Come on! Feel the Illinois!

If you count up all the nights I’ve laid my head on a pillow to sleep in various states, after Georgia and Florida the state of Illinois would come in third. That’s a little unusual for a boy who doesn’t venture much out of the South. Next week, I will once again be heading to the Land of Lincoln for a week.

I have a strange, but sentimental connection to Illinois from all my past trips. When Sufjan Stevens released Come On! Feel The Illinois!, I couldn’t resist buying the album, because of all the references to the state. I said “I’ve been there!” when he mentioned the Sangamon River, the Superman statue in Metropolis, and the city of Chicago. I had to pull over and stop my car when I heard “Casimir Pulaski Day” for the first time because I was so overcome. The first time I heard “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I understood why this album has been so loudly trumpted by my friends. I wonder if I like the album more because of my sentimental connections to Illinois or because of Stevens’ musical prowess. We’ll see when he releases his next state album.

I have great memories of Illinois. I remember driving through corn fields at night as waves of fireflies followed the car. I remember standing on the top floor of the John Hancock Building and watching fireworks explode below me. I remember going to Wrigley Field for the first time. I remember watching the storms miles away across the flat farms of central Illinois. Oh, and all the Cornerstone Festivals. I could write books about my trips to Cornerstone.

I’ll be at Cornerstone Festival for a yearly dose of rock and hopefully, God will make an appearance a couple of times, too. I first went to Cornerstone Festival in 1998. I had been thinking about going for years, but when my friend Joel said he was going and all I had to do was fly to Chicago, I was there. During that weekend, all of these bands that rarely toured in Atlanta and heretofore were almost essentially mythical were now real and I could see them in concert. I saw artists like Over the Rhine, Sixpence None the Richer, Lost Dogs, Vigilantes of Love, Terry Taylor, and such and I could never return to CCM again. I was hooked.

I drove up with my friend David in 2000 and then I rode a couple more times in Jerry’s K-Rad Aztec in the following years and soon it became an annual tradition that the year revolved around. I took a year off last year, but this year I’ll be heading back. I’m ready for all the fun and all the craziness in the bowl in front of mainstage. I’m ready to wander the campgrounds and see what crazy things the youth groups are doing. I’m ready to wander from tent to tent in the Cornerstone village and sample different musical genres like a giant buffet. I’ll have my camera, recorder, and I might even be blogging from the festival, so I should be returning with a ton of good stuff.

Thoughts while on a business trip

It all sounds glamorous to fly on business trips and use a corporate card, but frankly, the less often I use them the better.

I had agreed to support a client that was delivering some education over the weekend, but I had no idea what it would involve. I got a call late Friday night that there were some issues with our education on their systems. So, Saturday morning I showed up at the office and talked to the customer and it turned out that they were seeing the issue on their systems there, but I didn’t see any problems here. “Looks like you’re going to need to fly up here to solve the problem”, the customer said.

“OK, I’ll catch the first plane out Sunday morning”, I responded.

“No,” was the response, “you need to catch the next plane out today.”

So, I had Adriene pack my bags and I was off to Richmond, Virginia. About 15 hours of debugging and testing later, I had the problem solved. That’s all well and good, and I stuck around in Richmond for a couple days just to make sure there weren’t any more unforeseen problems. I had no Internet at the client’s office and for some reason my laptop would connect with the hotel’s wireless, so I was isolated from the net world for a couple days.

The trip up was pretty stressful and I really wasn’t paying attention to much on the way to Richmond, just making sure I got on the right plane, get the rental car, drive to the right place, figure out how I’m going to code myself out of this mess and such. The trip back to Atlanta was a little more relaxed so I had time to sit and watch a father and his two kids wait excitedly for their mother to come through the gate of a plane. A woman noticed I was reading Searching For God Knows What and asked if I liked Don Miller. I said yes and she smiled and pulled out a copy of Blue Like Jazz out of her bag.

Normally, when I travel for business, I feel like a five year old child walking through the airport dragging my coat behind me, leaving a trail behind me of clothes, dropping a mitten somewhere and in general looking very dazed and lost. Every trip I manage to lose or forget something. My old company badge is somewhere in Austin and somebody in Bloomington, Illinois got a freel laptop power recharger courtesy of forgetful me.

When I left my car at the airport, I couldn’t remember if I had locked the door or not. I worried the entired time up to Richmond and back that I had left the car unlocked. I was sure the car would be broken into or worse, stolen. I rode the airport shuttle back to the parking lot when I returned to Atlanta and the driver drove up to location 8-49 and said, “this is your car, sir?” and there was a green Ford truck in the spot.

“This is the spot, but this isn’t my car.” I started to panic. I knew this was going to happen.

“Don’t worry, sir, we’ll find your car” and the driver graciously drove up and done the rows of the large parking lot hoping to find my car, but I had a sinking feeling it was gone. After working 32 hours over three days, I wasn’t prepared to deal with a stolen car. When we passed spot 8- ONE FOUR NINE, there it was and visions of calling Adriene to drive all the way to the airport to get me and filling out forms for the Atlanta police vanished from my mind. I got out and walked up to the driver side door and sure enough, I had left it unlocked the entire time I was gone. Thankfully, nothing in the car had been disturbed.

I collapsed in the car with exhaustion and relief. Once again, I had forgotten something on a business trip, but this time it was wouldn’t cost me.

Some days maybe I do muster up enough faith to believe that 1 Corinthians 10:13 is true.

Caedmon’s Call at Church of the Apostles

Pictures located on my Flickr site

Caedmon’s Call at Church of the Apostles, June 4, 2006

In Gym Class in High School
Lead of Love
Before There Was Time
Walk With Me
The World Will Sing
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
Share the Well
Bombay Rain
I Did Not Catch Her Name
40 Acres
This World
‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
God of Wonders
I Will Sing / Hope to Carry On
Hands of the Potter

Dalit Hymn [encore]

I was pretty excited when I heard they were going to play at Church of the Apostles because it’s such a beautiful sanctuary. It’s a really large church, too, the sanctuary easily holds a couple thousand. I was afraid that since the concert was announced with such short notice that it would be a small crowd, but the lower section was about 3/4ths full and there were a couple people in the balcony. It probably helped that they played that morning during the worship service and encouraged some of the church goers to come out for the show.

The show was opened by Mandy Mann who was accompanied by her husband Kevin Mann who is the band’s road manager (and provided us with humorous impersonations of each band member as he checked their mics). Mann had a sweet voice and was quite pleasant, not so much my style, but she fulfilled the minimum standard for an opener (i.e. don’t make me angry or bore me) and looked very cute with her butterfly wings when she sang her song about butterfly wings.

The concert started with Andy’s intro song to his new album “In Gym Class In High School” which I thought was pretty cool and went straight into …. “Lead of Love”, I think? (Geof will be able to correct on this one.) They only played one song from the new album (“The World Will Sing”) and four from Share the Well, “Share The Well”, “Bombay Rain”, “Dalit Hymn”, and by request “All I Need (I Did Not Catch Her Name)” which Danielle and Andy did as a duet. It was the first time they had ever done the song live before (in fact, they had to run through it right before the show as it was a last second addition.) and it was quite beautiful. They did the Paul Simon cover “Diamonds In The Soles of Her Shoes” and Andy did a solo version of his new song “Early In The Morning” They closed the main set with “God of Wonders”, a particularly lively version of “I Will Sing/Hope To Carry On” and “Hands of the Potter” where Andy even jumped on the drum kit for the percussion coda. The encore song was “Dalit Hymn”

All in all, it was a great show. Jeff Miller was back with the band and while I’ve never seen Trip Wamsley play before (I’d like to) it really felt like everyone in the band was glad to all be there together again and it showed.

I took quite a lot of photos of the show and I provided a link to my Flickr site above. The stained glass behind the band was beautiful and made for some incredible photographs (even if it was referred to as “the Jesus clock” a couple times, hee hee) of the band.

Over the Rhine at Variety Playhouse

Hem and Over the Rhine at Variety Playhouse, June 3, 2006

Pictures of the concert are on my Flickr site

Set list:
Latter Days
I Want You To Be My Love
Looking Forward
Jesus In New Orleans
I’m On A Roll
Entertaining Thoughts
I Don’t Want To Waste Your Time
Is It Too Late To Start?
Little Did I Know
Show Me
Drunkard’s Prayer

The Seahorse
When I Go

Hush Now

Detailed review:

Little Five Points is a wacky little part of Atlanta and as I’ve written before, befits Over the Rhine quite well. The last time we saw OtR at the Variety Playhouse during their “Films For Radio” tour, the theatre was pretty sparse, but this time around the theater was quite full and there were even quite a few people sitting up in the balcony.

This tour is with Hem. They aren’t that different from Over the Rhine which made them a pretty good compliment to OtR. Hem was techinically proficient and sounded very nice, but almost all of their songs were about the same tempo and with no percussion section, the songs weren’t driven along by much.
I liked them ok, but after a couple songs, I found myself wondering if they were going to do anything different.

On to Over the Rhine’s show. Karin and Linford are currently touring with the smooth drumming Devon Ashley and the multi-talented Rick Plant who swtiched between bass guitar, electric guitar, and an accoustic bass and regular acoustic six string guitar all night.

Latter Days

Karin remarked that if you put HEM and OTR together, you get mother which either means this is going to be a very nuturing tour or one mother of a tour. She said it was more the first than the last.

I Want You To Be My Love
Karin on acoustic. Linford on keys. Rick on acoustic bass. I liked Linford’s background vocals.

Rick on electic guitar. Devon sings background vocals.

Looking Foward
Linford plays electric bass.

Linford tells a little story about going to school in Canada and playing piano and remarks how much nicer it is to be playing in front of people instead of in an empty auditorium.

“I think about stuff.” – Linford

Karin said one of Linford’s favorite bass players called him “Smart Parts” Karin said she might adopt that name too and embarrassed herself.

Jesus In New Orleans

I’m On A Roll
Rick plays an acoustic guitar with a slide while Linford played acoustic guitar. Karin played the little pickler shaker thingy. Karin says they aren’t working through any “heavy crap” this time around, so the next record should be a little lighter.

Linford talked a little bit about the process of writing the song and remarked, “it’s fun to write for a girl.”

Entertaining Thoughts
Rick played electric with a slide. Linford and Karin both played acoustic guitar. This song has another false ending ala “Goodbye”, but I like it, it’s bouncy and fun.

I Don’t Want to Waste Your Time
This song was inspired by a comment by Dave (T.D. Juicy) “If you a’int gonna go deep, don’t go at all.” It’s the most poignant of the new songs, just Linford on keys and Karin’s voice.

Linford talked about how his father’s church and how they would have prayer meetings and people would raise their hands and say they had an “unspoken request”. He liked that and used it as the title of one of his CD’s. He then played a track from one of his piano CD’s.

Is It Too Late To Start

Little Did I Know
Long piano solo by Linford in the middle of this song.

Karin on the keys. Linford on bass. Rick on electric guitar. Rick has added a nice little guitar solo to this song. Karin tells us that Rick has a children’s CD out.

Show Me
Karin on acoustic guitar. Linford on bass. Rick on electric guitar. Devon provides “la la la” background vocals. This tour is really showing off Rick’s strength as an electric guitar player.

I love this song, from the “sexy cocktail hour stubble” lyirc to the cutsey keyboard patch.

Drunkard’s Prayer

Karin and Linford returned for the encore each with an acoustic guitar.

The Seahorse – Summertime

When I Go
Rick Plant really takes off here with a long guitar solo.

Karin and Linford return for a second encore

Hush Now (Stella’s Tarantella)