I don’t write a tribute to you every birthday but this year has been an incredible test of your character through many big changes, and I want to thank you for your steadfastness through it all. On your last birthday I was pregnant and entering into a season of tiredness that I haven’t fully come out of yet…which translates to a season of you picking up my slack. Sorry about that and thank you. I could count this past year of your life with the number of concerts you’ve played, miles you’ve trekked, TV shows you’ve been on, guitars you’ve acquired, things you’ve built around the house, times you’ve mowed the lawn, plants you’ve planted, hours you’ve worked. But none of that is as important as the number of hugs and kisses for your family, the baby kicks, the soccer games, the contractions you held my hand through, the lost sleep, the happy tears, the diapers, the pounds of coffee, the bedtime stories, the date nights, the stacks of Nutter Butters and cups of milk for dunking, the dishes you’ve washed. So many dishes. I know that the latter list matters more to you than first because you proved it over and over again this year. Your faithfulness and determination to provide well for your family led you to a new gig with a busier tour schedule. During your time away you worked hard taking classes and tests to get your real estate license while your bandmates enjoyed the perks of rock stardom. When the gig started taking it’s toll, you made the decision to come home. A lot of people wondered why you left when it seemed like you were at the top—and you had indeed reached one of your biggest life goals—I know why. I will never forget the sacrifice you made for your family. It was a challenging year but now you are here: you have two beautiful kids and an adoring wife, you’re back to your less strenuous touring gig and you’re killing it in your first quarter as a realtor. I am so proud of you; for your hard work and diligence, your drive to reach goals and passion to provide well for us, your wisdom and daily presence in parenting (even on the days when you’re away), your integrity and devotion. You lead our family well and it’s a pleasure to submit to your thoughtful guidance. Thank you for choosing to love us and serve us everyday. We think the world of you. Happy birthday, Jason!
Four years ago, I took a picture of Jason’s old shoes before throwing them away. I wanted to remember what they looked like because they represented so much to me. As disgusting as they were, I was a little sad to say goodbye. First, they show that my husband is so thrifty that he’ll wear his shoes until they’re completely falling apart and his wife insists on throwing them away. More than anything though, they represent hard work. He’s spent the past 20 years playing the heck out of guitars, fine tuning his gift. These shoes took him to school and band rehearsals and shows at first. But these shoes also worked for five years at Starbucks when we first moved to Nashville and were chasing hard after our dreams. Jason worked two or three jobs at a time while I finished my graphic design degree. After the barista days, these shoes spent many, many hours doing yard work and home renovations, building tons of sweat equity into our first two homes. He works harder than anyone I know taking care of his family, our home and his career. Jason Ahlbrandt, thank you for doing all that you do for us. I could not be any more proud of you. I’m so glad I get to be your one and only.
My talented husband has had the opportunity to travel all over the world playing music—Iceland, Alaska, Amsterdam, Faroe Islands, more states than I can keep track of and many miles logging by tour bus and airplane. It’s a dream come true for him and nothing could make me happier as his wife than to see his purpose and destiny fulfilled as a professional guitarist, to see his passion satisfied by playing music every single day. I had a really special proud wife moment at the end of November when I got to see my best friend take the stage with his guitar at the famous Ryman Auditorium for Opry at the Ryman. For several years Jason has been Guy Penrod’s right-hand-man—literally at stage right most of the time, playing lead guitar—through many 100s of concerts. Several times a year I get to see a concert. This particular one was actually Jason’s third time on the Ryman stage but I missed the first two times and I was determined nothing would stand in my way this time. God sure has blessed us with amazing opportunities and friendships as we’ve pursued our dreams. Jason works so hard fine tuning his gifts and it’s a treat to see him play live. Such an honor to be in the audience that night.
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.
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:
Happy Independence Day! I LOVELOVELOVE fireworks so this is one of my favorite holidays. I’m optimistic that we can keep Precious up late enough and that she’ll be entertained and not terrified by all the colorful explosions.
Here’s a little musical morsel to celebrate the 4th of July. My handsome husband Jason Ahlbrandt playing “Freight Train” (Tommy Emmanuel’s arrangement):