Johnson

We're In! We're Excited!

Our Johnson Strings music video, Hallelujah Chorus at the Bettendorf Castle, has been selected to be shown at the Christian Worldview Film Festival March 10-14, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas!

Check it out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIKvDkgg53w 

We will also be at the festival and will perform the opening concert on Thursday, March 12, 2015!

Now that we are back from our winter break, stay tuned for fun stories about what we've been up to in these last weeks and check Facebook for our latest updates!

Czardas - a sneak peak behind the scenes of our latest music video!

Shooting video in the rain.....or at least shooting between downpours! What fun. NOT! It was discouraging to get all the paperwork done, logistics worked out, and time spent to drive all the way to MO, only to be met with BAD weather! But, God worked out everything for the best and we came away with a video that has more weather features than we had originally planned on! His ways are always best, even though while you’re going through them, it can be easy to wonder. 

As you can see above, we did all sorts of things to keep the rain off the instruments as much as possible!

Umbrellas were our best friends.

The details: We arrived at the location only to have the skies pour and drizzle. Even though the rain lasted all day, we were able to shoot video now and then when the skies let up. The canopy we brought along at the  last minute was invaluable - we were able run under it when it poured and also do some closeups under it during the rain. I would be almost out from under the canopy on one side while the soloist would be as far away from me as possible while still remaining under the canopy. Crowded! Have you ever tried to get 8 people, 8 instruments (including a piano), a generator, umbrellas, and camera equipment all under 1 ten by ten foot canopy? It was tough to keep stuff dry! Beth (a very nice runner) brought us towels to use in drying off our instruments and even opened up her home in case we needed a place to warm up/dry off - thanks Beth!

Here, you can see the canopy when it was only filled with 4 people and part of the equipment - we weren't even shooting footage under it!


Because of all the rain, we weren't able to capture all the footage we were hoping for, so we were able to schedule a return to the park (on our way home from Texas) to finish the video. The only problem was it poured Monday morning when we were again scheduled to shoot video - thankfully, the rain dried up mid-morning, and were were able to grab a few shots before heading home!

I forgot to mention: the hill here was treacherous for filmmakers trying to get a smooth shot without stepping in holes and slipping a bit on rocks!

Take a listen here and see what you think! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8LsbYpw-2w 

In case you’re interested, here’s the backstory behind this unique burned out castle:
According to local folklore, Ha Ha Tonka is an Osage Indian word for laughing waters, alluding to the springs in the gorge far below the castle. This American mansion was built by Robert M. Snyder, a wealthy Kansas City businessman, on more than 5,000 acres. Construction began in 1905 only to be halted a year later with the untimely death of Snyder in one of the state's first automobile accidents. Snyder's sons finished building their father's dream, eventually leasing the property out for use as a hotel, until tragedy struck in 1942. The entire interior was consumed by fire when sparks from a chimney ignited the roof. Today only ruins remain of one man’s dream.

It must have been gorgeous before, but I love the feel it has now!

Check it out on YouTube!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8LsbYpw-2w 

Behind the Scenes of Our Latest Music Video

It's not out yet... But, here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

We are SUPER excited about the videos we've been working on this month! I can hardly believe we'll be shooting our 6th Johnson Strings movie in just a few days! It'll be our third movie to film this month! (Videos #4 and #5 are shot, sorted, and ready to send to my video editor, so stay tuned to see those in the upcoming weeks!)

Here's a little look behind the scenes of the last video we filmed.

During the time this scene was filmed, I was frozen! It was 33 degrees outside. Brrrrr.

Reflectors are VERY useful tools. Here, I was able to get the perfect lighting on Silas' face for his solo.

We had our fair share of clowning around. Laughter makes everything more fun!

Hats add so much character! Figuring out the clothing for each video is a good challenge - coordinating colors that go with our chosen theme and making sure they fit well with each individual's personality.

Ahhh... Here's our good 'ol English gent.

Did I forget to mention all our uninvited company? Picture this: thousands of no-see-ums and swarms of tiny white moths... Days later, my arms are STILL covered in itchy bug bites!!!

Below, we're celebrating the end of a day's hard work - getting up at 4:15 am makes for a long day!

What's YOUR vote? Who's jump picture do you like best?

Who'd you rather be?!!

Who'd you rather be?!!

How'd ya like that expression?

How'd ya like that expression?

That's all for now! Stay tuned for more juicy details!

"I Will Sing" Music Video - Behind the Scenes

Although it doesn't show in the video, we were battling soggy ground, mud, and later lots of rain on the way home! This made walking somewhat treacherous for the girls, who were in heels....we had many clean up sessions in-between takes! 

Making music videos is an adventure. This one was no different! With hours of travel time and many hours of filming, we had one long 16 hour work day!

Karen wasn't quite tall enough to get the shot I needed here, so we helped her out!

...relaxing when it's not their turn to be filmed...

Here, the guys are a safety net to make sure no one tumbles off the edge of the bridge during a song take!

Just (carefully) having some fun!

...getting set up at the English Garden... It's a race against time! Once the sun moves enough, the lighting will turn ugly and we'll have to move on to a different shot.

Waiting to start playing once again... By the end of the day, you have played the song so many times that your fingers begin to rebel! 

Dad had to stick his end pin into a piece of wood to keep it from sinking into the soft earth.

...what a cute, young praying mantis - how nice of him to pay us a visit!

Dad had a marvelous idea to end our long day... go to Culver's! Both the food and the frozen yogurt were especially delicious due to the fact that we were so worn out and hungry!

To watch the finished video, click on the link below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zY2MoKlAPs 

This movie was filmed on location at The Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Visit them at www.DubuqueArboretum.net 

The Thrill of the Sack Lunches...

After a concert, when you have expended a lot of energy, you get hungry. Especially if the concert is later in the evening and you only had a snack before-hand (Cause you know that if you eat too much before a concert, it's not a good thing for your voice). 

Anyway. Now you're hungry and the moment has come that you've been eagerly waiting for! The unveiling of the sack lunches by the wonderful hostess at the concert.

Here they come....

...in all their hidden beauty.

The Sack Lunch Queen is in the pink blouse! Thank you!

Yep. She's special.

He's excited and happy for a wonderful evening, and he's looking forward to the fun trip and the hours driving home in VanGogh.

The first peek inside!

All the goodness unveiled! 

Live life to the fullest! Enjoy every adventure and blessing God gives! Be thankful, and you'll have a joyful life, walking with the Lord Jesus Christ each step of the way!

The Johnson Strings - on your favorite social media!

Stay connected with The Johnson Strings! Subscribe to one or all of the pages below to get updates from us and the latest news!

In case you haven't noticed the new social media icons on our website, here are the links for you to visit!

YouTube    YouTube.com/TheJohnsonStrings

Facebook    Facebook.com/TheJohnsonStrings

Twitter    Twitter.com/JohnsonStrings

GooglePlus    Plus.Google.com/+TheJohnsonStringsMusic

Blog    - Where you are now! Don't forget to keep coming back here. This is where all the longest stories will be posted (and the most pictures!)

Go check out Facebook and Twitter to read about our latest trip to Minnesota for a concert and our stop at Mall of America!

 

Schindler's List Video Shoot - Behind the Scenes!

To see the finished video on YouTube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUigOhTXUNg 

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The reflector came in useful for this shot. Karen could feel the heat of the sun!

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My highlighted, detailed shot list and notes. (These were actually the notes from Granny, Does Your Dog Bite, but you get the idea!)

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Luke, Seth, and my dad took turns filming a few moving shots that included me. 

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This was definitely the toughest shot of the movie! As the last scene, I wanted a drive-away moving shot. With all sorts of bumps and ruts in the road, getting a smooth shot wasn't easy! Seth hung out the back door and held the Glidecam HD 4000 for me while I filmed. Luke was at the wheel. After trying several takes with the Jeep, we got the winning take using our Sprinter van. That way, we were able to stand up and hang out the back doors, absorbing the bumps with our knees. All in all, it was quite a feat to keep our outfits clean during the whole process!

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Before filming, we moved all the items that wouldn't fit the look we were after.

Inside the vandalized house - because of its age and the vandalism, this house fit the "war scene" feel very well. We were thrilled that we were able to get permission to film in this perfect location!

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Filming the night scene was both fun and eerie! I could really feel the music!

Talking about how we should film the next scene...

Preparing mentally before another take...

 

Again, if you're curious to see how these bits and pieces came together in the finished product, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUigOhTXUNg 

See you later!

Granny, Does Your Dog Bite?

Hi again, everyone! Time has been flying along at break-neck speed around here, hence the sad shortage of blog posts recently! Hopefully that shortage will be fixed soon. Anyway, to get to the exciting part, we have now released our next YouTube video!!! Granny, Does Your Dog Bite? You can watch it here, like it at the link below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you will be notified when our next video comes out!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4UHmlMz0kg 

Time for some behind-the-scenes details and pictures!

Do you see the stream? It's deeper and more slippery to cross than it looks! We threw one pair of mud boots in the van when we were packing and used those and a handy stick to ferry people across the stream... put on mud boots, hold onto stick, wade across stream with expensive instrument, have someone on the opposite bank toss your shoes over to you after you've crossed, toss the mud boots back over the stream, repeat! 

Yep. It was interesting getting the piano and the bass down there.

Toby, our dog, was hilarious! The out-takes of him are definitely worth watching. After we told him to "go get it!" to eat the sandwich, Luke was on the opposite side of the camera with a dog treat to call him after he snarfed down one sandwich quarter. After doing the take a couple of times, Toby got wise, looked at Luke, and then snarfed down a second sandwich quarter before running to Luke. It was a riot! 

Getting the cellos safely into the watery cave!

Our two cellists! You can't imagine how cold the spring water was coming out of the cave!!! The boys' feet were quite cold at the end of this scene!

Icey cold!

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To get to the next location meant packing up all the various instruments and camera equipment, and carrying everything to the next spot where we unpacked it all again! Generator, amplifier, piano, bass, instruments, etc....

Of course, for this video we had Toby with us, so we all had to make sure all the dog hair was gone from our clothes before each take! It was worth it, though, to have him along! 

Well, I'll leave you with this image - our very buggy scene! Bugs in our eyes, bugs in our mouths, and so on!

It was a fun, exhausting, and rewarding day!

P.S. Our next video is on track to be released in two weeks!

New YouTube Video!

We were all dead tired after 11 straight hours of filming! I'll share some fun behind-the-scenes pictures and stories later!

We finally have our Schindler's List video up on YouTube! I know some of you have found it by yourselves, but now after working through some technicalities, we're excited to have it up! Have fun watching - and don't forget to subscribe to our channel - our next video will be coming out soon! In the music video below we perform Theme from Schindler's List, a sad movie about the Holocaust. During the Holocaust, about 11 million people (many of them Jews) were exterminated, which is why we chose the somber settings and graveyard scenes.
Here's the link to view it on YouTube! http://youtu.be/eUigOhTXUNg

The Party!

The six sibs minutes before the party began...

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Congratulations, Abigail!

Thank you for coming and celebrating Abigail's high school graduation with us in our barn! We had an amazing time.

On the menu: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Maple dipping sauce, Cheddar Chile Bread Twists with butter sauce, Strawberry Walnut Salad, Chocolate-Glazed Peanut Butter Mini Cheesecakes, Lemon candy sticks, and Raspberry candy sticks!

The premier showing of our first music video was to a packed crowd of 250+ people!!! The video will be released on our YouTube channel on Friday, July 11th! (We'll post a link here on the blog.)

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Volleyball! With two nets and four teams, we had a blast!

Thanks to everyone that helped make this graduation a success! Your help is GREATLY appreciated!

P.S. Thanks, Hannah, for taking almost all of these pictures! It was one less thing to think about during the party!

CD Giveaway!!!

Here it is! Our first ever Johnson Strings giveaway! You can get yourself a free copy of our new Johnson Strings CD shipped directly to you IF you are the winner of this drawing!

How to enter:

1. Go to http://www.thejohnsonstrings.com/contact-us/ , fill in your name and email address, and type "CD Giveaway" in the message box! (One entry per person, but, if you share this on any social media, let us know and we'll give you a second entry into the drawing!)

2. Congratulate yourself on your successful entry! That's all there is to it!

3. Depending on the number of entries received, we may decide to award a second CD! 

4. You have until 11:59 pm on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 to enter. That's only one week, so enter now!!

You just might be a winner. You never know unless you try. Besides, what do you have to lose?

Winner(s) will be randomly selected and notified by email. 

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Don't FORGET!!!

Click on the image to enlarge it and view the details more easily.

 

We are so excited! These last several days and weeks have been a blur of work, practice, work, practice, etc! (Just normal Johnson family schedule, but vamped up to an even higher pitch!)

Come and enjoy a fun evening with us and see what surprises we have planned!!!

Is the CD done yet???

Answer: Not quite. But it's coming. 

It's a long process! Right now we are waiting to get the final master copy. Once we get that, we will ship a copy off to get it duplicated.

I am almost finished with the graphic design of the disc, insert, inside, and back cover. Those will all be proofread for the second and third times by almost everyone in our family.

Then, we will get into CD production mode while waiting on the discs... We do all the printing, perforating, cutting, folding, inserting, checking, shrink-wrapping, labeling, and packing ourselves. Anyone want to come over and spend a bunch of hours with us on this task??? 

 

That's all I have time for this week! I hope you are having a marvelous day!

An Ultra-Hectic Weekend

Ever wonder what it's like living at our house? Here's a little peak into our lives this last weekend.

It all began on Friday evening...

Ten rehearsals or concerts (plus other stuff!) that various people in our family either went to, listened to, or performed in. It makes me tired just to think about it!

Our little daily calendar boxes get pretty crammed from all the scheduling on those types of days.

Friday evening:

1.  5:00-7:00 pm Silas had NIJO (Northern Iowa Junior Orchestra) practice, in which he is first cellist, and brought treats this time - our signature yummy homemade chocolate chip cookies!

2.  7:00-9:30 pm Luke had symphony rehearsal with the Wartburg Symphony Orchestra.

Saturday:

3.  10:30-12 am Karen had a rehearsal with the Metropolitan Choral. She played in the orchestra that accompanied the choir. (I enjoyed going along with her to hear them practice - such a big, room-filling sound!) The Met Choral is an 80 voice choir whose director has conducted at the White House, the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., and Carnegie Hall.

4.  9:00 am Luke had Easter choir practice at our church for our Palm Sunday celebration.

5.  1:00 pm Luke had Wartburg Symphony rehearsal

6.  7:30 pm Karen and our mom went to hear a famous violinist, Bella Hristova, at the Des Moines Symphony, getting home after midnight, driving through a rain and lighting storm.

7.  7:30 pm Meanwhile, the rest of us went to hear Luke perform with the Wartburg Symphony and a famous pianist! On the way to the concert, we were trying to dodge a large hail storm in our new Sprinter, Van Gogh. Large dents would not improve its appearance!

Some of the hail was pretty frightful!

Some of the hail was pretty frightful!

We had second row seats in the concert hall and could turn around and see all the way back to the doors where sheets of hail were coming down like crazy. 

The thunder accented different parts of the concert, especially in the soft sections of the music.

With the pianist, Gabrielius Alekna, after the concert...

8.  9:00 am Even though all of us got to bed after midnight, we had to be up again, ready for the day, breakfast eaten, and at our church by 9:00 am for the Palm Sunday celebration. In the picture above, you can see Luke singing in the choir during the service.

9.  3:00 pm After eating brunch at church and helping with the cleanup, we did some practicing at home separately, and then Karen was off to her Metropolitan Choral concert.

10.  3:00 pm Abigail, Silas, our mom, and I went to the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center to hear the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist, Vadym Kholodenko. His playing was nothing short of spectacular! 

11.  3:30 pm Luke, Seth, and Daddy left home with our instruments and sound equipment to go set up at Whitten for the Whitten Gospel Sing. Those of us at the Van Cliburn concert arrived home and raced around to get ready for the concert with Karen arriving home shortly after we did. (Just so you know, all of this running around in the afternoon and evening is being done in the rain.) Piling into one vehicle, we drove to Whitton, helped the guys set up and test levels, ate supper with everyone at the gospel sing, and then gave our evening concert. By the time we finished playing, talking, and then doing a bit of jamming, it was definitely getting late. We drove home, unpacked, and then fell into bed. Morning comes early.

Oh, and by the way, we were up again at 2:30-3:30 am to see the Blood Moon on Monday night/Tuesday morning.

Sometime soon we are going to catch up on sleep. Maybe.

Have a wonderful Easter celebrating the death and then rising again of our amazing Lord and Savior! 

I am so thankful for all He has done for us. Without Him, there would be no reason to live.

Weird and Wacky

a few fun photos -  a not-so-normal look at what happens when we are setting up for a concert.

(Yes, I know! This post is a day late - sorry!)

Tuning da viola for da concert: a photo-worthy occupation when the photographer spots a neat window in the door just begging to have its picture taken.

Just thinkin' a thought or two...

Sometimes its time to see things in a new way.

Da one and only giving a surprise appearance.

Yep. We have fun around here.