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Sunday, October 03, 2004

The tour begins

This past Friday we had our first concert of the tour at Grace Fellowship Church in Florence, KY, just south of Cincinnati. It is great to be out playing again, meeting people, and feeling the crisp fall air. We were made to feel very welcome by everyone at the church.

This concert marked several "firsts." Clint Wells, who is a part of the Red Mountain Church community in Birmingham that has released a couple of CDs, played guitar with us for the first time. He was filling in for Cason Cooley (who was away at a wedding), and did a fantastic job. I suspect you'll see him at more IG concerts in the future. This was drummer Tripp Ethridge's first show as well, and he'll be joining us all month. I've tweaked our setlist a bit, so this was the first time we've played "O Come And Mourn" from IG3 and the full-band debut of "All I Owe" from my EP. Finally, this was the first concert sponsored by Compassion International, a child sponsorship organization that I'm humbled to be working with (you can learn a bit more about them in the interview on the main site).

After the concert, the band drove back to Nashville (and Clint to Birmingham! He must have arrived at 4am), while my wife Alice and I hung out with some Cincy friends at Steak & Shake (I recommend the chocolate malt). We followed them north to Norwood, OH, where they live in a Vineyard community of home churches. The house that many of them live in is huge, old, and very cool. We slept comfortably and awoke the next morning to join the residents in preparing breakfast (well, Alice did. I just sat around and chatted.).

Around the time breakfast began, Beth Maynard and her husband Mark arrived. If you haven't heard of her, Beth is an Episcopal priest who co-edited a book called Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching The U2 Catalog. She and Mark are taking a year off and travelling around the world, visiting different Christian communities, helping with an AIDS relief ministry in Africa, and generally taking a breather (if you are familiar with the recent conflicts within the Episcopal church, you will understand). Our time was short, so rather than discussing the finer points of theology, or commenting on the beautiful fall weather, I delved straight into conversation about U2 with Beth. As a rabid U2 fan myself, it was great to trade thoughts on U2 in general, and their new single "Vertigo," in particular. After she found out that I own the holy grail of all U2 bootlegs (a rare 1981 extended interview), she offered me a copy of her book in trade. I also gave her a copy of For All The Saints to listen to until U2's new album comes out (we're counting the days). Here's a link to her book:

Before leaving, we were given a tour of St. Elizabeth's next door. It's an old Catholic church building that has been condemned (bits of plaster might fall on your head, it seems). The Vineyard community bought it and are pursuing getting a grant to restore it for various uses. My friend Elizabeth Herron is a part of the community, and the church houses her art studio. You may be familiar with Elizabeth's artwork from the first and third Indelible Grace CDs, as well as Your King Has Come and my new EP. It was cool to see her workspace, and wonder at the beautiful stained glass that adorned the church. For those of you who own IG3, does this cross look familiar? I love to find out the origins of things, particularly those that are already close to my heart.

The cross from the cover of IG3. Posted by Hello

One of the many stained-glass windows at St. Elizabeth's. Posted by Hello

A candid shot of Elizabeth Herron (left) and Alice in Elizabeth's art studio. Posted by Hello

Elizabeth gets silly with a chandelier and bench that she made of real, no-foolin' marshmallows. Posted by Hello

"Failing In Love"-- a poem on the chalkboard in Elizabeth's studio. Posted by Hello

In the early afternoon, Alice and I waved goodbye and drove back to Nashville. The tour's first run begins Tuesday, where we travel to the Chicagoland area and lead worship at Judson College's chapel on Wednesday morning. It will be an intense week of concerts, worship leading, and speaking, but I will try my best to give you occasional blog updates. Please post your comments so that I'll feel like someone is reading! :-)


Blogger maria said...

I showed my daughter your posting to inspire her, she loves singing & music and has just successfully auditioned as a singer for the local Christian youth group band. Thanks for sharing.

10:59 PM

Blogger Aaron said...

Matthew, as one of the grateful receipients of your visit, a resident of said community of house churches, long time acquaintance, and concert attendee.... I have to say... "YOU ROCK". Thanks for making the journey up to visit! You and Alice are a walking, talking, singing, and administrating blessing to all who know you. Thank you. Many blessings on the tour!

1:39 PM

Blogger Beth said...

Hi Matthew, I just found this. Thanks again for the CDs -- and for the promotion of our book! We've enjoyed the hymns CD you gave us too - listening to it in the car. We're looking forward to being with Alice tonight at the church -- sorry you're not around.

11:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the unmitigated pleasure of cathching you (and the band) in Lancaster, PA. My wife are trying our best to wear out the 3 IG albums we now own. I am giving your CD a long listen tonight. It is a real blessing. I know that being on the road can be a real drain, but as God grants you grace please continue. Your work (and IG's) both live and recorded is a profound encouragement. To hear the gospel sung is a incredible - grace poured out! God Bless!

6:39 PM


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