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 http://www.pandora.com, 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.