Friday, May 09, 2008

The Latest from Kassady

We're in the midst of putting in our sprinkler system, yard, and fence at Waggoner estates (with help from our friends at TT), so it's been pretty busy around here. Tonight I finished raking out the backyard, preparing for Monday's sod-laying. Where are all my Amish friends when I need them? Doran, the closest I have to an Amish friend, will make sure that he is nowhere to be found on the big day. Anyway, Lori has also been putting in her flowerbeds. Last night both Trey and Kassady helped us out. Trey assisted Lori in clearing out the weeds, while Kassady served as the clean-up crew.

I finished mowing our currently installed yard and asked Kassady to sweep the grass off of the driveway. It was hilarious to watch. The broom is twice as tall as she is, but it doesn't intimidate her one bit. She briskly whisks it back and forth, all business-like, clearing some debris and creating a bit of her own.

After she was done, I asked her to put the broom away in the garage. As I followed her into the garage, I told her how much I appreciated her help. Without breaking stride and with nary a glance back at me, she threw a hand into the air and said "Praise the Lord Jesus Christ." I have no clue where that came from. While I didn't think it was the case, I wanted to make sure she wasn't being sac religious, so I said "We do need to thank Jesus for helping us get the job done. He's the one that gives us the strength and ability to do what we do." As serious as could be, one more time she said, "Praise Jesus" and walked out.

I about fell on the floor laughing. Dan is convinced that we have a little Assembly of God girl on our hands.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Saturday Nights at Fresno

Saturday evening was our last performance at Fresno. Our set list included:
  • When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder/Hallelujah! We Shall Rise
  • Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • I Thirst
  • Great Day
  • City Coming Down
What a fantastic response! They wouldn't let us quit singing! This was only the second time that we had sang "I Thirst". It's going to be on Royce's solo album (coming out next month). By the time we got to the last song, the crowd let us know how much they appreciated our ministry. Greater Vision joined us on the last 2 choruses of City Comin' Down, much to our delight. It was a wonderful way to cap an incredible weekend. Thanks to everybody who stopped by to say hello. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

I don't know how this picture got in here. This is actually me singing the solo on "I'm His" in the Songwriter's Showcase.

I don't know what we're doing, but we're pretty intent on doing it. Feet planted, chin jutting out, this is serious stuff, folks.

Greater Vision hitting the last chorus of "City Coming Down" with us. Royce was absolutely awesome on that song. He's gonna kill me for putting this in here, but I'm going to anyway. 2 or 3 of the big-name artists on the bill (I'll protect their identity since I just happened to overhear them) told Royce that he was one of the best in the business today. I agree totally. He's one of the best I've ever heard. I don't just say that because he signs my check...well, OK, maybe that's part of it. No, seriously, he's incredible and I'm privileged to travel with Royce and the other guys.

We had a great time and we're already looking forward to next year. Now, I'm off to bed. Night, all.

Songwriter's Showcase

Doran was asked to participate in Saturday's Songwriter's Showcase. He did a fantastic job! He told the story behind his composition "I'm His". It was powerful. We then sang the song. I had so many artists stop me after the showcase and tell me how much they appreciated the message and performance of the song. I'm proud of the guy. Doran and Connie Hopper spent most of the afternoon in transfixed wonder, drinking in the words of host Phil Cross.

The showcase concluded with the Hoppers and everybody else belting out Phil Cross's hit "Yes I Am". Dan and Mitchel Jon cranked it out louder than anyone. The mic is off and they're still drowning everybody out. Sheesh~!

Fresno Candids

Diane, Doran, Royce, Tammy, Donna, Tammy, Keith, Lori. It was so much fun to have our wives along. However, it's a good thing that we depend on everyone else to laugh at our jokes. In all seriousness, we couldn't do what we do without the support of our better halves. They are strong, dedicated women. We're blessed!

Dan with his parents, Bill and Audrey Gilbert. Bill occasionally drives bus for us. And, for those of you who have yet to meet Audrey, she is the life of every party!

Dan with our incredible graphic designer/details person/booking agent/fill in the blank, Dee Sienknecht. Dee did a fantastic job of handling a lot of the details of our Fresno trip. We brought a bus with 43 people on it from the Treasure Valley. From the sounds of it, they had more fun than we did. Rick Waitley, our manager and president of Associated Management Group served as tour host, and the bus was driven by my old friend Milo Wittkopf.

I have this thing for art of Jack. Really. OK, it's a little creepy.

Speaking of creepy, security got several calls about some weird guy circling the RV parking lot begging for food. He was chased off, last seen clutching a bag of Cheetos.

Diane, Lori, and Donna pose with our wonderful friend Wilma Pound (see Grillin' with Liberty).

A startling resemblance to be sure. The jowls are a slightly more pronounced on the little guy.

I had a chance to reconnect with a lady who has become a special friend, Dot Veltkamp. Liberty was privileged to be able to minister to her at a very low point in her life.

Breakfast with Liberty

Saturday morning, Liberty hosted a outside breakfast for the Fresno fans. They had the biggest breakfast turnout they had ever had. We laughed. A lot. Here are some highlights:

Lori and I just try to be servants. We used our God-given talent for distributing napkins. It was greatly appreciated by our unloved, saved ones.

Dan explains to Dean Hopper his philosophy of sound: "Now, Dean, here's what yer goina' wanna dew: get that there microphono in close and personal. pretend it's a lollipop if that helps ya out. Then, just wail on it for all yer worth. Yep, that's what I have ol' Big Daddy here do each and every night and look where it's got 'em." Royce tries to pretend that Dan's a dab of lard on the sidewalk.

Royce and I nailed the choreography on "This World Is Not My Home", while Doran (once again) stumbles along behind.

Les and Roy Webb were in rare form. Les got a phone call while Dean was talking. First off, he never even heard it ringing and it was on deafening loud volume mode. So, everyone but Les knew he had an incoming call. Finally, Dean asks him if he's going to answer it. He pulls it out of his pocket, says (into the mic) "well, lookee here, it's my wife" and then answers the phone "hello, honey." While everyone watches, he chats a while. Finally, he gets off the phone and say, "Good news, folks. I just saved 15% on my car insurance."

Les decided to join us on "Jericho Road". The result was painful and hilarious. Dan, yes, Dan of all people was feeding him words. The crowd loved it and of course Les hammed it up. I'm convinced that Royce is Les's long-lost son. There are some similarities there. It's like looking down the road 40 years. But, I digress...

Amanda Henry has become one of our good friends. She sings soprano for the Herb Henry Family. She was out there trying her best to get us to laugh. Well, Dean decides to bring her up in front of everybody and ask her if she's content being single. She had a classic response. She said, "I have to be, since you're taken." Dean blushed a deep red and couldn't utter a word. That's the first time I've seen him at a loss for words.

Lately, Dan has been reading Fanny Crosby's autobiography and it's starting to have an effect on his appearance.

I have no clue what we're doing right here. Ol' Fanny looks surprised, though.

Roy Webb was very impressed with the way Dan lays out the cords. He kept muttering, "Curious. Very curious."

Roy also leaned in to get a better look at Royce as he hit one of those crazy low notes that seem to emanate from some subterranean chamber.

A great time was had by all.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Grillin' in Fresno

We have so many good friends that drive out for the convention. The beautiful part of it is that they love feeding us! On Friday, we all headed over to the RV parking lot for lunch with some dear friends: Larry and Wilma Pound; Bob and Toni Conway; and Courtney and Lucille DeWeese. The food was incredible as you can see from the pictures below.

Wilma trying to explain to Larry that a fork works just fine for flipping chicken on the grill. Either that or she's challenging him to a duel. If that's the case, and knowing her spunk, my money's on Wilma.

Doran, Lori, and I trying to get as much food on our plates as fast as possible. Now Lori knows why I've put on a few pounds since I started traveling. However, I'm not quite as plump as my billowing shirt would make me appear. Sheesh! I look bloated. I work hard to protect my svelte physique.

Tri-tip steak, grilled chicken, baked beans (which I avoided, reasons which are understood by those who know me; probably not what you're thinking, either), asparagus, salad, fruit, garlic bread, and strawberry shortcake.

Diane, Tammy, Donna, and Lori pose beside Wilma's Liberty painting. We inspire the arts! This was the first time that all of the wives were able to go on a trip. We had way too much fun. I have so many stories that I can't share. I'd love to, but if I did a missing person's report would soon be filed and my body would end up in some secluded ravine wrapped in plastic. You don't want to mess with these women.

This was supposed to be a picture of Doran and Diane, but somehow an orange albatross ended up in the shot.

The same thing happened in Tammy's picture. They really need to do something about those birds. They're annoying. I sprayed it with Round-Up.

Thanks to all of you guys (yeah, I know you're out there and you read this blog) who fed us, clothed us (OK, that didn't happen), and made us feel like we're someone special. We love you!

Thursday concert

We left Boise/Nampa on Wednesday around 5:00 PM and drove throughout the evening. We arrived in Fresno around 8:30 AM Thursday. John Bentham, promotions director of the Fan Fest, called me Wednesday afternoon to see if we could do a TV interview with Fresno's CBS and Fox affiliates. I asked him what time we needed to be there and he said 5:00 AM. There ain't no way! So, while it would have been fun we had to skip the interview. Besides, who wants to sing tenor that early in the morning? We were the first group in to set up our booth, so once that was out of the way we took off for some food. We had planned on checking into the hotel early and grabbing a little shut-eye before our 4:30 PM sound check, but that didn't happen. The earliest we could get in was 3:00. By the time we picked up the rental cars, ate, got in the room, and showered it was time to head to the Save Mart Center.

Dan and Royce were dragging. Apparently neither one slept well (if at all) and they were dead tired. We were the first group on, so we dressed and headed backstage. Now, my favorite part of these concerts is hanging out in the green room. Besides all the food, I've heard the biggest stories from all the old road warriors. They're always trying to one-up each other. It's great.

We hit the stage at 6:09 PM and had a great set. Our songs for Thursday evening included:

Ride That Glory Train
I'll Fly Away (Doran piano solo)
Bus Driver
The Eastern Gate
Say It Again
In God We Still Trust

I have to hand it to the sound crew. They did a fantastic job! Wes Pritchard was running the monitors and they were spot on. This is probably the best sound that we ever had at a convention/festival. The crowd responded so well to our songs. I think we had the right lineup. It was a nice mix of up-tempo and laid back songs. And, for all of you who were praying for my voice, God came through (like He always does). It sounded fine. Well, as fine as my voice gets anyway. Thanks for praying!

For a full run-down of Thursday night, click here.

Enjoy the pictures!

Gargantuan Keith coming at you. Lori made sure that my nose and ears were free of impeding and conspicuous hairs. She's a caring wife.

Royce had the crowd laughing throughout our Thursday evening set. I'm not sure what he's doing here, but I apparently enjoyed it.

Dan found paternal satisfaction in my histrionics, watching proudly as I sang my little heart out. It was either that or the fact that he hadn't slept for 32 hours. Shortly after this we carried him off the stage.

One of the highlights for me was singing "In God We Still Trust", one of the most powerful patriotic songs you'll ever hear. The energy in the arena was electric!

Overall, it was a wonderful night. After we were done we had a chance to relax and hear some of our favorites: the Booth Brothers, Legacy Five, the Beene Family, the Herb Henry Family, and the Hoppers among many others.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Whew! What an eventful week! Today, it's nice to sit here in the room with the windows open, hearing the night sounds, reflecting on everything that happened. Instead of providing you with a blow-by-blow account of the Great Western Fan Fest, I'll tell the story in pictures (coming tomorrow).

In the meantime, for those of you who want all of the details visit the blog of my good friend John Scheideman. You'll feel like you were there. If you visit, you'll also get a bonus review of our Sunday night concert at Riverdale Assembly of God, one of the best concerts I've ever been a part of. You'll also be hearing more about that. Later.

As for now, start reading John's account and I'll post some pictures tomorrow to give you an idea as to what he's talking about.