Red & Black

I was born in Mobile, Alabama and was always proud to cheer for Paul Bear Bryant’s team. Though our family had no direct connections to the University of Alabama we, like thousands of others in the same position, called the Crimson Tide ‘our team’.

I ended up moving to Georgia when I was just seven years old and as a young football star wannabe, I still rooted for ‘Bama and was proud to be a fan. I can still remember the ache from the ‘Punt ‘Bama Punt’ defeat by Auburn. Jon Pierce and Randy McCrae, Auburn fans and classmates, reminded me daily for a year of that 17-16 loss.

I ended up attending, and graduating, from the University of Georgia because I wanted to get my degree from the Terry College of Business, the south’s oldest business school. I remember when I told my friends about my decision to go to Georgia that they would never hear me say, ‘How ’bout them Dawgs!’ as I was still a Tide guy.

That was before I realized that my first quarter at UGA was also the first quarter for a guy named Herschel Walker.

The next three years was football bliss and it did not take long for my blood to turn from Crimson to Red and Black. It has been the same ever since.

I don’t follow UGA sports as closely as I always thought I would only because of the time demands of running a business and being a husband and father. Yet, I sill keep an ear to the ground on what is going on in Athens and am proud when I find little gems such as this:

http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/video?id=3663225

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T’was The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

Even at my age, this is an exciting time and I don’t care what the astronomers and meteorologists say, tomorrow is the longest day of the year.

This summer, Anna and Katie learned the lowdown on Santa. After ‘true confessions’, the result of a poorly hidden ‘Santa Apparatus’ (Long story) the truth came out in an impromptu family meeting.

Anna admitted she doubted the logistics of the entire trip around the world/all those toys in one bag scenario but kept her poker face ‘just in case.’

Katie found out while neck deep in her belief. It was not pretty…much like yanking a Band-Aid off of a skinned knee, fast and painful.

With that sense of wonderment gone, things seem just a little off kilter this year. No letters to Santa, no preparing of Christmas Eve snacks, no tracking his lift-off from the North Pole and most of all, no one to ‘impress’.

We have had a pretty good year business-wise, not at good as last year but it could have been a whole lot worse. We know we have been immensely blessed and in spite of the newfound awareness here in the Darnell household, it is still going to be a great Christmas.

Tomorrow will be fun.

Regardless of our new Santa status, the anticipation of what Christmas day will bring will not change much. The girls will be little bundles of energy, knowing that somewhere under this roof are the presents and surprises to be delivered by a surrogate Saint Nick in less than 24 hours.

There will be much to do. My ‘Santa’, the UPS guy, made a key delivery this afternoon so, for the first time in a while, I will not be making any 11th hour dashes to the store as is my typical routine. Well, maybe one small, short trip.

Fortunately, this year there is nothing to assemble. Everything will be wrapped and ready to slide under the tree after visions of sugar plums are dancing down the hall.

While I am counting on that bedtime fatigue to kick in at the same time it does on school nights; that remains to be seen. I am pretty confident that anticipation will prevail at least an hour or two beyond our typical ‘lights out’ hour, which is expected.

The girls will be full of joy, anticipation, expectancy and hope. I will feed off of that knowing we are just hours away from magic and one of the most important roles I have as a father will soon be completed for another year.

Yes, tomorrow will be the longest day of the year, not just for our gals but for me as well.
Even at my age, this is an exciting time of the year!

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 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.

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”