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Legacy Fest
August 4-5th, 2000
Wichita, Kansas
By Geoff Horton

Can Wichita, Kansas, really be the vacation capital of the world? In the middle of summer, no less? For those who came to Legacy Fest 2000 (like me), the answer is, "Yes."
 

Legacy Fest is a project of The Legacy of a Kid Brother of St. Frank. The Kid Brother is the late Rich
Mullins, and the Legacy is the organization founded by his estate to continue his work. The Legacy's original, and still primary, purpose is to help artistic development among Native Americans, but they also offer "Spiritual Development Retreats" (including the "Reckless Abandon" and "Blessed Are the Broken" retreats) for those interested in exploring a deeper spirituality. And they put on Legacy Fest.

This year's fest was the third annual, at which they announced that the Fest will continue for at least the next three years. Next year's Fest will be August 10-11. Brennan Manning (author of The Ragamuffin Gospel and other books) is scheduled to attend. Make your plans now!

Those attendees who subscribe to the ragamuffin mailing list (note that the mailing list is entirely unofficial) met Thursday night to sing and chat, where "The sacred rivers meet beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the Plains" (to quote "Calling Out Your Name"). It's a real place, at the Mid-America All Indian Center in Wichita.

The "real" Fest began Friday morning, with registration at Newman University. The Legacy staff and volunteers were busy setting up, handing out wristbands and workshop schedules at the registration table, and retrieving my dropped baseball cap.

Each of us had the opportunity to attend four workshops, many of them taught by folks nationally known in their field. Rather than attempt to summarize them here, I'll direct you to the list at their site (see link). Suffice it to  say that the ones I attended were challenging, fun, and rewarding, and I heard much the same from my friends who attended other ones.

The morning workshops on both Friday and Saturday ran from 9-11 a.m. Afternoon workshops were from 1:30 to 3:30. In between the workshops came a new feature this year, the noontime concerts. These concerts generally gave Wichita-area talents a chance to play for people from around the country.

All concerts, both lunch and evening, were held on the Newman Campus, right outside the building housing the workshops. Thanks to the summer heat, many of us were grateful for the lovely trees on Newman's quad, even if we did have to sit a little off-kilter from the front of the stage if we wanted to enjoy the shade.

Friday noon also provided the first chance for most of the world to get a copy of Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, by James Bryan Smith. Though the book is not officially released until September, the publishers (Broadman & Holman) gave advance copies to the Legacy for sale during the Fest, with proceeds going to support the Legacy.

Jim Smith teaches theology and is chaplain at Friends University in Wichita. Perhaps more to the point, his attic provided Rich an apartment for two years, during which he had the wonderful opportunity to spend time talking with Rich nightly about a wide variety of topics. To quote the back cover flap, "Jim describes this book as a 'devotional biography,' giving readers an insight into Rich's life, but more importantly, allowing the readers to learn what was most important to Rich--urging people to draw near to God." Jim and Rich's brother David autographed copies during the festival evening.

The Friday evening concert time featured 120 Drums. Rather than attempt to describe this myself from scratch, I have adapted (with permission) what follows from fellow attendee (and new friend) Sharon Wall.

I didn't take notes, so this is more an account of my impressions and remembrances rather than a record of how and what actually happened. I think I'm writing this as much for me as for you.... I don't want to forget this night...it was an awesome and truly unique experience of worship for me!!

First off, the evening began with a presentation by "Side By Side," a student group that did native dances and sang along to "popular" music. Each song had its message, and all the messages added up to glorifying God for Who He is. The only two songs I remember right now are "Testify to Love" and "I See You."

Then, the worship team of Native Americans leading 120 Drums came up. There were several men seated around one big drum, and they pounded out the "heartbeat" to which the songs were sung and the dances were danced. The man who sang also often struck the drum in such a way as to provide accent beats. Aaron Smith was also playing along with them on drum set.

They then began to present the dances.

The first dance was called a "protocol" which was described as a dance to honor the entrance of someone. All the dancers came out, and we stood up...the drum kept beating, and the singer chanted (I wish I had understood all that was sung!) and we welcomed the dancers. After that, several references were made to protocol welcoming our Lord and King Jesus. I kept thinking of that song we do at our church "Lord We Welcome You (Into This Place)."

Then, they began to present several different dances. All the Native Americans involved were in full costume...I'd assume the variations in dress had to do with the various tribes represented. It was also mentioned that several of the men were "champion dancers" so I'm sure we were witnessing some of the best of the best! Anyway...back to the dances.... Each dance had a name. I don't remember them all, but each dance was described beforehand and several scriptures were read pertaining to what God has to say about that particular thing being depicted in dance.

So, there was a dance about war (the spiritual battle between good and evil), one called the Eagle Dance, a healing dance, and a hoop dance where the circle of life was represented, and the two dancers used what looked like mini houla-hoops, maybe about two feet in diameter, and did tricks with them, weaving them in and out of arms, legs, head, and whole bodies. (that was pretty amazing!)

As I watched the dances, and thought about the scriptures shared before each one, I thought about how the Lord has spoken to me through the things He's created, and how in my art I depict those created things, and then I use a scripture or some verse to speak in words that revelation of God that I find in those created things. I saw what they were doing in dance as much the same thing, except instead of using wood for their medium as I do, they used dance.

After the dances, one of the leaders (Grand Chief Lynda Prince, who had the vision for the 120 Drums worship service) presented gifts to Dave Mullins, Debbie [Mullins] Garrett, (and also Alyssa Loukota) in thanks for the blessing their brother Rich brought to the Native peoples through his music and his ministry to them. Many of the worship team spoke of how Rich's music is still having an influence on their people, pointing them to the Lord.

After that, the vision of the 120 Drums was explained by Lynda Prince. At first, I had assumed the 120 drums was referring to the actual worship team, but the 120 drums were for us to play and participate with worship. They handed out the drums to whomever came forward. The drums were about 20" in diameter, and about 4" high, made of rawhide that was stretched over one side, and then fastened with a net like lacing of rawhide across the back. The drum could be held by the lacing on back, and it was played with a mallet covered in what looked like a woolly sheepskin. The drums had four different designs representing the four gatekeepers, of the north, south, east, and west. Mine also had a scripture written in calligraphy around the circumference...I'd assume they all did.

After we all had drums (well...not everyone got one) they began worship and we followed the lead drum being beat by all the men gathered around.

All I can say was, I went into this not knowing if I could participate in worship led by a culture so different from my own...so foreign to me. I came out of it having had one of the deepest experiences of corporate worship ever! Many songs were sung in the native tongues, so I didn't understand the words. I asked the Lord to show me a picture of what we were doing, and He showed me that He was being established for Who He is, in His glory. The few times the singer broke into English, he was usually singing something straight out of scripture. One song we repeated many times near the end went "There is a river of life flowing from His throne. Won't you come...." (I couldn't catch the last phrase.)

I saw a picture of the angels around the throne singing Holy Holy over and over for eternity, and it was much like that, except instead of sounding like the stereotypical angelic host, it sounded like "Indians!"

I was caught up in the worship... there was such a sense of reverence for God...such a sense of honoring Him...and we danced and beat our drums for I'd bet a good half-hour to 40 minutes. Then we all formed a HUGE circle and danced Hebrew style, going around to the left, and eventually to the right, still all beating our drums. That was probably another 15 or so minutes...and after that we concluded the service. I tell you, I could have gone all night...an hour of dancing and holding and beating a drum, and I wasn't tired!

I feel like it was such an honor to experience worship from a different angle. Not that there is anything wrong with how we do it at  our church at all... I LOVE worship at our church. But for me, this was a door through which I could look and see (actually, imagine seeing) "every tongue and every tribe" worshiping the Lord according to a form He has ordained uniquely for them. And I want to say again what a sense of HONORING the Lord there was tonight. I think there was a reverence here tonight that we
sometimes easily lose in our more contemporary worship.

Our God is an awesome God...and we told Him so tonight!!

The Saturday afternoon and evening concerts had more familiar faces. Geoff Moore led off with an all-too brief appearance (he had a plane to catch to Boston, and went out of his way to be able to play, for free (like all the artists)). He did have time to do "A Friend Like U," "Home Run," and Rich's "Boy Like Me/Man Like You," along with a couple other songs.

I missed most of Room Full of Walters' set as I was wandering through the vendors' tents. (By the way, I think I have all of the acts listed here, but I don't vouch for the order.)

Eric Hauck, backed by all sorts of friends, played a selection of songs from his two releases in a set that
ended with a reunuion of most of the surviving Kid Brothers performing "By the Waters of Babylon," as Rich had taught them.

Andrew Peterson is simply a marvelous songwriter and story-teller, both skills being shown to good advantage during his set. Though it's hard to pick out highlights, perhaps the two most fitting songs were his own "3 Days Before Autumn" and Rich's "Promenade" (made authentic when he forgot the words to the last verse).

The Appalachian String Quartet, consisting of Michael Aukofer, Brad Layher and David Dibbern, (yes, there's only three of them; don't ask) have been doing Christmas concerts in and around the Wichita area for the last couple years. The emcee expressed doubt that they would play Christmas songs in August, but they did, on ever-changing combinations of guitar, dulcimer (hammer and lap), mandolin, washboard, what looked like a two-quart saucepan, harmonica, and in a finale you'd have to hear to believe, PVC piping--all with a spirit of fun and excellent musicianship. They've recorded a CD that's due out "soon," and from the sound of their concert, it'll be worth getting.

I think it was after this set that the Legacy, with the help of their native American friends in attendance, commissioned Tammy Pruitt to head their Southwest office. The need for this is a tribute to the unexpected success of the Legacy's work to date.

This Train is probably familiar to most Tollbooth readers and needs no introduction (nor admits of any explanation; the man next to me asked how to describe their style. I was helpless, other than to say that it's kind of rockabilly, but that Mark Robertson wasn't kidding about his punk-rock background). Oh, and I think they play "I Saw the Light" faster every time I hear them!

During a long set change, Alyssa Lakouta, David Mullins, and the rest of the Legacy staff kept the crowd entertained by leading the "little shark song."

The Ragamuffin Band closed the concert portion of the evening with selections from the Jesus Record and Prayers of a Ragamuffin, along with Rich-penned perennial favorites "Creed" and the set-ending "Sometimes by Step."

Billy Sprague closed the evening, and the festival, by leading the singing of several praise and worship songs.

All of the above is a hopeless attempt to capture the spirit of the event. Those of you who've tried to describe Cornerstone to someone else may have an idea what I mean; Legacy Fest is not an attempt to duplicate what C-stone does, though they share some of the same atmosphere (and participants), but both have to be experienced to be fully understood. Maybe I should just go with the official slogan: "It'll be way cool. Really."

Wichita summer heat notwithstanding, it was. Really.

 
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