Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Like the title says, we're back. Michael and I got home yesterday morning. Great trip. I'll post the update/recap/"behind the music" soon. Today is Sam's birthday (4 years old), so I'm otherwise occupied. It's terribly bad form to leave one's family for 7 days and then spend the next day blogging. It's downright criminal to do it all on your son's birthday. As such, I leave you only with this pic of Lance, me, Michael and Jason (aka "L-train," "King Delicious," "Steeley Mike," and "J Biggie"):

Dedicated to the millions of high school and college girls who seem to think they are in street gangs whenever they take pics for myspace and facebook.

later haters.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

OKMOKS part 2

I like the way that sounds: "okmoks." Like a race of semi-humans in an Orson Scott Card book. The Okmoks descended upon on the Castle of Slunderkahn in full force, their massive webbed feet roaring thunderously, their broadswords glistening in the light of the twin midday suns... blah blah blah, like that. Anyway...

Here’s more of what happened on the OK/KS/MO leg of the Mi Casa es Su Casa tour. Sorry for the delay. I've been slammed since I got home. In fact, I leave again tomorrow for the PA/MD tour. So I'm pressed for time. This might be a little more brief than the last one, in terms of show-for-show details.

Friday in Clever, MO

This pic didn't turn out too good. It was raining, and I think maybe the lens got fogged up or something. Anyway, that's me and Michael with Brandon Hix. Brandon and his wife Rebecca hosted us for a house show in Clever, MO, near Springfield. The Hix family inspired and challenged me like crazy. I won't lay out their whole personal life for the world without their permission, but I will say that they model teach-ability, generosity, faith, and true religion like few families I've met. I'm serious. These people are amazing. Michael and I had a great time hanging out with them and a bunch of their friends. About 20-25 people sat under the carport and graciously listened to us play.

Below are a few pics of the venue and the show, taken by my new friend Ty Davisson.

Saturday and Sunday in Wichita, KS

For the second day in a row, Michael and I drove pretty far. Lots of "have you ever heard this band?" going on in the car. Man, I'm old. I've never heard of anything.

Here was something interesting. The lovely town of Gas, KS was on our route, and we snapped this photo:

Rule #26 in "King's Rules of Great Comedy" is "Let the easy jokes go." However, rule #13 is "Fart jokes are always funny," so you see how I'm stuck?

So here are just a few:

"Excuse me, ma'am. I need to make a deposit. You might want to back up a little."

"OH NO! It's a robbery! What? Oh sorry, sir... that's just your finger? I thought you were pointing a gun at me. Yes, of course. I'd be glad to pull it. Will you need a receipt with that?"

"Whoa! What's that smell? Who's been writing hot checks?"

I could do this for days. Anybody want to join in? Keep it clean, kids. I mean, as clean as possible, considering the subject matter.

But seriously folks...

We had a fantastic time in Wichita. Pastor Robb Brunansky was our gracious host. He and his family set up 3 venues for us during our time there. We did a house show on Saturday, a Sunday service at their church on Sunday morning, and a concert at a neighboring church Sunday night. All of it was really great. Good people, and lots of fun.


Above is me and Michael with Robb and his sweet family. Below you've got all of us, plus some of their family and friends.

After Wichita, my voice was totally gone, so Michael and I had to cancel the Tulsa show. I'm pretty sure we're going to reschedule that show, and add a few others as well. There were a few folks in the are who didn't get a show this time around, so we might add those next time.

Tomorrow we're off for leg #2. Hopefully I'll have more updates soon.

And hey, let's hear some Bank of Gas jokes, people. Come on, this is comedy at its simplest and best.

Good day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"A Visual Recap of the Tour," or, "Several Thousand Words, Metaphorically Speaking"

Wednesday in Edmond, OK:

This is where it all began, so to speak. Above, witness the corner of the Roth's living room where Michael and I (and I think I can safely use the word "literally" here) rocked the house. We had to move that chair out of the way to do it.

Below is a wider (and different) angle of the same room, with some Roth's thrown in there on the left, to give you some perspective, in case you were thinking that the room was really massive. (I mean, all along you were thinking "Ross is kidding about this living room thing, right? He's being figurative or something. He's going to have some huge stage show and set up to look like he's playing on someone's couch, right?" Nope.) We fit maybe 15-18 people in there. This is the kind of glamorous, super-celeb vibe you get on the Su Casa es Mi Casa Tour.

and here (below) is the whole Roth fam, along with me and Michael and two of the dogs, one of whom was compelled to protest the photo shoot by mooning us. Not cool, Sally. So not cool.
By the way, the Roth's are home schoolers. I submit their two kids -- Reagan and Chance --as evidence that this whole "socialization" argument is dumb and uninformed. Not only did both of their kids have plenty of well-adjusted, healthy peer relationships (I met several of their friends at the house show, some of whom were public schooled and some who weren't), but they were two of the most mature, well spoken, witty, and polite kids I've ever been around. Oh, and Chance has a black belt which, as you might expect, goes pretty far with me. Take that, anti-homeschool snobs.

Bottom line, these people were awesome, their friends were amazing, and the show was fantastic. If every house concert I do is half as good as this one was (and/or if every host home is half as gracious and comfortable), this is going to be my new job.
Thursday in Stillwater, OK:

The above pic is of me, Michael and Scott Donaho, who is the director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at OSU. He hosted one of the two "non-house" concerts that we did. Scott is a super cool dude, and he paid us actual, real money to play, in addition to taking us out to eat THREE times, and putting us up in a REAL HOTEL. Apparently this guy is the Donald Trump of house concert hosting. Or the Santa Claus. Whatever. He was really kind to us, and we had a blast leading his students in worship, playing some of my concert tunes, and eating late-night Taco Bueno.

Here's something fun. After the show, Michael and I were in the hotel room, winding down, getting ready for bed, etc (try not to focus on all the jokes you want to make right here about how that sentence sounds, lest you miss what's coming right here), and I see this small pile of clothes in the corner of the room, and I'm like "hey Michael, the least you can do is put your dirty underwear in your bag and not leave them on the floor." And Michael's like "those aren't mine."

Yep. That's right. Unclaimed unmentionables.

So I got to take the garbage bag from the wastebasket and do that turn-it-inside-out-and-make-it-a-glove trick that dog owners do when their pooch poops on the pavement.

It was awesome.

Thad had told me that some of the guys on texags call the town "Stoolwater" (hey, Aggies can be a cruel, merciless bunch, and the management of rosskingworldtourblog do not endorse that kind of hate speech, or any kind for that matter). I thought that was a little harsh. Maybe they were basing their judgment on the Best Western. If so, maybe not so harsh.

I'm just saying.

Anyway, Scott was the man, and he gets big props for all his kindness. Hey, it's not like he called the hotel and said "I need to reserve a room; preferbaly one with soiled shorts in the corner." I mean, I doubt they said to him "smoking or non-smoking? Dirty drawers or non-dirty drawers?"

OK, I've used up all my self-alotted blog time talking about skid-marked undies and the discovery/disposal thereof. I'll give more recaps and pics sometime this weekend.

Hey, have you got the new CD yet? Let me know. Anybody ticked off or confused by any of the crazy stuff I put on it? Let me know.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

50 Cent, Kanye and... me?

Yeah, we're all releasing this week. In fact, my CD is officially "released" today (though people on last week's tour got an early shot at it). Fiddy and Kanye both tried to keep my release on the "down low," as they say, but I ain't havin' it. We all release today, and we all want the top spot.

Here's my promise to the public: if I don't sell more copies of my new record in the first week than both of these bozos, I will cancel my planned New Year's Eve show with Kenny Chesney and Hillary Duff. I'm deadly serious about this. The "Ruff, Buff, and Duff" tour is OVER if I don't outsell these two posers. Public: let that be your warning. You want to see me and Kenny in sleeveless shirts, obnoxiously tight jeans, and low-brimmed hats? Well then, get to buying.

Now, for the news.

I'm home. The first leg of the tour went amazing. I'm going to be posting more details and pics soon, but it was awesome. The only hitch was that I had to cancel last night's Tulsa show because my voice is basically gone. One thing I hadn't counted on in this "house show" thing is that all the unplugged singing would mean a lot of yelling. By Sunday night, I was starting to crack a little. And by Monday am, I was a coughing, phlegm-y mess. Today I'm not much better, but I don't have to sing for a few days.

Thankfully, Eric Vardemann, host of the Tulsa show, was kind enough to let me cancel/postpone. I'll try to head back up to OK later in the fall to make it up to him, and maybe hit some of the OK/AR spots that I missed the first time around.

Thanks to everyone who has been praying and encouraging me on this deal. This weekend, I'm in West Texas working with my pal Voddie Baucham, and after that I'm off to PA/MD for more concerts.

Pics and travel stories later this week. Check back for all the details and dirt.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Two down.

Michael and I are in Stillwater, OK, where we played last night for about 120 college students. It went great. Wednesday we were in Edmond, where we played a house show at Randy Roth's house. It was amazing. So far, things are going better than expected. Don't have much time to write. We have a 4 hour drive today to Clever, MO. I'm taking pics and making notes. I'll post all that soon.

Also, I have the CD's in hand. If you want one quick, order one from independentbands, and you'll probably get one by Tuesday or Wednesday.

More later.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

My people. My family.

This is long, but once I started I couldn't stop. And it's probably the kind of thing that belongs on the writings page of my website. I might put it there as well. For now, forgive me for getting about as serious and long-winded as I've ever been here.

Last night at Community Church, things were a little different (that's maybe the most common phrase ever spoken about my church).

It was sort of a “commissioning service,” but it was more than that. I did a short concert, talked about my vision for the House Concerts and the tour, and then people stood up and blessed me, my family, and Michael Steele, who will be traveling with me -- and playing percussion -- for a good chunk of the concerts. It was really great. The songs on this record, maybe more than any I've ever written/recorded, have the potential for a lot of controversy and provocation, and I was excited to run a few of these songs by the people that unintentionally shaped and inspired them. But I was still a little nervous.

In addition to some trepidation about the songs and the record, I've also had some nervousness about being gone so much. I’m 35, and I’ve got a wife and two kids. This tour isn’t exactly timely to my life path. All those things have come together to make me feel a little down this week as I prepare to leave. I went into the night hoping to be reminded of why I'm doing this. I went looking to be energized and inspired.

Was I looking in the wrong place, or at the wrong time? I mean, I knew there would be no sermon at our gathering. Is that weird to anybody? Is anybody thinking, "well, Ross, how do you hope to get inspired and energized and reminded of the Truth unless somebody is going to 'preach the Word' to you?"

See at my church, we don't always just count on a guy with a doctorate in theology to tell us the Truth (though we’d welcome some of that if God provided it). We don't always just sit and listen while somebody talks to us (though we do that when it seems right). We don't assume that the exegesis only starts when the singing is over and a lapel mic gets turned on.

Sometimes we have all the things that people would associate with a traditional service (singing, preaching, etc), but sometimes we don't. Sometimes we just speak to each other in blessing and authority and humility and love. You know, like people did in the Bible:

1 Peter 4:11
"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

1 Thessalonians 2:10-13“You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”

Like that.

Maybe examples would help.

After I did the short concert, Thad “opened up the floor” and basically said (to 200 people) does anybody have anything to say? A blessing? A scripture? A prayer? An encouragement?

Then people just started talking. In accordance with scripture, they spoke to me as those speaking the words of God. In accordance with scripture, I accepted their words (words said in Jesus name, words laden with and inspired by scripture, words spoken in the Spirit), not simply as the words of men, but as the words that the Lord would have for me. I mean, the Church is the Body of Christ, right? So when the Church speaks, it’s speaking for Him, at some level. We are ambassadors. What do ambassadors do? They speak – with authority and blessing – for the entity that they serve. When the Church speaks, it speaks “as though God Himself were making His appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5)

Don’t read this and say that I’m saying something that I’m not saying. Know what I’m saying?

Anyway, here’s some of what went on, and how it got me thinking:

Drew Cavin, a good pal and brother, said that he thought that if anyone ever wanted a doctrinal statement from Community Church, we could use my music (it was very honoring to me, but it also made me nervous, like I needed to look back over my lyrics and make sure I hadn’t said anything nutty). That kind of “artsy” talk probably drives some people crazy, but I thought it was inspiring and vibrant and God-pleasing. And I thought it was consistent with scripture. It reminded me of what Paul told the Corinthian church in the 3rd chapter of his second letter to them:

"Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (emphasis mine)

Last night, the people of Community Church were my letter of recommendation — a letter from Christ – and they let me know that I am theirs. It was really cool.

I've heard about churches and pastors that say that the most important thing a church can do is to have a preacher/teacher formally and academically exegete the Bible, verse by verse, every time the church body gets together.

Simply put, I think they're wrong.

I absolutely believe that it's very, very important to study the scriptures, and to do so humbly, diligently, thoroughly, and tirelessly.

Did you hear me say that? Here, I'll say it again.

I absolutely believe that it's very, very important to study the scriptures, and to do so humbly, diligently, thoroughly, and tirelessly.

After all, Acts 2-4, which I'm way into, pretty much starts with "and they devoted themselvs to the apostles' teaching." So of course the teaching/preaching of the scriptures is important and necessary, even in a kooky community like ours (maybe especially in a kooky community like ours).

But I think it's at least equally important and necessary for the church to speak to one another in the name of Jesus, with words of confession and blessing and comfort, and to live in the Spirit with one another, always ministering the new covenant to one another; always loving each other and sharing as there is need. Those aren't just the things that the Church does when the “big gathering” is over and everyone returns to their normal lives. Those are the things that the Church should be doing as a part of the big gathering, in addition to in their "normal lives."

When did we get the idea that “Sunday meeting” is theoretical and the rest of the week is practical? That Sunday is the pre-game speech and the rest of the week is the game? I don't see that in the Bible.

This isn’t an either/or deal. I’m not saying churches should either preach the Bible or share in active, Spirit-led community. Don’t hear that.

I mean, I think we can do both, and we should. We must. But I don't think any kind of academic studying or pulpiteering is ever, or has ever been, the most important function of the gathering, believing church. 1 Corinthians, basically the first 3-4 chapters or so, would speak rather harshly to that kind of scholarly, academic view of Kingdom life.

And Jesus Himself is the one that said that He wanted us to be “one” the way that He and the Father were One (John 17). And his buddy John was the one who said that people would know we were Christ-followers by the way that we loved each other (1 John 3).

Okay, more Sunday night examples.

Another pal of mine, David Park, stood and said that we (Staci, me, and the boys) didn't need to worry about money while I'm doing this thing (I'm doing most of the shows for free, and probably giving away a good chunk of CD's). He said if we had money problems while we were trying to follow Jesus in this way, that he, his family, and the church at large, would take care of us. "We've got your back" was, I believe, his exact phrasing. I know that he, and his wife Shelley, were absolutely serious about it (she was nodding the whole time). David’s not an elder or a pastor or anything. He’s just a really godly husband and father who is serious about living like Jesus says we ought to. But he felt okay speaking for the church with regard to taking care of my finances if need be. Do people in your church talk to you like that? Man, I hope so.

But see, this is what I’m talking about. That is exegesis of the scriptures. It's living exegesis.

Acts 2: 44-45 "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need."

1 John 3:17 "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?"

John says that action -- of the money-where-your-mouth-is variety -- is the proving ground. After all, we know that our hearts and our treasures usually (if not always) go to the same places (Matthew 6).

What I’m trying to say is this. You can academically pore over the Bible all you want, but if it doesn't result in stuff like that, what have you got? Empty religion, that's what; cups that are clean on the outside and dirty within. You’ve got wise and persuasive words that don’t result in the power of the cross (1 Corinthians 2); people who are puffed up but not built up. (1 Corinthians 8)

Few more and I'm almost done, promise.

Another couple, Joe and Kathryn Peebles, came up to my wife after the whole deal, and told her that, if she got lonely or scared while I was gone, they would come sleep on an air mattress on our floor to keep her company until I got back. This looks a lot like what Paul did for the Thessalonians. (1 Thessalonians 2:6-10 or so)

Mark and Bethany Douglass, parents of Sam’s good pals Liam and Burke, must've been drinking the same crazy Kool-aid. They told me that Staci and the boys could live with them any time I’m gone. And they don’t live in a mansion. It would be crowded if we took them up on it.

Abby Richardson, a college girl I barely know, stood up and praised my wife (and rightly so!) for blessing her wanna-be-rock-star husband (me) when he had the loony idea to travel the country for free for a couple of months and leave her and their two boys behind. She went on and on about how my wife’s model of support, faith, and submission was inspiring to the other women of the church. At one point, she looked at my wife and said, "I mean, wow, what a woman!" Amen. I almost got up and did a spontaneous soft-shoe on that one.

Jenny Cavin (Drew's wife) cried as she spoke a blessing over my wife and my little boys. She declared with authority and humility and tenderness that God will fill their time – while I’m gone – with joy and peace and abundant life.

Andrew Kilzer – a really cool college kid who confessed to our whole church several months ago that he needed help losing weight and defeating a lifestyle that contributed to that problem – stood up and said that one of the things the Lord has been doing in him is causing him to rejoice and feel victorious when other people succeed. He said he thought Michael and I were already successful in the Kingdom, and that he longed for more power and life and success for us as we traveled and performed and ministered. (By the way, since his confession, by the grace of God and thru the support of the community, Andrew’s lost about 90 pounds, and he’s happier and more alive than I’ve ever seen him.) Andrew must've taken that "one part honored, all parts rejoice" stuff seriously.

Thad (you probably know who he is) stood up and said that I was going out to free people from the bondage of false, empty religion; to speak the language of the fragile Jesus-following failures; to reveal to people -- religious and non-religious alike -- that Real Life was attainable and free to all. (It was a good reminder to me. I thought I was just going out to sing some songs and generate some buzz, to hype my record, etc.)

More people said great stuff, but you get the idea.

This all happened in a room full of about 200 people. We read exactly one Bible verse (it was the Psalm from this week's lectionary). We sang exactly one song corporately (“Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”). When it was over, I was overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness and peace about things that, only a couple of hours before, had caused me anxiety and stress.

It was a great night. Weird and, in some ways, uncomfortable, but great. To some people who prefer things predictable and tidy and scholarly, it probably didn't look like much.

But to me, it looked a lot like we had church.