Back in March of this year I had the incredible privilege of drumming on an album called The Cabin Fever Recordings. Working on this album was probably the most fun I have ever had--which is saying a lot, because I really enjoy my life. Throughout that week, I slept not 25 feet away from the drums. It was any musician's dream. Wake up, roll over and start playing music. Roll back over and go to sleep. Rinse and repeat.
The setting was perfect. We were up in the mountains, about 45 minutes outside of Missoula, MT. Standing outside, even at midday, I would hear nothing. Absolutely nothing. No hum of an HVAC unit, no white noise from car tires a mile away--nothing. I didn't even hear birds, which I thought was odd at first, but came to appreciate. Apparently they flew south for the winter. Every now-and-then one of the horses would sigh, which, comparatively, sounded like a shotgun going off.
It was a gorgeous and silent country.
And then we showed up.
John & Marie Barnett (guitars, vox & hosts) invited us all--Bobby McDonald (bass), Bob Hartry (guitars), Jon Meek (keys), JR Rund (guitars & vox), Ryan Delmore (guitars & vox), Matt Turrigiano & Cameron Ingalls (film crew), Jesse Barnett (engineer), and me (drums & percussion)--to come and record an album in their cabin. If you've done any research into sound pollution, you know what changing the soundscape can do to a local ecosystem. We probably killed every animal within a 5 mile radius of the cabin. And that was just when Ryan and JR showed up.
When we finally started playing, I watched birds fall dead from the sky--the ones who decided to stick it out through the Mantana winter, of course. (Mantana is a more appropriate name for the state.)
Being in a cabin in the woods, we had to improvise quite a bit. We couldn't just run to Guitar Center if something broke. If you've seen any of the videos from the project, you'll notice that the backing is removed from the organ. Jon Meek had to take it apart to get it working. He did something with a sonic screwdriver, shot it with a phaser set to stun, and it sparked to life. We left the backing off because it kinda looked cool.
You may have also noticed a .22 rifle hanging in the middle of the room. We had to use it as a counterweight by hanging it from the back end of the drum overhead stand, because the mic kept falling into my face.
After hanging the rifle, I looked around the room and took stock of what was happening. I realized then that there were seven states represented in the cabin: CA, MT, TN, GA, TX, AZ, & KY. How does this happen? How does a small group of people this diverse find themselves locked in a cabin together out in the mountains of Montana? It took me a few days to answer that question, but I think I did find the answer.
The Vineyard is a family full of people who love Jesus, who value creating with and for Jesus, and who value creativity contained in others. John Barnett (affectionately known as Pappy) and Marie (Mammy) didn't destroy their living room and spend who-knows-how-much to feed, house, and record a bunch of hungry, smelly men for kicks and giggles. They had a dream in their hearts to create something for Jesus and with Jesus. They saw that others did, too. So they reigned us in and let it happen.
They would never have met any of us hungry, smelly men if it had not been for the Vineyard. The Vineyard is a movement that values co-creating with Jesus. The Vineyard is a movement that values family and friendship. The Vineyard is a movement that values the creativity in someone else, and shares the mic with them. Pappy and Mammy were there from The Vineyard's beginnings, and they continue to bring together far away family members who share the same song. They continue to have faith in the little guys, the no-names, and invite those little guys to the party. And that is the reason why, in The Vineyard, there are no little guys. I remember thinking, why else would I be here? How else would this have happened if not for a love for Jesus, the bonding-agent of the Vineyard, the value for far-away-family, the value for the song inside of someone else?
It's because, in The Vineyard, we're all family. The Vineyard didn't come to Pappy and say, "hey, make this album." But when it came time to make it, he made it happen. He pulled guys from the Vineyard to make it. Instead of going to LA and hiring The Wallflowers to be the house band, he picked Vineyard guys. That speaks volumes to me. It says that, in The Vineyard, we all have permission to create. It says that in The Vineyard our pool of friends and resources is nation-wide (and world-wide). It says, "Just go do it. Do what is in your heart."
But what do I know? I'm just the drummer.
The Cabin Fever Recordings isn't named that because we were recording in a cabin. John Barnett explained it this way.
Cabin Fever means you're about done with being boxed in. You're ready to get out. You're ready for Springtime. You're ready to let it all out. So that's kind of the theme of this recording. It's cabin fever. Spring's coming. Spring is here. Let's let it out, you know? We need to get out and do it--expressing that stuff that's been building up in you all winter long. And so we have all these musicians and writers up here, expressing what's been building up in them. And it all comes out in Cabin Fever.
My sincere hope is that you really enjoy the album. I hope that the joy of Spring bursts through, and that it helps melt away any Winter cold that has attached itself to your life. I hope that it fills you with new life and vigor! But if none of that happens, at least you can dance to it.
Check out some of the videos and rough cuts from the recording!