Last night, our 1st Church String Band performed during the first dinner of the Latvian pastor's conference at FUMC-Grapevine. In attendance were most of the Methodist pastor's from Latvia, some of their spouses, and many of the officers and members of the "Friends for Latvia" national ministry group. About 6 members of our little group were able to make it, and we sang pretty good.
Unless something comes up on the schedule, this may have been my last time to perform with the band, which was birthed out of a guitar group I started during my second year at FUMC-Grapevine, sometime in 2006. We gathered twice a week. Then someone asked us to play a concert for a Boy Scout troop committee dinner. Then we were asked to play Christmas carols before and after worship services during Advent.
After a year or so, we were asked to sing in worship. That was perhaps the best rendition of "If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again" that we ever performed.
Later, we hosted a fund-raising concert, and raised several thousand dollars for water wells in Kenya. Then we started getting requests to do multiple Christmas concerts. December became our busiest time of year. Last year we performed 8 times!
Sunday school class party and dinner invites followed. We sang at the Heritage Campus a few times. We stayed busy for a group of volunteers.
When I had cancer, a couple of the guys took over my manager duties, and they kept us busy as well. Concerts and other gigs would come in "seasons". I was always convinced that invites came because we were free! Getting to eat before or after singing was always considered a paying gig. Decembers stayed busy.
Most importantly for all these years has been the relationships. Our lead guitar players. Alan and Scotty, both came and went, as did other members of the band, either due to moving or children getting older. Sometimes it was because of health. We aren't exactly a young group. I will be 58 next month, and I think I am the 2nd youngest member. A few other people came and visited and played with us, but liked other kinds of music, went their way as well.
I actually dropped out for a while when I was getting certified with Hugworks, and because of my professional schedule. We usually rehearse on Thursday evenings, and Thursdays start for me at 5:30 AM. Sometimes I just "ran out of steam" and had no energy to play. I usually make it once every month.
Last night, playing with Papa Russ, Mari, Harvey, Stu, Joe and Mark, it struck me that we aren't great. But we do harmonize well, and if we keep time when the bass player isn't there, we don't sound half bad. Our harmonies carry us. They always have.
If last night was the last gig with the group, then I am sad. But then I think about all the times we played together in public. Seriously, we had the balls and gumption, despite fear and stage fright, to get up in front of people and take a chance they would like us. Others never get out of the garage or place they are rehearsing. We actually played enough, and well enough, that we got invitations to play. We got a little bit of a following. Groups knew they could count on us to come prepared, and give it the best we could. And, we always encouraged everyone in the audience to sing with us. I proudly look back with great memories singing with this group, especially with Papa Russ, Stu, Harvey, Ned, Charley and Jeff, who were there when we first started. We all got better playing and singing in the process.
All things come to an end. That's a fact of life I don't try to hide from anymore. My ministry at FUMC-Grapevine will come to an end on June 14th. My singing with the 1st Church String Band may have come to an end yesterday. I leave both with no regrets about either experience. Just good memories. That's a good thing!
And through it all, God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>