• Bryon Harris

Bible Belt Blues - 'Can't Take Away My Joy'

Review by Sylvie Marie & Staff

"Can't Take Away My Joy" is a clap-along, uplfiting, Christian blues song by Bible Belt Blues. Bible Belt Blues are Harold and Paula Vega Vondenstein, 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. Affirming and resolute, Bible Belt Blues have written a song about "the strength of joy through Jesus Christ."

Harold Vega Vondenstein draws listeners in with a 12-bar blues shuffle that gives the song it's overall structure. Holding down the bassy shuffle, Harold adds splashes of spirited arpeggiated chords played on the treble strings, on various beats of the progression. Harold plays it as he feels it giving the song it's natural, improvisational sound. Harmonica and guitar riffs sparkle over the deep blue guitar water. Highly memorable clapping sections on beats 2 and 4 give this rockin' blues song a revival energy with a participatory musical experience that listeners can sway and clap to.

In addition to being an engaging instrumental artist, Harold is the duo's vocalist. In "Can't Take Away My Joy", Harold tells a tale about people who try to diminish and discourage Christian joy. With a strong and confident vocal performance , that grows more powerful in expression and dynamics as the song moves forward, Harold vocally demonstrates that his joy is not only constant, it is growing stronger.

The lyrics, vision, and production (the preparation and work behind the recording), comes from the hands and the heart of Paula Vega Vondenstein. In this song, Paula redefines strength. Based on a personal experience, where her purpose was mocked, Paula shares her source of resiliency.

Have you ever been bullied? Imagine this scenario. A group of people are talking behind your back. Some are even mocking you to your face. They push you when your'e down. And then when you are doing well, they try to knock you down again. At the heart of this behavior is someone who feels inadequate and insecure, and knocking others down gives them a feeling of relief. Now imagine that this bully has encountered someone who is fearless, someone who has the strength of the joy of the Lord. Imagine how surprised the bully is when they can't take away your joy.

You can talk behind my back You can mock me to my face But you can’t take away Can’t take away my joy The joy of the Lord is my strength It is very rare to hear the phrase 'strength of joy' and this is where Paula Vega Vondenstein excels. With a simple phrase, she stops you in your tracks and makes you think. Strength of joy? What is that? In "Can't Take Away My Joy", Paula shows what real strength is all about. It is not about having thicker skin, big muscles, or fighting back. It is about joy. It's a little hard to wrap your head around, isn't it? But Paula is saying that there is a joy that is so strong that no one, not even the bully, can take it away from you or knock you down. In fact, whether you discourage or encourage, the strength in joy of the Lord remains constant. "If you’re happy for me- that’s great- If you’re not, that’s OK, too."

"You can push me when I’m down- go ahead You can knock me when I’m on top- I know you’re going to do it But you can’t take away- No, you can’t take away my joy The joy of the Lord is my strength."

What does it mean to be strong? And what kind of strength is so powerful that even when people are cruel, you still feel strong? Presented by Bible Belt Blues in "Can't Take Away My Joy", the suprising answer is "the srength of joy through Jesus Christ." Taking this theme one step further, what if you identify with the bully? Have you ever mocked someone who believes in Jesus? You can choose to be a discourager or an encourager, a bully or a friend, weak or strong in the strength of joy through Jesus Christ. In "Can't Take Away My Joy", Bible Belt Blues offers up a mighty joy that no one can take away.

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


About Bible Belt Blues

Harold and Paula Vega Vondenstein are BibleBeltBlues, 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, BibleBeltBlues 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.

2020 looks just as promising with 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.

BibleBeltBlues 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. BibleBeltBlues' 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." BibleBeltBlues is currently working on their 3rd album.


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