What is the first music job or ministry you played for?

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This month’s Fan Corner question comes from Vicky Stankus.  Vicky asks:

What is the first music job or ministry you played for?

My first music job or ministry was with a Florida based company called, Young American Showcase.  Started by Barb and Lowell Lytle back in 1970, the company had bands such as; Free Fare, Freedom Jam, and the Edge.  The bands did anti-alcohol /drug abuse assembly programs in jr. & sr. highschool across the country.

During the month of August, there was a rehearsal camp that kicked things off.  This is the time when those who were chosen to be part of Showcase were flown in to audition live.  We purchased a round-trip ticket, just in case things didn’t work out.

After a month of rehearsal camp, and our songs were ready to go, it was time to hit the road.  When our customized Iveco box truck pulled up to the school, the principal would supply us with about a dozen or so students to help get our equipment unloaded and brought inside.  These students became our stage crew.  Once everything was set up, cables taped down, and sound check was complete, it was off to the dressing room to prepare for show time.

During our 45 minute day show, we mixed in music with some comedy.  We had a part in our show called, “Sing to the Girl.”  We would play the most popular love song that was on the charts at the time.  When we got to the instrumental break, our lead singer would go out into the audience, find a girl, and bring her back to the stage to serenade her.  He would sing to her the chorus.  The audience loved this and sometimes the girl!

Our show also had a serious note.  We gave an anti-alcohol/drug abuse message.  Telling kids, they can accomplish their goals and dreams in life without using drugs or alcohol.  After the show was complete, we packed everything up, loaded it back on the truck, and away we went to the next stop.  We averaged about 12 shows a week for 10 months straight.

At night our night time shows, we came back to that same school again.  The show was an hour and a half long.  Towards the end of the show, if the schools would allow it, we would tell them that we are Christians.  We made ourselves available after out night shows if students wanted to talk to us about our faith, or had any questions they wanted to ask.

When we were traveling from town to town, and state to state during the tour of  91′, we did make time for some fun.  One memory that comes to mind is deep sea fishing off the coast of Oregon. We were five miles out from shore and the boat just rocked, and rocked, and rocked.  We caught a little over 40 some sea bass that day.  All of us, except for our lead singer got sick.  He was the fisherman in the band.

image1 copyAs we made our way east, we went to Six Flags over Texas.  Rode the Texas Giant which was my first time on a wooden roller coaster.  Rode in the very front car!  We also made a stop at Graceland to visit Elvis before we finished the tour of my hometown in NY.

For students that were at our shows, and for us who performed them, YAS was a great company and ministry that served everyone.  Barb and Lowell wanted to find a way to tell kids about Christ, and by using the universal language of music, along with a lot of hard work, their dream became a reality.  The experience I gained early on touring with Showcase, has stayed with me though the years.  I learned a lot about myself and have accomplished a lot in my life as a result.

Coming from a small town of a little over 1800 people in Upstate, NY, to traveling across the country at 19 in a 5 piece rock band, was quite challenging at first.  Eating at least two to three times a week at Taco Bell, and growing and taking care of the long hair, was another one.  With any goal or accomplishment were wanting to achieve, we can guarantee it’ll be met with some sort of a challenge along the way.  Especially when you run out of hair spray!

If there’s one word I learned in my time spent with Showcase, it would be “Perserverance.”  To keep on going no matter how difficult or challenging the obstacle or circumstances may be.  As long as we do that, and focus in on what it is we really want in life, then there is nothing that can stand in the way of us achieving it.

As you get ready to embark on your goals and dreams, I wish you well and much success,  And may these three words from Lowell inspire you, as they continue to inspire me to this day: “Make it happen.”

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