This is a page for Reviews I've written on Books, Music, Movies Etc.

***                                     ***                               ***

Posted October 27, 2013

It was a packed house once the doors opened for all ticket-holders at the Duck Room of the famous Blueberry Hill, on the Delmar Loop in St. Louis, MO, Friday October 25, 2013.

The evening was filled with friendly faces, married couples, longtime concert-goers and friends.

The atmosphere of the room was much like a dimly lit living room, having all the trappings of a classic wooden-floored bar erected in the mid-to-late 19-somethings... Walls of free-styled maroon paint back-dropped the glass-encased wooden duck displays. A trophy-case full of ducks from Daffy, to all those known ducks I am not paid enough to name. So this is where they go for a drink. ;) J/k... But, seriously... it was a quaint setting for all those present that night. 

I brought my mom and brother-in law. Mom was more than welcomed by the band members' smiling faces as I found her a comfortable place to rest on a brown metal, (with orange 1970s-esque) upholstery chair. Other fans stood and mingled with one another.

Everything felt very clean and polished inside the venue. Jars later joked from stage of the squeaky clean bar, and asked us, that even if we were just getting soda, to "tip well" so they might leave a good impression to return.

What had happened just before the opening of the doors to the general public at 8pm, was a VIP Meet and Greet event. Those of us lucky VIP ticket-holders, or Jars of Clay Pre-Sale orderers, who bought the package pass deals, enjoyed meeting and fellowshipping with our long-time-no-see family. Jars of Clay. 

Fans lined up to speak and tell their stories of the life-impact the Jars had all made on them. Some stories of struggle, overcoming, and holding on for dear life to Jesus through the influence of the Jars' music and trusting in God. One fan shared that Jars' music is the "only music [she] can listen to with any meaning[...]" Other fans appeared joyous to finally see their Jars friends after so long. Stories of where and how their lives and their faith has brought them over the years. Personal testimonies and many thank-yous were extended to the guys of the band. 

Finally. It was show-time. 

To open, a new St. Louis-based band called Zigo (made-up of a husband-wife team, Josiah and Becky Zigo, which Friday night, had a drummer and a guitarist) sang harmonic melodies of their true love for one another, the uniqueness of their Savior, and their longing for their Heaven Home. During the love songs, this genuine couple beamed with adoration and admiration at each other with each word. Listeners of Norah Jones, David Crowder Band and Micheal Gungor might enjoy this similar style. (See Zigo's ReverbNation page ,Twitter, and Facebook pages here). 

~                                 ~                               ~                                                    ~

Up next, was a performer named Trent Dabbs. He is known among the locals in Nashville. A Mississippi native that has helped several Christian, folk and other musicians get their feet wet in the recording industry. His stellar wide-range vocals, unashamed folk-dance moves, and strikingly Haseltine-like mannerisms made him a stand-out act. 
His ever-ready 'skyped' band was also 'on-call' for back-up on the projector over his shoulder. 
What a band! ;) 
Those who like Jars of Clay's front man, Dan Haseltine's vocals, or mysterious and edgy rhythms with a raw throwback 1960s folk twist, should like Trent Dabbs. (See Trent Dabbs'  website ,Twitter, and SoundCloud pages here).


And then, once Trent had encouraged the audience to get on our feet, and join him in his newest song about humanity no longer being strangers, (watch for this on his next recording! No One's Stranger)  -which received standing applause - it was time for Jars of Clay. 

The set-list opened with a spirited portrayal of After the Fight (from Inland, see my earlier Inland album review post below), then followed with Work, Liquid, Eyes Wide Open, Loneliness and Alcohol, Skin & Bones, Hard Times, Fall Asleep, Like a Child (with audience participation during the chorus), Flood, Age of Immature Mistakes and ending with Inland

However...the audience cheered all the more, until one by one the guys returned to the stage, to not only play their "possible encore list of 3 songs, but they continued the night until the audience was filled to the brim with songs, cheers, happiness and ending the show with final bows at 11:57pm.  

After the encore before the last leg of songs, front man Dan Haseltine spoke about Jars of Clay's founding of the BloodWater Mission. A ministry that sprang from the principal that $1 would give an African clean water for a year. The organization was founded to help overcome the HIV/AIDs and water crises in Africa. Haseltine spoke of how it was not the facts and figures that compelled him and the band to act, but it was the heart and the people struggling to improve their communities when Jars of Clay visited in the early 2000s, that fueled the fire to begin a ministry. He explained that since the inception of the ministry, that 900,000 lives in Africa have been impacted and changed through BloodWater Mission. To get involved, visit the ministry website at and They can also be found at Facebook and Twitter here.

These, my friends, are the hands and feet of Jesus. Walking among our world and speaking the peace of Christ through their lives, passions, strengths, talents and motivations.

And this opens to why Jesus came. Jesus has called Himself Physician. He came to heal the broken hearted. To restore sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are bruised/oppressed. (see verses below)

Luke 4:18
(KJV) says

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"

All that being said. The concert felt like the community of believers I wish were my neighbors. Yet, I continue to strive to be that type of neighbor to my community. Songs written by Jars of Clay over the years speak to victims of child abuse, emotional distress, those suffering from anxiety, restlessness, abusive relationships and so many more. 

All these effects are the ripples of sin's presence in mankind from the first sin of Adam and Eve. 

But here are some words of encouragement...
While we all live, in the day-to-day holding fast and listening with our ear to the ground for the whispered voice, the soft or thundered steps and the final loud calling of our Savior, we trust God's promises spoken in His Word with the blind faith that every sod tilled, every dry ground wherein we have cast a seed; Every day that we suffer for the Name of Jesus Christ, will be counted all joy now, and in the restoration of all things. (Read this passage of scripture from BibleHub for the full context )

A short portion is here:

2 Corinthians 11

"24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."

Paul goes on to say...

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

"8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

~                                 ~                                                 ~                                      ~

So, friends. If you are weak. If life and the world has dragged you down. And Shipwrecked you, to where you feel drained of your uttermost will to just get up out of bed in the mornings, take Heart. Jesus has overcome the world. And when we are weak, Jesus is very strong. So no matter what the day-to-day feelings of 'wasted attempts' at striving your life's every-moments in and out of work, in and out of school, to and from your local church, stores, coffee shops, neighborhoods - God Will Lift Up Your Head.

Because. While we may be Skin and Bones. We pray He keeps our Eyes Wide Open to His callings. While we continue to love in the Hard Times. He restores us every now and then by the Shelter of our Christian brothers and sisters, and we Lay It Down with faith Like a Child. While we live in the Age of Immature Mistakes, God keeps drawing us Inland, Closer to His side.

While we feel like a Dead Man, from our Loneliness, and our Work, when we give up wrestling God's mastery, After the Fight - when we let Him let us be Frail...we see the Flood of Liquid He has poured out for us to save and redeem us from sin and ourselves. And we never want to Fall Asleep to His goodness, Glory and kindness He has shown us over our lives. There is No Greater Love than His. Hence, we can Run in The Night with our Hand inside His.

We look back at our lives and see a beautiful fabric work of what God has done and the extraordinary and elaborate results that we had, at once, only dreamed through a darkened glass. We see and sing out a Love Song for a Savior who has carried us and brought to fruition every plan He has made for us. May we all walk This Road in earnest, waiting, watching, praying and listening for the day when we proclaim "Oh My God, You Were There all along! You heard All My Tears and me cry, I Need You! When I felt we are Worlds Apart!" And we say "Your Grace was sufficient, because there was Faith Enough, Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, My Heavenly, You have Amazing Grace and No One Loves Me Like You. You lifted me up out of the Crazy Times, You Surprise and Take Me Higher every day, so I'm Alright. I never had reason to be Much Afraid, I am Overjoyed. Because I asked Jesus to Forgive Me, You have given me eternal life! All the old that has passed away is Water Under The Bridge. I am finally with You in Heaven, because There Is a River I see....Let me raise my Two Hands and offer You my Hymn."

"Facebook DJ" Deb and Jars of Clay - October, 2013

Review by @drdickson1
#BlogTraveler Deb 

Deborah Ruth Dickson. Hence, the "dr" in @drdickson1 is on Twitter! "BlogTraveler Deb" has done interviews with independent Christian artists, authors and screen writers for her blog. She also spends her free time perfecting her unpublished Christian-genre screenplays.   

Artists include: Ann Gabhart, Bryan Duncan, Mali Korsten, Dan Macaulay, Christopher ShawnShaw, John Tibbs, Fourfold, Jerry T-Wack, Susan Shearer, Covenant31 and more in the works! 

  - -   -   ---              --   --                    --         ---                   ---                    -- ---                ---
Posted August 13, 2013

Celebrating Jars of Clay's PreOrder of Inland

In JUST TWO WEEKS you all will be reaping the benefits of TODAY’s Pre-Order at !!!
That is, if you get out there and buy yourself a copy! Go!... Do!... Now!
      ***                                ***
Wow. Has it really been 20 years since; “in open fields of wild flowers. She breathes the air and flies away…”I speak of Love Song for a Savior from Jars of Clay’s freshman release Jars of Clay (Essential Records, 1993). The band has been going strong and steady and filling our cups and filling the airwaves ever since. If you are a movie-goer you may have even heard that song featured in the background for a Christian Mingle commercial (played during previews) as the chorus goes; “I want to fall in love with you. I want to fall in love with you.” But make no mistake. The Jars are not just writers of simple clichéd love songs or even merely purist praise anthems. They have dared to delve deep into the realities of Christian and human living since the day “Flood” graced the charts and the day their feet left Greenville College in Greenville, IL. Their freshman release tackled child abuse, teen neglect and the love of God through His gentle mercies given through the art, picture and real sacrifice of His Son all before the band even got their feet wet in the Christian music industry. And here they go at it again with their eleventh release, guided by producer Tucker Martine. And for the first time, independent! But no less polished.

They, as any true believers, have obviously had their shares of personal and professional ups and downs, but despite it all, Jars have dared to declare what their band namesake has declared from the first time we heard it as a secret track on Jars of Clay, 1993. That is, 2 Corinthians 4:7. Which is:

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels [jars of clay], that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” KJV Bible Gateway passage
But the fact that they are Christians does not take away from their songs’ ability to connect with the inner dregs of the human condition.  

And so, without further adieu. Here is my album review.
Mark your calendars for August 27th, 2013! It is the beginning of a new step along ‘this road.’

Jars of Clay’s latest track list through the ears of Facebook DJ Deb:
(Note: These are strictly my opinions and may or may not in any way reflect the band’s testimonies or true stories behind the songs. But hear me out. I loved what I heard. All of it.)  

After the Fight – A fast-driven song. Speaks of the fight as a boxing match. It brings the listener to think of fighting the good fight; and how life’s unexpected uppercuts, wrestling angels and our own personal demons can lead us to a staggering mess.

Age of Immature Mistakes – There is an open-ness in this song that has a coldness and a drive that takes me back to Long Fall Back to Earth (2009). It is a song that I feel will connect with the present-day college students.

Reckless Forgiver – Here is a standout song. I predict this one to be the radio release to follow after album release. A perfect blend of violins (as Jars are good at using), musical ups and downs, threaded and honest visual lyrics that compete with Unforgetful You  (If I Left the Zoo, ‘99) to be the next ‘jumping’ Jars song!

Human Race – A catchy bounce and good strings. The electronics sound like what was heard much on Long Fall. A discussion of the detachment and brokenness of communication between humans despite our over excess of communications available to us.  This could be a sequel to “Oh My God” from Monsters, and a continuation of “Headphones” from Long Fall.

Love in Hard Times – This one presents a challenge. It could be relevant for early marriages or those that have been alive and struggling to thrive. The music takes you away to the same chase heard in “Don’t Stop” but in entirely new skin. It is a sweet pleaded memoriam to Tea and Sympathy from Much Afraid (1997). 

Pennsylvania – Dramatically musically different. If you could take musical instruments and make them paint a Transylvanian-esque Pennsylvania, that’s what the music does with this song. Apart from that -  Not quite sure where this one came from. The sense of a wound that is very recent. A new sound for Jars. Could be a sequel to Shipwrecked from Eleventh Hour. I just wanted to cry and pray when I heard this song. Definitely a song about devastation. A life in fragments. It’s a twice-listener.  At least! Holds a very raw honest feel.

Loneliness and Alcohol – Another new sound for Jars. Reminiscent of Skillet. The feel of a 1980’s Streets of Rage video game in the synthesization. Paints a picture of an individual closed off and angry at the world who denies love and truth and hides any possible glimpses of his or her own goodness deep behind a world of mystery and his or her hurting is swallowed down in alcohol. Interesting acoustics have subtle plink-ing sounds that provide visions of caps coming off of bottles of alcohol. Amazingly brilliant depth. A stand-alone song that could be sung by many-a bartenders to their hurting and desperate clientele.

I Don’t Want You to Forget – I am oddly captivated by the reversal in emotions of this love story of a song. I can really feel Jesus seeking someone much like a lover would seek his uncertain bride before they have become wed. But the song is a true love song in that the last line clearly states the placement of the singer’s voice was in humankind, not a Savior. This does not take away from the beautiful reflection of redeeming love against the backdrop of human love. I can see this being a beautiful pursuit that would fit well with a couple that distance is keeping apart for some reason, and they haven’t even gotten to know each other before she must leave. It’s almost like wiping away the memory of a long-lived love for a second chance or a resolve to begin again in the same relationship. And that resolve. Of putting the old away to start anew, is where the fear comes in, made evident in the chorus of “I Don’t Want You to Forget.” Another new sound. Beautiful. This would be great in a movie soundtrack.

Fall Asleep – This is a story about somebody moving to leave an old past and country dwelling place behind. A song that perhaps mourns what the previous song discussed. The call of frogs is heard throughout the song which reflects the desperate call of the lover to the loved throughout the lyrics. It discusses a couple. The loved is found longing for the sounds of city ambiance and glow of city life with tall buildings versus the sounds of crickets, frogs and glow of fireflies and stars near a woods with tall weeds. This shows the night and day contrast between the couple. But the lover begs for one last chance to enjoy the moment and one another before change must occur. The visualization in this song puts you in the grass where the couple is, and the word choice almost makes the couple sound as small as fireflies or fairies. There is a sad running theme of innocence melded with the hard realities of apathy and broken covenants. This one is also not like any old Jars songs. Very splendorous new path they have chosen musically and lyrically for this one.

Skin and Bones – The vocal siren in this song is awesome! There is a part where the vocals go into a sustain of the word “me” ending the first chorus, and then the vowel sound revisits in successive choruses. This sets off the listener to the alarm of the lover being loved starved. This song could perhaps continue the story from the last two songs. A gentle portrayal of a fleeting love. Where love itself is on a stretcher. Love is attempting to be revived but the pulse is very weak. Merely looking at lyrics, this one could be a sequel to Heart off Long Fall. This, again, is a song that makes me want to pray hard for the health of marriages and especially the redemption of them. The music is a very new approach, with Jars’ signature and classic unpredictability. It sounds nothing like old Jars music. It’s amazing. The approach of this song no doubt hits home with front man Dan Haseltine, after last summer’s heart surgery. Your fans pray for you, Dan.

Left Undone – A survey of how the church perceives people and Christians who are expected to be perfect in a sinful world. An apology. Drums sound like gunshots after the phrase ‘smoking gun’ is used. Another cool new usage of music and effects that enhance the song’s meaning. Very colorful use of strings and keys in this one. The listener feels like they are chasing the main character voice through the ‘underground’ of tunneled empty rivers beneath ancient cathedrals. This imagery symbolizes the search by the main voice to find the truth behind the old paths and perceptions of Christianity, only to end in what sounds like a final face-off of the main voice being cornered in a watery tunnel somewhere in a shootout much like the stoning of Stephen (the apostle, not the Mason, as in Steve of the band) with the main voice turning in relentless surrender as he is shot down and lays down his weapons leaving everything of the past unchanged. The story does remind of Weapons on Longfall, but sang in a further grown, and deeper surrendered, character voice.      

Inland  - This is their single and title cut. And if you haven’t already bought it on iTunes, you need to stop reading this and go buy it. NOW. No, I mean really.
Okay. This could be a sequel to “This Road,” the single that accompanied the book, The Narrow Road: Stories of Those Who Walk This Road Together, in 2001 (available on Authors; Brother Andrew et. al - a good read). This song really brings home the journey reached between Longfall and Shelter. Showing the need and support of Christ and community. The right kind of community. And the real kind of Christ. Not just someone’s perception of Him. This song is certainly the love song OF a Savior, to His beloved.

Fans! Keep Jars of Clay in your prayers and players!

“Inland” is available as a single on iTunes right now!  Pre-order the full album August 13th at and BUY it EVERYWHERE August 27th! “After the Fight” single is also currently available on iTunes and

Deb and Jars June 2007 - Lake of the Ozarks, MO

BlogTraveler Deb has done interviews with independent Christian artists, authors and screen writers for her blog. She also spends her free time perfecting her unpublished Christian-genre lifestyle books, novels & screenplays. 
Artists include: Ann Gabhart, Bryan Duncan, Mali Korsten, Dan MacCaulay, Christopher Shawn Shaw, John Tibbs, Fourfold, Jerry T-Wack and more in the works!

Pray on and Play on, Jars! :)