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News

Smalltown Eclectic Fall Festival

 

We played a half-hour set last night at this event in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, which came with pumpkin painting, metal casting, snacks, hot beverages, and a cozy firepit. What a great way to enjoy a mild autumn evening!

Website facelift

 

After 12 years, our website has undergone a facelift. Hostbaby had been pestering us to move to the new site wizard for some time, and when we noticed the old site wasn't behaving properly, we decided it was time to get it done. Let us know how you like the new look!

Photos and videos from Smalltown Eclectic

 

Smalltown Eclectic has posted photos and videos from the June 25 open mic we attended. Check it out!

Open-mic in Belle Plaine

 

Over the past couple years we've mostly been performing at nursing homes, schools, church gatherings, and the like. Last night we visited a local open mic, "Smalltown Eclectic," in a nearby town. Eclectic is definitely the right word! We heard an 11-year-old girl playing fiddle, an older guy playing "Moon River" and "It Was a Very Good Year" on keyboard, some punk, some metal, some movie/tv music, a young man with two good originals on acoustic guitar and harmonica, and a very talented host who accompanied herself beautifully on keyboard on a moving original and a refreshing cover of an old Creedence Clearwater Revival hit that outshone the original. We did a few of our tunes and were well received and look forward to visiting again.

Hymns

 

While we're mostly known for our blend of folk, country, and country-gospel, we've long had a soft spot in our hearts for hymns--after all, we met in a church choir, right? Now and then since moving to Minnesota we've enjoying singing them with another married couple in the area, and recently we got an opportunity to record one of them. I had heard of a congregation that was looking for a recording of a new hymn, "Gracious Savior, Grant Your Blessing," for an upcoming wedding. It is a new text by Rev. Stephen Starke on the subject of weddings, set to the old Welsh tune "Hyfrydol," composed by Rowland Prichard. No recordings could be found, so I suggested that perhaps our quartet could record it for them. The result is now posted on our Music page, under "Unreleased Songs." We hope you enjoy it.

we're on the radio in MN

 

This morning I happened to hear our song "Ten Ways to Stay in Love" on local public radio station KJGT. Great little station--they play Frank Sinatra next to Steve Miller next to Lady Gaga next to local artists. You just never know what you might hear!

Moving to Minnesota

 

This summer we will be moving to Green Isle, Minnesota, a small town (population around 550!) a bit west of Minneapolis, where we expect to stay put for at least a few years. We will probably be there by August--look for us at St. Paul's Lutheran Church!

10th anniversary for our first CD!

 

Do you realize this year is the tenth anniversary of the release of our first CD, I'll Remember You, Love, in My Prayers? So much has happened over those years. When we started planning the album, we didn't have a daughter. Now she's in third grade. We belonged to a different congregation and denomination. We lived in a different state. We had different career plans. A bunch of our loved ones were still living who have now left us. But through it all, we've had our music and our musical friends to keep us company. And we've had the One who made us, redeemed us, brought us together, and gave us every good. Definitely worth celebrating.

Farewell to Dennis Den Hartog - 1948-2013

 

I was sorry to learn this morning of the passing on January 4 of Dennis Den Hartog, who has been running his own small dulcimer shop, Folk Notes, for some 15 years in Fort Wayne. He was a player, a builder, and a teacher as well as a seller, and a couple of years ago I enjoyed a long conversation with him ranging from dulcimers to faith. He lived just around the corner from us for a while, and his unassuming home was as much a treasure trove of instruments as he was a fount of dulcimer knowledge and technique. Since our return to Fort Wayne I had been meaning to find time to visit again...I waited too long. May he rest in peace.

Back in Fort Wayne!

 

We've completed our third move of the past three years and are looking forward to a slightly more relaxed schedule that might permit us to do more music this year. We'll keep you posted!

uh--happy new year?!

 

Time does fly--I can't believe January is almost over. Nonmusical activities have been keeping us quite busy these last several months. We've enjoyed some front-porch picking, though, sung at a couple of church services, and hosted a New Year's Eve gospel-sing. There's also been some talk of a possible concert, perhaps in the spring, but nothing is certain yet. We'll let you know when we know more!

Moving again!

 

As of August, we will be living in Steubenville, Ohio, for a year. Fans in western Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh area), eastern Ohio, and northern West Virginia may have an opportunity to hear us play during that year--we'll keep you posted! One of the nice things about the move is that our travel path from there to Eric's folks' can run through Coshocton, Ohio, home of one of our very favorite music shops--Wildwood Music!

URL change

 

In case you hadn't noticed (we didn't notice it occurring ourselves), you can now reach our site without the "www" in the site name. I suppose it happened in connection with an annual domain name registration renewal, or maybe it's a new standard. The old "www" version still works, too.

Happy New Year!

 

Good grief, has it really been four months since we posted any news? We're sorry! We've just been a bit busy with other things. The new year looks to be pretty busy with nonmusical activities as well, but perhaps we'll be a little closer to some of you once summer begins...we'll keep you posted!

Music stores

 

Ok, so it took us a year after moving to Fort Wayne to visit Sweetwater Sound, the most highly touted music store in town. When we finally got there, we felt like we were in a mall, not a music store. We almost missed the instrument shop entirely--from the big corridor where we entered, it looked like just a drum shop. Where are the guitars? we wondered. Walking past display windows full of trophies, we found a few digital pianos, indoor amusements, including game tables and two big putting greens, and the café. A small book-and-sheet-music shop was obvious, and the wall map showed where the big auditorium, huge warehouse, conference room, classrooms, and such were located. Turns out that the drum display was the entrance to the instrument area. One small room for acoustic guitars, another small room for electric. Maybe a half-dozen instruments each by several different makers--many mounted so high they could not be lifted down without a ladder. Apparently Sweetwater does most of its business by internet and phone, or you can have a salesperson get stuff from the warehouse for you to look at. That's all right, I guess...kind of a Home Depot for musicians--but it sure isn't the way I shop for instruments! I'd rather drive two hours north to Elderly Instruments, where they have DOZENS of guitars (AND dobros, dulcimers, banjos, mandolins, violins, ukeleles, harps, etc.--none of which were in evidence at Sweetwater) right where you can reach them, and you can try one after another to your heart's content. I guess there just aren't that many folkies around here--Sweetwater seems to cater to the mainstream rock-pop-jazz-blues crowd. I'm sure they do what they do very well--it's just not very pertinent to what WE do. I couldn't even buy single guitar strings to use on my dulcimers...had to go to Guitar Center for that!

Possible bogus Web sites

 

We received an email today suggesting that some company in China may register various versions of our domain name:

 

ericandpollyrapp.asia

ericandpollyrapp.cn

ericandpollyrapp.co.in

ericandpollyrapp.com.cn

ericandpollyrapp.com.tw

ericandpollyrapp.hk

ericandpollyrapp.in

ericandpollyrapp.net.cn

ericandpollyrapp.org.cn

ericandpollyrapp.tw

 

We suspect it's just a ploy to get us to fork over the money to register these ourselves, but if these do actually become Web sites, rest assured we have nothing to do with them. www.ericandpollyrapp.com is our ONLY authorized site.

Greater Rochester Heritage Days fun

 

Yes, it was a long day, but a fun one! We left Fort Wayne just before 9:00, had lunch with my sister and folks in the Detroit area, left our daughter with them and headed up to Rochester to play for the Greater Rochester Heritage Days festival. What with some navigational challenges, chat time, set-up, and needing to be ready to clear out at 6:00, we played about three hours altogether. What a treat! We got to see a bunch of old friends and meet new ones--some we'd only "met" online up to then. We might even get invited back next year! Thanks to everyone for coming out and supporting us--it was great to see you. After the festival, we drove on north for a couple lakeside days with my folks, who'd taken Lauren with them. All in all, over six hours' driving and several more sitting around playing music--well worth the drive!

Dr. Veith Highlights "More Than Enough"

 

Today in his blog Cranach: The Blog of Veith Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Jr., mentioned our song "More than Enough" in his post Songs about Vocation. Dr. Veith is the author of 18 books about Christianity and culture, a college professor and provost, and a repeat guest on the radio show Issues, Etc. We are delighted and flattered that he liked our song and included it in his blog. Interestingly, Eric has had a copy of Dr. Veith's book The Spirituality of the Cross, which includes a chapter on the subject, for a number of years and may have been reading it around the time he was writing the song.

CD Baby donating profits to Haiti relief

 

CD Baby has announced that starting on Monday, January 25th and continuing for two weeks, they will donate $1 of their cut from every CD sale through their website, and $1 from every download sale over $8.99 on their site, to the American Red Cross and to Mercy Corps, a Portland-based relief organization with a large presence in Haiti. If you're not shopping for CDs right now, you might prefer to donate directly to one of our favorite relief organizations, Lutheran World Relief.

Ten years!

 

Since our lives and our music are so intertwined, it seems appropriate to note here that Eric and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary today. Ten years, ten (and more!) ways to stay in love.... We are very blessed and very happy. The first ten brought us a Ph.D., two CDs, a wonderful daughter, and a major move, and I'm sure the Lord has lots more interesting things in store for us in the years to come!

First public appearance in Fort Wayne

 

Tonight we performed for the first time in Fort Wayne. Just up the road from our house is a coffee shop called the Firefly, and they've been hosting an open-mic on Wednesday nights. Summer attendance being lighter than what they get in the fall and winter, we got to play for half an hour instead of ten minutes. We had fun, we were well received, and as an added bonus, we didn't have to have a babysitter for our daughter! The Firefly's summer open-mic runs 5:30 to 7:30 PM, leaving plenty of time to get Lauren home for bed. Not to mention that the place is just three minutes from home. They're hosting one more open-mic next week before taking a summer break, so we just might show up that night as well. If you're in the area, be sure to stop in and say hi!

We've moved!

 

We're still in the Midwest, but we've moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for a few years. Our email address stays the same, but our new phone number is posted on our Contact page.

Sad news

 

We have just learned that one of the singers who sang on our song "Surprised by Joy" on our CD More Than Enough, Denise Marie Stein, lost her battle with chronic leukemia early this morning. Her sweet voice, beautiful harmonies, and generous spirit will be missed.

Fathers and sons

 

Last night we performed for a father-son banquet in Union City, Michigan. Accustomed as I am to living a couple hours away from my father, I was surprised to see so many fathers there with their grown sons. I doubt it surprised Eric, since he grew up in a small town himself, but I'm more a city girl (much as I dislike the crowding and traffic). They were a good audience, and we enjoyed visiting with them before dinner, sharing a good meal, playing, and talking afterward. Always nice to leave a gig feeling we've made new friends!

Benefit CD now available on CD Baby

 

As Long As I'm Here, the benefit CD for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, is now available at CD Baby. Nearly 90% of the disc's CD Baby sales will go directly to the Society--not only are all the songs donated, but CD Baby is also donating 50% of its profits! So enjoy a great collection of songs and support a good cause.

Exciting CD appearance

 

Today I received our artist copy of a new CD, As Long As I'm Here, compiled for the benefit of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The official release date has not yet been set, and the date and details of the CD release party have not yet been finalized, but I just had to give you a heads-up. This CD was conceived by a friend of ours while she was battling acute leukemia (who is now in remission following her bone-marrow transplant), and we were happy to be asked to contribute our song "Surprised by Joy" to the nascent project. Little did we know how big the little home-grown idea would become! Three years later, the final CD boasts songs by Tom Chapin, Anne Hills, John McCutcheon, Josh White Jr., and--oh wonders!--Peter, Paul and Mary! There are also tracks by Pamela Campau, Annie and Rod Capps, Foxfire, Stewart Francke, David Mosher, Siusan O'Rourke and Zig Zeitler, Ann and Will Rowland, and Matt Watroba. As you would expect, we are thrilled and very humbled to be part of such a project. I feel like a little baby guppy swimming with a sailfish! We'll post details on the official release and release concert as soon as we have them.

Sorry, the Guestbook is gone again

 

When we discovered the new website format had broken all our links to individual songs, we had to revert to the old one. That meant the Guestbook had to go again too, since we get too much spam without the security feature. Oh well.

"Bluebird, You Missed Me"

 

Another new song from Eric has joined the ranks of the "Unreleased songs" on our Music page. Let us know how you like the song!

The Guestbook is back!

 

Our web host has added new security to the guestbook, which is supposed to eliminate spamming. We'll see how it goes. Feel free to leave your comments!

"When I Give You Roses"

 

The most recent online evidence of Eric's recent songwriting activity, the love song "When I Give You Roses," is now up in our "Music" section! As with the previous entry, "Who Knows?", the MP3 is a demo-quality recording made on Eric's Sansa Fuze. We hope you enjoy it!

tease, tease...

 

The holiday break has sparked some new songs from Eric... Look for some rough MP3s to hit the web site sometime soon--thanks to his new MP3 player/recorder! We'll probably create a new subhead on the "Music" page for "Work in Progress" or something similar.

Two songs uploaded!

 

In response to those who have asked us for a recording of our Christmas song "The Best Gift," we have uploaded a demo version for the 2008 Christmas season. It would have been a full studio version, except that the computer wasn't cooperating. Advent is a busy season, and we may not get another chance to do it properly before Christmas, so we did a rough version with a handheld digital recorder, just to get it online for you. Merry Christmas! We've also uploaded a demo version of "Your Mother" recorded the same way. We're hoping to do a digital-only release of our own tunes early next year, which will include studio versions of both songs, so stay tuned!

What happened to the Guestbook?

 

Today I removed the Guestbook from our site. We enjoyed hearing from friends far and near, but over the last several months the number of bogus entries has been climbing. Unfortunately, those who wish to abuse it to promote their own sites or agendas have ruined it for the rest of you. Should we eventually move to another host with a different system for vetting entries, we'll happily reinstate it. In the meantime, you're still welcome to send us your thoughts and comments directly via our Contact page. You can also publish your opinions of our CDs at CD Baby. We very much appreciate your support!

A great night in Marshall

 

Last night we performed for a roomful of young Lutherans on their annual youth retreat in Marshall, Michigan, for the second straight year. Last year we were very pleasantly surprised at the good reception we received at our first show for that age group, and this year was even better. Apparently our fame had preceded us...several of the young people identified themselves as "Issues, Etc." listeners when we were being introduced, and when we started singing our song "Hey, Preacher Man," which frequently appears as bumper music on that show, I couldn't believe the number of digital cameras and cell phones that suddenly got pointed at us! A number of the young people said later that they'd heard the song on the show and hadn't realized it was us. It was a great night, and we had a great time talking to the youth.

CHANGES to Marshall Retreat gig!

 

Just in case you didn't notice it on our Calendar page, the location and time for our concert at the annual Lutheran Youth Retreat in Marshall, Mich., have been changed. We are now scheduled to play at 8:30 PM at Schuler's Restaurant, NOT the Stuart's Landing bandshell. It's going to be a bit chilly for an outdoor evening concert!

"Issues, Etc." is back!

 

A fine radio program has returned to the airwaves and internet! Visit Issues, Etc. to learn more about an intelligent, biblically oriented talk show dealing with issues in the social, political, and religious spheres. Great listening!

Issues Arising!

 

The outstanding radio talk show "Issues, Etc.," on which Eric and I were featured a year ago, was canceled in March, but a new show is about to rise to take its place! It promises "no holds barred" coverage of the same kinds of cultural and religious issues featured on the old show. See Pirate Christian Radio for more information and to see how you can donate to this new program of Lutheran Public Radio. If the 7,000-plus people who signed the petition to bring back "Issues" committed just $50, the entire 2008 broadcasting season costs would be more than covered!

Walking for Life!

 

Eric and I will be participating in the annual "Walk for Life" of the CareNet Pregnancy Information Center of Berkley, Michigan, this Saturday, May 3. If you would like to support us in helping women, their partners, and their unborn children deal with unplanned pregnancy, post-abortion trauma, and abstinence education from a loving, Christian perspective, please email us with your name, complete mailing address, including Zip code, and the amount you would like to pledge (lump sum, not per-mile). I will enter your pledge on our sponsor sheet, and the center will contact you by mail to fulfill your pledge after the walk. (This is the only mailing you will receive--you will not be added to the center's mailing list unless you specifically request it.) Thank you!

"Ten Ways to Stay in Love" #5 on the Country chart

 

Artist Underground has informed us that our song "Ten Ways to Stay in Love" was ranked #5 on the Country chart last week. The song has been on the site for well over a year now, so this is a pleasant surprise. Thanks, listeners!

"Issues, Etc." makes news at Wall Street Journal

 

Today's Wall Street Journal contains a column about the cancellation of "Issues, Etc." and the resulting outcry from thousands of fans. You can read it here.

"Issues, Etc." petition tops 5,000 names

 

Today the petition to bring back "Issues, Etc." hit the 5,000-signature mark and is still gaining names. David Strand has issued a new "explanation" for the cancellation, which inside sources say is full of misinformation and "spin." Here is a detailed discussion of the new statement.

"American Idol Underground" update

 

This site has become "Artist Underground", and last week our song "More Than Enough" rose to #15 on the Faith-Based chart.

"Issues, Etc." petition and web site

 

For any of you who may have listened to "Issues, Etc.," we encourage you to sign the petition asking for its return. You may also keep up to date with discussion of its cancellation at the Wittenberg Trail and/or Bring Back Issues blogs.

Ways to Support "Issues, Etc." Staff

 

Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, the host and producer of "Issues, Etc." have lost their jobs because of the cancellation of the show. According to someone who worked on the board overseeing the radio station, KFUO, severance packages are usually contingent on a signed promise never to talk about the termination. So if you would like to help Todd and Jeff through this difficult time, you may send checks to St. Paul Lutheran Church, Box 247, Hamel IL 62046, with "Wilken/Schwarz Fund" on the memo line, or you may contribute through PayPal at the Wittenberg Trail blog. Just scroll down a little and you'll see the link in the right sidebar. (Be aware, however, that PayPal will deduct their percentage--up to 2.9% plus 30 cents-- from your donation.) And, of course your prayers will also help!

"ISSUES, ETC." CANCELLED!!!

 

It's outrageous, but it's true--the Lutheran radio talk show that was largely responsible for igniting Eric's faith and inspired several of his songs has been canceled without warning--they've even obliterated the online archive! Anyone wishing to express their opinion of this decision is encouraged to call the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod at 888-843-5267, email David L. Strand, the Executive Director of the LCMS's Board of Communication Services, at david.strand@lcms.org, and LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick at president@lcms.org.

Xiao Dong Wei at Paint Creek Folklore Society

 

The Paint Creek Folklore Society is an amazing organization.... We've been members since early 2001, and it's exposed us to all kinds of fascinating music. Just tonight, for example, we were privileged to hear Xiao Dong Wei, a fabulous artist of the Chinese erhu (a two-stringed violin) who has played with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Mesmerizing. On other occasions we've heard West African music played on the gyil (a xylophone/marimba with buzzing gourds for resonators), Scottish bagpipe music, American bluegrass, Irish pennywhistle, and a host of other things. That's just the monthly workshops! Then there are the members themselves--everything from semi-professional musicians to nonmusicians who just love the art and the fellowship. If you love music and live anywhere around the metro Detroit area, you really ought to check it out sometime. Meetings are the first Saturday of every month, starting at 7:30 PM at Lawnridge Hall of University Presbyterian Church, 1385 South Adams Rd., Rochester Hills, Michigan. If you're a musician yourself, bring your instrument and a song to share at the Song Swap! (A guest fee of approximately $8 applies.)

"More Than Enough" on American Idol Underground

 

Our song "More Than Enough" has joined "Ten Ways to Stay in Love" and "Hey, Preacher Man" on the American Idol Underground.

"More Than Enough" as Bumper Music

 

The "Issues, Etc." radio talk show, hosted by Todd Wilken in St. Louis, Mo., on station KFUO, used a clip of our song "More Than Enough" to introduce a segment on "Christians and Vocation" today! Go to the program archive, scroll down to today's date, and click on the link for the segment containing "Christians and Vocation"--the song appears about halfway through the file. We're always pleased and honored to be included in such a quality program--check it out!

"Hey, Preacher Man" Tops the Chart!

 

On the "American Idol Underground" "faith-based" chart, our song "Hey, Preacher Man" was the highest-rated song last week! There are hundreds of songs competing for a spot on that chart, and this song has been on the Underground since February, so this comes as even more of a surprise. Many thanks to all the online listeners who have rated our song so highly!

Zion Youth Retreat

 

We were invited to play for the second annual youth retreat put on by Zion Lutheran Church in Marshall, Mich., this weekend. We played for their banquet at Schuler's restaurant and an evening concert at the Stuart's Landing bandshell, and we had a great time. This was the first time we played to an audience of mostly young people (from all over Michigan as well as Indiana), and we were delighted with their enthusiastic response--some of them were even singing along with our own compositions! We also got to play along for a bit of folk dancing, which was capably led on pennywhistle, Uilleann pipes, and Highland bagpipes by a Hillsdale College student named Abe. The concert was recorded on iPod, so if you like, you can listen at the church's audio archive page.

"More Than Enough" at Lutheran Bookstore

 

The Lutheran Center Bookstore, at 16259 Nine Mile Road in Eastpointe, Michigan, is now carrying copies of our most recent CD, More Than Enough. Stop in and check out their wonderful collection of books, gifts, Sunday School materials, and CDs, and you might just hear us playing while you shop! If you would like to call them, they have a toll-free number--800-572-6711--and their hours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 to 5:00, and the first Saturday of the month from 9:00 to 2:00.

Supporting the Local Community

 

Our little suburb had a community-wide garage sale and mini-mini-festival, so we volunteered to play some music for it. They hadn't actually been planning on music--their "festival" concept was mostly a moonwalk for the kids, food from several local vendors, and a raffle--but to me (Polly), you just can't call it a festival without music. We played for an hour, chatted with some new fans, and ended up selling several CDs. We had fun, and we're hoping maybe the organizers will be inspired to take it a step further next year, with a stage and an organized list of acts! :)

Live on in Joy

 

Within the space of a little less than two weeks, we received notices that two of our fans had passed through death's curtain. I (Polly) got to thinking about the stereotypical line, "Rest in peace." It has its place, I guess, for in God's heaven "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4). But I think it emphasizes too much what will be absent. The absence of pain and sorrow isn't merely rest--it's joy! So if in some way you can perceive my prayer for you, my brothers in the faith, may you live on in joy.

We've been parodied!

 

Some youth from Marshall, Mich., have taken our song, "Hey, Preacher Man," and adapted the words to address it affectionately to their own pastor. This is a first, as far as we know, and we're flattered by the attention...they've even put it on YouTube! Check it out at the Honoring the Office of Holy Ministry blog or at YouTube.

"Hey, Preacher Man" as Bumper Music

 

Pastor Todd Wilken, host of the Lutheran radio program "Issues, Etc.", played a short clip of our song before his July 2 sermon review of a Robert Schuller sermon. We're delighted and honored--it's not every day your music gets used as a theme song! Check it out on the archive page, and you'll also get to hear Pastor Wilken's simple three-point diagnostic for a good sermon.

At the Blue Note Café with Art Wojtowicz

 

It's always a bit like coming home.... We first played at the "Live! from the Living Room" acoustic showcase on its premiere in Lake Orion, Mich., in January 2002, and tonight was our tenth feature appearance, now in Pontiac, Mich. We had a good crowd--it's always a good sign when they have to set up extra chairs! Our friend Art Wojtowicz also did a feature set, including many of my personal favorites as well as a number of newer songs. I (Polly) would have liked to sing along more, except I was fighting a cold and needed to save my voice for our set. Art closed with his very fine setting of the "Irish Blessing" ("May the road rise to meet you..."--on the Music in Lawnridge Hall CD, which also contains our song "Don't Forget About Me") and had the whole crowd singing along.... It might as well have been the traditional end-of-night singalong--it was that good. Ahhhh...what a privilege and pleasure to share the night with such a talented kindred spirit.

On "The Old Front Porch Radio Show"

 

Today we appeared on "The Old Front Porch Radio Show," which features music from a variety of little-known and well-known artists in the folk/acoustic veins. The show is broadcast live weekly on WXOU-FM, Rochester, Mich., both online and locally at 88.3 FM, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. We talked with host Maggie Ferguson about how we got together, how our daughter's arrival has affected our music, the humor in many of Eric's songs, and our upcoming show at "Live! from the Living Room", and we played several songs from our CDs. It was a delightful half-hour. (Note: the station does not archive its programs.)

Opening for Rev. Robert Jones

 

Tonight we got to do an opening set for the Rev. Robert Jones--host of WDET-FM's "Deep River" gospel show and blues/folk/gospel musician in his own right. Robert played our song "Hey, Preacher Man" on his show in December (see December 3 news item below), so we included it in our set, and as Eric was introducing it, he was surprised to hear a deep voice call out, "I love it!"--it was Rev. Jones in the audience. After intermission, we got to sit back and enjoy the main event. Robert is both a dynamic and talented performer and a scholar in his field--the songs are stitched together with fascinating facts about the history of blues and gospel. His talented wife, Sister Bernice, joined him for several pieces at the end of the show, rounding out a lively and very enjoyable evening.

Eric and Polly on "Issues, Etc." radio show

 

"Issues, Etc." was the program based in St. Louis, MO, that turned Eric on to Lutheran theology--and, not incidentally, the Gospel. It also inspired several of the songs on our CD "More Than Enough." So we were thrilled when the show's producer called and asked us to do a half-hour phone interview today featuring three of the songs from the CD: "Hey, Preacher Man," "More Than Enough," and "He Took My Part."

"Hey, Preacher Man" ranked #2 on American Idol Underground

 

The news is that last week, the song was the second-highest-rated out of more than 300 songs on the Faith-Based chart! It received a 4.2 overall rating on a 5-point scale.

At the Hazel Park Talent Show

 

This was a first-time event for the city of Hazel Park, Mich., held in conjunction with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit as a fund-raiser. We were originally scheduled to play just 5 to 7 minutes, but a number of the people who had signed up didn't come, so we were asked to play longer. We chose "I'll Remember You, Love, in My Prayers" from our first CD, "Don't Forget about Me (When You Get to Heaven)" from the second Paint Creek Folklore Society sampler, and "He Took My Part" from our second CD, and we were very well received. It's always fun to make new friends and sell a few CDs! And it's not every day you get to perform for a mayor and a district judge. Other acts included a poet, a breakdancer, a bartender/juggler, a young flutist, a three-piece punk-rock band, and a pair of grade-school girls--quite a variety!

"Hey, Preacher Man" in Competition Top 20!

 

As of today, the song has moved up to #19 out of 709 in the Sony Competition! If it makes it into the top 10 by the end of the month (and stays there), it will be a finalist, to be judged by professionals for a chance to win a trip to Hollywood to play for an industry showcase. Thanks for all your support!

Fish Family Fund Raiser

 

We were one of six acts on the bill for this benefit show--the others being Wanderin' Wheel, members of the Cantata Academy Chorale, Andy Mather, Maggie Ferguson, and the Azusa Street Band. The music was fabulous, the fellowship warm, and the donations "beyond our expectations," according to organizers. We were delighted to do what we could to help breast cancer survivor Kelly Fish, mother of two and recent widow, who has been going through radiation and chemo without insurance. It's not too late to help! If you'd like to make a donation, just send a check in her name to Orchard Lake Community Church, Presbyterian, 5171 Commerce Rd., Orchard Lake, MI 48324.

"Ten Ways..." on the charts

 

Last week, "Ten Ways to Stay in Love" charted at #20 on the Country chart at American Idol Underground...not bad when you consider there are hundreds of songs out there!

Rapps on American Idol Underground

 

Thanks to Disc Makers, our song "Ten Ways to Stay in Love" is now playing on American Idol Underground.

"Hey, Preacher Man" played on WDET-FM

 

On his "showcase of spiritual music," "Deep River," the Rev. Robert Jones played our song "Hey, Preacher Man" today--"good stuff" and "one for the people sitting in the pews," as he put it. You can hear the whole show at wdetfm.org--just select Deep River in the "show" box and Dec. 3, 2006, in the "date" box and hit the "Listen to show" button. We're after the news, at about the one-hour mark.

"Christian Night" at the Blue Note

 

It wasn't officially billed that way, but with Art Wojtowicz and Theresa Dalton on the bill (and with us as a brief warm-up act), the night played out a bit that way! We were delighted to be part of the evening as substitute sound-hands for co-host Dennis Kingsbury, who had another gig the same night. After host Maggie Ferguson and Denise Marie Stein, as Foxfire, gave us a selection of Thanksgiving-related tunes, we did three favorites and retreated to the sidelines to run the mixer and mics for Art and Theresa. They both did wonderful sets. With friend Eric Easterbrook adding tasty guitar licks and sweet harmonies, Art did many of his fine originals, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Theresa did a nice mix of covers and her own songs, powerfully sung. Both sets were permeated with the artists' faith...overall a wonderfully uplifting night!

CD Release Party!

 

Wow, what a night! The Blue Note was packed with fans and friends from all over--some folks we hadn't seen in YEARS!... John Finan did a wonderful set and had us all singing along with his fabulous anthem, "Off the Ground" (among other things)... We played a selection of tunes from More Than Enough and shared the stage with several of the talented musicians who did so much to make the CD sound good. Definitely a night to remember!

Faith Fest 2006

 

After a last-minute schedule change, we appeared at Faith Fest a day earlier than planned. As it was last year, it was a very uplifting event, and we much enjoyed getting to hear our friend Art Wojtowicz, who contributed harmony vocals to our new CD.

NEW CD!

 

Our brand-new CD, More Than Enough, arrived today!