This Past Weekend in IL, MN, IN ... and WI?
Tue., May. 23. 2006 12:24am EDT
We had a great time this past weekend in Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana ... but Wisconsin was a different story. It was supposed to be a short story -- just a state we traveled through Sunday on our way from Minnesota to Indiana -- but it ended up being an adventure story, a horror story, a hard-luck story, and finally, an inspirational story.
Our scheduled tour stops this past weekend were in Kewanee IL (Friday), Monticello MN (Saturday), and Goshen IN (Sunday). However, two dangerous drivers deliberately added another one in Madison WI.
Our drummer, Jimmy "Vegas" Tanner, was at the wheel of the ApologetiX van, with lead singer J. Jackson in the first mate's chair, when both noticed something unusual: The sporty, bronze-colored car in the passing lane seemed to be driving deliberately slow in the leftmost of the three lanes on I-94. When Jimmy eventually moved to another lane to pass him, the bronze car accelerated in order to stay in the lead and then was joined by another sporty white car, and the two proceeded to box Jimmy in and drive at speeds (or lack thereof) that were dangerously slow for an interstate route.
At first, we weren't sure if it was coincidence, but as Jimmy attempted to move into other lanes and decrease his speed, our tormentors followed us. This process continued for about 20 minutes. The driver of the one car even reached out his hand to try to touch his accomplice's car as it was driving parallel with him. At one point, one of the drivers pulled alongside our van and made an obscene gesture. At another point, the driver of the second vehicle did the same.
All of us in the van prayed together for relief and protection from any possible accident. Jimmy slowed down even further and attempted to put some serious distance between us and the other two drivers. We could still see them, further up the road, still driving in a dangerous pattern, but now causing potential problems for other drivers, although they didn't appear to have anybody singled out, as they had done with us. Then we passed a state trooper and wished he'd seen what had transpired just minutes earlier.
Instead, he pulled onto the road behind us and followed us for quite some time. You know how paranoid that can make you feel, even if you're obeying the speed limit. Soon after, he put on his flashers and pulled us over. It turns out both of drivers of the other two cars had called 911 on their cell phone and reported US for reckless driving! They'd set us up. The officer also wanted to know what WE were driving so slow on an interstate. Thankfully, he asked for and believed our side of the story, although he still had to run a check on Jimmy's driver's license.
Between the time we spent driving slow behind those two drivers and the additional time we spent talking with the policeman and waiting for him to check Jimmy's background, we were thrown significantly off schedule. And then it got even better (not). As we pulled back onto the road, we noticed smoke billowing from the back of the van, and we had to find another place to pull over quickly. We were able to make it to a Wal-Mart in Madison and bought oil and some products to stop both leaks and smoke, in case it was an easily fixable problem.
Ironically, before we'd all met to leave on Thursday, Jimmy had had problems with his own van. He'd turned the ignition and smoke had started coming out of his dash, and it nearly turned into a full-fledged fire. Thankfully, he was able to fix the problem. But, like Wisconsin, the ApologetiX van was another story. Jimmy, Karl, and Keith all know quite a bit about cars, and it quickly became apparent that our van was not going to be repaired easily or quickly. It appeared to be a cracked engine head/block.
Thankfully, a good samaritan named John Rauwolf stopped by and asked if he could help. He agreed with our diagnosis of the engine problems and offered to take Jimmy and Karl to the local U-Haul to see about renting a vehicle with a trailer hitch. As Karl climbed in, he nearly sat on top of a Purpose-Driven book by Rick Warren. "I see we have something in common," he said to the man and his family. "Yes," they answered, "and we've got Third Day and Kutless on the CD player, too." "Have you ever heard of ApologetiX?" Jimmy asked. "Yes," they replied. "Well, that's us." Karl said.
The best the boys could get with a trailer hitch was a truck with only enough seats for two people, so they rented that, and then we went to Avis Rent-A-Car to get a second vehicle to accommodate the rest of the band. The whole ordeal put us hopelessly behind schedule. We had left our hotel at 5:30 a.m. CDT in hopes of getting to the venue by 2:30 p.m. EDT to set up for a show starting at 6:30 p.m. EDT. In the meantime, we were coordinating efforts with the concert promoter, Larry Crump, who took care of damage control with the waiting ticket holders and had a team mobilized to spring into action the moment we arrived. It still took us an hour to get things set up, though, and the concert started at about the same time it was originally supposed to end.
After the show was over, we met with all the fans and packed up, then four of us jumped in one of the cars and drove the whole way back to Pittsburgh, because two of people in our traveling party had to be back in town first thing Monday morning. Karl and Jimmy brought the truck and trailer home later on Monday.
Of course, all's well that ends well. Even with the late start, Goshen still had the biggest crowd of the weekend, and only about 35 ticket holders asked for refunds because they couldn't stay out any later. And we'll be back in the general area this Saturday for a concert in La Porte IN, only about 50 miles from Goshen.
God showed that His hand was upon us throughout the ordeal. When you really think about it, just as those people who drove us to the U-Haul place were a godsend, so were those troublemakers on the road earlier. If they hadn't tricked the state trooper into pulling us over, we might never have noticed the smoke coming out of the van, because it dissipated when the van was in motion. And God allowed us to get pulled over right near a major city like Madison, just around the bend from a Wal-Mart, with easy access to the U-Haul dealer and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. So praise the Lord!
Special thanks to the aforementioned Good Samaritan and his family: John Rauwolf; his wife, Mary; and sons, Conrad and Hunter.
Extra special thanks to our Goshen show promoter, Larry Crump. He put so much extra effort into the promotion of the concert, we knew in advance it was going to be one of the biggest shows of the year. When things started going awry on Sunday, Larry could have easily changed from Crump to Grump, but he didn't. He kept the faith and worked hard to make things happen. God bless you, Larry!
Thanks also to:
our other hard-working concert coordinators: Bob Thomas (Kewanee) and Brian Ely (Monticello).
our merchandise coordinators: Sammie and Angela (Kewanee); Diana, Danielle, Jojo, Kristin, and Ben the Button-master (Monticello); and Sally, Jane, Erica, Lacey, Cathy, and Terry (Goshen).
our roadies: Rich (Kewanee), Mark (Monticello), and Greg (Goshen).
our soundmen: Cal (Monticello) and Greg (Goshen).
our opening band: The Suits (Monticello).
Jimmy also would like to thank Becky Creech (Kewanee). "She was at Friday's concert helping out," he says, "And she drove home to pick up some material to cover up the legs underneath the drum riser. I thought that was really nice of her.
Finally, here are some email comments about the Monticello concert from Minnesota resident Jon Eklof, who has seen us play numerous times in 13 different states:
Thanks so much for coming to "our turf" and putting on an AWESOME concert last Saturday! I've been to nearly 40 concerts...and this one was DEFINITELY the BEST one I've ever seen! All of you have definitely taken a live ApologetiX concert to the next level!
All totaled, we brought 15 other people from our church to the concert...a dozen of whom had NEVER seen you before! The comments we got from your "new fans" after the concert ranged from "WOW!"...to..."THOSE GUYS ARE AWESOME!"...to..."WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO COME TO A CONCERT?"
A few of our friends said that they now realize why we've traveled well over 13,000 miles to see you over the past four years!
Thanks again for coming to MN...can't wait to see all of you again...real soon!