Thursday, October 4, 2007

PA, MD, finally

OK, so I got a little lazy on the blogging front, but I'm back with a vengeance. Well, maybe not a vengeance, but at least a concerted effort. Here's how I'll do it. I've actually had several gigs since I got back from the great Northeast, but I'll post about that stuff in a day or two. I have the early part of this week off, so hopefully I'll be caught up by Friday or so, in time for my San Antonio shows.

So, here's the recap of PA/MD:

Michael and I arrived at the Baltimore airport on Tuesday Sept 18. Lance Burch and Jason Fullen (youth pastors at their church) picked us up and took us to Lance's place. Lance and his wife were hosting us that evening for a house concert, and the evening started off with a party/barbecue thing. Michael and I were delighted to find that the yankees up in MD were acquainted with our new favorite game (we learned it from the farmers up in IN, who taught it to us in the hills out in OH). The game shall go unnamed here, due to the caliber of jokes that will surely accompany its mention. We ended up taking on Jason and one of their buddies. Due to an until-then-unheard-of facet of the game known as, I think, "The Boston Rule," Michael and I actually ended up winning, which was a lovely moral victory that, as it turned out, took us in great spirits into the evening.

The concert went great. Maybe 15 people showed up, which may sound small to you, but was actually just perfect. It's weird. Some of my best shows of the last two months have been the smallest ones. Anyway, just about everyone took a CD or two at least, and there was (as there has been throughout the tour) way more money in "the box" than there should've been. God is graciously sneaky when blessing His kids.

After the concert, Lance took Michael and me to a local Irish pub, where we got to hang out, talk about the Kingdom, and unwind from the very long day. It was really cool. The bartender/waiter was a real-live Irish dude. Or a great faker playing a joke on us. Or a crazy person playing a joke on the little Leprechaun who lives in his pocket. Probably he was a real Irish dude. Let's just go with that.

We spent Wednesday hanging out with Lance some, reading, and watching Discovery Channel. That night we played at the church for maybe 70 people. It was a really great show; plugged in and everything. Here are a few pics, taken by Jason, I believe:

The crowd was really cool and responsive, and we sold a boatload of CD's. A good night on all counts. Afterward, we went to the pub again and had a late dinner with Jason and Lance. More great conversation, some excellent food and beverage, and lots of laughing and learning.

As a side note, why is it that pubs (and places of that nature) are, quite often, places of greater honesty, joy, conversational safety, and Spirit-filled connection than many church buildings? And don't try throwing any legalistic, extra-biblical nonsense about drinking and bars and such at me. Making that argument will only get you a theological smackdown from Thad, Johnny, Lance, or any number of the other Christ-following, freed-up geniuses that frequent this page. I'm really curious about this. What have we done to make church buildings (not always, but lots of the time) so sterile, so life-sucking? It's a question that I think we really do have to answer. Maybe not right here on this blog, but at some point.


Overall, our time in MD was fantastic. Big thanks to Lance, Jason, and their families for all their kindness, hospitality, and support. Can't wait to come back soon (can I? please, can I?).

Thursday we drove over to the Reading/Sinking Springs area. It was a short easy drive. An extremely kind and trusting young lady from Lance's church let us borrow a car for our time there. That was a major help and answer to prayer.

Thursday night was really cool. My friend Rob Tyson, owner of the soon-to-be-opening Gravity Bookstore in Reading hosted us at his church, and my good pal and former bandmate Alex Burdine joined Michael and I for the show. Alex is a great singer and multi-instrumentalist (much like his crazy brother James, writer of many brilliant and super-strange songs), and he played second acoustic and sang pitch-perfect harmonies. There were maybe 50 people there, and they all seemed really engaged and gracious. It was a very fun and vibrant show. I felt like some real ministry happened.

Also, a great songwriter named Jeremy Simon opened up for us. He was excellent, and I'm not just saying that. He played maybe 6-7 songs, and I liked every single one. I LOVED 2-3 of them. Go buy his music. He seems like a real guy with real talent.

After the show we went out for a late dinner at some diner kind of place. We had some really great and, at times, awkward conversation about the Kingdom, the Real Church of Jesus, honesty, vulnerability, and church membership. It was rich!

After dinner Alex headed off to Allentown, and Michael and I went to our hotel. Big thanks to Rob and Cheryl Tyson for hosting and making us feel like rock stars.

On Friday Michael and I made the short drive to Lancaster to join my long-time pal and supporter, Sean Williams, for a retreat with the youth at his church. We hung out with him some that afternoon, enjoyed the free wi-fi in their building, and then headed out to Northeast, MD (that's actually the name of the town, kind of like West, TX) for the retreat.

We had a great time at the retreat. Here's how it went. We did 3 sessions, each one consisting of a short "concert" kind of thing (3-4 of my songs), then some worship. It was nice to lead some worship after all the concerts we'd been doing. I'm thrilled to be back into "performing," but I suppose my heart is still (and always will be) drawn to the pastoral and interactive aspects of leading people in praise.

Sunday we went back to Lancaster, where we led worship for the morning service of Sean's church, then did a concert for the youth group that evening. Alex came back and played with us again, and he did great. Also, they showed this great video that I'll try to upload some time soon. It was basically, well, you'd just have to see it. It was bizarre and awesome.

Muchos gracios to Sean Williams, and to the people of his church.

Michael and I drove back to Reisterstown that night and stayed with Jason Fullen, who was a real trooper, staying up late to watch the Cowboys, then getting up at 4 am to take us to the Baltimore airport.

We came home the next day. Another 7 days with me, and Michael hasn't killed me yet.

I'll post in the next couple of days about the TX shows, and maybe a little about the great trip we had to MS.

So, anybody got any stories about people getting mad at "Happy" or any of my other songs?


ian said...

When will you be in San Antonio?

rk said...

i'll be there this weekend. If you want details, just email me. The best/easiest show for you to attend would probably be Friday night.

Alex Burdine said...

that's all I'll say.

Alex Burdine said...


"Smartest Person in the Room" is one of the best songs Ross has ever written.

It's too bad the people who need to hear that song are often the people that avoid songs just like it.

That could be said about the whole album, I guess.

as for your request for comments on "Happy" Annie and I wondered...what if he IS happy about that? :)

Lance said...


Not only can you come back... but, you have to come back. O'Lordan's awaits.

Jeff said...

Is there a list of tour dates existing somewhere? More specifically, are you coming to Austin?

Lauri Hahn said...

Q: "As a side note, why is it that pubs (and places of that nature) are, quite often, places of greater honesty, joy, conversational safety, and Spirit-filled connection than many church buildings?"
A: Jesus taught & turned over tables in "church." He befriended & bought souls in "pubs & places of that nature."