Monday, 22 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Seventeen

A day for homecomings…

I woke up about 4am to the sound of a terrific thunderstorm outside. The thunder was really loud and lasted for quite a long time – the room was lit up through the curtains by the lightening too. You could even hear the rain drumming on the hotel windows. Thank goodness we weren’t trying to take off in that – scary!

Godfrey wanted to skip breakfast this morning and have a lie in so I went for breakfast at a “Waffle House” – we’ve seen their old fashioned yellow and black sign all over as we’ve driven round. I had a waffle and bacon and a large glass of orange juice which cost me $6.25 (£4.16) – it was good surprisingly. I like bacon with syrup on it, some of my taste buds must be American.

We checked out of the hotel and went to a nearby mall to get the last few bits and bobs we needed but the mall was rubbish – there was a Macey’s and a Sears and the rest of the stores weren’t much good. So we headed for Graham and Linda’s, the folks we stayed with when we first arrived, and went to the mall near them as it’s much better. I got everything I needed (sweets, root beer and chocolate) from a big supermarket there and Godfrey finished off his banking.

After a cup of tea with Graham and Linda and one of their daughters we unloaded Godfrey’s guitar amp as they’re going to look after it for him until he comes back. I donated my remaining tea bags to them as there’s plenty at home and they’re not easy to find here.

We drove to Atlanta airport and followed the signs to the Rental Car Returns and dropped the car off with no problems. The overnight rain had cleaned the thick layer of salt and grit off that we’d accumulated on our 2,000 mile round trip. The check-in was a bit of a hassle as Godfrey had three items of hold luggage, his case guitar and the new kick drum, and my case was 9 lbs (4 Kgs) over-weight. However we switched the drum to my allowance and moved some of my heavier things into the drum bag and that sorted it out. Security was a lot easier leaving the USA than arriving in it and we were soon through.

I had a, very tasty, Jack Daniels Burger at the TGI Fridays in the departure lounge and Godfrey has the ribs, but he didn’t think much of them.

I’ve got to head for the boarding gate now as our flight leaves in an hour and half and it’s quite nice to get a seat while you wait for boarding.

This will be my last entry of the USA Blog and normal sporadic blogging will resume from tomorrow. It’s been a wonderful adventure and a huge blessing to travel with Godfrey for these last two weeks or so. Thank you Godfrey – you’re a star! I know I’ve changed and I have a sense of moving up a gear in several ways, spiritually and musically to name just two.

If you’ve been following our adventures on this blog then thank you for reading it and I hope it’s kept you informed and entertained!

USA Tour: Day Sixteen

The last full day. Some early morning church, mid-morning church, lunch, a lot of driving and a Mexican meal.

We left the house this morning at about 7am to get to Belmont Church for 7:30. My body may have been moving but my mind was still tucked up in bed snoring away. I don’t think I woke up properly until we got there! We had a few PA bits and bobs to deal with at the beginning of the sound-check but the band had gelled so well together that when it was time to start we were more than ready. The meeting room was quite full by 8:30 and although it was a fairly subdued congregation they seemed to enjoy the songs. After the Pastor had done his talk we came back on to do one more song and did “Wild Bells” – it seemed to start to break something open. We saw Kim & Skylar Walker-Smith, they’d been in the meeting and Godfrey asked them to pray for him to impart the anointing that they carry and they were more than happy to do this. They prayed some really good stuff and after we’d had a break for refreshments between the two meetings we felt like the second meeting would really pop.

The second meeting really did pop! Godfrey started with his mini-preach about Paul & Silas having a ‘lovely time of worship’ as they are busted out of jail after singing and praying; and with context Godfrey asked any intercessors in the room to come to the front to help press in for what the Holy Spirit wanted to do that morning. It was brilliant – the congregation responded to the songs and the Holy Spirit really started to move in the place. The main Pastor, who’d been away in Kansas City, arrived back in time for this second meeting and he ‘got’ it and really helped Godfrey lead the congregation and we were allowed to over-run our time quite a bit. At one point a little girl who’d come to the front and sat on the edge of the stage watching Godfrey in rapt attention stood up and walked across the stage to him and whispered something to him and Godfrey nodded, she moved past him and just stood next to him, I found out later that she’d asked “Can I stand next to you?”. Godfrey felt that there was a well in the church but that it had been capped twelve years ago; the cries of “Wake Up” from the stage in “Wild Bells” during Friday night’s “Awakening” meeting (See Day 14) were significant and that the little girl coming onto the stage was a prophetic act even if she didn’t know it, as Jesus tells Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5:41 “Talitha cumi” which means “Little Girl, arise from the sleep of death” (Amp). There was a release of the prophetic call to the land to “Wake Up” and shake off the old and ring in the new. We did indeed do “Wild Bells” again – that song has a breakthrough anointing on it.

 The Band

After the meeting we were taken by a group from the leadership of the Church to an Irish Pub in Nashville that does good food and they treated us to lunch. We had a great time with them and look forward to re-visiting Belmont Church in Nashville again and seeing how they’ve got on un-capping the well and ringing out the old and ringing in the new. They’ve got some great people there and I’m sure they’ll keep following the wind of the Holy Spirit and not let the old Hag of religion hold them back.

We then set off for the 255 mile drive to Atlanta. There was a real ease on the journey though – and although we were tired from the early start and two meetings it passed quickly and easily. The hotel Godfrey had found for a ridiculously cheap $47 dollars each overnight was really good; large clean rooms, TV, microwave, fridge, free wifi and a free business centre to print out anything you might need!

We went just across the car park to a Mexican restaurant that didn’t seem to be part of chain and we both had a fried pork dish with rice, refried beans, lettuce, guacamole etc. It was delicious and huge and now I’m stuffed full!

We’re going to meet for about 9am for breakfast then drop Godfrey’s guitar amp off and the few unsold CDs before doing a last bit of shopping and heading for the airport for 4pm.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Fifteen

A day with some sightseeing, Saturday church and Chinese food!

Today was day I could have a lie in so guess what time my body decided it wanted to wake up? 6:50am. Why does that always happen? Tomorrow morning (and it’s 11pm now as I write this) I have to be up about 6:30 as we have to leave the house at 7am so we’re at the church for 7:30 as the first service starts at 8:30am! 8:30am! On a Sunday!!! 8:30am!! I keep hoping someone will say ‘Nah….we gotcha! It’s not really on at 8:30.’ But it’s not looking very likely.

I spent some of the morning catching up on the Radio 4 comedy shows I love and have missed while I’ve been away such as “Act Your Age” and “Ed Reardon’s Week” and a new one by one of my favourite comedians “Sarah Millican’s Support Group”. She’s a very talented comic. Then Joel, our host’s 18 year old son, and I sat swapping funny comedy sketches on YouTube – we watched a lot of Python and “Not The Nine O’Clock News”.

Fred took me on a tour round old Franklin town – the site of one the bloodiest battles in the American Civil War. There’s some lovely old, by American standards, buildings in the town and the main street is almost as narrow as a British town centre but the shops are all 100% American. There are signs and monuments all over the town marking where particular battles, skirmishes and deaths of Generals took place. It's strange to try to picture this pleasant peaceful area being soaked in blood and carnage as the Confederacy finally crumbled towards defeat. It’s a miracle that the USA survived that war given that it turned neighbours and families against one another let alone towns, cities and states.

Godfrey and I then went into Nashville for another quick visit to "Fork’s Drum Cabin" and the guitar shop next door. Godfrey needed a new drum batter head for his little Ludwig kick and I needed some light jazz drum sticks for my Dad. We got a 16” Aquarian Super-Kick I and then went to a “Captain D’s” seafood fast food restaurant for lunch. I had the salmon sandwich which was actually pretty good, Godfrey’s battered fish was less so and he didn’t finish it in case it made him ill.

We got to Belmont Church for about 4:30 and the PA sound was a lot better during the rehearsal. Adam, the sound engineer, brought some excellent head phones in from home for me and they gave a much clearer and, more importantly, louder sound. I put the new batter head on Godfrey's little converted floor-tom kick and tuned it up.  It sounded fantastic.  A really deep punchy boom and from a dinky little drum. I think Godfrey's decided to bring it home with him rather than leave it here in the states. The rehearsal was a lot of fun – the band was really getting tight and used to playing together.  I've got a sound-desk mono recording of the night before - I want it just to hear my drumming and find out what mistakes I'm making so I can put them right, so don't bother asking for a copy; you won't get one!

The meeting started at 6pm and Godfrey did what he’s good at. He pushed the edges. In some places, like SloshFest, that edge is pretty far out and hard to find let alone push and in other more conventional or traditional churches pushing the edge could be just playing something that isn’t a hymn! He pitched it well tonight for the people that had come and the band sounded really good. I hope that the those attending got blessed and challenged, both together.

After the meeting Fred and Rob from Belmont took the band out for a Chinese meal at “Pei Wei Asian Diner”. It was excellent Chinese food cooked out in full view fresh for you when you order. We had a great time together laughing and telling stories to each other – there was a really good feeling of camaraderie. “The Band…Elwood….The BAND!!!”

When we got back to Fred’s I managed to call my son Paul on Skype.  He is 16 hours ahead of my current time zone, in Cairns Australia. It’s quite odd to be calling him the day before his birthday, my time, but for him it’s the middle of the afternoon of his birthday! He’s a good boy and I love him lots.

Tomorrow we do our last two meetings then we drive back to Atlanta ready for our flights home on Monday night. It would be good to finish with a bang not a whimper so I hope there’s some “Wild Bells” to be rung out tomorrow and some business to be done in Nashville by this mix of English and American musicians and singers – remember we’re ALL in the band!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Fourteen

A day for meeting some pretty cool people and busting some stuff open.

Our hosts had to leave the house at about 7:30 this morning so when we got up we were all alone apart from the little dog ‘Joy’ who is very appropriately named. Her tail never stops wagging and she always wants to play and be stroked. We left the house around 8:30 to meet top session drummer Dennis Holt who is a friend of Godfrey’s. He played on the “You’re Still God” studio album, “R U Ready?”, which was recorded live in a church here in Nashville that’s been converted into a studio, and several times at a big event in Eastbourne UK. He’s played for everyone – his MySpace page lists them and reads like a who’s who of top musicians. We met in a café called “Fido” – somewhere that isn’t a chain, at last – and I managed to get cereal for breakfast. My stomach is sick of stodgy food. It was still ridiculously sweet, everything seems to be loaded with sugar or honey or maple syrup but at least it wasn’t swimming with fat or grease! Dennis was a delight to meet, very down to earth and normal and full of good humour about the slightly crazy world of the session musician. He offered to lend me a kit if the one provided at Belmont Church tonight wasn’t up to scratch along with some top of the range Paiste cymbals and a Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum! He’d only just met me and was willing to loan me the best snare drum ever made, the make and model my drumming hero John Bonham used live! We spent a very pleasant hour or more with him and he said he may come tomorrow night – I told him to sneak in at the back as I didn’t want to know he was there or I might freeze in terror. I think that used to be true but I doubt it’d happen now but it would still be a bit nerve wracking.

After we left Dennis we headed of to meet Kim and Daniel who are leading the new Friday night ‘Awakening’ meetings that are kicking off tonight with Godfrey leading it. They wanted to meet us and get to know us a bit and share what the whole thing is about. We were going to eat early at a Mexican taco place just before noon. We met them and Daniel’s wife Elizabeth and they had two friends with them Kim and Skylar – I thought I recognized Kim but couldn’t quite work out where from. Then the first Kim said that she was Kim Walker-Smith the worship leader from Bethel in Redding. We saw her in Liverpool with our kids when they brought the “Jesus Culture” tour to the UK last year. We had a great time at lunch chatting then Godfrey and I went back to Fred’s house for some down-time before we went back to Belmont Church for 4pm to set up drums and do a sound check and rehearse with the band.

We’ve got the biggest band here that we’ve played with this trip; an electric guitar, a bass, a keyboard and three backing vocals. The drum kit was already set up when we arrived – it’s a very sweet looking and sounding Gretsch. It was set up nearly the same way as I have mine but there’s only one ride and only one floor tom. I needed to tune the snare resonant head up a lot and the floor tom batter head up a bit to get the sound I like and swap a couple of the cymbal stands over so I could get the ride into my preferred position. The Gibraltar cymbal hardware looked fancy but really isn’t very flexible in allowing positioning how you want it…I wouldn’t swap my “DrumWorld UK” stuff for it that’s for sure. The kit was a bit far back on the stage but at least it was out of the ridiculous ‘garden shed’ that the regular drum kit is stuck in. The cymbals weren’t all that hot. The Zildjian AA thin crash is particularly nasty – my lower spec Sabian ProSonix one is much better. The ride was OK but there was only one and I do like two rides, one dark and one bright. Still we’re not cutting a CD so it doesn’t really matter and I’ve certainly played much worse cymbals in my time. I put a dampening ring on each tom and that made things sound better too. The whole kit was mic’d up including a bottom and top mike for the snare!!

Look at the garden shed the regular kit is in at the extreme left of the stage.  Wow!  I'm glad I'm not in there with the ol' hag!

 We had some real issues with the PA fold-back at the beginning – they don’t have standard monitor wedges but little tiny speakers up on a stand at waist height for some of the musicians and the rest have ear-pieces!! I had to wear some “wrap-round the ear” ear buds and although they were quite comfy and the wire went down my back so it wasn’t in the way the mini-mixer I had to control what I wanted to hear was far, far too quiet. I simply couldn’t hear Godfrey’s kick drum at all and even at full volume there was barely enough vocal and guitar to enable me to follow him properly. I switched to standard headphones before we started with one headphone can on my right ear and the other partly on the left ear so I could hear some front-of-house through it. They still weren’t loud enough and when playing “Wild Bell” they fell off during rehearsal – so for that song I had to remember to put them on both ears properly for the fast loud parts so they stayed on and unhook my left ear partially for the quiet sections! What a palaver! The rehearsal went well once we actually moved on from the PA shenanigans.

At 7pm the meeting started and after the pastor welcomed everyone Kim and Daniel explained what the “Awakening” nights were all about and then they turned the evening over to Godfrey. He brought his Paul & Silas ‘lovely time of worship’ word so people knew where the evening would be going and then we started. It went really well and “Wild Bells” really broke something and Daniel asked people to line up and come and declare stuff out from the stage to ring out the old and ring in the new. At least that's what I think he said as I couldn’t hear him at all through my headphones but the song went on much longer than usual with people coming up and declaring things and us doing the “Ring, ring. Ring ring. Ring ring” part after each person spoke out. We finished with “Beep Beep” and it went really well especially as we hadn’t had time to rehearse that one. There was some business done tonight against the old hag of religion and the spirits of control and manipulation. At about 8:45 we finished and people had a chance to get some prayer and ministry and buy some of Godfrey’s CDs. The keyboard player stayed on the stage and had an acoustic guitar join her and another vocalist and they did some other worship songs for during the ministry time. I prayed with about five people and had some prophetic words and insights into their situations and prayed into them. They seemed to really do some business with God. One person I prayed with was a nine year old boy called Kyle - he was a little fire-starter - the Holy Spirit was on him all right.  When I'd prayed for him he laid hands on me and I got totally whacked.  
Three of the people had spoken to Godfrey before I prayed with them and he told me in the car on the way back to Fred’s house that they’d driven eight hours from Minnesota to be there tonight, that’s how hungry there were! They asked if he’d come to them on his next visit to the ‘states.

We had a light meal at “Ruby Tuesdays” on the way to Fred’s as it was pretty much the only place open at 10:30 then it was off to blogging and bed.

Tomorrow we’ve got a restful day, time for some last chance shopping, then we’re back for another rehearsal at 4:30 then they have a “Sunday morning” meeting on the Saturday night, starting at 6pm. So we’re doing that! They have two “Sunday morning” meetings on the Sunday morning too! Busy, busy, busy

Friday, 19 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Thirteen

A day in the capitol of American music…

We’ve had a good day in Nashville, despite a poor start with a phone call from a client in England at 3:50am USA time! I didn’t answer it and then used Skype to call back and no-one knew who’d called me. I had emailed them all saying not to call while I am away and to consider the 5 or 6 hour time difference but there you go! I managed to get back to sleep quite quickly.

We had our first visit to McDonalds of this visit to America. The hotel rate didn’t include breakfast, which was a rip-off as they neglected to mention this when we booked in, so when we got downstairs we found it was another $9 and some cents for breakfast, so we nipped out to Whacky Macky’s for a selection from their breakfast menu for considerably less. The morning was cold but the sky was utterly devoid of cloud – it looked like being a beautiful day. When we got back to the hotel I managed to Skype my lovely wife even though the hotel’s WiFi was a bit ropey then I went for a 40 minute walk to “Forks Drum Closet” which is probably the best drum shop I’ve ever seen. They have everything and I mean everything. I managed to crack my medium weight Vic Firth 5A’s the other night but I forgot to take them with me to the shop and ended up getting some 5B’s by mistake – I doubt it’ll make much difference though. They also had the excellent Sonor quick-release cymbal tops that I’ve been looking for for ages. I also got a replacement snare batter head as I dented my current one quite badly recently and it’ll be cheaper in the USA than at home. The whole lot cost me £30! The shop was an amazing Aladdin’s cave. The 40 minute walk back was good. I like to walk when I pray – I’m always pacing up and down at church and in meetings so it was great to have a good walk and a chat with Daddy.

When I got back I caught up with some email and had another chat with Mags via Facebook then had a bit of nap before we checked out of the hotel and headed out back to the drum shop in the car this time as Godfrey needed some stuff for himself and some for his son Jacob. There was a good guitar and general music store next door so we had a good look around there too before we headed out to “The Cheesecake Factory” for lunch – I’ve never eaten such a huge burger I still felt full several hours later.

We then drove out of the city a short way to go to Fred’s house, who is hosting us for the rest of the stay here in Nashville. Fred had lived in England in the past and so had picked up a taste for tea and I had the first decent cup of tea since we were with Graham and Linda in Atlanta what seems like months ago! We unloaded our stuff and chatted for a while until we needed to head back into Nashville for Godfrey to speak to a monthly meeting of a songwriters group. This was their first meeting this year. Godfrey spoke excellently about several aspects of songwriting and worship including the need for the amateur rather than the professional (meaning the amateur does it for love and with passion whereas the professional is motivated by making money) and the need for a toolkit of song types and styles, including laments, warcries, prophetic declarations, intercessory and love songs. You could see many of the people in the room were really getting some revelation. We then nipped over the road to the main meeting hall (or sanctuary as they call it here in the ‘states!) and discussed the layout we’d like for the instruments. The drum kit there really is in a shed! A sound-proofed booth with windows to see out of and head-set fold-back! Fortunately someone’s loaning another drum kit so I can be out on the stage with Godfrey as neither of us wants me in a box! It’s time for the drum sound to break out of the box and be released into the Church. No more drummers in the chicken coop!
After a light meal of soup and a half sandwich we returned to Fred’s house and I spent some time chatting drums and drumming with his son Joel who is auditioning tomorrow for a place on a music course at a nearby University. He’s one of those multi-talented guys who plays drums and real musical instruments like the keyboard!

Tomorrow morning we’re having breakfast with Dennis Holt a local professional drummer who’s one of Nashville’s top session guys. He played with Godfrey on “R U Ready” and “You’re Still God” – his drumming is brilliant and I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’d like to see his home as I believe he has a dozen or so kits and hundreds of snares – now that would be an Aladdin’s cave! Perhaps he’ll give me a few pointers to improve my drumming.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Twelve

On the road again…

Wrecked this morning when I got up at about 8:15 to shower, pack and get down for a 9am rendezvous with Godfrey, John, Dave, Paul, Woody and Brad. No sign of any of them except John. After five hours sleep I was feeling pretty rough but some cereal and a glass of milk helped. Unfortunately I missed Dave leaving as his cab arrived while I was eating breakfast and he had to go. Sorry Dave if you’re reading this. It’s been an honour and a big ol’ bundle of joy travelling with you! Godfrey turned up having sorted Dave and his cab to the airport. He’d realised that for us to pack all our luggage and the amp, guitar and kick drum and get Dave to the airport for 10am would have made the morning far too manic and could have made him late so being a generous guy he booked and paid for the cab so Dave would be on time.

We said our goodbyes to the Charleston posse (Woody, Paul & Brad) and John who was off home to England and we hit the road for our 483 mile drive to Nashville. Godfrey had got an email the night before saying that the I-40 between Asheville and Knoxville through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was completely closed due to a landslide so we had to take a detour of an extra 60 miles north on the I-26 to Johnson City from Asheville then south-west on the I-81 to Knoxville before picking up the I-40 west to Nashville. The weather was bitterly cold, there was a lot of snow on the ground and ice on the rock faces and it was overcast and tried to snow a few times. I image on a clear day in the summer this would be some of the best scenery you could drive through in America.
 Once we’d got back on track we stopped at about 2:30 for a late lunch at “Cracker Barrel” – the food is always good there although it’s pretty stodgy and I doubt it’s good for your waist-line.

We hit the road and soon crossed into Tennessee and had to move our clocks back one hour to go onto Central Time. Now we were six hours behind the UK instead of five.

The journey into Nashville was pretty uneventful but as we neared the city we had a good time praying over it, praying into the church we’d be visiting and getting ourselves into a right attitude to come and bring blessing to the city and its people.  There was also a stunning sunset ahead of us as we entered the city.

As we were a day early Godfrey checked us into a Marriott hotel near Broadway, the main street where all the bars and live music are. We had a quick meal at brewery cum restaurant he knows, which was delicious, and then headed in the car the 5 minutes to Broadway (it was too cold and we were too tired for a 20 minute walk).

We visited three or four bars, and we were good boys and drank root-beer and orange juice, and saw one exceptional band with a hugely talented young electric guitar player called “JD” who tore the place up with one of the best guitar solos I’ve ever seen. He was stunning - I wish Ethan (my 12 year old son) could have seen him, his jaw would have hit the floor. There was a proper old-timer couple in the western garb of dungarees and cowboy hat who got up and did a thumping two-step dance with solemn faces and without ever looking at each other to a few of the songs. It was quite surreal! Then we went next door to a bar that was virtually deserted – the band wasn’t as good but the guitarist was. He played a polka at tremendous speed switching his left hand from the usual under the neck and up onto the strings grip to over the neck down onto the string at high speed to get different sounds, then the band speeded the whole thing up a lot, twice. I didn’t think it was possible for someone to move their fingers that quickly.  I've only been in Nashville a few hours and I love it already.  I can see why it's one of Godfrey's favourite places.

Once back at the hotel I used $2 to wash and dry some clothes in the guest launderette as I’m running out of t-shirts. You can’t wear them twice when you’re drumming – the songs “Wild Goose” and “Wild Bells” ensure they’re too sweaty for anything but the wash bag! So on that fragrant note I bid you goodnight!

USA Tour: Day Eleven

Another strange day….

We went out for a late breakfast at “Cracker Barrel” which does do some quality American food. Grits with your bacon and biscuits is better than it sounds! There was a whole crowd of us there and the waitress was very patient with the crazies in her nice quite establishment. She had an Easter Bunny hat on with flapping ears – Godfrey was sorely tempted to get one to use during ‘Fly to breathtaking heights’! He resisted though so Nashville will be spared blue and white flapping bunny ears (he’d look right at home at SloshFest though).

Had a very dull afternoon brightened up enormously by a good conversation with my lovely wife via the wonder that is Skype; 1p per minute to the home phone and better call quality than most phones.

Some of us didn’t bother with lunch as the breakfast was so late, however our three drunk ecstatic girls didn’t get out of bed until noon-ish so Dave, Paul and Woody took them out for lunch and they all got so drunk they ended up under the table in the restaurant! Dave was the soberest one there and they had to get a wheelchair when they got back to MorningStar to get them from the car into the building!

The evening meeting seemed a lot tougher than last night. Godfrey led us in declaring out kingdom truths into the land for this area which seems to have a spirit of confusion over it. It’s hard to find your way around by car and several times people in our group have got lost on simple journeys. Even the GPS gets very confused and stalls out with the screen frozen and showing that you driving across fields (on roads that aren’t new) and showing nearby roads that don’t exist! When he declared out that the Lord calls us to be saints not knights there was a bit of a tumbleweed moment! We did break through corporately but not to the level that we had the night before. John seemed unusually sober when he spoke too. There was a feeling of resistance to the wild, free liberty of the Holy Spirit in the place. However the “Wild Bells” song does carry quite an anointing and there was at least a measure of breakthrough – I guess it’s easy to get frustrated when you know what’s possible but not every night can fulfil all your expectations. We did some serious damage to principalities and powers I think, especially when we called for and prophesied joy over the students and the next morning at breakfast we saw a whole bunch of them and a few were clearly under the influence, laughing and shaking.

After the meeting I needed to pack up my laptop, that had been used to project the words, and the cymbals from Charleston so Paul and Trey could take them back with them.

We went out for a meal (and ended up getting all lost and disoriented again as usual) and ended up in Applebee’s. The food I had was good but it was 1:30 by the time we left. When we got back to MorningStar Godfrey realized his rental car key and the room key had fallen out of his pocket. We didn’t know if it was in the car he’d got a lift in (whose owner/driver we had no contact details for!!) or in the restaurant. We called the restaurant and they didn’t know who we were (how could they not remember 16 very joyful Christians causing mayhem in their place??) and didn’t think there were any keys on the floor anywhere. We pondered what to do and decided we’d best head for the place and check ourselves even though it was now closing and we didn’t really know the way very well. We prayed on the way that the keys would be there and the place would be open and we managed to find it with only one minor wrong turn. They had just found the keys when we got there and were about to lock up! This was a major relief. However we got horribly lost on the way back – that gnarly old confusion on the land – but made it back to bed for about 3am.

Dave saw Godfrey and me and said he’d been invited to go to L.A. with John Crowder for three days so we didn’t need to take him to Atlanta in the morning as he’d fly from Charlotte and John Crowder would sort his ticket-change for the flights back to the UK. This was great for Dave and for us as it meant we could head straight for Nashville in the morning and not go via Atlanta, which if you check on a map is NOT en route!

P.S. One thing I forgot to mention about Monday night’s meeting (Day 10) was that while Dave was praying for two girls sat next to each other I joined him and then noticed a man sat a couple of seats down just watching with a mixture of emotions on his face. He was clearly attracted to what was happening but a bit scared too. I staggered over to him and asked if he’d like some prayer but that he was free to refuse if it was all just too weird for him. He said he would so I laid my hands on him and just felt the Holy Spirit wash over us and I started laughing. After a minute or two of this I just knew the reason for the laughter was that he needed a joy infusion. I whispered in his ear “This is my best prayer” and carried on laughing and he got hit. He started shaking and laughing, gently at first and then getting stronger and stronger. I started praying some truths of the fullness of the Gospel over him and we both got thoroughly clobbered. It turns out he was married to one of the girls Dave had been praying for and they’ve been married for four months. I prayed with them some more then got a crazy buzzing noise in my ear, like electrical short circuiting inside my ear canal. I asked if either had a problem with their right ear and the girl, Janet, said she had intermittent buzzing and balance problems. I laid hands on her ears and told the buzzing and balance issues to go in Jesus’ name and called for health and healing from heaven and she then stood up shook her head all around and jiggled about and said it seemed fine. She confirmed at tonight’s meeting that she’d had 24 hours without any problems whatsoever. While I was praying for her husband, David, I’d laid my hand on his knee at one point and when he went to get the car to go out for Pizza he’d run through the building, jumped down some steps and told us when he came back with the car that he’d had serious problems with his knee for quite a while and Janet said he’d limped into the meeting in considerable pain and discomfort. He’d been healed while we were praying or during the worship without him even asking Jesus to touch his knee let alone anyone specifically praying for it! Isn’t Jesus just utterly amazing?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Eleven

Sorry - didn't get to bed until 3:15am so no blog until later as we've got to go to Nashville!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Ten

A strange day….

We met up for breakfast at the MorningStar Café and then headed down to the room we’re using for the meetings tonight and tomorrow night. The pixies had obviously been busy overnight as the room was trashed last night and this morning there were neat rows of chairs and the stage had been tidied up, the room is used for youth meetings and it seems young people are messy whichever side of the Atlantic you are! The tidy up was quite a blessing as it meant we could just get our stuff unloaded from the cars and start setting up the instruments and PA. Sadly the drum kit was a load of junk – the batter head on the bass drum was utterly wrecked as was the one first tom and it couldn’t be fasted tightly onto the cymbal stand it was hooked onto! The snare head was wrecked and the cymbals were bottom of the range cheap ones. Thankfully I brought cymbals from Charleston so I could use these. I found another snare behind the small stage and some broken drums parts that I cannibalized to repair the tom mounting, the tom was still a bit loose but at least it didn’t swing in the breeze! I spent some time trying to tune the kit, the tom had a batter head on the bottom so I flipped it over and will play it upside down. The single floor tom was ok after a bit of a tune up. It’ll sound OK for a live gig but you wouldn’t want to record anything with it.

Dave, Godfrey, John and I went out for lunch with some friends of John’s, Hilton and Kevin, who travelled in from Illinois and Nebraska respectively for the meetings! That’s commitment. We also had a guy called “T R” with us; he does the music on some of John’s CDs. We went to an “Olive Garden” Italian restaurant and got really really drunk on the Holy Spirit while we were there. Kevin and Hilton are lovely guys and I really connected with them – they’re passionate about Jesus and about worship. Hilton runs eight hour worship sessions in John Alexander Dowie’s (the turn of the 1900’s revivalist) old house! Kevin hosts what sound a bit like mini-sloshfests seven or eight times a year that attract people from all over Nebraska.

In the afternoon I sorted out the PowerPoint lyrics for the evenings meeting and had a bit of a rest up.

The meeting was due to start at 7pm and by then the only people there were the band and about half of the ten or so folks that were travelling up from Charleston for the meetings and about three other people! I was glad we hadn’t set out many chairs – the band outnumbered the crowd – we’d be taking and offering amongst ourselves and giving it to them!

By about 7:30 another 15 or so people had turned up and then we found out that because the MorningStar website said we were in a particular ball-room and there were no cars there and there was no meeting on, people thought it was cancelled! I quickly made a few signs with arrows on and fastened them up showing people where to go from the main entrance and I think someone else did the same from another entrance. When we got going I guess there may have been forty or so people in the room. Not a great turnout, but it’s not about the numbers. Godfrey did a fantastic job, bringing a sharp prophetic war-cry into the land to break open some of the things we’d seen spiritually over this area. Almost everyone in the room seemed to engage and run with it. Kevin, from Nebraska, brought a brilliant word about the principles of sowing into good land and not wasting your time and money sowing into dead land and asking God for his wisdom on which is which and our freedom to give as the Holy Spirit leads and not out of guilt or obligation. Then John Scotland spoke and was excellent, as usual, about the drunkenness and the reasons for it. He started talking about not waiting for the prayer line when a guy got up and walked to the front and asked John to pray for him now, as he didn’t want to wait for the prayer line. He was a translator for some Brazilian pastors visiting MorningStar and they’d all come along and loved it. They’d never seen anything like it in their lives. John got Dave up and they ‘ministered’ to the translator in their own inimitable fashion! He got pretty blasted!
After John finished speaking we started praying for those who wanted it and the heavy drunken glory of God came on most of those there. You could see the evening had been a life changing one for most of those attending. I think tomorrow night will be even better, assuming we don’t get thrown out for being drunk and disorderly; which we were when we got back in from supper at a local Pizza place. Oh boy. I was drunk, so very very drunk. I’ve never found it so hard to stand, sit, walk or talk. Three girls from Charlotte were so hammered Dave had to pick one up and carry her firemans-lift style to and from the cars and back to her room.

We’re living in interesting times. What God’s doing will offend many but bring much needed freedom and revelation to those able to accept it. Every major move of God in history has offended the established order. To quote John Scotland “The power of the prophetic is in the offense.” I don’t think Elijah and Jeremiah would have been very popular guys in most churches, do you?

USA Tour: Day Ten

Shing.. to drunk to blog. Come back tomorrow...............

Monday, 15 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Nine

Not your usual Sunday.

We checked out of the hotel in Charleston, South Carolina this morning after breakfast and headed to Abundant Life church for the last time on this trip for their Sunday morning meeting. However it was most certainly not about ‘business as usual’. After three evenings the people there were coming ready – there was no sense of having to help people engage. A lot of folks were turning up already drunk. Once again “Wild Bells” proved to be a song with an edge to it. It makes a powerful declaration to the land and gives a voice to feelings and passions that people might otherwise be unable to express. The room was jumping and there was so much joy in the room you could feel it. “It’s Church Jim, but not as we know it!”

John Scotland spoke about Acts 27 and Paul’s shipwreck onto Malta. I heard him speak on this at SloshFest recently – it’s a powerful and not at all comfortable word. However it is a good word. I suggest you catch the UStream video of it. At the end of his talk he asked Godfrey to revisit a golden oldie and do “Outrageous Grace”. It’s been a while since I played this one and I’m not sure I’ve ever done it with Godfrey but as there is no drumming until about ¾ of the way through it’s not too hard!
Woody asked everyone to come out to the front to pray and commit themselves to hang on to Jesus even in the face of shipwreck and whatever else may happen. Then there was the usual pile up of people getting blasted by God and doing some serious drunken carpet time.

Wow! I love these guys in Charleston. There was such a great connection there I wish I could come more often. If more churches were like this on Sundays then we wouldn’t have much to complain about.

We then went for lunch at “Ruby Tuesday” as we had a 200 mile drive to Charlotte to get to MorningStar. We also met Amy the waitress (see Blog on Day 5 for back-story on her) and Godfrey told her the CD he’d promised her had been put aside for her by another member of staff as we were told she wasn’t going to be in.

Paul, the keyboard player, offered to drive as Godfrey was pretty tired after the morning meeting so I jumped in the back and Dave went with John and a girl who’d been at the Charleston meetings but needed a lift home to Charlotte. We arrived at MorningStar at about 7pm. They had their formal “Valentines Ball” running to raise money for work in Haiti so we did feel a bit out of place checking in wearing jeans and t-shirts! We’ve got a room each, which is good. The music from the disco at the ball has just stopped (at 00:15) which is better! The MorningStar complex is HUGE. There is some serious financial commitment to run a place like this. It’s pretty weird to drive through the car park and see reserved spaces for Rick Joyner, Bob Jones and Todd Bentley. We saw Rick and Bob sitting at a table in their tuxedos when we were checking in. We’re not doing our meetings in the Grand Ballroom anymore; we’re in a smaller room off ‘Main Street’ – a fake street indoors with shops on both sides and a pretend tram-car in the middle! I presume this is a left-over from the complex being a hotel and amusement park. I’m glad we’re not in the main stage and so is Godfrey. The room is far too large and open. If it wasn’t absolutely heaving then it would feel pretty strange with a couple of hundred people rattling round in it.

I suspect it’ll be interesting tomorrow night. What we’re bringing will be quite different to anything they’ve had before; which hopefully will be a good thing. Help us Jesus.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Eight

A day of rest, handguns, glory and chicken wings.

After not getting to sleep until 2:30 last night this morning was a bit of a slow starter. After breakfast I went back to bed for a nap and then had a long hot bath to try to relax some of my aching muscles from the crazy drumming. We went to an Arbies for lunch and John & Godfrey demonstrated their superior experience and discernment by ordering the ribs while Dave and I had steak which in my case was almost tasteless. This was the first meal in the USA I’ve ever had that was poor. I shan’t be visiting an Arbies again – well I won’t have the steak there anyway.

In the afternoon Dave and I went with Brad and Woody to a gun shop and shooting range. They had so many guns and so much ammo on show and people were just wandering about picking up the guns. The only thing stopping anyone from loading the gun was that the ammo was behind the sales counter and the guns were out front in racks. All the clerks were armed – I guess they’ve learned that running a gun shop can be risky so it’s best to deter any would-be thieves.

The guy running the range took our driving licences and entered Dave and my details into his computer then we hired a .454 revolver and an M-4 semi-automatic rifle very cheaply. However the cost of the ammo was horrific, $45 for a box of shells or between $2 and $3 per bullet depending on the calibre if you just wanted a few. We got 6 shots for the revolver and a load more for the rifle. I only wanted one shot of the rifle but three on the revolver. We had to wear eye and ear protection before we were allowed in the range. However there was no safety briefing, instruction or anything else. Here’s your gun, here’s your bullets, there’s the door to the range, enjoy! After we’d used up all the ammo we took the guns back and Woody wanted a few more bullets for the revolver as he hadn’t had a go with it. However the guy in the shop suggested we try the most powerful handgun in the world, the successor to Dirty Harry’s gun the .50 Calibre Smith & Wesson Magnum. This thing is HUGE. It weighs a ton, is powerful enough to stop a hippo and you can legally buy one after a police check lasting about ½ hour. You can even get a permit to carry it concealed about your person – although this gun would be pretty hard to conceal. We bought 10 bullets, three each for the others and just the one for me. This time the guy did give us some advice, he said hold the gun with both hands, at arm’s length and ensure your elbows are locked or the kick-back could do you some harm. My one shot was incredible – the noise, the smoke and the flash of light from the end of the barrel were nothing compared to the kick! It wasn’t a lot worse than the .454 but with the gun being so heavy it was hard to aim properly. I, however, took the centre cross out of the innermost concentric circle. By far the most accurate shot of the day; if I hadn’t been aiming at the target’s head!! Dave was a good shot and we were very grateful to Brad who knew how to load all the guns and ensured we didn’t shoot ourselves or anyone else. We headed straight for the meeting after our boys fun!

It was great tonight. Godfrey was brilliant at getting the whole room into the flow. He exhorted people not to get distracted by the manifestations but to keep focused on Jesus. The worship time was the best one yet – almost 100% of the people there were flying and no-one seemed to want to stop. The glory was heavy in the room.  Very heavy. When John Scotland got up to speak the drunkenness was all over loads of people, I was hammered. He spoke about the wilderness following the glory and the reasons for it and how to react to it. It was well worth listening to so here’s a link so you can! ( While looking after Godfrey’s CD table at the end I gave prophetic words to a few people, which was nice! 

We went to “Wing Nuts” for a late meal of variously flavoured chicken wings and fries. They also had IBC Root Beer – the very best root beer I’ve tasted. Godfrey recommended it when we first arrived but we’ve struggled to find any recently. Most of us were very very drunk but the guys making the food didn’t seem too bothered. It was great to be with such warm, generous, friendly and spirit filled people. They ALL wanted us to come back ASAP and do more stuff over here. There’s a shift in the USA coming and these guys are going to be riding the cutting edge of it. The Empire is Over and the grass roots time has come.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Seven

A day of telephone glory, wild bells, heavenly oil and crazy weather.

We went to IHOP (International House of Pancakes!) this morning for breakfast and had a good breakfast but an even better time just talking about the kingdom of God, the reality of the finished work of the cross, the truth of the death of our sinful nature and our being made new in Jesus. It was a great conversation – asking questions of each other and discussing the deep things. There was an elderly black couple sitting at the next table and every now and then I wondered if they were listening to us and when they got up to leave the woman said to us “Thank you so much for your message” and then they just left! Who knows what seeds have been sown in their hearts, they certainly heard the Gospel and saved or not those seeds are going to spring up and make a difference.

After breakfast Dave and I had a wander around a sports shop while Godfrey went to get his USA phone fixed, the number of sports and outdoor activities this shop catered for was breathtaking, full equipment for everything from table-tennis to shooting via baseball, soccer, American Football, cycling and pretty much anything else you can think of. After a while we went into the mall to find Godfrey and he was still tangled up in the worlds slowest retail transaction – you’d think he was trying to achieve a corporate merger with T-Mobile not just buy one of their phones, so much paper-work! Dave was hammered drunk leaving the sports shop, even more so than usual, so we slumped down next to Godfrey on the bench while the red-haired sales assistant plodded through the bureaucratic mire. The other salesman had a bracelet on with religious icons and picture so Dave asked him about them and asked him if he loved our Lord and he said he did. Then Dave asked the red-headed guy if he had Celtic ancestry, Scottish perhaps. He swore and made derogatory comments about the kilt and said he was of Irish stock. The glory was coming on in waves now and both Dave and I were pretty whacked and we just started laughing and the red-headed guy got caught up in the presence of the Holy Spirit too. He started laughing and even shaking a bit in his seat, he clearly had no clue what was going on but Dave took his hand and explained it was the glory of God and the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit and he lost it and was laughing really hard. The other guy’s religious mindset seemed to kick into overdrive at that moment and the shutters went up. He turned away and completely avoided any further eye contact or anything. So sad. Godfrey, Dave and I just laughed and enjoyed the moment and then we got up to go so I asked the young guy if he knew the road the church is on and he said he did so I told him about the meetings and asked him to come along, ‘cos if he enjoyed that little experience of the joy of heaven then he could have a genuine life changing encounter if he wanted it. He said he would come. He wasn’t there tonight but maybe he’ll come tomorrow. I do hope so, he picked up a taste of heavens bliss I hope he gets hungry for the full banquet.

We then met up with John Scotland and went for really tasty lunch at a simple soup and sandwich place. Then we went back to the hotel and sat in the lounge and chatted about the various meetings coming up and all kinds of things. It’s good to have John here now, he has a wise heart. The weather was horrible – it was cold and raining all afternoon. The weather report said it ought to be snowing but it didn’t seem cold enough for that.

In the afternoon I managed to Skype Mags and the kids and have a good chat about things happening here and at home. I miss Mags a lot; I’m not sure I could come away for this long without her very often, if at all. When we come back, and I’m certain we’ll be coming back – I feel a real connection to Woody and his family and church – I’ll be coming with the whole family I think.

Godfrey and I set off to Abundant Life just before six to give us plenty of time to check out the re-arranged set up. We ran through a few songs and musically it was a lot easier with us all together, the band felt tighter and that we were communicating properly. After we’d been there about half an hour people were coming in with sleet on their coats and they were saying the rain was turning into snow! The bad weather must have affected the turn out as there were quite a lot less people there tonight but the atmosphere was very different. There was an ease to the night and a sense of the wild about to be loosed. Godfrey led us into “The Joy Of The Lord” and “Cartwheels of Joy” and before long we were ringing out the Wild Bells (his new song based on the Tennyson poem) and the room was jumping, apart from a few little groups around the room that were flat out on the floor unable to even sit up let alone stand or dance, the heavenly intoxication was so on them. When we finished Dave shared a few things and explained what it was people were sowing into and took up the offering. After that he put down the big hand-held the radio mike on the stage but then needed it again a minute or two later and when he picked it up you could see it was now oily – the light glistened off it and his hands got covered in sweet incense fragranced oil! No one had touched it in between. The presence of God in the room was electric – which was good because as John started to speak the power kept going partially off and on plunging the room into varying degrees of gloom! The PA stayed on though, which was good, and John spoke, amongst other things, about the need to bury the dead (Ezekiel 39) and the story of his expensive suit which is a morticians (undertakers) suit and his anointing is to bury the things that are dead so that the land can be cleansed. It was powerful stuff and you could see a lot of people were getting some serious revelation not just a good talk.

As John wound up Godfrey and I returned to the stage and played Wild Bells with lots of extra bits and some prophetic variations including Godfrey sawing up the dead wood and making a saw noise on his strings…it got really wild. It’s good to be able to cut loose on the drums sometimes and really pound it out – but only when it’s the right moment.

As people were leaving we heard about the snow. The sleet that had been coming down earlier and had started to turn into snow was now deep snow a good few inches thick. That wet slushy snow that usually doesn’t last long, but there was so much of it. Woody said it hadn’t snowed like that in Charleston since the early 70’s! The authorities didn’t seem prepared at all as there was no grit being put on the roads and they were pretty slippy getting back to the hotel. Dave went with John and they followed Godfrey and me. As we came up the slip road onto the main dual carriageway (highway) into town a huge pickup got up so close behind us it was crazy, he was clearly driving like an idiot in the terrible slippery conditions, then he suddenly lost control and started swerving and skidding all over the road. How he managed to not hit us, John who was behind him, or end up in the ditch at the side of the road I just don’t know. Once on the highway Godfrey slowed right down so the pickup could get past as he was clearly a danger to himself and anyone nearby. Thank goodness our car is four wheel drive and thank God he kept us safe from the loonies.

Once back in town every restaurant we tried was closed due to the bad weather so we ended up getting a Chinese take away and eating it in the hotel breakfast room. Today was a good day…where do we go from here?

Friday, 12 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Six

A day for pirate glory and launching the boat….

Sadly for curious amongst you the two seriously weird breakfast items were absent today so no photo but a much better crispy bacon and scrambled egg alternative had appeared. My prayers were answered! We jumped in the car and headed into Charleston centre and parked up near the old market. During our little browse around we found a leather goods shop, it wasn’t cheap but the smell of the leather was incredible. An older lady called Sue who was serving asked us if we were OK and when we said yes and asked her in return she said she was but she seemed to have forgotten the huge medical arm brace she had on her left arm keeping everything from the shoulder to the wrist immobile! I said your arm doesn’t look OK and I asked her what was wrong and she said she’d had the whole shoulder joint taken apart and ligaments re-connected and then all put back together. She had six more weeks of the brace then several months of recovery ahead. I asked her if I could pray but said I wouldn’t put my hand on her arm because of the pain – I prayed with her for just a few minutes and she seemed to get really touched; perhaps before we leave I’ll get a chance to pop back in and see how she is, I’d like that. Then we hit the mother-lode a shop called “The Brass Pirate” – a shop selling nothing but pirate stuff! Everything from key-rings to flags to t-shirts to CDs of pirate shanties, wow this place had EVERYTHING and there was a lot of Pirate Glory in the place. Dave was ready to buy up their whole stock of t-shirts to sell at the next Sloshie and he’d tried one and pulled a load out ready to buy when I spotted all the art-work and writing was all on the back of the t-shirts with just a tiny pirate logo on the front! This just looked the wrong way around – but the woman in the shop seemed to think we were crazy to want the main design on the front of the shirt! So Dave abandoned his bulk-buy and contented himself with a few little odds and ends. I’d have had a t-shirt too if they’d been printing the right way round. I don’t think we got to the best parts of Charleston today but we ran out of time. 

Sitting in the car before we headed back we listened to Romans 8 in The Message Audio Bible on Godfrey’s iPhone and got jacked up good. The truth and revelation in there is awesome.

We had to be back at the hotel for 12:30 to meet Woody and some Indian missionaries to go for lunch with them. We had visions of slight little men from the sub-continent but in fact it was an American couple called John and Sarah who have an adopted Indian son. They’ve been out in India for years and run two orphanages amongst other things. They were clearly carriers of the shoobie and we got pretty jacked up just in the lobby of the hotel. The Holy Spirit was evident and party was near at hand! We drove out into the boon-docks for quarter of an hour or so to a proper ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ style Mom ‘n’ Pop café attached to tomato farm. I had blackened cajon salmon with mashed potatoes & gravy and collards (pronounced without the ‘r’). Collards turned out to be some kind of cabbage leaf cooked in a particular way that made sure it didn’t taste like cabbage! This was the best meal so far and we all instantly connected with Brad, Woody’s son, and with John and Sarah. Paul joined us too and there was a lot of laughter and sharing of life. It was a joyous meal. John and Sarah are the kind of people you feel like you’ve known for years within minutes of meeting them. Woody blessed us by buying the lunch and then we headed back to the hotel to rest up before the start of the British Invasion of Glory meetings in the evening.
I managed to get hold of my lovely wife on the Skype phone during the afternoon (evening UK time) for a chat as she’d been out all day being busy and I’d not heard from her at all today up ‘til then.

After a much needed nap we set off at about 6:15 to Abundant Life and the meeting kicked off at about 7pm. There was a pretty good crowd in for the first night – often the first night isn’t particularly well attended but if more people come as we progress through it’s going to be absolutely packed by Saturday! Godfrey did a great job leading the worship time and there was a good mob in the front dancing and soaking up the heady presence of Jesus, including John and Sarah. Dave then came up and just told the truth of the glorious fullness of the Gospel and some of the stories of what God’s done in his life and with the Emerge Wales team across the UK. He was a really good boy and you could feel the expectancy and faith levels in the room rise as people dared to believe. Godfrey then came back on and we pushed on through to even higher breathtaking heights while Dave went round everyone who wanted prayer and laid hands on them and prayed with them. The meeting lasted three and a half hours, Godfrey must have been pretty shattered by the end, I know I was. A lot of people just didn’t want to leave; they were enjoying soaking in His presence too much. They even stayed when the band stopped playing and someone just put the “Hijacked” CD on the sound system! Dave and I and some of the locals just carried on praying for people as the meeting wound down, it was awesome. There so much liberty when the Holy Spirit is allowed to have his way, people get set free, healed and heavy yolks are lifted. It was a great start – we’ve got an amazing place to start from tomorrow. There’s a real sense that although tonight was good, very good, the Holy Spirit really wants to take these people somewhere truly spectacularly wild, free and glorious. I can’t wait for tomorrow night. We moved the drum kit and Godfrey’s stuff up off the floor and back onto the lower part of the stage at the end as it was a bit weird having half the band on the stage and half not – although being off the stage has advantages we thought it would help us keep tighter musically if we were all together. Some good guys helped clear space, dismantle the drum cage and remove it and get everything set up for tomorrow.
We went out for meal but we were too late at 11pm to get a main course so we had to settle for a whole load of appetizers and cold drinks. This was OK. We had Paul, Woody and his two sons, Brad & Matt, and his daughter Hannah with us as well as Matt’s girlfriend and a friend of hers. There was a lot of drunken glory round the table. The waitresses were very gracious to cope with a large party of drunks so late in the evening.

A tiring day but a good day. Tonight we launched the boat - we're off adventuring in it tomorrow!

Sadly the hotel’s internet access was down when we got back so although I wrote this blog last night it had to wait until this morning for me to upload it.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

USA Tour: Day Five

A day of shopping, reading, rehearsal, stories, prayer and video editing!

Our first full day in Charleston, SC. We started the day at a civilized 9am for breakfast – which had some pretty weird stuff on offer. I’ll get a photo tomorrow and upload it to the blog if they have the same things, there was some kind of mad looking round pizza-type thing and a weird looking bright yellow circular omelette kind of thing. Dave had both I avoided both and kept to the cereals and yoghurt, although here I guess I had a yo-gurt. We didn’t want a busy busy day so we thought a little amble round the mall for a couple of hours would do us fine then some lunch. The mall was a lazy mall and wasn’t even open at 10am when we rolled up. The sign said it opened at 10 but they weren’t in a rush to let us in to shop. We split up once in the mall and picked a great rendezvous location; the Wholly Cow!! I managed to get a cool new small Bible – a brown leather pocket edition of The Message from a pretty sober Christian Bookshop – although there was a lot of glory around the Bible section itself; I was pretty jacked up browsing through those. There was a crazy looking book that I didn’t get. I’ve attached a photo of the cover – I hope it’s a tongue in cheek humorous book otherwise this is pretty dodgy stuff; especially the absolute ‘guarantee’ written on the back of the dust jacket that it’ll work! We all had a successful trip and met up for a Wholly Cow coffee at 11:30 and then went out to an all-you-can-eat Chinese diner and paid the pricy sum of $26 for all three of us to stuff our faces. That’s £5.77 each including free top up cokes!

I spent the afternoon reading and then Godfrey and I went out at 5pm with his lovely shiny chrome reconditioned mini 16” Ludwig kick drum (a converted floor tom that he bought for the same price as renting a worse sounding one!) to Abundant Life Church’s building. We moved the drum kit out of its Perspex box onto the floor in front of the stage and got Godfrey’s kick and amp set up next to it. Trey, the bass player, and Paul on keyboard were on the stage behind the drum kit. We didn’t want to be on the stage – we want an intimate, immediate connection with the crowd. Paul and Trey picked up the songs quickly, Paul has played a lot of them before anyway at Abundant Life and Trey seemed to be able to follow where Godfrey was going pretty easily and I think we’ll all get on great making the sound that’s needed here. We had a lot of songs to get through so we have a decent set we’re comfortable to draw on as is needed and we didn’t finish until well after 7pm.

Godfrey and I went to pick up Dave who was feeling rather neglected (Ahhhhhh, poor baby boy). He’d been wrestling with iMovie on his MacBook trying to get an edit together of a video diary he’d recorded in the car but it wasn’t as easy for a beginner as he’d hoped. He nailed it after our evening meal though, but that’s getting ahead of myself, so let’s get back to picking up Davey. Godfrey was pretty tired after the rehearsal so we thought somewhere within walking distance would be best and next door to the hotel was a Sushi Restaurant but they were so slow coming to the table to even get the drinks order we beat a hasty retreat to the car and drove just down the main road a mile or so to a “Ruby Tuesday” where we knew we’d get something pretty good. We were served by a young girl called Amy who Dave teased by telling her Godfrey was a famous musician who’d worked with Dolly Parton, more on Amy later. We spent a lot of the meal time telling our stories of how we met our lovely wives and how we got saved and what from! I consider it a real privilege to have heard Dave and Godfrey’s stories, or if you prefer, their ‘testimonies’ and to share mine with them. They both have powerful stories of Jesus breaking in to rescue and redeem and restore. Hearing of the beginnings of their journey of faith just made me so grateful to have men of God like them influencing, encouraging, and journeying with me. I love these two guys as much as I’ve ever loved anyone other than my wife, I’m going to write about male friendship and love another day on my blog, and knowing them better just makes that love and respect all the stronger.

After our meal we got chatting to Amy, the waitress (remember her?) and Dave ‘fessed up and told her Godfrey was a worship leader doing some meetings in the town and she should come. We found out a few things about her just by asking her about what she thought of Obama, she said she approved of the health care reforms because she’s ill and she also said that she has a two month old daughter. Dave asked her what was wrong and she said she had Crohn's Disease (an auto-immune problem in the intestines what can be pretty horrible) so Dave asked to pray and she put her hand on her stomach and he put his hand on hers and we prayed and told that disease to hit the road. She seemed really moved then Dave gave her some good life words about Jesus revealing himself to her in her dreams and giving her ideas to earn a living in her dreams. She said her stomach felt warm when we were praying so we said we’d come back in later in the week to see her again and see how she was and Godfrey said he’d drop a CD in for her. Clearly we weren’t meant to be eating Sushi next door to the hotel tonight; we were meant to be in “Ruby Tuesday” meeting Amy!

We went back to the hotel feeling good and Dave had another go at his iMovie edit and managed to crack it wide open. He’s well on the way to being a glory filled Welsh Spielberg.

Tomorrow night the ‘British Invasion Of Glory’ starts in earnest…check out the news here soon!