That For Which I Am Thankful

My wife has a cousin (many, many cousins actually) who sends out a list each year itemizing that for which he is thankful. Wheeler Davidson is a great guy, a patriot, a veteran whose blood runs red and black.

He inspires me each year with his list to count my many blessings and here they are, in no particular order.

I am thankful for each sunrise, hot coffee and news on the Internet.

I am thankful for my wife who makes me feel like a celebrity being married to her.

I am thankful for my beautiful daughters and the joy they give me.

I am thankful that I am an American and for the remaining freedoms we enjoy, maintained only by eternal vigilance and the willingness to sacrifice.

I am thankful for my Blackberry.

I am thankful for Vogel State Park.

I am thankful for our movie room, blankets and video projection technology

I am thankful that today, we will enjoy, yet again, another feast of Mimi’s cooking.

I am thankful for those Americans in our armed forces, willing to risk it all for our country.

I am thankful my brother and parents live so close by.

I am thankful my in-laws don’t. (Just kidding!)

I am thankful for my sister and her family and for the amazing success of her business!

I am thankful for our movie room, blankets and video projection technology

I am thankful for Diet Coke.

I am thankful for William Lane Craig and his ministry.

I am thankful that God gave us dogs.

I am thankful for a wonderful 30th high school reunion this past summer and that I still keep in touch with so many of the class of 1978.

I am thankful there will be a new Pat Terry album out any day now.

I am thankful for the work that I do.

I am thankful for Perimeter Christian School.

I am thankful for my health and the health of my family.

I am thankful for good sushi and sashimi.

I am thankful for a list of friends that is longer than I deserve.

I am thankful I have not to been in the Atlanta airport in months!

I am thankful for Ravi Zacharias and his ministry.

I am thankful for online banking.

I am thankful for online shopping.

I am thankful for rediscovering music after a long absence.

I am thankful for guitars.

I am thankful for our gas grill.

I am thankful for our screen porch.

I am thankful for having One to be thankful to.

Happy Thanksgiving all

Every Once In A While

I have loved music since I can remember. My earliest memories involve me as a young child falling asleep to the music my parents played on their Zenith turntable. The would stack several LPs on the machine as the day coasted to an end and I would drift off to sleep to the sounds of Eddy Arnold, Jim Nabors, Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis.

If you are familiar with the song ‘Sweet Music’ by The Pat Terry Group, then you will know pretty much how music has influenced my life.

I have been fortunate to have been able to meet, and in some cases know, the musicians that really had a major impact on me musically and personally. I have also been fortunate to have witness some amazing musical events and when looking back, it seems as if it has been years since I have experience anything musically that I would consider even remotely above the ordinary.

That all changed yesterday.

To put this all in perspective, allow me to share a few of my most memorable music events, in no particular order.

Phil Keaggy – Jesus 76, Orlando, FL At that time, Phil had just one Christian album, ‘What A Day’ and he was not very well known. He was not even ‘major act’ on the venue but rather was ‘filler’ as he and Ted Sandquist and Paul Clark would come out and play in between the more well known acts of the day. Though they were listed on the schedule, most people were asking, ‘Who are these guys?’ Until…some magical happened, Phil Keaggy played a solo. There was something special about the little guy in the middle.

At that time, I was just 16 and had been playing guitar for two years. Even then, I knew enough to know that I was witnessing something beyond normal. Phil Keaggy, at that precise moment, changed me forever. Not just musically, but also the way he loved the Lord in his sincere and humble nature.

Ron Thompson – July, 1967, Perry, GA Ronny Thompson is guilty of being the one who got me hooked on guitar. I was just seven years old when I moved from Mobile, Alabama to Perry, GA and Ronny lived across the street from me. He was seven years older and he had, and could play, an electric guitar. He possessed an ability that, like watching Houdini escape from his famous water torture trick that made me think, “I want to know how he does that…and I want to be able to do it too.” I still keep in touch with Ronny and he is still playing and I will love him forever for the influenced he and his Hagstrom guitar and Kent amp had on me…an influence that lives today.

The Del Lords – Summer 1983, Athens, GA At this time, I was playing in a band called ‘Big Suntan’ and ‘Athens Music’ as it was coming to be known at the time, was making quite a splash. R.E.M. was nationally known, as were The B-52’s and it was quite the time to be playing music in a city that will forever hold my heart. I saw the Del Lords play and knew very little about them but that one concert, in a sweaty little club was the personification of what rock and roll is all about. I could not have named two songs they played but each one sounded like something I was familiar with. (To me, the quality of a great song.) There could not have been 70 people there but that night, they were rock and roll perfection.

Wow…there so many more special moments that stand out in my mind; the Jimmy Buffett Coconut Telegraph Tour at the Atlanta Civic Center when he opened up for himself with an acoustic set with just him and an electric piano player before bringing out the band. There was the night I got to have dinner with The Phil Keaggy Band during their ‘Emerging’ Tour on their stop in Atlanta; Flying to Ohio with one of my best friends, Jon Pierce, to see a reunion show of Glass Harp, Phil Keaggy’s rock and roll band. There are quite a few more but as I mentioned, it has been many years since anything came close to ‘knocking me out’ in a music sense until yesterday when I heard The Peasall Sisters at the Chapel at Roswell United Methodist Church in Roswell, GA.

I ‘discovered’ the Peasall Sisters through my new favorite thing, an internet ‘radio station’ where you can enter an artists name and it ‘creates’ a station for you playing their music mixed in with similar artists of the same genre.

I created an Alison Krauss station and was enjoying her tunes, The Barn Owl Band, Ricky Skaggs and then, suddenly, like someone took a spotlight and shined it directly into my eyes, it was the harmonies of the most amazing sounding trio I have ever heard. A quick click of the mouse and I saw ‘The Peasall Sisters’. It took me just three songs before I hit their website and then iTunes where I purchased their ‘Home To You’ album. For the next three weeks, I played those tunes over and over and over. Had it been a vinyl LP, I would have to go get another one by now as I surely would have worn it out.

About a week ago, I decided to hit their website again to see if they were on tour when low and behold, they would be at Roswell UMC in less than 10 days. I don’t care who was going with me, I was going to be there, front and center, which, unfortunately, I was alone as my gals had eye appointments and could not change them.

I arrived early, way early and was, as I planned, front and center. The Chapel at Roswell UMC is a beautiful building, lots of wonderful wood and the perfect setting for what I would call a religious experience.

When I walked in, the three sisters, Sarah, 21; Hannah, 18; and Leah, 15 were doing their sound check. I have no idea how long they have been there but I did hear them say, “Let us do two more songs and we should be good to go.”

The next dozen or so minutes will stand out in my mind like the first time I saw Herschel Walker break out for a long run, Jack Nicklaus, well, just standing there being Jack Nicklaus, Phil Keaggy asking me to pass the salt, the Grand Canyon, Mount McKinley, The eruption of Mount Spurr.

I am not kidding. What I heard at that moment was straight from the gates of Heaven…God doing a little ‘showing off’ through His creation.

The music was not the only amazing thing I witnessed from the Peasall Sisters. Their humility, grace, intelligence and obvious love for the Lord was equally as appealing and also a breath of fresh air. It has been almost as long from being amazed musically as it has been for me seeing what I would call genuine Christians.

I am too poor of a writer to come close to expressing how wonderful yesterday was. I bought their DVD and when we I got home, I played it for Anna and Katie and Lane was able to watch most of it. We are definitely all going to be together the next time they are even close to Atlanta. Right now, I kind of feel like the guy who claims to have seen ‘Nessie’…all words fail the description.

There are some things you just have to witness for yourself.

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

I was 14 years old, just learning to play guitar to a book called ‘The Music of John Denver Made Easy For Guitar’…which I still have…when I ‘discovered’ an album with a funky cover and, for a young Christian, first heard the most amazing music of my young life.

We were at an event for our church youth group at our pastor’s house and while everyone else was playing games, laughing, eating and have a blast, I sat at the end of the sofa and listened to that album three times, both sides.  (LP vinyl…remember?)

The album was the eponymous, first custom album by The Pat Terry Group, and to say it had an impact on me would be more than an understatement. 

Like many young Christians of that era, especially in the south, The Pat Terry Group definitely had a larger than life sense about them.  World class in what they did yet very approachable.  Going to see The Pat Terry Group was an event those of us who cherished Pat’s songs marked on our calendars and counted the weeks and days with anticipation.

I lost count how many times I saw them in concert.  I remember seeing them in Macon at Mulberry Street United Methodist; the Atlanta Civic Center, backed up by the string section of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the debut concert for their ‘Songs of the South’ album; some funky outdoor festival in the middle of no where, Kentucky; the Jesus Music Festivals of 1976 and 1977 and lots of places in between.

Somehow, along the way, I got to know the guys in the group…mostly through their graciousness and patience; answering a million questions of a young guitar player wannabe fascinated by the wonder of their music.

I am grateful to have way more memories than I can count that were born from that night, sitting at the end of the sofa. 

Sonny Lallerstedt; for some reason, I was able to make him laugh and we connected first.  One of my favorite memories with Sonny and his wife Becky was the time I rode a Greyhound bus from Perry to Marietta to spend the weekend with them, as Sonny was going with me to help me pick out my high school graduation present; a new Fender Stratocaster guitar.

He got me a beauty!  Sonny, with musical gifts beyond anyone I have met since, loved the way that guitar sounded and looked and I remember that night, sitting in his music room, holding that guitar and trying to play it where he could not hear me. (kind of like, a swine before pearls thing.)  It was about 10:00 PM when the phone rang. It was my parents calling needing directions to Sonny and Becky’s house.  It seemed that my trip was cut short as I had to take the SAT’s in Macon the next morning and that ‘minor task’ slipped off the radar. 

The Pat Terry Group actually used that guitar on two songs on their ‘Heaven Ain’t All There Is’ album.  That guitar was rocking cool but was stolen during a move between apartments when I was living in Athens, GA.  (Sonny helped me get another Strat, which I still have today.)

The Pat Terry Group has a big impact on the music of that time.  Pat’s songs were recorded by just about ever major artist in that genre and after half dozen albums or so and umpteen years of touring, marriages and babies, the group disbanded.  Sonny and Randy (Bugg) formed ‘Twelve Oaks Recording Studio’ and became ‘Nine to Fivers’ while Pat began a solo career that lasted for three albums and since then has continued in music doing what I believe he does best…writing songs. 

I still stay in touch with Sonny and Becky and count them amongst two of my dearest friends ever.  Pat and Pam are the godparents of our youngest daughter, Katie and ‘honorary’ godparents of our oldest daughter Anna.

Pat has never stopped writing.  In the years since he last recorded he has continued to write some of the most thoughtful, profound and brilliant songs I have ever heard.  In the time that has passed since ‘The Silence, Pat’s last solo effort, I have been gently ‘selling’ him on the concept of a new Pat Terry album, that the world needs more of his music, played by him, sung by him.

Today, I am please to announced ‘I closed the sale’.  Actually, the deal was closed a long while back but between his regular trips to Nashville, making a living with his songs being recorded by the likes of Alan Jackson, Tanya Tucker, Kenny Chesney, Travis Tritt, The Oak Ridge Boys, John Anderson and more, the album taken a while to complete.

So, I am happy to share with you that the new Pat Terry album is finished.  Laugh For A Million Years’ is done, mixed and being produced as I type.  Look for it in early December on iTunes and via Pat’s Website

If you ever owned a Pat Terry Group album or one of his solo records, ever heard him in concert, ever heard anyone else record one of his songs…get his new CD.  I am confident that you will agree, good things do come to those who wait. 


Bobby “D”

The Glass Is 2/10’s Full!

OK, so the stock market has had sixth straight days of triple digit losses, there is talk of a depression, my retirement funds are getting the crapped kicked out of them but I cannot help but to see the glass 2/10’s full and it is for one very simple reason.

It is October!

Soon it will be sweatshirt weather. The brutally hot days of summer are behind us, the leaves will soon be changing and Thanksgiving and Christmas are heading our way. When ‘the months have ‘R’s’ it means oysters are in season, football is back, we go to the mountains more, we enjoy fires on the deck and in the house and we have already gone camping with another weekend on the books for early November.

This is the time of the year we burn candles, drink hot chocolate, roast marshmallows, no longer have to cut the lawn, mosquitoes go away, the sky at night seems much clearer, we sleep with the windows open and watch movies in our ‘movie room’ under blankets.

We make our annual visit to the Cumming Fair this Sunday, eat apples from north Georgia, listen to more music, read more because the days are shorter, rent a cabin in the mountains and make homemade soup.

Plus, there is a rumor that my favorite songwriter of all time will soon have a new CD…the first one in a while.

This is the time of the year I live for the other nine months. So, in spite of the dismal economy, I refuse to let it get me down!

Bobby “D”

Selling Honey On The Side Of The Road

My goal in doing this is to give myself an outlet that is not business related but that is proving difficult so I will try to marry the two on this post.

Given a choice between a mountain cabin or a condo on the beach, I will take the cabin every single time. Not that I don’t like the beach but my fair complexion does not fare well near the ocean. I was born beside the water and grew up visiting some of the greatest beaches in this country but, like some comedian once said, “Me on the beach is like sticking a fork in the microwave.” There is much more shade in the mountains.

Though I love what I do there are times when one is churning the wheels of commerce that the very nature of the biz requires certain aspects of a project to be “beyond one’s control”. When that happens, in a nutshell, it can be a major drag.

This week has been but one of the many examples that, in my mind, I see a vision of me, on the side of some cool mountain highway, sitting in an folding chair………selling honey.

That simple enterprise would allow me to continue to scratch my “entrepreneurial itches” while, with the exception of the actual production of the honey, remain in pretty much total control.

Marketing – I would be able to select the style of the jar and create an appealing label.

Inventory – How many jars will I take with me today?

Sales – “Yes, the small jar is nice but you get a much better value if you purchase the large jar.”

Scheduling – Do I set up the chair at 9:00 or 10:00 AM?

Networking – I could find someone who may be selling homemade bread by the side of the road and we could swap cards.

Advertising – “Honey 4 Sale Ahead”

Yes, there are many aspects of this venture that is appealing and today happens to be one of those days when I would love to be sitting in my “branch office”, churning the wheels of commerce.

On Becoming More Blissfully Ignorant

For those who know me, they are aware of my love of networking and the free enterprise system. I love entrepreneurs and I love seeing companies grow. With the advent of “social networking” on the Internet, be it “MySpace”, “Facebook”, “LinkedIn”, “Plaxo” or others, I have reconnected with old friends and made a few new ones.

My love of networking is based upon my love of what I do for a living, helping companies grow. It is because of that that I try to keep those personal beliefs, the “taboo two” – Politics and Religion”, to a minimum. Not that I am ashamed my stand on either topic, I truly enjoy discussing each topic but more so with someone who disagrees with me.

I use to listen nothing but news and talk radio when I was in the car. However, I made a promise to myself that this year would be the year I rediscover music. Less AM, more FM.

I have been playing my guitars more, buying more music and am much less aware of campaign promises and why we need change in Washington and to be honest, I am loving it.

I just “discovered” a new band called Back Door Slam and they are amazing. I believe the oldest is the 20 year old guitar player and he is incredible.

I am eagerly awaiting a new album by Pat Terry, the amazing songwriter and artist who was a huge influence on me during my formative music years.

I have been spending money like crazy on iTunes getting some music by:

John Fahey – The Best of John Fahey 1959-1977

Great, stripped down guitar playing

Good Vibrations – 15 Carolina Beach Music Classics – Discs 1 and 2

Ahhh, reconnecting with the music of my college days. Digital smiles all around.

The Tam – Soul Masters

I actually got to sing onstage with The Mighty, Mighty Tams in Statesboro, Georgia once. It was just one song and I am sure for them, one song too many. They help keep me young, foolish and happy.

Trisha Yearwood – Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love

She is a perennial favorite but I have not had much of a chance to listen to this one yet.

Kelsey Payne – A World Away

Kelsey is the daughter of some dear friends, Larry and Lori Payne. Don’t let the fact that Larry is a zillionaire fool you…this gal has some pipes and a very mature sound for someone so young.

One of the great things about iTunes is you can listen to sample of the song and purchase, in most cases, single tunes. So I have been doing some catching up on this as well.

Frank’s Wild Years – Tom Waits

Little Martha – The Allman Brothers

Romeo’s Tune – Keith Urban (Neat cover version of the Stevie Forbet classic)

Wondering Where the Lions Are – Bruce Cockburn

Ain’t Got No Home – Clarence “Frogman” Henry

Just a Song Before I Go – Crosby Still & Nash

We Just Disagree – Dave Mason

Learn To Fly – The Foo Fighters

That is about it for now. I will wrap this up with “Heaven” by Los Lonely Boys, the sun shining outside after some wonder rain, tapping my toe, a smile on my face and a bit more blissful than this time last year.

Bobby “D”