Updated: Feb 14
Notice the new guy on stage? We thought we'd get to know him a little better...
M: How did you get connected to Hope? J: In February, my family and I decided we wanted to explore other churches to see where we could add value through serving. When we had first moved to Dubuque 4 ½ years ago, we attended Hope once or twice and enjoyed it. So when we decided to start looking, we came to Hope for a service, and we knew right away we’d found our new home. The kids were excited, my wife and I felt fulfilled, the sermon was unapologetically powerful, and there were openings in kids ministry and worship, so it was a slam dunk. M:Tell me a little bit about your family. J: My wife, Amanda, has a heart for children and always has. She is actually back in school to finish her Elementary Ed degree so she can be a teacher here in Dubuque. Still a full-time mom and wife, she is doing great in school and remains on the Chancellor’s list each semester. Cadence is 13 and loves spending time with her friends and playing volleyball. She does very well in school and is a great big sister. Eli is 7 and loves all things skateboarding, and he’s incredibly talented in art and music. He keeps me challenged at the skatepark and drums for me when I play local gigs. M: Why did you and your family choose to jump in to serving right away? J: We are strong believers in “faith in action”. James 1:22 – “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Faith isn’t just what we choose to believe, it looks like something. One way we choose to live out our faith is through serving in church. God gives everyone different talents, abilities and resources, and we believe it’s up to us to express our gratitude for those by using them to serve his church. So Amanda serves in children’s ministry because it’s what fulfills her craving to serve. I do worship because I love playing music, but more so because it’s personally how I prepare my heart to hear God’s word, and I walk away feeling so blessed when I’ve had the opportunity to help prepare others.
M: What is your musical background? J: My dad has been a performer since long before I was born. He’s very talented at guitar, piano, harmonica and singing. I don’t remember a time before loving to play music, honestly. It started with singing with him, then I picked up the saxophone at school when I was 10, the guitar at 14, piano and drums at 16, and have dabbled in everything from bass to harmonica to ukulele throughout my life. I’ve played in marching bands, jazz bands, heavy metal rock bands, pop punk bands, worship bands, folk bands and more. I play around town doing gigs for fun, mostly solo along with my drummer, Eli. My wife is my manager, my social media rep, my roadie, and my biggest fan.
M: What does your sphere of influence as an artist look like today? J: I enjoy an eclectic mix of music, which I think is important to continue growing and learning and gaining an appreciation for new genres. Most mornings begin with Christian hip hop like Andy Mineo, Lecrae or Derek Minor while I work out. Then Life 101.9 on my way to work. On my way home I often try to learn new songs to keep my gigs fresh, and lately I’ve been enjoying learning some older stuff like James Taylor, Paul Simon, Queen, Doobie Brothers, CCR, and Eagles. When I need to relax I put on jazz, and when I’m on a road trip I like the pop punk stuff that was popular when I was growing up, like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, Sublime and Green Day. My favorite genre to play sax to is definitely blues. I’ve also been heavily influenced by a lot of lesser known artists, and popular artists’ work before they made it big.
M: Tell me about the beginning of your relationship with Jesus. J: I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, and it was only about 7 years ago that I came to know Jesus. There were a lot of moving parts but I’ll mention the highlights. My wife was pregnant with Eli, and I was in a constant state of fear, worry, and panic about the pregnancy and his health. I started praying, but I didn’t really know who I was praying to or why. A coworker at the time asked if I knew Jesus, to which I gave my usual reply about the Bible being the greatest fictional story ever told. She challenged me to learn more about the historical validity and significance of the Bible and the Christian faith before continuing to mock it, so I did. Just as I started to become thoroughly intrigued in what I was learning, Cadence had made a friend whose parents asked us if we would want to go to church with them. We did, although the first couple of times I did so apprehensively. One Sunday, I finally started singing along during worship, and it clicked. Or snapped, whichever. Tears streamed down my face, my heart felt like a callous had been torn away. I felt so vulnerable, yet so reassured. So convicted, yet so forgiven once I repented and asked for it. Since then it’s been one step at a time. Life groups, reading the Bible, daily devotionals, church, ministries, worship, and asking my wife and close friends to call me out when I’m not living out my faith.
M: When and how did your journey as an artist and your journey with Jesus intersect? J: When I experienced that moment in church, I knew I wanted to use my abilities in that capacity. The church we were going to didn’t have any openings on the worship team, so I waited. Once we got to Dubuque, we found a church that had just lost their male vocalist / guitarist, and that’s when I first started playing worship music, maybe about 4 years ago.
M:What about worship music draws you the most?
J: Throughout my day, I can be guilty of letting myself get overly busy and stressed, and not looking at what I need to do through the lens of my faith. When I’m chronically stressed I can be caustic, flippant, and irreverent. Then when I have a chance to get calm and reflect, I acknowledge my mistakes and ask for forgiveness. What worship does for me is refreshes my soul, focuses my attention away from busyness and on to God. When I look around and see the congregation singing, raising hands in praise, a comforting hand on a shoulder, worshiping together, or simply absorbing the music in quiet meditation, I feel the week’s wounds mended, callouses removed, grudges dissolved, comforted, and joyful knowing we’re all in there practicing for when we spend eternity in worship. I truly believe we get a taste of heaven when we enter whole-heartedly, without reservations or inhibitions, into singing God’s praises.
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