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...]

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...]

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...]

LIVE at The Empire UPDATED

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Last night I played the first all-original set I've played since 2006, at Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis, at The Empire theatre in downtown Grand Forks, North Dakota. The show lasted just over an hour and a half and I played songs I've written from 2003 to the present. I was joined by my brother-in-law, Shawn Kolles, on drums. Here is most of the full show (with part II below)  and, below that, I'll add links to the individual songs as they get uploaded. Enjoy!SPANISH CHOIR THERE WAS A … [Read more...]

“One Pop Harem,” a bedtime story by Sam and Sam

Another "former student and present friend" (I've been blessed with several of them) and I wrote a book of poetry together last year, entirely by accident, in a dialogue written on paper plates, serenaded by the music of Spencer Ellliott.We transcribed the poems and interviews, edited them, and self-published the collection as a chapbook: Poems by Sam and Sam. I consider it the best thing of mine in print to date.We're going to co-author another, much longer book this spring: Distance … [Read more...]

When a Roman Catholic Reads About Rob Bell, What Does He See?

A few years ago, while I was in graduate school, I sang and played guitar for the contemporary services at Peace Lutheran Church in Gahanna, Ohio. After being there for nearly a year, the assistant pastor introduced me to Rob Bell. He gave me a copy of Velvet Elvis and told me I could keep it if I gave him a full report. (A review. The same thing that got me to read this book.) He wanted to know what I thought. I did my duty. Pencil in hand, I worked through the whole book in an hour and a half. … [Read more...]


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