Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Let's Celebrate: It's Our 3rd Anniversary!

Sweaty palms, tightened throats, anxiety about off-notes and forgotten words...what were we getting into? It was Sunday, June 29th, 2008 and we, this unknown family who just loved to sing around the keyboard, were opening for a Southern Gospel group, Living Sacrifice from Missouri.

Now, three years later...

- A white bus sits in the driveway and Mom is at the kitchen table sewing curtains for its windows (wow, she is brave!).

- Most of the sound system is set-up in the living room, and around the room are scattered over 22 instruments.

- Dad is making a Great Adventure contact call, and I just added two more concert dates to our schedule for July, making a total of eight concerts.

- We'll be practicing yet today for our two concerts this weekend and Mom and I have to put together a program for both of those events.

- Just two nights ago, Sam, Jayme, and Caleb performed their arrangement of "Soon and Very Soon" in the living room and absolutely sold it to us! (It's amazing what the LAs come up with sometimes...)

- Nearby where I am sitting at the computer desk, boxes of our first CD are neatly stacked, and studio equipment is placed strategically in the boys' room. (And Ben is currently mixing down a song for some friends of ours, the latest release, but I can't tell you! :) )

Did we expect this when we stepped on stage to perform our three songs before Living Sacrifice's concert? Did we envision this? No! Wow, look where God has brought us! We had dreams, but not plans. We had passing thoughts, but never really expected it to happen in reality.

It has been a journey of joy mingled with trials and tears. We have learned much, prayed much, played much, and met so many wonderful people. To be bearers of the Gospel of Christ through music and message, words and lives is the most awesome responsibility we could ever have.

We have so many wonderful memories and are looking forward to making many more. On to another year of Great Adventures!

"Saddle up your horses, we've got trails to blaze..." :)

Blessings and Joy in the Journey!
Taylor for TGF

P.S. In celebration of the day, here's the link to photos from our first "official" concert:

And also, here is a "Taylor'd Perspective" I wrote on our first anniversary (2009) for our e-newsletter:

We were at a concert at Lord of the Lakes Lutheran Church back in June and I was enjoying talking with a gentleman there about the beginnings of Great Adventure. When he would ask questions about our ministry, the first words that would come out of my mouth were usually "It’s amazing!" and then I would proceed to answer his questions. It seemed my tongue was programmed to repeat this phrase over and over again. Later that evening as I was processing my day and my conversations, I realized that I was speaking the truth with this simple sentence.

The growth of this ministry has been truly amazing! The doors God has opened, the places we’ve visited, the people we’ve met, the lessons we’ve learned - all of these have been amazing.

We celebrated the one-year anniversary of our first official public appearance on June 29, 2008. On this day, Great Adventure Gospel Band sang at North Isanti Baptist Church in Cambridge, MN as the opening group for Living Sacrifice, a mixed quartet from Missouri. What a wonderful time it was, and a great learning experience! We sang three of our best songs (at the time they were anyway!) and received a good response. Through our mistakes and difficulties, God chose to bless us. It was amazing!

When I was little, I always dreamed of becoming a singer, but I never really thought it would happen, at least not this way. (I wanted to tour with Michael W. Smith, Point of Grace, Steven Curtis Chapman, etc. I didn‘t know what Southern Gospel or Bluegrass was!) Now as we travel to concerts and play to any number of people, I ask myself, "What are we doing? Is this really happening? This is amazing!"

We have played for small groups of seven at assisted-living homes and played for hundreds of people in a large church or outdoor event. We've weathered cold and rainy outdoor picnics, and survived sticky, humid concerts at local parks. The church denominations we’ve played at have varied as well: Lutheran to Baptist, Assemblies of God to Evangelical Free.

The people we’ve met have also left an impression on us: The man who danced to our music, the mother who asked if she could come home with us, and the widow who needed to hear the songs we sang. The tears and laughter have been unforgettable.

Our voices have matured and instrument playing has improved. (At our concert at North Isanti last year, I could only play a deadened chop, while now, I can play full bar-chords! Only mandolin players can relate to this!) The Lil' Adventurers have grown and their love of music has expanded as well.

So many people have encouraged us over the past year as well. Pastor Anderson and our home congregation at St. Stephen's Lutheran, Grandma Frieda Garms, Bob and Carol Wood, Curt and Lois Olson, and Larry and Lois Gustafson from North Isanti Baptist, Pastor Walt and Lee Reese, Bill Holbrook from River of Life Productions, the Berge family from Bemedji, the Gospelmen Quartet from Michigan, Terri Toney and the Toney Brothers from Tennesse, and SO many more!

This year has been a year of blessings as well. For instance, we had been praying for a trailer to meet our transportation needs. Then in April, God provided just the right one for our family! He has also been blessing us with funds for a future CD.

As I close this review of the past year, I am humbled at where God has brought us. Doors continue to be opened for our ministry and people are being encouraged by God, through us. All I can say is, "It's amazing!"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Video: Wanna Travel with the Garms Family?

Have you ever wondered what life is like "on the road"? Have you ever wanted to jump aboard a bus and experience the adventures of a family band? Have you ever thought, "I would like to travel with that crazy Garms family just once, to see what it's like."

Okay. Come along!

Back in April, we brought our Zoom Q3HD digital video recorder along for several concert trips, capturing video to reveal behind the scenes of traveling and singing.

Many people catch only a glimpse of all that goes into the hour and a half concerts they attend. They see the microphones and stands lined nicely on a stage (it doesn't matter to the audience if the stage is big or small - but to a large group, it's an entirely different story), cords trailing over the platform to a big hunk of plug-ins, buttons, and sliders, instruments placed in strategic positions over the platform, and the group, all smiles (or not smiles...just depends on the group and the day), behind the table or mingling with the crowd. But few see the tear-down and loading, even fewer witness the unloading and set-up. And only the group knows the whole story of "concerting", which begins many hours or even days before the small hour and a half performance.

But now you have the opportunity to see a bit more. On April 17th, 2011, we began the process to deliver an hour and a half concert at Rose City Evangelical Free Church in Rose City, Minnesota. We "taped" many of the happenings to give you a feel for the behind-the-scenes. You'll experience packing, long miles, funny instances, interesting sights, Minnesota attractions, the unloading/set-up process, sound checks, and more! Come along for the journey; we'd love to have you ride with us! (This was pre-Glory Bus, so you'll have to sit in the van for this trip!)

Watch the video below, or click here to view it on YouTube!

If you'd like to read an audience member's perspective, check out our friend Alyssa's review of our concert at Rose City. (And yes, Alyssa, you thoroughly beat me on posting those pictures first - I still haven't posted one yet!)


Blessings and Joy in the Journey!
Taylor for TGF

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Travel Log: June 1st, 2011 - Watertown, WI

We are sitting in a Holiday Inn Express 359 miles away from home. Mom just finished reading the Sugar Creek Gang to Sam, Jayme, and Caleb...and to us bigger kids as well! We've eaten some food, gotten into our pajamas, settled in, said a family evening prayer, and have started to say goodnight.

What a day.

We left the home after 8:00 this morning to head to Watertown, WI. It took us about seven hours to finally arrive at our destination (counting numerous restroom stops!). Traveling is very comfortable in the Glory Bus; we are grateful for our "new wheels". :)

The concert at Christ United Methodist Church went well with plenty of interesting happenings. Probably the most unique thing was the amount of bugs (mainly moths) which swarmed around the lights right outside the front doors of the church - exactly where we needed to load! So, suffice to say, that was rather disgusting. I think Caleb and Sam both ate a bug apiece, and their opinion was "crunchy". Leesha had one moth go up her nose, and Sam and Jayme had moths in their eyes. YUCK! :-D

Anyhow, we had a wonderful time with those who attended the concert tonight! A special thanks to Barbara for making us feel so welcome and comfortable; she really went out of her way to make sure we had everything we needed. We were blessed.

I will write more some other time about this whole adventure, but right now I'm too tired to think straight! :) (I'd better stop typing before I write something crazy!)

Tomorrow morning we are singing at Bethesda Lutheran Home here in Watertown. Bethesda Lutheran Communities is a service/home for those who struggle with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are looking forward to ministering to all the precious people who reside at Bethesda and the devoted staff!

Again, please keep us in your prayers during this busy week! We appreciate it!

Okay, goodnight friends!

Blessings and Joy in the Journey!
Taylor for TGF