The Way of Beauty: From Aesthetics to Art

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A great deal of ink has been spilled lately about the need to appreciate what Pope Francis recently referred to in Evangelii Gaudium as the via pulchritudinis, the way of beauty. The term 'aesthetics' is in vogue, so it seems, and it appears to be having some positive effects, in small but serious ways, on contemporary religious artists---they are out there, and perhaps always have been, but are getting more attention and reception.Nonetheless, aesthetics is not art. The former pre … [Read more...]

Process, Preparation, and the Catholic Rigor of Art

In anticipation of the release of my new album, Late to Love, here is a very interesting conversation about art between two Catholics, Conan O'Brien and Jack White.*I would never presume to say that Catholics have some special ability to make art, but I will claim that Catholic art has something to it that is distinctly and darkly beautiful. I am one of the least rock-and-roll guitarists out there, but I've recently become very interested in Jack White's work.I must admit that I … [Read more...]

The August Experiment

The July Experiment went well, despite the fact that I didn't always obey my own rules and posted about half as much as I intended. I think the idea of making each month have an experimental focus is a good thing for me, so I'll carry it over into August.This month, excepting interviews (Leah Libresco is on deck!), I will limit myself to 250 words, with one or two exceptions. Since Late to Love, my Augustinian soul album, will be released on August 28th, you can expect plenty of updates and … [Read more...]

Pre-Order Late to Love! UPDATED

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Wiseblood Records, my small but mighty music label, sent out the following memo a few days ago: On August 28, 2014, Wiseblood Records will release our inaugural collection of music, Late to Love, by Sam Rocha. Late to Love is musically inspired by the genealogy of soul music that scans the genres of spirituals, folk, gospel, country, R&B, blues, funk, jazz, hip-hop, neo-soul and nu-jazz. T-Bone Walker, Ray Charles, Gil Scott Heron, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, and Curtis Ma … [Read more...]

Listen to the World’s First Augustinian Soul Album!

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On August 28th --- the feast of St. Augustine --- Wiseblood Records will release my first studio LP, Late to Love, a concept album bringing together soul music and Augustine's Confessions. The process has been exhilarating and, most of all, has produced some remarkable music, a testament to the grace of God and fine creative team I am working with. This has never been done before, as far as I know. It is new. Augustinian soul music has never existed before now. At the same time, the music draws … [Read more...]

When the Soul Gets Blues, The Blues Get Soul

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My socks, underwear, and toiletries are stuffed into two guitar cases and a 1945 tube amp. My pedalboard arrives at the studio tomorrow with my shirts and pants and pedals and cords. My wife and children and I will leave tomorrow morning for the Twin Cities (where they will stay) and from there I'll head to Pittsburgh where Dan Bozek, the studio engineer and producer, will pick me up and take me to Steubenville where I'll be recording my first full-length studio album, Late to Love. I was … [Read more...]

“Musings” on LATE TO LOVE with Iguana

Almost two years ago, my good friend and fellow philosopher of education (at Hofstra University), Eduardo Duarte (a.k.a. "Professor Iguana," his radio deejay name), began "Musings," an experimental community radio project trying to think and talk about about the relationship between philosophy and music or even the idea of philosophy as music and vice versa.I've been the featured guest twice and today we recorded the first of an eventual trio of conversations focused on my forthcoming album, … [Read more...]

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.*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 fall … [Read more...]

How to (Not) Destroy Catholic Art

  Catholic art is destroyed at the exact point in which it becomes necessary to have "Catholic" art.*The surging liturgical movement in the Roman Catholic Church over the past decade, often called "traditionalism," is not so much evidence of the strength of Catholic liturgy today but, instead, of its remarkable weakness. We do not see "traditionalists" emerge unless (a) there is no tradition to begin with or (b) until a real tradition is in danger. Otherwise, traditions, real ones, are s … [Read more...]

LATE TO LOVE: An Augustinian Soul Album

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For the first fifteen years of my musical life, starting at the age of five, I wrote and played devotional music. I recorded a demo when I was seven or eight, but my sister told me it sounded like I was howling — and not in a good way. So I kept working. I would record cassette tapes and offer them for a free will offering at my father's courses and retreats, where I led worship. I wrote mass parts and played on a few projects by local Christian artists. Then, in college, I began writing love s … [Read more...]


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