This Past Weekend in MS, FL & AL
Mon., Apr. 10. 2006 12:34pm EDT
We just spent our first four-day weekend of 2006 in three states in the deep South, playing concerts in Pass Christian MS (Thursday), D'Iberville MS (Friday), Pensacola FL (Saturday), and Prattville AL (Sunday). The weather was beautiful and the scenery was picturesque -- but there were plenty of grim reminders of how quickly things can change, as we got to view the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Hurricane Ivan in Florida.
The two Mississippi shows were concerts for victims of Katrina. Two towns we'd previously played in Mississippi -- Pass Christian MS (February 2004) and nearby Gulfport MS (March 2004) -- were severely hit. There is 70-mile stretch of road running up the Gulf coast were the buildings are either damaged, destroyed or have disappeared.
Our host, Cameron Mays, a Florida businessman who also coordinated our concert last fall in Vero Beach FL, made sure we got to meet people affected by the hurricane and to see the aftermath up close, and even held a mini Bible study and prayer meeting with us on the twisted remains of a highway bridge. It looked like something out of a science-fiction disaster movie. He also introduced us to Greg Porter, a man Cameron described as "an American hero."
Greg is a semi-retired businessman from Evansville IN who heard about the devastation caused by Katrina on August 29, 2005, and immediately headed down to Mississippi to provide food and help for the people there. He has been there ever since and only returns to Indiana occasionally. He wound up founding God's Katrina Kitchen to provide food, clothing, assistance, and comfort to the victims of the hurricane. Christian volunteers from a wide spectrum of denominations have come from all over the United States to help. Last month, Christianity Today published a great online article on Greg and his efforts, which you can still read at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/003/19.60.html
God's Katrina Kitchen operates solely on food donations, monetary contributions, and volunteer workers. Volunteers consist of chefs, cooks, servers, kitchen workers, and skilled workers (carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc.). Our concert on Thursday night was primarily for those volunteers (although it was open to everybody), and they were quite a lively bunch! CBS Television's Chicago-affiliate news station was even on hand, and they interviewed Greg about his work. Our Friday night concert in nearby Pass Christian was more focused on the local youth. Both concerts had a great turnout and a great response. For more information on the relief effort, you can go to: http://www.godskatrinakitchen.org
Saturday's concert was our fourth appearance at Grace Fest in Pensacola. It would have been our fifth, but last year's was cancelled in the wake of Katrina. Although Pensacola wasn't hit by Katrina, many people who come to Grace Fest were residents of towns that were, like New Orleans, Gulfport, and Biloxi. After our performance, the organizer of the event told us we were his favorite band! When we accused him of sweet talking, he said, "Hey, has any other band been to Grace Fest four times in the past five years?" We're humbled. But that's a lot better than being humiliated. :)
After meeting with the fans at Grace Fest, J. got a tour of Pensacola, courtesy of his sister Dr. Kristina Behan, brother-in-law Dan, and nephew Sean, who live there. Kris is a recently tenured professor at University of West Florida. Meanwhile, the rest of the band headed to Lambert's restaurant across the state line in Alabama. Famous in the South for their home cooking and "throwed" rolls (the waiters throw delicious warm rolls across the room to the patrons), Lambert's has three locations. The first time the band ate at one -- in Sikeston MO last September -- a lady at the table next to us got hit in the side of the head with a warm roll. This time, our drummer, Jimmy "Vegas" Tanner, came closest to danger, when a flying roll grazed his hat.
Sunday's concert in Alabama had the most beautiful weather of them all and another enthusiastic crowd. There were a lot of youth in attendance, and it was amazing to see how many of them were singing the lyrics to our parodies. We always get a great response in Alabama. We played there three different times in 2005, and we hope to be back again soon.
Special thanks to Youth For Christ in Pass Christian MS, who let us use their van for the entire weekend. Thanks also to Ken, Gina, Stephen, and Sean "Allen" Hamilton, who came to see us at the two concerts in Mississippi and then made the trip to Alabama so they could not only see us in concert, but could return the van for us to Youth For Christ.
our concert coordinators: Cameron Mays (Pass Christian and D'Iberville), Sparky Folkers (Pensacola), and Todd Deavor (Prattville).
our chauffeurs and other helpers: Andy, Scott, Ron, Kevin, Mark, Tony, Larry, Scott, Pastor Michael, Ken, and Gina.
our opening bands: Cofield (Pass Christian), Jonah 33 (D'Iberville), and Audio Waiting (Prattville).
our table coordinators: Stephen and Sean (Pass Christian, D'Iberville, and Prattville); Allen (Pass Christian); Larry (D'Iberville, Pensacola and Prattville); Wanda, Debbie, and Sylvia (Pensacola and Prattville); and Anne (Prattville).
our soundman: Micah (Pass Christian and D'Iberville) and John (Prattville).
Honorable mention to:
Superfan Beth Davis, who drove to the concerts on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with her dad, Larry. Although she lives in Ohio, Beth has now seen us play 66 times in 17 states, the most of any ApologetiX fan. Larry is right behind, having seen us 65 times in 16 states. They are always a big help at our concerts, and they often bring along Beth's buddy and fellow fan, Chelsea Grossman, as they did this weekend.
Although Beth and Larry drove a long way to get to Mississippi, the prize for longest distance driven to the concerts goes to our friends Mark, Marilyn, Ben, and Seth Barrett, who drove down from Minneapolis MN to the shows in Mississippi and Florida. The Barretts tell us they don't have an exact tally of states and shows, but we've got to guess that it's close to 10 states and at least 20 shows.
By the way, our newest member, drummer Jimmy Tanner, has now played with us in 18 states, surpassing Beth Davis's total of states, but "only" 51 concerts. Incidentally, our keyboardist, Bill Hubauer, has now played with us in 30 states.