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30 Years of Memories: Point Of Grace

Posted on by Laura Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

30 Years of Memories-Point of Grace

I wrote about this concert in a newsletter many years ago. It was about a concert on the night of January 20th, 2006. It was Point of Grace. It was the perfect night. Everything was just right, it was a perfect setting for a “great” concert to take place and it all came together for one of the most impressive concerts WBVN has ever produced. Those ladies had the perfect touch to make a great evening.

I’m going to let you peek behind the curtain a little bit. Two-hour concerts are more complicated than what we simply see on stage. Perfect concerts require many things to come together in one place at one time. Concerts begin with calls to artists’ agents and conversations about travel expenses to and from the concert, meals, financial considerations, phone numbers to exchange, security, sound systems, light systems, spotlights, load-in crews, insurance coverage, publicity, hotel rooms, ticket prices, road managers, location for the event, the dates that work and general information in what is called ‘a concert rider.’ A ‘rider’ is pages and pages of detail and organization to make sure everyone’s on the same page. That all begins months before the actual event and each item must be agreed to, must be organized, and must ‘come together’ for a successful two-hour performance. Contracts are mailed, signed and exchanged. Tickets are printed and sold. A play list is created at the station of the artist’s music and ‘spots’ are written, produced and rotated to give the public the information needed.

All those things take place slowly and particularly for a successful concert, but all that doesn’t always make a ‘great concert.’ You need more than that. You need some things that can’t be written into contracts, things that while you hope for and you might have a conversation about with the agent, they are things that for the most part come out of the ‘heart.’ Things that come from the motivation of the producer and things that you trust will show up when the artists and their management arrive at the venue.

We have a ‘heavy lifters’ crew that volunteers for our events: we have a Phil, a Danny, Dale, Nathan, two Tim’s, Michael, Ethan, Ryan, Dave, Woody, Zane, Frank, and Terry. There’s Cindy, Debbie, Jane, Laura, Dan and Trina, Terra, Tammy and Alphonse, Tom, Kim, Norb and Karen, Sherry and Tim, Keith and Ann, Deanna and Lito, Kelly and Dane, Grover, Larry and Janice, Byron, Scott, Kent and Jim, David, Mary Kay, Edna, Pixie. I’m sure that’s not all of them but it’s some of them, and they make the concert possible for all of us by helping make all the things that are required happen that night. Of course the WBVN staff does significant work as well. Josh, Vince, Derek, Mike, Kevin and Russell, are our hosts at the Civic Center and they always do their part to make ‘the room’ ready but also provide a pleasant environment to work in— that’s special to us. There’s petty cash to remember to get for the ticket booth, contracts to have on hand for all concerned. Towels and bottles of water for the stage are a must. Then comes the point in time when the load-in happens, sound checks have to take place. Food must be in place at exactly the right time so the artists get a warm meal, not a cold Sam’s Lasagna dish. Must get the CD’s, t-shirts, necklaces, rings, caps, song books, pictures all inventoried and on the tables. Need to remember the checks for all the expenses. We take the newsletter sign-up book and newsletters. We take a CD of mixed music to play before the concert. Four stools for the stage. Get the piano tuned. Usually (especially for Schulz) fruit and candy for the dressing rooms. Make sure the hotel rooms are reserved and probably add one room because someone is coming that we didn’t know about early in the contract discussions. WOW! That’s quite a laundry list. But we have it all in place. People are lined up outside and we’re just about ready. You know what, all that can make a good concert, but all that can’t make a great concert. Here’s what makes a great concert.

At about 2 pm, a road manager arrives and hopefully puts everyone at ease with his friendly manner. In the POG’s concert I’m referring to, Matt’s with them (Leigh’s [POG] husband, by the way, who plays the guitar and works the inventory for the table of CDs, shirts and pictures out in the lobby). The ‘girls’ get there: Shelly, Denise and Leigh. They immediately greet people with great big smiles and not one ounce of ‘pretense.’ They make sure we are all comfortable with the plans for the event. On that day, at 4:45 Heather arrives, (she’s 7 months pregnant) arriving after driving by herself from Louisville, KY. While we’re getting the sound-check ready, Shelly Breen from POG is calling the local hospital. She’s taking the time to encourage Amber Farnam. Amber and her husband had tickets for the concert, but she was in the hospital the night of our event. They work on a play list of songs, making sure they check with us to see what our expectations were for that night. At this point we’re running about 45 minutes behind most of our schedule. They’re all still just as calm and as pleasant as can be! Matt’s treating the volunteers at the tables wonderfully and they are actually smiling at me when I walk by.

It’s now 6:30pm and meals have been served. The ‘girls’ sneaked a birthday cake into the room for Heather and they have a little birthday ‘thing’ for a couple minutes. Everyone is relaxed. They’re doing the phone calls to their families, etc., resting before hitting the stage at 7:30. It’s a time I like to leave the artists and their manager alone for the most part. I’ve found that a peaceful ‘backstage’ creates a peace ‘on-stage.’ Many of the artists use this time to pray, many like to read before the concert, some just want ‘a quiet-time.’

We’re into concert now. A photographer’s in place taking pictures for the website and ‘for the fun of it.’ The crowd is responding to the performance and POG is responding to the reception of the crowd. The night has become personal. Those are special times and they’re vital to a ‘perfect’ concert. I’ve seen it before, none any better than that concert. During the concert Shelly whips out an email that was sent to POG from Stephanie Cumbelich (who used to live here) and read it to Stephanie’s friends Amy Graves and Belinda Keller, both of them in the audience. That was a little thing that meant a lot to those ladies. Another surprise after intermission: Denise reads a letter from four young ladies that have a vocal group and ‘sing a lot of POG music.’ Denise called Bonnie Childers, Julie Culbertson, Mary Kim Dothager and Erin Ainscough to the stage for T-shirts. It was a little thing; but a big thing as well. The ‘girls’ sang a total of 19 songs! Not because they had to sing that many but because they recognized the unique quality to the evening. One great concert.

We’ve had many ‘perfect’ concerts over the years. Great concerts bring together various denominations but they share a unique message we all can hear. Great concerts soothe our souls and heal our hearts. They bring us together in universal praise and a crowd of worship. That’s why we’ve done almost 220 since 1990 and can’t wait to meet with you again ASAP. Under the current limitations we miss them and you very much. So many memories have been tattooed in our hearts. But uniquely, that concert in 2006 had a special ‘ladies’ touch! Point of Grace and their management never missed one opportunity to encourage, they were always positive. They were terrific at taking little things and making them ‘huge’ for the people at the concert and people backstage. It was the perfect concert, many things coming together all at one time: music, thoughtfulness, and ministry, professional, talented and creative. Guys can do one or two things at a time; these ladies did dozens all at one time. (You’re supposed to smile here.) To call a concert perfect it must be more than special, more than good, it must be unique and powerful. The POG concert was both and will always have a special place in our 30 years of memories.

January Newsletter: Anyway

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ANYWAY

There is an old saying that goes like this, “Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.” Doesn’t that sound like most of us? How many New Year’s resolutions do we really keep? How much do we really change from year to year? Below is an item I used 20 years ago in a newsletter that made sense to me back then and I still try to follow it in my Christian life experience.

“Anyway” has been quoted and published by politicians, business leaders, military commanders, teachers, religious leaders, and coaches. It’s been used by the Special Olympics, quoted at the United Nations, and shared friend to friend for many years. I first read about it while reading an article on Mother Teresa’s children’s home in Calcutta, India, where it is hanging on the office wall.

If we would just make up our minds to follow our hearts and to live the Truths of God found in the Word of God, we would end up doing the things described in this “poem.” We just need to make up our minds to do the things that God says works for us. And even though so much is against us, we can have a confidence described in this “parable”. “Do it anyway!” should be our motto as Believers.

“Do the Gospel anyway.” It doesn’t matter how illogical or how unpopular with the people around us, just do it anyway. God said His ways would be seen as foolish to men, so quit being so ashamed of that! For me, the Gospel creates a quiet confidence, even when it doesn’t look or feel like things are working for us at all. Remember the story of Samuel and Saul? Samuel was trying everything to solve his “king problem,” and had done everything but trust God. But, even without Samuel’s understanding of it, his answer was already sitting in the field; a shepherd boy was God’s provision even though Samuel was unaware! Where our provision might be hidden may not be obvious, but provision is present to sustain us just the same. Even in a world that seems focused on throwing out God, God even still quietly continues to bless, encourage, and establish His children.

Psalm 4:6-7 says, “Happy is that people whose God is Jehovah.” God is our source of abiding gladness and joy, actually the only true source of those things. It’s not the things we can put in the bank or our garages or our homes, or wear on our backs that fulfill that. It’s what we can put in our hearts that matters. Secularism depends on circumstances to be happy. God’s Joy is available in any circumstance simply because God is present in all circumstances!

I’m thrilled to have some old habits to start again this year. Some of those make it feel like home here. Yes, I might even resolve a few old patterns away for 2021. But the idea shared in this poem is one I don’t want to resolve away. It’s one I try and encourage myself with, and one I’d share with as many as possible. In some ways, it’s a paraphrase of the Scripture: Do not grow weary of doing good. (Gal. 6:9, 2Thes. 3:13) Another way of saying that and being literal to the scriptural meaning is to live vigorously. In God’s language: doing God’s beautiful. Something I believe is true: to follow the world will make living on the outside easier, but living on the inside harder. Living the God kind of life, living the beautiful, will make the outside harder but the inside will be much more peaceful and calm. The world suggests buying stuff will make us happy; the real Peace of God is not available in stores.

I know the winds are raging, the lightning is flashing, the rain’s falling and the noise is frightening, but we can trust the “calmer of the storm.” Calm down! There is Rest in God and that Rest is not obtainable by our labor or pain. Many times that’s not how God gives gifts. Solomon (1Kings 3:3-15) and Adam were given a bride and Abraham a forever covenant while each was asleep, unable to do for themselves. Significantly, Jesus’ confidence was so stable in his Father and Spirit that Jesus slept in the storm– can we?

The times we live in are stressing, but He is calming. At the time of Jesus’ rejection it was a time of confusion, doubt and fear. John had questioned who Jesus really was, people had rejected him saying Jesus was a drunkard and a glutton, and to the observing eye, his works were fruitless to the point of death. It was a time of seemingly great failure and trouble, yet Jesus found Rest in knowing the Father’s will. While the disciples were “weary and heavy laden” with burdens, while everything seemed to be going wrong, Jesus offered a solution. He invited them to “come unto me and I will give you Rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find Rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-9) The rest we seek in/from the world is only to be found in Christ.

Love anyway, do good anyway, succeed anyway, be honest anyway, think big anyway, fight for the underdog anyway, build anyway, help people anyway, give the best you have anyway. Do it without looking around, without being moved by what we hear and see. The world has taught us to live by what we see and what we feel, but sight and feelings are not good judges of what’s possible with God, or even what God has going on in the earth. Do these things because God said they would work for believers “anyway!”

30 Years of Memories: Bryan Duncan

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30 Years of Memories-Bryan Duncan

Bryan Edward Duncan, born in 1953 in Utah, raised the son of a ‘preacherman’ in North Carolina. I learned that a long time ago in a conversation with Bryan on the drive from Evansville, Indiana, on our way to our concert at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center. I’ll mention more about that talk later in this letter.

Beginning as early as 1973, Bryan was one of the early Contemporary Christian artists. Bryan originally was the lead vocalist for a group called the Sweet Comfort Band.

‘What a vocal gift!’ was one of my earliest thoughts about Bryan. I first signed him through the same agency that I booked Randy Stonehill and Phil Keaggy, the Street Level Agency out of Indiana. Holly was the agent and kind of a mother figure, I think, for all three. Each of those artists have faced personal disappointments and each is blessed with unique and God-given gifts to share with us all. All three have done WBVN concerts multiple times over the years.

Bryan is an artist that I used to say had an uncanny vocal range. If you talked to him you’d never expect that talking voice to have a range unlike anyone else. He can sing rather casually with little effort, actually, I think sounding better than on the cds you listen to. Bryan’s music expands from soul/jazz and pop to heartfelt ballads. Bryan’s a Harley motorcycle owner and has even written a song about that called “Hogwash.” (Ten #1 songs from 1993 thru 1997, 5 of those from one cd: Mercy. He was elected to the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2007. Had Released 18 solo albums.)

Bryan was WBVN Concert number three on 1/19/1991. His most recent was on October 19, 2019. In between, there were many interesting events and stories to remember about Bryan. I remember our first meeting with Bryan and how after the concert Bryan came up to me and Mike Middleton and wanted to know what we were going to do the rest of the evening. Mike and I looked at each other and said, ‘We are going home and get some rest’. We both had just spent three 12 hour days on the radio during a Celebration and we were exhausted. I actually spent a couple of meetings at later concerts over the years apologizing for that comment to Bryan. There are actually too many stories initiated by Bryan to put in this letter, but let me share just a couple. One that I’ve shared the most was a concert years ago where the Civic Center event was on a Saturday night. Friday night Bryan was performing in Springfield, IL. Bryan arrived as usual, on time, humor in hand, ready to go– he’s always ready to go, he loves performing. As he got out of the car Bryan asked that his luggage be brought into the dressing room. Problem, no luggage! Bryan was traveling with a road manager at the time and he and the road manager had set the luggage down on the ground in Springfield to load in the car and each thought the other had loaded it. Interesting face Bryan was wearing at that thought. The luggage contained a new Armani suit that Bryan had just worn to have publicity photos made for an album cover, and a suit with a significant price tag according to the interesting face he was wearing. At the time my car was in the shop and I was driving my mother’s Big Buick, not a sub-compact Buick– a big ancient Buick. Next thing I knew Bryan was jumping in my mother’s car and off to Target to get a concert wardrobe. Bryan said he was going to drive me like they drive in Los Angeles. Interesting skills they have in Los Angeles.

There was a lot of weaving in and out of traffic, much acceleration, and my big eyes and lots of Bryan laughs at my reactions! By the way, a simple black tee-shirt was that wardrobe. That night Bryan did the concert in that black tee and his leather winter jacket. That was a hot concert in a couple of different ways.

Another interesting moment over the years was the trip I mentioned earlier from Evansville to our concert. It took about 90 minutes to travel. 90 minutes with Bryan is always full of conversation. And I’ve traveled many times with him in the car but this time was different from all the rest. That trip Bryan was very relaxed and seemed to spill out a lot of personal family information about his relationship with his dad. And, without the details, I’ll just say that Bryan’s experience as a young man and the relationship with a parent was similar to stories you’ve heard before. The simple version is that his dad and Bryan had a falling out, a separation, and eventually a time of not much communication. Years of heartache and anger passed. However, Bryan told me the last trip in that his father had come to the point of needing health care and he was put in the situation of having to go and help his father during the last part of his dad’s life. That necessity had led to a reconciliation of sorts and brought the story to a loving end. Bryan’s story of how he felt about his mother was shared in a song a couple years ago called ‘Remember My Mother’ that he performed for us during the last concert.

Without going into details, Bryan has experienced a lot of personal hurt over the years. While one of the funniest people I’ve met, he’s also one of the most bruised people I’ve met. He’s mountain topped and walked in a few valleys. When I express that I’m talking not about one or two things that have broken his heart but a handful of things that were painful. Some have been made public over the years, many from Bryan’s radio program called ‘A Road To Redemption’ done over the past few years to help others recover from their pain. He also created his own record label called Red Road Records, Red short for redemption. Bryan had done what we all are likely to do with pain, we slap it away and either cried or yelled in anger. Being human, I think Bryan has had both of those responses.

I’ll close with this thought. At the pre-concert meeting with some concert attendees at our last event with Bryan, those people experienced the Bryan Duncan behind the stage. That moment was so personal, so caring, so real for those that attended. Bryan is the kind of person that expresses much of what he’s thinking without huge filters or masquerades. Now that can make you a bit nervous occasionally, but he’s so energetic it’s always fun to be around Bryan D. He’s still writing music, doing a bit of singing and traveling. He’s a sports nut; knows every team’s members and their stats. I used to tell people if I was stranded on a desert island and had one vocalist to be with me I would choose Bryan Duncan, an unbelievable voice and his stories aren’t bad either.