the snake. "I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you."

The youth resisted awhile, but this was a very persuasive snake with beautiful markings. At last the youth tucked it under his shirt and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it gently on the grass, when suddenly the snake coiled, rattled, and leaped, biting him on the leg.

"But you promised..." cried the youth.
"You knew what I was when you picked me up." said the snake as it slithered away.

I cannot help but wonder how many problems would be solved way ahead of time, if people just practiced an ounce of common sense. Personally, I think that some Christians are afraid of what the politically correct notions of judgments are in this world. How many times have I heard about people "struggling" with this or that, when they knew what that something was when they picked it up in the first place? And sure enough, it "bit" them.

I read one time a church billboard that said these words:
"When you go into business with the devil, you will be the junior partner."

The devil is the devil folks. And like the snake, if you pick him up, don't be surprised if he bites you. Because you knew what he was when you picked him up.

Will Rauser

Edited by - AXEMAN2415 on 01 Aug 2006 16:44:28

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