I haven’t gone to too many concerts in my life. I saw The Lettermen when I was a child in Saudi Arabia. I still remember it like it was yesterday - and I still love The Lettermen. I saw Bruce Hornsby and the Range in Orlando. I’ve seen a few other lessor acts. I saw a few hair bands at Hard Rock Station in Orlando. But all in all, I’m not a “concert guy”. Oddly, I’d love to go to see certain acts in concert, but for as much as I love music, you’d likely be surprised at how little interest in concerts I show. Maybe it is the people around me that leave me annoyed. Maybe it is poor sound production - which for an audiophile like me can be tough - especially after a few hours.

But I recently went to see Andrew Peterson in concert in Orlando. It was nothing short of wonderful - but for all the wrong reasons. Let me back up and tell you a quick story.

Before I married my wife, I met a wonderful girl who I dated for a short while. I thought she might be the one for a while. But God had other plans for us. I’m not even clear on exactly why we broke up. I’m sure it was my fault. In any given relationship, you can be sure that I’m the one at fault for any problems in the relationship, so I’m pretty sure it was me. But we started having a little conflict near the end, a couple of disagreements. The kind where you start to see the person a little differently and start to have all sorts of doubts creep into your head. Then, one day, you wake up and find you’ve been married for three or four years, and you think about how much you’ve survived in your marriage already, and how many major disagreements you’ve overcome because of your commitment and your reliance on a greater power than yourself. And then you think back to that prior relationship and how tiny those setbacks were in comparison to more recent events and you realize: you weren’t committed. It had nothing to do with the disagreement, which would have been easily surmounted, but with you, your lack of commitment (despite your feelings and passions), and your lack of faith.

So, I had the same experience and she and I went our separate ways. She always had a solid ground in the Christian music scene, whereas I didn’t have too much affinity for most of the Christian music I’d heard. She also works in a Christian music store. And she knew that if I didn’t think an artist was sincere or “genuine” (for lack of a better word), that I didn’t want to do much with it. In fact, I had gotten to the point, at the time we were dating, that I would rather listen to shallow speed metal than shallow Christian music.

So, about four years ago, I wandered into her store in a particularly open frame of mind - which for me is rare. It happens about four times a year and you have to catch me in almost the exact moment. It’s like an eclipse - you blink and you might miss it. But, I remember the day rather well and the open feelings and upbeat atmosphere of that day. I told her I just felt like buying some new music just on a whim. Now, you have to understand, despite my vast musical knowledge, I’m not one to buy “untested” material. She said that a new album by Derek Webb (She Must and Still Go Free) had come in and it was getting a little heat for its controversial seriousness. I don’t even think I listened to it. I just bought it based on her recommendation that she thought I would like it. That has probably happened only twice before in my life - and never since. I didn’t know who Derek Webb was, had never heard of his former popular band, Caedmon’s Call, and didn’t care. I was open-minded that day.

So, I listened to the album for a while after that, and I admit - it was serious - and convicting. I later found out that some Christian retailers had refused to stock it - for no good reason. You can read about that controversy here. However, not only was the album convicting to me personally, but to the church as a whole. And I loved it. And I hated it. Because it was maybe even too serious for me. So, it was hard to enjoy as music. I felt like Charles Spurgeon was standing over me in a huge pulpit preaching fire and brimstone (what is brimstone?) with drops of saliva splattering in my eyes as he mouthed each convicting word. Who could enjoy that? Where was my Metallica albums?

More recently, after my son died, a good friend shared with me the music of Andrew Peterson. Being a huge Rich Mullins fan, I immediately loved the humor, seriousness, and style of music of Andrew. This Christmas season, Andrew came to Central Florida and my friend started hitting me up back in October to go see him. Again, my anti-concert aura started to overwhelm me - or “whelm” me, as my friend says, since I really wasn’t overwhelmed at all, but I did struggle with whether or now I wanted to go. Despite loving the music, I just didn’t think I’d enjoy it. So, he later told me that Derek Webb would be there. That was the deal maker.

So, we got a babysitter (another rare thing for us) and my wife joined two other couples and made the trek to O-town to see Andrew Peterson and Derek Webb.

The concert should have been called Andrew Peterson and Friends. They spent the first half of the concert doing rounds. Present were many of Andrew’s musical friends - at least a half-dozen other folks who in their own right could have each had their own concert. Most of them were selling their own solo stuff in the entryway of the hall. It reminded me of seeing the recent Johnny Cash movie Walk the Line, I was struck about how the folks in his day traveled and played together: Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, June Carter, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and others. What a show those must have been. We’ve all heard a lot whining the past five years from the RIAA about declining profits in the music world. Remember Monsters of Rock in 1988? Van Halen, Scorpions, Metallica, and Dokken - all in one concert. People over 25 are just too busy to go spend 4-5 hours gonig to see one guy, or one band. But maybe the variety show will make a comeback in these busy times. I’d go more often if I could get a real sampler of good music and acts. And a sampler is what we got. Eric Peters, Ben Shive (of course), Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, spouses of these, and much more. And it was great. Solos, duets, country/wester, folk, a little rock n’ roll. Humor, seriousness, and edification all thrown in together.

The second half they all played together, along with Andrew’s band, taking turns at time. They played Andrew’s album Behold the Lamb of God, which is all original music that tells the story of Christmas. Highly worthwhile.

So, while I didn’t get to hear as much of Andrew as I’d like, I did get to hear some new folks whose albums I’m adding to my wish list. Ben Shive will be coming out with a solo album soon which I’m interested to hear.

Most especially though, I was struck by the musical stylings (how’s that for a 70’s throwback?) of Eric Peters. The guy struck me as both sincere and funny, in a very dry way, which I guess is sort of the style I like. His musical skills far exceeded his humor and I think he will one day be yet another great songwriter.

Since the concert, I’ve checked out a lot of their websites, their MySpace profiles, and subscribed to some of their blogs.

The other day, Eric posted a short blurb on his blog. It is a one-week followup to the birth of his new son entitled The Endurance of Peace. I found it very compelling. Eric briefly muses that maybe a new father of one-week might not have a whole lot to offer, but I can tell you as a father who has gone through seven births that I found it very insightful - and it really isn’t related to births and fathering at all, but to this life we live on this earth. It was the birth of his son that got him thinking about something that he otherwise might not have thought out, which still further supports my idea that it is only right and worthwhile to raise children if we want to grow as men. And even then, I’m sure Eric and many other fathers would agree, that raising children is only a very small step in the right direction - we still fall so short! But at least it’s a step that has no negatives, all positives, and gets us moving, some more than others, in the right direction. I think Eric will quickly surpass many of us with his thoughtful insights. I think when I had my first child only a week old, my mind was on anything but the type of thinking that Eric was pondering. I highly recommend Eric’s post.

Andrew has a policy of only touring very little each year, so that he can stay focused on his family. I’m hoping to see him again in concert next year then, and I hope to see Eric Peters and some of the others at some time, too. But, first I’ll have to buy all their albums, t-shirts, etc, and support these guys who are really earnestly giving something back from the blessings and gifts they’ve received.

Technorati tags: music, Christian music, Andrew Peterson, Derek Webb, Eric Peters, concerts

Posted in: Family & Music