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songwriter/musician Jonathan Rundman



Updated: 2018-02-20T16:19:30.492-06:00

 



Best Albums of 2017

2017-12-14T10:02:06.983-06:00

I found a lot of musical treasures in 2017. Here are my favorites:PHOEBE BRIDGERS: Stranger In The AlpsI've played this song "Motion Sickness" more than any other in 2017. The vibe, lyrics, melody, production, arrangement, vocal performance, and even the video... a masterpiece. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/9sfYpolGCu8/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9sfYpolGCu8?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>PARAMORE: After LaughterAs an album-wide statement, nothing has delighted me more in 2017 than this. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/yw-RPm1uOM4/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yw-RPm1uOM4?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>JULIANA HATFIELD: PussycatI needed this concept album in 2017. Cathartic, harrowing, and therapeutic in Trump's America. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ogYJvaG6_uc/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ogYJvaG6_uc?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>STYX: The MissionWow. One of the greatest Styx albums, almost 50 years into their career. So fun to listen to this album with my 13 year old son! width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/WfpUJzb4c9U/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WfpUJzb4c9U?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>CHUCK PROPHET: Bobby Fuller Died For Your SinsSong after song after song after excellent song. And all interesting and memorable! width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/bZm2gUHzISs/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bZm2gUHzISs?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>AIMEE MANN: Mental IllnessHer album this year is an acoustic triumph. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/en8HZ6X20Og/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/en8HZ6X20Og?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>BRUCE COCKBURN: Bone On BoneHe's as vital as ever at age 72. One of my primary heroes. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/jQ3mUOWuu8g/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jQ3mUOWuu8g?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>BECK: ColorsPro-tools computer rock produced by the great Greg Kurstin. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/8I1B4n_8Cto/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8I1B4n_8Cto?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>LAU NAU: PoseidonDreamy and cinematic art-folk from Finland. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/p8-KpmWhZIA/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/p8-KpmWhZIA?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>RYAN ADAMS: PrisonerUnabashed '80s-inspired rock recorded to analog tape. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/GzZ7HvSnDQo/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GzZ7HvSnDQo?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>FILTHY FRIENDS: InvitationGen-X supergroup from a garage in Portland. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ee26M542XUg/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ee26M542XUg?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>[...]



A Singer Reflects on Toxic Masculinity in Trump's America

2017-05-27T13:09:42.633-06:00

[ I wrote this piece in June of 2016, but I didn’t publish it online or anywhere else because I was afraid. Now, on the eve after Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte won the election after assaulting a reporter, the day of the stabbing attack on the Portland train, the week of the Manchester bombing, in the wake of the dismissal of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly from Fox News, as I’ve been watching The Keepers on Netflix, and with Donald Trump as president, I’ve decided to finally post it, fear be damned. ]From about 5th grade to 8th grade I stopped singing. I made a choice to do so…no singing in church, no singing in school, no singing in public. I loved music and loved to sing, but I stopped because I was afraid. I was afraid to be called a fag, afraid to be seen as gay, and afraid that I would get my ass kicked. And I was right to be afraid, because if I was to sing the way my soul wanted to sing, all of those abuses would’ve rained down upon me in my small, rural, Upper Midwestern community. In seventh grade during lunch hour I was surrounded by a group of camouflage-hat wearing jocks who threw me in the ditch for being a piano-playing church-loving pussy. That reinforced my decision to stay closeted. It wasn’t until 8th grade when I worked up enough courage to sing in public again, thanks to cool older kids at my Lutheran Church Summer camp who sang their hearts out around the campfire.Even then, the fear continued. I refused to style my hair, because I knew that any boy who spent time grooming himself in front of a mirror could be threatened and accused of being a homosexual. I refused to wear attractive clothing or assert any sense of personal style for the same reason. And once again, I wasn’t overreacting. It was a legitimate concern. It took me until 11th grade to wear the clothing that appealed to me…that expressed my developing sexual and personal joy and identity. I got contact lenses, and I styled my hair. Because I was tall, on the swim team, and got a girlfriend, I was finally protected from any further threats. I’m now in my mid-40s. As I look back upon my childhood as a musical, gentle, and faith-filled boy, I recognize that almost my entire time spent in school and in the neighborhood was driven by fear. Fear of not being masculine enough. I knew, correctly, that if I let my guard down, I could be teased, emotionally abused, and/or physically assaulted. I didn’t hunt, didn’t swear, didn’t make dirty jokes, and didn’t know anything about sports, so I was a prime target. I would go to piano lessons, to church youth activities, to children’s choir rehearsal, to Lutheran Summer camp, and I would go back to school and lie about it so none of my peers would find out. I weighed every word I said and every activity I participated in, for the sake of my reputation and personal safety. All this, and I was straight! My heart breaks for my queer brethren who were there with me in school and in town. Their courage and fortitude astounds me.When I was in my early 30s, my wife got pregnant and I wanted us to have a girl. The baby was born, and before the doctor could say a word I yelled “It’s a boy!” At that moment, a part of me mourned because I dreaded the thought of birthing a boy-child into the world of Men. Male culture, in general, makes me sick. I knew that this baby would grow up, and I would have to help him develop into a loving, open, sexually and mentally secure man. I knew then, and know now, the environment of toxic masculinity he would need to navigate for the rest of his life. I’m so thankful for my own Father who demonstrated a beautiful example of creative, relaxed, strong, and loving masculinity that anchored me, even during my fear-filled childhood years. I want to be a Dad like that, and that’s what I’m trying to do. Upon graduating from high school, I moved away and became a musician. It’s been my vocation ever since, and all I ever do is sing, sing, sing, sing. Oftentimes on Sunday mornings I get in[...]



Best Albums of 2016

2016-12-23T11:45:24.927-06:00

Here are some videos of songs representing my favorite albums of 2016. Are any of these on your Best Of The Year list?ERIC AMBEL "Here Come My Love" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/spA2WqnuBaI/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/spA2WqnuBaI?feature=player_embedded" width="320">BUTCH WALKER "Stay Gold" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/FjxYFome4wo/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FjxYFome4wo?feature=player_embedded" width="320">TEGAN AND SARA "U-Turn" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/PpfJfSG_c1g/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PpfJfSG_c1g?feature=player_embedded" width="320">SIA "The Greatest" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/GKSRyLdjsPA/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GKSRyLdjsPA?feature=player_embedded" width="320">WALTER SALAS-HUMARA "Diner By The Train" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ZyrDT3E1vP8/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZyrDT3E1vP8?feature=player_embedded" width="320">PAUL SIMON "Wristband" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/O3crKHaBdy4/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/O3crKHaBdy4?feature=player_embedded" width="320">DAWES "One Of Us" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/CGrSorNq7Rg/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CGrSorNq7Rg?feature=player_embedded" width="320">LOOK PARK "You Can Come Round If You Want To" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/xAcLTxQOWt8/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xAcLTxQOWt8?feature=player_embedded" width="320">MARGARET GLASPY "Emotions and Math" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/F0GLxF4gXKA/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/F0GLxF4gXKA?feature=player_embedded" width="320">ROBBIE FULKS "Aunt Peg's New Old Man" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/G531VGBD-Jo/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/G531VGBD-Jo?feature=player_embedded" width="320">oops... and I almost forgotSTING "Heading South on the Great North Road" width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/hILPwDcN0_s/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hILPwDcN0_s?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>[...]



Top Ten Best Songs of 2015

2015-12-26T21:37:59.389-06:00

Usually I make a "Best Albums of the Year" list, but in 2015 (and in recent years, in general) I've been more drawn to individual songs. So, here's my TOP TEN BEST SONGS of 2015 list, arranged alphabetically:BRYAN ADAMS "You Belong To Me" width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/FbiBM1Piy1Q/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FbiBM1Piy1Q?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>This song/video is totally my cup of tea. Sweet retro production by Jeff Lynne, beautifully simple arrangement, killer vocal performance, and great economy of composition. What a comeback!THE DØ "Trustful Hands" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/HNgJPIwg5Mc/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HNgJPIwg5Mc?feature=player_embedded" width="320">A Finnish woman and French man team up in this super cool Euro electro-pop duo. All their records are great.ANA EGGE "Divine Mother" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/iqsbYktgV1s/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iqsbYktgV1s?feature=player_embedded" width="320">One of the highlights of my year was seeing Ana perform at the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival in Michigan's Upper Peninsula!BRANDON FLOWERS "Can't Deny My Love" allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/9iiDlU4rhlY/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9iiDlU4rhlY?feature=player_embedded" width="320">If I had to pick a BEST ALBUM OF 2015 it would be Brandon Flowers' The Desired Effect. The album is loaded with fabulous songs and sounds, but this one was the single, so it gets to represent the record. Produced by my studio hero Ariel Rechtshaid.LOVERS ELECTRIC "Dangerous Games" width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/WvPHT_uIxMg/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WvPHT_uIxMg?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>This married electro-pop duo features pop genius Butterfly Boucher's sister Eden. They made videos for every song on their excellent 2015 album Strangers...this clip is especially beautiful and slightly disturbing.RAE MORRIS "Closer" width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/-a_GN6E9DtU/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-a_GN6E9DtU?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>Morris is a British piano pop prodigy, with producer Ariel Rechtshaid making his second appearance on this list! She's been releasing excellent singles, EPs, and videos for a few years, and in 2015 they were finally collected on her debut LP (which I had to import from the UK on CD!). This record really scratches my itch for classic Annie Lennox!MUTE MATH "Monument" width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/RIdS8FtIWz4/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RIdS8FtIWz4?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>This band has flirted with U2-inspired arena rock in the past, and electronic noodling of all kinds. Their new album is its most New Wavey and friendly...I'm into it. It's the best Duran Duran album not made by Duran Duran this year!OH LAND "Flags" width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/cma96TC4x6Q/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cma96TC4x6Q?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>A favorite of mine since 2013, this Danish artist mixes weirdness, joy, and Nordic pop sensibilities. Not unlike Lovers Electric, Rae Morris, and The Dø...female powered neo-Euro-synth-pop!KEITH RICHARDS "Trouble" width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/_btCZWi1jkg/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/e[...]



how to start a podcast

2015-03-20T16:53:25.394-06:00

Well, I've started one...Creativity Drill with Jonathan and Dawn Rundman...so the question remains, who will listen, and what might happen in the future? The show has been live on the iTunes store for about 24 hours now, and I'll probably wait until Monday to hype it online, just because in my experience, the weekend has less online action with my audience/readers.Now that everything is up and working, here's a rundown of howwe started our podcast. As a podcast fan, my prime inspirations were the shows on the Nerdist podcast network, as well as the married-couple-hosted show Totally Laime. Preparing and launching our show was quite complicated and it took a looooong time:ONE YEAR AGOMy wife Dr. Dawn Rundman and I started talking about hosting a podcast together. We enjoy the rare occasion when we get to perform/present together, so we thought this would be a fun married-couple activity for us to do. Our goals for starting the podcast:have a fun project to work on together as a couplehave a reason to get together with talented and inspiring friendscreate synergy between our own creative work, and the creative work of our awesome guestsperhaps generate some yet-unknown opportunities for fun and art in the futureDuring one of our rare date nights, we went to a Starbucks and brainstormed ideas for show topics, themes, and guests. We came up with a concept and show title that we liked, and I whipped up a podcast cover by drawing a sketch of us and tweaking it in Photoshop. I read a bunch of articles like this to determine how to format the podcast cover image.10 MONTHS AGOOne of our talented and creative friends was coming to Minneapolis, and we thought it might be an occasion to tape our first episode. The friend was familiar with podcasting, and was an enthusiastic test subject. We used our broken 10-year-old laptop and my elderly ProTools recording software to tape the interview. Dawn and I had fun, and the guest did, too. We knew the interviews were going to work! We wanted to get a few more in the can before launching officially.5 MONTHS AGOAfter a very busy period of family activities and my own musical tours, I was able to refocus on the developing podcast idea. I wanted the show to have hooky theme music, so I wrote a short little song and made a recording using a drum machine and synthesizer, with vocal assistance from my children. I took the tracks to the Library Recording Studio in Minneapolis to have it professionally mixed by studio wiz Matt Patrick. Matt himself appears as the announcer...here's the theme song: frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196729030&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%"> 3 MONTHS AGOWe had the raw material in place: a concept, a title, cover artwork, and a theme song. Now we needed more episodes! My goal was to complete three shows before going public with the podcast. We invited over another guest to tape the second episode. This was getting fun!I did a lot of online research on all the technicalities of prepping a podcast for launch. I found the free videos and articles by Cliff Ravenscraft the Podcast Answer Man very helpful.ONE WEEK AGOWe invited another guest to tape our third episode, and Dawn and I continued to enjoy the interviewing process. We began to ask other people to consider being guests in the future. I edited together our interviews with our theme music, episode intros, and outro bumper music using Garage Band, and bounced the master MP3s of each episode. Before the official launch I had to learn about and implement these other important steps:tagging the master MP3s...I downloaded ID3 Editor and it worked well, although I found the process to be not-intuitive and kind of complicated finding an online host for the audio...I chose the $20 per month plan at[...]



Best albums of 2014

2015-01-01T15:37:49.727-06:00

Happy New Year's Day! It's always fun for me to reflect upon my favorite albums of the previous year, so here's my list for 2014. Usually I rank my choices from 1 to 10, but this time I just can't decide how to order them....so I'll list all ten alphabetically instead. The overarching theme: almost all these albums were crafted by an overlapping community of pop genius producers and instrumentalists in Los Angeles. The musical family tree branching out below is incredible!RYAN ADAMS - RYAN ADAMS allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/802vbfZe9io?feature=player_embedded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Long ago I enjoyed Adams' "Heartbreaker" album, but since then I've lost track of him despite his always prolific output. However, due to the involvement of some of my favorite musicians like Mike Viola and Benmont Tench, I was very interested in checking out his new self-titled release. This very cohesive collection of songs blends together many of the sounds and vibes that appeal to me...'80s rock influences, Stonesy swagger, and smart melodies and arrangements. Lyrically, it's a bit forgettable, but the rest of the elements are very strong.BECK - MORNING PHASEBeck is another artist who I don't really follow. I've got a couple of his albums that I enjoy, but the bulk of his catalog has escaped me. This particular record generated a lot of notable reviews upon its release, and I checked it out. Like the Ryan Adams album above, the session musicians appearing on this new Beck album are some of my all-time faves: Greg Leisz, Jason Falkner, and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. I liked it upon first listen, and it has sounded better and better over time. Beautiful atmospheric production, mysterious and evocative lyrics, and gorgeous arrangements and melodies.THE BOTH - THE BOTH allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/VqSYzOXkthg?feature=player_embedded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Aimee Mann is one of my musical heroes, and her new duo collaboration with Ted Leo as The Both has obviously energized and inspired her. I love this entire album, but certain songs like "Hummingbird" will hold up with her best work from across her 30-year career. I saw The Both perform here in Minneapolis last Spring, and they're excellent in concert as well. Bravo, Aimee and Ted!SKY FERREIRA - NIGHT TIME, MY TIME allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/pWo7SC-tG4U?feature=player_embedded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />OK, technically this album came out in October of 2013, but I discovered it in January of 2014, so it goes on this best-of-list. Ferreira's music fits squarely into the kind of female-millennial synth pop that I've been loving lately, like Tegan & Sara, and Haim. Ferreira seems to be positioning herself as some kind of punkier and more dangerous alternative to Katy Perry...or maybe a more commercial version of Lana Del Rey...and I don't really get what's going on with her image. However, the music really appeals to me, thanks to the involvement of brilliant studio musicians like Ariel Rechtshaid (of Haim fame), Jon Brion, and Blake Mills (see below). There's some weird and clunky filler on this record but the pop singles are incredibly good. They're like the lost '80s singles that the world has discovered for the first time.THE HADEN TRIPLETS - THE HADEN TRIPLETS allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/lQohy8kafJg?feature=player_embedded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />I adore everything done by musical adventurer Petra Haden, so I was thrilled to hear she was finally making an album with her talented sisters. These perfectly-curated collection of cover tunes was pro[...]



Pre-order my forthcoming new album LOOK UP!

2014-12-16T20:47:00.795-06:00


ANNOUNCING: my new LOOK UP album will be released to the whole wide world on JANUARY 13, 2015!

Until then, you may pre-order:

or direct from my own online store...where you will immediately receive MP3 downloads of the new songs "Prioritize Us" and "Second Shelf Down."

Order now and help me climb the new release charts for the week of January 13th!



Why I chose PledgeMusic over Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc.

2014-02-21T20:25:00.861-06:00

Greetings from halfway through my first crowdfunding campaign! The widget above will show you how close I am to my funding goal, and how many days I have left in which to reach that goal. At the beginning of the process I expected to be farther along by the time I reached the halfway point, but I realize that most people wait until the bitter end to make their pledge, so I'm not too concerned.As I promised in my previous entry, I'll share the reasoning why I chose PledgeMusic.com over other crowdfunding platforms.After a few years of struggling with the crowdfunding concept itself, I did a lot of reading and YouTube-watching to research which funding platform would be right for me. PledgeMusic appealed to me from the beginning because most of the artists who I helped to fund had used Pledge and I had been a very satisfied customer. The more I learned, the more I knew that PledgeMusic was a platform that synced with my artistic and personal values. For example:less of an obsession with the publicized financial goal: incoming PledgeMusic funds are measured by percentage, so the artist and fan experience is less skewed by that looming monetary figureless of an obsession with time/date deadlines: PledgeMusic campaigns often stretch beyond the traditional Kickstarter model of 30 days, AND better yet, the pledging may continue long after the financial goal and the fundraising deadline have been passed. All the positive financial and communal momentum generated during the campaign is maximized into the future. PledgeMusic has high expectation for artist-fan interaction. Artists are expected and encouraged to provide lots of exciting and fun exclusive content for their pledgers...video, audio, blog-like content updates, etc. I've enjoyed this from the fan's AND the artist's perspective!PledgeMusic campaigns frequently set aside a portion of their profits to various charities. The platform's system made it very convenient for me to generate funds for my album AND support ELCA World HungerArtists/projects must be approved by PledgeMusic. Not just anybody will be approved, and I'm very pleased to be associated the quality of the artists (music-related only, by the way!).People may pledge directly using their credit card, and from anywhere in the world. Other platforms have geographic limitations, and some require the pledger to route their money through a middleman (Kickstarter, for example, requires an Amazon account)PledgeMusic has provided me with a living human being to serve as my A&R representative (Hi Matt!). I don't know for sure, but I bet if you used one of the much larger and wider platforms, it's very unlikely that you'd have your own human being to assist you with your campaign.Here are some good posts from around the blogosphere about the virtues of PledgeMusic.com:Bleu writing for American SongwriterA post at Mediapocolypse comparing PledgeMusic and KickstarterA post at HypeBot highlighting PledgeMusic's community-building benefitsThere is even more I could say, but that's a good overview of my preference for PledgeMusic. Now, my task is to reach out in person to the people/fans/friends in my life who have not yet gotten involved in my campaign, and invite them to join me. Earlier today I uploaded a mid-campaign invitation video. Check it out, AND, if you haven't pledged to support my LOOK UP album yet, please consider doing so! Thanks! allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='560' height='315' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/iVktRUo90tg?feature=player_embedded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />[...]



PledgeMusic, Kickstarter and my crowdfunding conversion

2014-01-15T16:45:11.238-06:00

I never thought I would say this, but: today I launch a crowdfunding campaign! I'm using PledgeMusic as a platform for funding the recording of my new pop/rock/folk/NewWave/songwriter album LOOK UP. Click here to visit my project's page at PledgeMusic.com where you can watch my introductory video, check out my list of cool exclusives, and heck…pledge to support me if you want! Yow!A few years ago when crowdfunding first surfaced on my Facebook feed and in media coverage, the concept made me squirm. I've been a full-time freelance touring/recording musician for 20 years, and I was deeply marinated in the old-school DIY rock and roll model: write songs, pay to record them, pay to manufacture an album, and hit the road on tour selling CDs (and tapes!) at shows. That system worked great for me for many years….the sales of each album funded the next one and made a bit of a profit, too. Everything felt logical and righteous. Little did I know back in those early days of the new millennium that the changing economy, technology, and culture would soon radically alter the path of the road-warrior indie musician.It was probably in 2009 when I first heard about Kickstarter. One of the reasons I was suspicious and nauseated by crowdfunding in its early days was that I witnessed some campaign train wrecks. I saw artists asking for too much money, running foggy and disorganized campaigns, flooding social media with desperate pleas for more funds, and groveling through the dreaded panic-filled countdown to the end of the failed process. You don't reach your (too-high) goal in 30 days, you don't get the money. I seemed to get a new crowdfunding pitch each week. It made me feel depressed and exhausted.At about this same time, however, the new normal of the media/tech/culture landscape began to settle in. I began to accept the fact that the indie showbiz model had been forever changed. The last time I made a big-production studio record it was 2004 (the Public Library album), and even though lots of folks still bought CDs in those days, it still took me many months of serious touring and selling merch to break even. I knew that if I was to do another serious large-budget studio album in 2014, I might not ever pay it off by selling CDs/downloads/streams. I realized that if I ever wanted to make another relatively pro-quality album, I would need to exercise some financial creativity.You know what finally caused my conversion experience? Being a FAN. Some of my favorite indie artists launched crowdfunding campaigns, and after my initial wave of suspicion, I agreed to support their projects. And, yes, all that stuff the crowdfunding platforms say about what the fans enjoy and want….I felt it! I was very happy and excited to be a part of my favorite artists' album-making process, and was very eager and pleased to give $20 or $50 of my money to insure I'd get new music from these great musicians. I supported projects by Parthenon Huxley, The Call, Bleu, Butterfly Boucher, and Walter Salas-Humara. I felt very psyched and passionate to be a patron of the arts. I realized that if I felt this way as a fan of certain musicians, then it's likely that I myself have some fans who would feel that way about me. That's pretty nice! (We shall see if my hunch is correct!)Another epiphany: after my knee-jerk aversion to crowdfunding subsided a bit, I remembered the important fact that IT'S A FREE COUNTRY. If you don't like an artist's crowd funding pitch, then don't support it. If you don't like an artist, don't buy their music/art. If you're annoyed by somebody spamming your Facebook feed with money requests, block them. It's no big deal. This acceptance of reality even solves issues like the infamous Zach Braff and Amanda Palmer Kickstarter conundrums. It's great to be free! Support what you want. Ignore what you don't w[...]



Best albums of 2013

2014-01-14T10:18:41.484-06:00

This year my ears were drawn to melody, technology, high-production values, and women. Years ago I would've been much more inclined towards organic sounds, intimacy in production and attitude, and a lo-fi aesthetic, but those days are gone. Is it because I have young children who cause me to hear music in new, fresh ways? Am I having a midlife crisis? Or am I just burned out on dudes with acoustic guitars? I'm not sure why, but I really loved female pop singers this year, and it sure felt good to me.1. TEGAN AND SARA - HEARTTHROBThis is hands-down my favorite album of the year. Ten total slam-dunk pop songs with cool, cool sounds and more hooks per song than other artists can generate in a career. An inspiration of songwriting, production, and career re-invention.2. HAIM - DAYS ARE GONE allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/1TffpkE2GU4?feature=player_embedded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Another ultra-consistent album-length home run. These songs and sounds make me happy. The Haim sisters exude gratitude and love of music, and I can feel it as a listener. Being in a rock band should be joyous and fun.3. OH LAND - WISHBONE allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/zFCYo3XocIM?feature=player_embedded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />I was clued into this album thanks to a Facebook post by excellent songwriter David Poe, who co-wrote this album's lovely folk tune "Love You Better." After clicking Poe's link to this "Renaissance Girls" video, I was immediately enamored by Danish pop / performance artist Nanna Øland Fabricius. When visiting Denver this Fall I had a chance to catch Oh Land in concert and was happily caught up in her infectious energy, smiles, charisma, gorgeous voice, and brilliant song craft. I bought both of her albums, and continue to rock my Wintertime with this awesome Nordic electro-pop. If you miss the early Cardigans, or you long for the '80s-era Madonnna, Oh Land is for you.  4. ELLE MACHO - IMPORTI've been a fan of Butterfly Boucher since her debut 10 years ago and I've been following her musical adventures, but this album was a surprise. A rather grandiose art-punk trio (co-fronted by fellow Nashville-based songwriter David Mead), ELLE MACHO allows Butterfly to explore a louder and more theatrical facet of her musicianship. These tunes took some getting used to, but I'm loving them now. 5. FALL OUT BOY - SAVE ROCK AND ROLLButch Walker's production drew me to this album, and his creative fingerprints are all over it. Bombastic, slick, catchy, and crazy fun, like a Summer blockbuster action movie at the mall megaplex. There are a couple stinkers on Side B, but the killer singles are undeniable. Love it!6. EELS - WONDERFUL GLORIOUSAlthough maybe not quite as timeless as some of their other albums, this new collection from ultra-prolific E is still uplifting, trashy, fun and consistently awesome.7. AOIFE O'DONOVAN - FOSSILSAs I have hinted in this post's introduction, these days I'm weary of bluegrass music, folk singers, and Americana in general. So, I'm pleased to announce that the debut solo album from bluegrass darling O'Donovan has transcended any genre obligations she might be navigating. This is very smart and dreamy folk/pop music, and O'Donovans slinky and mysterious persona holds everything together.8. ROBBIE FULKS - GONE AWAY BACKWARDAgain, although I'm having a hard time with bluegrass and twang these days, Robbie's sheer talent wins me over, as usual. Recorded live by Chicago studio legend Steve Albini, this album is mature, expert, and sonically sublime. My favorite track below: frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http[...]



Tegan And Sara Heartthrob: Structural Analysis

2013-11-02T18:59:01.510-06:00

My favorite album of 2013 is Heartthrob by Canadian twin sister duo Tegan And Sara. I had never heard their music before, but saw a slew of great reviews when this, their newest album, was released in the Spring of 2013 so I bought the album sound-unheard. Loved it immediately. These songs are joyous, refreshing, surprising, crazy-hooky, and undeniable. I've been listening non-stop ever since, and so have my elementary school -aged children who are drawn to good pop music like a magnet.There are melodic, chordal, and structural elements to these songs that make this such an effective pop album, and I've been curious to analyze these building blocks. This evening I sat down and listened to the entire album and made some notes regarding the musical skeletons of the songs. For any songwriters or producers, I think you'll find this data compelling.Before I dig into the structures themselves, here are some overall observations of the album:+ the Heartthrob album contains 10 songs, clocking in at 36 minutes total+ the album contains no instrumental solos+ guitars are on the album, but are barely audible+ although the album is assembled by three different production teams (and, I assume, different sessions/locations) there is a great sonic continuity throughoutBelow are some scans of my structural analysis. I mapped out very basic blocks of content in horizontal lines, with my interpretations of what's going on in the composition: VS (for verse), VS A (for verse with an "A" section), VS 2 B (for second verse's "B" section), CH for chorus, PRE (for pre-chorus), etc., and other more specific or hook-related commentary. Then I did some color coding of important recurring structures: neon yellow for BRIDGE, green for VERBAL HOOK, pink for BREAKDOWN.Let's check out these songs in the order they appear. "CLOSER" is the kickoff tune, the record's first single, and the first song Tegan And Sara have ever had in the American pop charts. It's a great radio song, of course, and I think the structure is a big reason why. Observations on "CLOSER:"+ no intro, opens immediately with vocals+ there are two extra-vocal hooks "AH AH" and "I WANT YOU" that are used interchangeably throughout...nicely unpredictable!+ we are introduced to the most common song structure of the album...the utilization of verses with both A and B sections, a bridge (often combined with breakdown), and tasty extra-vocal hooks."GOODBYE GOODBYE" continues the successful shape of "CLOSER" with almost the same tempo and groove, and a nearly identical skeleton."I WAS A FOOL" repeats this basic structure again, although with a mellower groove. Quite a one-two-three punch at the top of the album."I'M NOT YOUR HERO" shifts gears, with a much more basic shape."DROVE ME WILD" might be my favorite song on the album. It returns to the general "CLOSER" structure, and has a different melodic and attitudinal character than the previous tunes, perhaps due to the influence of co-writers Ossama Al Sarraf and Ned Shepard, making their only appearance.Side B of the album utilizes a wider variety of structures. To my ears, a highlight of these deeper cuts is "LOVE THEY SAY" which does a neat trick in the second round...the pre-chorus is cut in half. A nice surprise for anybody paying attention."NOW I'M ALL MESSED UP" is probably the least-friendly song on the album, but the late-arriving hook "GO, GO" shows up after chorus one and becomes the focal point of the whole piece. By the end of the tune a "GO/STAY" vocal counterpoint becomes a interesting reward for the attentive listener."SHOCK TO YOUR SYSTEM" closes the album with its most rock-oriented arrangement. Built on heavy drumming, it's a departure from the rest of the songs, but its appearance at the end of the album doesn't mess with the overall vibe. Similarly to "[...]



Best albums of 2012

2017-05-27T12:04:51.706-06:00

In previous years I've occasionally had a tough time coming up with my annual list of favorite albums. This year was different...I had some obvious slam-dunk favorites.

1. BUTTERFLY BOUCHER: Butterfly Boucher
I've been a Butterfly fan for many years, but her new album totally captivated me, and has been in non-stop rotation since I bought it back in September. I'm swooning...

2. MICHAEL MONROE: Sensory Overdrive
Thanks to my cousin Micke in Helsinki for sending me this album by Finnish rock legend Michael Monroe. Totally inspiring and positive lyrics with mind-blowingly fun and rocking arrangements. Try not to go 100MPH while listening to this one in the car.

3. BRENDAN BENSON: What Kind of World
4. RICK SPRINGFIELD: Songs For The End of the World
5. MARVIN ETZIONI: Marvin Country
6. FOO FIGHTERS: Wasting Light
7. MISSY HIGGINS: The Ol' Razzle Dazzle
8. ARTO JÄRVELÄ: Plays Fiddle Vol. 3 - On The Coast
9. BEKI HEMINGWAY: I Have Big Plans For The World
10. JULIANA HATFIELD: Juliana Hatfield (covers)



June tour dates: Kaivama and Arto Järvelä

2017-05-27T11:40:07.731-06:00

(image) World renowned composer and master fiddler from Finland Arto Järvelä is coming to the USA for a series of performances this June, and my new Finnish-American band Kaivama is very excited to join him at some of the best venues in the Midwest.

We'll wrap up the tour with our CD release show in our hometown of Minneapolis at the Cedar Cultural Center.

ARTO JÄRVELÄ and KAIVAMA 2011 tour schedule:

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8th
Chicago, IL

JUNE 10, 11
Nisswa, MN

SUNDAY, JUNE 12th
Kaleva Hall
Virgina, MN

MONDAY, JUNE 13th
Duluth, MN

TUESDAY, JUNE 14th
Cambridge, MN

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15th
Decorah, IA

THURSDAY, JUNE 16th
live broadcast TV performance on "Showcase Minnesota" KARE 11
Minneapolis, MN

FRIDAY, JUNE 17th
Minneapolis, MN




Best albums of 2010

2010-12-24T12:29:03.132-06:00

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! I shall now share my annual list of favorite albums. 2010 was a strange one for me, and I couldn't even find ten albums that I liked that came out this past year...so we'll have to settle for the Top 7. However, I did discover great albums that came out many years ago that dominated my playlists this year...stuff like the Beatles Box Set and a variety of awesome Nordic folk music including my favorite Finnish folk album, Ampron Prunni. You can buy this album here, along with other cool Finnish CDs. I bought mine at the bookstore at Finlandia University in Hancock, MI. Okay, but now for the real list. MY FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2010!1. JAKOB DYLAN "WOMEN & COUNTRY"Of course I appreciate the work of Father Bob, and I liked a few of those big hits by Jakob's '90s band The Wallflowers, but I haven't really followed the work of the younger Dylan. I bought this album because my production hero T Bone Burnett was the producer, and T Bone has delivered yet again. This album sounds great, but above all, the songwriting is really fine. Interesting lyrics, and timeless melodies. In some ways it feels like a companion piece to the Robert Plant / Alison Krauss "Rising Sand" duet album that T Bone cranked out a couple years ago. Similar atmosphere, and equally ideal for late night driving. 2. PETE YORN "PETE YORN"Pete had TWO of my favorite albums of last year, and he did well again in 2010. This new self-titled record is a bit more garagey than the previous few, but features more of his fresh wordsmithing and hooky hard pop. Contains my favorite single of the year, the kick off track "Precious Stone" with very deft, spare production.3. JASON & THE SCORCHERS "HALCYON TIMES"Holy cow, what a career resurrection! I first heard this band as a high schooler in the mid-80s and they've drifted in and out of existence ever since. But WOW, they get back together, hook up with one of my rock heros Dan Baird and brilliant songwriter Tommy Womack and crank out easily the best Americana album of the past few years. It's the Stones meets the Carter Family meets AC/DC meets the Charlie Daniels Band. Telecaster inspiration abounds! And it's really cool to hear an album where there's a sense of pure fun and joy pouring through the speakers....how obvious that these guys are having a blast in the studio. Check out the song "Land of the Free" and rock to the contrast between the verses and the chorus! Sweet!4. EELS "TOMORROW MORNING"I'll listen to anything E and the Eels release, but their past few have been a little lacking. However on this new album, E delivers a few of his finest songs ever, including "The Man"...these lyrics soaked into me gradually as I listened and give me the chills and a smile simultaneously. 5. ELIZABETH COOK "WELDER"As I posted on Facebook upon my first listen of this album, Nashville retro country singer Cook has managed the almost-impossible balancing act of being clever, dangerous, cute, risque, fun, and profound. Check out the harrowing "Heroin Addict Sister."6. BUTCH WALKER AND THE BLACK WIDOWS "I LIKED YOU BETTER WHEN YOU HAD NO HEART"Again, I'll listen to anything Butch puts out. His 2010 release had some fine moments including the great "Trash Day" where he skewers Nashville CCM culture with laser focus. Lighthearted and snide and rocking, with musical brilliance underneath all the snark and attitude. 7. CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG "IRM"A real surprise for me, and a record that I'd most likely not discover in my usual life. But this year I was lucky to stumble across it and found a very hip and slinky album with Gainsbourg's dreamy Euro-vocals and amazing production and composing by Beck. I checked her out on Wikipedia to find that she was born[...]



Jonathan Rundman's version of Lisa Germano's song "Guessing Game."

2017-05-27T11:49:01.691-06:00

ATTENTION: If you are Lisa Germano or her publisher, and you request that this MP3 cover version of her song "Guessing Game" be removed, email rundman@gmail.com and it will be removed immediately.SUPPORT LISA GERMANO by buying her music!For this month's MP3 featured at my Audio Page, I'm very excited to unearth a recording that I made exactly eleven years ago...one of my favorite moments of my recording career! And a recording that has never been heard by the public until now.Back in the early '90s I became a big fan of singer/ songwriter/ instrumentalist Lisa Germano. I was familiar with Lisa's violin playing on records by John Mellencamp and the IndigoGirls, and I was thrilled when, in 1992, I came across her indie debut solo album "On the Way Down from the Moon Palace" in a CD store in Eugene, Oregon. I loved the record, and the amazing drumming by fellow Indiana rock legend Kenny Aronoff. My favorite song from the CD was the kickoff track, a mid-tempo garagey rock tune called "Guessing Game (or The Music Business)."As the 1990s progressed, I loyally followed Lisa's career into the major labels, and through a series of excellent albums...all of which were a big influence on me as a young songwriter and recording artist. In the Summer of 1999 I embarked on the recording of my Sound Theology album, and I purchased a Sony Minidisc 4-track recorder on which to make the project. Before I began tracking my own album, I wanted an occasion to test drive the new recording machine. At the time I was active on a Lisa Germano discussion email list called "Sycophant," and some of the participants on the list began discussing the idea of releasing a Germano tribute album. Somebody volunteered to collect the cover tune submissions, and somebody else even designed a CD cover for the forthcoming tribute album, to be titled "Stand Not Amazed." I still have a .jpg of that CD artwork sitting on my computer from way back in 1999...I have no idea who designed it, but I always really liked the image. Surprisingly, there's even an online archive of the Lisa Germano email list discussion regarding the tribute project, viewable here. This tribute album possibility was the perfect chance for me to test my new 4-track recorder, so I set out to record my favorite Lisa song, "Guessing Game" in September of 1999. At the time I was renting a rehearsal space and office in a giant old warehouse on First Avenue in Maywood, IL, on the West side of Chicago. I had my drums, Hammond organ, and guitars set up at all times, and was also babysitting a giant Marshall stack guitar amplifier that was owned by Beki Hemingway's guitarist Randy Kerkman.I put two or three mics on the drums (all fed into one channel on the 4-track), sat down, and played the song as best I could while imagining the guitar parts in my head. After one take, I sang and played acoustic guitar into a single mic. For the 3rd track I played bass, and for the 4th track I played my Fender Telecaster through Randy's Marshall amp (copying Lisa's original violin lines) and then punched in overdubs of Schoenhut toy piano wherever there was room on the electric guitar track. Boom...four tracks and the song was done. I mixed the tune and sent it in to whoever from the email list so that it could be compiled into the Lisa Germano tribute album. Alas (as far as I know), the online discussion faded away at about this time, and the album was never completed or released. So my version of "Guessing Game" sat unheard for years. Although that recording never saw the light of day, it was a great warm up and education regarding the use of the 4-track, and later that same month I was recording such future Sound Theology hits like "Wor[...]



Kaivama, and Finnish-American showbiz history

2017-05-27T11:44:32.556-06:00

As of June 2010 I've been playing in a new band with amazing violinist Sara Pajunen. We're a Finnish-American folk music duo called KAIVAMA.It's really been fun, challenging, and meaningful for me to play these beautiful old Nordic songs, and in the past couple years I've been learning more and more about the Finnish-American performers who paved the way for youngsters like Sara and me.The most famous Finnish-American musician was Viola Turpeinen, an accordionist and band leader who toured the US in the mid-20th Century, performing at Finnish community halls. A few days ago while on vacation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula I got a chance to visit with local music historian Tom Chevrette, who showed me this accordion. The instrument was played by Viola herself while she was on tour in the UP in 1945! Viola was born in 1909 in Champion, MI, just a few miles away from my own hometown of Ishpeming. I drove through Champion yesterday morning, and wondered if Viola's birthplace is still there somewhere. Her childhood home, maybe?Just in the past year I found out about Finnish-American (and African!) actress, singer, and entertainer Rosa Lemberg. Here's a photo of Rosa (born Rosa Emilia Clay in 1875, in Namibia to English and African parents). Her biography is really complex, but the general idea is:+ she's African, born in Africa+ adopted by Finnish missionaries+ moved to Finland, learns the language, and grows up there+ moves to the USA, settles in Finnish communities+ travels the USA as a singer, actress, educator, and political activist+ gets old and moves to a Finnish home for the elderly in Covington, MI, in the Upper Peninsula+ is buried in the Covington cemetaryA helpful summary of Rosa's incredible life was published in the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in January 2010, and is also available to read on the blogosphere HERE.Yesterday I drove with my children from Ishpeming, MI back to our home in Minnesota. Since we were passing through Covington on the way, I thought it would be nice to stop by to visit the gravesite of Rosa Lemberg. Here we are yesterday morning, remembering an extraordinary woman. As I look forward to more touring with Kaivama, I'll be thinking of Rosa and Viola who were performing for the Finnish-American community a century before me.[...]



Let's take a walk in downtown Ishpeming!

2010-05-21T14:59:22.497-06:00

I had a day off this week in my hometown of Ishpeming, in Michigan's lovely Upper Peninsula. My brother Tim and I took a walk downtown for dinner. Here's what we saw:Towering over everything in downtown Ishpeming is the iconic Cliffs Shaft, seen above. It's the shell of the elevator lift that would lower miners and equipment deep into the iron ore mine. It closed, I think, in about 1969. My Grandpa Roberts' job was lift operator, so he spent many years of his life driving that elevator up and down.Here's the Rundman family neighborhood. Lake Bancroft at the end of the street, with Pilots Knob bluff across the lake. The red truck in the foreground is my Dad's. Somebody gave it to him. "Hey want a free truck?"Just down the hill is The Congress. Seems like the locals adore this pizza more than anything else, but I'm not into it. And I don't like the wooden booths. That's the long-dead J.C.Penney store to the right of The Congress. I used to get my school clothes there back in the day.Across from the Congress is our local mascot, Old Ish. He was erected there in the 1800s sometime. And that side of the Peninsula Back is in the famous opening scene of the Ishpeming movie "Anatomy of a Murder"...Jimmy Stewart drives by in his convertible.The big boxy building under the watertower is now called Pioneer Square. It used to be a bra factory...my Grandma worked there, and various other relatives. Notice the Ishpeming kids cruising on their bikes in the middle of the street. Not much traffic to worry about.This restaurant is Mama Mia's, my favorite pizza in the whole UP. And favorite garlic bread, too.After we had dinner we walked home, via Main Street. It was a beautiful, warm night, and nobody was around. The town was very quiet. It's a cool place. Stop by sometime when you're driving through the U.P.[...]



How to build a sauna in your basement.

2010-04-02T18:54:17.123-06:00

I've always dreamed of having a sauna in my home. Growing up in the Finnish communities of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, I spent every Summer out in the woods, swimming in lakes, and sauna-ing constantly. In the winter I could sauna at relatives' homes. Even church events included community saunas. On recent trips to Finland I had the opportunity to sauna at the Summer-house of my Finnish Rundman relatives, which was a true delight (although the Baltic Sea was freeeeeezing).Last Fall I acquired a nice Polar by Saunatec sauna heater, so the building opportunity finally arrived. My Dad is a construction and carpentry genius, so he came over to my basement to work his architectural magic. He had built numerous saunas in the past, so he knew what he was doing.Our basement had a perfect location: a lower corner, right above the main basement floor drain, and already equipped with a hot/cold overhead shower installed when our home was built in 1952. One problem: a giant double-tubbed 300 pound concrete laundry sink, too large to allow for the walls of the forthcoming sauna room.How to solve the sink problem? Knock over the laundry tub and go crazy with a sledgehammer. I got great pleasure out of busting the heck out of something so big and heavy.We shoveled the concrete debris of the sink into the corner of the room (eventually to be hauled out in many many trips using cardboard boxes) and Dad installed a new, smaller laundry sink which would allow for the construction of sauna walls.Dad wanted to attempt a new sauna-construction concept: build the entire room out of insulated steel doors. Yes, doors. From the bargain bin at Menards...$1 each. That's it. One buck each. It was a brilliant idea. No need for foam or spray insulation, or for framing with 2X4s like a normal room. The doors are already super-insulated, with steel exterior, ultra strong, and no wood elements to get damp or moldy. This is sure to be the most insulated sauna of all time...like sauna-ing in a industrial freezer, or in a space capsule. Dad installed a fan, to help air out the room post-sauna-session, as well as a inbound heating vent which will allow the furnace in the house to keep the sauna room at normal room temperature during the cold winter. That way, it takes less time to heat the sauna when the surrounding basement is chilly.The sauna heater was mounted on the wall according to the Saunatec/Polar specs., including the allowance of a fresh air source below the heater at floor level (which also provided a route to the basement/sauna floor drain in case of basement flooding or any other water-related emergency).The interior of the sauna room was lined with cedar, salvaged from scrap piles and bargain bins at various lumber yards. A nice railing was constructed around the heater for safety. Dad arranged the cedar around the pre-existing shower pipes and added bi-level benches. The lower bench level can fold up on hinges, which turns the sauna into a shower-room when the heater's not on. He also custom-fit a cedar floor platform that can be lifted out of the room to allow for cleaning and floor-drain access. The benches provide plenty of butt-space for four adults, two on the top bench, and two on the lower level along the perpendicular wall. It'll be perfect for my family...my little kids can sit on the lower level where things are not so scalding.Dad finished the work completely about a week ago and my wife and I have had a few late-evening sauna sessions already. I wasn't sure how it was gonna "feel" initially...I grew up with wood-stove saunas, so I was hoping to get an authentic Finnish sauna[...]



Best Albums of 2009

2010-01-01T22:29:26.697-06:00

Happy New Year everybody! Musically speaking, this was a great year for power pop, melodic rock, and generally tasty hooky songs. I happily present my list of the Best Albums of 2009:THE BEST, NUMBER ONE is....1. PETE YORN - Back & FourthI got this CD at the beginning of the Summer and it was my constant soundtrack to miles and miles of beautiful highway driving. Pete Yorn is not really the kind of artist that I think of myself liking...he seems a bit too alterna-rock or "normal" or something, but the more I listen to him the more I think he's incredible. And this particular album really moves me somehow. Great production (what do you know, Rick Rubin!), sneaky and subtle grownup songwriting, and very fresh and provocative lyrics. Amidst a whole album of fine songwriting, the track "Social Development Dance" stands out, with completely refreshing and surprising lyrics, and a gorgeous groove and melody. Usually it would be someone like Jason Falkner or Sam Phillips to score my number one ranking (they do show up farther down the list) but something unexplainable about this album has really captured me. Pete had a good year with me...he'll turn up once again before this list is over.2. THE TWILIGHT HOURS - Stereo NightLocal Minneapolis pop workhorses Matt Wilson and John Munson (of Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic fame) team up in a new band, and crank out songs that are effortlessly singable and joyous and inventive. Now, lately I've been really appreciating the Grammy-winning half of the Minnesota Wilson brothers (that's Dan, who put out the incredible album "Free Life" a year or so ago), but I'm afraid that Matt may have eclipsed his brother with this record. As I look ahead to growing into a fortysomething Edina Dad, it's inspiring to see what kind of music other fortysomething Edina Dads like Matt Wilson (and Paul Westerberg!) can create in the middle stages of life.3. MANDY MOORE - Amanda LeighI got into Mandy a couple years ago when she released a fine album of unlikely cover songs. What a voice! When I heard that her most recent album was co-written and produced by power pop master Mike Viola I went right out and bought it, and indeed, Mandy plus Mike equals Marvelous. Of course Mandy's voice shines as always, but the SONGS and HARMONIES and arrangements, too....it takes my breath away. This is an album that pays tribute to '70s songwriters, with a perfect hints of '80s New Wave and Americana. A weird combo that wildly succeeds with every turn. Mandy is a role model for teen-popsters who hope to grow into legitimate artists. 4. JASON FALKNER - All Quiet On The Noise FloorJason does no wrong in my eyes. He's my favorite kind of artist: songwriter, producer, and playing all the instruments too (like another fave of mine, Todd Rundgren, and Pete Yorn sometimes). Jason's previous release "I'm OK You're OK" is my favorite of his, but this one comes pretty close. I did only get this CD recently, so there's a chance it will grow on me even more. Hearing Jason's recordings makes me want to sprint to the studio and create some new music.5. BRENDAN BENSON - My Old Familiar FriendWell, well...another Falkner associate who sings, produces, and plays all the instruments on his albums! Benson is a genius and he hits it out of the park frequently on this album. I'd love to see Benson and Jason Falkner do some more writing and recording together like they were doing years ago...6. TINTED WINDOWS - Tinted WindowsA brilliant album, but listening to it is a bit like sitting down and eating an entire pail of ice cream by yourself. Thankfully the whol[...]



You are invited to arrange and produce a new Jonathan Rundman recording!

2010-08-11T12:38:15.836-06:00

UPDATE, AUGUST 9, 2010: Mark LaForest of the band Flincho has submitted his version of this song! Download it on my Audio Page.UPDATE: SUMMER 2010: the .wav files have been removed...if you still want to take a stab at a remix, email rundman@gmail.com to request the .wavsUPDATE, FEBRUARY 29, 2010: Richard Bruxvoort-Colligan has submitted his version of this song!++++Many of you loyal readers and music fans are also musicians and recording hobbyists yourselves. Knowing that, here is a fun little experiment I have always wanted to try:YOU are invited to be the arranger and producer for a previously unreleased Jonathan Rundman recording! Here's the idea:1. you download the vocal track and drum track (in .wav format) for an unreleased version of my song "The Sound Of The Cicadas"2. you import those .wav files into your recording software (ProTools, GarageBand, or whatever)...feel free to change the file format to .aiff or .mp3 or whatever you normally use3. You finish the song...add more instrumental tracks, edit the song, chop it up, cut and paste, whatever; and then bounce a final mix of your version of the song4. Email me an MP3 of your mix of my song. Who knows, I might even blog about it, post it online for the world to hear, link back to your webpage, etc. That's the plan. I've already heard some folks express interest in this process...we'll see how many potential producers are waiting out there in cyberspace.Once you've downloaded these files, import them into your recording software and slide the regions to the far left (zero) of your mix window. They should sync perfectly together.Here are some details on what you've got to work with:RECORDING HISTORY:This song "The Sound of the Cicadas" was written in the Fall of 1997, and arranged by me and my cousin Bruce Rundman. We'd play it frequently in concert, but we had no recorded version of it. In the Fall of 2000 Bruce was visiting me at my place in Chicago and we tried a recording of it...we dialed up this drum track on a little '80s-era Yamaha keyboard and recorded it on my digital minidisc 4-track recorder. Then we recorded acoustic guitar and banjo tracks, and finally sang the vocals together on one mic, and in one take! These are the vocal tracks and drum tracks you are downloading now. Later on I attempted to finish the recording, but I realized that our guitar and banjo tracks were unworthy...too sloppy, out-of-tune, etc. So I was left with a drum machine track, and our double-vocals. These tracks sat unused and unheard for a decade. This past year I was transferring my minidiscs to ProTools and I discovered these two salvageable tracks, and thought the best way to utilize them would be for me to turn them over to the public to complete. By the way, Bruce and I eventually did record the definitive version of "The Sound of the Cicadas" in the fall of 2005, and that version appears on my album The Best of Jonathan Rundman: 20 Songs from the 20th Century. You can download the song individually at the iTunes Store by CLICKING HERE.SO, if you'd like to take a crack at arranging and producing this previously-unreleased version of "The Sound of the Cicadas," then be my guest!Here are some helpful hints as you work on it:+ the version that you're downloading right now is in the key of E minor and the chords under the vocals are like this:Em | Em | B7 | EmEm | Em | B7 | EmAm | Am | Em | EmAm | Am | Em | EmIf you want a reference to how the song sounds with guitars and stuff, then listen to the version that I mentioned above that you can download on iTunes, BUT b[...]



Lutheran Pastor/Musician Herb Brokering died on Saturday, November 7, 2009

2009-11-09T13:57:36.701-06:00

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I only met Herb once, at a book signing he did in the Augsburg Fortress Bookstore at the ELCA Youth Gathering in St. Louis in 2000. Sometimes I tell that story when I'm playing a concert, and I always say "I felt like I was meeting Paul McCartney."

Herb has been a role model of mine since the LBW was published in 1978 and I heard his hymn "Earth and All Stars" for the first time. Not long after that I began to hear stories about Herb at Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp, where I was a camper. Our camp director, Pastor Cy Warmanen, would frequently tell stories about his adventures with Herb on trips behind the Iron Curtain, when they'd play guitar and sing illegal hymns out in public and in the East Berlin subway system, despite armed guards standing around. Those kinds of stories made a big impression on me when I was in middle school.

Later on, when I was in my early 20s, I had the opportunity to make a couple trips myself over to former East Germany and Poland. Frequently when I'd arrive in a village, the locals would show me around and say "Herb Brokering and a group of American youth built this church building" or youth center, or camp site, etc. Herb's impact was staggering, and everybody loved him.

Herb's hymn "Earth and All Stars" is probably the one hymn that I have sung most in my entire life. It's a huge favorite of mine, and I never get sick of it. I've played it in concert ever since I started playing solo two decades ago. In fact, there's even a clip on YouTube of me playing it...I'll post it below. Thanks Herb, for making the world a better place, and much more fun, joyous, and musical.

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Facebook is killing this blog.

2009-11-03T21:41:54.185-06:00

(image) I don't recall exactly when I started using Facebook. Maybe around Christmastime of last year?

Anyway, in 2009 I noticed that Facebook was THE best way for me to promote concerts, share updates with fans from the road, talk about my musical work and family life, etc. Plus it's waaaay faster and easier than blogging. So I've not been very motivated to slog it out on the blog lately.

However, I continue to be inspired by the bloggers I do encounter. Last month I went to an emerging church conference called Christianity 21 and there I heard from dozens of folks who are serious bloggers, and who really do nice online writing. And I have friends and acquaintances, too, who write excellent blogs. The new post from Nate Houge is a fine, fine example.

So what is the future of Protestant Blog Ethic? I think it'll continue to be a place where I post and comment on YouTube clips (watch for a new clip of my band playing "Continental Divide" coming later this evening), and I suppose I'll always resurface for the occasional long and detailed rant, when the content won't fit in a Facebook status update. If you want regular and concise updates about my musical adventures, my best suggestion is to become a FAN at my Facebook musician Page.

Of course, I'd love to have the time to blog seriously each day. I've got pages and pages of content in my brain just waiting to blow. Some things I'd love to dig into:
+ the big vote at ELCA Churchwide Assembly this past August
+ reviews of my favorite albums
+ thoughts on the music industry
+ discussions on the craft of songwriting/recording
If any of you reading this are big showbiz/media sugardaddies, and you'd like to pay me full time to blog (and help me cover a few hours of childcare each day), help me be an online journalist, seek out and cultivate readership, etc., I'd love to do it. Email me at rundman@gmail.com if you'd like to make me the next Diablo Cody. Or whatever. Until then, I'll try to maintain my indie-folk showbiz career while changing the preschooler's diapers and getting my kindergartener off to the bus stop. And maybe blogging once in a while.



My version of the Styx song "Come Sail Away" appears on cover song blog!

2009-08-13T15:16:12.368-06:00

(image) A year or so ago I discovered a really cool music blog that specializes in folky cover tunes, Cover Lay Down. I've been introduced to some great acts and awesome recordings on this site, and I'm pleased to announce that this week they're featuring me, along with some other excellent folk artists like Richard Shindell, Ollabelle, and Tim O'Brien.

The cover song of mine is "Come Sail Away," originally by Styx, and taken from the Styx Tribute album Too Much Time On Our Hands, released back in 2003. CLICK HERE to go to Cover Lay Down and download the MP3, which will be available for a short period of time.

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If you like my version of this Styx classic, I'd encourage you to buy the album itself, by clicking here and getting it from my webpage. The tribute CD features some amazing covers by some of my favorite musicians and friends, including Beki Hemingway, Echelon, Jeff Krebs, Dag Juhlin, and my personal fave on the album, Tom Freund and Jon Brion doing "Blue Collar Man."



detailed interview at "Killing the Buddha," and extra questions below

2017-05-27T11:46:30.660-06:00

Last month the online religion magazine Killing The Buddha published what is probably the most in-depth interview with me that's ever been conducted. The journalist was Canadian writer Anthony Easton who asked me a ton of really good questions. We had a lot of fun digging into a whole bunch of issues. CLICK HERE to read the official interview.As if the officially published interview wasn't detailed and strange enough, I happen to have the copies of some other questions I was asked that were edited out of the final version. You can read them below. Thanks to Anthony and the KTB folks for such an interesting discussion! (By the way, this interview was conducted in August of 2008.)So, the first question that my editor asked me to ask, he is worried that you are not nearly famous enough for a feature. How famous are you exactly?Paul Westerberg has a great lyric that goes “they ask him ‘are you famous?’ / ‘you’ve answered that, you know’.” My answer would be, not very. However, I think that whatever fame I’ve accumulated is thanks to niche appeal. Among Gen-X Lutherans in church leadership roles, I’m pretty well known. There’s some overlap in the other mainline denominations as well. I’m also getting some wonderful support from the Finnish-American community, who are just discovering me in the past year or so. One sub-set of folks who I’m always glad to have interested in my work are those people who follow suspiciously Christian fringe-Americana bands like Vigilantes of Love, Victoria Williams, Over the Rhine, Bruce Cockburn, etc.You are a member of ELCA, which is is considered the more liberal of the Lutheran synods. Do you notice a leveling off or a decline of membership? Do you think the mainline protestant denominations are dying? What do you make of the conservative instinct, that suggests this is because of a lack of moral rigor?In my travels around the country, I don’t notice the decline, although all the statistics say that it’s happening. I don’t think the membership shrinkage can be blamed on “liberalism”...what I’ve seen is that the proudly liberal and the proudly conservative congregations are growing. I think that any place that clearly, publicly takes a stand in either direction will draw new people. My own congregation here in the Twin Cities is one of the most progressive in the ELCA, and our membership is booming. We’re having trouble finding places for people to sit on Sunday mornings. Seems to me that the way to drive away your members is to be passionless and boring and have nothing challenging to say in any direction.And if that is the case, what do you make of Ratzinger circling the wagons, and the Episcopalians in the middle of schism, considering you were founded as heretical?I don’t know much about the Catholic situation, but it’s interesting watching the Anglican community dealing with their issues. I suppose it could be a preview of what could happen to us Lutherans. One thing I like about the ELCA is that our relatively young denomination is the result of a couple hundred years of denominational mergers...different kinds of Lutherans agreeing to team up. It would be a drag to introduce a split after such a nice run of cooperation. We move really really slow when it comes to social issues, and that’s annoying for us progressives, but I do think we’re making headway. I guess we can learn from the Catholics that a couple decades of wait[...]



Insomniaccomplishments CD review in Christian Century magazine

2009-05-04T20:47:31.328-06:00

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The May 5th issue of Christian Century magazine features a review of my Insomniaccomplishments CD, along with reviews of the new U2 and Billy Bragg projects. Click to read the whole thing.

The text for the review is below. A shout-out for Beki Hemingway, and a mention of Matt Patrick's delicious production work on "I thought you were mine!"

Jaunty Minneapolis Lutheran-rocker Jonathan Rundman returns with an album spurred by bouts of insomnia. The sleepless nights were worth it, as Rundman demonstrates on a delicious minor-key rock hymn "If You Have a Question": "When you lie awake at 3 a.m., trouble running through your mind / You don't need to be afraid to ask, you can leave your fear behind." The prolific Rundman delivers 18 solid songs. He's joined by Denver singer-songwriter Beki Hemingway on the tender ballad "I Thought You Were Mine"; listen for the instrumental break teaming toy piano with mellotron.