Five Minutes with Benny Hester

10653388_837501642948470_2509609590940471191_nOne day, I’ll look back over my life, and recounting a list of the coolest things I ever got to do, I’ll recall being on the phone with one of the most influential songwriting figures of the last half-century, Benny Hester. It almost doesn’t seem possible, that a relatively “local” guy like me, could not only interview, but have a conversation with someone like Benny Hester. That can’t possibly be how it works, right?!

But apparently it does. I can’t begin to tell you how nervous I was when my phone rang. “Unknown” appeared on the screen, although I knew who it would be. But as soon as Benny started conversing in that soft-spoken, approachable voice, I was at home. I only got nervous again, after hanging up, realizing what I’d just done. Yeah…this was a banner day. A good day. 🙂 Continue reading

Five Minutes with Mélanie Watt

Melanie WattIf you have kids, chances are you’ve heard of (because they’ve heard of) Scaredy Squirrel. Your kids have almost certainly either read the award-winning series of best-selling books or watched the shows on Cartoon Network. Or both.

If you’ve heard of Scaredy Squirrel and you don’t have kids, well…maybe you’re just a kid at heart. Which is also cool. 🙂 And I’m sure is just fine with our next FOTF guest. Continue reading

Five Minutes with John Elefante

John ElefanteI can distinctly recall, way back in “the old days” (as my kids call them) of the 80’s, I was sitting in my room just starting to play through a brand-new compilation album of Christian Rock music (Soaring Vol 2), and listening to Valerie, by Sweet Comfort Band. I didn’t even know who those guys were (shame on me), but this particular song jumped up and got a hold of me. It was perfect. The sound and the music were amazing. Definitely an aha moment for me as a musician. I grabbed my liner notes to find out who the producers were: John & Dino Elefante. Never heard of ’em before.

But I never forgot them.

Later, I saw the Elefante brothers’ names on Sweet Comfort Band’s Perfect Timing album (one of my all-time favorites) that Valerie inspired me to grab, as well as a LOT of other releases that I gravitated to. Obviously, the connection between amazing songs and the Elefante boys was a strong one. And with good reason. They were amazing. Continue reading

Five Minutes with Ty Murray

TyMurrayTy Murray. Ty dadgum Murray. What guy out there does not think a world champion, bull-riding, Rodeo Hall of Fame cowboy is the most awesome dude alive? Ty Murray. Holy cow. I seriously got to talk to Ty Murray today.

In fifth grade, when asked, “If you could do anything in your life, what would it be?” most of his classmates gave the usual replies, like astronaut, firefighter, doctor.  But what did Ty have to say?  “I want to beat Larry Mahan’s record,” referring to the six-time All-Around World Rodeo Champion. And so he did. Mahan would one day even present him with the engraved trophy buckle, as Ty was inducted into the HOF. Continue reading

Five Minutes with J Patrick Lewis

JPatrickLewisHow can you not love a guy whose writing includes a book called Hippopotamustn’t? J Patrick Lewis, author, poet, a twin, and a former Professor of Economics (really), is indeed the talent behind nearly 100 children’s books. And one of my very favorites.

I apparently am not alone, because the literary world has honored Pat with award after notable award, hailing from organizations like the American Library Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. The one however, that stands out to me, is the designation of U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate. Wow…that’s like, one of those honors that becomes part of your definition. Continue reading

Five Minutes with Dan Gutman

READThe first thing you’ll probably do when you visit Children’s Author Dan Gutman’s website (…is smile. And that’s the crux of Dan’s whole persona, IMHO. He’s a cool guy. A fun guy. Not like goofy-fun, but the kind of dude you could totally hang out with for the entire day. The kind of guy you might even want to emulate. Definitely the kind of guy who makes you smile.

I have a special affinity for children’s authors. They’re a breed unto themselves, and one that (sometimes, unintentionally) has taken on the responsibility for inspiring a passion in reading among our kids. It’s a noble calling, and not one to be taken lightly. So in that regard, I already liked Dan, even before our interview. But I quickly discovered that the author I thought I knew well, was way beyond what I had previously learned about him. Continue reading

Five Minutes With Scott Krippayne

krippayne_s_1_500-500x283I remember hearing Sometimes He Calms The Storm for the first time. It was a gut-punch wake-up call for me, as an aspiring musician. If there was ever evidence that perfection could be attained, Scott Krippayne had left no doubt. The melody, the arrangement, the production, the story, the voice. It was the perfect musical storm (pun, totally intended).

My view of popular songwriting has been markedly impacted by Scott’s body of work, over the years. A dozen-plus albums. Multiple #1 singles. Dove Award nominations, and American Songwriter’s Top Christian Artist of the Year. Over 150 of his songs have been recorded by other Christian artists including Point of Grace, John Tesh, Avalon, Jaci Velasquez, FFH, True Vibe and Sandi Patty. He also co-wrote the song This Is My Now, used on American Idol Season 6. Oh, and That’s What Faith Can Do by Kutless…yeah, that’s a SK song too. Continue reading

Five Minutes With Rachel Weaver

Rachel Weaver 3Author, Rachel Weaver has exploded on the literary scene with her debut novel Point of Direction. An Oprah Top Ten, An ABA Top Ten Debut, praises from NPR, Library Journal and Alaska Magazine…it has certainly established Rachel’s presence as an artist who has much to say, and an undeniable gift of expression with which to say it.

Although residing currently in the Denver area, both Rachel’s life and work are steeped in the beauty and mystery of Alaska. Point of Direction may be described as a “debut”, but what we may see as a first step, is many times just the first publically-lauded step of a much longer journey. Nearly ten years ago, Rachel received the Katie O’Brien Scholarship for Fiction. And she’s continued on from there, writing and developing her fiction chops, receiving numerous other awards and accolades, and becoming today, a highly respected author with what many hear as a voice for AK. Continue reading

Five Minutes with Andy McKee

Andy McKeeI remember the first time I stumbled by chance onto the “heavy mental” music of the late and very great Michael Hedges. After Beyond Boundaries I never viewed the acoustic guitar the same again. Over the years, there have been many others who have followed in his footsteps, but only as pale comparisons. That is, until Andy McKee.

Like millions of others, I sat entranced, as I was later turned on to Andy via his groundbreaking, viral YouTube videos. It was like hearing MH all over again. Alternate tunings galore, two-handed tapping, percussion and noodle-goodle fingerings. Continue reading

Five Minutes with Bryan Duncan

540x340Over the years, I’ve had the chance to interview and meet some truly remarkable people. And while all of the interviews are cherished events and each subject is specifically chosen, there are some that are just special. OK…some are more than “special”, I must confess.

Here’s the deal. Not everyone gets the chance, but on occasion, I get the opportunity to connect with one of my lifetime heroes. And that was the case in this FOTF. Bryan Duncan is not only possibly the most talented vocalist with one of the purest and most soulful voices I’ve ever heard (comparable only to the late Brad Delp, of Boston), but his writing, his musicianship, his work and faith, and his lifestory are inspiring to me, each in its own. All together though, he is in a league, all his own. Did I mention, the man can sing…? Continue reading