Good day everyone.
I wanted to take a few to fill you in on the three concert dates this past weekend – the first leg of the Christian Classic Tour with Steve Green, Twila Paris, Michael Card and me.
I flew to Portland, OR on Thursday, March 10 and met everybody there. The next day, we all met at Crossroads Church in Vancouver, WA – just across the river from Portland – and from noon till about 4 PM ran over different parts of the program and rehearsed with the band.
The band was Dick Tunney (Musical Director and band leader for the tour . . . Dick travels with Steve Green and is Steve’s musical director and accompanist), Dave Cleveland on guitar, Tony Morra on Drums and percussion, Bruce Wethey on Violin (or fiddle depending on what song he’s playing and what artist he’s playing for!) and Mario Sangermano on Bass. These guys make up a phenomenal group to play for us all.
The tour is the brainchild of Dennis Fioravanti from Portland. Dennis is a businessman that just happens to love classic Christian music. He dedicated himself to putting this tour together and put his heart and full energy into making it happen. These first few dates were just the beginnings of what could become a much bigger tour. Certainly, considering the requests he’s getting from churches and other venues around the country and around the world, this could turn into something strong.
The first night in Vancouver went well. Of course, the first night of a tour like this, with four different artists doing half hour sets each, took a little getting used to. But I will say in all sincerity, it worked beautifully.
I haven’t seen any of the other three for years. Over ten years ago, Twila and I were on a tour at Christmas (2000) called “The Child of the Promise.” Twila had her son, JP, soon after the tour ended. Steve and I cross paths every once in a great while but we’re both busy and seldom get to spend any time visiting or catching up. Michael Card and I started at the same label over thirty years ago (along with Twila!) but haven’t seen each other much over the course of our decades of work.
But like good friends always seem to do, the years did nothing to keep us from getting into step right away. It was great to see everybody and not just to pass in the hallway, but sit, eat dinner, hang in the green room and laugh and pray, then go out and sing together. Being grownups has its advantages sometimes and hearing the cliff note versions of everybody’s journey was tremendous. And then, in the end of it all, to know how deeply we’d all experienced, in many different ways, the grace and mercy of our God . . . well, it was overwhelming. I walked away from the four days with a lot of joy . . . tired, but joyful!
We got up early to fly from Portland to Fresno, CA and then drove down to Visalia, CA for the Saturday night event. The Fox Theater was our venue for the night – a classic, old school theater in the center of town.
For each concert, we’d start with dinner around 4 PM (felt like the “early bird” to me!) then went into sound check for the night around 5. At 5:30 every night, we’d have a “meet and greet” for people that had bought Gold Circle seating. It was a beautiful time to meet some people up close. After that ended, we’d start the concert around 7 PM and most of the nights, the evening ran about 2:45! And talk about a concert full of favorites. Heck, Twila’s set read like a hymnbook! Remember hymnbooks?
She sang “We Will Glorify” “Lamb of God” “How Beautiful” and on and on. Michael sang “Jubilee” and several other audience favorites. Steve included “People Need the Lord” and “In Christ Alone” in his set. I added “Almighty” “Field of Souls” “Friend of a Wounded Heart” and “For Such a Time as This” and a few others.
Our final night was in Fullerton, CA at the First Evangelical Free Church, home to Chuck Swindoll for so many years.
After nearly three hours of music, the crowd of over 2000 wanted to stay for more! And nobody left early. It was really something.
Of course, come Monday morning, we all went our separate ways. Michael Card was headed off for a tour of the UK, Twila, Steve and I were on the way to our respective homes.
We’ll meet again in May near Miami, FL then play Dallas then Chattanooga, TN. Hope to see you at one of these events. I know you’d love it!