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  • Bryon Harris

Bible Belt Blues - 'Can't Take It With You'

Harold and Paula Vega Vondenstein are Bible Belt Blues, an award winning husband and wife music ministry duo from Gulfport, Mississippi. Their music is reminiscent of early Mississippi Bentonia blues with a focus on full-fledged repentance and church revival songs. In 2019, Bible Belt Blues released two Christian albums, I’m Not Ashamed to Be a Christian and My God, My God, which won the coveted Josie Music Award for Best Gospel/ Christian Duo. An extensive list of accolades and awards are provided at the end of this review. Their latest single, "Can't Take It With You"

is about values, temporary and spiritual.

Harold Vega Vondenstein displays his unique blues guitar style in "Can't Take It With You." Combining numerous intricate playing techniques, Harold picks, plucks, and strums with nuanced rhythmic articulations for a captivating performance. His harmonica joins in with an improvised feel, similar to call and response, playing off the song's melodic content. Harold's voice, his guitar, and his harmonica become an intermingled trio that express the lyrics which were written by Paula Vega Vondenstein.

The song commences with a confident guitar slide, then settles into a textured groove. Harold sings, "Climbing up that corporate ladder. Working for that prize - you know, a fancy car, a private plane. You’ve bought into that lie - you know the one- that he who has the most toys wins." Harold uses various vocal techniques to keep the listener fully engaged. He starts with a relaxed tone then builds the song up with vocal dynamics.

Mid-way through, listeners area treated to a very animated, expressive, and theatrical spoken-word section that brings to life the sound of a materialistic tantrum. "I gotta’ have it now. It’s the latest model - It’s the newest trend. I gotta’ have it now I gotta’ have it now I gotta’ have it now, now, now. Oh, If I could just have it now." Lyrically, these lines are reminiscent of a spoiled kid in a candy store.

In "Can't Take It With You", Paula Vega Vondenstein (lyricist, producer, visionary) breakdowns materialism, a state of mental and physical being where possessions are more important than spiritual values.

It starts with a lie. "You’ve bought into that lie- you know the one- That he who has the most toys wins." It is worth noting, that Paula uses the word "toys" which adds extra minimalization to the adult's collection. Paula also addresses both men and women in the lines "he who has the most toys wins" and "she who has the most toys wins."

In the first two verses, buying into the lie results in climbing a corporate ladder, accumulating prizes, and never feeling satisfied. It's starts with one designer bag and becomes a desire for dozens of bags in different colors. By the third verse, a lifetime spent acquiring and accumulating toys and prizes has passed, but at the end, all of these things expire.

Then comes the wake up call which Paula writes in a very frank manner by shifting the narrative from a storytelling format to asking a direct question that pops off the track. "Come on now - do you really think you’re going to take it with you? Nuh uh- you’re not- No."

In words that everyone can understand, Paula brings to life the concept of serving a false master. This false master will leave you unsatisfied and empty handed. She ends the song with the idea of serving God instead of gold, giving instead of getting - a shift from greed to God. Flipping the script of "bigger, better, faster", Paula starts with giving a little, giving a lot, then giving everything. Giving everything can be interpreted as giving your life to God.

"Why not give a little, give a lot, Give everything you’ve got No- you can’t take it with you- No, no, no, no, no Bless someone else Stop hoarding for yourself You can’t take it with you Can’t take it with you."

Staying true to their purpose, Bible Belt Blues unravels one of the most common lies of our time - that accumulating money and material objects is a life worth pursuing and those who have the most prizes win.

In "Can't Take it With You" Harold and Paula Vega Vondenstein shine a light on values and the choice between serving a lie or false master that will leave you with an empty suitcase or serving God who offers eternal life.

More About Bible Belt Blues

Currently, Bible Belt Blues have 25 songs having already received radio airplay, extensive media coverage including song reviews, articles, and interviews, and numerous nominations and awards including: Duo of the Year Finalist Nomination for the Josie Music Awards, two Intercontinental Music Finalist Awards (2 songs) for Best of Gospel/ Contemporary Christian- America, Song of the Year Nomination for the Gulf Coast Gospel Music Awards (GCGMA), Finalist Award for the Christian Songwriting Contest, and Finalist Award for Song of the Year Songwriting Competition.

Bible Belt Blues recently signed with Bongo Boy Records to have four of their songs included on two separate compilation albums to be released within the next few months. Bible Belt Blues' songs have charted numerous times on the Roots Music Report and on WNIR Radio's Monthly Top 10 Chart. They were the inspiration behind the creation of their new Christian Program, "Spirit & Soul." Bible Belt Blues is currently working on their 3rd album.

For more information on Bible Belt Blues, please visit their website.

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