Since moving to Rugby, one of the (many) things that has struck me is just how there seems to be a huge hub of creativity in the town and the surrounding areas. There are artists, writers aplenty and an absolute orchestral overload of talented musicians, songwriters, singers and more. You can’t turn around without discovering more new music, or hearing a new song or few.
What’s even more surprising is the QUALITY of the material – we’re not talking about stuff you listen to, politely nod and then issue that “well, that was…nice” comment. I’m talking about genuinely great music. Lyrics that have depth and meaning. Singers who are passionate about the music and the art, not compromising to become “The Next <insert name here>”
And that leads me onto two connected, but very different, artists. The first one is a worship leader at our church and a genuinely great guy (no, I’m not creeping!) – Jonny Shepherd. I came across Jonnys music a few years ago, before we’d ever even contemplated moving to Rugby, through somewhere like the NoiseTrade website. I picked up a free copy of his “New Day” album and really liked what I heard, so signed up for the mailing list and kept a distant eye on the music he was producing.
When we started to look at Rugby as our new home I got one of his email newsletters through and, much to my utter disbelief, saw that he was not only based in Rugby but also at the very church we were looking into.
Jump forward to now and I’ve gotten to know Jonny a bit and we’ve started to build up a cracking friendship.
Well, that’s all “nice” but what about the music. Well, those on facebook will have seen me push his last EP (Crown of Praise) rather a bit, and that contained some really good music on there – including an instrumental piece that is so good to lean back with eyes closed and listen to. And he has a new EP coming out at the end of this month!
It’s a simple task to nip on over to bandcamp and pre-order the EP, for which you get the title track “Wake Up” as an immediate download and WOW – this is such a different track. Electronic beats and pumping bass coupled with some really strong lyrics. I’m a little biased as it is clearly influenced by Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones that is in the old testament – and that is one of my favourite passages!
Watch the teaser video for the EP below, and then pop to bandcamp and place a pre-order to make sure you get hold of, what promises to be, a great set of new songs!
And here’s the seamless segway across to the second part of this post. When I signed up to join the worship team at New Life, Jonny and I got together at Costa Coffee in Rugby so that we could get to know each other a bit more and in the process he introduced me to a band who were, at that time, called the “James Herring Band”. With hints of Jars of Clay, Mumford & Sons etc I was immediately hooked by their music. During the performance James announced that they were renaming the band and were relaunching as “Speak, Brother”
At a local “Worship Hub” event, I went along to a guitar workshop with James and got chatting to him about music, life and various other things and found him to be such a down to earth, humble guy who is passionate about God and about crafting music that is original and personal.
On May 19th the band launch their debut single, “Dry Bones” – hmmm, ring any bells?, and on the 18th their is a launch gig at a local pub which the Mrs and I will be attending. Keep an eye on their website, follow them on facebook, and take a look at the below video recorded at one of their performances. Then, on the 19th, pick up a copy of “Dry Bones” – it’ll get your feet stomping, your head bobbing and you’ll be singing the chorus for days!