Life Moves in Mysterious Ways: The Music of Phil Madeira

PhilI first heard Phil Madeira at the Cornerstone Music Festival when he played with the Lost Dogs, that "CCM" supergroup with Terry Taylor, Derri Daugherty, Mike Roe, and the late Gene Eugene. Phil is irreverent at times and yet a humble man of faith, gruff on ocassion and yet a real sweet guy. Though he's been in the Christian music scene for years and years, in many ways he really doesn't belong there. Christian, yes; CCM radio friendly, no. And yet he is a sought after session musician because the man plays virtually everything --- starting with drums and famously known for his Hammond B3 Organ! Well, I may exxagerate a bit, but I'm quite sure he plays at least ten instruments.

Ditto his production work. He produced CDs for Greg Trooper, Brooks Williams, and Jason Harrod, just to name a few. Phil can rock with the best, yet his preference is the rootsy country vibe you'll find in his solo recordings. My only regret is that I did only one CD with Phil, 3 Horse Shoes., and yet it is definitely a fine record and it was a privilege to have him on Silent Planet Records.

3_horse_shoesPhil Madeira - 3 Horse Shoes

In Spring 1996, to coincide with a pub tour of the UK, Phil independently released Off Kilter, a solo record, on which he played virtually everything. While in England, he started writing 3 Horse Shoes, which features the great talents of Antoine Silverman, Derri Daugherty, Steve Hindalong, Terry Taylor, John Hartley (The Woodthieves), Tammy Rogers (Dead Reckoning), Buddy Miller (Emmylou Harris), Al Perkins (Flying Burrito Brothers and you name it!), Phil Keaggy and Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Tommy Sims (Bruce Springsteen), as well as Madeira's band. Essentially composed in a pub, the record exults in the sort of fellowship Madeira experienced while touring through England. With those names, you get the picture: this is pure Americana, alt-country, whatever they call it now.

A departure from the solitude of last year's Off Kilter, 3 Horse Shoes is about camaraderie and celebrating life. While touring the UK with Phil & John & the Woodthieves, Madeira spent his free days in the countryside, walking and meditating on the riches bestowed on him: Family, friends, and creativity. As Phil says, "The music literally poured out of me during that particular time. I was being healed of the sadness that I alluded to in Off Kilter. I was being reminded, in an ever-so-kind way, that I was still a child of God, and that every person I encounter is important to him."

While Phil stays firmly in the genre of the '70s oriented singer/songwriter style of his previous record, 3 Horse Shoes features a large ensemble of players, and the music has a more exciting dynamic than ever. From the encouraging words of "It's Gonna Be Alright" to the biting wit of "Christmas This Year", Madeira's emotions are, as usual, laid bare without ceremony.

Reviewer Steve Stockman said that "if Frederick Buechner wrote songs, these would be they." Need I say more?

Give a listen to "Mysterious Ways" here: Mysterious Ways.

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Rick Unruh

UnruhAnother of the artists that I had the pleasure of working with at Silent Planet Records was Canadian Rick Unruh. At the time I met him (1999), Rick had been performing and recording for over ten years with live performances on stage, television and radio. As a songwriter for Nashville’s Temple Gate Music, his songs were even in films and on several CD compilations.

Remember, Rick's 3rd CD and first and only CD on Silent Planet, was his first CD to enjoy wide release in the United States and was even nominated for a Prairie Music Award (a Canadian thing)!

Rick has toured Canada coast to coast and parts of the U.S.A. performing for audiences at colleges, festivals, churches, and clubs. At venues like Winnipeg’s acclaimed Folk Festival and renowned West End Cultural Centre, Unruh has shared the stage with Eric Bogle, Stephen Fearing, Sarah Harmer, Alejandro Escovedo, Jess Klein, Heather Bishop, and Connie Kaldor --- a kind of whos who of Canadian folk muisc.

Rick is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, and though things didn't work out for more recordings with Silent Planet, his passionate, sensitive voice and folk-influenced ballads are quite moving and have stood the test of time.

Rick Unruh

With Remember, Rick Unruh brings passionate singing and playing in line with intelligent, articulate lyrical content. He evidences his faith without being preachy or didactic in approach. I love the subtlety of this CD, the songs that simply sneak up on you in their emotional appel.

To sample the excellent songs here, try "Hungry Ghost" here.

John Fischer

One great privilege I had at Silent Planet was working with veteran musician, author, and speaker John Fischer. John recorded some of the first "Christian" music, before there was any Contemporary Christian Music business. I sang his songs in Young Life, listened to his many records, and read over a dozen books he had written. His music and books are a challenge to think, as he shares his insights on biblical truth, art, philosophy, and popular culture. He has written regular columns for Contemporary Christian Music Magazine, Purpose-Driven Life, Relevant Magazine, and most recently, for He continues to bring a blend of speaking and music to college campuses and churches across the country.

When I heard that John's fine album, Wide Angle, released on the long defunct Urgent Records in 1992 was out of print, I was determined to do something about it. The record was, after all, produced by the legendary Mark Heard and anchored by stellar musicians like Buddy Miller, Tom Howard, David Miner, and David Raven, among others, with background vocals by Kate Miner and Julie Miller. I purchased the master recording and asked David Miner to produce three new tracks for the record, one of which was Mark Heard's own "Some Folks World," which we took for the new title of the record. We remastered the original tracks, secured dynamite new artwork, and reisuued the record with the bonus tracks as Some Folks World.

But enough. You need to hear it. Listen to the title track here (click twice):

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Artist Compilations

I've had the privilege to work with many artists in the founding of two record labels over the last 12 years -- Silent Planet and The Pop Collective.  I continue to sell that music here.  Below are some of the best introductions to what we did as a label, in that these records are compilations of various artists both on and off roster. 

All payments are securely made through Paypal.  First-class mail shipping is included in the cost, and shipment will be made within 48 hours from ordering.  If you are not fully satisfied with any CD you receive from OutWalking, please email me for a full refund.

Beat_3Aliens_2 Aliens and Strangers/ Beat (2 Album Combo) -- Various Artists

For an excellent introduction to the work of Silent Planet Records and its artists, I recommend the two samplers released by the label.  Both give an insight into the label's mission (promoting acoustically grounded, lyrically intelligent, and spiritually provocative) and a good sampling of each artist's music.  Each also contains some unreleased tracks.  Beat also includes a bonus CD of the radio show we produced for a time called Wide Angle, hosted by John Fischer and brimming with music and insightful commentary and artist interviews.  I love the packaging of both these releases (done by the very talented Dave Danglis) and particularly enjoyed writing the text -- an attempt to provoke thought about art and faith.  Even after several years, these records hold up well.

Mgs_cover_2Making God Smile: An Artists' Tribute to the Songs of Beach Boy Brian Wilson -- Various Artists

Making God Smile is Silent Planet Record’s 2002 musical tribute to the songs of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. The CD package, containing seventeen all-new renditions of some of the Beach Boys' and Brian Wilson's best-known music, also includes a full-color 24-page booklet. The booklet includes write-ups from each of the artists, commenting on the song they chose to cover, and on Brian's influence.  Artists include Phil Keaggy, Sixpence None the Richer, Randy Stonehill, Kevin Max, and Kate Campbell, among many others.

The songs were selected from the hit catalogue of virtually unparalleled Beach Boy and Brian Wilson songs. Each track was recorded specifically for the Making God Smile CD to celebrate Brian's 60th birthday and, simultaneously, to acknowledge his lifetime of exceptional work.  Conceived by Silent Planet Records President Steve West, Making God Smile immediately grew into a stunning collection of songs performed by a variety of artists from just about every genre of music. Included are platinum-selling performers, songwriters, first-rate sidemen, Grammy nominees and other professionals, each impacted by the exceptional music of Brian Wilson.

"This album is a gift to Brian on his 60th birthday, from many artists who have been profoundly influenced and touched by his music over the years," said Steve West. "The album title -- Making God Smile -- is both a nod to the legendary and unreleased [original] SMiLE recording and a recognition that music serves a higher purpose, a healing purpose, as Brian so often said."

I love this record.  My label manager, Tony Shore, and I handpicked each artist and each song, asked them to record it on their own and send it in, and then we sequenced and had the whole collection mastered.  I'm amazed at how it turned out, given this process!  It was the label's swansong, and a fitting way to finish.  When I asked Brian Wilson what he thought of it, the man of few words said "It's great!"

Listen here to Phil Keaggy's version of "Good Vibrations:" (click twice) 

MgssqcovMaking God Smile: The Lost Disc (Disc 2) --- Various Artists:

When my cohorts and I at Silent Planet Records created Making God Smile: An Artists' Tribute to the Songs of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, we had so much good material that we could not fit it on one disc.  So, in order to honor the man and the artists who donated the songs, we released the 2-disc version of the recording on the internet only.  It quickly sold out.  Many people have requested the nine songs on the bonus disc, so many that we now refer to it as the "lost" album (shades of the original Smile),  so we make them available here for those who have purchased the single disc version and want "the rest of the music."

Note that these nine songs will be sent to you on CDR only.  We have no plans to manufacture more 2-CD versions of this release in original packaging. Here is a track listing: 1. Caroline, No --- Frank Lenz & Richard Swift 2. With Me Tonight --- The Lost Dogs 3. You Still Believe In Me --- Jeff Elbel & Ping 4. God Only Knows --- Kate Miner 5. Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) --- Jacob Lawson & Riki Michele 6. Sloop John B --- Irwin Icon 7. Good Vibrations (Guitar Ending Mix) --- Phil Keaggy 8. Tom Prasada-Rao & Amilia K. Spicer --- Your Imgaination (Extended Mix) Bonus Track 9. Brain Wilson's Room --- Harrod & Funck

Live_stageLive From the Acoustic Stage - Various Artists

Another of my favorite projects, this album was culled from some great perfomances by both Silent Planet and other artists from the several years when the label hosted the Acoustic State at Cornerstone Music Festival.  Ah, I can feel the dirt, the heat, and mud from that patch of cornfield west of Peoria, Illinois now!  But the best part of C'Stone is the great music -- much of which was on our stage.

There are 13 artists here and 18 tracks, everyone fromTerry Scott Taylor to the Lost Dogs to Aarron Sprinkle to Tom Prasada-Rao.  There rae funny moments too, as wehn Phil Madeira introduces his song with a humorous story of the goings on around C'Stone.  God bless him.  It takes me back.  Enjoy a piece of history with this record.

Here's a good one by Brooks Williams called "Love came Down:" 

Jan Krist

All payments are securely made through Paypal.  First-class mail shipping is included in the cost, and shipment will be made within 48 hours from ordering.  If you are not fully satisfied with any CD you receive from OutWalking, please email me for a full refund.

Jan_krist_photo_ron_moore_182 This is how it begins: I invited Jane Krist to do a concert in my church. She came. Afterwords we are talking and I simply say "Jan, if there is anything I can do for you, let me know." There was. Jan was on a CCM label at the time and having difficulties. I ended up buying her contract, and the rest is history!

Jan Krist began writing and singing songs in Detroit-area folk clubs back in 1980. At the time she was a young mother, and a graduate of Berkley High School who had grown up in Grand Haven.

Over the years she began spreading her wings beyond the Metro area, winning praise at the nationally known Kerrville Songwriting Competition in Texas in 1991, and then releasing her first album of songs, Decapitated Society, in 1992. That album won praise from Billboard and other magazines, and Krist followed it up with 1993's Wing and a Prayer, which also garnered accolades. She was honored as Best Vocalist in the Acoustic Division at the Detroit Music Awards in 1995.

In 1996 she celebrated the release of the intelligent and polished Curious, with a show at the Ark in Ann Arbor. And then there was more -- Outpost of the Counter-Culture, and Wounded Me Wounded You.  There are many accolades, but this one from Billboard sums them up well:  “Her talent as a songwriter equals - if not surpasses her vocal gifts. She has an uncanny way of cutting to the heart of a topic and providing the listener with food for thought.”

Through it all she has raised her kids -- Amy, Ian and Michael -- and stayed in Detroit. She married Alan Finkbeiner in 1995. "And that's why they call me Jan Krist," she says with a laugh. Visit her website at

DecapWing_1 Decapitated Society/ Wing and a Prayer -- Jan Krist

The very first artist I signed to Silent Planet Records, Jan Krist, is often called Detroit's folk diva, with her soaring voice, well-crafted songs, and fine guitar playing.  When I first heard Decapitated Society (released in the Christian market with a strange title like that!), I thought it was Joni Mitchell-meet-God time.  Wing and a Prayer followed that minimalist debut with a bit more instrumentation but more of the same great songs and singing.  In this release, we combined the two CDs in a remastered version -- two albums, one disc, one low price.  We went on to record more produced records by Jan, but when I think of her music, I inevitably return to these early records as embodying the most pure form of her art.  I owe my involvement in the music business to Jan, and though it had its hard times, I do not blame her for that.  I'm glad to have done it.

Listen to Jan's "Someone" here (click twice):

Curious Curious -- Jan Krist

Curious was the first record done for Silent Planet exclusively by Jan Krist. I traveled to a studio outside of Decatur, Georgia for the recording. Some say its warmth is due to the fact that it was recorded in analog and mixed digitally. I'm not sure. But what I love on this record is the diversity of the music and the well-crafted songs. More than any other record by Jan, this one rocks at times, particularly with that kickoff by "Time" and the placement of the title track midway through the record. This packaging is not what was on the initial release. We re-released it with new and much better packaging and the addition of two unreleased cuts. It's one of the few records that actually saw any significant airplay!

Listen to "Curious" here:

Love_big Love Big Us Small -- Jan Krist

After the modest success of Curious, we needed a follow-up, and yet we had a great deal of material that was out of print or unreleased.  Hence, Love Big Us Small was a cobbled together record.  WE had Jan fly to LA and record four new tracks with producer David Miner, "Song of Absolutes," "Tarzan Tells All," "Spirit So Big," and "God Have Mercy," some of jan's loveliest songs.  Then we threw in a few cuts from Decapitated Society (out of print and not re-released by us yet), and some alternate takes from Wing and a Prayer.  The latter tracks were actually from a completely separate recording of Wing's songs produced by Armand Petri.  Petri gave the songs an alternative twist that Jan was uncomfortable with at the time, but she consented to letting us release for the first time some of these recordings here.  I'm glad of it.  They offer an interesting and refreshingly different take on the songs, and I think Armand was glad to see them released as well.  (Jan went on to completely re-record Wing for her previous label after the Petri tracks were rejected, and we bought all the material.)  This is good music, and I'm glad for this albums release even if it was a cobbled together collection.  It works well.

Check out the great "Tarzan Tells All:" 

Outpost of the Counter-Culture -- Jan Krist

OutpostOf all of Jan Krist's fine records, none capture the sense of place, of home, as well as 2001's Outpost of the Counter-Culture.  Musically, the record is firmly in the folk music camp.  Thematically, its focused on home, that is, home at the time for Jan, which was Royal Oak, Michigan.  Hence, in the title cut, subtitled "Hometown," you actually hear the strains of the local high school marching band.  Somehow, too, I suspect that the songs here are peopled by those who Jan has had contact in Royal Oak, and there's a sense of thankfulness evident here ("Thank You").  You'll also find Jan's wittiest song here, "Parallel Universe."  I like the warmth and hometown feel of this record.

Listen to "Outpost of the Counter-Culture (Hometown)" here:

WoundedWounded Me Wounded You -- Jan Krist

Jan's last offering for Silent Planet, Wounded Me Wounded You, has some beautiful songs, from the creatively titled "St. John Reads the 21st Century Want Ads" to her cover of The Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee."  There's a little country twang here, as Jan's Nashville friend, Kenny Meeks, joins her for many songs.  Truth, judgment, sin, blessing -- the album really speaks the language of faith without in any way preaching.  Really, it about those who "need help along the way," about the "wounded," about us all, really.

Listen to "Blessed Are They" here: 

Jerry Read Smith

JerryTo date, North Carolina's Jerry Read Smith has designed and handcrafted over 1000 hammer dulcimers and made four professional recordings featuring the instrument. He works out of his self-designed and constructed 2400sq/ft workshop in the rhododendrons and oaks next to his house (and soon, a recording studio as well) and maintains a musical instrument showroom in nearby Black Mountain called Song of the Wood Music.

In addition to assisting in the business, Jerry's wife Lisa plays the flute and piano and has joined Jerry on the last two recordings, Homecoming (part of The Strayaway Child Trilogy) and One Wintry Night, a collection of original compositions and arrangements of seasonal tunes inspired by the beautiful Christmas story by Ruth Bell Graham of the same name. It's music for all ages - from children to grandparents - and a wonderful Christmas gift.  Be sure and visit them at

StrayawayThe Strayaway Child Trilogy -- Jerry Read Smith

When I first heard Strayaway Child, the first album in a trilogy by the same name, it was sometime around 1981, the age of vinyl, and I picked up the recording on a whim.  As I listened, I realized that it was unlike anything I had ever heard.  I had never seen a hammered dulcimer, much less heard one, and I was entranced by the sound.  While more people have heard hammered dulcimers today, this record is one of my two favorite hammered dulcimer records of all time!  It has some wonderful renditions of Celtic tunes, with backing by guitar and other instruments, and a beautiful rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

In the years following the release of Strayaway Child, Jerry went on to release two more records, Heartdance and Homecoming, thereby completing the Trilogy.  This two-CD set is a beautifully repackaged and remastered version of all three albums, now on two discs.  The sound is stunning.  In addition, Jerry and wife Lisa give an interview about he creative impetus behind the projects.  This is still one of my all-time favorite records.

Listen to a mellow original number, "Homecoming," here (click twice):

Listen to a more Celtic-laced tune, "Kesh Jig/ The Kid On the Mountain," here: 

OwncdOne Wintry Night -- Jerry and Lisa Smith

Jerry was inspired to record this album of traditional Christmas carols and three original compositions by a book of the same title by Ruth Bell Graham.  We pared Jerry with producer Jeff Johnson, and Jerry and Lisa flew to Seattle to record with Jeff.  Jeff then brought in some renowned Irish musicians, to include Brian Dunning, with whom he had recorded for Windham Hill and Hearts of Space.  The result is a beautiful recording, with rich instrumentation.  Ever since hearing these beautiful tracks, I associate the hammered dulcimer with the Christmas season, as that seems to be its language.

Listen to the beautiful "One Wintry Night" here: 

All payments are securely made through Paypal.  First-class mail shipping is included in the cost, and shipment will be made within 48 hours from ordering.  If you are not fully satisfied with any CD you receive from OutWalking, please email me for a full refund.