I just returned from a big christian event in New Hampshire called SoulFest, (http://www.thesoulfest.com/home.html) where I got to perform with The Jo Petty Band. (http://jopettyband.com/) I had recorded some lead guitar parts on one of Jo Petty’s previous cd’s (Skywatch) back in 2012 (before I broke my back) and she called me in April because her guitar player had a serious injury that went from numbness in his hand to some paralysis and he was not able to play- heartbreaking for a guitar player…(He’s a great guy, a great player and a great christian and has been trying physical therapy.. but may need surgery- we are all praying for him)
Jo Petty’s songs are all original with a nice mix of rock and funk and are all wall-to-wall Jesus – Jo Ann is a bundle of energy with a great stage presence and the band is really just guitar, bass, drums and a tiny bit of keys so without guitar they would be sunk- I was very honored to be considered and I was thrilled when I passed the audititon!
We arrived early thursday with a car full of guitars and equipment- (its a 3 day event and we were only playing fri and sat) and I got this wrist band that says ARTIST which gets you into everything- (well, a lot of things) Next thing I know I’m meeting the other ‘big name’ artists and (spoiler alert) they’re just regular folks like you, dear reader, and me. (although this definitely ups the list of ‘famous people I’ve met’)
When you meet ‘famous’ people (you will someday) and they are gracious and nice it totally makes you feel awesome- so when people wanted to meet me(!) I was totally nice and gracious and thankful- Not an act- I was really thankful- and christians know its all a miracle that any of us are here and even allowed to get to do stuff.
Some highlights included the wonderful honest ministry of these ‘big bands’ as they got to tell some of the stories behind their songs- like live ‘liner-notes’ which add so much to a performance. The coolest thing was the guy from Third Day said that people from the south are raised in church and being a christian is very common- but “up here, when you guys say your a christian it really means something because you are a minority” And it was really encouraging to see all the folks there… like a few thousand at least- all saved and believing God to do powerful things.
the Jo Petty Band played on a huge stage with all kind of stage hands and lighting and equipment and we absolutely rocked out with big smiles on our faces! (side note: its like a real band with a manager and merch and everything! we even had a ‘green room’ tent with bowls of healthy snacks and stuff)(this is the bigtime) One of Jo Pettys fans even made an awesome cake- (thanks Judy Jay Cakes) -which we shared with Casting Crowns later that day!
When we finished playing- Sarah (Soulfest staffer) came up and asked me if I had a guitar Paul Colman could borrow- right now- on the main stage (guitar players all over the place and they asked me!) – and I’m like, of course!
My friend Ben Laine got to go up on stage with Paul Colman (that ‘famous’ ordinary person) who was doing a songwriting circle/clinic thingy. Paul was so impressed with Ben’s performance that he had him join him at another performance that night- It was probably one of the coolest thing I’ve ever been to- Ben has written lots of songs(even though he is only 15 now)(he is taller than me) and I have played both guitar and bass with Ben whenever he is visiting/performing here on the cape (he lives in NH and his dad is both a pastor and a drummer and another one of my dear friends who I’ve played with lots of times) So it looks like I will be helping Ben get a demo CD together and we might even be playing soulfest 2016.
I’ve been so blessed to play with so many people in my life- I’ve been in lots of bands and played with dozens of other groups but only really with people from my church- people from the same fellowship of ministry. Somehow in my christian upbringing I developed a prejudice about other christians– (a common disease for believers- even Jesus’ disciples- “don’t stop him, he who is not against us is for us” Mark 9:40, Luke 9:50) Because we are often critical of ourselves and are overly aware of our own shortcomings and are measuring our own performance -this all leads to us forgetting that we are all saved by Grace and Grace alone. We believe that salvation is precious because it can be lost- and we tell people that God can forgive them no matter what they have done. Both statements are true. But there is this thing called Grace…. and God is probably not tearing up your birth certificate every hour like you think He might be.
I have always kind-of avoided big ‘christian’ thingys and even a lot of ‘christian’ music because I allowed my brain to get crowded with my own high ‘standards’. We need standards but we measure ourselves the wrong way. Like children measuring their height from the ground up and noticing who is taller and who is growing- God measures from Jesus down to us- the more Jesus you need- the more there is available. In John’s gospel he refers to himself as “the disciple who Jesus loved” because he understood that the immeasurable love comes to us from Jesus. He is the source. Think about that.
The band is made up of christians from 4 different churches in the area- and all members are active in their churches music ministries. We start each practice with prayer and we have a great time in Jesus. It is our life-long struggle to let Jesus love and forgive us and try not to get in the way of God using us- trying to let Jesus really be Lord. But its only a this-life struggle.
I did buy a bunch of new Christian Music CD’s but- it may be a while before I hear them because I can’t get through the CD wrapping to open them. (no-one can) Check out Big Daddy Weave’s song “Neighborhoods” it is great! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b39JojjftBc
I have come a long way since august 2012 when I was coming home from the hospital with 35 staples holding me together- I’ve traded my FALL RISK bracelet for the ARTIST one but..now that’s over and my days with the circus are over for now and I have to go back to work -but you can visit me and you don’t need a backstage pass- I promise to be thankful and gracious to you.