All Saints' Day

All Saints' Day, released June 2012, is a song cycle about grief, memory, nature and faith. You can read the stories behind these very personal songs below. The songs and stories, together with artwork from Janet Tong, Jeremy Grant, Charity Kittler and others, make All Saints' Day a kind of collaborative, multi-platform creative nonfiction essay. We're pretty excited about it, so please explore.

Cathedral Pines

They filled Long Lake with water
To cover up my brothers
Left them suspended at the bottom of the lake

As our boat went sailing over
Think we disturbed the border
Where sky met water in our wake

She hovered o'er the water
I wish you could've seen her
Sailboats for color and a sky to hold her in

We couldn't hardly stand her
Because of what we knew was underneath
But pretty soon we waded in

To whisper your name (whisper my name again)
We whispered your name (whisper my name again)
We skimmed our hands on the water and whispered your name

My brothers said a prayer for us
Laughing in the pines above us
Up in the treetops their voices mixed with mine

We did our best with banjos
And out of tune pianos
To sing them twangy elegies in kind

To whisper their names (whisper my name again)
We whispered their names (whisper my name again)
At some point a doe wandered in
she whispered your name

You filled Long Lake with water
And the sky with meteors
And in between was our canoe

All around us we heard voices
Singing praises
Echoing your name across the blue

So whisper my name again
whisper my name again
whisper my name again

I saw your face in the water
It whispered my name

You walked across the water
Lay down with me beside her
Held me close to remind me I'm still there

I'll miss you in the morning
When all the stars are missing
And I can't find my brothers anywhere

Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy.

the The Common of Saints, Book of Common Prayer

There's a weird poetry in loss. I was twenty when a close friend of mine committed suicide. A few months later, my father died of liver cancer. A few more months after that, my young cousin was killed in a random farming accident in Kansas, leaving behind a wife and a nine month-old baby. I attended my cousin's funeral on my 21st birthday. All three men were baptized Christians. All three were youngest sons.

Right after everything happened, I spent three months working at a wilderness camp in the north woods of Wisconsin, writing most of All Saints' Day's songs on a moldy piano I found in a cabin that overlooks 3300-acre Long Lake. Then I went back to college, and dragged myself every Sunday to an Anglican church in the Chicago suburbs. I didn't realize this while I was writing it, but "Cathedral Pines" takes that Anglican church and plants it squarely over the top of Long Lake, like a double exposure photo, or maybe a canoe.

Words and music by Steve Slagg
Artwork: "The Church" by Jeremy Grant

Steve Slagg piano, synths, vocals Allison Van Liere banjo, backing vocals, acoustic guitar Gabriel Ellison RiCharde backing vocals Liz Grant backing vocals Cathy Kuna cello Lee Ketch bass, electric guitar Michael Schlotter drums

Think About Your Troubles

Preserve us from the dangers of the sea...
Prayers for Her Majesty's Navy, Book of Common Prayer, 1833 edition

After experiencing so much loss, it seemed really important de-fang grief somehow. When the band that would be Youngest Son started playing shows, "Think About Your Troubles" became a sort of anthem for us. Harry Nilsson originally wrote "Troubles" for a children's album he made while tripping on acid. We interpreted the song's title as a directive, and made it our mission to proclaim it to the whole campus, as if college students needed any help thinking about their troubles. Almost everybody I knew was on depression medication at the time. I thought I was being funny.

words and music by Harry Nilsson 1970
arranged by Steve Slagg 2008
Artwork: "Think About Your Troubles" by Alyssa Barringer and Thomas Keysor

Steve Slagg piano, organs, vocals Allison Van Liere banjo, synths, percussion, vocals Lee Ketch bass Mike Schlotter drums

Marty and the Leonids

We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water.
Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation.
Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage
in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus
received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit
as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death
and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.
from the Holy Baptism, Book of Common Prayer

Long Lake was a shapeshifter, and it was always with us: jewel-blue and inviting on sunny days, dotted with sailboats and canoes; a choppy gray during storms; glassy and lined with fog in the early mornings. I would sit by the lake, and think, and read, and remember, and talk-- with my dad, with my friend, with my cousin, with God.

At midnight one evening near the end of the summer, my friend Marty and I got in one of the camp's giant Voyageer canoes and rowed out to the middle of Long Lake. The sky was clear and the lake was calm. It was the tail end of the Perseids--the occasional meteor would arc across the sky, breaking the stillness. Tiny campfires flickered on the shoreline in the distance. We spent a lazy and beautiful hour and a half out there-- night sky above, night sky reflected below, with Marty and me suspended in the middle. Every few minutes, children's voices would echo across the lake: counselors were sneaking their campers out in canoes like ours, singing hymns in the dark. "We're surrounded by so much goodness here," Marty said.

Words and music by Steve Slagg and Kathy Kuna
Artwork: "Tomorrow" by Janet Tong

Steve Slagg piano Cathy Kuna cello

Youngest Son

Oh my son
You know I loved you
You know I called you
By name
Called you out of there
Out of a strange land
You know I love you

But the more I called you
The further you went away
And you traded my name
For your images
I taught you how to walk
And you walked away

Now you're back
You're back in strange land
And you're dying under the sword
How can I give you up?
How can I let you go?

Someday the people will follow the Lord
They will come from all nations
When the lion roars

And they will come
like a flock of birds
from Egypt
trembling from the West
and I will bring them home

Will you be responsible for seeing that the child you present
is brought up in the Christian faith and life?

Parents and Godparents:
I will, with God's help.

Will you by your prayers and witness help this child
to grow into the full stature of Christ?

Parents and Godparents:
I will, with God's help.
from The Holy Baptism, Book of Common Prayer

The night my father died, I sat, too tired to sleep, in the dark of the basement in the house where he had died - crushing a dozen or so of the 1000 paper cranes local middle school students had made for him, cranes we had hung years ago but which had started to fall off the walls, and which none of us had had the energy to hang back up and had instead draped over couches, chairs, anything we could sit them on to prevent them from tangling - reading e-mails as they flew in from friends and relatives, carrying notes of encouragement, rambling emotional outpourings, quotations from books, and Scripture passages, including this one from Hosea:

"When Israel was a child, I loved him as a son, and I called my son out of Egypt. But the more I called to him, the more he rebelled. ...

"Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? ...

"For someday the people will follow the LORD. I will roar like a lion, and my people will return trembling from the west.

I could not read or think or pray in the weeks after Dad died, so I hand-copied each of those e-mails into my journal and read them when there was nothing else to do - which was all the time - until I had memorized the Scripture passages and the quotations from books and the rambling emotional outpourings and the notes of encouragement, and also a letter, tucked into the back of the journal - the last letter my father wrote me - which I will not share because it is mine not yours, except I will share the last line: "I love you, my favorite youngest son."

Words and music by Steve Slagg
Artwork: "St. Jimmy of Cub Scouts" by Jeremy Grant

Steve Slagg piano, vocals Cathy Kuna cello Allison Van Liere french horn, vocals Gabriel Ellison RiCharde vocals Lee Ketch bass Michael Schlotter drums


Tonight, love
your face is made of shapes
I can't recall
Tonight, love
I feel like I could break
If I'm here at all
A year ago
we saw you on the news
tonight, we're still confused

Tonight, love
there is no good, no truth, no beauty
and tonight there never was
Tonight, love, there is nobody
and tonight there never was
Besides, love, you're only in my mind
Besides, love, death was kind

Tonight, love
You never were alone
Tonight, love
We all answered the phone
Tonight, love
We're with you in the dark
Feeling around for the guardrail
Or hiding in the bushes

Tonight, love
the ground's begun to shake
below me now
tonight, love
if you are still awake
where are you now?

All night long we searched and never found
But for God's sake, man, you could've stuck around
And there's no place now for all this love we've got
Tonight, love, you are gone
We are not

Let us pray for all who suffer and are afflicted in body or in mind; For those in loneliness, fear, and anguish
from The Solemn Collects, Book of Common Prayer

I do not like to write about this, because we love him and we miss him, and his memory is ours, not yours. When I was twenty and in college, my friend Stephen killed himself by stepping in front of a train.

"Wake" isn’t so much about Stephen as what it felt like to miss him. I didn't have thoughts for Stephen, but I would sit at the piano and play the same chords for hours on end. I never got tired of them. I would sit in class and daydream about going to the piano and playing those chords. Eventually they became "Wake".

There were these train tracks on our college campus, and they went right by the apartment where I lived- a constant reminder of Stephen. Usually the tracks carried slower freight trains, but every once in awhile a high-speed Metra passenger train would howl by, lighting up the evening with its Edward-Hopper-green glow1. The trains interrupted conversation and made us late to class.

An uncomfortable reality when you live in the Chicago suburbs: people step in front of Metras. It happened while several of my friends were riding into the city a few months after Stephen died, and then again a few weeks later, right outside the studio where I was pulling an all-nighter to record an early version of "Wake." Twenty years before, a student from my college, also named Steven, had knelt down in front of a Metra train during the school term, at the intersection right by the apartment where I spent my junior year. Stephen and I had discussed him once, when I was a freshman, with a friend, talking late into the night.

You start to get tired of the poetry of loss.

My friend Charity, who had also known Stephen, painted a mesmerizing, wall-sized Metra on a canvas for her senior art project. Then she did pencil portraits of five of us who had been close to Stephen. While we sat for her, she interviewed us--about Stephen's death, and missing Stephen, and knowing Stephen while he was alive. When Charity's show opened, the train took up the entire south wall of the gallery, and in our portraits the five of us appeared to be staring at it.

I tried to do a similar thing with "Wake." Every lyric in the song comes from a conversation I had with one of Stephen's friends. I tried to give voice to the community of people who missed him. In every line, I refer to him as "love," because I think it would've made him uncomfortable. We do love him, and we miss him. Those same friends tell me they cannot and will not listen to "Wake." I have a weird ambivalence about it too. I don't like performing it or listening to it. And I don't really like looking at Charity's painting. But what else can we do? The thing happened; we can't make it un-happen. So we just kind of carry it around - all this art we can't get rid of, and a friend we still miss.

1 Charity's description, not mine
words by Steve Slagg 2007
music by Steve Slagg & Lee Ketch 2010
Artwork: "Train" by Charity Kittler

Steve Slagg piano, vocals, synth Cathy Kuna cello Lee Ketch bass, guitars Michael Schlotter drums

Hole in the Sky

You came again
with your wheels again
and your teeth again
and your timing again
and you took another brother
into the sky

So we cried again
all alone, again
in our separate rooms
we lit a candle for you
we lit another and another
to get us through
and we'll probably run for cover
no matter what you do

There's hole in the sky
Where his body should go
There's a hole in the ground
Where his body should go
There's a hole in my arms
Where his body should go
There's a hole in the ground
Put me in it

There's a hole in the sky
Where your body should go
There's a hole in the ground
Where your body should go
There's a hole in my arms
Where your body should go
There's a hole in the sky
Where your body should go
There's a hole in my arms
Where your body should go
There's a hole in the ground
And they filled it up with water
Now make it holy

I look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.
the Nicene Creed

"Just as sacramental theology speaks of a doctrine of the Real Presence, maybe it should speak also of a doctrine of the Real Absence because absence can be sacramental, too, a door left open, a chamber of the heart kept ready and waiting."

-Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth

"At last big-faced Norval Tawes read Scripture and prayed. 'O Death, where is thy sting?' Norval Tawes called out, and his little black eyes glittered on Hugh.

"Hugh thought, 'Just about everywhere, since you ask.'"

-Annie Dillard, The Living

Words by Steve Slagg & Blade Barringer 2011
music by Steve Slagg, Lee Ketch & Michael Schlotter 2008
Artwork: "Pomegranate" by Janet Tong

Steve Slagg piano, vocals, synths, backing vocals Allison Van Liere accordion, french horn Cathy Kuna cello Lee Ketch bass Michael Schlotter drums


We heard the morning bell Where'd Alex go?
The lake, it stood as still
As a mirror or a bowl
We thought we saw him walking
On the opposite shore
But then we found his clothes
Crumpled with the oars

Peter tried to walk
On the water to his Lord
But he didn't have the faith
And he started sinking down
Jesus pulled him out
With his strong right arm
He pulled Peter out of the water
Put Peter back in the boat

Alex tried to swim
In the presence of his God
But the lake, it changed its mind
And Alex drowned
So Jesus dragged the lake
With his strong right arm
And he pulled Alex out of the water
He pulled Alex out of the water
And he didn't stop his pulling
Where'd Alex go?

"You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
Matthew 14:31b

One year to the day after Marty and I had our midnight canoe ride on Long Lake, a young man drowned there. He was the younger brother of a friend of ours - just a kid, a college student. He went out to the lake just before sunrise, talking about baptism, and he didn't come back.

I don't understand. I don't understand.

Words and music by Steve Slagg 2010
Artwork: "6" by Janet Tong

Steve Slagg pianos and vocals Cathy Kuna cello

All Saints' Day Baptism Liturgy

Light a candle, little brother
Everything is new today
Pull on your robe of clean, white linen
And pray

With all the saints who've gone before us
And all the saints we'll leave behind
Wade into the water, little brother
And join that line

Don't be frightened, little brother
Don't be scared if the water's over your head
The day of the living is coming
But today, today is the day of the dead

Father, hold my body under
Father, raise my body up
Father, hold my body under
Father, raise my body up
Sister, take care of my body
Sister, take care of my body
Brother, lean on my body
Brother, lean on my body
Mother, hold your son
Mother, hold your son
Mother, hold your son
Mother, hold your son

Father, hold my body under
Father, raise my body up

We receive you into the household of God.
Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection,
and share with us in his eternal priesthood.
from the Holy Baptism, Book of Common Prayer

On November 2, 2007, at about 10:30 AM, my dad died in the bedroom he shared with my mom in our Missouri house. One year later--down to the minute--I found myself at the Anglican church I attended in Illinois, celebrating the feast of All Saints' Day. My good friend was being baptized-- welcomed into the church, confirmed as an Anglican, and "sealed as Christ's own forever"--so I'd crawled out of bed that morning to attend.

Our preacher, a woman named Katherine whose husband Stewart is the rector at the church, gave a brief history of the feast day. On All Saints' Day we celebrate the life of the church, past, present and future. This means it's a day of reverence, for church fathers and historic saints throughout the ages. It's also a day of remembrance, for loved ones and church members who have died, including our parents and spiritual mentors. Finally, it's a day of anticipation, looking forward to the saints who are going to follow us, including children, new believers, and babies not yet born. Mingling grief with celebration, it's one of the two feast days in the church year--with the Easter Vigil--on which baptisms are performed.

The service is hours long and builds to a sort of fever pitch as dozens of babies are baptized. It's a chain reaction: one baby starts crying, then they all start crying, then the congregation laughs. I split the difference and did both.

"Part of the life of faith is understanding that our lives are interdependent with all the saints," said Katherine. Her brother John had died of cancer the past summer, while I was sitting beside Long Lake. He had been the worship leader at the church for years, and the congregation was celebrating its first All Saints' Day feast without him. For John, worship meant entering the holy of holies each Sunday, joining our voices with the saints and angels. Or, as Katherine put it, "faith means learning to see our individual lives as one stroke in a larger painting. Without those before and after us, the painting is incomplete."

At the beginning of the baptism service, Father Stewart gave thanks for the water, dipping the bottom of the giant Christ candle into the font and stirring it. Then he moved through the congregation, using olive branches to sprinkle us with water from the baptismal font. This practice, called aspergis, is meant to put the congregation in mind of our own baptisms.

I was baptized by my dad, a Methodist minister, when I was twelve, in a lake in Missouri, surrounded by family and friends. Just before dunking me under and administering the rite of baptism, Dad cracked a joke based on a Flannery O'Connor short story he misremembered as being about a father who baptizes his son and then immediately drowns him. "Trust me?" he said, looking me in the eyes, getting laughs from the faithful on the shore.


Dad literally ghost-wrote his funeral in the months before he died, choosing all the hymns and Scripture passages. "We will not sing 'It Is Well With My Soul'," he'd insisted. "This will be a celebration!" He'd enlisted his three closest pastor friends to preach the gospel. If he'd been Baptist there would've been an altar call. I still remember singing all his favorite hymns with everyone I'd ever known growing up, even all the people I never really liked.

On my 21st birthday, at my cousin Christopher's funeral in Kansas, the pastor-- Chris's high school principal--preached for a half hour to the thousands of people who had gathered in the school's gymnasium to remember him. Through tears and gritted teeth, he urged us to see the larger joy in our grief, that God endures the death of his saints only to allow the church to continue her work of redeeming the world, "to bring about that many people should be kept alive." Then we sang Christopher's favorite hymn: "The Wonderful Grace of Jesus". Most everyone there knew it by heart, because Chris had always led them in singing it.

At Stephen's memorial service at our college, the air was heavy and thick. His mother wept vocally throughout the service. After it was over, nobody spoke. It was strange: we all lingered awkwardly, each lost in his or her own world. Eventually a handful of friends and I went to someone's place. I think we watched a movie.

One All Saints' Day feast, a baby was brought forward whose parents were raised in the Orthodox tradition and requested that she be fully immersed in the baptismal font, as is customary for adults, instead of being sprinkled with water from it as infants normally are. Father Stewart gently submerged her, then quickly pulled her from the font. She shrieked in terror while Father Stewart bellowed with joyful laughter.


I'm still looking for the resurrection of the dead, for the life of the world to come. Every year I sit through two consecutive All Saints' Day feasts, laughing and crying and looking. Look--there's my friend, on the other side of the baptismal font, dripping wet, holding a candle, singing with the rest of us. Glistening, shivering, new.

words by Steve Slagg 2009
music by Steve Slagg, Allison Van Liere, Cathy Kuna & Bonnie McMaken 2012
melody from traditional tune "Bright Morning Stars"
Artwork: "Pentecost Arch" by an unknown artist

Steve Slagg piano, vocals Bonnie McMaken vocals Cathy Kuna cello

Untitled Memory Song

Brother, I miss you tonight
I remember nights in the city
We walked with Jeff
Through Boystown to iO
You read a sonnet about Kant on the mainstage
Del Close's ashes laughed the loudest
You solved the problem of evil the next morning at breakfast
And nobody noticed

Well, brother, we need you tonight!
I remember you comin' in from the fields
Covered in pigshit and glowing
Jody was pregnant, it was weird
You still looked twelve
And Jody looked maybe fifteen and a half
But her belly could've passed for 20
Dan made the joke
But you made it funny

Stephen, I need you tonight
No one else thought this place was as crazy
We lay with Jeff on the floor on your birthday
All night

Lay for hours and talked about
How things would never be
All right
Lay for hours and talked about
How we would never be the same
Then we talked about a man
Who kneeled down in front of a train
The month we were born
It made us angry
"Why would you do that?" we said
He had the same name as us, that's weird
Birthday balloons were sinking softly all around us
It was 6AM, Jeff got up and made breakfast

We miss you tonight
Every relative here looks just like you
Dakota does too
He's almost two
Jody still looks fifteen and a half
She's still pretty and smiling
She's smiling, I promise
In fact
Everybody here is smiling, look at us
Dan just made a joke
That wasn't very funny
Brothers, we miss you tonight

Almighty God, we remember this day before thee thy faithful servant; and we pray that, having opened to
him the gates of larger life, thou wilt receive him more and more into thy joyful service, that, with all who
have faithfully served thee in the past, he may share in the eternal victory of Jesus Christ
Prayer for One Who Has Passed, Book of Common Prayer

Eventually you get around to just missing them. Stephen was hilarious. He was one of the funniest people I've ever known. Even the depressing things he said were hilarious. Especially the depressing things. His humor rang true and cut deep. Christopher's smile was contagious, his sense of humor kind. His jokes kept family conversations running smoothly; without him we're a bit more awkward, a bit more hesitant.

Every story in this song is true--a verse about Stephen, then one about Chris, then one about Stephen, then one about Chris. I like that humor is the common thread-- Stephen getting pulled onstage at an improv club, Chris joking about his wife's baby-bump. I like that it was so urgent to my body, or God, or whatever, that I wake up in the middle of the night and remember that these guys make me laugh.

words and music by Steve Slagg 2009
Artwork: "A Learned Skill" by Charity Kittler

Steve Slagg piano, vocals Gabriel Ellison RiCharde vocals Trevor McMaken acoustic guitar

Long Year

There was a minute
at the beginning of the year
When everybody
was alive
and everything was clear
I said I loved you
I think I said
That you were everything to me
I thought I meant it
But in hindsight it couldn't be true

It's been a long year

Let's say he made it
Let's just say
that this was all some crazy dream
I wouldn't take it
and I know
that if he could, neither would he
You met me somewhere
and I know
that somewhere now he is with you
And that's what matters
And that's always been, always will be true

But Lord, it's been a long year
It's been a long, hard year without him
It's been a long, hard year without You

For now I'm quiet
For now I'm still
I'm not too big
I'm like a child
For once I'm still
Oh, Israel

For just a minute
Before I'm finished with this song
When nobody else
is around
And you and me are alone
I'll say I love you
I think I'll say
That you are everything I see
I think I mean it

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great
and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 131

"Long Year" is a prayer I wrote roughly a year after dad died. The bridge is from Psalm 131, which my dad had printed on the inside of his funeral bulletin. He told me once that his prayer for me was that I would be able to say those words and mean them.

words and music by Steve Slagg
bridge from Psalm 131
Artwork: "Serenity" by Jeremy Grant

Steve Slagg piano, vocals

When I See You

When I see you I see you twice or not at all
When I see you I see you twice or not at all

It's like putting my nose
up to A Sunday
on Grand Jatte
at the Institute of Art
Was gonna go there with my brother
but we lost him
six months later
-and two more-
I never see them anymore
But when I see you

When I see you I see you twice or not at all
When I see you I see you twice or not at all

It's like standing on my back porch
on a summer evening
with the fireflies and stars
I wonder where you are
cupped in my hands
or cupping the sky-
Either way
we won't see you in the morning
But when I see you

(It's like standing on my back porch
on my back porch
for a firefly
in the dark
all I ever see is dots)

(It's like Sunday in the park
Sunday in the park
We're pointillists
We're pointillists
All I ever see is dots)

It's like rowing the lake with Marty
and the Leonids
periods and commas
scattered artlessly
across an empty page

But when I see you

When I see you I see you twice or not at all
When I see you I see you twice or not at all
When I see you I see you
When I see you I see you
When I see you
When I see you

All these people died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar.
Hebrews 11:13

I tire easily, building the stairway of abstraction
-Czeslaw Milosz

By my third All Saints' Day feast at the Anglican church, Father Stewart was clued in to the kid laughing and crying during the baby baptisms every year. As he served me Communion, he suddenly grabbed my shoulder and prayed aloud that God would give me eyes to see the invisible. Then he poured oil on his thumb, painted a cross on my forehead, and gave me "the Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven."

It's me and Marty in that canoe again: night sky above, night sky reflected below. I'm trying, father, every day, to see it.

Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

I will, with God's help.
words by Steve Slagg and Blade Barringer, music by Steve Slagg and Allison Van Liere 2009
Artwork: "Three Years" by Janet Tong

Steve Slagg piano, organ, vocals Allison Van Liere banjo, accordion, vocals Gabriel Ellison RiCharde vocals Catherine Kuna cello Blade Barringer cello programming

The Players

Steve Slagg

singer, songwriter, pianist

Steve was once called the next big thing by poet David Wright, garnering comparisons to Sufjan Stevens and Dave Matthews. He's not sure how he feels about that.

Allison Van Liere

multi-instrumentalist, singer

Youngest Son desperately misses Allison Van Liere, who was a workhorse on All Saints' Day and is a boundlessly creative person in general. Allison apparently has the patience to sit through two consecutive stagings of Much Ado About Nothing.

Cathy Kuna


Cathy Kuna never played in the same room as (or even met) most of us, but without her cello All Saints' Day would never have made it off the cutting room floor. Cathy performs around Chicago with Kairos Quartet, Youngest Son, These Wicked Waters and pretty much everybody else.

Lee Ketch

bassist, guitarist

Every song Steve writes is an attempt to impress Lee Ketch. Lee's band Mooner (which Steve plays in too) is one of the most underrated bands in Chicago. Lee's wife hosts ferociously good parties.

Mike Schlotter


Before playing on All Saints' Day, Michael Schlotter shared pillow-talk with Steve while they roomed together in London. Mike lives, teaches and performs in Los Angeles. If you see him there, give him a hug.

Gabriel Ellison RiCharde


Steve had a crush on Gabriel RiCharde's voice long before they met. You can hear one of Gabe's hundreds of beautiful songs here. To hear the rest of them, you will have to visit his home in Spain and ask nicely.

The McMakens

singer / guitarist

Trevor and Bonnie McMaken and their committee of resourceful doppelgangers blog, write, record, perform, lead worship and raise two kids in the Chicago suburbs. It was Trevor who first peer-pressured Steve into recording and sharing his songs. Steve plays piano on The McMakens' new album.

Blade Barringer

producer, engineer, web designer

Blade Barringer makes Youngest Son possible: he produces, manages, designs, codes, edits lyrics, cooks dinner, reminds Steve to pay rent, etc. His production company, Crooked Neighbor, wants to be friends with you.

Jeremy Grant


Steve discovered Jeremy Grant's found-art sculptures long after All Saints' Day was finished, but their intimacy and everydayness felt like a perfect fit. Jeremy's wife, Liz, sings on Cathedral Pines and was at Steve's side for two or three of those All Saints' Day services. Jeremy's latest project is "Ordinary Saints" and it's really dang cool.

Alyssa and Thomas


Alyssa is married to Blade. Together they feed Steve when he is hungry. She and her brother Thomas have been gluing stuff to other stuff since they were kids. Sometimes that stuff ends up getting published. More frequently it ends up on hanging in somebody's living room.

Janet Tong


Janet Tong's self-described "non-representational icons" are influenced by Rothko and Kandisky, and focus on the visible and invisible attributes of Jesus Christ. She and Steve met while she was "figuring out" these pieces and Steve was "figuring out" All Saints' Day.

Charity Kittler


Conversations Steve had with Charity Kittler were a big influence on All Saints' Day, as were her drawings and paintings. Charity's photography was recently on exhibit at the Crowded House Gallery in Lincoln Square, Chicago. Charity has described Steve's voice as "mustard yellow".