Profane Praise: On Estuary Music

The expression for ‘fresh water’ in Spanish is agua dulce — sweet water. I always liked that way of putting it. An estuary is a place where sweet and salty water meet and combine into a brackish ecology of life between land and sea.

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I grew up in the sweet waters of the charismatic Roman Catholic Church, leading worship where open major chords strummed in 4/4 and unison choruses ended singing acapella, in men’s and woman’s parts.

Over the last decade of my life, I’ve discovered and fallen in love with the salty waters of soul music, blues, jazz, funk, rhythm and blues, and Latin folk music. I’ve found it in and out of churches, mostly in dive bars and over-25, cash-bar clubs. On a fretboard and inside headphones.

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This past fall, I had a chance to play for a group of students from Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH, at one of my favorite bars in town, The Spot. It was a unique situation, where both of my musical worlds collided. An estuary. What took place surprised me. I cannot describe it very well, but, thankfully, there is video evidence, here:

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This idea of “estuary music” is precisely what my Augustinian soul music project is about: creating art that lives in that liminal space between the sacred and the secular, praise and profanity, heaven and earth, sin and grace. Augustine’s Confessions are, to me, the best example of this on record. The craft of soul music executes it best within my skill set. Wiseblood Books has recognized my mission as sympathetic to their own and have agreed to release it on their own label, Wiseblood Records.

Everything is set for a release on August 28th — on the feast of St. Augustine.

So, yet again, I am asking — begging, really; this is a mendicant appeal — that you give alms for art. I have around ten days to raise over $4,000 dollars. It is an all or nothing situation, a zero sum game. But I maintain a deep hope that, with your support and God’s grace, this music I am making will come to fruition.

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