Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 09:09:27 From: Tricia Duncan Subject: San Antonio Concert Dan'l I saw the San Antonio date in your latest ragamuffin post and impulsively drove from Dallas to San Antonio to see the show. I hadn't seen dates closer to Dallas. Imagine my chagrine when reading my tour t-shirt Sunday morning, I saw that they are planning to come to McKinney....but, I still had a good trip. The show was very good. I say good not great for a couple of reasons. They admitted upfront that they hadn't rehearsed or planned enough, Mark was sick (I think) and I just plain missed Rich. They didn't try to replace him though, and I appreciate that. The show started with This Train. The reason I say I think Mark was sick was he was very low key...for him and he coughed a few times. He told a lot of the same stories from last year, so I won't go into it too much. One funny thing though, he and Cobra Joe traded hair color....Mark is now blonde and Cobra Joe is now red-headed. One thing that was very touching, when they performed "Million Years," no one sang Rich's harmony. It was like they couldn't bring themselves to take his place, even in song. Mitch and the Kid Brothers of St. Frank came on next. Mitch seemed to be doing well, but I think he was very nervous, he talked and sang a lot faster and was a little stammer-y. His voice sounded great. But, he said he still has trouble with double vision. Mark introduced the band and spoke about how thankful they were to not have lost Mitch when God called Rich home. He sang 4 or 5 songs from his self-titled CD, no new songs. He admitted that he hadn't known that this was a tribute to Rich. So, his set wasn't set up as a tribute, "but you can't brush your teeth at a guy's sink for 2 1/2 years without being influenced by him." After Mitch finished his set, he received a very long standing ovation. I think everyone was so excited to see him doing so well. He tried to ignore it in a very humble way. He finally spoke into the microphone when we wouldn't let up. He said that while we were waiting for the band that we came to hear (as if it wasn't also him), he'd tell us a joke. I won't ruin it for you....he may tell it to you, too. It was funny and cute. It was just so good to see him. When the Ragamuffins came out they started with My Delivererer. First, let me say one thing...Rick Elias is much better in person than recorded. You can really see and hear the emotion and prayer-like attitude that infuses his singing. The crowd went wild with "My Deliverer" singing the chorus to replace the recorded chorus. It was cool. They only performed the songs they sing on the album...."Man of No Reputation" and "Hard to Get" were haunting with Rick, again, singing with an attitude of prayer and submission to his Lord. Right before the break, Rick spoke to us about Compassion and the Ragamuffins. He said, don't worry, this isn't an altar call....I'm a ragamuffin. Rick told us that Rich's plan had been to do the Jesus Record together, he would do a solo album and the Ragamuffins would do an album, then they would tour. Rick said that they still plan to stay together as the Ragamuffins, if we wanted them to, and do another album. Well, of course, the crowd approved. After the break they came out and dedicated the remainder of the show to us. about During this time they spoke of their friend Rich, joked about touring with him, how he would hand them 45 or 50 songs a few days before the tour and expect them to be ready. They said if you got to see the last show of a tour, you saw a well rehearsed show. And they talked about mourning him and how this concert was as much for them as it was for us. I got the impression that part of the reason they didn't prepare a lot was they were too sad. They did their Rich Mullins favorites with the following line-up: Mark sang "Somewhere" (He prefaced the song by telling the story that as he travels from state to state he likes to think of the songwriter from each state that is his favorite. He was in Indiana and couldn't think of one...making fun of himself for forgetting that his very favorite songwriter, Rich, was from Indiana.) Rick's favorite was "The Breaks" Jimmy's was "I Am Ready for the Storm" (Before which he told a very scaled down version of the Irish sweater story.) Rick then did another song, for the life of me I can't remember which. Aaron read from Ephesians regarding putting on the full armor of God so we may stand and then sang "If I Stand." Mitch and Eric joined them for this one. They brought out the table and cups and did "Submarine." They were afraid they had forgotten it...no problem, it was great. Mark, Mitch, Aaron and Eric provided percussion. Mitch then performed "Calling Out Your Name" with Michael on the Hammered Dulcimer. They all sang: "I See You" "Awesome God" Rick sang "Creed" - Michael again provided HD Encore - Jimmy sang "Hold Me Jesus" "Step-by-Step" And they left us with the Doxology. At the end of the Doxology a very angelic sounding Amen went up. So I highly recommend going to see the show when it comes to your area. It was bittersweet in that it may be the last time we get to hear a full set of Rich music live.
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From: Marilee Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 20:01:41 EDT Subject: [ragamuffin] San Antonio Review Bandwidth warning: WIDE LOAD! Big review ahead... Pass with caution!!! ---------------------------------------------- I'd like to submit the following San Antonio Review (9/12) by Denise (NarrowGate@aol.com) with a little help from her friends: --------------------------------------------- Keeping an eye on ominously black clouds and dodging raindrops leftover from Tropical Storm Frances, we made the trip from Houston to San Antonio on September 12, the first stop on the This Train/Mitch McVicker/Ragamuffin Band tour. Appropriately, as Mark Robertson revealed during the concert, Sept. 12th, 1997 was the date that Rich first played the demo tape for him that eventually became The Jesus Record. Rain and lousy motel room notwithstanding, the evening was well worth the effort to go, in every respect. The concert was opened by local songwriter Chris Taylor, whose music was aptly described by Mark as "intelligent, artsy, and folksy". The low key, acoustic three song set was followed by an introduction of This Train by Kid Brother Eric Hauck. The band that tours in a converted milk truck delivered their trademark energetic set, beginning with "Like it or Not" and "I Saw the Light". At that point they launched into their "tribute" song to the "least of these" to which Jesus must have been referring, the "Mimes of the Old West", followed by "A Million Years". By this point they had experienced numerous technical difficulties, causing Mark to wisecrack about their "vintage" equipment. During "A Million Years", Jordan was forced to abandon his guitar, leaving Mark and Cobra Joe to finish the song with a bass and drum duet (which actually sounded pretty cool!), prodding Mark to joke that he thought the guitar was seriously over-rated. Their final song was the sensitive, romantic (!) "Monster Truck," all of which left us - even those who initially did not know what to expect - wishing for a full scale This Train concert. During the set change for Mitch and the Kid Brothers, Mark spoke about the accident that still, a year later, remains on our minds, and about the growth in Mitch's life as a result. When Mitch, Eric, and Michael Aukofer took the stage, Mitch spoke about how he seemed to be stuck in a song writing rut because his songs were all about love. His set consisted of "Here and Now", "Freedom", "Take Hold of Me", "Only Love Will", and "The Lemonade Song". Between the three guys nine different instruments were played, and it was poignant to watch the way in which Eric and Michael truly "backed up" Mitch, and not just musically. Between songs Mitch spoke in a halting, though lighthearted way, about various things, including the fact that he still had residual double-vision from the accident and to him, the audience looked huge! But when he spoke about the "love in action" he had seen both Rich and Compassion demonstrate on the reservation, he became tearful and struggled to get the words out. People have spoken before about his quiet, unassuming demeanor, and that was certainly in evidence Saturday night. When Mitch was through with his set, they began to set up for the Ragamuffins, but the audience, who had been clapping rose to its feet to give Mitch a rousing, standing ovation. Mitch appeared to be embarrassed. Michael whispered something into Mitch's ear and Mitch stepped up to the mic, motioned for us to sit down and proceeded to tell us a joke about a gorilla in a zoo that had everyone laughing. At that point Rick Elias (dressed like the original "man in black"), Aaron Smith, Jimmy Abegg and Mark took the stage. There was a tangible change in the atmosphere of the concert. Perhaps it is Rick's commanding stage presence, or the amount of collective talent between the guys, or maybe just an awareness of the history behind the Homeless Man tour, but from that point on it was difficult to take notes because we were so intent on what was happening onstage. They opened with "My Deliverer" which the audience joined in enthusiastically, as if our "collaboration" could convey our approval and our deep, heartfelt appreciation for the efforts these guys have made. Afterward, Mark commented to the audience that the band had decided to stay together "if that's all right with you", which met with more overwhelming approval. Then followed "Surely God is With Us," "You Did Not Have a Home" and "Hard to Get", after which Rick smiled and commented that, "we don't know what's going on, if that isn't apparent yet" (alluding to some Rich-style glitches like forgotten lyrics!) At that point Eric and Michael joined the band to back up Rick on a song he introduced by simply saying, "Rich liked it." This was a major understatement as it has been said that this was one of Rich's very favorite songs (written by Rick) - "Man of No Reputation." Afterward, the house lights were turned up, the band took a break (during which Rich's boom box version of TJR was played over the PA) and Rick gave a very empassioned and articulate speech, seated on the steps of the stage, about Rich and how he "used music as a means to an end". Reminiscent of Rich's story-telling ability, Rick described what became evidendent to him following Rich's death, when everyone gathered at the various memorials. He realized how Rich had given himself to so many people "like pieces of a quilt." Some people got one piece, others got two, maybe others had to share a little piece, but when all the pieces joined together, it became "a big, beautiful blanket." He told how excited Rich was over the upcoming Jesus Record, and he mentioned how totally transparent and honest Rich was, even to a fault, and that was why he was so loved. He also gave a plug for Compassion International, mentioning their new project, working with the inner city poor, which he described as his own background. Break over, and in a strikingly familiar fashion, four chairs were set up across the stage. The guys returned and Mark (imagine his dry sense of humor) announced that "they hadn't rehearsed this set at all", which was, to their credit, only occasionally apparent. They seated themselves across the stage, up front, and for the next (hour?) gave a very warm, relaxed, often funny and often reflective tribute to Rich. Beginning with Mark doing a slower acoustic version of "Somewhere," each of the Rags soloed on a Rich song. Jimmy followed with a beautifully sung version of "Ready for the Storm" which was preceded by a rambling round of banter between the guys, including an abbreviated Irish Sweater story, and a humorous revelation that "Rich was a simple guy - his songs were always played in G" (or according to Rick, an obscure, guitar friendly key like C sharp). Jimmy commented then that the audience probably knew the song lyrics better than they did, because when they were just Rich's band, all they did was play the songs, and never worried about the lyrics. He became serious at that point and, referring to the theme of "Ready for the Storm" as being ready for death, and stated, "The more years I spend on this planet, the more I want to get off." Rick took over at that point and told about meeting Rich for the first time on a Compassion trip to Guatemala and sang what he said was his favorite Rich song, "The Breaks". Then followed what was probably the most emotional musical moment of the evening. Aaron read the passage in Ephesians 6 about the full armor of God, and "after you have done everything, to stand..." By then Mitch, Michael, and Eric had joined the Rags on stage and pretty much everybody sang BGV's to Aaron's emotional lead on "If I Stand". The word "moving" can not begin to describe that moment on stage. (Can we PLEASE get a concert video???) Well, from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the heart-rending to the light-hearted - at that point Mark cracked, "It occurred to us during intermission that we should learn this," referring, of course, to "Screen Door" and the cup routine. Aaron laughed and pointed to our list's very own Angie and said, "This one's for you!" (initially they had planned to scrap it because of lack of rehearal, but she encouraged otherwise - thankfully!.) Picture (from left to right), Eric, Aaron, Mitch and Mark executing a near- flawless... well, ok, reasonably good, rendition of the cup thing. It was hilarious! Then, back to the poignant, as Michael beautifully played the intro to "Calling out Your Name" on the hammer dulcimer with Mitch singing lead. From that point on, we were all on our feet as the guys blasted through "I See You", "Awesome God", and "Creed", then slowed down a bit with Jimmy doing the lead on "Hold Me Jesus". After commenting "We miss him, but we still have his songsá", Rick invited us to continue joining in as they closed the concert by singing "Sometimes by Step" and "Doxology". Just as they did when Rich was with us, the band quietly left the stage as the audience continued singing the Doxology acappella. It ended in a spine-tingling, extended silence that was finally broken by a woman exclaiming, "Wow!" What a night....
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