Pat and Randy
A year ago next week, I got the chance to see one of my favorite artists, Randy Stonehill, in an intimate house concert at the Nashville home of John Joseph Thompson, who is associate dean of the School of Music and Worship Arts at Trevecca Nazarene University. (Side note: You really need to read Thompson’s book, “Jesus, Bread and Chocolate: Crafting A Hand-Made Faith In A Mass-Market World.”)
This year, Thompson brought Randy back, along with another Christian artist from the same era, Pat Terry. Only instead of a house concert, it was on the Trevecca campus. I think the original plan was to encourage some of Thompson’s music students to attend, but the event ended up conflicting with a mandatory chapel, and so instead the audience was composed largely of old farts like Yours Truly.
In some ways, that’s a shame; as Thompson pointed out in his opening remarks, modern Christian music doesn’t have much of an institutional memory. Randy and Pat are both from the era when a lot of young, talented musicians were looking to express their faith in different ways. As I’ve posted before, when I was in the sometimes-stifling environment of Christian college, I was drawn to Christian artists who had a satirical edge, or at least a sense of humor and humanity. That particularly included Randy Stonehill, the band Daniel Amos, and Steve Taylor. I was also a fan of Pat Terry’s back in that college era, but had not followed him since in the way that I have the other three.
It was a great evening. The setting, in Trevecca’s new music department building, was nearly as intimate as the house concert last year — I’d estimate that there were 150 or 175 chairs set up. I was on the front row of the right section (the front row of the center section was mostly reserved).
The format of the evening was that Pat played a 45-minute set, then Randy played a 45-minute set, then John Joseph Thompson moderated a half-hour conversation with both artists, then Pat did 30 more minutes and Randy did 30 more minutes to close the evening out.
There was no band; in each case, just a man and a guitar. Randy’s wife Leslie joined him on vocals on a few songs.
The discussion was interesting. Pat and Terry discussed the freedom of those heady early days of contemporary Christian music, when there was more room. They discussed the tension between the music they wanted to do and the music that was marketable within the promotional machine of Christian record labels and Christian radio stations.
Today, CCM has become all but synonymous with worship music and praise choruses — and there’s nothing wrong with worship music, but it’s only one possible use of music by people who happen to be Christian. New technologies have also allowed artists to go directly to their fans, bypassing the demands of the Christian marketing machine, but also losing its promotional power.
Randy, of course, did “Your Love Broke Through,” which he co-wrote with the late Keith Green and which is one of my all-time favorite songs. Here’s Keith’s version:
As I said, I haven’t been as familiar with Pat Terry’s later work as I have with Randy’s, but I thoroughly enjoyed him, and bought a CD of his album “Laugh For A Million Years.”
While I was at the merch table, I also got to have my photo taken with him:
While I was at the merch table, I found out that I had won one of two concert posters from the event signed by both Pat and Randy.
All in all, a fantastic evening — worth the drive to Nashville, even on a Tuesday night. I didn’t get home until a quarter past 11, and Wednesday is the day of the week when I have to be at the paper at 6 a.m., so it was a short night’s sleep. But it was worth it.