Back in the Saddle

Wow. In seven days, we have an honest-to-goodness gig.

Kind of.

On September 18, Mountville will hold this year’s Mountville Days. Yes, it’s Mountville Days, despite the fact that it’s self-contained within a single day. At least I think it is. Maybe I’m wrong about that. If so, I shouldn’t have been quite so dogmatic just now.

Anyway, Mountville Days is when Mountville, Pennsylvania becomes the world’s largest garage sale. Everybody and his grandma has a table, stand, rack, or some sort of display outside, where they sell junk they no longer want. Various companies and organizations set up shop along Main Street (yes, the name of the street is literally Main Street; just one of the many endearing features of the town) to hawk their wares or provide cheap snacks to harried garage sale patrons.

Along Main Street sits Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church, an incredibly old building that dominates the street’s landscape. Jen’s mother works there as the secretary. Her employment is the root of our long and checkered history with the town of Mountville. The church’s computer consultant, Charlie, lives right down the street from the church, and at one time operated his business from his home. It was during that time that he mentioned a need for some cheap labor, and my mother-in-law gave him my name. This is also, incidentally, how I got involved with computers as a vocation. Up until then, it had been strictly a hobby. Anyway, I ended working for Charlie for several years. Our business relationship ended in 1996 when I set off on my failed quest to become a teacher. Later that year, we moved to Mountville and lived in the renovated firehouse. It was such a cool place.

Acoustic GuitarToward the end of 2002, Charlie called me out of the blue. Knowing that I was a worship leader at the time, and knowing that I had a history of helping out with both worship services and church youth groups, he asked if I’d be interested in going on a retreat with Saint Paul’s Church’s praise band, which almost entirely made up of youth group members. Basically, I’d be helping them learn to become worship leaders. Jen and I packed our bags and headed off to Camp Innabah with them, and it was super cool. We had a blast.

A few weeks ago, Charlie called out of the blue again. This year, during Mountville Days, the church is setting up a stage outside, and the praise band is going to be playing. I think this is a cool idea. What would be nice, he said, is if the praise band could take some breaks but somehow still keep the music going. He asked if Jen and I would be interested in playing two one hour sets. Our answer, of course, was yes.

What Charlie didn’t know, and something I haven’t been advertising, is that Jen and I have been working on putting a new band together. In fact, we’d already found a willing guitarist/harmony singer by the name of Josh. This gave us a much-needed excuse to get together to practice. We worked on some material that Josh, Jen, and I are all familiar with from our Westwood days, and we even dusted off some Anonymous Joe songs, too. And they sound pretty good. Josh’s guitar playing and his singing blend with mine very well, I think. We still lack a drummer, but I suppose that will come when the time is right.

So, we have our first gig on September 18. I’m really excited to be playing out again. I’ve missed it terribly.

If you want to see the new band, or at least what we have so far, we’ll be playing from 10 to 11 and from noon to one outside Saint Paul’s Church. Don’t bother coming to both sets unless you really want to; they’ll be identical.

Now all we need is a name. We haven’t discussed it as a group yet, but I don’t think I want to use the name Anonymous Joe again. That part of my life is behind me. I’ll still use some songs I wrote for Anonymous Joe, since they’re my songs and everything. I just don’t want to use that name again. So I guess I need suggestions. I came up with The Blessed Rhinos. I was half-joking when I suggested, and I half-like it, but I’m not sure. Let me know what you think, and if you have other ideas, I’d love to hear them.

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