Fire & Flood by J. Reynolds


For singer-songwriter J. Reynolds, the release of Fire & Flood has been all about timing.

“This whole project was a lesson on God’s timing,” says Reynolds from his home in western New York State. “Honestly, I think it’s the first time I truly trusted him with something like this—these songs, the recording, the release—and just let go of my own agenda.”

When asked what brought him to this place, Reynolds is quick to cite the hardship that he’s experienced in life. “It’s really because of trials in my personal life,” he says. “I had no choice but to give this project to him from the start. Which isn’t that what a worship album should be about anyway?”

Any sooner or any later and it may not have worked.

The songs for Fire & Flood began when Reynolds started co-writing with longtime friend Brennan Blowers about 8 years ago.

“We started with We Lift You Up and Palm of Your Hand, which we played at our home church. The songs were so well received that we kept thinking we should write more and record them. It took seven years to get to a place where that made sense in our lives and our experiences. But any sooner or any later and it may not have worked.”

The album artfully marries organic with synthetic, drawing from Reynolds’ mastery of rich ambient tone combined with digital precision.

“There are acoustic guitars and other vintage instruments, but a ton of synths and programmed loops,” he says, pulling up a sample of Your Kingdom Come on his laptop. “I am very entertained and enamored with layers of sounds, so I and wanted to make a record that I would actually listen to as an artist.” True to Reynolds’ self-assessment, the song’s guitar parts dance effortlessly upon deeply layered pads. “However, at the end of the day, we wanted every song to be approachable enough for a solo guitar or piano with a room of worshippers.”

I lived a pretty safe and comfortable life, but going through some fires in the last year or two broke me down to where I knew I needed Jesus.

Reynolds notes that the record’s theme is about Christ carrying believers through life—through the fires and the floods of a broken world.

“This means some of the songs are dark musically,” he explains, “but that comes from a place of asking ‘Who am I, God, that You would know my name, and lift me up out of despair, and walk with my hand in Yours?’” But he insists that it’s those very same fires that help to refine Christians and deepen their acknowledgment of needing God. “I lived a pretty safe and comfortable life, but going through some fires in the last year or two broke me down to where I knew I needed Jesus if I was going to move forward.”

“The bridge in ‘Shelter’ sums it up for me every time,” he adds. “It says, ‘Every word that You have ever said is true / You are the rock that I have held onto / I know You hear me when I call upon Your name / You are my shelter’.”

When asked how he hopes the album will connect with people, Reynolds points out that “there are certain people for whom music is the best way to connect with God, but that they may not be satisfied by the usual flavors on the menu.”

“My hope,” he concludes, “is that the band and I were able to bridge a gap between the singable corporate worship songs that we all know and love with unconventional elements of surprise and wonder.”

Fire & Flood is available October 13, 2017 from online retailers everywhere. Visit to listen and purchase. •

Fire Flood J Reynolds Cover

Sprig Signs Worship Artist J. Reynolds


Sprig is pleased to announce its partnership with worship leader, songwriter, and producer, J. Reynolds, who has signed to the Sprig Worship imprint.

“J. is one of those prolific creators who just makes all this incredible music, dumps it in your lap, and says, ‘Here you go. Think we should do something with this?'” says Christopher Hopper, label executive. “My answer was, ‘Uh, yes!'”

“He’s an incredible writer,” agrees Anthony Hoisington, co-executive and head of the Old Bear imprint. “He’s just so good at grabbing ideas out of thin air and making them work, whether for himself or the other artists he writes for. For us, [signing him] was a no brainer.”

A long-time friend and collaborator of Brothers McClurg, J. is no stranger to the stage or the studio. “This just felt like the right time to make him more visible,” says Hoisington, who also helped produce J.’s upcoming debut release, Fire & the Flood, slated for a Fall 2017 drop.

“His years of faithful service to the local church combined with his seasoned repertoire make him a valuable addition to our growing family,” says Hopper. •••

Weston Skaggs Signs Deal with Sprig Music

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WATERTOWN, NY – Sprig Music is pleased to announce our partnership with recording artist and worship leader Weston Skaggs. As the newest artist on the Sprig roster, Skaggs comes with a long history of ministry to the church, as well as a deep reservoir of powerful songs that we believe the world needs to hear.

“I am so glad to be a part of the Sprig music family,” says Skaggs. “This team is full of incredibly talented and Godly people who have made me feel welcomed and encouraged.”

Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Skaggs is known for his unique blend of indie folk music and American roots. Add to that his heart for the local church, and what comes out is a worship leader who’s able to paint pictures of the highs and lows of the human experience. His songs are deeply authentic and accessible, drawing from situations like the dramatic birth of his daughter.

“My wife, Amy, nearly died in childbirth with Paisley,” recounts Skaggs. “She lost 10 liters of blood due to hemorrhaging, and underwent a hysterectomy during a 4-hour life-saving surgery.” The implications of the surgery are far-reaching, as anyone can imagine. But Skaggs insists that God used the experience for good. “Some extraordinary things happen to someone who holds on to the love of God when the odds are totally against them. Only one thing can account for it all—the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

And it’s precisely from this sort of place that Skaggs penned the lyrics to of his upcoming LP Joy & Sorrow Meet. “Out of the wreck I rise,” he says, “every single time.” The album pre-releases on Friday July 22, 2016 exclusively at Kingdom Bound at Darien Lake, NY with a full release the following Friday, July 29 on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, and physically at Sprig Music Store.

“Being a church-founded, artist-centric label means that Sprig has no conflict of interest to tamper with their artists’ songs and personal calling,” Skaggs adds. “This has allowed me to feel very settled and free to create the most true expression of my art in the studio.”

For more information on Weston Skaggs, please visit For media interviews and booking, please contact Daniela Piña (315) 788-0825. •

Brothers McClurg to Release Christmas Album

WATERTOWN, NY – Sprig Music is pleased to announce that Brothers McClurg will release a new Christmas album entitled “Goin’ Back To Bethlehem,” on November 27, 2015, featuring a collection of brand new material as well as revisiting some old standards.

In conjunction with the full-length album, we’ll be releasing six music videos over six weeks, beginning this Friday, November 13th. Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook for up to the minute updates.

From the entire Sprig Music family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

Sprig Music Signs Drummer Sam Widrick

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WATERTOWN, NEW YORK – Sprig Music is pleased to announce its management partnership with drummer Sam Widrick. Widrick is best known for his current tour status with husband and wife duo Christopher and Jennifer Hopper, as well as for his studio performances on their current worship album Awaken. He’s also a weekly live drummer for New Life Christian Church in Watertown, New York.

Widrick’s attention to detail, dedication to excellence, and impeccable sense of timing make him one of Sprig Music’s favorite drummers. His playing is hallmarked by consistency and a keen ear for artistic nuance.

“Plus,” says Christopher Hopper, “he’s just a likable, easygoing guy. And that’s not as common as you might think, especially when under pressure on stage or in the studio.”

With specialities in rock, hard core, and pop, as well as a growing interest in jazz, R&B, and country, Widrick’s wide dialog of genres makes him an asset to studio and road acts alike. He’s highly prepared, diligent, and always brimming with creative interpretations and insights. He’s also versatile in large and small venues, able to adjust dynamically to environmental contexts.

“We couldn’t do what we do without Sam,” says Jennifer Hopper. “He’s the glue that holds us together.”

Please visit Widrick’s Sprig Music page for booking and endorsement inquiries.

Press Release: Sprig Music Signs Artist Michael Bahn

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Photo by Sabina Magdalen-Hillman

Watertown, NY – Sprig Music is pleased to announce its partnership with singer/songwriter Michael Bahn of Grants Pass, Oregon. Bahn is a prolific writer and worship leader who serves as pastor of worship and administration at River Valley Church (RVC). Along with multiple albums of his own original music, he’s worked with numerous notable national artists, including Lincoln Brewster, Logan Martin, Chris & Conrad, Phil Stacey, Don Moen, Brandon Bee, Kate White, and Brothers McClurg.

Bahn is currently recording his third album, his first with Sprig Music, slated for a fourth quarter 2015 release. The album, produced by Chris and Anthony Hoisington of Brothers McClurg fame, will be prefaced with a new single “Rejoice” for airplay during the Christmas holiday.

Sprig Music is excited to produce and promote Bahn’s songs, all of which are designed to be easily accessible to worship leaders serving churches large and small. His modern vocal stylizing, instrumental proficiency, and dedication to song craft make him a musical inspiration. Bahn himself is a valuable addition to the Sprig Music family of artists as his love for people and desire for excellence are abundantly apparent in his work, as his his love for his wife and children.

To learn more about Michael Bahn, or to book him for dates in 2016, please visit his artist page for more information. •

Artists at Kingdom Bound 2015

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We’re pleased to announce that two of our artists, Brothers McClurg and Christopher and Jennifer Hopper, will be performing next week at Kingdom Bound at Darien Lake Amusement Park. Both bands will be playing in the Worship Tent, and Christopher will be speaking and MC’ing as well.

Scheduled events:

Wednesday, July 22nd
PAC Stage / 6:00 pm
Christopher Hopper as MC

Friday, July 24th
Worship Tent / 8:00 pm
Brothers McClurg (Band)

Saturday, July 25th
Worship Tent / 11:00 am
Brothers McClurg (Band)

Saturday, July 25th
Thrivent Financial Galaxy Theater / 3:00 pm
Christopher Hopper speaking on “Kingdom Business”

Saturday, July 25
Worship Tent / 5:45 pm (but come early!)
Christopher and Jennifer Hopper (Band)

Bringing Music Styles From the Past Into Our Present Worship

Bringing Music Styles From the Past Into Our Present Worship
By Chris Hoisington
Brothers McClurg

About two years ago, I started a search for new inspiration. You know, the sort of quest that any good songwriter will when you’re feeling dry and you’re seeking fresh musical inspiration. I wanted to find God in other forms of music besides the current modern worship music I’d become accustomed to.

I started by thumbing through my vinyl collection. It was in these beloved crates of aged musicology that I happened upon some old records that my parents had recorded in the mid 70s. The McClurg Family Singers.

I hadn’t listened to these records in over ten years, at least. But what I remembered of them sounded hoaky. The ultimate in cheesy, twangy southern gospel.

But I decided to give them a new listen. When I dropped the pin on their grooves this time around, the music hit my ears differently. I heard something in the sound that was fresh. It was old, but familiar. It was exciting.

I caught the scent of my inspiration, like a grandfather’s pipe smoke wafting in from the front porch.

From there, I began purchasing gospel records from the 60’s and 70’s, soaking in the sounds of Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light,” Elvis Presley’s “How Great Thou Art,” and the Louvin Brothers’ “Satan is Real.” They reminded me of those old songs I grew up hearing in church like “He Set Me Free,” “There’s Power in the Blood,” and The Gaithers’ “Because He Lives.”

I thought to myself, where has that music gone to? That good ‘ole sound?

Sure, we hear them every now and again, done at church during a special music time or in passing a road-side tent revival. And they’re alive and well at southern gospel festivals. But what about the church as a whole?

Soon after this fresh rediscovery of music, I decided to play the song “I’ve Got a River of Life Flowing Out of Me” during a Sunday worship service at my church. The results made me smile. I found that the older folks perked up and remembered how to clap, and the younger folks turned their heads, wondering what this “new” sound was. It was a glorious moment.

I think there are times when certain songs, even certain styles of music feel tired and need a break. This can be true of any art form, but especially of music. But everything comes full circle, and eventually we find a way to make old songs and old styles feel fresh again.

When I think of gospel music from the past, I think of our heritage, of a deep faith to draw from and pull into the present. These thoughts, combined with what happened that Sunday morning, made me think, what would new writing sound like if we brought that older style back again?

A few years back, Glenn Packiam, of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, called worship leaders to take a fresh look at liturgy in our churches—the structured, intentional progression of a Sunday service. He challenged us to try and bring it back again as an element in our services. To some churches, this was a totally new idea, while for others it had been one they have continued to do. It was in this challenged that I felt renewed passion toward these old gospel songs and music styles from Christian music’s past.

I started to realize that many of the vintage gospel records I was listening to were telling Bible stories, and some of the stories in scripture that you don’t always hear sung about in church. In a lot of ways, I think worship leading is like being a pastor. We are called to shepherd people into a real, honest and heartfelt experience with God. That’s why telling the Bible stories through song helps us reflect on the stories in new ways. It breathes life into the story. To help us understand the stories and what they can teach us.

Like a pastor takes a scripture and expounds upon it, we are taking stories from the Bible and expounding upon them through song. Bringing the story into the worship experience. Singing the stories of Jesus and what He did and how He interacted with people can help us understand Him in a deeper way. It can also help us see our life in light of the stories, which is exactly what a sermon does. Sermons and songs need to intermingle more. Often, our praise and the preaching of a sermon completely isolated, treated as two separate disciplines, when really, they have far more in common than we realize. Music can teach theology in fresh and new ways. Old Bible story songs teach people about their heritage, about the rich legacy of faith that we’re still benefitting form today.

Keep in mind, I don’t think this will work in every church or with every worship leader. Each of us has a unique voice and style, and the Lord speaks to each of us on how we should lead our congregations. I just wonder if we added more of those old gospel tunes and a return to that style of music, we may pull the older generations together along with us. As worship leaders, we’re called to serve our congregations as a whole, not just with the newest worship songs but also giving a fresh feel to some of the older songs as well.

Brothers McClurg has done just this with our last couple two albums, “Home” and “Around the Mic.”

We’ve tried to write with that old gospel feel in mind and bring it into the present.

And we’ve found that it’s giving fresh voice, not just just to our own congregations, but to the congregations we visit around the country.

These old gospel songs may be something you might want to try implementing into your own set. I would talk to your pastor about it and try adding a song or two into your set to see if it’s something your people might enjoy.

We certainly need praise songs that are straight forward and simple, that don’t focus on us but look to God, and I’m not saying you should stray from that. What I’m suggesting, however, is adding journey songs that talk about the road of life we’re on and help people see that we are real and honest people who go through the highs and lows of life. Music is a powerful tool that can connect people to Jesus like nothing else.

To start, I would recommend playing one gospel/journey song as people walk into church, then lead them in three songs of praise. Or at the tail end of your worship set, have them sit and share an older song while the offering is being taken. You might even end your service with one so that you’re not taking away from your praise songs, but rounding out the entire service. These practices are things that are inspiring us, and it may inspire you as well. Below is a gospel playlist of songs, old and new, to consider for your church.

Have you had an experience with this type of musical style in your church recently? What’s the response been like? We would love to hear how God is shaping your set list in different ways to help each person in your congregation connect with God.

Here is a playlist of new and old gospel songs to check out and enjoy.

Watertown Daily Times Article

We’re so thrilled to promote the story that the Watertown Daily Times did on us today. Couldn’t have hoped for a better piece. Thanks to Ted and Amanda for their reporting.

Peter Hopper Christopher Hopper Watertown Daily Times

Original source:

Christopher Hopper Watertown Daily Times YouTube Interview

Video Interview:

First-class recording studio at Watertown church opens doors to public (VIDEO)


UPDATED: SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015 AT 11:51 PM

WATERTOWN — Bands and artists with big dreams now can create their albums in a state-of-the-art recording studio at New Life Christian Church, which opened its doors to the public last month.

Launched at the church off Arsenal Street in the spring of 2014, Sprig Studios has all of the recording equipment artists and bands need to make professional albums to be sold online and at stores, said Christopher K. Hopper, president of the business, who also is the associate pastor of the church.

To celebrate opening to the public, the studio is offering a special rate for clients of $45 an hour through the end of this year, Mr. Hopper said. The cost includes supervision from a certified engineer and access to the studio’s tracking, editing, mixing and mastering equipment. The 2,000-square-foot space can also be used to record live concerts in the church’s 500-seat auditorium. He said the business reserves the right to deny the recording of music with explicit language that describes illegal activities, such as drug use and abusive behavior.

Built on multiple elevations and adjacent to the auditorium, the studio took nearly three years to design and build, Mr. Hopper, 36, said during a tour of the space Friday.

Mr. Hopper said he teamed up to design the studio with his father, Peter K., who serves as the chief studio engineer. He said the 68-year-old, who has more than 50 years of experience in the recording industry and owned a studio in Ithaca for three decades, was persuaded in 2011 to sell his business and move to Watertown to help launch the studio.

“Being a pastor at New Life, I wanted to champion the cause of the church being an epicenter for artists,” said Mr. Hopper, a singer and multi-instrumentalist who was recording a worship album at the studio Friday with his wife, Jennifer L., a singer.

The studio is in an area that was once used as a room to show films when the building operated as the Interstate theater at Stateway Plaza. The church opened in the fall of 2008.

To deflect sound, the space features a curved white wall and gravel-filled floor cavities, while American red cedar wood and bricks were used as design materials for other surfaces. Edison light bulbs affixed to black iron pipes lend the space a distinctive look with a “steam-punk aesthetic,” Mr. Hopper said. A space-saving 14-piece “Jefferson staircase” leads to the studio’s loft, where music also is recorded. The steep staircase, made with blue spruce wood, was inspired by a design from Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president, who was a skilled architect; Jefferson County was created in his honor in 1805.

The Hoppers lead a Christian band in Watertown that has produced albums under Sprig Music, an independent record label for Christian artists. The band will be doing a worship tour this year, hosting live concerts across the country. Earlier this year, it finished legs of the tour in Europe and Latin America.

Mr. Hopper said other groups that also produce music under the label are Brothers McClurg, a Buffalo-based band led by brothers Anthony and Chris Hoisington, and singer/songwriter Meg Sutherland, whose executive producer, Douglas Gresham, is the stepson of the late author C.S. Lewis.

“One of her songs is going to be featured in the next ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ film,” Mr. Hopper said.

Church members are able to support artists financially under the recording label by making donations online and at a giving kiosk in the church, he said.

Mrs. Hopper, 31, said she and her husband plan in July to finish the band’s latest album, which will feature about a dozen worship songs. She said the couple will have a busy travel itinerary this summer.

“Our band will be touring in Massachusetts this month and next month in Connecticut,” she said, adding that they’ll perform in July at the annual Kingdom Bound Summer Festival in Buffalo.

Peter Hopper, meanwhile, said he hopes the studio will inspire Christian and secular musicians to produce quality recordings for years to come.

“We can record all kinds of music — rock, jazz, country and even rap,” said Mr. Hopper, who has recorded with hundreds of artists during his career. He said he continues to learn something new every day in the studio.

“Recording is like flying an airplane — you’re always learning something,” he said.

And he has top-flight equipment on which to learn. He said the studio, which has a mix of digital and analog recording equipment, features a custom-designed recording console built in Nottingham, England. The 72-input console has 3,196 different functions.

“Doing this is kind of like painting with sound and mixing colors with a paintbrush. Each microphone used for recording has a different sound quality and characteristic,” he said.

For more information about the studio or to schedule a tour, call 788-0825 or visit
To see a video featuring the studio, go to

Meg Sutherland Album Release Concerts

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We’re pleased to announce three album release events for Meg Sutherland’s debut record Courage, Dear Heart, available worldwide on Tuesday, March 31st.

SATURDAY, MARCH 21, 7:00 PM – Meg Sutherland will perform an intimate “Live From Sprig Studios” session, debuting the songs from her new record for an online audience. Watch live from our online campus; no fee for virtual admission.

SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 6:00 PM – A live in concert appearance with her band at New Life Christian Church’s Main Campus sanctuary, 255 Gaffney Dr., Watertown, NY – (315) 788-0825, releasing the physical CD before it’s street date. Admission is free with limited seating available. Special guest appearance by executive producer Douglas Gresham, producer of the Narnia Films.

TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 7:30 PM – Meg Sutherland will perform at Mary Moody Northern Hall, West Texas A&M University, 2501 4th Avenue, Canyon, TX 79016 – (806) 651-0000. Admission is free with limited seating available. Special guest appearance by executive producer Douglas Gresham.

TUESDAY, MARCH 23 – Physical release date of Courage, Dear Heart.

TUESDAY, MARCH 31 – Digital release date of Courage, Dear Heart.