Date: 17 Oct 1998
To: RichMailList
Subject: [RichMailList 227]: Birmingham, AL 10/08 reviews

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Laura Smith's Birmingham review

Date: Fri, 09 Oct 1998 10:46:39
From: Laura Smith
Subject: Birmingham, AL Review

Review of Birmingham, AL Ragamuffin Band Concert
Featuring Mitch McVicker and This Train
Briarwood Presbyterian Church
October 8, 1998   7 pm

Firstly, because I know that some folks will not read this entire review,
let me STRONGLY ENCOURAGE anyone who has the opportunity to see these guys
in concert to be sure to attend!  Truly you are in for a wonderful, fun,
uplifting evening and the chance to listen to and meet some of the best
musicians anywhere!

That blatant pitch aside, on with the details.

The cool evening seemed even cooler because the concert folks were 45
minutes later in opening the doors than they had announced due to some
technical difficulties with the sound.  This turned out to be a bit of
foreshadowing, because Mitch and the Rags were plagued all night with
problems with the sound and instruments.  

Once in the church, everyone happily settled in and waited an additional 45
minutes for the concert to begin at 7:30 instead of 7 pm.  It was no biggy,
however.  We were all content to wait. 

Finally, the lights went down and the guys from This Train took off into
their kamikaze rendition of "I saw the Light."  I was reminded of Rich's
saying- "if you can't play good, play LOUD!"  Only they were very good, as
well as loud!  The funny thing is that Mark, after the song was concluded
and he had subdued his bass to the floor in a half nelson, he noticed that
it's neck had broken.  His comment- "That's the third bass this year I
wonder how that happens?"  Too funny!

This Train followed that with "Mimes of the Old West", "A Million Years,"
and finally "Monster Truck."  The teens with our group really appreciated
the energy these guys exhibit and we all loved Mark's hilarious comments.  

Next, Mitch appeared onstage with Michael Aukofer and another fellow; I
believe his name is Erick Hauck, but I'm not positive.  Any way, after some
fiddling with instruments and mikes, they began Mitch's "Here and Now."
About halfway into the song, there was a gosh-awful feedback that brought
the whole thing to a crashing halt.  We all shook our ears out and Mitch,
laughing, said, "Well, at least you know it can't get much worse!" It was
so funny! They began again and it went smoothly from thereon; through
"Freedom" which Michael accompanied Mitch on the hammered dulcimer.

After that, Mitch gave, (after reading other reviews), what seems to be the
usual statement about the accident he and Rich was in and about his
double-vision and the crowd seeming "pretty big" to him.  He looked very
good.  It was really moving to see him standing there, looking pretty much
like he did last year before the accident.  There does seem to be something
different about him, but I couldn't tell you what it is.  But he seemed to
be the same soft-spoken, gentle young man he was last time we saw him.
Maybe just a little slower with his speech but it's hard to say. 

Mitch and the Kid Brothers of St. Frank concluded their set with "Take hold
of me" and "The Lemonade Song," with Michael playing the washboard and a
can with his foot. (It must be stated that Michael is so incredibly
handsome that the females in our group were terribly distracted by this
fact but we got through it somehow).  The crowd rose to their feet for a
loud and long heartfelt standing ovation at their conclusion.  

Then the Ragamuffins took the stage while we anxiously waited.  We knew
they would be good but how good? And how would it be without the missing
guest of honor?  We didn't have to wait long for an answer.  After more
fiddling with sound stuff, the stirring sounds of "My Deliverer" began and
soon the entire auditorium was filled with the most awesome music.  We were
all just blown away.  They used some tape with their presentation of the
song, at the beginning and the end.  I suppose this was to include the
children's voices.  I'm not sure this was necessary; at the end of the song
it was sort of extraneous, but that's just my thought.  We thought it would
have been neat if some of the kids from the audience could sing that part,
but that would complicate things, no doubt.

The band then moved into "Surely God is with us" and then "Homeless Man."
Next, Rick Elias spoke briefly about how he had met with Rich about a week
before he died, and how the next song was the first one that Rich had
played for him.  Rick said that it was rare to hear a song that dealt with
the innermost feelings that we sometimes have about doubt, fear and finally
realizing that God is always there all along.  Of course, the song was
"Hard to Get."   This was an emotional moment for us as well as the band,
but it was good to be there together to feel it. 

Next, Rick sang "Man of No Reputation."  This was also heart-wrenching, as
that song is so very strong.  Rick also said that it was "Rich's Song."

After a short talk about Compassion International, we had a little
intermission time.  Mark, Aaron, Mitch and Eric (?) then opened things up
again with "Screen door," complete with the cups.  (I don't think I could
ever get tired of that song or that cup routine!)  The crowd just loved
that and applauded wildly.

We were definitely getting very happy when the Rags played "Here in
America" to near perfection, which cannot be too simple a task.  But our
hearts were moved again when Jimmy Abegg sang "Hold Me Jesus."  He asked
that we all sing along.  I'm not sure about everybody else, but that song
was very hard to get through for me- very bittersweet.   But still, under
it all was His Spirit of peace and comfort. 

Aaron Smith, who must be one of the best drummers on earth, came to the
front to sing "If I Stand."  Another heart-touching moment.  The audience
sang this loud and strong along with him.  Then the hammered dulcimer rang
out the beginning of "Calling out Your Name" and the rest of the band
played flawlessly.  You could tell they were pleased with themselves, as
were we, because it was so evident that they were playing very well.

By this time, Mitch was onstage with the Rags, playing acoustic guitar in
the background. The Rags played "I see You," "Awesome God," and then
"Creed."  The crowd sang their hearts out on that one!  The band went
offstage and the audience obligedly screamed and yelled "MORE, MORE, MORE!"
 And the guys were kind enough to come out and do "Sometimes By Step"
followed by the now traditional closing "Doxology."   They left the stage
for us to conclude the song by ourselves, in true "Rich" fashion.  As the
last "amens" died softly away, a reverent hush fell on the crowd in the
darkness, and you could almost hear each heart whispering, "Goodbye Rich."

Afterward, we all got the chance to meet, talk, praise and hug the guys.
They are all so nice and normal.  Rick Elias looks kind of tough onstage
(well, even offstage), but in meeting him, he was such a gentleman and
seems to be just the nicest guy.  Hugging Mitch was an answer to a prayer
for me.  It's wonderful to be able to hug a miracle.

Thanks for taking the time to read all this.  I hope that it will encourage
you to make the effort to go see a one-of-a-kind group of musicians who
really show the love of the Lord.  Bring a lost friend or two.  Promise
them an evening they won't forget.  I know they never

Laura Smith

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Forrest Walker's Birmingham review

From: Forrest Walker
Subject: Birmingham Alabama (10/8)
Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 22:25:50 (CDT)

	I went and hung out with the Ragamuffin Band (Mark, 
Rick, Jimmy, and Aaron) for about an hour before the show. 
I was in the CD section and Mark was right behind me just 
checking that This Train was in stock. We got to talking 
and he told me that he and Rich took a long walk to day of 
the accident and he told Rich how much he loved him. Mark 
is a pretty complex guy but was willing to talk about 
anything. He also told me that the Ragamuffins will go and 
make another album due out in June 99. He also told me that 
Madeline's Song will probably be on it (Myrrh didn't like 
Phil Keaggy's version). He also said that they did have 
some lyrics written by Rich so maybe they could make that 
into something. Rick was a little under the weather from 
what I could tell (stuffy nose) but he was super nice. I 
asked him what inspired him to write "Man Of no Reputation" 
and he said that Rich wanted HIM to sing it on the Jesus 
record. Rick and I also talked about his 3 solo records. 
Aaron and I talked about his days with the 77's and Jimmy 
Abegg and I talked about his paintings and incredible 
photos. These guys were dressed like they just came from a 
rummage sale but that's what makes them awesome.
	The concert was just like all the others described 
except they sang, "Here in America". Meeting Mitch was 
great but all the women wanted to hug him--I didn't being a 
guy. The only bad part of the concert was when my dad left 
the building during This Train because he hated it..but he 
is 64 years old. A fantastic evening in Birmingham.
			-Forrest Walker

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