Kevin Max and Nick Savage at the Bridge

Kevin Max and Nick Savage at the Bridge

Ok, it’s a first, but I was in a celebratory mood. We went to see a show at a Baptist church in Stone Mountain. John wasn’t feeling that well, but he still went with me (thank you, my sweet hubby).

I didn’t know where the venue was, and all day Friday I was trying to find where “The Bridge” could possibly be at Stone Mountain Park. The covered bridge? It seemed unlikely. Finally (and thanks for the link, B!) I found out – ah! – The Bridge at Mountain Park, in Stone Mountain the city, a small auditorium connected with the First Baptist Church. Oh. Well, despite my studies in religion and my mystical imperatives I have to admit that a Baptist community – especially in Georgia – is not a place that anyone would normally find me, even in curiosity and exploration. Baptists are just too close to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in their literalism and such. Still – I had to go. Kevin Max was playing.

Kevin Max has been my Facebook friend for a while (and he’s the only friend ahead of me in Vampires). I love his voice, and we share some interests in common. I suspect that his God is something very close to mine. And I think we both understand some aspects of darkness and lightness, and transcendence – although it may be that he is more apocalyptic than I am. We’re both poets, and I really enjoy his poetry, too.

It was a blast. Not that many people turned up, but that just made it all the more cozy and enjoyable for me. We got there early, and I stuck my head in and saw the Nick Savage Band practicing. At first, from a distance, I thought Nick was Kevin (John was amused. “That guy has no idea who on earth you are.” Enough said.)

Nobody was around yet so we couldn’t pick up the tickets I had ordered, but it didn’t look like there was going to be a huge crowd so we went down the street to a seedy-looking bar and had a beer. Two older guys at one end of the bar were discussing when it was that humans first had written language. One of them had an almost supernaturally deep voice. They were interrupted by a husky-voiced and still fairly attractive older women who stood between them and proclaimed, “I’m the rose between two thorns.” I love listening in to bar conversations. There is something almost universal about it. I was hit on twice on my way to the rest room. It was that kind of a place. And there is something so quintessentially American about the church and the bar existing side-by-side.

When we went back to The Bridge, a very cordial but semi-official looking man greeted us at the door. He introduced himself and shook our hands and assured us that we were at the right place.

Everything was very informal after that, and I have to say that I didn’t get any bad vibe there at all. I really shouldn’t let my religious scar tissue continue to affect my expectations so much. At the end of the concert, the young pastor encouraged everyone to choose this as our church, mentioned the next in the concert series, and wished us a blessed night. Nothing wrong with that – I liked it. So that’s one less closed place in my heart. Very good.

It must be strange to be an overtly Christian musician. One obstacle is the crowd. A crowd like this – supersensitive to sin and suspicious toward any kind of fun – doesn’t seem able to feel comfortable enough to enjoy the music. Maybe they do – they certainly knew Kevin Max – but they do it in a very restrained way. They were a bit stiff, unsure. At any other kind of venue I would have been moving to the music, but I couldn’t be the ONLY one dancing. Well, not anymore (grin).

Kevin’s voice is truly amazing. He’s got a great range and that certain kind of timbre that really appeals to me. I’ve been listening to his songs for months now, but live music is always different and I enjoy it more. I was sitting in the front row, rapt.

While he was singing “What if I Stumble” I was worried the whole time that he would stumble! There were big bulky grey cords all over the place, including where he was standing.

At a crucial point in the middle of “Stay,” Eric Cole’s guitar string did not stay. It went BOIINGG!

Eric kept playing – rather heroically – until they just gave it up, laughing. Nick Savage jumped up on stage and offered him the other guitar that you can see in the picture.

And then the mike failed!

Kevin made a comment about not backing down in the face of opposition (grin), and there were no further performative ironies.

At a certain point I stopped taking photographs because I got signals that the flash had become a bit distracting. I wasn’t the only one taking photographs, but I was right there in the front row. Here are a few more for your enjoyment:

The warm-up group was the Nick Savage band. Nick Savage was terrific on guitar and he had a good voice, although not as versatile or strong as Kevin’s. Nick also has a very sweet and endearing smile that I didn’t capture in the photographs. Although I tried, it was too fleeting.

I liked the faster songs better than the couple of slow ones that they played.

One musician in the band went from playing sax to flute to harmonica to some instrument I didn’t even recognize. He was very impressive. The whole band was fun. These are guys that care about music qua music – you can tell.

I’m also on board with the kind of “love missions” that 1) leave the business of salvation up to God, and 2) try to raise money for interesting films. They seemed to have a good time jammin’ even though the venue had some limitations. As a fund-raiser, the concert was probably a waste of everyone’s time, but I feel especially fortunate to have been there sending out waves of appreciation. These guys put their talent – and their hearts and souls – out there, and it really is a service of love. Thank you.

Kevin Max:

Nick Savage Band:


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