Photo update!

Hello!

I write to you from a guest room at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, AR (aka the middle of nowhere). We played to an enthusiastic crowd of students last night. Being here has been quite possibly the most refreshing time we’ve had on this CD release tour. The students are so kind, encouraging, and helpful. We love this place.

This tour has brought us through so much beauty! From the mountains in West Virginia to the farm land in Amish country, it’s been an amazing trip.

A few highlights:

We explored the ever-changing campus of the University of Delaware (our alma mater!). This is where Tyler told me, “I think I like you, Jenny Appel.” Such sweet words.

Awwwww......

The cows at our favorite ice cream place in Delaware:

The church where we played in NJ was stunning. I wish we played in more rooms like this one.

Light on the road in West Virginia:

Tyler slacklining at a park in Indianapolis:

Amish country in Odon, IN. This was literally behind the venue:

Yellow fields on the way to Arkansas:

I love how different the US looks from one state to the next.

Today we head to Springfield, MO. On Friday we’re in Naperville, IL and then on Saturday we’re in Ft. Wayne, IN. Come out to the shows if you’re in the area! Details are at the tour page.

My Mom, My Friend, Young Life & Jesus.

I, Tyler, occasionally share bits of this story at shows.  Here’s more of the whole thing.

– – – – – – – – –

I grew up in the Episcopal church.  I thought God was some large, distant entity, more of an idea than anything else.  My mom was the spiritual one in our household.  She used to take me to Christian events and sign me up for retreats, trips, camps, and other things I didn’t want to go to.  One of those things was Young Life camp.

The summer after my freshman year of high school started off great.  I had just been to Italy and my parents had just purchased a beach house.  There I was, hanging out with four of my friends at the beach, surfing, playing video games, trying to get with girls, etc.  Everything was going so well.  The second day at the beach, my friends and I had come in from a day of surfing when we heard the news.  Our friend Teddy had died.

I’d talked with Teddy two days earlier on the phone.  I invited him to join us at the beach.  He said he couldn’t come because he was going on boating trip, but that maybe we could meet up a few days later.  I vividly remember where I was when I had that conversation with him.  He had gone on that boating trip.  It was on that trip that the boat crashed, casting him into the water and taking his life.  He was 15.

I had never experienced the death of a peer before.  My grandparents had died, but they were in their 80s.  Teddy’s death shattered my world.  I asked God why.  I prayed for God to bring him back.  I cried a lot.  I started examining my own life.  What am I doing?  What am I living for?  What’s my purpose?  If I die, how will I be remembered?

My mom had already scheduled me to go to Rockbridge, a Young Life camp in Virginia.  That was one of the last places I wanted to go.  I wanted to process Teddy’s death by myself, or at least around close friends, at the beach.  I fought my mom, but she won.  She’d already paid and said I had no choice.

I arrived at Rockbridge with about 500 other high school students.  The camp counselors told us boys and girls not to make purple.  Great.  This is going to be stupid.  These people are stupid.  They said it was going to be best week of my life; they guaranteed it.  I was looking forward to getting my mom’s money back.

On the first night, after exploring the camp with friends and playing games, all 500 of us high school students gathered into a room and a guy named Mark Evans started speaking.  He told us about how God created the world to be beautiful.  Mark said that God wants us to enjoy this beautiful world and take care of it.  A light-hearted message.  I liked it.  I agreed with it.

On the second night, Mark spoke to us again.  He said that while the world is beautiful, it’s also really messed up, and it doesn’t take a genius to see that.  Just watch the news or look at your parents’ or friends’ parents’ marriage.  There’s a massive problem called sin that affects us all.

I had heard the word sin before.  I didn’t like it.  It was a stupid word.  Still, I kept listening to Mark.  He essentially said that sin is the reason why people lie, cheat on each other, murder, steal, and do other horrible things to each other.  Sin is the reason why we die.  God wants us to live forever, but sin messes that up.  He said that we can see evidence of sin all over the world, and when we’re honest with ourselves, we can see it inside ourselves.  Because of our sin, we are separated from God, deserve to be punished by God (I don’t think he talked about hell, but I thought about that), and worse, there’s nothing we can do about it.

Most of the 500 of us kids walked out of the room pretty depressed.  We had some talks with our leaders, asking them questions, but the talks didn’t help very much.  I forget what other activities we did that night.  It didn’t matter.  I went to bed feeling sad and helpless.

On the third night, Mark told about how God didn’t want it to be this way.  God wanted to provide a way out, a way for people to get right with him again.  Mark told us that God loved us so much that he did do something about it.  He sent his son Jesus to be punished for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to be.  He said that Jesus died in our place, even though he was innocent.  There’s nothing we can do about our sin, but Jesus did do something about it.  All we have to do is believe.  I’m not sure if the word repent was used, but it was implied.  Belief meant new life in Jesus, a different kind of life, abundant life.

Hope filled the room.  I felt happier.  At least there was a way out.

Night four came and Mark continued.  He said that not only did Jesus die for our sins, he was raised to life after he died, proving he was victorious over sin and death.  Then he said something like ‘so what now?  The decision is yours.’  Either I could believe it now, later, or never.  But I wanted to believe.  I wanted abundant life.  I didn’t want to live for myself anymore, knowing my life could so quickly expire.  I wanted purpose.  I didn’t want to be punished in hell.

I had a long discussion with my Young Life leader.  He helped me understand some things I had questions about.

The next day I remember announcing my decision to believe in Jesus in front of a lot of people.  A girl who was serving at camp shared that her favorite verse in scripture was 2 Corinthians 5:17,  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come.”   I saw joy on her face as she shared this.

Throughout the rest of high school, my YL leader mentored me.  He helped me grow closer to Jesus, know who I am in Jesus, learn about the scriptures, fight lust and love people.  God used Young Life to change me, big-time.  My whole life is different.  I want to love God with all my heart.  I want people to know about Jesus.  I got married super-young.  I used to think people who did that we’re stupid.  I write songs with the intention of pointing people to Jesus, whether they know and believe in him or not.  I want to love people and glorify God by loving people.  I want to stand up for the rights of the poor and oppressed.  I want people to look at me and know how good God is.

– Tyler Somers

Open Your Doors is here!

Today is the day! I don’t know if I can adequately express how excited we are to share Open Your Doors with you. Seriously. We began writing in earnest for this record back in July (Skyline Hill and Little Balloon were written over a year ago…crazy!) and it’s been thrilling to see how the songs have taken shape and created this story of rest and abiding in Christ. We really hope that you love it.

The record is currently sitting at #3 on the iTunes singer/songwriter charts. We would love for you to go rate and review it. Our hope is that it will stay in the top 10 for a little while. Lots of people browse iTunes casually on Tuesday and we would love for folks to notice the album. It could lead to new listeners and ultimately encourage folks with the message of Jesus. You should be able to get to us on iTunes by clicking here. If not, just search for Jenny and Tyler over at the iTunes store. We really appreciate your help.

We’re really just overwhelmed with how supportive you are. Tyler and I met in August of 2004 and if you’d told me then that we would be making music for a living and touring together I would’ve thought you were crazy. It’s amazing to see God working and moving through the music.

We’re playing shows this week in Elkton, MD and Newtown Square, PA. Next week we travel to NJ, DE, MD, and VA. Check the tour page for details.

 

Just a little note…

Well hello everyone. 

We played our Open Your Doors release show in Nashville last night. It was beautiful. It’s always fun to see friends at shows. A bit intimidating, but very fun. 🙂 

It’s been fantastic to hear some great feedback about Open Your Doors! It’s always a little scary putting new music out there for the world to listen to. It feels like we’re putting a bit of our soul out there for all of you to pick at and judge. I constantly have to remind myself that my music does not define me. My identity is not “musician” or “songwriter.” Instead it is “daughter of the Risen King.” I think that’s been an essential truth for me. And it’s one that I still struggle to believe on a daily basis. 

We hit the road in just a few days and head east for a run of shows in DE, VA, NJ, MD, and PA. We’d love to see you if you’re in any of those areas. You can check the tour page for details. 

Open Your Doors releases so soon! We’re so excited! April 3rd is this coming Tuesday! Woot!

The Sound of Silence

A few months ago, we decided to record a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s song The Sound of Silence. We had some friends over to sing and play. Paul Zimmerman-Clayton laid down some trumpet parts. Bruno Jones of the Vespers (who are also releasing a new full length album on April 3rd!) tracked upright bass. Jake Ousley, Anson Bouillon, Jill Altum, Julie Martin, and Katie Gordon became the choir.

Jenny sat first chair for clarinet her freshman year of high school in Delaware and ended up becoming drum major of her Mississippi marching band Senior year. When I met Jenny in college about 7 years ago, she had almost given up the clarinet completely. Knowing of her hidden talents and really wanting to hear how good she was, I started asking her to pick it up from time to time. She probably did so about once or twice a year. Long story short, this is the first track we’ve released that has Jenny playing clarinet on it! I think you’ll be impressed. I’m a proud husband.

Jenny and I, with the engineering help of Paul Zimmerman-Clayton, tracked the rest of the recording: vocals; guitar; mandolin; snare; suitcase kick. The reverb for the snare in our bathroom seemed right, so we put a snare on the toilet and recorded it that way. Here’s a picture of that.

Snare drum toilet

Snare drum toilet

After a few weeks of putting all the tracks together, we sent it to Shane D. Wilson for mixing and Matt Odmark for mastering.

Jenny and I were thinking and praying about what to do with this song, so we decided that all the proceeds would go to organizations that fight human trafficking. One organization came to mind in particular. Because of the law, we’re unable to publicly announce that specific organization without filing a paper in every state – or so we’re told. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t tell you if you ask; just shoot us an email at jennyandtyler@gmail.com if you have any questions about the organization(s), how the money works, etc.

We just released The Sound of Silence on iTunes a few weeks ago and already we’ve seen some good response. We’d really appreciate any help you can give in spreading the word about it, whether it be an email, tweet, facebook post, blog, or something else. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/xLV8X4 Thanks in advance for that.

Tyler (& Jenny)

Song for You – A’cappella!

I’ve mentioned my love for a’cappella music on this blog before. Tyler and I were listening to The Beatles last night and remarking at how awesome Eleanor Rigby would be a’cappella. It made me want to be in a group again just so that I could arrange the song. Anyway, due to my love for a’cappella I was freaking out a little when I came across this:

This group isn’t even from Delaware! So exciting!

 

Faint Not, The Sound of Silence, Tour Dates

Ah, it’s been a while hasn’t it?

I’ve slowed a bit in my reading of the Narnia Series and have just finished The Horse and His Boy and began Prince Caspian last night. I think Prince Caspian might be my favorite thus far. We shall see.

We have lots of news today.

First, we are giving away our latest record, Faint Not, in its entirety + 3 brand new songs (acoustic versions) for FREE. Crazy right?! Yes, yes. We are excited. You can download the free music at NoiseTrade.

Also, The Sound of Silence single will finally be available on Itunes tomorrow! All of the profits from the sale of the single will go to support the work of the International Justice Mission. IJM is working to combat human trafficking all over the world. You can learn more about them at ijm.org. Take a listen:

We’ve got a bunch of tour dates too! Check the tour page for details.

3/1 Birmingham, AL
3/3 Nashville, TN
3/19 Buies Creek, NC
3/21 Buies Creek, NC
3/22 Greensville, NC
3/23 Raleigh, NC
3/24 Greensboro, NC
3/25 Columbia, SC
3/30 Nashville, TN
4/11 Blacksburg, VA
4/12 Catonsville, MD
4/13 Hockessin, DE
4/14 Alexandria, VA
4/15 Helmetta, NJ
4/20 Indianapolis, IN
4/22 Odon, IN
4/28 Ft. Wayne, IN
5/15 Minneapolis, MN

We are currently adding dates to April and May. Email us if you’re interested in booking a show: jennyandtyler(at)gmail(dot)com

I think that covers most things.

Time for a cookie break.

The sound of our breathing…

Good morrow dear friends.

I’ve been reading the Chronicles of Narnia and wishing I could be British and live in Narnia and ride on Aslan’s back like Lucy and Susan.

We took a little trip to Portland on Tuesday to hang out with the students at George Fox University. We shared a bit of our story and fielded some interesting questions, the first being, “what sort of physical boundaries did you keep while dating and what measures did you take to keep them –and did it affect your marriage negatively when you failed to keep them?” Seriously. It was the very FIRST question asked. Whew. To be fair we had an awesome time and thoroughly enjoyed the 36 hours we spent on the west coast.

We flew home yesterday, unpacked, repacked, slept a little, and hit the road this morning for Texas! We’re so excited. Seriously. Our friend Landon Austin is with us (he’s awesome). If you live in TX you should check out the tour dates: jennyandtyler.com/tour and come out to a show if you can.

Somehow I managed to get through college as an English major without reading The Chronicles of Narnia. I think I was supposed to for one of my classes at some point, but I never did. I brought the first two books with me (The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe) to Portland and read them on the plane. Oh my goodness. They make me want to love Jesus more. Seriously. There is a scene in The Magician’s Nephew where Aslan is creating Narnia by literally breathing life into the earth. He breathes and flowers spring up, waters form, animals come to life, etc. It’s absolutely stunning. It reminded me of Jason Gray’s song “The Sound of our Breathing.” In it Jason asks the question, “What if the name of God is the sound of our breathing?” It’s the idea that our breathing whispers the name Yahweh. That we are worshiping just by being alive. I really can’t explain it well so I will leave you with a link to his blog: http://www.rabbitroom.com/2011/08/is-the-name-of-god-the-sound-of-our-breathing/

I think it’s a really interesting idea.

And now back to being a road warrior…

Abide – A new song!

New song! New song!

Aren’t you excited? I am. Seriously. We snuck upstairs to my brother’s living room on Tuesday and recorded a live version of one of the songs from the new record. The song is called “Abide.”

Enjoy!

Oh – and we have some shows coming up. Details:

2/8, Newberg, OR, George Fox University, Bauman Auditorium, 8pm
2/11, Keller, TX, House Show.
2/16 New Braunfels, TX. River City Vineyard Community Church, 7pm
2/17 Waco, TX. Common Grounds, 8pm
2/18 Abilene, TX. Monks, 8pm

Check out the tour page for more info: http://jennyandtyler.com/tour

Toll House Pie

Good morning. I had resolved not to bake much this January. But…it’s cold. And I’m home. And I love it so much. Ultimately my tummy trumped any sort of resolve I thought I had and I’ve been baking a lot. We had some friends over for dinner the other day and I decided to make Toll House Pie. Toll House Pie is essentially a big rich chocolate chip cookie. I got the recipe from my Grandma, but judging by its title I would assume that it originates from Toll House.

It is delicious.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
3/4 cup butter melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
9 inch unbaked pie shell

In a large bowl beat the eggs until foamy. Add flour, sugar, and brown sugar; beat until well blended. Blend in melted butter. Stir in chips and nuts. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 325 for one hour. This is extra tasty when served warm with ice cream!

My one regret is forgetting to take a photo before it was gone! Give it a try this week if you like.