This last weekend was not only the start of a new summer conference season, but the launch of a new ministry… Steubenville Worship!

For over the past decade, I have led worship at the summer conferences as “Bob Rice and the worship team” or “Bob Rice and the band”. Some summers we came up with names (I think one of them was “Bob Rice and the Random Knives”) but for the most part the way the worship team was titled gave the implication that it really about me with a bunch of other musicians who back me up. However, that doesn’t reflect the reality of who we are or what we do.

I’m thrilled to lead the group, but I’m also just a part of it. Many don’t realize that Dan Bozek, who plays bass on stage, also acts as the music director for the group and does an amazing job in helping everyone play the right parts. Everyone in the group contributes in one way or another. It really isn’t about, and has never been about, one person.

As I was putting the finishing touches on a live CD (now available!), I had to seriously think about who to put in the “artist” category. Though I sing most of the songs and also wrote a few of them, it is hardly a “Bob Rice” CD, like those that primarily feature my original compositions. I’m delighted that many others in the band get featured on the album, and to be honest in the future I hope that happens even more.

So I figured this was as good a time as any to make a name change: Steubenville Worship. I’m excited to see what the Lord does with it in the coming years!

Check out the nifty webpage I designed at SteubenvilleWorship.com. It has a list of the music we played last weekend (and will have set lists for all the music we do this summer), brief bios for all the musicians involved, but most importantly you can listen to OUR BRAND NEW ALBUM! Hope you are blessed by it.

 

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In June and July, I was blessed to do 12 conferences! Six of them were Steubenville youth conferences (I hosted three and led worship for three). I even got off campus this year by hosting the first Steubenville Toronto conference. It was a truly amazing and incredible experience.

One of the most exciting things for me every summer is the band I get to play with. All amazingly talented, all wonderful people. They are (left to right) Andre, me, Ally (the secret band member—she ran lyrics for us), Dan, Emily, Taylor, Andrew, Kevin, and Nick. They were fantastic and exceeded all expectations.

More than a few people asked about the blog and the lack of posts over the past months. First of all, I’m glad you care! The simple answer is that I’m in full writing mode to finish my dissertation, so things like blog posts have taken a back seat. But I’ll try to not be too silent. See, I’m posting now! That’s a start, isn’t it?

Hope everyone is having an amazing summer!

BobRice-TheGospelAccordiontoI’m pretty stunned I haven’t made a bigger deal of this. My new CD, “The Gospel Accordion to Bob Rice,” came out a week before Thanksgiving, but with NCYC, Thanksgiving, the last week of school, and now I’m at parish mission in Hiawatha! Iowa, it’s just occurred to me that I never really did much to let you all know that the CD is now available! I can’t express my gratitude enough to the 113 people who made it happen by supporting the project on Kickstarter.

You can purchase a physical copy or download the MP3s by going HERE. And for the rest of this month, you can download the MP3s for just 5 bucks! (You can also pay twice as much at the iTunes store by going HERE.)

But wait… there’s more!

The past few months I’ve gotten a number of emails and Facebook messages asking where people could get copies of my earlier two CDs. I was happily surprised that for people who supported me on Kickstarter enough to get a second CD, the most popular requests were for “Behold the Lamb” and “No Other,” my first and second CDs.

CD-BTLNOSo they are finally available as downloadable MP3s! And I combined them into one album so you can get both CDs for the price of one. Get them both for just $9.99 by clicking HERE. Sorry, they’re not available as physical CDs, just downloads.

You can get also the double CD on iTunes HERE, but I’m a little ticked at iTunes right now, because they’re selling the CD for $19.99!?! Apparently when I said it was a double CD they automatically charged it twice as much as a single CD, but that was the whole point of me putting it down as one CD in the first place! And there’s no way to change it. Very frustrating.

Ah well, at least they’re available for those who had a copy back in the good ol days and it got melted in the sun, left in a college dorm room, or stuck in the car CD player (those are all actual stories I’ve heard in the past few weeks.) So take better care of them this time, all right?

It’s really exciting for me to make available the new as well as the old. I’m just grateful that people still care to hear the music I make. You are all a great blessing to me.

Enjoy the music!

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 4.02.37 PMDid you know in Hawaii that the story of “The Little Drummer Boy” is re-told as “The Little Ukelele Boy?” Probably not, because I just made that up.

But if there was a story about “The Little Ukulele Boy,” it would star Kyle Heimann.

Kyle is the answer to the question, “Who did that amazing artwork on your latest CD?” He’s also half of the dynamic duo of POPPLE, a wonderful Catholic evangelistic ministry that travels around the country sharing their gifts and talents to bring others closer to God. Simply put: this is a guy worth supporting.

Kyle is doing a Kickstarter project to raise some money for a CD that would feature his ukulele playing—and he’s very good at it. If that sounds interesting to you, and you’re able to support a really amazing guy, then you can check out his page by going HERE.

20130607-201541.jpgWhen people ask me about my music, my usual joke is, “I’m a big fan of me. I have all my CDs.” The truth is that I rarely hear my own music unless 1) my kids ask for it, or 2) it comes up on my iTunes shuffle. But there is a third category: unless I’ve just recorded it and I’m in the process of mixing it. Then I listen to it all the time.

Well, I’m happy to say this week I approved the final mix and today it’s off to the manufacturer. My 15 year old son is happy about that too, because when I announced it at dinner he commented he was getting sick of it. Kids say the darndest things, don’t they? Hope he wasn’t expecting to get a car for his 16th.

Seriously, though—I don’t blame him. The last week was focused on adjusting small things that make a big difference to me but probably not a huge difference to others. Were this purely a commercial venture I would have said, “it’s fine” at the first mix, with the attitude, “nobody will notice.” But for me, it’s art. It’s prayer. And it’s worth all the effort I can give it.

But a time comes when “the perfect becomes the enemy of the good.” I realize I’m listening way too closely and I’m just looking for things to tweak. I play it to some friends I trust who say it sounds great. So I hit the “send” button.  And then I fast from listening to it.

Because all I want to do is listen to it. After all, some of these songs have been in my head for many years! It’s amazing that in these few short weeks they’ve come to life and sound as good as they do. But in about three weeks, numerous boxes from Disc Makers will arrive at my doorstep. I’ll open the box, and there will be the project I’ve put so much time, energy, money, and prayer into. And I don’t want to be sick of it by then. I want to have a similar level of enthusiasm as someone who supported the CD through Kickstarter or picked it up at an event that I played at, who rip off the cellophane and put it in their CD player or listen through their phone. To put it simply, I want to share in that experience with everybody. Because previously I’ve been listening to how prominent the bass levels are or if I should add or remove a harmony to a song. But then, I’ll just listen to the music.

I don’t have a specific date yet but we’re on track for the first or second (more likely the second) week of November. I have a gig in El Paso on November 15th, and that will be the first place the disc will be available. Hopefully it will be up on iTunes by that time, but Apple doesn’t give specific dates to independent artists like myself.

It’s coming. It sounds awesome. I looks amazing. And I am filled with gratitude for all those who supported this project. 

IMG_2935Regular readers of my blog (as well as Facebook friends and Twitter followers) know that for the past two months I’ve been fundraising for my newest CD, “The Gospel Accordion to Bob Rice.” It ended at 11:59 PM last night and the final total is $12,275—over three thousand more than I had originally asked!

The word “grateful” doesn’t seem like it conveys enough emotion for how I feel right now, but it’s the best I can come up with. Other words: jubilant, humbled, thrilled, excited…

By hitting the $12K mark, everything I could have hoped for the CD is coming true. Better musicians. Extra songs. Upgraded packaging that will include a lyric booklet. This went from the “CD I can’t afford,” to “the best CD I could ever make!”

And it’s all because of your support. People gave big and small, posted links to the project on their Facebook and Twitter pages, told friends about it, and prayed for it’s success. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I should probably add, “overwhelmed” to my word list.

I feel like the steward at the Wedding of Cana. My wine had run out. And so Christ showed up and gave something even better than I could have done on my own.

I’m so excited to get into the studio and begin to share this music with you. But I know that for most of you, you weren’t supporting a project. You were supporting me and my family. And that’s what makes this “success” so special.

So again, from me and my family, thanks.

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As I write from New Hampshire in my parent’s house (vacation time with my family,) it’s hard to believe it was just a day ago I was playing the final song of the summer at the Defending the Faith Conference.

The final conferences of the summer are always a high point. Wednesday to Friday was the “Applied Biblical Studies Conference,” and Friday to Sunday was the “Defending the Faith Conference.” Both were a tour-de-force of some of the best Catholic theologians, apologists, and inspirational speakers in the country. Participants ranged from all over the world (even a large group from Australia!) and the numbers were higher than ever.

While I love the energy and enthusiasm of the young people at the Steubenville Youth Conferences, I’m always impressed by the passion of the adults at the other adult conferences. These are men and women, living in the world, trying to be seed for the Gospel in the culture. They come hungry for fellowship, for worship, and for insight on how to live their faith more boldly in a world that is often against them. It’s a joy to lead worship for such amazing people!

For those that went, thank you for all you do. And a special thanks to all those who went out of their way to thank me for the music. It was my pleasure! Jennie and I were also very touched how at every adult conference this summer (and even some of the youth!) someone came up and gave us a boy baby gift!!! That’s what I truly love about the Steubenville summer conferences. It’s not a room of strangers interested in a similar topic; it’s a family reunion united in faith.

Some have asked about the music I played at the conference(s), and you can find that information in an earlier blog I posted here. 

Also, there’s just two days left to support my new CD, “The Gospel Accordion to Bob Rice.” I’m just $180 away from being able to add another song to the project, and another $1000 away from being able to include a lyrics booklet with each CD! That would be amazing. If you can help, you can learn more about it here.

God bless you all!

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 8.59.18 AMThis is the one “true” accordion song off the upcoming CD. What you hear is what it is (except I can play it better—it was a challenge to do a good take between napping baby, loud kids, etc!) Just a boy and his accordion, praising the Lord.

The words are from Psalm 95. Those of you who pray the Liturgy of Hours know that it’s the standard psalm to start the day. It is so rich in it’s imagery and message. It doesn’t just praise God and submit to His guidance, it begs that we wouldn’t be like the hard-hearted Israelites who saw all of God’s works and still wouldn’t obey. No wonder the Church prays it every morning!

I always have great reasons to sing a psalm of joy, and one of those reasons is that last week we made the minimum goal of $9,000 for the Kickstarter campaign to fund my new CD, “The Gospel Accordion to Bob Rice.” It’s going to happen! Currently, the project is at $10,400, which really blows me away. That means I can fly in my good friend, Katie Rose (who sang with me on “Nowhere Else To Go” and “I Shall Be Healed”) to lend her incredible voice to the CD. At $11,000 I’ll be able to add more music, and at $12,000 I’ll be able to add a lyric book to accompany the CD, which would be very cool.

The campaign ends one week from today, so if you’d like to contribute, you can do so by going HERE.

Thanks again to everyone who has made this project happen. You did it! And now, let’s praise the Lord…

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 5.17.43 PMThis is another instance of how the idea behind the song ended up nothing like the song itself.

Believe it or not, the inspiration for this song came from wanting to write something beautiful about the liturgy. But I imagined it to be, well, more liturgical. To be clear, this song might be about the liturgy, but it is certainly not for the liturgy!

I was at Mass one day and the words of the Eucharistic prayer really spoke to me: “May you see and love in us what you see and love in Him.” At Mass, we participate in Christ’s perfect prayer and sacrifice to the Father.

“For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son” (John 3:16.) Hardly a fair trade! The Father gave the Prince of Peace for lowly paupers like us. I started getting so excited about this incredible act of love that my brain went from “reverent worship” to “excited punk rock.” And that’s how this song came to be.

I’m hoping to record this song on my next CD, “The Gospel Accordion to Bob Rice,” but I need your help. There’s two more weeks of the fundraising campaign and we’re almost there! So if you can, please make a donation to create the CD. You can get an autographed CD, exclusive T-shirt, or even your name in the CD insert!

I want to thank the many people who worked hard to make this video. First of all, there’s my amazing band: Amanda Enriquez and Emily Mislan on background vocals, Andre Villenueve on keys (he’s just there to look good,) Matthew Fox on violin, Dan Bozek on bass, Andrew Laubacher on guitar, and Kevin Mahon on drums. Thanks to the people who ran the cameras and Kelly Butler who put it all together. But the folks who  make the video rock are the 2,200 amazing teens who really got into it! Thanks everybody!