Sacred Discontent: Behind the Album The Broken Seasons with Adam Whipple

Adam Whipple plays a house show in East Tennessee.

Loyal readers might remember we ran a review from John Barber of Adam Whipple’s new album The Broken Seasons here a few months ago. I would recommend you read it first, then come back and hear from the artist about the philosophy and planning behind the album and the songs. This isn’t meant to be a review, but a conversation that hopefully will give us a glimpse into his creation process. Then click on over to PledgeMusic and help this album drop into a world that needs its honesty. There are only a few days left.

John Palmer Gregg: First. This is an amazing album, and not just a collection of great songs, but it seems well put together. Awesome job man.

Adam Whipple: Thank you!

JPG: Can you briefly describe your songwriting process? Do you start with the lyrics, the music?

AW: I tend to woolgather a lot. Bits of lyrics will come, sometimes verses or choruses or bridges, and I record it or write down a sketch of the melody and let it percolate. The days of entire songs arriving like lightning are either gone or very rare. Sometimes a whole verse or two will show up. That happens a lot when I’m driving, when it’s inconvenient (or illegal?) to write anything down. Once in a while, music comes first, but I get so enamored with music that it often gets hard to see past it. Those times when music arrives first, it seems to open up lyrics that were already there, usually about things I’m dealing with at the time.

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Artist Highlight: Adam Whipple

Don’t listen to Adam Whipple’s new record if you’re going through something hard. I mean, seriously, don’t. Don’t listen unless you’re ready to work through those complex, deep-down feelings inside you. But, if you are ready, then oh, boy; The Broken Seasons will deeply reward you.

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Me and Rich and Jesus

I was in my parents’ kitchen when I heard the news. It was twenty years ago, but I still remember standing in the tight space between the fridge and the stove, surrounded by the warm browns of the tiny floor tiles and cupboards, thinking that a light was gone. Rich Mullins had died.

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Kids’ Music, for Grown-Ups

Many of us here are Foundling House are both parents and appreciators of fine music. This means we try to pass a love of good music on to our children, though this can be a difficult task at times. There exists a vast and nigh-impregnable jungle of subpar kids’ music out there—all of which will go unnamed here. Suffice it to say, it’s often designed to appeal quickly to children with the bare offering a danceable beat. Or it’s overly sentimental—the sonic and lyrical equivalent of trying to stand on a waterbed.

We remember being kids in the seventies and eighties, and some of us raised kids or had young siblings during the nineties. The Muppets and Sesame Street reigned supreme, with their apparent rock influences pushing into the music. Then there were shows like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which had that stellar piano combo and compositions put together by jazz great Johnny Costa, and later Blue’s Clues, which featured percussion-based jazz with cool world elements. The creators of these shows took obvious care in selecting music which was as good as the entertainment value of the productions. Plus, they seemed to think that kids could actually handle listening to excellent music.

The notion that kids need decent music as much as adults is home territory for us. Therefore, we’re taking the time to point you in the direction of a pair of wonderful offerings from a couple different artists.

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The WordPlayers Present: Little Women

For the fourth year in a row, The WordPlayers are bringing a musical production to the historic Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville. Louisa May Alcott’s beloved story about the adventures of the four March sisters will be brought to life this weekend in Little Women: The Broadway Musical.

It’s fitting that this particular production, being based on a novel that’s all about family, is in many ways a family affair. The show is being directed by veteran WordPlayer Terri Lloyd, and her husband Matthew is the Stage Manager. Lloyd also has four children and a niece involved in the musical, which premieres this Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re not a regular family,” says Lloyd. “Regular families go to soccer practice. We take broadsword lessons.” Lessons that came in handy when choreographing a fight scene written by the headstrong Jo March, the second of the four siblings.

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Ordinary Time

It somehow makes sense that The Mosleys marked the year of their new record with a family move, from the only home their children have known, to a different place in a different state. Ordinary Time is an eleven-song journey through the crucibles of ache and joy brought on by family trials and the road. Produced with Phil Madeira and Jimmy Abegg, legendary songwriters and good friends of Stephen and Rachel Mosley, the record came out of a successful crowdfunding campaign (thank you to those of you who gave!) and a continual journey of writing, playing, and parsing out what it would look like to be singer-songwriters.

Not to say that the journey hasn’t been marked by moments of excitement. There was winning both the famed Eddie’s Attic songwriter shootout and the competition at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground. They were the artist of the month on NPR’s Folk Alley. And of course, there was the opening slot for Air Supply at Chastain Park. Yet the new record didn’t necessarily emerge from these places.

For all intents and purposes, Ordinary Time was born in an Airstream trailer, rocketing somewhere through the American West like a satellite still longing for the home ground of the South.

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