Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Memorable Evening at Bethel

In late February I went up to Bethel College for a John McCutcheon concert. I had seen McCutcheon perform 3 times at last September's Winfield Bluegrass Festival, and have been a big admirer of his ever since.

I got there more than 2 hours early, and spent the time watching a women's basketball game vs. Tabor College. I as quite impressed with the play, as it seemed much improved over what I had seen in past years. The women had a "no holds barred" style of play, driving to the basket like they meant business, and playing *very* aggressive defense. They were making their foul shots, and some three-pointers as well. With about a minute and a half to play, the score was tied. The teams had several trips up and down the court without a score. Bethel then took a 2-point lead, stopped Tabor at the other end, and then a Bethel player hit a beautiful 3-point shot from the top of the key to ice the game. Truly a great finish to an enjoyable game.

And then the McCutcheon concert, which was as awesome as I expected it to be. McCutcheon, who for my money is the world's greatest living musician, played his various instruments as he usually does, told a story or two, and had some good audience participation songs.

The highlight was when he asked the audience to sing the rousing "Mennonite version" of "Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow". He explained that he had been introduced to this version some years back while doing a concert at Eastern Mennonite University, and he asked the audience to sing it *to* him, not *with* him! We were taken aback for a couple of seconds, and then a man with a good tenor voice sitting a few of rows behind me started it out and we got going. McCutcheon closed his eyes and smiled during the beautiful part of the song when the women only sing "Alleluia" over and over.

Another highlight was a song he wrote about the Amish children in Pennsylvania who got slaughtered. It featured a refrain "forgive him, as you forgive forgive him", or something to that effect.

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