Monday, April 8, 2013

Sound advice for the stage - Lays Potato Chips

These little babies are a lifesaver for vocalists who get froggy right before a performance. Just a few about 15 minutes before you sing. The grease lubricates, the salt cuts phlegm, and the taste... well, I bet you can't eat just one!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sound advice for the stage - Take care of your voice

1. Exercise your abdominals. Yep! Your voice (really your breathing) is supported by that 6-pack. The better your abs, the stronger your voice.

2. Warm up. Google “Vocal warm-ups” and you’ll have more syllables to sing than Taylor Swift. Warm up your mouth and lips, too. Sing scales while pretending you are on the Arctic Tundra. Brrrrrr!

3. Warm tea – honey – lemon. Tried and true. Make it herbal tea (Isn’t all tea herbal?) Throat Coat seems to work for many. Honey has some medicinal qualities. The citric acid in lemons seems to cut through the mucus. Take it on stage with you.

4. Use a Neti-pot to get rid of nasal snot. I used to know a guy who would snort salt water out of a glass using two straws and spit it out his mouth. The Neti saline solution is a much better liquid to use. Google Neti-pot. Do this at least 60 minutes before you sing. Sometimes, the water collects in a distant sinus and decides to release at the most inopportune time.

5. Eat Lay’s Potato Chips or Fritos Corn Chips. The salt, the grease, the crunch. For some reason it all works together to make things just right in your throat. Don’t make it a meal. Just a few right before you sing.

©2013 Doug Hanks. All rights reserved. Use with permission by contacting me.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sound Advice for the Stage -- Vocal Sound Check

The stage is my home away from home. I feel comfortable there. No nerves, no butterflies, no worries. When I walk up the steps and get ready to perform, I’m where I should be. And I’ve been doing it since I was twelve… 48 years ago. 

But this is not true for every performer. All you have you do to see this clearly is watch any Hollywood-week episode of American Idol. Some of these people have never sung in front of people (And they want to sing in front of thousands of people?) So for all you newbies, rookies, wannabes, dreamers, talent-show winners, and performers that still get rattled when you step onto the platform of adulation, I offer some simple advice in the next few blogs. 

Sound check can be a great experience -- or it can be infuriating and frustrating. Some performers actually give a pre-concert concert for sound check. But most of us are there to allow the sound engineer to set levels for the house and sound levels for the stage monitors. If you are using an in-ear monitor system, he or she will set these levels during this time. 

Follow these simple guidelines to make the time efficient and useful. 
 1. Be on stage when it’s time for sound check. Don’t be late! Nothing makes a sound engineer annoyed like a performer who is not professional enough to get ready for the concert at sound check. Get there and stay there. 

 2. When it’s your turn to check a microphone say this at your normal singing volume: “Check – One – Two – Three – Four.” This is what a sound engineer prefers. Don’t sing. Don’t count to a hundred. Don’t recite “The Pledge of Allegiance.” And don’t stop until the sound engineer says to stop. If the sound engineer wants you to sing, he or she will ask. 

Audrey Dukes checking her levels before a Silverados performance.

 3. Don’t say, “I need more monitor” until the sound engineer asks how monitor levels are. (This is the sure sign that you are a rookie who’s never played in the big leagues.) The sound engineer sets levels for the house and equalizes (EQ’s) your voice in the first couple of minutes. He or she may be programming digital pages on the board as well with your settings. He or she will ask you if you have enough monitor when they are ready to ask. If the sound engineer never asks and goes on to the next performer, then you may ask for more monitor at that point. 

 4. When the sound engineer asks you about monitor level, Thumbs up! means louder, Thumbs down! means softer, A-OK! (thumb and forefinger together) means Perfect! At that point you can give additional instructions to the sound engineer. 

 5. When the sound engineer goes to the next vocalist, stay there. He or she may need you to sing as an ensemble or may need to hear your voice compared to the other vocalists. Nothing is worse during sound check than not being able to find someone. 

 6. When the sound engineer wants you to sing, be prepared to sing. How annoying it is when someone on stage Does the Diva and wonders aloud, “What would you like me to sing?” Divas are idiots! Any professional performer will be prepared to sing something that’s indicative of what you will be singing at the concert. 

 Follow these simple guidelines and, more times than not, sound check will be a pleasurable experience.

©2013 Doug Hanks. All rights reserved. Use by permission only.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Remember the Night (8:46 PM on 9/11) Video

Click here to see video

For all who were unable to reach loved ones on the evening of 9/11...
Film by Brandon Bathauer
Brandon Bathauer Photography
I Remember the Night (8:46 PM on 9/11)
Words & music by Doug Hanks, ©2011 Lambs in the Meadow Music (BMI)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Blue Sky Sliding CD Notes

Blue Sky Sliding by Doug Hanks
Released April, 2011.

Blue Sky Sliding is my first time out of the house in 18 years. Blind Dog Barking was my last time out in 1992. I wanted to see if the sun was still shining.

Contact me through:

I sang and played through some tin cans and string into a British console (Had to edit out the accent) and recorded into a 24 bit American hard disk recorder. At times, I used Apple Logic Pro 9. Then, I mixed to digital two-track at 24 bit/44.1Hz. (Old school language: DDD). I tried to do the project on tape, but my cassettes kept getting stuck in the player. I started the project on a PC and crashed it every eight minutes. So, I bit the Apple and planted the seeds.

Mics: Some Shure mics, a Studio Projects C1, and an Audio Technica AT4040.
Preamps: Focusrite ISA One, Joe Meek OneQ

I used Snow Leopard interfaced through Apogee Duet.

Guitars: Some Taylors, a Takamine EAN10K, a Gibson LG-1, an Epiphone FT-79 Texan (one from the USA), a Gibson Les Paul Studio and Melody Maker, a Fender Stratocaster, Chandler Lap Steel, Fender Precision Bass.
Most guitars processed through a Line 6 modelers, SansAmp, and BOSS stompboxes.

Mastered in Apple Logic Studio 9 and Waveburner.
Transferred to Green Tune CD media and duplicated at Oasis Disc Manufacturing.

I sang the vocals, played the guitars, bass, keys, various percussion, programmed some loops and beats, and washed the dishes.

Some friends helped me. Also featured are:
Smitty Price - kickin’ keys on Gotta Serve Somebody
Dean Christensen - vocals on Gotta Serve Somebody
Wendy Hinkle - vocals on Gotta Serve Somebody
Dianne Jackson - vocals on Gotta Serve Somebody
Teri Goodwin - vocals on Gotta Serve Somebody
Julie Wuertz - vocals on Tomorrow on Her Mind, Every Good Gift and When You’re Not Here
Julie Stewart - vocals on Tomorrow On Her Mind
Mike Heil - vocals on Tomorrow On Her Mind
Steve Sanchez - guitar solo on Tomorrow on Her Mind
Kevin Moore - vocals on A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Dan Bathauer - low vocals on Elvis on a Greyhound
The “I Ain’t Dig a Pygmy” Orchestra conducted by D. Richard Henrys.

I also used Apple Logic Studio 9 / Instant Drummer™/ Drums on Demand® / AppleLoops® / Orchestral samples are from Garritan Personal Orchestra® and World Instruments / Drums: Instant Drummer™ or Drums on Demand® imported into Apple Loops. Some of the early tracks were Instant Drummer and I found that they were not as crisp as the DOD stuff and Apple Loops, but I kept them anyway.

Cross the River (For Tim Hunt)
During the summer between sixth and seventh grade, Tim Hunt, Rick Lovett, and I took our guitars to summer camp and learned three songs-- Gloria, House of the Rising Sun, and Rain. We instantly formed The Red Barons (We all had red hair!) and played a talent show and two Sunday school parties. We listened to Beatles records and learned every Beatles song. We learned to play in the cracks. We played off and on through junior high school-- the last time getting together to rehearse the chord changes for The Beatles’ Revolution.

In the early nineties, I got a call from a childhood friend that Tim had died in a tragic car accident. I started writing the song that night. A little while later, I saw a funeral procession on the freeway and noticed that the other cars rushed by at their usual raceway speed, seemingly apathetic to the pain of the mourners. For some reason, the song came back into my mind as did all the memories of that week near the Bear River in California when I was twelve.

Tim lived on the north side of the American River in Sacramento, and to rehearse, one of us had to cross the river. As well, the dying words of Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson were "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees." I treasure that image of the hereafter.

Rick Lovett passed away in Hawaii a few years later. I am the sole surviving member of The Red Barons.

A Distant Friend (for George Harrison)
The Beatles taught me how to play guitar; I listened to the radio and their records and learned every chord in every Beatles song. The George songs taught me how to play diminished chords (root + minor third + minor third.) On the day that George Harrison died, the line “A distant friend is gone” stuck itself in my head. At the most surprising moments, I still find myself singing his songs, especially the weird Indian stuff. (I paid tribute [ripped off] to the intro to “Taxman.”)

Tomorrow on Her Mind
I sent this to four country singers looking for songs. Then I sent it to the good folks at Nashville Songwriters Association, who looked at it seriously, considered it for their publisher’s luncheon, but sent it back to me. I told myself if they sent it back I would record it myself and release it.

I always saw it as a car commercial for Chevy. An ever-popular theme in country music-- escaping the little town and exploring beyond personal borders. The Silverados, the country band in which I have performed for 18 years, are featured in the background vocals and Steve Sanchez plays the lead guitar part.
BGVocals: Julie Wuertz, Julie Stewart, Mike Heil, Doug Hanks.
Electric guitar solo: Steve Sanchez.

Elvis on a Greyhound
I wrote this for my sister, Squid. She is a conspirator in the Elvis Didn’t Really Die theory and she loves Priscilla. After a gig in Pasadena, CA, I actually met the Memphis school bus driver for Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
BG vocals: The Blackstone Bros. (Dan Bathauer and me.)

I Remember the Night (8:46 P.M. on 9/11)
On the night of 9/11, I stood in my front yard, stared into the incredibly clear southern California night, and listened to the unusual and curious silence. I live about six miles from Ontario (California) International Airport, but that night the sky was ominously still. While I was outside, a military jet flew by about 2500 feet off the deck. Its air space was unrestricted. When I went back inside, I realized that I had been outside exactly twelve hours after the attack in New York. The bell toll at the end of the song is spaced eleven seconds apart - one for each plane that went down that fateful morn.

When You’re Not Here
A friend of mine on Facebook talks about her fiancé who is stationed in Afghanistan every chance she gets.
The BG vocals: Julie Wuertz and me.

This Love I Have for You
A simple one for Mary. She likes the raspy voice.

Watch the Lions Play (Sunday Morning, Lyon, 177 A.D.)
Many consider Rome to be a great, ancient civilization, yet it had its dark side. People gathered to watch gladiators maim and kill each other and animals tear each other apart. At a few times in history, followers of Jesus were placed into an arena with wild beasts and devoured. This certainly happened at Lyon; a memorial stands in the arena to those who lost their lives.

Some promoter made money on the horrific spectacle. So I asked myself, What did a person have to do to get a ticket? And did he take a date? Were tickets available through Ticketmaster or did you have to go through a scalper? (Scalper could have a more literal meaning in the second century.) With the spread of pop atheism and the polarization of religious belief, the atmosphere towards those who follow Jesus has become slightly more hostile in these civilized times. All of this led to this song... and reading Foxes Book of Martyrs at bedtime.

A Mighty Fortress / A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Psalm 9)
Julie Larson’s arrangement of “A Mighty Fortress” on Revelation inspired me to do a similar arrangement. Her B section contains the descending bass part against a relative minor six chord which is so prominent in my songs. And I was listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack at the time of my arrangement.

I led my first orchestra when I was 21. There is nothing that equals that many musicians playing together. However, here the tiny musicians are all inside a computer because they would not fit into my minuscule recording studio.

Martin Luther did not write the music (only the lyrics), so he cannot collect licensing fees. And about the lyrics... No, I could not find a way to fit the word “bulwark” into the rhyme scheme!

High tenor: Kevin Moore
More of Ms. Larson’s music at

Gotta Serve Somebody
(Words and music by Bob Dylan. ©1979 Special Rider Music. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
The debate raged for months in the late 70s about Dylan and his new-found belief. God is the ultimate judge of a man’s heart, so I’ll leave that part up to Him. In the meantime, I get to sing this great music from the master wordsmith.

In 2010, I sang this at Hillside Community Church, Alta Loma, CA where I serve as part of the worship ministry and music director Smitty Price nailed the vibe, so I asked him to lay this down for me.

Korg keys: Smitty Price.
BGVocals: Wendy Hinkle, Dianne Jackson, Teri Goodwin, Dean Christensen.
Dean’s vocals were recorded in Beaverton, Oregon and FTP’ed to me. I imported them into Apple Logic Studio and re-recorded them into the hard disk to match the others.

Anyone But Jesus
Download the first episode of CBS’ Survivor:China. During a welcoming ceremony, the survivors are asked to receive a gift and bow to some Buddhist idols in a temple. A woman named Leslie states that she cannot. After the host, Jeff Probst, reassures her that it is not a religious ceremony, Leslie states that the only one she will put her face to the ground for is Jesus. And this song was born. Thanks, Leslie!

Every Good Gift
I wrote this in 1983 and used to do it with my band in Portland, OR. This is a slightly milder version.
BG vocals: Julie Wuertz

Look at All the Children
I traveled to Kenya in 2006-2007 and spent a fortnight among the people at the SamRoc School and the Children’s Home in Ilula near Eldoret. Every one of the 96 children there were orphaned by AIDS. AIDS is so rampant in Africa that it is the same as 40 Boeing 747s crashing each day. Malaria, which is preventable with a simple $10 net, continues to devastate the population.

Daffodils at the Resurrection
Sure, they were there! It was Passover, after all, in a Mediterranean climate!

The last minute features eight different acoustic guitars.

Ode to the Penguin Café (instrumental)
Inspired by “Perpetuum Mobile” by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. I knew about them in the 70s, but when a girl used it as the soundtrack for her viral video of self-portraits over 200 days, I had to pay tribute. When the founder of PCO, Simon Jeffes, passed in 1997 the world lost a truly creative talent. The group is eclectic and not for all, but their music was clearly unequaled at the time of its inception and is definitely hard to classify. Most of you have heard a guitar arrangement of their “Ode to a Found Harmonium” in Napoleon Dynamite.

Keep Your Eyes on the Sky
After he [Jesus] said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their [disciples] sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11
Will it really happen? Some people think it was a spiritual resurrection and that His return will be a metaphorical, metaphysical one. It really doesn’t sound like that in the Acts passage. Jesus said something and people heard it well enough to write it down. People on the scene of His ascension are looking up into the sky. It’s pretty difficult to imagine a cloud hiding a ghost (since they look alike!) And then two men show up and give witness to the entire situation.
Keep looking up... that’s what faith and hope are about after all.

The hidden track: The Joker Isn’t Laughing
I wrote it when I was 19 or 20. I thought I would finally get it laid down.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

And now for something completely different...

An understanding of personal relationship from Rob Bell’s latest book, Love Wins
By Doug Hanks

In Love Wins, having left footprints firmly implanted in the cement of liberal theology, Rob Bell appears to take a shot at those who believe in a personal relationship with God. He questions it, jibes it, but then inadvertently defends it.

Personally, I believe that God established personal relationship as the means of humanity knowing Him. Rather than use the Bible to defend my position, I will use the text of Bell’s work, Love Wins, to explain from where his theology of “personal relationship” comes. I don’t think he meant to do it, but Bell presents a fairly clear presentation of the teaching regarding a “personal relationship with God.”


As I stated above, personal relationship with God is one of the plethora of questions that Bell puts forth in the first chapter, “What About the Flat Tire?” Borrowing heavily from a previous work by Spencer Burke, A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity, he questions whether a personal relationship is salvation and whether a personal relationship with God is, indeed, entrance to eternal life. (Bell, 10) He further questions the sinner’s prayer, how eternity is achieved (if it can be achieved at all), and the age of accountability.

Contrary to the provocative questions Bell poses, a personal and individual relationship with God is one of the touchstones of mainstream evangelical theology. Many evangelicals and groups like Billy Graham Crusades, Luis Palau Crusades, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Young Life have based their ministries on this doctrine. They believe that God is known through personal relationship which is necessary for eternal life with God and that personal relationship is a profoundly biblical concept.

Bell questions:

At this point some would step in and remind us in
the midst of all these questions that it’s not that
complicated, and we have to remember that God has lots
of ways of communicating apart from people speaking
to each other face-to-face; the real issue, the one that
can’t be avoided, is whether a person has a “personal
relationship” with God through Jesus. However
that happens, whoever told whomever, however it was done,
that’s the bottom line: a personal relationship. If you
don’t have that you will die apart from God and spend
eternity in torment and hell.

The problem, however, is that the phrase “personal
relationship” is found nowhere in the Bible.

So if that’s it,
if that’s the point of it all,
if that’s the ticket,
the center,
the one unavoidable reality,
the heart of the Christian faith,
why is it no one used the phrase until the last
hundred years or so? (Bell, 10-11)

Having read these words, one may get the sense that Rob Bell does not believe that one can have a personal relationship with God. As usual with many of his theological views, he is vague on this point preferring to ask questions and not answer them directly.

As Bell states, it is true that the words “personal relationship” are not found in the pages of either the Torah, the Psalms, the major or minor prophets, or the New Testament.

But just because a term is not found does not imply that the doctrine does not exist. Neither is the word “Trinity” found in Scripture, but this teaching has been an integral part of Christian theology since the second century. (Polycarp, Justine, Ignatius, Irenaeus)

Just because a teaching
isn’t mentioned specifically in Scripture
does not mean that a doctrine does not exist.

So, using his own words from Love Wins, what does Rob Bell say about personal relationship?


In Bell’s explanation of God rescuing all creation and not merely humanity, he states that we can have a relationship with God.

When people say that Jesus came to die on the cross so we can have a
relationship with God, yes, that is true. (Bell, 134)

In propounding on God’s work of reconciliation, Bell states:

“Reconciliation” is a word from the world of relationships. It’s what happens when two people or groups have had something come between them, some argument or difference or wrong or injustice, and now they’ve found a way to work it out and come back together. Peace has been made. (Bell, 125)

And in his chapter, “The Good News Is Better than That,” he writes:

God is love,
And love is a relationship.
The relationship is one of joy, and it can’t be contained...

Jesus invites us into that relationship, the one at the center of the universe. He insists that he’s one with God, that we can be one with him, and that life is a generous and abundant reality. (Bell, 178)

according to Bell,
relationship is part of God’s reconciliation
and this joyous relationship with God
to which Jesus invites us to participate
is based in love.


Since the gospel is relational, Bell’s question remains: Is it personal?

The crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection three days later are the heart of the gospel message of salvation. Paul explains this when he writes:

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.... (1 Corinthians 15:2-4 NIV)

Bell states, regarding the cross and the Jesus’ resurrection:

And then, third, the cross and the resurrection are personal. This cosmic event has everything to do with how every single one of us lives every day. (Bell, 135)

So, according to Bell,
the relational gospel of God’s reconciliation
to which Jesus invites us to participate
based in the love of God which saves us
also affects us personally.


In conclusion, though the words “personal relationship” do not appear in the Bible, Bell agrees that the gospel is both personal and relational--a personal relationship; he says so in Love Wins.

He concludes his book by telling an intensely personal story about a pivotal moment in his walk with God:

One night when I was in elementary school, I said a prayer kneeling beside my bed in my room.... With my parents on either side of me, I invited Jesus into my heart. I told God that I believed that I was a sinner and that Jesus came to save me and I wanted to be a Christian.

I still remember that prayer.
It did something to me.
Something in me.

...What happened that night was real. It meant something to significant then and it continues to have a profound significance for me. That prayer was a defining moment in my life. (Bell, 193-194)

To be clear,
his prayer was a sinner’s prayer
that resulted in a personal relationship
with a loving God
who reconciled a child to himself.
And love wins.


Contrary to his words in Chapter One, and having read these passages from Love Wins, one may get the sense that Rob Bell believes a personal relationship with God is possible--a personal relationship with God that is, at least, a part of eternal life if not an entrance to eternal life.

I guess that in this sense, love really does win.


For a clearer understanding of a personal relationship with God, read the Bible in context. It’s in there!

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31 NIV)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blue Sky Sliding release on April 12

Blue Sky Sliding is completed and slated for a release to iTunes, CD baby, Digistation, and other digital download sites on April 12.

17 tracks in a many styles... soft rock, pop, Beatlesque, country, contemporary Christian, and classical-influenced instrumentals.