Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oh, October

So, while still within the Octave of Geneva, we headed off to parts east. I drove the van across Pennsylvania (zzzzz) and Michael flew to NYC. We met up at the Life Church, where I used to provide music on Thursdays, and where Lost And Found provided music on this particular Friday. Not a huge turnout, but a huge amount of fun for us. We played lots of songs from the new album, several for the first time.

The next day we drove over to Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, and then drove back to Long Island until the next morning when we headed to the airport to fly to Los Angeles, so I could meet Geneva. Well, I guess that's not why we went, but it was definitely a highlight for me, if not for her. Then at night we played the first of three National Youthworker Conventions, hosted by our friends at Youth Specialties.

Michael flew back to NYC the next weekend and got the van, then met me in Baltimore. We played a couple of concerts at Ft. Lee Army base, which were great fun, and quite an honor to do. (And, in passing, if your band is looking for roadies, you cannot do better than playing on a military base. Among the many talents of the enlisted men and women is loading a vanload of sound equipment in approximately 30 seconds!) As you can see in the photo, a picnic of soldiers looks a little different than your family gathering.

After being discharged from the base, we headed north to play once more with our friends Agape and Rachel Kurtz, this time in Gettysburg. The world will little note nor long remember our concert there, but we had great fun in a packed house. Er, chapel, I mean.

From there, we went to my house, and Michael flew home. A few days later, we joined up with Agape and Rachel in Lansing, Michigan [come on, let's Michigan, like we did last summer . . .]. Actually, I got there just fine, but Michael's flight through the night (commonly called a "red-eye") was seriously delayed, causing him to miss connections, etc etc. Eventually, he walked in just about exactly in time for us to play our part in the night's lineup. Phew.

The next night we played in huge room with a great sound-system crew in Kenosha, Wisconsin at Carthage College. From there, we all raced westward so we could play in Decorah, Iowa, at Luther College. Had another great time in a great auditorium, and all headed home, and this particular band took a weekend off. The End.

Monday, September 21, 2009

For Unto (half of) Us, A Child Is Born!

So, in the last round of gigs, Michael met me in Chicago, and we played a really fun concert for the folks at Concordia University, thereabouts. (Note to self: you can always get a bigger crowd when your concert is held on Parents' Weekend. Kind of a captive audience.)

Following that, I took Michael to the airport so he could go home early. (The reason for that will be clear in a moment.) The next two nights, I played our portion of the gigs with our pals Agape' and Rachel Kurtz. There were really fun (for me), but I don't think I'd want to make a habit of it. In other words, don't be looking for any solo career out of this piano player. Maybe at some point (if I figure out the technology) I'll post some mp3's from those unusual gigs.

But on to more important matters . . .

So, on September 18th, Geneva Layne Bridges was born at home in Los Angeles. There are stats about length and weight, but really, what do those mean when you think about it, right?

The important thing is that she was born healthy, and the parents are filled with nothing but joy.

And those pictures are worth 2,000 words, if I remember my cliche's correctly. Thus, this is the longest and happiest blog posting you're going to be getting out of this erstwhile blogger!



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It Is HERE!!!

Okay, we couldn't resist. With all the possibilities, calling our new album "HERE" seemed the right thing to do.

However, it also seems an appropriate name for reasons beyond the ever-expanding opportunities for humor.

HERE was recorded before and after concerts while on tour over the course of a few weekends. That meant, prior to playing a concert, we would set up my laptop, fire up the Protools, and lay down as many tracks as we could each night.

The result is not the smoothest-sounding recording we've ever had. (See if that thought doesn't scare you away!) On the contrary, the sound of HERE is just what it is. And in this virtual-world way of doing things, where I write to you on my computer and then post it on a server somewhere in . . . well, who knows where?. . . an opportunity to focus on HERE is perhaps just a little bit subversive in some ways.

Moreover, in this world of auto-tune, professional studio musicians, professional songwriting teams, and lip-syncing, I like to think there's something to be said for going back to recording like Jackson Brown might.

So, like I say, it's a bit more raw than the other albums you will hear this year, but HERE is actually here. It's us; no smoke and mirrors and studio tricks. If you are familiar with our previous albums, you'll know that we've never put much money and effort into the perfect recording. Our emphasis from the beginning has been on the live concert, where the people are. In a sense, if you are HERE, and we are HERE, then we're exactly where we want to be.

Check out the new album, and come see us on tour when we're in your area.

Wherever you are, it's always HERE, right?


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Later that same year . . .

So, guess what? We didn't fall off the edge of the earth, that's what! Isn't that cool? Yeah, we thought you'd think so.

However, what has been happening in the past few months seems to have been taking a whole lot of Lost And Found's time. Let's see, from where we left off, it was April, I believe. Half the band had become married, and half the band preached a sermon, and the whole band enjoyed themselves so much that they forgot to update this blog thing for months on end. Since it would be overwhelming to try and tell you everything that happened, I will just blaze through and give you the basic overview . . .

After the wedding, Jesus rose from the dead. Then we played Saginaw, Chelsea, and South Haven Michigan, then Plano Texas (not too fancy, mind you). In May, we played Ann Arbor, I was honored as a "Distinguished Alumnus" by my Alma Mater (I'm guessing they're going in alphabetical order), we played Excelsior and St. Paul Minnesota, and Little Rock, Arkansas. A Few days later, I graduated from school. They gave me a diploma in Latin. It looks really nice, but I can't read it. Apparently one of the courses I should have taken was Latin.

Then we played in St Louis, and called May finished.

The next month turned out to be June, so we headed off to the appropriate gigs. First up was Ft. Wayne Indiana, followed by St. Joseph Michigan. Then I drove the first round of stuff from our apartment to our new duplex in Ohio and unloaded same. Had my own ontological change ceremony. Then we played in Florence Alabama, then Bellevue, Chagrin Falls, Westerville and Groveport, which are all in Ohio. From there, Cowen West Virginia. Then my wife and I went to see Waiting for Godot. With June coming to an end, I rented yet another truck, my family and friends helped us load our final possessions into said truck, and we headed west, into the Ohio sunset.

Which meant, it was July. Within an hour of arriving at our new house, the cat died. This is what is called an inauspicious start. Then with boxes piled high in our home, I headed off on tour. We played the July gigs, which were Washington DC, Wichita (kin about), and Knoxville. Then Michael represented at a party in honor of our old pal Tic, and I unpacked a box or two. Then we spent a few excellent days in New Orleans, and drove to Lamoni, Iowa. From there, we drove to Minneapolis and flew home, where I played at a wedding, Michael performed one, and Troy did as well. It was Wacky Wedding Weekend!

Then came August. After a week at camp with my family, I flew to Colorado, where Michael met me and we played Estes Park, Loveland, and Littleton. From there we went to Minneapolis, where we took Troy out for a lovely dinner in honor of his 10 years with us. Then we had a swing through Nebraska, playing Lincoln, Norfolk, and Grand Island. Then I flew home, and Michael golfed his way to Minneapolis. We met up in Albany, where we played at THE First Lutheran Church in North America. Yeah, I know! Then we had a week off, until we zipped over (or down) to Texas to play in Flower Mound, and flew back home.

And you know what that meant? Of course . . . September.

So, see, it isn't that much to cover when all you do is list the places, right? I'm hoping to get more consistent with updating, now that the move is finished and the cat has been replaced. (Of course, there is no replacing Manny, I'm just saying.)

A few notes of housekeeping:

1) We have no created an actual profile on Facebook, since the groups and fan page stuff seems like too much work. Thus, if you want to befriend us, search for LostAnd Found. (It had to be written that way, since Facebook is all clever and stuff.)

2) We're well into booking dates in the Spring of 2010 in earnest. (Which sounds like the name of a town in Texas.) So, if you've been thinking about contacting us, now is the time. You can write to us at, or call us at 419.897-9792.

3) We have been recording tracks for a new album before and after concerts for the last month. It makes for some chaotic pre-concert racing around, but just this afternoon I laid down one piano solo on a song, meaning all the tracks are now recorded. The new album will be HERE sometime this month. Details can be found at the website, once we have some details. Meantime, I've got some mixing to do.

4) We trust that you are rocking on.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

the best wedding ever

George Baum
The Wedding of Michael and Lalanya
Colossians 3:14-16
Matthew 5:13-15

As I’m sure you all know, Michael spent much of the past two years working on the campaign to elect Barack Obama. 22 months of volunteering. Maybe because Michael believed in that message of hope. Maybe, just . . . because. Along the way, he met lots of interesting people. Among those people was Joe Biden. I once saw a fantastic photograph of Michael shaking Joe Biden’s hand, and Lalanya is in the background, having just been introduced to the future vice president. The shocked look on Lalanya’s face in that picture tells the story.

When Michael introduced Lalanya to Joe Biden, the Senator’s first words were, “Holy Mackerel! Look at those eyes!” It seems Lalanya never heard anything else he said, because she spent the rest of the night asking people, “Who says Holy Mackerel? I mean, what kind of person says ‘Holy Mackerel’?” She had just met Joe Biden, the future vice president of the United States of America, who paid her quite a compliment, but the distracting thing—the thing that really gets your attention—is, “what kind of person says ‘Holy Mackerel’?”

This afternoon, Michael and Lalanya will look into one another’s eyes and say, “I do.” (Holy Matrimony.) They will stand here, surrounded by all of us, promising to remain faithful to one another, to support one another, to live out their lives as husband and wife. Two people promising to swim against the tide of our culture of separation and divorce, daring to make a go of this thing we call “marriage.” And, if we’re honest, we are all secretly asking ourselves, “Holy Matrimony? What kind of person says ‘Holy Matrimony’?” What kind of people gather together their friends and family and say, “We commit ourselves and our lives to one another?”

Oh, sure, we know the kind of person who races off to Vegas, and gets divorced 48 hours later. And we’re familiar with marriages of convenience, or passion, or youthful indiscretion. And on the other end, we’re familiar with people who choose not to buy into the system of marriage, because it is outdated. Or those who cannot get married, because they happen to fall in love with the “wrong” type of person, or don’t live in Iowa . . . of all places!

But the question is this: who gets everyone together for a big party and actually means it? What kind of person looks into the eyes of their beloved, and says, “Holy Matrimony?” . . . What kind of person does that?

The kind of person who has hope. A promise to remain together until the end has to be rooted in hope. Real hope. Because statistically, it doesn’t make sense. To sit down and reason it out, nobody would ever get married. To do what we are gathered here to do this day requires hope. And the only reason we can have hope is because we trust that this is all going to be all right. Somehow, this is going to work out. We mark this day with a joyous celebration, because—as we heard in the reading from Matthew—a light is shining in the darkness. Because you are living out God’s promise, and you are the light of the world. You are a city built on a hill. Let your light so shine, and let the strings so play, and let the food and drink so flow, that everyone will know that today is different. We mark this day, dedicated to hope for the future.

Now obviously, every day will not be like this. Even here in southern California, a little rain must fall. Michael and Lalanya will change over time. Their relationship will change. These two know that they won’t be eating every meal here at the arboretum in fancy clothes. Hope can only take you so far. There will be hard times, when their spines get all “out of joint.” Times when they will view one another as a pain in the neck. And as Lalanya well knows, adjustment is what will put things back in place. Adjustment is like forgiveness. Putting things back in right relationship. What Lalanya does with her training and her hands, God does with relationships. Restoring to wholeness. We can dare to hope that things will work out because we dare to trust that there is restoration and forgiveness.

We, as people, are built for relationships. And our relationships are built on love. When we make our feeble promises of fidelity and forever, we are promising to try to love like God loves. Forever. Our strongest love for one another is a reflection of God’s unending love for us. A love that knows no limit, respects no boundaries, and stops at nothing to reclaim this world. God loves you—no matter what. God loves you, whether you promise and fail . . . or fail ever to promise at all.

That’s the kind of love we all look for in our partners. Unconditional. Forever. Not merely to be loved, but to be fully and completely known . . . and yet, somehow, still be loved.
God calls all of us into committed relationships, knowing full well that our brokenness may break those bonds. God lights the fire of love in us, again and again, regardless of the result. God is not jaded by failure. God does not listen to common sense. God does not give up on anyone, ever. God has lit, is lighting, and will continue to light the lamp of love in your heart. You are the light of the world.

But that is impossible for us to believe. Common sense and sanity tell us to give up. We’re tired of the pain, and the heartache, and things not working out. Get out the bushel basket and put out the light . . . .

But today, in Lalanya and Michael we see a different message. Today they stand before us, promising to seek a different result. A better world. A brighter light. They are announcing their intention to throw off the bushel basket. They promise to live in love, for better or worse. They promise to stay together, in rich times and poor. Rooted in hope; committed to adjustment.
So, will this time be different? Will this marriage hold as long as they both shall live? We hope so. They hope so! And we all go forward in that hope.

But no matter what happens in 10, 20, or 100 years, it’s really going to be all right.
Because of what God has already done, we can face the future with hope that things are going to be different. As Julian of Norwich says, all things shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. Love is God’s insane plan of hope for our jaded, broken world. And along this journey, God embraces each of us; God embraces every relationship built on love.

And because of that embrace, Michael and Lalanya reach out today to embrace one another in a new way. And that sacred embrace is just the kind of thing that can make a person say, “Holy Mackerel!”

Friday, March 27, 2009

I think we're in Kansas, Toto.

So, this entry will take you back a bit. The whole idea of going to a blog as opposed to a monthly newsletter was so that I wouldn't fall behind. But, now that we've sprung ahead into spring, I will catch you up on the doings of us. Um, the doings of we? Who knows? It's so hard to pick your pronouns when you're matching them up with colloquial phrases that don't really make for good sentence structure, don't we think?

Back to Kansas . . . home of the band, of the same name. Michael flew in a day early and drove a million miles from Detroit to pick me up in Kansas City. Once he got me, it was just another 5,000 miles out to Sterling, where we were pleased to have been invited back to play at the aptly named, Sleepless in Sterling event. Before we get there, in case you have never been to Kansas, I felt I should give you a few photos to give you a sense of it:

As you can see, Kansas is the place where they grow the fabric that brown suits and blankets are made from.

And, Michael and I finally have photographic evidence that the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.

And then, we arrived in Sterling.

I don't know what they mean by POE at this motel, but I'm hoping it's not this guy. Cause, after all, he's scrary. AND, he's been dead for a long time.

Anyway, there at Sleepless in Sterling, they asked that we do a lot more than play music, and we happily delivered a series of talks, or led the small groups, or both actually. I had ample opportunity to display my artistic talents, as you can see in my rendering of the Kingdom of God.

AND, we found that the building we were playing in was dedicated to an important member of the community. Now maybe it's how I framed the photo, but that last qualification doesn't really seem like it belongs in a plaque at a Christian College.

Anyway, we had a great weekend and, when it was over on Sunday, we drove approximately 3,000 miles back to Minneapolis, so that we could fly out in the morning, which we did.

From there, I had a bizarre set of flights that took me through Chicago, Cleveland, and Philadelphia on my way home. But it was worth it, since I made it over another hurdle.

Now, ordinarily, the post would end there. However, being all far behind like this, we press on. The next weekend, Michael and I flew to Minneapolis, got the van, and drove eastward into Wisconsin. In case you have never been to Wisconsin, since I didn't get any photos, I will provide with a visual here.

Saturday night, we played in Mosinee, which i think comes from the French phrase meaning "my friend." Played in the local high school there, and had a great time. The local worship band from the next morning played a set before ours, and they were quite awesome. The next morning, we played some songs during worship in Steven's Point (advantage Steven) at the local college ministry chapel, which is where the local worship band from the night before plays. Would have been nice to stick around, but we had some high tailing to do to get to the evening's concert, which was in a brand new Lutheran High School in Hartland, Wisconsin. Though they spell the word "heart" incorrectly in their town name, they have built one beautiful High School.

After that concert, we headed over to a hotel near the Milwaukee airport. In the morning we flew home, and that was the end of that short weekend.

Though I could continue, the next weekend deserves its own post, so I am going to stop for now and make you wonder, "Huh?"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back in Ohio Again (All the doors I closed one time will open up again)

It's music week around here because . . . well, because I decided it was. No pictures, just lots of interesting musical links. (Facebook readers are advised to go here, for full visual stimulation.)

So, we were able to leave our homes fairly late, in the scheme of things, and fly back to Detroit, where you may recall I left the van. After finding same, we headed off south and east, passing over that new bridge in Toledo, past the town where I got married, then off toward roller coaster heaven. (Which is where roller coasters go when they die, I guess.)

Arrived at the secret location for the youth gathering, and had the second of two consecutive Lutheran middle school events. Again with the pirate theme, again with the Bob Lenz speaker, and again with the great time had by all. It was deja vu all over again, except a lot bigger than the first time.

Met some very interesting people, many of whom will be my new neighbors in just a few months. But no time to stick around being neighborly. because we had to race on over to Jackson, MI for a concert. We were relieved to find out that the MI stand for Michigan and not Mississippi. Not that we've got anything against the Magnolia State, it's just that we would have missed the concert.

Got to Jackson about an hour before the concert, so it was a race to set up. Had a good workout carrying stuff up the ramps, but we were all set up about 15 minutes before the opening chord, so it was no problem. It was a beautiful church, right downtown, and the mosaics were all done by a previous pastor. Wish we'd had time to stick around and get some photos and stuff, but we had to race off right away to make some flights out of Detroit.

I dropped Michael off, parked the van, and we both made our flights home. A simple weekend, came to an end, with nary a hitch. Next weekend, however, will be filled with challenges. But meantime, I've got to go to class. Rock on, people who read blogs.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

St. Louis and Ohio

I begin with my usual disclaimer to Facebook readers that the blog looks better here. I'm just saying.

So on Thursday, we headed for St. Louis. Well, technically, Michael left on Wednesday night, but he arrived on Thursday, same as me. Or, I guess I mean same as I. Or, based on what the flight attendants say, I think I mean, "Michael arrived on Thursday, the same as on behalf of myself."

That afternoon, we played for a large group of area Lutheran students, that being National Lutheran Schools week. (Who knew, right?) I don't know that we were much help in "securing each student's future," but we were happy to play our songs for them, and they seemed to tolerate us just fine. Later that night, we played a concert in the same room, and some long-time friends from Spec and elsewhere.

The next morning, we headed off for parts east, driving across the On-Behalf-of-Myself states (Illinois and Indiana) and arriving in southwest Ohio. We were actually headed for Mason, which is Cincinnati adjacent. Continuing with our Lutheran theme, we were there to play for a Lutheran youth gathering, which we did. We were psyched to find that the speaker for the weekend was none other than our long-time pal, Bob Lenz. Had a great time, celebrating the pirate theme, but i never have been able to get the hang of those pirate eyepatch things.

Sunday afternoon, we raced off to the east, looking for a place called Crooksville, Ohio. Since we got to town early, we decided to make a stop at the National Ceramic Museum, which we saw in our Atlas, and which was right on our way to Crooksville. We realize that neither of us is exactly a big fan of ceramics, but, you know, it would be interesting just to see what kind of stuff one finds at the National Ceramic Museum. We figured there would be gift shop, and all sorts of interesting things.

We were surprised to find so much parking available.

We thought the entrance seemed a litte unkempt. But, hey, these are artists, not landscapers.

We wondered about the orange pieces of paper that were stuck in the door.

Perhaps some kind of brochure? An explanation of the displays currently on exhibit?

Um, so . . . It seems maybe the National Ceramic Museum isn't exactly operational just now. Possibly, if you're a fan of ceramics, you can help them out.

Anyway, we went on to the town of Crooksville, where we were playing. When we got to the church, we were a little concerned to see this sign out front, given that we were playing there in March.

Turned out, we had the wrong church. Our spirits lifted when we found the right Methodist church, where we found people instead of birds that had expired standing up, like this one at the ironically named "New Hope."

As I say, the real concert location was much nicer, and the hosts were fantastic. Had a good concert, but then had to race on north and west to the Toledo area, where we slept briefly in a hotel, before heading north to the Detroit Airport, where I dropped off Michael, parked the van, and then returned to the airport for my own flight home.

On behalf of myself, here ends the missive,

Monday, March 2, 2009

Back at It

So, if you're reading this on Facebook, I think it looks better at the actual location, which you can find here. I'm just saying.

First off, a little cleaning up the piles of stuff around your apartment can yield all sorts of interesting things. Take this picture, for intance:

After several weekends off (which explains why I tried to straighten up my random piles of stuff), Michael and I were pleased to join together in Maryland for some concerts this weekend. (We were particularly pleased in that Troy was willing to be the one to drive the van from Minneapolis to Washington to pick us up.) We met at the airport in the late afternoon, and raced off into Maryland. Given the name, I thought we were going to a nice hotel, but it turns out there's a town in the Old Line State called Waldorf. Set up for a nice concert, and had one, as a matter of fact. Michael sat in for the receptionist since the desk was empty that night.

The local ELCA Bishop offered a plausible explanation of Maryland's nickname, and we accepted his proposal. (And it certainly beat that time when someone told us that Wapakoneta came from the Native-American term for "white pants.") The pastor at the church in Waldorf had all manner of interesting toys, and we had great fun playing with the flying suacer thing. Who says church isn't fun, right?

Turns out the church in Waldorf was planning to add on to their building. A special kind of addition, as you can see here:

Anyway, we had a fun concert in Waldorf, and afterward drove north into Pennsylvania.

The next afternoon, we found our way to the Toftrees Golf Resort (talk about your white pants!) to play for a group of enthusiastic folks from the Allegheny Synod who were gathering for a gathering. This was a lot of fun, for us anyway. But we had to race on out of town to get to Dillsburg, which is Harrisburg adjacent. The folks at the BIC Church there were doing a 30-hour famine event, and they asked us to play a concert at the end of it. (I guess the theory being that after 30 hours without food, they were all worn down to the point that they could take a Lost And Found concert.)

Had a great time, and headed back to the hotel for a brief rest before getting up early to play during worship in Neffs, PA, which is near . . . uh . . . well, it's kind of not near anything as far as we could tell. Or, mainly, what it's not near is an exit off the 476. Got a little lost on the way to worship, but we did eventually find the church and made for a quick set up. The church people had set up a stage in front of the chancel, which was somewhat unusual, I must say, but served our purposes quite well. I did notice that the pulpit had a conveniently located thermostat.

As you can see, the preacher can reach down during the sermon and make adjustments as needed. I'll bet that's particularly helpful when people are getting drowsy and she can turn it down to, say, 55 or so.

After worship, we had a few hours off, and then it was time for the concert. The opening band, called SWiM were really quite excellent.

The hosts turned out a huge crowd, and we had a great concert. Afterward, Michael used the Slinky Phone from Waldorf to spend a little time with Jesus. From there, it was time to go our separate ways. Troy got back in the van and headed off to St. Louis. Michael and I got in the rental car and headed east for my place in New York. Unfortunately, Michael's flght was cancelled for some reason, but that gave him time to clean off the car to get to the airport.

I would've helped, but I was busy taking pictures with my phone. Since I didn't receive a panicked call from Michael after he left, I'm assuming he found JFK alright and is currently somewhere over the Miidwest at 30,000 feet. So, now we have a couple days off, until we gather back up and find where Troy left the van.

And speaking of Troy, if you're interested in getting a free copy of one of the Slide Girl recordings from this weekend (or any other weekend, for that matter) you can e-mail him at

Saturday, January 31, 2009

10 Days Make One Week

So, Michael finished up with the swearing in Washington and drove westward, back to Ohio. Thursday night, I went out to Long Island where I played piano for The Life Church, which had its first worship service (which I would link you to if only they had a website). Then, on Friday, I flew to Dayton, by way of Detroit. And you're asking. "Who even knew that Dayton had an airport?" I know, right? Since then, several people have told me that Dayton obviously has an airport, since the Wright brothers were from there--but I think they were from Akron. In either case, I know they aren't from North Carolina. (All first-in-flight claims to the contrary.)

So, we drove to the YMCA Camp, in Oregonia, OH. The SOSLYO was going on, and they allowed us to play a couple of songs here and there during their event. Of course, the first thing one has to do at a youth gathering is decorate the room. In this case, the organizers handed decorations to the youth and asked them to have at it, which they certainly did.

Also, while at the camp, Michael showed-off his unique ability to capture the sun and hold it in his hand.

Of course, just like Harry Caray, Michael's favorite planet is the sun. But I don't know how he can take all that heat on his hand, personally. All that heat would have served us well after leaving our time in Oregonia, since we were headed north. And I do mean north. Dakota north, in fact, as in North Dakota. But I am getting ahead of myself.

So we drove north, as I say, and stopped off in Maumee, my former place of residence. I went to a Vestry meeting, and Michael went to the gym. (I always take the easy way out.) Then we drove to Chicago, to get some sleep. The next day we drove to Minneapolis, which was like our base camp for the final ascent into the tundra. Troy invited us to stay at his grandmother's house since she was out of town--you know, like when we recorded our cd, Pronto. In the morning, we headed out across Minnesota.

Since it was Troy's birthday, we really splurged and bought him a coffee mug. I know, we are really some nice guys, huh?

Also, since it was Troy's birthday, when we stopped to switch places in the van, he decided to run over to a nearby snowdrift.

Unfortunately, that first step's a doozy.

That's Troy's head sticking up over the edge of the road there. I didn't get the descent into the glacier, but I was able to capture Troy's victorious finish of having climbed out to safety. We traveled on to Bismarck, where we were pleased to play with our friends, Tangled Blue, who sound better than ever. Though we would have loved to hang around, we had to head back to Fargo, since there were no rooms at the inns of Bismarck. (If you're thinking that makes us like Jesus, it really makes us more like Mary and Joseph, except neither of is pregnant, though there is a census coming up next year.) Anyway, the drive back to Fargo was seriously slow and dangerous, since blowing snow does not take the night off.

Arriving in Fargo, we checked into our hotel and slept soundly. The next day, we drove the short distance up to Grand Forks. You know you're out in it when you see signs like these:

At some point, looking at the map, I realized that Bismarck is closer to LA than to NYC. Which probably surprises no one except me. But back to Grand Forks. The room we played is something called the Chester Fritz Auditorium. As you can see, you could fit a person or two in this room.

I went up to the very top balcony and took a picture of Michael down on the stage.

It makes me laugh to think how many people it would take to make this room seem crowded. So, though we were playing for about 800 confirmands, they didn't even fill the first floor. As I say, big room. Of course, confirmands are typically smaller than adults, so maybe that has something to do with it.

We had a great time, and the crew at the venue were among the nicest we've worked with--and we've worked with some nice crews. After the load out, it was time to begin the seriously long night's journey into day, if I may paraphrase Eugene. In order to make our crack of dawn flights, we drove from Grand Forks to Minneapolis, where we spent a couple hours at Troy's house until he kindly drove us to the airport. I was asleep before the plane took off, and when I woke up I found myself at 10,000 feet with my seatbelt off, and my cell phone on. Thanks Delta. I switched the status of both things and settled in.

Michael and I met-up in New Orleans, and two nice guys from Charlotte gave us a ride to the hotel. We had to spend a little time adjusting to the change in our environment. After our nordic plunge, New Orleans seemed quite toasty and urban.

We were in New Orleans to play at the annual Extravaganza (which is a spare vaganza, I think). We've played in New Orleans many times over the years, but you never know what you're going to see on your random walk outside your hotel. For instance, the second night, two buses pulled up in fornt of hotel, and a full-size marching band unloaded onto the sidewalk, where they warmed up before coming into the hotel and filing up the escalator, like so many business travelers.

We had lots of fun at the Extravaganza, and ran into all sorts of folks we've known for years. Among the highlights of our time there was watching our friend, Agape' (Dave Scherer) receive the Hunstad Award for his ministry among youth.

In response, Dave did his signature beat-box-singing combo, which is always impressive.

Later that night, Michael and I were sitting in the lobby when a bunch of clowns came in and stood around chatting, like so many business travelers.

Michael went over to get a better look, and I couldn't help but notice there was something oddly familiar about the whole scene . . .

The next morning, we played a few songs before worship, and then Erin was kind enough to whisk me off to the airport, since Delta had told me I could get an earlier flight. Of course, once I got to the counter, they had no seats on any earlier flights. Psych! So now I sit around the New Orleans airport for 5 hours, and will be flying during the entirety of the Superbowl. Thanks Delta. I want my little Northwest Airlines back now, please. At least they didn't lose my luggage yet. Of course, that's because they won't let me check in until 3 hours before the flight.

For now, Michael and I have a few weeks off, so I probably won't be writing again until March. Rock on, you people you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Long Journey (if you're Michael's luggage)

So, for this weekend, I flew to Siberia (which sometimes goes by the name "Detroit,") and got the van from the airport parking ramp, where it was a pleasant 4 below. I know people in Minnesota laugh at such warm temperatures, but I do not live in Minnesota, and thus I was not laughing. In fact, with my eyes watering, it was more like crying. However, I was able to collect the frozen teardrops and put them in my pocket as emergency fluid in case I should suffer some roadside mishap.

Point being, I got the van and drove it south to Cincinnati, in preparation to meet Michael in Knoxville the next day. However, just as I was about to leave town in the morning, I got a text from him saying that his flight had to return to Los Angeles and make an emergency landing. Everyone was fine, but he rebooked on a flight to Cincinnati. Which meant, I now had about 5 hours to kill in Porkopolis. It occured to me to go to the Cincinnati Museum Center, which I did.

I now know more about Cincinnati than the next guy.

For example, they kill some beautiful birds in that town.

Also, I learned that polar bears want to hug you.

Or maybe they want to box you. Or maybe just high-five you. It's hard to know, exactly, since there are so many polar bears in Cincinnati that my small survey is relatively inconclusive.

Anyway, Michael did make it to Cincinnati, and I happily met him at the airport. However, nobody seemed to know where his luggage might be. Then we raced off to the right--I mean, east--and arrived in Asheville precisely five minutes before we were scheduled to play. Well, actually, we arrived at the gate sometime before that, and the security guard helpfully gave us the complicated directions to get to the camp, which is apparently somewhere deep inside the compound of the Billy Graham Cove place. (You've got to wonder about a place called the "Billy Graham Training Center." I mean, how can you possibly have an entire compound dedicated to training Billy Graham? I think he knows his stuff by now, don't you?)

Fortunately, the participants were there for the night, and they patiently waited while we set up the sound stuff. We had a great time, and we were sad to leave. But we had to move it on down the line, as they say. Michael found out that his luggage had gone from LA, then to Denver, then to Chicago, where they took it off the plane, refusing to take it anywhere else until he called them, which he was doing at the time. He asked them to send his stuff to Raleigh. (More on that later.)

The next day we made the short drive to Newton, NC, where we played in a warehouse. Interesting venue, and certainly a creative use of space.

We had a great time, and then drove off to Raleigh. Along the way, Michael got a call from the baggage department at the Raleigh Airport, trying to confirm his address in California, so they could send his luggage back to his house. He was able to talk them into holding onto his luggage, and we drove directly to the airport to pick up his clothes and guitar, now that the weekend's concerts were complete.

In the morning, Michael dropped me at the Raleigh airport so I could fly home, and he headed off to Washington because there was somebody swearing, or something like that. I got home and rested for a couple days, then headed back to the airport . . . but that's your next installment.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Year Ends, or Year's End

So, to finish off the year, Michael and I headed for our Nation's Capital. The Brethren in Christ were kind enough to invite us back to their YQ event, and we know a good invitation when we see one. I didn't really take many pictures this weekend, so the final blog of the year is kind of texty, or actually, kind of linky.

Had a great time playing music, leading workshops, visiting with Pete, and generally having a huge great time. We met folks from Cuba and Canada, plus the United States. (I have heard that the reason Canadian candy bars are so good is that they get their sugar from Cuba. But I have also heard that the high school years are the best time of your life. And that toilets in the southern hemisphere spin the other way. Plus I have heard that Guns N Roses would release "Chinese Democracy.")

Over the course of the weekend, we met lots of people, as I say. After several great days, we headed home. I went to Union Station in DC and sat for a long time, trying to stay awake until I could board the train for my first Amtrak trip. Interestingly, that route (from Washington to New York) could be called "Amtrak's Tour of Cities Past Their Prime." Now let's be clear, it's a tour of the parts of town that are next to the train tracks, so I'm sure there are real nice parts of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Trenton, and so forth on the other side of the tracks.

So I got home, and my family and I rang in the New Year by watching the nationally televised events taking place 20 blocks north. I mean, why leave your apartment when they bring such distant events right into your living room? And, this way we got to see the Ting Tings, who make us all happy in an 80's kind of way. Oddly, when we woke up the next day, all our calendars were out of date, so we had to replace them. Plus, we had to account for that extra second. It was a really busy morning.

The following week I had to take some exams that I hope you never have to take. I don't really want to talk about them, but it took all week, and I am still tired. Anyway, this post got us to 2009, and that's about all one can ask.

More later in the year . . .