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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Touring recap.

I usually tour in blocks of time, but over the past month I've played several concerts here and there, sort of spread out. At the beginning of the month I played at a men's retreat in North Carolina. I don't think I've ever played at a men's retreat before, but if they are all like this, I'd be glad to play one again. It was a time of guys being able to be honest about themselves, and receive God's sustaining mercy and grace. The speaker was Al Andrews, who is a Christian counselor who has a ministry to artists called Porter's Call here in middle Tennessee. I've always wanted to meet him, and I finally got the opportunity.

My dad was at the retreat as well, and we had a chance to go fishing, which we probably haven't done together in a decade or so. I caught a fish and some kind of lizard. I decided that I like fishing, but really like fishing with my dad.

Sample conversation at the breakfast table at the retreat:

Dad: "It's probably been ten years since I last had Froot Loops."
Me: "It's probably been two weeks since I last had Froot Loops."

The next night, I played in Charlotte to a small but appreciative crowd at a Methodist church. I talked way too much about how I love Charles Wesley's hymns (which I tend to do whenever I play at a UMC), and had a blast.

Later that week, I played a co-headlining concert with my friend Josh Bales in Chattanooga. It was an unusual concert, and I felt like a never really found my footing; plus, it was more Josh's crowd. But I had so much fun beforehand and afterwards with Josh (who bought me some ribs at my favorite Chattanooga restaurant, Sticky Fingers) talking about theology, liturgy, politics, family, and more.

The next morning I played the chapel at Bryan College in Dayton, TN. Chapels can be kind of hit or miss, as you never know how a crowd is going to react when they're required to be there, but the students were so supportive and encouraging in their comments to me afterwards. I spoke at a worship class over lunch and had a delicious baked sweet potato. If you ever have to eat at the Bryan cafeteria, go for the sweet potato. Trust me. Students' questions were thoughtful and I enjoyed the discussion, though it was unnerving to have people taking notes on things I was saying. At the end of the day, I am really just some kid with a guitar, not a studied academian.

The following week took me to the hollers of eastern Kentucky, not too far from where my wife used to live. I got lost on the way there. A note of advice: don't get lost in eastern Kentucky. Cell phones don't work out there.

I played at Oneida (pronounced Oh-NEED-uh) Baptist Institute, and got a chance to hang out with fellow bloggers (of which I am, by far, the least bloggerific) Mike Spencer and Steve McCoy. Very thoughtful guys, and photogenic to boot:

Bloggers Unite: Michael Spencer (iMonk), me, and Steve McCoy (Reformissionary)
(from Steve's Flickr photostream)

Me in Oneida (photo by Steve)

The next day I drove up to Lexington and played for some folks at UK. Here's one blogger's take on it. On all these solo concerts I've been trying out some new songs (well, old/new hymns; you understand.), which has made me more and more excited about recording them. Cason Cooley and I are going into the studio early next month with an amazing band (more on them later) to begin work on my first full-length solo album. I'll give you more details in a future post, but suffice it to say that I am more thrilled about this project than anything else I've ever done musically.

My wife and I are leaving in a couple of hours to go on a vision trip with Compassion International to Ecuador. I work with Compassion, representing their ministry at concerts, and this will be an opportunity for me to see up close how they go about meeting kid's needs. I don't know if I'll be able to blog while I'm there, but I'll eventually check back in here with pictures and stories. Please pray for our health and safety, and that God will use our time there to show us His heart for the poor and for children.


Blogger Gregory said...

Hey, I just wanted to say that I'm looking forward to the conference in Charleston, SC, at the end of this month. I'm a recently new fan of Indelible Grace, and I really enjoy your music.

I hope the Ecuador trip with Compassion International is going well and that your trip is a time where you can readily see God's love for the people there while drawing closer to Him because of it.

Incidentally, I noticed that on IG's website, you have Charleston listed as a tour date, as well. Will the entire band be there, or just a duo as it says on your website?

In either case, though, thank you for leading worship for us!

9:20 PM

Blogger Matthew Smith said...

Thanks for the comment-- it will be a duo (myself and the illustrious Cason Cooley) leading worship at the retreat. See you there!

5:06 PM


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