The first contemporary Christian artist that I had the chance to see growing up was Phil Keaggy.
What an introduction.
My friend, John Todd, told me his sister had gotten some tickets to a “free show” (love offering)….I guess I was about 17 at the time and was already kind of a “music snob”. The Beatles, Todd Rundgren, the Band, Jethro Tull…I was “too cool for school”…figuratively, of course…I never missed a day…and I knew what I liked and stuck with it. A person is never more set in his ways than when he’s 17 and sure he knows what it’s all about.
Anyway…we sat down for the concert and soon this little guy bounced out on stage with a sunburst Les Paul and shouted out, “HELLO, GROOVY PEOPLE!!!” John and I looked at each other like “where’d this little freak come from?” and then…Phil Keaggy started to play.
What a transcendent moment. I’d never heard anyone play like that…never seen it in the days before MTV or music videos…this funky little guy ripped! Holy Smokes! This video was made when an artist could tour with a full band…so it was a full on “rock concert” experience.
I don’t think I had been exposed to such a casually confident expression of Christianity before, either. It was different than the Lutheran church…not better or deeper or more heartfelt…but different.
This video features Phil Keaggy and a band called 2nd Chapter of Acts that was made in 1977…so it’s from the same time period that I saw him in a church in Atlanta. The male singer in 2nd Chapter is a guy named Matthew Ward…a long time favorite of mine so it’s good to get a double helping of Christian excellence with this clip.
My first year of college I started a contemporary Christian radio show on the college station. I had about 20 or so albums and must have worn out my Phil Keaggy albums on that once a week hour long show.
We really do swim a section at a time. We don’t see the end of the river when we first jump in…we just try to keep our head above the water and keep swimming. This concert was one of my “watershed” moments…waking up to realize that there are a lot of different expressions of faith out in the world. My faith has remained constant…my expression of it has ebbed and flowed…but I loved those days of new awakening.
I still listen to these guys…they did and do some wonderful music and have been a real blessing in my life.