Date: 14 June 1999
To: RichMailList
Subject: [RichMailList 238]: Austin, TX 05/13 review

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From: Shannon Belcher
Subject: Ragamuffins - Austin, TX  5/13
Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 16:11:14

The Ragamuffins - Austin, Texas 5/13  The Promiseland Theater

Nutshell version: an absolutely wonderful experience, if you have the
opportunity, GO!

In "detail":  The concert followed the same layout that's been reported in
other reviews so I'll concentrate on the differences and personal impact.
Unfortunately(?), it was a small crowd >300 (guessing) - the guys and the
music deserve so much more.  But those that were there were really there
(for the music, the worship) and that seemed the most important thing.  This
was my first experience to see the group or hear the music in a live

Chris Taylor opened with 4 songs, starting with "Learn to Pray" - like
dcTalk, his music comes off very differently in a live setting than studio.
I was mouthing the words to "LtP" when he got to the line "learn to pray
down the barrel of another loaded gun" and I just froze as I realized the
new impact to those words in light of Columbine HS and the young woman shot
after being asked if she believed in God.  I wonder what goes through his
mind now when he performs it?  I believe the remaining songs were all off of
his new album "Down Goes the Day" (including the title track).  It was
difficult to understand the lyrics last night so I went to his website this
morning - some really amazing stuff.  He put on a good show in spite of the
fact that we were a small group.

Okay, the main event . . .  the concert itself was a little rocky from a
technical standpoint because right before the show they lost their usual
soundman (Jordan Richter?) to a rather aggressive steak fajita and the crew
did some quick shuffling of duties.  After the concert I talked with his
brother (?) -- sorry guys, if you're reading this and I have it totally
messed up, please forgive me! -- who said that he was okay and missed the
show mainly as a precaution.  However, in the total picture, the technical
issues just didn't matter!

The usual suspects were there:  Rick Elias, Mark Robertson, Jimmy Abegg,
Aaron Smith, and, I think, Carl Hengesell (there were no intros and I'm not
familiar enough with them to place all the faces).  Again, if I'm wrong -
please correct the above and excuse the error!  The only additions to
previous messages on the concert format are: a)  an interesting story about
Mark Robertson and Rich going to see Kitty Wells at the "Broken Spoke" (a
country dance hall here in Austin) and b) it looked like they got the cup
sequence right (but that was the first time I'd seen it)!
The major item I want to get across is how incredible it was to hear the
music played live and among others who know the songs.  There was a man in
front of me, there by himself, stayed quietly to himself, but you could tell
that the music was important to him, that he was there to quietly,
unassumingly, worship through the music.  I've always had a desire to hear
the music performed live by people who were part of its creation (first
Rich, now the Rags) and now I understand why.  It really lives.  Very little
can compare to the experience of singing these songs ("calling out your
name", "if I stand", "hold me Jesus") with a group of believers and led by
really great musicians - my apologies to any standing around me, I'm
definitely NOT Kim Hill, Amy Grant, etc. . .  I was shocked at my emotional
reaction to "Sometimes by Step" - barely able to hold back the tears.  Even
"sing your praise. ." and "awesome God" - songs I've liked but never been
nuts about - became special and I saw their true attaction (and power).
Speaking of power - Aaron Smith, absolutely marvelous on drums/percussion -
really made "creed".  Although I didn't stay to talk with the Rags, I did
talk to Cobra Joe and it sounds like the next "This Train" album should be a
blast - turning even more to the rockabilly/swing sound.  Look for it in
July.  If there was one thing I could say to everyone behind the production:
thank you.  Thank you for continuing the mission - thank you for taking the
time out of your own careers and lives and taking the financial risk to
continue the music and the message.  Last night was a blessing and a joy.
Shannon Belcher

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