HolyCoast: Rockport 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rockport 2008

If it's January, The Crimson River Quartet must be in Rockport, TX for the Rockport Gospel Music Festival. It was another superb year with our Texas friends and everybody had a wonderful time. We've now made this trip 10 straight years.

(Update: We now have some videos from Rockport on YouTube.)

This year's trip started a little differently. For nine years we had always taken a 7am flight out of Orange County Airport which put us in Rockport by about 4pm. Due to ridiculous air fares, we decided to take a red-eye flight out of Los Angeles which would get us into Rockport by midmorning. We actually flew at 1am and this shot was taken a little after 6am in the DFW airport where we grabbed some breakfast while waiting for our connecting flight. Pictured from left is your host (bass singer), Mernie Metzler (tenor), Greg Brandt (baritone) and my son, Eric, (slave labor). Not pictured was lead singer Tom Moore who was taking the photo.

Much of our time at the Festival is spent right here - the product table. Eric is all dressed up and ready to go while Greg gets a little business done on the phone. Thankfully, we had to restock that table several times during the Festival. Those people like their CDs.

We performed both Friday night and Saturday night in front of over 1,000 local residents and "winter Texans", many of whom come down from the colder midwestern states and enjoy the sun and warmth of the Texas coast. Amazingly, I even met a listener of KHND, the radio station in Harvey, ND that I do a weekly interview on politics and news.

Half the fun of going to Rockport each year is catching up with other artists and friends we only see once a year. After the show each night many of the artists head to a nearby restaurant to eat and tell gospel music stories and generally crack each other up. Here we are on Saturday night at Pizza Hut. Pictured with the group is Angel and Rachel, the Festival's sign language interpreters, and Dale and Cheryl Golden from Tyler, TX who have sung at the Festival almost as long as we have.

Dale's a pretty fair amateur photographer and took this photo of the quartet following the Sunday evening concert. This shot may find itself on a future CD someday.Sunday morning we got up early and drove about 80 miles to sing at the First Baptist Church in George West, TX. It's a dot on the map on Hwy 37 between Corpus Christi and San Antonio. They've got a good church out there and the folks made us feel right at home. They even gave us a good old fashioned pot luck lunch, and there's not much better than a Baptist pot luck.

Sunday evening it was back to Rockport for the third day of the Festival. On Sunday the program moves over to Rockport First Baptist Church where about 600 people pack the auditorium.
I was standing in the back of the sanctuary when Mike Rogers waved me up to the stage and I joined his trio for a few gospel standards. That's Mike on the left, with Jerry Bennett and Mike's wife Teresa. They even threw me a solo on "Because He Lives", but it must have been in the key of Z or something. I thought I was going to hurt myself trying to hit the low notes in that key. Mike is a professional sound man who travels most of the year with a gospel artist and handles the sound for the Festival.

We took the first of our two turns and did a 30 minute set in front of the packed house. They're always an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

We thought we'd show you part of the crowd who dutifully smiled on cue for the camera. That's just a center part of the room - there were equally big sections on either side.

We stopped our set briefly to make a special presentation to Gary Howard, the guy who puts this whole show together. Gary is a commander with the Rockport Police Department, sings with Rockport's Gospel Force, and has been organizing this event for 13 years. He had seen the photo we had at our product table and commented on it (it was actually taken in 1996 during a live videotaping). We decided to sign it and present it to Gary as a thank you for all his hard work. I hear he has a cornfield that needs to be de-crowed, and maybe this picture will get it done.

One of the highlights of the Sunday night show each year is a performance by a number of local church choirs. This year five different churches sent their choirs to perform, and it's a tradition to end the Festival with a combined choir number. They also asked us to join them and perform three numbers together. That was a lot of fun and if I can figure out how to trim down the file size I hope to have a YouTube video or two of the choir section in a few days.
It was all over way too fast. There are bunches of volunteers who work for months to put this event on and make sure it goes well. Each group that comes in is assigned a local host who takes care of anything the group needs. Vaughn and Nancy Ganem from Rockport have been our hosts for the past two years and we appreciate their help in getting us where we needed to be during the weekend. They're good people.

Our thanks also go to the local hotel owners and managers who provided the rooms for the incoming groups like ours for free. We've stayed the last several years at The Inn at Fulton Harbor and at The Lighthouse Inn a couple of years before that. Both are very nice hotels and if you ever have occasion to visit the Rockport area, I heartily recommend both of them.

One of the advantages of leaving early Friday and returning Monday afternoon was that we missed all three big rainstorms that hit Southern California. However, we did get to benefit a bit from the bad weather as we had a spetacular view of snow-covered peaks as we descended into LA.I'm already looking forward to 2009.

No comments: