Rich Mullins Brother's Keeper Tour
with special guests
Ashley Cleveland and Carolyn Arends
Brady Theater, Tulsa, OK
Friday night, 7:30pm, 1 Dec 95
Driving to Tulsa, it occurred to me. This will be the second time in a row, that I've seen the second to last night of a Rich Mullins tour. As Ashley would share later, this has been a very grueling tour, with 62 cities in less than three months. After Springfield the next evening, everyone gets to go home, and they were excited.
I was driving to Tulsa by myself, because everyone in my family was sick with the flu, but I was able to hook up with a guy (thanks to Light 99 FM mentioning the available tickets on the air) to sell my extra tickets. I got there about 5pm, because I wanted to visit with Rick Elias. I walked in during a sound check, and found everyone on stage. After clearing everything with the road manager, Jan Volz, I said hello to Mark Robertson (bass guitar), and Rick Elias (guitar). Rick said it would be best to visit right before they go on, and I got a back stage pass so I could meet up with him later. Rich Mullins was busy with the sound check, so I didn't bother him. Just before I left, I got to meet Carolyn Arends, and told her hello from Joan Slonecker, and the rest of the mailing list.
About 7pm, I came back to the theater (after checking out downtown Tulsa), and had come to the realization that if I were to meet with Rick right before they went on, I would be missing Ashley's part of the show. I didn't want to miss that, so I got a message to Rick that I would catch up with him after the concert. However, we were never able to get together. We are going to do an interview via email later.
I found my seat in the balcony (third row), and got settled in. The Brady Theater is a very old building, and at one time was the main theater for Tulsa with a rich history of entertainment. The auditorium seated 2,800, and the unofficial attendance was about 1,000. The stage was setup just like the last time I saw them, except they had a big screen setup on the back wall of the stage where they were showing a video collection of Rich Mullins interviews and music videos. I also saw a Carolyn Arends video, and a Jimmy A video.
Gay Quisenberry (Rich's manager) came out at precisely 7:30pm to start the show, and first of all gave a Compassion International update, and how Rich's tour (which was here last year) raised well over their goal. Rich is still involved with Compassion, but now, as Gay informed us, is also very involved with the International Bible Society's new ministry with Native Americans called The Jesus Way. The Jesus Way is a new Scripture format developed in conjunction with IBS and respected Native American Christian leaders and also provides "valuable ministry tools to bridge the spiritual gap for Native Americans searching for God".
Then Rich came out and introduced Carolyn Arends from Vancouver, Canada. With Jimmy A backing her up on mandolin and guitar, she had a short but good set. This may be Carolyn's first tour, but you sure couldn't tell. She had a charming personality, and was very comfortable on stage. The crowd was as excited to see her as I was. She starts off by telling everyone she had "precisely fifteen minutes to bond with each and every one of [us] . . . so commence bonding now." She also took our picture. Later she said how excited she was to be touring with Rich and Ashley. It was unbelievable to be told that "for 62 nights in a row, [she'd] get to hear Rich Mullins, and Ashley Cleveland for absolutely free. It sounded like a great deal, [and] at show sixty one, it's still a great deal".
Carolyn's Set-- (All songs from _I Can Hear You_, 1995 Reunion Records) I Can Hear You Love Is Always There Alter Of Ego Seize The Day
With a short introduction by Jimmy, Ashley came out immediately after Carolyn. Even though I'd been told that Ashley was really powerful in concert (and I'd heard a couple of her tunes on the radio), it still didn't prepare me for the soulful power of her voice. She began with an almost acappella intro to "Revive Us Again", and even before she really got into the song, the emotion in her voice had everyone responding with great enthusiasm. Her second song (which was an abbreviated version) was a real crowd-pleaser as well, especially (and obviously the reason she did it) because she was in Tulsa. In fact, she told us, the composer of the song, Danny Flowers, was a good buddy of hers. Her blues style on guitar (with mostly open tuning), and her almost husky voice indeed made for a very lively set. Even still, she confessed to us that it was pretty long haul. She told us (tongue in cheek), "You know, I think it's probably a pretty good idea, when you go out and perform for people, to play the songs that are on your record. The idea then, that maybe somebody'll like 'em, and go buy your records, but 'um, you know, after 61 shows, I don't care if I play some of them songs ever again in my whole life." That got a huge laugh. So she played a song that she didn't ever record, and maybe will someday, and that was "O Come All Ye Faithful"; with a rhythm and blues arrangement, of course. Before her last song, she was telling a story about getting a letter from someone who was really intrigued by a song on her second album, and requested more information about the character of that song; a person named Henry. While she was telling the story, she was also trying to tune her guitar, and began to have a difficult time trying to do both. Finally, while exaggerating the broken, distracted speech, she said, "It sounds like . . . I am taking . . . a remedial . . . reading . . class . . . and failing." So she finally gets tuned, and explains that the song was about her three year old son, Henry. Immediately after beginning the song, out comes an adorable child (obviously Henry) wearing a guitar, and really getting down and grooving with mom. He was so animated that Ashley lost it, and began to laugh. She said that last night he came out and just stood there, and that she'd told him tonight there would be no loitering on stage. He was to get out there and work, and he really was. Then she asked of she could start over on the chorus, because she got lost. It was really funny stuff, and the crowd went wild. He was really precious, and mom's set was great,
Ashley's Set-- Revive Us Again [LOL] Tulsa Time [NA] O Come All Ye Faithful [NA] You Are There [LOL] Henry Don't Care [BND] --- albums represented [NA] - not available on an Ashley Cleveland recording [BND] - Bus Named Desire, 1993 Reunion Records [LOL] - Lesson Of Love, 1995 Reunion Records
One of the things I noticed this evening, which I suppose comes with being on the road for 61 cities in less than three months, is how smooth concert was. The stage crew was very quick and expedient in making changes for the artists, and the segues between songs were well planned.
Rich started his set at 8:20pm. The first was "Save Me", which I didn't recognize at first, and thought it was a new song. As a matter of fact it wasn't until days later, that it occurred to me (with the help of some prompting by Kathy Sanders, Light 99 FM) that it was off the first album. The sound was very brittle at first. Rich's hammered dulcimer and Aaron's snare drum were almost painful, but it smoothed out later. Another advantage of seeing the end of the tour was the band was really tight. There was a guest performer on a few songs, and that was a young Navajo, Joseph Lachnit. Rich shared that the making of _Brother's Keeper_ was kind of an adventure, because almost everyone involved in the project had just had a child but him. Therefore, there were three nursing mothers in the studio, and he says it was hard to know where to look. :-) When Rich did "Song For Eli", of course he and Nicki Lungren were singing the lead, but Julie Strasser and Carolyn Arends were singing backup. It was really awesome, especially with a subtle chorus effect on the voices. Rich also told us about being engaged and then breaking up, and it was then that he "decided there was a weird lack of good Christian break-up songs". So he decided to write one, and sang a very powerful song ("We Are Not As Strong") about his experience with love lost. Something that Rich said right after that song that really hit me was, "Sometimes we confuse the idea of being happy with the idea of being blessed."
Before he started the next song he told us not to applaud when you hear the intro, because it's not probably what you think it is. He played a little of the intro and said, "This could be, '(singing) Saints and children we have gathered here, to hear the sacred story'", as everyone cheered. But then quickly followed, "But it's not!" that brought lots of laughter. While still playing the same intro, "Or it could be, '(singing) the other side of the world is not so far away.' You'd think I'd come up with an original introduction." More laughter. Then he shared how he hates when lounge singers say, "I'd like to do a little song for you, that sounds something like this." To which he would reply, "Buddy, look. I paid exactly 15 bucks to here that song. I want to hear *exactly* what it goes like." The crowd was really enjoying this. "Then he concluded, "So I'm not sure exactly how it was written, but tonite it goes exactly like this", and began "If I Stand". Excellent interaction with the crowd. I'm always impressed with Rich every time I see him, because not only does he have a way of making me see my faith walk in a clearer light, but I'm truly entertained as well. The only disappointment on "If I Stand" was there wasn't that booming chorus of the entire audience singing at the end. I guess not everyone knew as well as they do here in Wichita. (It was then that I realized, this was the first time I'd seen Rich outside of Wichita.)
Then there was a break and Rich told us more about the Native American's plight, and it was very convicting. I won't get into the details here, but I heard enough that I am prayerfully considering becoming a supporter of the IBS Jesus Way. Rich spoke for a while, then we watched a video. There were dozens of things that Rich said that moved me, but the one I remember specifically was "Surely if God is real, our lives would be different." (Have I already told you that Rich had a cold tonite. It was amazing that we were well into the evening before I noticed.)
The second set was more powerful. All through the evening, Carolyn and Ashley came out at different times to help with vocals and guitars. Also they each got to do one more tune, with the whole band behind them. It was really cool, and I immediately wished I could hear Carolyn with a whole band behind her on all her tunes. Towards the end on "Creed", Joseph came out to dance again. In his normal style, Rich had everyone sing the encores. It was like a glimpse of heaven, to hear everyone singing on "It Is Well". I wasn't close enough to see Rich's eyes this time, but other times he would get pretty misty-eyed on that one. Only because the seats weren't the most comfortable did I realize it was 10:30pm. Another three hour Rich Mullins concert, and another heart full of joy.
=============== The Ragamuffins =============== Rich Mullins (piano, guitar, hammered dulcimer, lead vocals) Rick Elias (guitars, vocals) Lee Lungren (keyboards, accordion, percussion, vocals) Aaron Smith (pounding and thrashing) (for all you 77's fans) Mark Robertson (bass, vocals) Jimmy Abegg (guitars, vocals) Beaker (guitars) Background vocalists- Julie Strasser (Beaker's wife) Nicki Lungren (Lee's wife) Mitch McVicker Carolyn Arends & Ashley Cleveland both contributed guitars and vocals to a few songs
===================== Ragamuffin's Set List ===================== Save Me - [RM] The Howling - [WBRv1] Calling Out Your Name - [WBRv1] Cry The Name - [BK] I See You - [WBRv1] My One Thing - [NPP] Let Mercy Lead - [BK] Brother's Keeper - [BK] Hold Me Jesus - [LLR] Boy Like Me/Man Like You - [WBRv1] Song For Eli - [BK] We Are Not As Strong - [N/A] If I Stand - [WH/SE]
IBS video break
Quoting Deuteronomy To The Devil - [BK] The Color Green - [LLR] Damascus Road - [BK] Sometimes By Step - [WBRv2]
Carolyn Arends- Power Of Love [I Can Hear You, 1995 Reunion Records]
Ashley Cleveland- Soon And Very Soon/I'll See You In the Big Town [from the album Big Town (??)]
Awesome God - [WH/SE] Creed - [LLR]
encore- Power In The Blood It Is Well Doxology
======================= Rich's albums represented ======================= [RM] - Rich Mullins 1986 Reunion Records [WH/SE] - Winds Of Heaven, Stuff Of Earth 1988 Reunion Records [NPP] - Never Picture Perfect 1989 Reunion Records [WBRv1] - The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 1 1991 Reunion Records [WBRv2] - The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 2 1992 Reunion Records [LLR] - A Liturgy, A Legacy, & A Ragamuffin Band 1993 Reunion Records [BK] - Brother's Keeper 1995 Reunion Records