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Posts Tagged ‘the Choir’


I did go to 2 concerts in 2 nights, and what a study in contrasts that experience was.

Wednesday night was “forced family fun” at the Pima County Fair. They have a “Christian” band on Wednesday night during the fair. This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve gone. I saw Switchfoot, and then all of us went to Toby Mac last year. Both were good shows though a bit short. This year was For King and Country, a band I’m not familiar with. Our van plays lots of Toby Mac, so I know most of his songs. When not playing TM, KLOVE is usually on and they play For King and Country plenty, so I know a few songs. The kids, especially the older boy, enjoy them. So off we go.

But first we have to eat pizza, lots of Domino’s pizza to get their free admission passes. Thankfully the delivery person passed us from extras so we didn’t go broke and get fat trying to get to the show. The passes are for entry until 5:30 which meant leaving right after someone’s ballet lesson. This was the child who never wants to go anywhere (but usually has a good time when we are there). We left at 4:30 with more pizza in the van so we could eat on the way (which was a special dispensation for the kids). The highway is a mile from our house. It took us 13 minutes to actually get onto the highway due to traffic. I anticipated a slowdown on the other end, complicated by a large fire that had shut down the exit just past the fair grounds. Sure enough, the last few miles of highway were slow but we go there before 5:30 (barely) and got in.

Now we had to wait 2 hours. CavWife and “I hate going places” child got “our” spots against the barricade for the reserved seating. I took the others for a walk. I needed steps and they were restless. Of course we see all the food they aren’t going to eat (fried just about anything, gyros, roasted corn BBQ etc.) and rides they aren’t going to ride. I feel like Christian in Vanity Fair.

We get back and there are still 90 minutes to go. Cart wheels, dancing to disco and general tomfoolery ensue. The older boy is not involved in the shenanigans since he wants this show NOW. “I’m bored” is a frequent comment from him while the others make the best of it.

With 30 minutes to go the expected encroachment begins. People begin to squeeze us to get the spots we’ve been occupying alone the barricade. I’m protective of my kids- “hey, my kids have been waiting here for 2 hours for this spot. Give ’em space.” I have a bad attitude toward this uspurpers and johnny-come-latelies.

While I needed by ear protection for the disco, I REALLY needed it as the show begins. Man, was it loud. And I couldn’t really understand much of the lyrics. For King and Country started with a lot of songs off their new album, and while the crowd claps it seems flat. These aren’t the songs they (and I) know. It’s loud because there are thousands of people here.

The band members were energetic and engaged. Most were multi-instrumentalists including some you don’t normally see, like a cello. They are clearly talented, but I like “the big guitars” as Randy Stonehill once sang. The guitarist doesn’t seem to do much, the focus is on rhythms and percussion. They had a good light show, and the 2 brothers from Australia took 3 longer segues to be personal. One was about the size of their family, one about moving here from Australia as kids and learning about Thanksgiving the hard way (focus on God’s faithfulness) and then the intro to “Priceless” (one of the few I knew) reminding women they are made in God’s image and should expect to be treated well by men, and reminding men to treat women well and put away the porn. There was also a short intro to “My Help Comes from You” (that may not be the title but that’s the point of the chorus, that could have been a little health-wealth influence. I get jitters when people  talk about Jesus bearing our cancer on the cross. Nuance or explanation is needed.

During one song, the band members came out to the barrier to play, and the one brother crossed out of reserved seating to say ‘hi’ to the bleachers while he sang. Security was loving all of that.

It was a good show, and the kids really liked it. Even the one who hates crowds and going places (I understand, I tell her). I just wasn’t emotionally engaged. But the kids asked me about the show the next night, and I sang them some lyrics from The Choir’s Wide Eyed Wonder album, which would be the focus of the concert.

Instead of heading east for about 40 minutes to south Tucson, I would be heading west for 90 to Tempe. I left about 5:20 and it only took me about 5 minutes to get on the highway. Go figure. I was thinking, I should have left earlier, I should have left earlier. Despite the Patriots not having a pick in the first round, I listened to the NFL draft on the radio. It was actually interesting as it all went sideways. I didn’t hit any traffic, only a couple of those people who pull out to pass and take a month to do it. I arrived in Tempe at about 6:45 and had time for dinner at Pei Wei while I figured out where this church was. Price Rd. seemed like a frontage road. The guy who brought me my food thought I was talking about Priest Rd. since he pronounced it with a long “i” sound. It must be a tough word for Hispanics since it really isn’t pronounced phonetically. It is a Hooked on Phonics failure.

I was having issues with the phone. While I had coverage, it wanted Wi-Fi for text, FB and directions. Using Pei Wei wi-fi I got directions, and it seemed simple. I had about 15 minutes for a 7 minute drive. But Siri was “helping” me”. I was looking for a church, a poorly named church. Really, how names a church “29:11”? Sure, it probably refers to Isaiah 29:11, but that is lost on most people. Anyway, when I got where it should have been two things happened. Okay, 3. I didn’t see a “church building” but a small shopping & business plaza, I didn’t see a sign, and Siri did not say “turn here” or “you have arrived at your destination” but “follow the route”. Where!?

And so I was lost, turned around, dealing with one way streets like it was Boston and asking strangers for help. One pointed me to a big church down the road. It wasn’t the church but  a Scout troop was meeting there. After he finally realized I wasn’t crazy and 29:11 was the name of the church it all went better. I had an idea of where I was going, that shopping plaza/business center. Price to Borderline to Shannon. Easy!

I never saw a sign for Shannon. So I did the loop I did before and asked more strangers out walking their dog since on this other side street Siri said “You have arrived at your destination.” We need couple’s therapy. I got there, 10 minutes after show time. Expecting a show less than 90 minutes, this really had me aggravated.

They hadn’t started yet (why do I stress myself out so? why do I have so little faith in His goodness?). I paid my $20 and took a seat in this long, narrow room with maybe 40 people. No big platforms for the drummer or other instrumentalists. No light show or fog. No streamers shot into the air. It wasn’t deafeningly loud (which was good because I forgot my ear protection in the car due to my rush).

But I loved it. I knew the songs! All but 1, which is a new one. I loved the songs, and so many took me down historical and emotional roads. Their albums Circle Slide and Wide Eyed Wonder were influenced by having kids. And they had prompted longings in this single at the time guy to want to have kids. And now I’m thinking of my own kids as they sing. Why are there only 40 people here? It was so much better than the night before (from my strange Cavman perspective).

They began with Midnight Sun and then slipped right into Wide Eyed Wonder in its entirety, in order. Last time I saw them it was Derri, Steve and Tim Chandler on bass. This time Robin was back after nearly 3 decades to play bass, and Dan Michaels was along to play sax and other similar instruments. It was a faithful reproduction minus the sound loops they used on the record. WEW is “brighter” than Circle Slide, less melancholy. Dan seems to have a strange personality, and was messing with Robin at times. I missed a great shot of her poking him in the head during a song (I saw someone else got it). At one point Steve and Derri reminded us about the items to buy in the back (how they make their living) and took a couple of playful jabs at their friend Mike Roe and the 77’s.

Robin Had a Dream

They dedicated the song Wide Eyed Wonder to a girl in the audience whose 8th birthday was the next day- nice personal touch. And I’m transported to the time when my oldest 2 were wide eyed and wondering.

Before Bid Farewell, Steve talked some about the song and their situation at the time. Some of the lyrics came from a plane ride they had that was quite turbulent. One of those rides where you wonder if you’ll make it home. But in the studio they were working with Mark Heard which sounded like an experience they still treasure to this day. (This is part of why I love concerts, to hear this stuff too). But they weren’t sure if this would be the last hurrah for the band. Sales weren’t great and they weren’t sure if the record company would re-sign them. Or if anyone would. They weren’t sure if they were bidding farewell to their fans (thankfully not!).

After finishing WEW, they played a long version of Circle Slide that had Dan wandering into the crowd to play, eventually sitting next to the birthday girl. There was no security to protect Dan from this adoring but respectful crowd.

They left the stage to applause, but thankfully were not done. Steve came out and picked up the acoustic guitar. The hum from one of Derri’s pedals kept throwing him off. “One of those ADD moments, I can’t think.” I can relate, my fellow Steve. With that cleared up, he sang The Soul of Every Creature Cries Out from Shadow Weaver. Then Derri came back out to join him. First Derri talked about his dad, and how he moved to LA to care for him in his last days. I wish I could sit by my dad like Derri does and hear his stories (my dad doesn’t talk about such things). When Steve came out to visit and work on some songs, he put this to words. They played a song that will be on their new album.

Then they played “a medley of their hit”, Sentimental Song from Circle Slide. To close the show, Robin and Dan re-emerged and Derri finally picked up the starburst Strat for What You Think I Am.

Like the night before it was about an hour and 20 minutes. It was a good show and I’m glad I got to head up to Tempe to see them again. I’ve seen them more in the last few years than in their heyday. But these shows sounded better than the one I saw in their heyday- the year that the New Sound festival wasn’t at Gordon College. I’m hoping they tour for Speckled Bird soon.

 

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I hadn’t seen Switchfoot live since before the release of Nothing is Sound in 2005. That was at the short-lived Cypress Gardens Adventure Park (now Legoland). That night they previewed Stars which is still one of my favorite Switchfoot songs.

Since then there have been a series of lost chances and bad chances. For awhile, they only placed festivals in FL, like Rock the Universe. Most of the bands at those events don’t really interest me.

Then in early 2010 they would be in concert close enough in FL to get my hopes up during the Hello, Hurricane tour. Then I realized I would actually be in AZ finalizing things for my new position. So I checked their tour dates to see when they would be in AZ. There was one coming up, while we were driving from FL to AZ.

The last 5 years have seen a similar pattern of festivals and concerts when I was unable to make it (like on at Grand Canyon University). This may be for my good: the saving of my hearing.

When I saw there was a tour with NeedToBreathe I looked at the dates. Nothing near me. So I was surprised when a short time later my wife called to say they would be playing in Tucson. I was surprised. There was nothing on their website, but I found it on the local KLOVE website. Yes, they would be at the Pima County Fair, the night before presbytery.

Argh! I thought. The Choir and Mike Roe would be Phoenix in June for the 25th anniversary of the Circle Slide album Tour. It is the night before I leave for General Assembly so CavWife put the kibosh on that. I thought this might suffer a familiar fate since it would most likely be an overnight trip. Maybe she felt a tinge of guilt, but she actually encouraged me to go. It helped that my session meeting on Tuesday night had been postponed.

I’ve lived here for 5 years and have yet to go to the fairgrounds for ANYTHING including the fair. So on Wednesday night I made the drive south of town into the veritable middle of nowhere to the fairgrounds. It is very easy to get to. Parking was not bad. $5 for parking and $8 for admission made this a $13 concert for me. It was also an hour closer than Phoenix.

I endured the slow-moving crowds to make my way to the main stage. They were the only act. I was about 40 minutes early and camped out between the preferred seating (about $10 extra bucks) and the sound board. I was dead center and less than 100 feet from the stage. There was only one group of people between me and fence. This was a great spot. As the sun went down and the wind picked up, I wondered if I should have worn either a fleece or pants instead of my shorts and t-shirt. But as the area filled with warm bodies it was great weather for a concert.

At 7:30 one of the local rock stations sent a rep up who introduced two people from KOVE. How is that for a bit strange. They had some give-aways, but sent a girl who threw t-shirts like a girl and frisbees like a 3 year-old. If you were more than 10 feet from the stage- forget about it!

At the same time the show started, and for about 30 minutes, there was some aircraft zooming around to the southwest. Non-blinking green lights on one side, and red on the other. I couldn’t see a spot so I don’t think it was a Border Patrol helicopter. At times it seemed to hover like one, but at other times it was moving very fast. It was interesting in distracting as I kept on eye on it and one on the concert.

They opened with a song I didn’t recognize. The most repeated phrase was “Like You Mean It”. From there they went into the aforementioned “Stars”. They seemed to hit their stride at this point.

I wasn’t sure what the next song was entitled but then they moved into a cover of Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.” Then they played “Your Love is a Song” which is a great song of off Hello, Hurricane.

For there they played “Love Along is Worth the Fight” from Fading West with a bit of an intro connected with the making of the movie. Jon came down off the stage. First he was walking on the preferred seating fans and then made it to the corner near me, standing of the fence but facing away from me. Then he moved to the other corner and faced me.

From there he mentioned they were back from Australia and open to getting away from the set list. Someone had requested “We Are One Tonight”. In the middle of the song they did a verse from “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine.” Nice little mini-medley there.

They went back in time to play “Dare You to Move” which Jon claimed to have written before he dropped out of college. Then it was “Let it Out.” Jon introduced his little brother Tim on bass who got to pick the next song. I have no idea what the song was but it did have a great bass line to feature him.

From there it was “We Come Alive” (questionable title) before “Dark Horses”. Jon then got his acoustic for the familiar strains of “Meant to Live” to close the set. I looked at my phone to see the time. Only 8:40.

They came back for an encore of “Only Yours” and “Forever Now”, wrapping up at 8:55.

It was a short show, but I figured it was a $13 dollar show. They did put on a good show and sounded good. As a band they don’t focus on elongated solos. The drum “solo” at the end of a song was maybe 30 seconds. That just doesn’t seem to be there thing, which is too bad. Jon’s voice isn’t the strongest so it got lost in the mix occasionally.

I was disappointed by what they didn’t play. I wanted to hear “The Sound (John Perkin’s Blues)”, “Mess of Me” and nearly anything from Nothing is Sound.” But such things are to be expected when you have that many albums. It was still a good and enjoyable show.

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Being on vacation we were able to spend an evening, or two, with CavWife’s sister and her husband. Since we had Netflix available on the iPad we decided to watch a movie. CavWife and I have been wanting to watch Ragamuffin and they hadn’t seen it yet.  Since it was over two hours long, and the sisters are not night owls, we turned it into a miniseries.

Ragamuffin is based on the life of the late Rich Mullins. I used to have his first album on vinyl years ago. I still own Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth and A Liturgy, a Legacy and a Ragamuffin Band. He had a prophetic bent that was similar to mine. We shared an appreciation for Francis of Assisi who turned his back on wealth to follow Christ much to the frustration of his father. As Calvin would say, “To scorn this life is not to hate it.” In the movie he seemed to not only scorn it but hate it. You can hear in his music that Rich struggled with this world and its allurements as well as his own sin. As a result, the latter album in particular would encourage me during times of suffering , disappointment and loss.

I still remember being at David Castor’s house when Lenore came in and let us know that Rich had died in a car accident in September 1997. We were all stunned and saddened.

There was a disagreement about this movie along gender lines. The women loved it and the men while appreciating much of it struggled with particular aspects.

Ragamuffin focused on Rich’s fractured relationship with his father. It portrayed him as haunted by the negative statements of his father, like “Why is it that everything you touch breaks?” This inability to connect with or please his father profoundly shaped the Rich portrayed in the movie.

He was also bitter about a relationship with a woman that didn’t turn out the way he wanted. She had a strong sense of what she wanted from life, and while attracted to him recognized that he had a different calling she wanted no part of. Their engagement is not even a part of the movie. At times it seemed as though he wanted no part of it either. He is portrayed as an exceedingly unhappy man.

I don’t mind if a movie shows a man’s weaknesses and sins. That he struggled with alcohol and smoked cigarettes didn’t bother me. What bothered me was his portrayal of a self-absorbed jerk. In the movie you wonder how he could have any friends. He would blame bandmate “Justin” for not being there. There was an unstated need for Justin to keep an eye on him, and protect him from his own temptations.

You wonder how fictionalized this story was. I wonder what his good friends, particularly Beaker aka David Strasser. As I look at biographical information, Justin is probably a version of Beaker who also left their life on the road to start a family. His relationship with Beaker seemed far more significant that portrayed in the movie. While introducing “Hold Me, Jesus” during a concert, Rich talks about listening for Beaker to snore so he could feel tempted in Amsterdam. That was the night he claims to written the song. They apparently shared a room on the road and were best friends by all accounts. In the movie Justin is more of a guitar player, lackey and nearly silent travel companion (though he didn’t “introduce” Rich to Brennan Manning via a sermon tape).

On the other hand, Mitch McKeever who was also a long-time friend portrayed himself in the movie. He was the man in the Jeep with him that night in September 1997. So maybe the portrayal of Rich in Ragamuffin is accurate. Maybe.

If I remember the movie sequence correctly, Rich sings “Hold Me, Jesus” in concert prior to meeting Brennan Manning. This is significant, perhaps, since “Hold Me, Jesus” is on A Liturgy, a Legacy and a Ragamuffin Band. This term, Ragamuffin, was one he got from Manning. As a result, I got the sense that they played a little lose with the chronology to fit their narrative for the story.

His relationship with Brennan Manning was significant in helping him resolve his struggle with God (at least in the movie). I remember hearing Brennan speak at the New Sound Festival (89? The Charlie Peacock Trio and the Choir were among the performers that year) and being brought to tears. He had a profound message of grace and the love of God. Part of what was refreshing about Manning was his honesty about his struggle with alcohol.

There is a key moment in the movie, after Rich drank far too much, that Brennan invites him on a retreat. Rich had been struggling since his father’s death. One day Brennan asked Rich to spend the night alone and write a letter from his father.

What happened next was also seen differently based on gender differences among us. They used flashbacks to those painful moments in his relationship with his father. Then they completed those flashbacks, without explanation. Were they completed memories he had neglected as he focused on the negative, or were they simply what he wished his father had said? The women didn’t really care and found it “emotionally powerful.” The men cared. Was his father a better man than he remembered, or was this just psychological manipulation on his own part?

Our memories matter. We can distort the truth by focusing on part of the memory. These memories then color our relationship either appropriately or inappropriately. We can used them to nurse our bitterness, or grow in appreciation.

In the past my relationship with my father was more complicated than it is today. I focused on particular memories. I grew bitter regarding his very real failures. But those failures are not the sum total of my father. I had to remember other, better, memories too. I am faced with this again as I think of my mother and try to mourn now as Alzheimer’s has largely erased the women I knew.

In the movie there is great ambiguity about these memories. I didn’t really like the ambiguity. But this sequence is used to resolve his father issues so that Rich dies in peace, so to speak.

The movie had a number of scenes in concerts in which Rich is talking. This man comes off a cynical and bitter. Additionally there seems to be little church life except playing concerts. He seemed to have no connection to the church. But during the credits they showed some video of the real Rich Mullins talking during a concert. He seemed very different than the man in the movie, more like the guy I think of when I remember Rich Mullins: funny, not full of himself and pointing people to the church as community. As I think about Ragamuffin I wonder, where was THAT guy? Is he a figment of my imagination or is Ragamuffin a figment of theirs? As the old Tootsie Pop commercial says, the world may never know.

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I’ve been a fan of The Choir since shortly after Diamonds and Rain came out (thanks to Harvest Rock Syndicate’s review). I saw them at one of the New Sound festivals over 2 decades ago. Not the best experience. I think they opened the festival, I was not close to the stage and the sound dispersed. I couldn’t see much of worth. I missed a chance to see them with Russ Taff since it was on the wrong side of Boston on a weeknight and I had to work.

Last night I had the opportunity to see them live on their current tour for both the 25th anniversary of Chase the Kangaroo and the release of their new album The Loudest Sound Ever Heard. It was an intimate setting, with under 100 people in attendance. It was an easy 90 minute drive from my house to Foothills Baptist Church, which seems to have an enclave of people who enjoy the older alternative Christian bands like DA and the 77s. Easy drive aside from the guy who tried stubbornly to run me off the road. Thankfully I did not end up hearing a choir of angels sooner than I anticipated. I was anticipating The Choir.

They performed as a “power” trio. Dan Michaels was only able to make a few dates on this tour. But Tim Chandler was there to thump the bass for his first tour in 16 years. Life on the road is hard, so I understand not touring. Their ‘hey day’ is gone, but they still love to play music and meet the people who’ve been with them for years. It is like a reunion of sorts. They often see familiar faces. Mine wasn’t one of them, obviously.

I set up shop on Derri’s side of the stage. I like seeing guitarists do their thing. He had 3 guitars ready to go. He spent most of the night playing his starburst Fender Strat. He also played a Gibson on a few songs and a blue Gretsch guitar. The thing looked huge when Derri played it. He had an array of pedals to get his signature sound. He’s more like the Edge, not a flashy soloist.

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"no one gets a smooth ride" The Choir

There are lots of books that deal with the providence of God. Some are good, and some are not so good. Some are just plain horrendous!

I’m beginning to preach on the life of Joseph in the latter sections of Genesis. You cannot avoid the reality of God’s sovereignty in this section of Genesis. As I prepare the sermons, there are three books I’ve pulled off my shelves (and the church library) to help me along the way, particularly as I ponder application of the doctrine. They hit different aspects, complementing them.

First, I’m going old school with Thomas Boston’s The Crook in the Lot: The Sovereignty and Wisdom of God Displayed in the Afflictions of Men. Some of the things that Boston stresses include humbling ourselves as our afflictions reveal the sin in our hearts. This is one of the things I want to address as we move along.

“But as the fire under the pot makes the scum to rise up, appear atop, and run over, so the crook in the lot rises up from the bottom and brings out such corruptions as otherwise one could hardly imagine to be within.” Thomas Boston

Second, I’m using Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. The title conveys the main point of the book, helping people to trust God in the midst of afflictions of all kinds by knowing that He is ultimately in control and His purposes for His people are good.

“It is difficult for us to appreciate the reality of God sovereignly doing as He pleases in our lives, because we do not see God doing anything.” Jerry Bridges

Third is R.C. Sproul’s Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good?. I never bought it because I read it while I worked for Ligonier. We could use the resources, and this explains why I’m missing his books from the mid-late 90’s. This is more of a redemptive-historical approach. The seemingly disconnected events are actually the working out of the plan of salvation for God’s people. Our confidence is that God, who accomplished our salvation in Christ, will continue to accomplish His plan for us through the events of our lives and history at large.

“Because the word providence is rooted in the Latin term for seeing or vision, we may be tempted to restrict its theological application to God’s mere observance of human activity. It is not merely that God looks at human affairs. The point is that He looks after human affairs. He not only watches us, He watches over us.” R.C. Sproul

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When you move cross country, a few things change.  One of those is getting back home for vacation.  Gone is the direct flight.  Now there are connections, and more expensive connections.  We fly Southwest: yes, we are those kind of people.  They just started flying into Newark, and with 4 people flying the price differential was significant enough for us to fly there instead of our usual Albany.  I guess it all starts there.

This will work toward our advantage in at least one way.  Since we are vacationing earlier than usual, we’ll be joining the extended family in their annual trip to the shore.  Don’t call it the ‘beach’- I get admonished each time I do.  Maybe I should just call it the playa.  I don’t want to think I’ve joined the show Jersey Shore.  I may be an Italian-American, but I’m not a Guido and I don’t have lots of gold jewelry, bad clothes and a worse accent.

It was a short night.  I didn’t sleep exceedingly well, and was actually up before my clock radio started playing Charlie Peacock at 5:15 (I don’t have Quadrophenia on tape, so…).  Since CavWife was in the shower, I spent a few downstairs with some tea and the internet.  Then a quick shower and I got dressed.  I decided to wear “My Lucky Underwear”.  Yes, it literally says that on the underwear between the little shamrocks.  By the end of the trip I wasn’t feeling quite so lucky.

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Back in 1991 a strange, beautiful thing happened.  Members of 4 of my favorite alternative Christian bands formed a side band called The Lost Dogs.  Terry Taylor (lead singer & songwriter for DA & the Swirling Eddies), Gene Eugene (singer & songwriter for Adam Again), Derri Daugherty (singer & guitarist for the Choir, which is releasing a new album in June) and Mike Roe (lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for the 77’s) decided to move from friends to musical partners.  What emerged was the band much like the Traveling Wilburys.  It was like nothing any of them had done before.

It was a blend of folk rock and blues rock.  The first album (Scenic Routes) contained moments both serious and silly (Why is the Devil Red?).  While I don’t much like the political statements (Bush League) I really enjoyed the combination of sadness and faith.  They did covers (You Gotta Move, Lord, Protect My Child), adapted songs (Old and Lonesome), wrote some songs together and some alone.  It was a great, vibrant mix that has held up well over time.

In 1993 they followed this up with the similar-sounding but equally good Little Red Riding Hood.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  The only covers this time was I’m a Loser by the Beatles and the traditional song Precious Memories.  There were silly songs (Bad Indigestion) and sad songs (Rocky Mountain Mines and Eleanor, It’s Raining Now).   There were also struggles (No Room for Us) and hope (You Satisfy).   The album had a slightly less folk and more rock feel to it.    Working together seemed to scratch an itch they all had in a way that we could all benefit from.

The Green Room Serenade (Part 1) was released in 1996 and continued the shift to a more popular style.  Terry Taylor was responsible for more of the songwriting.  The formula was still there.  They covered If It Be Your Will.  They had some fun on songs like Close But No Cigar and Hey, You Little Devil.  There was hope in songs like Love Takes Over the World.  It was probably their most upbeat and accessible album.  Things were looking good for their side gig.

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