Mom Music Spotlight
The Carpenter's Son
It's About Time, It's About Jesus
to a sample from The Carpenter's Son
Q: Please give us a brief history of the group and
some brief information on each of the members.
A: Tim Renaud and I came from similar backgrounds and had been singing in
various secular bands as well as different church choirs for many years
before we met. We both sing in St. Luke’s guitar based choir now and have
been for at least 15 years or so. When we first started in the choir – we
quickly grew tired of singing the same old Lord Have Mercy version that had
been sung since the early days of folk guitar mass music in the early 70’s
(remember Joe Wise?, even George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord – without the Hare
Krishna part of course).
So we sat down one day in my unfinished basement in Maple Ridge and decided
to write some new liturgical mass parts – we first came up with some Celtic
sounding liturgical pieces in a driving 6/8 time for the Holy Holy and the
Lord Have Mercy – those went over very well with the congregation – so we
thought – why stop there – we continued on to write the rest of the mass
parts including the Our Father, a really great Gloria, the I Confess (oh
yes, set to music), the great Amen, the Memorial Acclamation, the Gospel
Acclamation, the Lamb of God and even the Nicene Creed (yes, set to music –
and now everyone in the congregation sings it vibrantly – because they can
remember the words- because it is now set to music – music is wonderful that
way). And we’re thinking that might be another project to embark on – and
that is publish those mass parts in a music book with an accompanying CD –
well, one day anyway.
At the same time as this was going on – Tim and I decided to start writing
music that would have a broader based appeal – more than just liturgical or
strictly Catholic dogma. And we began writing music that would form the
start of the group The Carpenter’s Son (the name by the way – besides the
obvious double entendre with Jesus Our Lord being the son of a carpenter –
comes from when I was little – I used to follow my dad around as he went
about doing his carpentry work – and as I was his son – the group name
became simply “The Carpenter’s Son).
As bands go, we soon brought on another guitar player, then a drummer, then
a female vocalist and flute player. We started playing for coffee houses,
church based functions and charity events in concert type settings. We had
enough music at this time to do what most bands eventually feel compelled to
do (besides everyone around you saying so as well) – and that is simply to
produce an album. Well, due to time and budget constraints – we only had
enough resources to get three songs recorded (and that was due to mainly to
the good graces of Tim’s older brother Vince who worked at a very large
post-production house recording studio in Vancouver at the time) –and it was
to be several months/years before we would have been able to record any more
– so it was at that time we made the decision to release a 3 – song cassette
(same 3 songs on both sides) simply entitled by title cut off the album as
“Angels Will Be Dancing” (1996) The other 2 songs on the album were The
Power Of Prayer – and a somewhat dogmatic but extremely powerful Fires That
Burn (a cry to God to rescue us from this world and/or purgatory).
The cassette (with its colorful artwork of angels descending from heaven in
parade like fashion (I think you can see a picture of it on our web site) –
there is a story to be told as well about how the artwork came about for
this cassette – but I’ll save that for another day) sold very well for a few
years – mostly at concert venues – I figure we probably sold about 800 or so
copies – which we figure wasn’t bad for a little known local independent
Christian Celtic group with no music label, no big-time marketing promotions
muscle, no radio play, no retail sales channel and no internet presence. So
we were quite satisfied with that. We went on to write quite a bit more
material in the coming months and years – but before I continue on about how
our first full length CD came to life – I need to digress for a moment into
the background of groups – specifically bands …
Now – a little bit about the make-up of the group – as bands go –– RULE #1:
band members come and go – and that’s just the way it is. And our band was
no exception to this rule. So – following the rules – band members came and
went. Mostly due to having different priorities in their lives at the time
and they couldn’t continue to commit to being in a band. So we went through
membership changes – but the essence of the music (mostly being written by
Tim and myself) stayed the same – and thus the main feel of the group stayed
We came to a point where we really wanted to record all these songs we had
been writing, and really – all the songs we would have recorded on the first
album (really – the cassette) had we had enough resources ($ and time) at
the time. We had considered at first to go to “the studio” again – but it
wasn’t to be as convenient this time round – nor was it to be inexpensive.
We had this crazy notion then to build our own recording studio – which we
did – over a period of about 6 months – Tim and I built a recording studio
in my unfinished basement – we properly sound proofed it and acquired some
great direct to hard disk recording equipment (thanks to an inheritance from
a relative who had recently passed – God turning something sad into
something good again …) . So now we had our own sound studio and we figured
we could make as many albums as we wanted … little did we realize the
Our first album Warrior Of The Cross (June/2001) was definitely a labor of
love – and took a period of about 3 years to pull together. And that wasn’t
due to a lack of material – it was mostly due to varying opinions about the
focus and direction of the group – and subsequently membership changes (Rule
#1) resulting in re-doing major parts of the album over again in the studio
and thus setting us back for the release of that album.
In the end, however, as a musician and a song writer – producing Warrior Of
The Cross represented closure for those songs that we had written and had
been performing for many years already – for me, once you make a permanent
record (or CD that is) of the art – the music – then you feel this great
release and say “aha, now we can move on …” We decided at that time also,
that we were not going to include any Christmas songs (as we had a couple of
original Christmas theme songs that we had been singing at mass during the
Christmas season) on that first album because it was our first full album
release and we didn’t want to be known as a group that played Christmas
music only. That is why you see some of those songs were written prior to
the release of the first album, but were never included on it. (we also
re-recorded the songs that were released on the cassette 5 years earlier – I
figure they sounded better on CD anyway)
Near the end of producing the first Warrior Of The
Cross, we changed membership drastically (remember rule #1, band members
come and go – only we were not expecting them to all come and go at the same
time) – and within one or two months we had replaced 4 out of 6 members –
and had to redo all the tracks with the new members.
The original founding members Tim Renaud and myself
(Patrick Ceaser) were the only two that remained. Tim’s younger sister Julie
Buffet had been a tremendous fan of our music for some time, she also was
already singing with Tim and I in our church choir – and it seemed like a
great fit to ask her to join for vocals. Rosie Carver, who had played fiddle
tracks on the first album (who also performs with a well known west coast
traditional Celtic group called Blackthorn along with Tim) agreed to stay on
with us as a permanent member after the release of Warrior Of The Cross.
Natalie Rutherford joined us as a last minute replacement near the end of
the first album production. She plays all the penny whistle and flute tracks
as well as some lead and backing vocals.
Rounding out the team is Vince Renaud, Tim and Julie’s
older brother (there are 6 brothers and 2 sisters in that family by the
way). Vince had been our live sound technician for several years, and was
also the producer and engineer of Warrior Of The Cross. Tim and I had been
playing in a secular group with Vince as the drummer for some time (and this
is another rule about bands – Rule # 2: you’ll often find one member of one
band playing in another band and so on – I think it builds good character
and helps to broaden your influences with different musical styles –
especially when you are writing) So we asked Vince if he would like to join
The Carpenter’s Son family too – and the rest is history. This rounds out
the full group that we still have today. And the real joy about recording
and producing our most recent album - It’s About Time It’s About Jesus was
that all these members were key in the development and arrangement of these
I should also mention that Julie’s boyfriend at the
time Scott Buffett, who is now Julie’s husband – did all the artwork and
design of our first and second album cover – and has really out-done himself
in designing and producing the cover artwork and CD insert sleeve art and
layout for It’s About Time It’s About Jesus. We really consider him part of
the group as well. His patience, creativity, understanding and love
underscore every pixel of brilliance he arranged to produce the magnificent
album cover and insert which perfectly compliment the album.
This brings me to Rule #3 – bands and musicians write music and feel
compelled to record the music. So we did. But just so you know, we didn’t
sit down and say “well, it’s time to make another album, let’s write a bunch
of tunes” – normally most of the songs/lyrics we write are inspired when/how
the spirit moves us. And as you can see by the copyright dates, this album
contains songs written from 1990 through to present day.
Recording and producing our most recent album It’s
About Time It’s About Jesus (Nov/2004 - recorded at Maximus Sound in
Port Coquitlam/BC – ah yes, another story to tell) has been a tremendously
joy filled process for all of us involved. It basically took us 4 months
start to finish – and now that you know a little bit about the first album(s),
and the tremendous changes the group had gone through since then – you
understand why we had such a great time putting this one together.
Q: How has your Catholic faith impacted upon the
A: Subconsciously - I suppose my deep rooted Catholic faith comes through in
some of the lyrics of the songs; some much more than others.
“Forgive Me Father” – which was recorded on a massive
grand piano in 1996 – never made it on the first album due to budget
limitations. When we considered songs for our new album, Vince pulled this
one out of the archives – and we decided we would track the vocals to it now
10 years later. I was in confession one day and it really hit me that I
could capture the essence of this sacrament in a song.
The song is really a confession – from the starting line “Forgive me Father,
for I have sinned” through to “Not only what I’ve done, but what I haven’t
done” and finishing with “… so I can fill my heart with You and not with me,
forgive me Father, and set me free.” So, this song I guess I would say was
heavily influenced by my Catholic faith – of course a Catholic listener
would hear the confession in the song (when we confess of course we are
really speaking to Jesus); the non-Catholic Christian would take the song as
a confession to Father-God or directly to Jesus – either way – I think the
essence/meaning is conveyed.
The song – “Fires That Burn” – is really about saving
us from the fires of this world – and in particular – purgatory – of course
a non-Catholic may not buy into the “purgatory” theme – but nonetheless, the
song is well received as a poignant and powerful statement pleading to God
to save us.
Even songs like “There Go The Tears” or “Thy Saving
Light” make reference to Mary – but in a subtle way – there wasn’t a
conscious effort however to avoid using the name Mary in the song or to not
be extremely forthright with the lyrics – this is just the nature of song
writing – to present the theme in such a way that it is approachable and
gives us cause to reflect on the lyrics without being spoon-fed the meaning
of the song in an obvious way.
Q: Many of your compositions are originals. Could
you please describe your creative process?
A: With the exception of the lyrics for Silent Night (on our newest album)
all of the compositions are original. When we write – or when I write
specifically - most of the songs/lyrics are inspired when/how the spirit
moves me – we find that if we have to work really hard at fabricating the
song – then we usually shelve it for a time (or forever). We are getting
better at discerning whether or not a song suites the style of the group or
the genre of the kind of music we feel compelled to play – or is any good
for that matter.
Most of the time when I get an inspiration for a song – I will be just going
about my daily business and “ping” I get this idea or melody in my head –
and have to rush to find a piece of paper to jot down the lyrics – usually I
grab my cell phone and leave myself a voice mail as I sing the song into the
phone – then when I get home and get some time to compose it – I listen to
the phone message – and proceed to complete writing our the lyrics and basic
music line. Tim is the same way when he writes.
We try to have something more or less complete when we present it to the
rest of the group – and then everyone uses their own particular talent to
embellish or augment the song in some way – whether with a particular fiddle
line or flute solo – or some clever harmony – or perhaps someone might
suggest creating a bridge in the middle of the song to make it more
interesting – all these ideas are taken into consideration and we take some
time to work out the kinks and the arrangement.
After playing a new song live several times – it starts to feel natural to
us – we know at that point that it will likely not go through any more
changes – and when we get around to recording it – it will sound fairly
close to the way you hear us play it live.
Q: Who are some of your musical influences?
A: Being of Irish descent I imagined that the Celtic music was in my blood.
Of course it helps that I like to listen to the east coast Canadian music
groups like the Rankins or Bruce Guthro or Great Big Sea – I also really
enjoy the lively energetic and driving rhythms and lilting melodies in a
good many of the songs from the British Isles, Ireland and Scotland.
And although I like pop music and classic rock (Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel,
early 50s and 60s groups etc.) – I have a love for the singer songwriter
sounds of people like James Taylor – or one of our Canadian icons – Gordon
Lightfoot. I think all of this mix influences how I write and arrange the
music and the different instrumentation we end up using.
Q: I fell in love with the Celtic flavor of your
music. What do you feel lends to the new, fresh sound of your music?
Over all – I don’t believe there are many Christian – Celtic groups out
there – so I figure we have a bit of a niche market to go after with our
unique sound. Our first album Warrior Of The Cross ended up with a rock
based sound influence to a good number of the tunes – particularly in the
song The Difference. Of course there were several Celtic sounding songs like
Warrior Of The Cross and Forever On. I think the rock influence came in
mostly because Tim, Vince and I were fresh off of playing with secular
I believe listeners will definitely notice much more of
a Celtic earthy folk feel to most of the songs on our newest album It’s
About Time It’s About Jesus (… obvious double entendre in that title …) –
our first album had more of a pop rock sound to several of the songs - I
think on this album “Brotherless Child” is about as pop/rock flavor as it
gets – even at that, you’ll notice the definite Celtic lilt in the prelude
of the song.
Secondly was the way we produced this album, or should
I say kept the production to a minimum –we wanted to have a real natural
sound to many of the songs – as if we were standing in your living room and
singing directly to you – it’s more intimate that way – and I think, in the
end, much more edifying. In particular, I believe you’ll hear this intimacy
conveyed in the songs Now I Lay Me Down, Wheel Of Life and Goodbye.
We’re really pleased to include an original song on
this album by Tim – Shoot Me Like An Arrow. It’s a real east coast Celtic
flavored song with a request to God to fill me with His words and song and
then send me out in the world to fly on the wings of His graces – as the
chorus rings out “ … keep me on the straight and narrow, shoot me like an
arrow let me fly!”
When I wrote Spirit – I had only the inspiration to
write a melody – I was not inspired to pen any lyrics – and typically when I
write, I try not to change too many things from an inspiration –so the song
remained as an instrumental. Sometimes when we play the song Spirit – when
we’re finished, you can hear a pin drop – that tells me that the audience is
deeply drawn into the melody as they drift into a state of peace – I often
suggest before we start that song that people close their eyes and think of
the Holy Spirit enveloping them for a moment while we play the song.
I think the audience enjoys the songs that are simpler
in their production and they can easily identify with – in particular the
Goodbye song – which we almost always sing as an encore piece – the chorus
in that song goes:
“… and it’s hard to say goodbye, so God’s speed – until
we meet again
… hard to say goodbye, goodbye, God be with ye – goodbye, God be with ye …
Some have said this newest album has a rather eclectic
mix of styles. I can see their point, when you listen to the song Now I Lay
Me Down, you hear that 40’s swing jazz sort of feel – but then the title cut
It’s About Jesus, and Spirit, Wheel Of Life and Come Unto Me Like A Child
all have the Celtic underlying melodies and feel – then you have more of a
country/folk feel to the song Stop This Love.
But over all – we sense the album is definitely folk-Celtic sounding – and
has that feel subtly entwined throughout all the songs. People have told us
how much they enjoy the variety of styles and sounds on our album - I
personally do not like albums or groups where there is a particular style
that is repeated for almost every song – it gets a little monotonous after a
Q: What have been some of the group's highlights to
A: I think in general – the members of the group would tell you that our
biggest highlights have been that God has granted us the good graces and
resources to be able to write music that speaks of His love for everyone –
and that we have been able to record this and produce some professional
music CDs –and be able to use our talents and resources to perform this
music and hopefully touch some people’s lives.
One particular highlight though, on separate occasions, we sent both albums
to His Holiness Pope John Paul II – and his representatives replied both
times that the music was favorably received and we received an Apostolic
Blessing. Both of those occasions were quite thrilling moments as we had not
expected any sort of reply.
Q: What future do you see for the Catholic music
A: I know that the Christian music market is 20% of the entire music scene –
that is a tremendous chunk. As far as the Catholic music industry – I see it
growing as a steady consistent influence in this market. Eventually people
will become disillusioned with what the secular world has to offer and will
be hungry for something real in the person and influence of Jesus – and in
our case – approachable and appealing music with faith based lyrics.
Q: What can Catholic families do to support
A: First and foremost we appreciate all the thoughts and prayers that we
have received from family and our Catholic and Christian friends and
community in support of continuing our music ministry – and we do look at it
as a calling and a ministry. I often joke with people that I didn’t just
wake up one morning and think to myself – “I’m going to write music for God
– and become filthy rich doing it” - for that would be a false and fruitless
If we are able to touch people in some way through our music and lyrics –
then we will feel we have made a difference for God’s kingdom. So in short,
I think Catholic families can continue to simply support groups like ours
and other Christian and Catholic music producers through prayer, and coming
our to the concerts and perhaps also buying the CDs.
Q: What are the group's goals and plans for the
A: As we are all married and have our “real lives” (as we jokingly refer to
normal life outside of the concert and band scene) we have to constantly
work on achieving balance between spending time with the music ministry and
attending to all our other callings (family, jobs etc.) – I don’t imagine we
would all go on the road on some cross county tour – but you never know
where this could lead. Tim and his wife had their first child several months
ago, and Julie and her husband Scott are in the works to have their first
child in a few months from now – so we had to put the concert scene on hold
until at least the fall. But Tim and I are continuing to be inspired to
write some new exciting tunes and I think it won’t be long before we are
able to produce another album. As I mentioned earlier – I think we may end
up producing an album of Catholic liturgical music or at least the music
score over the next few months – we would plan on sharing this with as many
Catholic parish music groups as would be interested in learning some new
material for their liturgical music contributions to the mass.
Wherever we have gone or been inspired to go with this music and this group
(in whatever form it may take in the future) we have always sensed God
guiding us and opening those doors when and where they need to be opened –
this gives us the confidence to continue down this road- we know where we
are ultimately headed of course – but until we get there –we’ll continue to
trust in God for all our needs and go where he leads us.
Until then, God Be With Ye!
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