June 6th, 1999 - 7:00pm
Orpheum Theatre, Wichita, KS

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(click on pictures to see a larger image a new window)

The Ragamuffins have been touring the Homeless Man Tour for over eight months. The "official" end of the tour was June 4th (1999) in Tulsa. However, when they were contacted by Gay Quisenberry, (Rich's former manager) and asked to come to Wichita for a benefit concert, they couldn't resist.

The benefit was for the victims of the May 3rd, 1999 tornado that severely devastated South Wichita and Haysville (the same storm system that also devastated Oklahoma). The benefit was sponsored by Light 99, Outside A Dog, and Wichita Cares, and raised money for those left with little or nothing after the disastrous storms.

The song list was very similar to the reviews being sent to the RichMailList, but the difference I noticed since October in Kansas City (the last time I saw them), was the overall tightness in the ensemble sound. Not that they sounded bad before, but there was a noticable improvement in the music especially since the JesusFest 98 last summer when they were really just beginning to play the music from The Jesus Record live.

Some arrangements were more tight, while other arrangements changed completely. Some of my favorites included "Creed" (a much more rock version than Rich's) and "Hard to Get" (which had a much more sparce sound than the recording - more lonely and emotional). "You Did Not Have a Home" was much more country rock sounding - even though the album cut had already made that departure from Rich's arrangement.

Then there is Rick's heart wrenching "Man Of No Reputation" which has changed very little (doesn't need to), and has earned a spot in my personal top ten favorite Christian ballads of all time. All the guys seemed much more relaxed, but ending a tour can do that. They were all really ready for some time off, but were pleased they could make one more stop here in Wichita, which was home to Rich for so long. Each one mentioned how nostalgic it was for them to come back to Wichita everytime they did.

This particular concert held some genuine historic nostalgia for some in the audience, as it was held in the historic Orpheum Theater near booming Old Town Wichita. Click here for more info on the Orpheum, especially these pictures from the early 70's of this gorgeous old building. (Can you tell I'm an Orpheum supporter?) Also as long as I'm straying from the subject, I must share with you this very cool painting. Click on the painting thumbnail above to see a bigger example and learn more about it and the artist, Hugh Greer.

Another thing that had not changed at all was the spirit of worship. When Aaron, came up to recite the "armor of God" Ephesians 6 verses, I felt like we should all stand. And then "If I Stand" could very well have been the "Hymn of The Day."

There was a brief intermission where Gay Quisenberry shared with us what this benefit was all about. The ushers collected a love offering for the victims of the May 3rd tornado while a representative of the Salvation Army gave us a brief description of their efforts which the offering would help support.

After the break, a table and cups were setup for the ever popular "Cup Song." Click on the image on the left for a brief QuickTime slide show (requires Quicktime plugin).

Rick told me when we visited after the concert, now that the Homeless Man Tour is over they will be able to accomplish one of the other things that Rich wanted them to do (recording The Jesus Record with all of them singing was the most recent). And that would be to record a Ragamuffin CD of their own music all by themselves. They will begin recording in July 1999 (which of course means that those of you hearing the Ragamuffins playing at festivals this summer have an excellent chance at hearing brand new music). I asked if they would be able to add any of Rich's unrecorded music - even though this was to be a strictly Ragamuffin recording. I also let him know that the specific reason I was asking was because many (myself selfishly included) were hoping to hear them record "Madeline's Song." He said, yes they would. While we all know that things can still change, I assured him that would please quite a few fans.

David Mullins and Alyssa Loukota had a booth setup for The Legacy of a Kid Brother of St Frank, and also had some newly printed flyers for the Arts and Music Festival coming up this August here in Wichita - bound to be a marvelous experience. As he had been doing in recent concerts they attended, David played hammered dulcimer on a couple songs. You can tell by the pictures below, I was usually on the left side, and I totally missed David playing, because I couldn't see him behind the speakers. Special thanks to my friend Betty Horn who got the pics of David sitting in.

One last bit of news I would like to pass on, is a songwriting contest being sponsored by the Ragamuffins. Rather than explain it all here, I would direct you to Eric Townsend's Giovanni Audiori Archives page, where there is a scan of the actual entry form as well as the complete rules. I will tell you the Grand Prize is a trip for two to Nashville this winter 1999 to record the song with the Ragamuffins. If you don't have web access, you can request an entry form by writing to Ragamuffin Song Contest, P.O. Box 121617, Nashville, TN 37212
[UPDATE: The songwriting contest has been postponed. I will post as soon as I hear more news.]

Thank you, (l to r) Aaron Smith, Mark Robertson, Rick Elias, and Jimmy A (as well as all those who participated earlier in the tour) for this labor of love and the opportunity to hear Rich's music live one more time. Thank you also for the sacrifice this fairly large chunk of time has been on your own personal and professional lives - though we know and could tell on your faces that you loved it! God Bless your journey and faith walk, and may God be with you in the studio as you prepare for the next project. Can't wait to hear it!

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