Date: 18 May 1995
To: RichMailList
From: Danl Blackwood
Subject: [RichMailList 13]: An Evening with Rich Mullins (5/12)

An Evening with Rich Mullins
Wichita Boathouse, Wichita, KS
Friday Night, 12 May 95

The Farewell to Wichita concert sold out so fast (in 8 hours last April 1st) that even Rich was surprised. He was concerned about all the fans who, for some reason or another, didn't get a chance to get tickets. This was one of the reasons (if not *the* reason) that a special "Evening with Rich Mullins" was planned for the night before the concert. It was to be an informal (no formal concert), small (only 300 tickets), catered (by Spears, a local Christian owned restaurant), gathering for fans to meet and greet not only Rich and Beaker, but the Ragamuffin band. The tickets for this event took a couple days to sell out, and this really surprised me. I figured many people would jump at the chance to meet Rich, have dinner, and all for only 10 dollars; *and* it was held at the prestigious Wichita Boathouse (home of Bill Koch's dry-docked America3, and collection of other America's Cup memorabilia). There was an awful lot of competition that weekend, as well. In addition to a rare glimpse of the 6th operational B-2 bomber at McConnell Air Force (christened the Spirit Of Kansas by honorable Kansas congressmen Bob Dole and Todd Tiahrt), and the first really nice weekend weather-wise; Wichitans also had the first weekend of the River Festival to attend (a huge annual week and half long event in Wichita).

I couldn't miss the chance to see Rich both nights. So after camping out twice (getting there at 5am) for tickets for both events (I've never done this before in my life), we showed up Friday night an hour early to the Wichita Boathouse. We were looking for fellow r.m.c.-ers who found out about the Friday night dinner through the unofficial mailing list. Zac Croy and his friend Justin Gilbreath were both expedient in responding to two spare tickets to the Friday night dinner, and after a couple quick posts, we planned the rendezvous. Actually they met me first earlier in the day at my office to transact the tickets and get directions to the Boathouse. Zac drove (believe it or not) from Michigan to be there, and Justin came from Oklahoma. Zac's drive wasn't completely as outrageous as it sounds, since he was on his way home to Oklahoma City from school anyway, but it was still way cool for them to be able to come and meet Rich, and way cool for me to able to pull it off for them. (I LOVE THIS INTERNET THING!!). Anyway on to the evening...

The "Evening With Rich Mullins" was just that; the fairly small room (upstairs meeting room of the Boathouse) had just enough room for 300 people. There was a wedding rehearsal right before this dinner, and the people leaving were more than a little surprised to see 300 people waiting to move in. There were not really enough tables, and barely enough chairs and some people still had to sit on the floor. The dinner was a buffet-style meats, cheeses, and fruit bar, so it was not really the sit-down dinner I kind of expected, but it was good. That was really OK, though, because I spent most of the evening milling around and visiting.

I have just recently (thanks to my education on become a big fan of quite a few alternative Christian rock bands, and was excited to meet and visit with some of their members tonight; who just happened to be part of the ragamuffin band. I asked Jimmy Abegg what Vector album I should buy (having just read about them on THE LIGHTHOUSE electronic MAGAZINE (TLeM) ). He said I should I wait for the new box set coming soon (Time Flies: The Vector Collection).

I met Mark Robertson, and visited at length about a lot of stuff. Being a former bass player myself, we had more than just the love of Christ in common. I hadn't seen Rick Elias there so far, and Mark informed me that Rick was filling in on guitar that night for Randy Stonehill. It seems that during the Dove Awards week in Nashville, Randy fell off a stage into an orchestra pit, and broke his arm (Ouch!). Rick would however make it to the concert tomorrow night. A couple possible future (read: not for sure yet) projects coming up may include a Ragamuffins album without Rich (while he pursues his teaching ministry with the Navaho Indians next year), and maybe a solo album for Rick with Mark and Aaron as the rhythm section. Those albums, *if* they happen, would be definite additions to this writer's collection. Also Mark's band, This Train, has a new album coming out in a few weeks on Liquid Disc records called You're Soaking In It. Another album to watch for that is a definite must-have is from Rick Elias' wife, Linda and her partner Lesley Glassford. Tuesday's Child, as they are called, debut album is to be released soon on the Benson label, and Mark said the musicians on the sessions were top-notch. I didn't write down the names, but I recognized them as huge in the mainstream studio biz.

I got real surprise a few weeks ago when I realized the ragamuffin drummer was also the drummer for one of my most recent favs - The 77's. Aaron Smith was very gracious and fun to visit with, even though I almost gushed too much at how much I enjoyed his rhythm work with the 77's. He even helped me tease my wife, when I called her over to meet him, and introduced him as the drummer of the band she hates. (I've been driving Diane crazy listening to the 77's 1-2-3 box set and Drowning With Land In Sight at full tilt; she doesn't really care for the really hard rock, even though Whiteheart is her absolute favorite). After teasing her a little, Aaron was genuinely interested in just what was her favorite music. When visiting with Mark, he paid Aaron quite the compliment. It seems some people had told Mark that he and Aaron were the best rhythm section they'd ever heard. Mark simply explained to them that Aaron and *any* bass player would be the best rhythm section they'd ever heard.

When Rich got there I was quick to deliver the letters forwarded to me by members of the mailing list before he got mobbed. He seemed a little surprised, but was very interested to know that there was a Cyberspace connection to his ministry. I, however, was not surprised at his being a little overwhelmed, considering how truly humble and accessible his demeanor has always been, and will become even more with the advent of his new "job" as a teacher in the Navajo nation. It really makes sense now that in these last few days before he moves that the "official" word (from an interview in the Wichita Eagle newspaper by Stacey Beattie Stamps) is he going to the Navajo Indian Reservation. No mention of details (where before New Mexico was mentioned), because in Rich's words, "If I knew I would tell you." I asked him (because my wife was really curious) if he was a little freaked about leaving. He said he was, but that he was more anxious to begin his new adventure. We didn't get to visit very long, but I was sure to tell him how much his ministry meant to me, and to all of us.

Before accommodating several dozen autograph seekers, Rich and Beaker had performed two new songs from the new album, Brother's Keeper. The largest majority of the autographs were signed on a special limited edition (only 900 CD's pressed), pre-release copy of this second ragamuffin band album that was available for purchase tonight and tomorrow night for $16. If you saw the Releasextra presenting Rich Mullins last summer, on page 7 you saw a photo of Rich in front of his red 1966 Chevy pickup truck. It was parked in front of the train stop (which proudly says "Wichita" across the top) at the Great Plains Transportation Museum in downtown Wichita. Another pose during this shoot is on the special cover of the CD. The inside (which includes lyrics) is like a scrapbook of photos and names that are remembered and thanked; most very local to Wichita. At the concert tomorrow night, Gay Quisenberry (Rich's manager) will tell us that these were a special release made especially for Wichitans from her, Reunion Records, and Rich. The official release date for Brother's Keeper is July 20th, and will be the exact same album we now have, but with a different cover. (Stay tuned for a chance to get a copy of this CD for yourself).

The rest of the evening was basically a song-request duet by Rich and Beaker as they sang and played guitar and piano. The ragamuffins had the night off as just the two of them were playing songs by request from "anyone that won't get to be there tomorrow night". I didn't really keep a set list, but any fan of Rich can imagine the songs that were requested - Screen Door, Here In America, The Color Green, Awesome God - just to name a few. Obviously, even though he wrote them, Rich was not prepared to play *any* request, and he graciously declined a few. A request for Pictures In The Sky was refused when, thinking quickly, he scolded in jest, "Hey, you already had a request". (Rats, that was one I wanted to hear.) The Love Of God was requested, and Rich exclaimed, "I just heard that one on the radio today, and I haven't sung it in a while. Maybe I need to." ... and he did. Someone hollers "Carry On!", and Rich spontaneously begins banging out on the piano, "Carry On My Wayward Son, there'll be peace when you are done...", and continues including vocally scat-singing the drum intro of the song. That drew a huge laugh from this crowd that instantly recognized the huge 70's chart-topper from another favorite-son group - Kansas. Then he exclaims, "Ohhhh! You mean I'll Carry On. Duhh!" (Can't wait to tell Chris; good friend and Kerry Livgren's brother.) It got even better, though. As he was singing, he forgot the words, and was prompted by members of the audience. We all enjoyed that. He finished up with Sometimes By Step (with all of us singing, of course), a sincere heart-felt word of thanks, and then sat through another long line of autograph seekers and well-wishers (many of whom also brought cards for him).

The evening was fantastic, and was surpassed only by the Mother's Day weekend surprise I had for my wife as we left, not for home, but for a romantic evening at a really cool local Bed and Breakfast (I got the baby-sitter set up and everything; she had no clue). Rich's spontaneity and humor was surpassed only by his ability to share his faith, and encourage us to do the same. As I have said many times, I really like Rich's ministry more than I like his music - and I like his music A LOT!

Stayed tuned for the last Rich Mullins concert in Wichita for a long time (maybe ever? - please say it isn't so!).

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