Novak (novak) wrote,

Personal/Musical: The Last Time I Ever Saw Rich Mullins

I was just thinking of Rich, now, Sunday night, 20 July 2008, and the last time I saw him before his death. I decided to see if I could find the entry from the old ListServ where I had given the setlist. So I googled my full name and his and hey! presto! there it was! So I think I'll copy my whole entry, and the entry I see below it of the same concert by a Notre Dame graduate student I've never otherwise heard of.
Date: 19 March 1997
To: RichMailList
Subject: [RichMailList 120]: South Bend, IN 03/15 reviews
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Hi Rich Fans,

There is some very cool news about the "Canticle soundtrack CD" at the end of the last review (at the end of this post).

Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 00:38:25
From: Mike Novak
Subject: Rich in South Bend

For those who are curious I'll drop this quick note to say that Rich's concert in South Bend certainly proved to be fun--as usual--although in many ways it seemed that Rich was in a quiet mood Saturday night, not as talkative as I've seen him. This Train opened for him, a group of fellows I'd never heard of 'til reading about them on this list from an earlier show. The best description that we could come up with for their musical presentation was that these guys were "punk hicks." Strange, but true. They suffered a little from some sound problems, but got everyone laughing along by the end of their four-song set, which included "Like It or Not" and ended on "Monster Truck."

Rich's set list was (as best as I can recall):
I Will Sing
Sing Your Praise to the Lord
If I Stand
Awesome God
Screen Door
Train Dream song by Jimmy Abegg
78 Eatonwood Green (without the dulcimer mic turned on. Rich quipped that he ought to leave it off more often with the applause that they got.)
Calling Out Your Name
Two Mandolins doing "Two by Bach"
Boy Like Me/Man Like You
Let Mercy Lead
Where You Are
Sometimes By Step

"Rick Elias and the Wondermuffins" doing two from That Thing You Do
Brother's Keeper
Creed (Jimmy Abegg's rocking guitar solo gave this one a very different feel from the recording--even more of a jump up and shout piece.)
I See You
Hold Me Jesus
Heaven In His Eyes
Three-Part Round (I'm Gonna Sing, Sing, Sing...)
Heaven is Waiting
Much to my chagrin, I had to miss the Sunday evening staging of Canticle since I was singing Vespers that night. All in the timing....
Michael Anthony Novak
Graduate Student--Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 11:43:46
From: Victor Javier Hinojosa
Subject: South Bend Treat!

Danl and Friends,

Greetings from South Bend, Indiana!! The last two nights have almost made my recent move from Texas all worth it! (But not quite! This Texan will never get used to Indiana winters!!). But for the last two nights I have been one blessed young man. (I'm resisting the urge to use every 'rich'/'richly' pun that comes to mind). Saturday night, I went to hear Rich Mullins and the Ragamuffin Band in a concert I had long looked forward to. Of course, I was not disappointed. Most of the Ragamuffins were in town for a very special evening. The crowd was so responsive to the music - several times you could tell Rich was truly touched. It was also clear that those guys just like being together and making good music. And did they ever!!

"This Train" opened up with their own brand of music. I really enjoyed them. They were really good - and rather amusing -- even if it was a group from Chicago picking on the South :-) :-). The best line had to be from Mark Robertson, who urged us not to leave after they got through playing but instead, "Stick around for the next guy. He's pretty darn good." No one left!

The Ragamuffins - Rich, Mitch, Jimmy A, Rick Elias, Mark Robertson, and Aaron Smith - came out and treated the crowd to a wonderful concert. I didn't keep a song list, as I instead really wanted to sit and soak. I was afraid that with the band the evening would be a bit less intimate - and more 'showy' - similar to the 'Brother's Keeper' tour I caught in Dallas. Perhaps it was the smaller auditorium - or maybe it was all the technical problems they seemed to have (Jimmy was always having trouble with his guitar and amp, Rick's amp wasn't doing a whole lot better, and Rich broke guitar strings at least twice). But whatever the reason - it really didn't seem like a show. It was some GREAT music - those guys can really, really, play. But there was also that intimacy of Rich and the guys just playing for a (big) group of friends. They played all the 'classic' Mullins tunes that I have enjoyed for so long. And it was nice to hear all of those guys playing together.

There were several 'special treats' as well. The guys gathered around a table and did "Screen door" with cups, snaps, hand-claps, the whole bit. (I'd never seen that done before). After the intermission, they came back with a video clip from Rick's new movie. OK, so it's Tom Hanks' new movie - but Rick wrote the music. Then they played a few bits from it. Rich also sat at the piano for a while and played a couple of songs that really touched me. He explained that he doesn't play "Elijah" in concert very often - because it means so much to him and he doesn't want that song to ever grow old. Then he told us how much better he likes the original version of the song - and promptly played it for us. WOW. And a bit later, he played a brand new song. I didn't get the title - though I'm guessing something along the lines of "Heaven in His Eyes." He said there's talk of a new Ragamuffin album - but that he wants everyone to write songs about Jesus. He doesn't want us to lose sight of what's truly important. This new song "just might" make the album. It was beautiful. I don't know how to describe it really -- other than a poetic ballad about Jesus. I'd love to hear those words again - I just couldn't catch it all. But I caught enough to be deeply moved. It was just Rich at the piano - playing a beautiful song about our Savior.

The evening ended with several standing ovations from a truly appreciative crowd. It was just over 3 hours from the time we'd gotten started when Rich finally left the stage as we finished off the Doxology.

But WAIT -- There's much more to my amazing weekend. I guess I hadn't been listening enough to our Christian radio station - but I found out AT THE CONCERT that there would be a special, sneak preview performance of "Canticle of the Plains" on Sunday evening! I just couldn't resist the temptation (or the $5 tickets!). So I went back. And you can only imagine what it was like!

Mitch had the lead role - and did a wonderful job. I really enjoy hearing him sing. I'm not certain where the rest of the cast came from - though the drama department at Bethel College (in South Bend, where the concert and play were held) is the most likely source. Mitch was the only cast member I recognized. But they were all fantastic. Rich did have two parts in the play - he was a seedy card shark, dealing cards and drinking in the saloon, and was also the soldier who came out with a gun. But he had no lines in the play.

It really is a powerful and moving drama. I wondered how moving St. Francis to the United States and to a different time period would 'work.' But it really, really did. The ties to Native American culture and struggles were also very effective, very powerful, and again showed the depth of Rich's commitment to those people. For the second consecutive night, I was deeply touched.

And incidentally - it seemed that the Nuns in attendance, from nearby Notre Dame (where I am a graduate student) also enjoyed the production! It was neat to see them gather around Rich after the performance.

One bit of 'news' I must pass on regarding the musical. Cards were passed out after the performance indicating that the CD (featuring Mitch, Kevin Smith, Michael Tait, and Leigh Bingham) can now be ordered!! According to this card, send a check or money order for 15.00 plus 1.50 shipping and handling to:
Kid Brothers of St. Frank
303 N Hillside
Wichita, KS 67214
Make checks payable to: Kid Brothers of St. Frank
Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery
Proceeds from the sales of The Canticle go to Compassion USA Native Outreach

Well, friends, that is more than you wanted to read. I am really thankful for the opportunity I had this weekend to see Rich Mullins on consecutive evenings! I hope you too get the opportunity to hear him live and to soon see "The Canticle of the Plains." It is something special.

Grace and Peace,

Could you all do me a favor? Please mention the Mailing List if this is where you heard about ordering the Canticle CD.

Tags: musical, mysticism/spirituality, notre dame, notre dame folk choir, personal, rich mullins, setlists

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