Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Weekend in Kent (WA, that is)

I think the key to having Carolyn and Spencer at your church (or other venue) is to employ some wiles and invest some cash. First, buy her music for every influential person or decision maker at the venue. Second, wait; let the songs seep in. Third, pray. After they are thoroughly hooked, your fourth step is to approach them all casual-like and mention that (as though it had just occurred to you and wasn't your objective from day one), "Hey, wouldn't it be great to try to get Carolyn and her accompanist Spencer here for a concert?" They will surely demure at first, but that is OK. Fifth, pray some more. Repeat steps 3 through 5 as often as needed, and surely it will come to pass. Then, if you do not mind being really persistent to the point of obnoxious, repeat the process with every new CD, every chance you get. Ta-da!

I was so very, very blessed that the first album I threw out there to the pastors and their families at our church, Calvary Chapel South, fell on good soil immediately and has yielded thirty, sixty, even one hundredfold. Wendy Martin is definitely a kindred spirit. She really ought to blog here at Carolyn Arends 202. She is the Women's Ministry leader at our church, and when I sent out postcards to all the pastors, elders, and administrators this past summer -- just a friendly little hello to let them know that a new album was in the works and, "Hey, wouldn't it be great to try to get Carolyn and Spencer here (again) for a concert?" -- she gladly took up the torch and convinced the rest of leadership team that Carolyn would be a perfect fit for the upcoming Women's Fall Retreat. Go, Wendy, go!

And, this past weekend, we had the Women's Fall Retreat led by Carolyn Arends as well as a concert Saturday night with her and Spencer Capier, and even -- poor lady! -- worship Sunday morning. Our cups ranneth way, way over. And I am speaking for every woman in attendance at the retreat and every person at the concert and in church. More people than I can count came up to me -- I was just standing there, looking stupid -- and said, "Oh my goodness, she is amazing! Those songs . . . That music . . . And that Spencer . . . wow! This was exactly what I needed to hear . . . Thank you, thank you for bringing her here . . ." And I would say, "I'm so glad, but thank Wendy and the other women who work in the ministry, it was all their doing. I was just the poke."

The retreat topic was "Resting in God . . . Yeah, Right!" If you are looking for a great retreat topic and speaker for your own church, I highly recommend bringing in Carolyn to speak about this. It is especially good for women, because -- well -- we take on a lot in our homes, our kids' schools, our churches, and our work, and we're tired, yet restless. We need to remember that pursuing God fills our minds and spirits with that surpassing peace and that restoring rest; and pursuing Him means little more than being still long enough for Him to capture and captivate us. So, of course we heard the new songs "Be Still" and "Roll It" (with the funky Calvary Chapel soul chorus), as well as the favorites "In Good Hands" and "Who You Are." Did we hear some others? Maybe, but I forgot to write them down. When Carolyn is playing music, all else tends to fade away, and I am in the moment.

The concert that evening was a special, intimate time. It was raining like crazy outside in our flood plain, which you wouldn't think would faze folks in the PNW, but the Calvary Kent chickens cowered in their coops. Pooh to them. What was left were the hardcore fans -- about 75% of the audience, Wendy estimated, were non-Calvary Chapel South folks -- which led to an almost Rocky Horror Picture Show concert. OK, it was far more classy than that association would imply. I just mean that the room was filled with people who could probably recite the jokes along with Carolyn (you know what I mean, the bouzouki joke and the $5 Valentine story to name two -- still funny, even after the twentieth telling, mind you) and had no hesitation whatsoever in shouting out requests and singing along. Pretty darn cool! And since these were the groupies (ah, I finally found my social set!), their song requests were not only the usual "Seize the Day" and "Reaching" -- though, those were requested. Someone yelled out "Fragile" and another piped up with "Free" and someone toward the front called "In Good Hands." Luckily, someone else requested "Something Out of Us" and Carolyn and Spencer hurriedly worked out a smashing live version that only made you miss the trumpet a wee bit. It was a fun night, and we were so blessed. Carolyn encored with the brand new "Never Say Goodbye" which works so well as a benediction song. Lovely, just lovely.

I confess that I missed the worship songs for the most part the next morning. Not because I was not there -- I was out in the hallway, pitching the goods, making the sales at the product table. I know for certain that she sang "Seize the Day" and "Willing" and "I've Got a Hope." There was also a regular worship song, but I do not remember which one. After church, there was lunch with the Carolyn and Spencer. I need not go on and on about how awesome of an experience it is to break bread with two such amazing artists. I mean, who gets to share a meal with their favorite musicians? Imagine if Guillaume de Machaut just came to town and you took him to Outback . . . or taking tea with Gilbert and Sullivan . . . or having a snack and sing-along with ol' Wolfie Mozart . . . or just getting to know as a person [insert your favorite artist here -- which, if you're here, may very well be Carolyn Arends anyway, in which event, you may just already know what I'm talking about, so I'll stop]. And, even though we know that FFTB, it is still a sweet and gracious thing to have postponed their journey home a bit to lunch with us*, though they must have been exhausted.

And that was the end of the weekend. How long until I can start campaigning for another go? Two, maybe three, months? :-)

*"Us" included me, Wendy and John Martin, and a cool guy named Gary who came to our church just to see them. He not only sponsored at his old church two different Carolyn/Cap concerts in West Seattle (to which, as it turns out, I had gone both times), but he is a musician himself (so he has that whole other level of Carolyn-appreciation that MarkD and other musicians get to have -- lucky ducks!), and one of his favorite songs is "Do We Dare" which sealed the deal of my approbation of him.