Tuesday, December 11, 2007


By Julie Keyser

If there is one thing I am in this world…it’s passionate! I was born a strawberry blond, who ferociously holds onto what little red highlights I have left, for a reason. One of the things I’m most passionate about, besides my husband and family, is songwriting and all things musically inclined. My family would argue that they come in second behind songwriting as my passion…okay, so I am at times neglectful when lost in music stuff.

This passion lead me to become the Utah chapter head coordinator for NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International), a nonprofit organization aimed at helping aspiring songwriters. I’ve been blessed through NSAI, and various other musical organizations, to get to know many amazing artists, musicians, and songwriters. Some, many of you are familiar with, but many…really most, you are not. And so, through http://www.yourldsneighborhood.com/, I’ll be bringing many of these amazing musical Mormons to light. And for those musical artists you are familiar with, hopefully you’ll gain more insight into who they are and what makes their music so appealing.

And so it is…with great pleasure, (drum roll please), that I introduce to you our first featured artist, singer-songwriter Gary McCallister.

A bit unknown to most outside of his home state of Colorado, but to those of us who know him, a wonderfully original musician, song writer, and oh…BTW…BISHOP! That could change anytime though because as long as I’ve known Gary he’s been a bishop.

Gary lovingly refers to himself as the “One-Man Mormon Blues Band,” as he is quite certain he is the only blues guy in the church. I doubt that… but I have yet to meet another one. His voice is deep and has a bit of a haunting feel to it, like a really deep version of Enya or Art Garfunkel...without all the vibrato.

He kindly sent me his newest CD called Mary Christmas (yes, he has others you’ve never known about and need to check out at http://www.onemanmormonbluesband.com). I LOVE the title of this album because it is such a great play on words and gives you a clue into what you are about to hear. It’s really an album that needs to be listened to from beginning to end while reading the insert, which has a small storyline that goes along with each song. Each song is an original Gary wrote and composed. The story and music of course, have to do with the mother of Jesus…Mary.

The music is simplistic and has a folksy feel for a reason, with just a little bit of an avant-garde twist in the composition from time to time. While it could have easily been produced to a much grander and contemporary degree, Gary chose to keep it simple for the heart of what the songs have to say. Jesus’s family was simple, and he lived simply. Gary’s songs and accompanying music pay tribute to that. You won’t find in this album a bunch of Christmas chimes being used in the grandness of descending scales heralding the birth of our Lord, instead you’ll hear instruments you don’t hear very often any more…like the Mandolin, played beautifully by Gary himself. It is, in my mind, his signature instrument. Not the instrument of most blues guys, but the one I most associate with Gary.

So take a listen on Gary’s website of his song samples, especially his Mary Christmas. Gary can also be found on the LDS Outlet Block in the Music Studio, where you can order a new Christmas music tradition to add to your Christmas music collection just in time for this beautiful season, and…MERRY CHRISTMAS to all!

1 comment:

John Newman said...

What a great beginning, Julie! I don't care what Gary says. I don't think it's an unfortunate first topic at all.