Happy New Year- 2017

gkcbgelbridgeBut first ,a look back at 2016 for me.

Now don’t expect commentary on world events in this post. My LIFE and songs continue to be a response to those.

In my personal life it was quite the year, first off in that my Wendi and family are doing pretty well re. health after a lot of struggles prior. Two new grand daughters were born as well, we are really blessed at JPUSA here in Chicago, all that is happening v Wilson Abbey, Cornerstone Community Outreach, etc..

Touring both locally, in the U.S. and overseas was great and often really inspiring to me. So many kind people, old friends and new, and young peeps showing up at shows, etc.. Lots of blues and also cigarbox guitar interest, workshops, gigs.

Tons of jail and prison sets as well. Very near to my heart as so many people sit behind bars.

I may have mentioned this in an earlier post- numbers have never been the point to me, but I did notice I’d done 70 appearances last year, and in 2016 it hit 90. Wow. Old coot like me yet!!?

There are a number of shows booked and a few tours in the making for 2017, and as usual we will post via the Grrr Records site, via my Facebook and Twitter sites all in due time.

I’ve a new music project (blues) in the works, some more electrified, some more cigarbox/acoustic-type tunes. Hope to record that this winter and we’ll post updates as we move along through the project.

In the end I must say happiness is in relationships, not in accomplishments outside of them. In this I’m SO grateful for people who love me and whom I am able to love and continue to walk with and grow in relationship with, the first being my amazing Wendi.

I wish you the same happiness I have found in Jesus Christ. Everything else is a moving target, flawed and changeable, this I both believe and know from experience.

I SO thank GOD for His blessings of relationship to Him, my wife, family and friends, and for sobriety and sanity -though some would question the latter in my case 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn


What Shame and Guilt Does for Me!

Last night a kind friend posted his story of faith. It seems I was part of how it all came about. Very humbling, a lot of grace for us both!!

Funny how God’s Word (The Bible, which so many reject in daily thought, certainly practice) is crystal-clear: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. “All we like sheep have gone astray”, on and on. But if one cannot wish away “sin”, wrong-doing, bad choices/decisions/actions and behavior towards God and others- what then?

Christ-followers will say it’s about Jesus Who came, lived and died for us- and forgiveness HE brings. Declaration of “not guilty” to those (me, you, all humans) who ARE guilty of “falling short”… because who but God Himself doesn’t fall short?!!

Even then people think and say “there is no God”, or  “prove it” or “my mileage varied” and so forth -I get it and have heard it all my life, trust me.

For clarity, I’m not talking about shame or guilt others put on you, nor lies you believe about yourself nor actual mental illness or depression where you hang out with condemnation. I’m talking about authentic, actual shame and guilt you feel because you did or did not do X, Y or Z. Real, not imagined nor someone else coating you with their perspective and judgment.

Yes, I’m old school but also in my own understanding, my own sense of shame and guilt, God USED these to bring me to Himself which has transformed my life for the better. By “better” I really do not mean habitual, continual condemnation nor beating myself up over either conscious selfish sin (what the Bible calls sin, not what others may…) rather, a genuine sense of conviction of what I did wrong, or what I should have done. It’s a rare day in my life I’m not thinking about these. Yet: I’m truly at peace with God and utterly thankful for His forgiveness and grace.


Without those I could never shake either shame or guilt because there was not and is not a single day in my life I’m not guilty of something or other. Reality.

Nobody “guilt-tripped” me, nor really preached at me prior to my own surprising (to me!!) initial faith experience. I knew what I had done and not done that naturally earned me shame and guilt. Society didn’t make the many choices I made which about killed me and messed up those around me, I did. But there was and IS an antidote.

Loving vs. full-on rejection of a person. Forgiveness vs. grudge-holding. Jesus commands us to live these toward others… and knows what He’s talking about because it’s exactly how He treats me.

It’s about knowing and in faith believing HIS righteousness and not mine (talk about a lousy comparison!!) is what brings me peace. Not perfection (literal sinlessness) but seeking Him and spiritual growth yet knowing full well I am so often in the “wretched man that I am” state as apostle Paul wrote in Romans chapter seven.

So do I sometimes visit shame and guilt? Yes. And at times I’ve indeed earned it and know it. Nobody has to convince me because nobody knows my own thoughts besides myself and God -and He and I both know I’m often guilty so why pretend otherwise?

I do not here mean that anyone who labels you guilty is correct or righteous in their judgment. What I’m saying is that shame and guilt are not merely words, feelings or something “others always wrongly put on you”. If you’re honest, you don’t need others to tell you you’re less than perfect and sometimes a jerk!!

See I think shame and guilt are worthwhile when you know where and to Whom to take them. We either do that or basically do one of two other things: deny they exist or blame someone else for our feeling them.

Ok, if you’re this far into this blog post, I’ll finish with this- if you believe all are guilty and all will/should face real and earned shame for blowing it in whatever areas or ways, how ought you think of/treat them now that you profess God’s forgiveness for your own wrongs?

Grace in terms of maturity not only means not getting what you deserve… but not giving others what you think THEY deserve! Accepting -and- sharing His mercy. “Father, forgive them…” is so core to authentic faith in Jesus.

Ok, the true story is that I was largely confronted with the mess I’d made of my life via dope, booze, sex and SELF 101 in my own head and heart. As I’ve written and said for years, a massive reason I finally surrendered to God was in a deep acknowledgment of how many people’s lives I had messed up by sharing my own messed-up, addictions with them.

Shame and guilt were partly what brought me to saving faith in Him knowing I could NEVER BE my own Savior much less Redeemer. I knew full well working to earn salvation was impossible. I couldn’t even work myself out of addiction or sharing those addictions with others.

The upshot of all this is that most of my life has been spent trying to encourage others out of their addictions and to hopefully live such a life of love and service myself that they might see and realize God surely loves them as much as He does me!

Been consistent my entire life- I had been an evangelist for sin, death and hell and now am one for relationship with the God Who made us, loves us and has a plan incredibly better than our own for our life. Shame and guilt bring me to Jesus every time. “ALL things work together for the good… (of whom??) to those who love God (and don’t miss this last bit:) and are called according to HIS purpose.” Paul got it exactly right.

It’s not about taking. It’s about what we can give others. I cannot force faith, active trust nor love and surrender to Him, but by the strength He gives I can model it.

That is my plan for 2017. The rest is just details 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

A Day in the Life, Death, Pre-Christmas Eve!

My day (so far) consisted of:

Coffee, eggs, plain yoghurt

Email and news check, read long amazing interview/story of Louisiana politics and poverty

Receiving my father-in-law’s ashes

Had a great chat with young girl in our church about how she got into reading/writing poetry and encouraged her re. how great she is in presenting it

Writing/praying for a friend who has been given 6 months or so -due to cancer

Picking up 2 sizes of freezer bag ziplocks for my wife and daughter

Made appointment to get my eyes checked

Purchasing 2 sets of guitar strings as a Christmas gift

Checking out 35 buck cigarbox guitar kit at Guitar Center (not my fave git at all… but glad I played/heard it for myself)

Stopping by cigar store to collect boxes for upcoming cbg building workshop at a Chicago school (gotta come back later after Christmas for ’em)

Collected pallet wood to saw up as necks for the above-mentioned cigarbox git workshop

Got an update on the metal shop where I volunteer off and on, great staff and good report

Shopped 2 stores to find (got it!) a felt-tipped calligraphy pen set for a Christmas gift

Helping my wife in the kitchen (and eating her wonderful low-carb cookin’!)

Taking massive garbage can load out to the dumpster and doing a thorough washing-out job on it

Most (not all) of gifts I’m giving are wrapped… more of that after dinner

Here you see the deep, the sublime, the mundane and all the rest

But one more thing:

One of my stops today was at Zeppelin Design Labs http://www.zeppelindesignlabs.com who make cool amps and other music-related stuff, some of which is in process and several items being tweaked pre-market

I walked in and immediately noticed 2 prototypes of music gear that got me EXcited. What many of you don’t know is, blues guy that I am, I actually DIG hardcore electronica and often exercise to it and thought about buying one of these gadgets a couple of years ago:


They were kind enough to fire one up and demoed it for me… COOLness

I just -may-… and don’t hold your breath… may do a project of songs using such items to record with. No promises but if I ever do it’ll be slammin’ songs with a few breaks for dynamics within. .. Yahoo cuz ZepDL is making these for a near-future release

All this before supper!

Enjoy the holidays and keep looking up -a Baby like no other is what this is about

As always, thanks for stopping by -Glenn

Suomi Christmas Stick

My little Suomi Christmas canjo…SuomiStickDiddleyCanjo

I’ve had the pleasure to tour Finland a number of times but it’s been too long! Started thinking about a quick build I’d been wanting to try for fun… and of course about the cold and snow.

So I had two 1 Finmark coins and a Finnish 50 piece as well -decided due to an empty “International Coffee” tin, an extra piezo el-cheapo pickup and extra input layin’ around, WHY NOT make myself a Christmas canjo? I mean, simple 1 string slide guitar with a pickup, string tuned to a D and a 50 cent copper fitting as a slide, with my usual credit-card picks. YES!CanBodyFinnFiftyCoin

Think “snow in beautiful Finland”, reindeer and such. Or at least the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where so many Finns settled and saunas abound -PLENTY OF ICE AND SNOW up dere too ya know??!

Now to record a song with it. This little git is likely to appear somewhere when I do a live show regardless of the weather 🙂

So she is 22 1/2 inches tip to tip, has no nut up topTunerAndNoNutNeeded cuz no need when you string a one-stringer high like this one is… and from bridge to wingnut/eyebolt tuner has a 20 1/2 inch scale. Acoustic and electric she sounds sweet!

Hope you’re keeping warm in Nort’ America.

Here’s a pic from a friend up in Wisconsin. Ain’t Finland but this was a week ago in the country outside Platteville, WI. Thanks Loran, SO reminds me of Christmas in Wisconsin as a boy. Beautiful! LoransDrive

Enjoy these holidays everyone and as always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

What About Gloria?!

The band rocked that old Christmas tune out nicely yesterday at Wilson Abbey’s 4th Advent service! Funny, I keep thinking about Van Morrison’s “Gloria” song… well anyhow, I’ve also been thinking about Handel’s “Messiah” -“Glory to God in the highest”, etc.. So…

What does -that- word “glory” mean… especially re. what my wife likes to call the First and Second Testaments?

Of course especially in enthusiastic local church gatherings, revival meetings, among pentecostals and such you hear somebody say “Glory!”, but what’s it about?

OT Hebrew scholars tell us the term we translate “glory” has to do with weight and heaviness. Think “as in the weight of gold”, so a sense of worth, value and such. It has to do with the very Person of God, His honor and therefore bringing us to a heart-attitude of awe, recognizing Who it is we are encountering.

Some have rightly said no other person can add even one thing to Him, certainly not to His nature, character, attributes, virtues. He is perfect, complete within Himself, He is unchanging and therefore we are at best simply realizing/recognizing and in our minds, sometimes with our mouths, behaviors/actions -glorifying- Him for the value, worth and intrinsic honor forever DUE Him for WHO HE IS.

Magnificent. Perfect. Holy. Loving. Gracious.

It’s about Who He is, what He is like, what He does… and being awestruck, thankful, offering praise, honor coming to Him in humility as we consider, ponder, meditate on: Him.

Further, in a Cook County Jail moment a couple months ago I mentioned to the men that the reason worship/praise/thanksgiving truly happening and directed toward God Himself can be difficult and often is left undone by many, even many professing Christians is because the focus in authentic worship extolls HIS value, worth, honor and of course, glory. Our focus is UP, on HIM, not ourselves.

When most of us walk around each day thinking about ourselves and zeroing in on our desires, feelings, needs, etc., it is quite out of our habit to fully focus on Father, Son, Spirit. So OF COURSE we will find it outside the norm, unusual, even difficult to keep our thoughts and attention on Him in personal or corporate worship times. Focus must shift and it takes effort. Some of us are pretty lazy, rather undisciplined in our thought-life.

This is yet another reason Jesus’ words about the fact the Father seeks those who should and do worship Him “in spirit and in truth” are profound words. Put another way, God is looking for people to glorify HIM, not themselves. To recognize how great HE is and…

not how either great -or- miserable and non-great we are.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”(Psalm 91.1) Indeed.


When the focus is on Him, we begin to find life, healing, grace to get on with our daily relationships and situations regardless of the circumstances. Yet we do not rightly come to focus on His glory and worship Him to “get” but rather to “realize” WHO HE IS and Who He is in our life. It really -is- about Him.

The residual blessings of our relationship are massive, but like a young child at Christmas, some of us blow right past our parents, brothers and sisters looking for OUR presents. It’s about us, not Him, nor the family. Then comes (hopefully, in time but not always… sigh…) maturity where God and others are our real and normal concern, not merely ourselves and our gifts or supposedly “deserved” blessings.

Certainly there is no sin in seeking, asking, knocking that He might meet our needs. But if this is the crux of our pursuit it is not God we are pursuing. He WILL grant us the desires of our hearts… as we reverence (honor, fear, respect) Him. Note, even that puts focus on Him in terms of our affections. To worship merely to “get X, Y or Z” for ourselves is something less than what I’m talking about here.

Genuine worship is not about feelings, grocery lists, not even “deeper life” experiences with God those all those come (and go) or do not come as the case may be for you or myself.

As we grow spiritually, acts of worship bring us a communion with God the Holy Spirit to the extent our thoughts move from provision to vision -that is, we seek and recognize more Who Father, Son, Spirit truly are -and HIS glory becomes a natural part of our focus.

Things to consider. As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Christmas CBG and- FREE Music Downloads :)

So happy to get this one made and shipped for a friend. I do -very- few like this, all by hand.


Rockin’, both acoustic and electric sound is sweet.


Hope all of you are enjoying Advent and gettin’ ready for the big day under da tree 🙂

And from our record label, freebies! : http://grrrrecords.com/mp3s


Merry Christmas everybody!

As always, thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

Worship- At Christmas and Beyond

Our friend and amazing bro Dr. Soong-Chan Rah has been bringing deep and rocking messages this Advent at Wilson Abbey from the book of Isaiah and in part with regard to Lamentations. Being a blues writer/singer/player I have long connected with the need for humans in a broken world to be able to, shall I say, “rightly lament”.

Make no mistake- there is a very real hope in the pain, suffering and tears of a follower of Jesus Christ.

That biblical book is not an easy read, but it’s a worth the effort.

Soong-Chan has himself written an excellent book on this which offers insights I think deeply significant for our time: http://tinyurl.com/h7t2d6t

It’s a wonder it has taken so long for so many in the Church (larger proclaimed body of Christians) to “get it” re. the fact of suffering so obvious over one’s life span and of course, human history.

So what does all this have to do with worship? You attend such gatherings and perhaps are reading this very blog to get UPlifted, right?!!

Who only rejoices with those who rejoice and denies weeping with those who weep? The immature. The self-obsessed. The cold-hearted or at least very self-focused. On the gracious end of the equation, those so wounded themselves they have no strength to enter into suffering with others due to the depth of their own.

Our hope is in God, not in His ability nor our demand that He performs for us X, Y or Z. And THAT dear reader, is my point. All too often we show up to see God show up and when He doesn’t “live up to our expectations” in a “worship moment” we lose heart and often jump ship. Some move to a different gathering, a different place, a different something and I posit we do so to get something as opposed to recognize and focus on SomeONE. It’s still about US and not HIM. Our focus is inward, not outward and upward and Godward.

HIS worth-ship, HIS honor, HIS very Person (Father/Son/Spirit is often NOOOOOTTTTTT what we “go for”, “show up for” when we supposedly worship.

All too often we’re looking in a mirror rather than looking deeply into the Person we are supposedly coming to visit with in a more focused, exact way. We seek contact for fulfillment rather than explore the depths of the God Who made us and who made us for Himself.

If you’ve read this far some of you may be thinking “Wow, what a curmudgeon, what a kill-joy, there is GREAT pleasure in experiencing the presence (manifest) of God dude! Come ON, it’s CHRISTMAS bro!!” Ha, yes indeed, I get your thinking and you’re not completely wrong except for one thing: there is still no room in the inn when our focus is self.

Ponder this brief biblical lyric:

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27.4)

In Soong-Chan’s message yesterday one of the points that leapt out at me was his comment about worship of God for Himself, His character, Who HE IS and not seeking after associated “fireworks”, feelings or even answers to prayer in the worship in each and every setting. I SO agree and have thought exactly the same for decades.

Further, if we will not worship God, truly focus on God FOR HIMSELF, how will we ever notice the pains and hurts of those around us and begin to sacrificially serve them? Just as mature worship is not about us, neither is serving others -especially when we feel they are less deserving of service than we are.

If we cannot rejoice in GOD (see “Mary’s song”, Luke chapter one) AND truly enter in to the needs and indeed, laments of the poor, suffering, “least of these” as Jesus calls them in Matthew 25, I dare say we do not yet worship as we ought. In fact I would say we think, sing, perhaps even pray… show up in an echo chamber, not a meeting with the God of the Bible.

Advent is all about Him entering our world that we might enter His. Entering His means focusing on Him and others. In part it means as He focuses on us and those around us, we must grow to focus on Him and those around us.

If this is disconnected from worship it is my deep conviction we are less than mature worshippers. In fact I would say we are not participants with Him in authentic worship, but something else and something less.

As I myself fully enjoy the lights, songs, children, desserts, trees and trim, candles and all else I think of a friend I have never directly met who sits in a prison. His wife and children are estranged from him. He came to a genuine faith, but will likely serve several more years. The large church he attended is vibrant and blessed… and he received but two Christmas cards last year as he sat in his cell over Christmas.

God help us ENJOY Jesus as well as share that joy and yes, even the tears of those in need this Christmas and beyond!

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Flocking Up

Birds of a feather indeed flock together -and it’s gettin’ cold in Chicago again!


Good thing to have feathers… and friends when you’re in need.

Matter of fact many sorts of birds flock, humans for the most part also.

I love sitting by the window, warm with coffee or tea, watching the wildlife. For me it’s peaceful, for them in part it’s survival.

Over many years spent in the woods it’s obvious squirrels, birds and other wildlife begin working very hard to get food in them and stored up for the coming cold snap. Foraging of all sorts truly IS work, just not the kind most people would choose. Then again humans deal with things like mental illness, sin nature (yes, I do believe history illustrates that as a reality) and with economic and political change or inertia and here comes winter again.

There are too many homeless in this town and all over America, more in the world beyond our shores. In Northern places the cold can kill as sure as drug abuse, alcoholism or a gun and when these get mixed along with people needing meds they cannot get, crime is one way to get a warm bed and food. Often, despair of one’s life seems just part of the dull continuum.

So “community” ‘eh? A flock as it were. A buzz-word but more than that. I just read for the umpteenth time a blog post laced with that term and of course you can have a sense of closeness, “community” on plenty of levels even if you’re into organized crime or a hobby, say, a sports team.

Trying to stay warm in the cold brings people to a sense of community too.

Book of Proverbs says

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecc. 4.9-12)

If you have a shelter, soup kitchen or other such group of folks reaching out to the poor, consider helping out with time, money, prayer, -something- this winter.

Wherever there IS “room in the inn” you’ll likely find a sense of community you will learn to appreciate.

Things to consider -but I hope you’ll act on such knowledge.

As always, thanks for stopping by,

GK Builds Video Interview Series

I’m choosing the people and topics, my friend Jon Trott is running the camera, editing and posting my appx. 30 minute interviews with folks I have long wished to introduce you to. Little by little we’ll add these vids online to stir deeper consideration and hopefully, positive action on what I consider important issues. Not for the faint of heart…

First up, Alan Mills:

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

HOW to Play CigarBox Guitar??

I am often asked this very question- and of course due to the fact I love, play, build, record, do shows, lead/teach history and workshops with folks building ’em and via http://www.grrrrecords.com contribute to sellin’ ’em via my signature model, etc., inquiring minds wanna know :)!

Yes, I have done how-to-play teaching and when I have ample time include a longer version of that in my workshops -but why video and re-create the wheel when the simple answer is to send you to the best (no, I get no money for doing this) online source for all things cigar box git and associated instruments, building, supplies and etc.- that being http://www.cigarboxnation.com

BUT… here is a link to plenty good peeps, mostly friends of mine who work for/at/with CBGitty and they have fine vids available fer nuttin’ honey!

Shane Speal and others at the links below do it right.

Click, listen, watch and learn how to play these cool little gits! There’s even one “for dummies”… if I can play it you can too.



And as always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn