Nice article. THanks for doing your homework and making your references
meaningful. The only thing missing is a link to a sample track. Because I'm
fairly sure most of your Happy Valley readers are lost by your description....
I tried the music. Sorry--It doesn't work for me. I just can't do blue grass or
whatever this was.
Not bad. But also check out The Lower Lights for really innovative arrangements
of LDS and general Christian hymns and music. Smart and fun.
As a lifelong Tennessee Latter-day Saintvwith a Baptist family heritage I rather
enjoy the distinction that we LDS have from our brothers and sisters of other
faiths. I am tired of seeing and hearing my brothers and sisters in the Church
try to sound like them. Nothing against other religions here but I don't
understand why we try to be something we are not. Here in Tennessee we try to
look and sound like LDS. We do not need to dilute our heritage by trying to be
something we are not. We are not Protestants and don't need to sund like
Protestants, even if we live in the predominantly Protestant South.Nevertheless, in fairness I would like to hear the album and judge it
independently of my personal feelings mentioned above. Sounding like it comes
from the South is not a selling point for me though and I will not likely buy
" it's not just an attempt to do something novel. / It is not about the
singers, it is about the songs. The music comes from the heart."For several years I've read your essays with interest, especially since one of
your chief mentors, Elder A. Maxwell, was one of my own from afar. I cringed at
a prior critique of music in the Church, backed up by Elder Maxwell's implied
behind-the-scenes approval. My take on this is focused through the multifaceted
prism of many years of music training and heavy dues paid in order to practice
not only the art but the skills. Music you love you designate as coming from the
heart and what you don't care for is less than that. If fully engaged in their
craft, musicians learn to find "heart" (Holy Spirit) in inspired music
from every culture, every use of voice and/or instrument(s), whether large or
small in means of execution. I've witnessed the heart-numbing dumbing down of
musical offerings in local Church meetings here and elsewhere to persistent
banality, becoming not heart but merely sloppy. Wrenching a tear from triviality
stands in place for anything transforming. Nothing greater need apply.
@Gadfly, I knew the singer from my stake here in Austin and can tell you a
couple of things you might not know. Aside from the singer, none of the other
dozen or so musicians on the record are Mormons. In fact, some of them play for
the Dixie Chicks and are very well known in Texas. This is an Austin record.
I'm not sure what the 'Mormon-heritage' music you refer to sounds like, but I've
heard plenty of Mormon music (faux-classical, cheesy mormon-pop). If this is
diluting it, turn it up!
This record has GRIT.. Thanks for introducing it to me. I like this better
than the Lower Lights, who play it very safe and clean. I had downloaded the
LL's songs but I certainly wouldn't call it innovative as some of the
arrangements are taken from other records.
As one who really has a distaste for many of the cheesy renditions of Mormon
hymns, The Sabre Rattlers approach is genuine and unique. Mark Abernathy, the
frontman, is an incredible musical talent (of which this album only gives you a
very small taste). He was trained at Berklee School of Music in Boston, plays
with an extremely talented (non-LDS)group of studio musicians in Austin, TX, and
has the album produced by respected people in the business. The album places
traditional religious hymns in a new context of early frontier history giving
them a rightful place in traditional Americana music. The style is not for
everyone--more Bob Dylan, Neil Young, or Gilian Welch fans will like than Mormon
Tabernacle Choir---but if you appreciate the roots of American music, this album
is a great listen.
@Gracie in Boise. . . I had a chance to hear Mark Abernathy on his tour here in
Utah a few months ago. I knew him growing up in Hong Kong--and stayed in touch
with him when he went to school in Boston. There's nothing here that one should
find offensive in any way. Read his story about Jesus Savior, Pilot Me. He
still remembers him parents singing it in church when he was just a young boy.
It came to him when he was a young father.and inspired him in life's struggles
He heard these hymns growing up and he has internalized the message of each one.
This musician is spiritually sensitive--and these hymns bear out a certain
purity of soul.
"... it's not just an attempt to do something novel. It is not about the
singers, it is about the songs. The music on the CD comes from the heart.And when music feels real and deeply felt, it's hard to resist." I agree.
This music is heartfelt. Go listen to the music. I am one who instinctively
resists doing "something novel" with tradition, particularly my
tradition. My ancestors helped make the desert blossom like a rose. I have
listened to a previous generation raise their nasally voices to the heavens. I
love and honor them. I am less moved by the passionless, unenthusiastic,
two-beat slow, generic, half-hearted renditions we frequently hear in our church
meetings. I do not expect to hear the Saber Rattlers in Sacrament meeting, but I
will raise my voice to the heavens along with Mark Abernathy in the privacy of
This CD is the only one I keep in my truck... I absolutely love it. @ Gadfly,
this is no attempt to mimic any of what our evangelical brethren have done with
the hymns. It is an original work of art that will be cherished by anyone who
loves and appreciates true musical talent. Mark's version of "Come, Come
Ye Saints" brings tears to my eyes every time I listen to it. Truly
uplifting and inspiring, thanks Sabre Rattlers!