I Couldn’t Wait to Call Dad

Remembering My First Thumbpicking Contest On the weekend of August 13-14, I returned to First Christian Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for an August visit. In 2013, First Christian invited me to be part of the church's Music on the Labyrinth concert series. I have performed in the series for four straight years now. Each year, I have stayed over and provided music during the worship service on Sunday. The past two years, I have also served as the regional minister to the Central Rocky Mountain Region, and so I have served at the communion table. On this particular Sunday, senior minister Chuck Blaisdell's sermon drew on the opening statements of the Lord's Prayer. His message prompted me to tell the story of my first thumbpicking guitar contest and my initial thought upon hearing my name as the winner. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGbHqbPqjBI...
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Thumbpicking Jam at Mountain View

It was the third weekend in May, and so I was back at the Ozark Folk Center for Thumbpicking Weekend. Jam sessions with the weekend's featured artists are all part of the fun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgmXj4FvtTQ I can't tell you how much fun it was to pick and sing Shanty in Old Shanty Town and I Am a Pilgrim with these fine folks. At Saturday's jam, I met a 12-year-old picker who I think will make a name for himself some day....
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National Thumbpicking Guitar Champion

Then the emcee said, "The winner of the 2012 National Thumbpicking Guitar Contest comes from Greenwood, Indiana." With that introduction he called my name as this year's national thumbpicking champion. I've been pleased to be part of Thumbpicking Weekend and the national competition at the Ozark Folk Center for the past two years. The weekend is an effort to teach, preserve and promote the thumbpicking style and has been part of the Ozark Folk Center calendar for several years. Merle Travis judged the competition until his death in 1983. In 2005, I moved to Indiana. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indiana had called me as their minister for church multiplication. It was an exciting opportunity, and the move would get me closer to my home in Kentucky and the family that still lived there. I had no idea of the road that would open up. I thought I was coming here for ministry, and I was, but the good Lord needed...
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The Contest

"It's Merle Travis weekend," I overheard from the breakfast table next to mine. "They have a contest out at the Folk Center today." And there I was. The night before, while listening to Comer "Moon" Mullins play from the stage in the music auditorium at the Ozark Folk Center, I had my first real "What am I doing here?" moment. Listening to Moon, Ben Hall, and Eddie and Martha Adcock, and thinking about the people who had played from that stage over the years, it was a little overwhelming to think that I'd walk out there with Sara, sit in that same spot and play. In case you don't know, Sara is my main go-to guitar. We'd been together for several years before Debbie and I met. However, many of the goals for the trip had been accomplished before ever setting foot on the auditorium stage. I experienced and participated in the musical fellowship in Mountain View. I met other folks who play...
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Otterbein Community Concert Series, April 30

The Otterbein Community Concert Series is a folk- and family-friendly concert series hosted by Otterbein United Methodist Church, near Greenfield, Ind. The series is in its second year, and a big tip o' the hat goes to Rick Garrett, who organizes and promotes the series, and to the church for hosting the series. I performed at the Otterbein last summer as an opening act, and it was a thrill to be invited back this year as the headliner for this month's show on Saturday, April 30. Brian Wallen will be the opening act that evening. The music starts at 7:00. Admission is free, but they do pass the hat in order to provide a little something for the artists and for the church that hosts the event. This will be my last show before heading down to the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Ark., for Thumbpicking Weekend and the national thumbpicking contest, May 13-14. So concert-goers can expect to hear a...
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