Have you ever considered going to an adult fantasy camp? I did a quick google search and found a Space Academy, a Culinary Camp, a Post-Apocalyptic Camp, Mountaineering for Women, Rock ‘N Roll Fantasy Camp, and even a Wizarding Weekend. Which would you choose?
Last Friday, I attended my own music fantasy camp: I played trombone with Denver and the Mile High Orchestra at my church. If you aren’t familiar with DMHO you need to go to You Tube right now and listen. They play hymns and other songs, blending big-band jazz with power funk, and they are monster musicians. I first heard them playing at the finish line of the Nashville Marathon in April 2003, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
They scheduled a concert in our church, and asked three locals - Rabon, Craig, and me - to sit in with the band. I don’t know why they needed more horns. Maybe they didn’t. It could be they were being generous to the local talent … but, I didn’t care. It was a hoot, a joy, a gift to play with them, and I’ve been vibrating ever since.
We received our parts by email a few weeks ago, and the three of us practiced together a couple of times. We started playing together at church as a three-horn combo at least fifteen years ago, and I enjoy every minute. Even practice sessions.
The gig itself was way more fun than I expected. I started off the night jittery and nervous, praying, “Don’t let me mess this up.” It doesn’t matter how old we get (62), or how many years we’ve played (50), it’s still nerve-wracking to stand beside the big boys on varsity. By the end of the first song, however, I’d moved past nervous into fun.
For me, the curious part is how we got to this moment. Spiritual journeys are usually long and winding paths, never obvious and never inevitable.
It started when Ken Hughes (trombone player for DMHO) gave our names to Denver Bierman, leader of the group. One Tuesday last July, Rabon, Craig, and I each got a text from Denver asking if we knew a trumpet player who could play with the band that next Friday in Alpine. I wrote back that I’d pass his message along but was he sure he didn’t need a trombone instead? Craig drove to Alpine and played with them. Apparently he made a good showing because the next thing we knew, there was a concert scheduled in Midland with open places for us. Well done, Craig.
Ken Hughes is the Ministry Director for Global Missions Projects (led by Camp Kirkland) and that’s why he knew the three of us. Cyndi and I traveled with GMP to Guatemala last December, I played trombone and Cyndi played congas and percussion. And before that, in the fall of 2016, Rabon and Kim Bewley, Craig and Linda Freeman, and Cyndi and I went to Israel with the GMP orchestra. That’s how we ended up on Ken’s list.
But before that, a dozen FBC orchestra members travelled to east Texas for an Instrumental Convergence, a one-day gathering of church musicians to learn new music, draw energy from each other, and open our hearts and eyes to a larger vision of music for the Kingdom. It was there that we heard a passionate pitch to join the GMP orchestra in Israel. Our three families decided to give it a try. That’s how we got on Ken’s list.
But even before that, we heard of the Instrumental Convergence because Rabon had been traveling with the GMP Metro Big Band since 2010. His first trip was to Russia, and since then he’s played with them six more times in Europe and South America. He has two more trips scheduled already. The rest of us followed Rabon’s lead and jumped aboard the GMP train. That’s how we got on Ken’s list, and how we got to play with Denver last Friday, we followed Rabon.
So many adventures happen like that. Somebody is brave and takes a step forward, a couple of more people follow along, we’re brave together, and next thing you know your life is permanently changed. Your vision for musical ministry is blown apart, and you’re playing killer music with powerhouse musicians in your home church with your wife sitting on the second row radiating joy and pride.
At least, that’s how it was for me.
P.S. The story continues. Rabon is going to Cuba with the Metro Big Band (part of GMP) in January, and our gang of six are traveling to Hungary in May. I can’t wait to see what’s next.