I hope you’ve seen this video of Jason playing the most beautiful acoustic guitar rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen that has ever been played.
I wanted to let you know he’s also giving away copies of the whole amazing album on his Facebook page this month. All you have to do is share the video and let him know you did. He runs a new contest each week so if this week’s hasn’t started yet, check back in a day or two.
And if you don’t win but would like to buy one, you can do so through his website JasonAhlbrandt.com. We offer free shipping. They’re the same price in person and at his shows. He’s on iTunes, Spotify and other online/digital music retailers, too.
Jason’s acoustic guitar album Christmas Classics has been on rotation in my iTunes for a couple weeks already. I haven’t decorated the house yet or taken a photo for our Christmas cards, but Christmas music? Yes. I started playing it in October. Jason’s album came out last October and this year he made a couple of videos to go along with it. Here’s the first one for the song “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”
I love it so much! If you like it even just a little bit, we hope you’ll consider getting the whole album through JasonAhlbrandt.com or iTunes. And please share this video with everyone you know! 😉
A few months ago, Jason requested my help to redesign his website. I’ve been working full time in magazine publication design for the past 7 years and though I do various freelance projects, my website design skills were a bit rusty. I’m thankful he pleadedchallenged encouraged me to take this on because it turned out to feel good flexing the old HTML muscles again.
It’s at JasonAhlbrandt.com, where it’s always been, and now also at JasonPlaysGuitars.com because… we have a hard-to-spell last name. Not only the spelling, but you’d be surprised how many people just flat out get it wrong. We’re probably called the Abernathys, the Albrects and—my personal favorite—the Allbrights more often than we’re called the Ahlbrandts. So, JasonPlaysGuitars.com. Boom.
My favorite part of the new website is that there are tons of audio clips and videos embedded right there on the site. Jason’s main gig is the road guitarist for a country-gospel singer but he’s also been doing tons of work in his home studio composing and producing music for TV shows, movies, commercials, etc. I love hearing all the stuff he comes up with. He also posts a Guitar Lick of the Day (#glotd) most days on Instagram and a lot of those videos are there, too.
In celebration of the redesign, we’re running a mega sale on CDs in the store. Two for $20 with free shipping, for the month of June only. Jason gets lots of repeat customers for his albums because they both make great gifts. I’ve heard rumors of a third album in the works…and by “rumors,” I mean I can hear him working on it because my office is right next to his studio.
I know, I know…It’s only September. I used to work at a Michael’s craft store and I was always amazed when the boxes (and boxes and boxes) of Christmas decorations would arrive the first week of October…three weeks before Halloween. It just felt wrong. But I have a very good reason for bringing up Christmas in September. For several years my husband Jason has been dreaming and planning on recording a Christmas album. If you’ve been a blog reader for a while you probably remember when he released a lullabies album in February 2012 called Acoustic Lullabies. He’s had the idea for a Christmas album well before that but put it on hold to create a CD of beautiful guitar music dedicated to our daughter Ali, and the sales of that album helped fund her private adoption. Well, he’s finally finished with the long-awaited Christmas album. I’m so excited about it! It’s really wonderful. I’ve seriously had to resist the urge to set up the Christmas tree because overhearing some of the recording process and then listening to the almost-finished product has really brought on the Christmas spirit at our house. In September. Jason’s not just any average guitar player—he’s been obsessed with the six-stringed instrument for 20 years. He is trained and seasoned in classical, jazz, rock, country, finger-style guitar and you’ll hear all those influences on this album. I’m a big fan.
So anyway… producing an album is an investment. There is an initial expense and then money is gradually recouped through sales. His lullabies album was successful and worth the risk but we despise debt. We decided to try something different this time. Jason set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the initial expense for mixing and duplication (recording is already complete) through pledges for pre-orders of the album. At the base level a $15 pledge results in Christmas Classics shipped to you when it releases in October. Higher pledges have various rewards like autographed or gift wrapped CDs and bulk discounts. If he doesn’t reach his goal (which covers the cost of mixing and a minimum initial order of 1000 CDs), he doesn’t get any money and the pledges are all voided. It’s an all or none situation. Would you consider pledging money to pre-order this CD? I guarantee you’ll love it. You’ll love it so much that you’ll want to give copies to your kids’ teachers and soccer coaches, your best friend, your hard-to-buy-for-music-loving brother, your chiropractor, your insurance agent, etc.
On Jason’s Kickstarter page, you can also watch the silly video we made to promote the project, and hear one of the songs. It was late at night and we may have thought it was a little funnier than it actually is…but all is redeemed by Ali’s incredible sweetness at the end.
It was Jason’s first guitar almost 20 years ago, the one he learned to play on. It was a red burst color back then. The mid-60s Sekova guitar (like this one) originally belonged to his mom, believe it or not! His dad taught him as many chords as he knew and then Jason started weekly guitar lessons. He’s been obsessed with all things guitar ever since. By the time Jason was a guitar performance major in music school, he was the one teaching guitar lessons. He’s had a lot of different guitars through the years, always buying, selling and trading up. In a high school art class Jason painted the old Sekova blue but never reassembled it into working order.
I’ve always treasured the blue guitar but it took a lot of convincing before my guitar loving husband would allow me to display a non-functional guitar in our house. To me, the blue guitar represents dreams that come true—if you pour your whole heart into something, work hard and never give up, you CAN reach your loftiest goals!
Some bitter, cruel, and perhaps a few even well-meaning people through Jason’s adolescence attempted to crush his dream; to tell him he wasn’t good enough… or suggest how arrogant he must be to think he could actually be a professional guitar player… or to say “it didn’t work for me so it won’t work for you.”
Jason has a tender heart, an inherited work ethic and perfectionism (I blame his German roots), and a rare tenacity. He’s now playing professionally, traveling the world, making a good living doing what he loves. I hung the blue guitar in the playroom where our kids spend a lot of time because I want them to ask about it. I want to tell them over and over again about how hard their daddy worked and how much he loves what he does; I want them to know—to really know—that with enough passion and diligence they can achieve whatever they desire to achieve. Dreams do come true.
Welcome to Jason’s office, music room and home studio.
Disclaimer: I try to avoid touching anything in this room so this is completely AS-IS not staged while Jason was out on the tour.
We both love this picture of Alianna on her adoption day.
The portrait above is Jason’s great-grandfather Carl. We just called him “Grandpa Carl” for short. We love this photo of him. You can read more about him here.
This closet is actually a recording booth with an angled wall. It has it’s own air intake, fan, light and solid door. The ceiling in this room is also sloped/vaulted like most of the other rooms in our house. All of those angles have something to do with listening to and/or recording music. Jason’s considering putting a cushion above the recording booth and making a little loft hangout.
When I started pulling together the bedroom for our next kids, the ones who will join us through foster care, I really didn’t have a theme in mind. I was just trying to use what we had. The woodland friends curtain was from the kids room at our last house and what prompted me to use green for the accent wall color. The bedding was also from the previous room.
I ordered a Nashville road map from AAA because it was a way to get a large, colorful, free piece of art for the wall. I also thought it might be helpful for older kids to see where our house is in relation to where they used to live.
As I was going through our art collection one day, I decided this room would be a nice place to display our Hatch Show Print posters. (Hatch is a historic letterpress print shop in downtown Nashville that’s famous for their concert posters.) Jason wanted to throw my old acoustic guitar away but I saved it, thinking again about older kids.
As I looked around the almost completed room, I noticed a lot of music related items and considered replacing the woodland friends curtain, even though it had been my starting point. Just yesterday it hit me! The theme of the room is the one thing every kid who lives here will have in common: Nashville. Our house is not far from Hatch Show Print in downtown Nashville. We’re also close to Shelby Park so we see lots of trees, owls and squirrels here. I love when something comes together organically like that.
(I wrote this post from my phone so please forgive me for their weird formatting and any typos.)
Let me tell you about this awesome guitarist I’ve been listening to lately. Maybe you’ve heard of him? His name is Jason Ahlbrandt. Of course you’ve heard of him! He’s my best friend.
You should hear that guitar resonate through our open home with the vaulted ceilings! It fills every pocket and corner of the house. About a year ago Jason released an instrumental album called Acoustic Lullabies. (It’s available on iTunes and lots of other online retailers, or on his website if you want a physical CD with lovely album art by yours truly…go get you one!)
Now that we’re in our new house, Jason has been spending a lot of time in his studio and I hear rumors of a second instrumental album in the works. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying these videos he’s been putting on YouTube. His newest one is an original called “Treading Water.” Please enjoy:
It’s no secret around here that Jason and I are estate sale addicts. We love ’em. Last week, my guitarist husband discovered his dream sale… we stumbled upon an estate sale of a guy who collected vintage guitar amplifiers. He and Ali got up early to head out to the sale on the first morning. (I got up early and went to work. I get credit for finding the estate sale listing online.) When he got there, there were still 12 amps available and the guy running the sale was ready to make deals. Jason was in heaven! He said he was walking around with his mouth hanging open, entranced by all the vintage amps, when the guy walked up and handed him a tissue. Jason hadn’t even noticed Ali had snot running out of both nostrils! Hahaha… OK, maybe that’s only hilarious to me but it’s because I could totally picture it when he told me. Anyway, he bought three amps for around half of what they’re worth. The Gibson one is for a friend. I think all three are from the 1950s:
This is Jason’s Instagram picture. I would have angled the shot differently to crop out the trash bin. Haha…
Turns out the estate sale had a few other mid-century goodies, too. He also got this slatted wood coffee table. It almost looks like a bench and we keep going back and forth with how we’ll use it. It’s currently resting at the foot of our bed because we’re out of space, y’all! Our storage unit is packed and we’re gradually taking over more and more of my parents’ house. (New house, can you hurry up and get done, please?)
Yes, we have green carpet in our current room. Isn’t it pretty?
Jason also got this round wood Quartz wall clock for me for a couple bucks. We’re not sure if it’s vintage but it looks right. It’s currently hanging in our bedroom but it may end up in Jason’s studio in our new house because it’s silent. We made the mistake of putting a wall clock that ticks in his last studio. Jason’s a lamp guy but I’m a clock lady. I love to have a clock in every room because I don’t wear a watch.