PFR, Brent Bourgeois, Jars Of Clay Raley Chapel
Oklahoma University, Shawnee, OK
Wednesday Night, 8:00pm, 12 Apr 95

I remembered that a friend had said her boyfriend really liked PFR, and if ever we heard of them being around to let him know. He and I had never met before the day we took off for OBU, so it was kind of interesting. Then we realized - we both like PFR, we're both musicians, both work with Macintosh computers, we both get our hair cut at the same place (his girlfriend cuts my hair), and as we drove the 3 1/2 hours - we found a ton of other things to talk about. Like, how Christian music has made an impact on our lives. Anyway we got there pretty early, and while we were hanging around, we met a couple guys (Ken and Derek) from Oklahoma City and talked a long time about music and artists. It was amazing how much we had in common. They had been there earlier, and talked with the guys from PFR, who remembered them from the last time they were there. I also met Jason, who was one of the students involved in putting on the concert. Later that evening he would help me find Justin Lee. Justin, a student at OU, saw on r.m.c. [ USENET newsgroup] that I was going and told me he also was going and maybe we could "have a mini r.m.c. get-together". It was way cool - the first time I've met someone face-to-face that I first spoke with in cyberspace.

Raley Chapel is a larger than life building in the middle of the OBU campus, sitting on top of a hill in the middle of the Shawnee, OK. Note: Those of us living in the middle of the plains states sometimes get carried away, and call a slight elevation a hill. :-) It was more a magnificent church than a chapel, with a spire that was probably a hundred feet tall. It was so big that standing next to it made me feel small and insignificant. It gave me a perspective of how big God is. The auditorium was also huge with an extremely tall ceiling. I'm guessing it holds 2300 people, most of it being the main floor, with a small balcony. The concert was a free event put on by a student organization. The doors opened at 7:00pm for the student body, and then they let all off-campus visitors in at 7:30pm. Ken and Derek (the guys we met before the concert) had gone around the side and got in early with the band to save us some seats. Matt and I waited out front with a whole bunch of overly-excited teenagers, and finally we got in. We found our seats on the 12th row, and watched them so Ken and Derek (and Derek's brother Chad) could check out the merchandise tables. We had already checked out the stuff earlier in the day before they locked up the chapel. Jason got up to get the ball rolling - literally. They did the obligatory announcements, and then threw five racquet balls out into the crowd of about 1500. Whoever got one could take it out to the merchandise tables and cash it in for a T-shirt or something. Then we got underway at 8pm sharp.

Jars Of Clay has only been together for 15 months, and take their name from 2nd Corinthians 4:7, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." This, of course, refers to us holding the Gospel of the glory of Jesus (this treasure) inside our hearts and minds and bodies (jars of clay). Matt, one of the guitar players, told me they are from all over the US, but all live in Nashville now. They also have a keyboard player, drummer, and a lead singer. (No bass player - was covered by recorded tracks). Being a very young band with an energetic acoustic rock sound, they were a hit with this college crowd. They played a quick 25 minute set, and spent the rest of the evening "teching" for PFR. Their first album is due out May 1st.

It took Jars Of Clay (turned PFR roadies) about 10 minutes to prepare the stage. Then Joel Hanson (guitar, lead vocals), Patrick Andrew (bass, lead vocals), and Mark Nash (drums) took the stage with Patrick singing the hit "Great Lengths" he co-wrote with their producer Jimmie Lee Sloas. Of course everybody was on their feet, and we rarely sat all evening. They went right into "Wonder Why" (I can't believe I forgot to ask them later about the status of the video getting on MTV; I'll have to follow up on that one). I heard the keyboards, but it took me just a second to realize (because he was sitting behind Patrick) that Brent Bourgeois (pronounced boo zhwaw') was playing keyboards. He played keys and sang backup for all the songs from the Great Lengths album, but when they did the older stuff, it was just the three of them. I did notice that Mark was not singing anymore (at least on stage, anyway).

After one more song from the new album, they did some from the first two albums (a short half hour first set) , and then introduced Brent. He asked us all to sit down because his parents were here and they couldn't see. :-) He started with a couple keyboard-only tunes and gave us a brief history of his music career. He formed the (secular) group Bourgeois-Tagg in 1985, which was produced by Todd Rungren (I thought some of his vocal stylings sounded an awful lot like Todd), and lived the fast life. All the time he felt like something was missing. He finally was freed from drugs and alcohol, and with the help of Charlie Peacock, a good buddy of his (and the producer of his album), was eventually led to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Now he says (actually I heard this part on a Testimony video earlier this week) he's not at the end of a struggle, but at the beginning of hope. I was able to relate to Brent in a big way; I'm also a former secular musician recovering alcoholic-drug addict. Joel came out and accompanied him on acoustic on, "I Don't Mind at All," a song from Bourgeois-Tagg that I recognized as soon as he started singing. Then the rest of PFR came out and backed Brent for the remainder of his set. The only thing I noticed, was on "Perfect Harmony", he was singing the chorus an octave down; probably just road fatigue. It was a good set and good ministry (also a half hour), and just as Brent did a good job for them, PFR did a good job on Brent's tunes.

When Brent's set was over, Joel came out and read to us from Psalm 139, and then told us a little about his life. How as a second grader his parents divorced, and how the lack of a roll model for unconditional love left him emotionally handicapped (but aren't we all handicapped without God's love?). While visiting church once to hear his sister sing a solo, he was approached by some friends from school who invited him to a retreat. He heard the gospel for the first time at that retreat, but it would take a few years before he would realize his sin and accept Jesus as his Savior. He then gave everyone the opportunity to examine their own life, and walked off stage for two or three minutes of silence. He came back, prayed a sinner's prayer, and left us all feeling a little closer to God.

During this last set the crowd really got wound up. After all, they were playing most of their rocking tunes (see set list). By the end of the set, everyone had migrated into the aisles and down front. I went down a couple times myself so I could get some pictures. I got a few good ones, which amazes me. I'm a pretty bad photographer (I usually do video). They closed out the evening, and it didn't take but a few minutes before they were back out and setting up for the encore. It was almost too soon; kinda like "We knew you'd want us back." But that's OK, We had been saying all night, "We love you" (just like Joel told us right before "The Grace Of God" on the Great Lengths album).

Everyone came back for the encore. With Matt (JOC), Steve (JOC), and Joel on acoustic and everyone else either singing or on percussion, Joel says "we're going to have a sing-a-long" and begins "That Kind Of Love". At the second verse they stopped singing, and Joel says, "OK, you take the second verse." Without any further prompting, the entire house sang "The way He died upon the cross..." and continued, including all the inflections. While rearranging back to just PFR and Brent to shouts of "Goldie!", Joel exclaims to our amusement, "The dog's dead, for crying out loud. Let him be!" Next came the announcement (many of us were already aware of) that a new album called Come Together, America Salutes The Beatles included participation by PFR with Phil Keaggy. They proceeded with "We Can Work It Out", sounding very faithful, and also "Let 'Em In" (McCartney/Wings). Finally without further hints from the audience they broke into "Goldie", and we enthusiastically expressed our appreciation, which continued long after the song was over and the lights came on. Then everyone headed for the merchandise tables to visit and get autographs from some of the most cordial and approachable Christian performers I've ever met. This part of their ministry is really incredible. After a long day of travel, setup, sound checks, performing, and now seemingly endless lines of admirers, their charm and compassion only increased. I guess only because I used to live this life (in the secular world), did it really impact me how much they really do love their fans. Even though I'll bet a lot of people didn't realize it (because they were so excited to meet them), they were witnessing an excellent example of unconditional love by PFR, Brent, and Jars Of Clay.

Jars Of Clay set (I think) -
Love Song For A Savior
Like A Child

PFR albums represented-
(PFR) Pray For Rain - 1992 Vireo Records
(GLD) Goldie's Last Day - 1993 The Sparrow Corporation
(GL) Great Lengths - 1994 The Sparrow Corporation

PFR first set-
Great Lengths (GL)
Wonder Why (GL)
Merry Go Round (GL)
Pray For Rain (PFR)
Stay (PFR)
Mercy Man (GLD)
By Myself (GLD)
The Grace Of God (GL)

Brent Bourgeois set 
 (all but one from Brent's 1994 Reunion album - 
 Come Join The Living World)
One Love
Let His Love Into Your Heart
I Don't Mind At All [an old song from Bourgeois-Tagg]
A Little More Like Jesus
Perfect Harmony
Blessed Be The Name (From Job)

PFR second set-
Wait For The Sun (GLD)
Walk Away From Love (GLD)
Last Breath (GL)
Do You Want To Know Love (PFR)
Spinnin' Round (GLD)

That Kind Of Love (GLD)
We Can Work It Out (Various Artists - Come Together, America Salutes The Beatles)
Let 'Em In (McCartney/Wings - Wings at the Speed of Sound)
Goldie's Last Day (GLD)

Related Links:
PFR old web page
PFR new web page
Jars Of Clay web page

All Music Guide - Brent Bourgeois
A&R Insider Interview - Brent Bourgeois

Return to the Blackwood Music History Scrapbook
Danl Blackwood  /\/\  \/\/  Topeka KS