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It's the ultimate display of Jesus-powered evangelical manliness: Two alpha-male boomers enter the ring. A steel cage lowers, fencing the two warriors in for a fight to the death...or the front page of your local newspaper.

One, a complete set of Republican talking points come to life, a comedian with lightening fast lips and a die-hard commitment to never putting down a toilet seat. The other, a bearded long-haired hunter-gatherer and best-selling author, a pied piper leading an army of former Mother Teresa-like girly men in a battle of William Wallace proportions against the castration of the American church.

Two men - the manliest of men - face off for the title of "Most Testosteronic Evangelical in America."

Every woman wants to submit to them and every man wants to pay them $68 dollars for a weekend of 80s buttrock and instruction on how to grow a pair. Who will take home the prize?

My money's on Eldridge. He's wiry and spry. Brody's got a Franklin on Stine though. The kneeless jeans give him extra mobility Brody figures. Who's your pick?



SHLOG is closed until Friday December 8th. I'll be using my usual blogging time to finish up the new shaungroves.com and shlog.com. Thanks for understanding. I will check comments here so feel free to keep them coming, but no new blog posts will appear.

See you again soon.




On December 1st only, you can download a song of mine FOR FREE at MyFreeMusicFriday.com (as well as one from Aaron Shust and another by Chris Rice.)

This is FREE free, not free-if-you-give-us-your-e-mail-address kind of free.

Totally free.

You CAN hand over your e-mail address though if you want to receive info about all future free music offerings from MyFreeMusicFriday.com and be entered in a drawing for an iPod.

MyFreeMusicFriday.com December 1st. Free music.

Check it out and please pass it on. Blog about it even. Thanks.

(PS. News2, I know you're reading this. And thanks for that. Do you mind saying a little something something about this deal on your blogtastic site? Thanks.)


I'm making a list of the best ten albums of 2006 for Billboard.com. Jog my memory. What's your list look like?


It's hard for a svelte man to find pants. In America. In Europe, not a problem. Japan, a sinch. But in a nation where the average waist size - I'm betting - dwarfs the average in-seam measurement it's not a breeze.

Twelve stores later I finally found a pair of 30/32 black pants that fit like my usual freakish 30/34's.

And Becky says they're navy blue.

Here we go again.

I'm having seconds at dinner.

NOTE: Shaun Groves loves people of all shapes and sizes. He cares more about being healthy than conforming to some contrived ideal standard body measurement. However, Shaun Groves envies anyone who can find a pair of pants in less than an hour at any mall in the U.S. and he reserves the right to dislike them. And to speak in third person.


I'm meeting the head honcho over at indieheaven.com for breakfast this morning. Then quickly from there I head to Music Row up in Nashville to be interviewed by a man whose last name is "Thunder" - so he would have us to believe. Then it's off to buy pants for that wedding I practiced for yesterday - and look through Brody's shoes for a black pair anywhere near my size. (Again, this wedding stuff is not my shape.) And I'll swing by my publishing company to request a license to manufacture a disc with my own songs on it. (Huh?) And home in time for lunch, after which I have some book writing to do.

A friend of mine - Amy - asked me not long ago what my day looks like when I'm not out on the road. Well, here's half of one. They're all incredibly different.

And I'm off...



This is the kind of music geekery I'll write more of on the new site, which will have a blog dedicated to music and musicians.

I biggest difference I hear at the moment between the mainstream music my ears gravitate toward and the "contemporary" music in so many U.S. churches could be described as a tonal one. Here's what I mean in geeky theory terms. (I have a degree in theory/composition so I guess this is where I get to use those four years.)

A chord is at least three notes separated by thirds. An "A major" chord, for example, would be spelled A-C#-E. In church you'd likely hear all three notes. To the audience, the chord is heard as obviously an "A" chord and obviously "major" even if the listener doesn't know to call it that.

By contrast, when Snow Patrol, for instance, plays an "A" chord in their song Chasing Cars, it's at best A-ish. They leave out the third (the second note of chord), which is the C#. One musician is bouncing between the notes "A" and "E" and another between "E" and the "A" an octave (eight notes) higher and the bass is pulsing out a steady stream of eighth notes on "A." Listen to this stripped down version of the song:

So? Well, the third, the C#, is what makes the chord sound major and not minor. Major feels very different to a listener than minor. It invokes a different mood and even a different meaning to the lyric. That third is very important. Leaving it out seems dangerous. But the sung melody uses the C# - sparingly, but it does occur - just often enough to signal to tell the listener's brian what it wonders: Is this major or minor? And the right emotion is triggered.

You don't have to tell us everything. You can paint dots and not details.

It's realism versus pointilism. Rembrandt gave us all the information about a human face, every wrinkle on every cheek, every hair it's own precise color. Beautiful. Especially in a day ruled by logic and to an audience infatuated with precision. Seurat, by contrast, gave us millions of dots. Each dot a single color. A canvas full of dots lacked the detail of a Rembrandt canvas but told us enough to get the point across. The brain filled in the gaps. Beautiful. Especially in a day ruled by romanticism and to an audience infatuated with ambiguity and relativity and new to the science of light.

Would your audience like dots or details? I know what I prefer.


I'm practicing for a wedding. I don't do weddings. Not because I'm above it but because I'm not that good. You have to be an actual singer to pull off a song you didn't write, in public, with any amount of confidence. Scary.

I wouldn't do this for just anyone. But for the Dream Weaver I'd do anything, as long as it's legal in the majority of states and doesn't involve clowns. Clowns scare me more than songs I didn't write. Dressing as a clown and singing a song I didn't write - now that's hell.

I called Jamie years ago when I was working in a cell (office) over at Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing as the archive guy - sitting for eight hours a day burning reels of Southern Gospel from the seventies onto CDs to be stored in a vault somewhere for safe keeping. I drove in rush hour traffic. I wore slacks. And a tie. I used a PC. I was miserable.

Jamie oversaw all volunteers at out church but also, I'd heard, had a knack for unsticking people - helping them figure out what they're true talents are and sending them off in a direction where those talents can be put to good use. Basically, she's a guidance counselor.

The guidance counselor at my high school offered little guidance. I walked into Mrs.Mosely's office my Senior year and agonized for an hour or more about the excruciating choice I had to make between art school and music school. "What about architecture? You get to draw and it's a more substantial occupation with a greater earning potential," she guided.

When Jamie took my first phone call she never mentioned earning potential. She listened. Then she promised to get back to me. She did. She used weird language I'd never heard from Mrs.Mosley. She wanted to help me find my "passion" and figure out what my "shape" is and then discover where that "shape" fits in the church and the world around me. And after just a few of these strange but enlightening conversations the fog cleared for me. I could see what I was made to be and had a good idea of what my next moves in life should be.

Three years later I was teaching a bible study at church, working in the preschool department on Sunday mornings and making music for a living. I signed a poster for her: "To the Dream Weaver." The name just sort of stuck.

Jamie's office is still a home away from home for me. She's a friend in the truest sense of the word - a no nonsense friend. She sits straight up at her desk, a pen and a legal pad at the ready and asks, "Tell me what to pray for. How are you really doing? Do you need money? How's your colon?" And when I'm being dramatic, she tells me. When I'm thinking too little of myself, she tells me that too. And when she needs something from me she asks without hesitation.

"I want you to sing at my daughter's wedding. Are you busy rock star?"

No. I'm not. Of course, I'm thinking now I should have just told her singing at weddings isn't my shape.

Time to practice.



My former label has launched a new marketing initiative: myfreemusicfriday.com There you'll get three songs every Friday for no money. (More about that later this week.) And you can stream three videos from Rocketown Records artists. And, lastly, you can read a "blog" they call "Our 2 Cents." (Can we get a ruling on whether this is a blog? What IS a blog by definition anyway?)

Anyway, my point - and I do have one - is that in this two cents area I just read an article by my friend and Rocketown president Don Donahue that made me think...and then made me want to buy a book. Don writes about how much he's gotten from the book Chasing Francis from first-time author Ian Morgan Cron - the "fictitious" account of a mega church pastor who begins to question the depth of the mega church movement and reasons for its growth.

Don writes this paragraph worth pondering:

The line that hit me the hardest in the book was Chase, reminiscing about the rapid growth of his church back home. He talks about what is expected of our "worship Centers" instead of Majestic Cathedrals, and says, "I realized I build Lights, Camera and Action rather than Father, Son and Spirit" Whoa! Convicting! I'm a guy who contributes to Lights Camera and Action! So here's what dawns on me: what good is the wide, expansive growth of 'the church' if our local neighborhood is not the better for it? What about depth? What about "showing" Christ instead of speaking truth?

Don's nothing if not honest.

Since the Our 2 Cents "blog" doesn't let us leave comments, I'm lending my blog for discussion. Go read it and talk about it here if it strikes you as something worth talking about. I'll get us started.

And, Rocketown, thanks for the music and the videos but, come on guys, get a real blog. If Don's "post" is any indication of the quality of stuff you all are capable of cranking out, I'd read it daily. Blogs aren't just a way to market product anymore; they are product.


"I want to go to a whore," he said, his four year-old brow furrowed by the weight of his sincerity.

"You want to what?" I kept my head down and continued to fervently work the tiny screws out of his broken car's underside.

"I want to go to a WHORE!" He pinched a tiny screw between his index finger and thumb until it sprang from his grip and bounced across the table and into the abyss that is the kitchen floor.

"What's a whore?" I asked, looking him in the eyes.

"Where they fight people," he stared back matter-of-factly. "It's named a whore. I want to go there."

"There are a lot of wars you could go see right now. Which war do you want to see?"

"One with Elliot and Phillip and Uncle Brian and Brody and-"

"That would be a fight," I explained. "A war is when lots and lots of people fight each other. A big crowd of people from one place get together and they're an army. And then a bunch of people from another place get together and they're an army. And the two armies fight each other. You don't want to go see a war."

"What would happen if I see a war?"

And I paused. He's only four. He doesn't need to know more than this about war does he? He doesn't need to know about children dying in them as frequently as warriors does he? But he knew would he grow to become a better adult than I am? More compassionate? Less violent? I answered.

"There are some children who live near wars. And those children can get hurt. And sometimes they die. So you don't want to see a real war. It's dangerous. And sad. Do you understand?"

"I don't wanna get dead," he smiled, not fully grasping the meaning of the words either of us were speaking.

"I don't want you to either, so why don't you just stay here and help me fix your car and maybe tomorrow we can go to Uncle Brian's and wrestle Elliot and Phillip."

"And you!"

"We'll see."

"Is it tomorrow now?"


What do you do when you need a cover for a live album but you...

  • Don't have professionally taken high-resolution pictures from the show
  • Don't have the budget for a graphic designer
  • Don't have time to do much work on it yourself

    I called Tim Parker. I remembered the ten or so comp covers Tim designed for my Twilight CD. My favorite was this illustration in shades of orange of me on a horizon line with a sinking sun. It didn't get used. The marketing team at my former label wanted me to be more recognizable on the cover instead. I believe someone said the illustrated cover looked "indie" because indie artists often use illustration since they can't afford professional photo shoots. (Good point.)

    I asked Tim if he still had the cover I'd loved years before. He did and sent it over. (Thanks Tim) And my former label el presidente agreed to let me use the cover - a cover he paid for when Tim originally designed it mind you - for free. (Thanks Don)

    All I had to do then was add type and change it to blue - more of a night vibe I think.

    And there you go, the story of the One Night In Knoxville cover. Hope it works for you.

    (Note: If you look inside the packaging for Twilight you can spot the original orange cover hidden in the collage of photographs. Tim worked it in since we liked it so much. Rebel.)

  • 11/27/2006


    I've read a few book son writing, a few more blogs by writers, and they all mention becoming a better writer by forcing yourself to write every day. I do that. But I've run out of things to say. When that's the case, the experts recommend, we should go back in time to one moment in our life, maybe something seemingly mundane or ordinary, and write about it in detail. We're supposed to try not to make sense of it, try not to perfect it or make a point. Just write about that moment. That's harder than that it seems for a guy like me who's made a living and a life of making sense and making points. Here's today's attempt. Your turn.

    A thick-throated round man in a brown suit belted out a closing song. After the final firmata's release, the Wurlitzer and piano played us out of the sanctuary and into the lobby of the small country church. It was then that my search for the Candy Man began - a wrinkled deacon with shiny crisp palms always dispensing butterscotches and peppermints to any child brave enough to give him five.

    I was such a kid.

    He held my hand for what was probably a full minute, an eternity, asking what I'd learned in Sunday School and reminding me to be nice to my sister. The smell of coffee was thick on his closely spoken words.

    This was church.

    I was driven there every Sunday by two good smelling dressed up adults in their magic Ford LTD that always played Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and Barry Manilow on its radio. We stopped for donuts on the way. Sunday was a perfect day and church was a perfect place.

    It was a place packed with music and laughter and people older than me eager to point out how fast I was growing or how handsome I looked in my new blue slacks from Sears. It was a place of popsicle sticks and graham crackers, kool-aid and fried chicken, flannelgraphs and puppets. It was a kind of fairy tale land rippling with familiar faces and open hands waiting for slaps. Perfect. From wall to wall.

    With the exception of one.

    On that wall hung a painting.

    A city.

    A highway stretching from the distance to the foreground and on it, hundreds of cars. The cars collided, broad-siding buses and guardrails, throwing mothers and children to the asphalt. An airplane smashing into a skyscraper. A news helicopter diving into distant suburbia.

    Beside the highway, a graveyard. White apparitions rising from its soil. The same ghostly figures climbing from the wreckage on the roadway and the skyscraper, the airplane and homes on the horizon.

    All this under a frothy gray sky. On ray of light broke through. A silhouetted man with arms stretched out stood in the opening.

    I avoided this painting. I avoided this entire wall of the lobby, preferring the questions and generosity of the Candy Man and cheek pinching of the gray-blue-haired grandmother brigade.

    It left me afraid and deeply unexplainably sad.

    I could have walked away from the canvas petrified of highways, buses, airplanes or skyscrapers. I could have trembled at the thought of graveyards and ghosts or the suburbs or Jesus coming back. But no.

    Any other six year-old might have shed a tear or two over the puppy taken out by that van in the bottom right hand corner or buckled under the emotional weight of realizing for the first time the inevitability of his own death. But no.


    For some reason, from the day I discovered that painting on I felt melancholic and sometimes even downright afraid at the sight of clouds. Not the white fluffy ones polka-dotting a cobalt Summer sky. No, no. The kind that rerender everything in grayscale, and smother the joy out of life along with its color scheme - like some intergalactic serial killer's massive gray pillow being pressed mercilessly down on the face of the earth.

    Those kinds of clouds.

    They sneak over the sun and I'm back in the car headed to the elementary school, begging my mom not to make me go to Mrs. Roosth's class. I'm fifteen and I've just broken up with Kim in the band hall before the day's first bell, and I'm feeling guilty and trying to wish myself into loving her. I'm eighteen and I'm on the edge of my bed writing my first song, about a girl at school who just passed away, a girl I didn't know but mourned anyway. I'm back in college and Becky's broken up with me and I'm walking across campus, very dramatically, in the rain, wondering what I did wrong. I'm looking out the window of a black Cadillac, watching an old man in a general's uniform standing at attention, saluting his sister's, my grandmother's, casket as it's lowered into the soggy earth. I'm back in the lobby of a country church, staring at the figure in the clouds, hoping He waits until I can drive before He comes back, or at least until I finish off the butterscotch melting inside my cheek.


    What should you get for the person who has everything? Nothing.

    So why don't we give them that this Christmas?

    Seriously. What is it that keeps us from giving nothing to people who have everything...and people who have enough?


    My friend Brant over at Kamp Krusty writes...

    I don't know if he wrote that from his University office, or from his own home in the leafy, Urbana, Illinois neighborhood that we wanted to live in, but couldn't afford to. Doesn't matter. What is noteworthy is that we have become like those barbarians, who were apparently chiefly noted for their inequalities of income.

    He's right. But we need to think globally, too. That's why I'd like to propose a new global ONE campaign, a ONE campaign that ends poverty in Africa, one professor at a time.

    What's he talking about? Read for yourself. And be sure to click on every very informative link in the post.

    Reminds me of a proposal made to a prosperity preacher by Leaving Munster not long ago. Great minds blog alike.