I'm Making a Gospel Album!
So, I’m sitting in my apartment with my dog and cat next to me. We all have our designated spots on the couch, and I usually have to be between Topsy and Little Bit, or else someone gets mad and leaves.
Anyway, I just wanted to provide a little update on the gospel album I mentioned in my first blog post. I finally have the ten songs picked out, and I’ve already started working on the arrangements and will record soon! I live next to a small airport, so I can’t record during the day most of the time, or you all would hear propellors in the background, but I’m making more progress than I expected to at this point, and I’m happy about that.
This album and the songs in it mean a lot to me. I have an index of over 3,500 hymns that are public domain, and I narrowed it down to nine songs. Now, that was easier than it initially sounds because I didn’t know A LOT of those songs, but it was still difficult to cull it down. All of them should be familiar to you if you’ve been in church a few times. The tenth song is one that I wrote and have played publicly before (but you’ll have to wait to find out!).
One thing about this album that I’m doing differently is I am recording it live from my personal home studio. This means that I will have to do each and every song over until I’m satisfied with it. I’ve been singing in church for nearly my entire life, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you’re singing with your friends and family. The songs are passed down from generation to generation, and the Spirit and feeling of fellowship emanates throughout every one of them. When I record these, I want to try and replicate that as much as possible. This will probably mean more takes, but I’m doing all of this in a room in my apartment, and there’s not much else to do right now, right!
If you’re still curious about what it’s going to sound like, here’s a rough version of a song that I ended up not putting on this album, but it’s still a great song! It’s just me and my acoustic guitar, playing the songs a lot of us grew up on.
My Mother's Bible - Lain Tomlinson
I hope you’re as excited about this album as I am! When I do finish it up, it will be available for purchase on all the online platforms, and you will be able to stream it on most of the popular streaming apps. I will also make some CDs for those of you who don’t use any of the aforementioned options. Make sure you keep up with Facebook and the website so you know when it comes out!
How Music has Shaped My Life
Ever since I was young, I loved singing. I started singing in church. Two of the first songs I remember singing as solos were “Without Him” and “Little Drummer Boy.” I remember going around with my parents as my dad sang in a gospel quartet, and for some reason, I remember the tenor singing his rendition of “He Touched Me.” After hearing that angelic voice and listening to those tight harmonies, I was hooked!
Singing didn’t stop there for me though. My sister would have her friends over, and we would record “music videos,” where we would come up with choreography, and I would sing lead. We had a pretty good rendition of “Rockin’ Robin!” (Those videos are hopefully LONG gone!)
When I got into middle school, I had my first exposure to a choir. We were not great by any stretch of the imagination, but we had a good time! Mr. Mason helped cultivate our love of music and provided a good foundation for high school. One of the first times I sang outside of church was in his sixth-grade general music class!
High school was where I fell in love with music and realized it was an integral part of my life. Mr. Bullock showed through his own passion the importance of music and the idea of musicality. I will never forget the trips we took, the music we sang, and the memories made. Choir in high school gave me a place to belong that I hadn’t experienced before in the school setting. I was able to be part of barbershop quartets and vocal jazz ensembles, play Danny Zuko in a production of GREASE, and perform a Garth Brooks song on Senior Night!
By the time I went to Cumberland University for college, I knew music was something I needed. Unfortunately, I was dissuaded from majoring in music from the beginning because I needed a degree that was going to lead to a career that could really support me, and a music degree apparently did not cover that. As my (now) colleagues can tell you, the journey to find my major was long and winding, and I did end up majoring in vocal performance and mathematics, picking up a chemistry minor along the way.
College is also where I started playing music professionally. I joined a band right out of high school as a keyboardist, and I played shows with them, earning my first few dollars as a musician. A couple of years later, I started my own band - Whitetail Junction - and we started playing regularly enough that I did not have to work another job while I was in school. Cumberland is where I met Lee and Ryan, two of my best friends and members of every band that I put together. I’m so thankful for meeting them and the experiences we had!
Even in graduate school, I couldn’t stay away from music. I’m thankful the Tarleton choral director was gracious enough to let me perform and even travel with them. I honestly don’t think I would have stayed and completed graduate school if I hadn’t done that. I love math, don’t get me wrong, but I needed music, and that filled that void.
Now I’m teaching mathematics full-time at Cumberland University, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to go back to my alma mater and work to improve the lives of students with the same people who made positive impacts on my life. Along with that, I’m playing more music than I ever have prior to this point. The whole COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on my live shows, just like it’s impacted everyone, but I’m still growing and experiencing more with music, and I love it! I even have music on all the streaming platforms, which blows my mind!
Where the Road is Going - Lain Tomlinson & The Lost Troubadours
If I haven’t made it obvious by this point, music is a part of me. It’s a gift I’ve been given, and I can’t deny myself the opportunities to share my passion with others. Where that leads me, I don’t know. I mentioned that I enjoyed teaching, but I also wouldn’t mind traveling the world playing music either! I just know that whatever and wherever I end up, music will always be a part of my life. I’m thankful for those who showed me the magic and beauty behind music, even if I don’t always perform like I was taught in my voice lessons.
What is your passion in life? I know I just wrote about music, but we all have different gifts and talents and creative outlets that we need to make sure we don’t bottle up. Tell me about yours and how I can support it in the comments!
The Craziest Show I've Played
This is a story about the craziest show the band has ever played, and let me tell you, it was a wild night.
Okay, so this has been a few years ago. We were playing under the name “Whitetail Junction,” and it was a time when Craigslist was only partially creepy (my first clue). I would look through the website searching for shows for us to play, and I found a post for an Independence Day party needing live music. Score!
So, we got into contact with the lister, and the guy agreed to let us play. It was exciting because it was our first private show! We practiced a lot of different country and southern/classic rock music and were ready to go and play some music and meet new people!
We had the address, so we put it in Lee’s phone (I still had a flip phone), and we started driving to the house. We drove, and we drove, and we drove. We went through the city we were told it was in, then we drove down a side road, and then we drove down some road that felt like it was in the middle of nowhere to find a driveway that was pretty long and off the road in the woods (my second clue).
We pull up, and this really nice guy meets us. We look at each other like, alright! We go around back and see this amazing two story deck with a built-in bar, a pool, and a HUGE garage. We are told to set up in one of the bay entrances of the garage.
This is going to be alright!
We get set up, and we go and talk to the people hosting. It turns out they have their own moonshine still nearby and made their own product. This is setting up to be an interesting night!
The party starts, and we’re rocking out! We’re playing all of our songs and taking requests, like we do, and the people are having a blast and getting a little rowdy, but that’s to be expected!
Then they start the fireworks show. They had a professional setup with thousands of dollars worth of explosives! It was going to be amazing! (This should have been the third clue.)
Then, it malfunctioned.
And daggers of fire came straight toward us.
The band took off running and hiding; there were others who just stood still and laughed. It was total chaos. This was not in our contract!
We survived (obviously), and we continued playing for a while longer after the fireworks disaster ended. The time finally came for us to wind down, and they gave us our payment: a jar full of money, and a jar full of moonshine.
We split the money between everyone, but I don’t know where that moonshine ended up!
That’s the story of the craziest show that I’ve played. If you liked this story, let me know in the comments below! Maybe if I get enough response, I’ll tell you about the time we played “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” in the Methodist church! And if you find that moonshine, be sure to get the ashes from the fireworks out before you drink it!
Music in the time of COVID-19
This pandemic stinks.
I think we can all agree on that. I’m not going to get into the conspiracy theories or the science or the political implications surrounding the coronavirus. No matter who you are, this situation has been difficult for one reason or another. There’s tension and anxiety in the air, when we should be celebrating graduations and getting ready to go redneck surfing on the lake.
For us as a band and me as a musician, it’s been a weird past few months. Last year, in 2019, I played over FIFTY shows throughout the year, and this year, I think I’ve played one (I went back and checked. It has been one show at Sammy B’s Restaurant in Lebanon). We have played some shows online through Facebook Live, but it’s just not the same as having a live audience. You don’t have people in front of you where you can interact and have fun with them. We even released a professionally recorded single in anticipation for the shows we were going to play this year!
… yep. So far, we’ve canceled twelve shows. I’m sure there will be more.
I shouldn’t complain. I’m fortunate to still be able to work from home. There are so many others who don’t have this opportunity, and my heart goes out to them. But music is an outlet for me and for the guys, and it is discouraging to see shows get canceled week after week.
It is so easy to just slack off and binge watch Tiger King on Netflix or go down the rabbit hole of Brad Mundo and Adley videos on Facebook. Learning to cut your own hair and bake bread from scratch is exciting for a little while, but then you’re back in the rut of being lazy and unproductive.
So, what are we doing instead?
Last night, we played another show on Facebook Live. That’s going to become a regular part of our routine until we are at a point where we can go out and play again.
This blog post is another way I’m working through the anxiety and emotions bottled up inside.
I’m also recording a gospel album. It’s going to be raw and live, just like I would perform it in the church. I’ve been working for the past few weeks culling down a list of songs to put on it. I’m pretty excited about it, and I’m hoping to release it by the end of the month.
All of this is a lot more productive than just watching Netflix or Hulu, and it’s definitely healthier than scrolling through Facebook!
How has the pandemic affected your life? How are you coping with this new normal and using your imagination for positive things? Let me know in the comments below.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Lain Tomlinson's Musings
Just some thoughts and videos from Lain!