Sprawled on a multi-colored quilt on a grassy hillside in Wilmore, Kentucky, my three kids and I were rocking out to the Lost Dogs in concert. We came with our church youth group, which had traveled to Ichthus Festival at Asbury College near Lexington. It was a trip they took every spring, to camp out, hear national youth speakers, and enjoy Christian rock music. As one of the adult sponsors, I enjoyed the music as much as the kids did.
The Lost Dogs were one of the bands I’d been looking forward to seeing that year. The group was comprised of musicians from other bands that were their main vehicles; and Lost Dogs was a side project. The lead guitarist was Mike Roe, of the 77s—a band I had followed for several years. I enjoyed the 77s eclectic style of hard-edged, bluesy, even acoustic and folk music. I had seen both the 77s and Lost Dogs several times.
I felt a connection with Mike Roe’s songs. He wrote honestly about his Christian journey, with both its failures and its graces. One time when I was struggling with a particular sin in my life, I heard Mike’s confessional song, “The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes, and the Pride of Life,” in which he sang the words “drain the life right out of me.” The message pierced me, and I soon reached a point where that sin repulsed me and I released it to God. That was a turning point in my faith journey.
After the concert, I went to the merchandise tent and chose an olive green Lost Dogs t-shirt. I walked back to our blanket, sat down, and pulled the t-shirt on, but, in the process I knocked off my glasses and broke the frames. I examined the frames and it looked like they could be fixed, but I would need some glue. The small canteen on the grounds had none, so I had to leave the festival grounds and look for a store. I told my kids I was leaving and walked out to the parking lot about a half mile away. I found my car and drove out past the exit booth and through the little town of Asbury, looking for a drugstore or department store. I didn’t find one on the main drive and decided to go a little further. I soon found myself on the expressway and drove till I was near Lexington. I don’t remember all the turns I made or how I wound up there, but I finally spotted a Walgreen’s.
I found the glue to fix my glasses and got in the long line to pay. Unexpectedly, I heard a voice behind me exclaim, “Nice shirt!” I turned around and let out an involuntary gasp. The speaker was Mike Roe. He had spiky black hair, sunglasses, and a goatee. He was dressed in a plaid shirt, black jeans and boots; and he was buying a comb. Even though I felt nervous talking to him, I managed to tell him how much I enjoyed their concert and that I wished it could have been longer. He said he appreciated that and we chatted for a few minutes about how long I had been a fan and where their next concert would be.
While I’d been driving around lost, I clenched both the steering wheel and my teeth in frustration. But afterwards, as I left the store and found my way back to Ichthus grounds, I relived the experience over and over in my mind. If I hadn’t gotten lost for that particular amount of time, I wouldn’t have found that store just when Mike Roe was there. Now, I couldn’t stop smiling, and I pictured God smiling down at the serendipitous meeting he’d arranged for me.
Over the years since that Lost Dogs show, I’ve spoken to many other favorite musicians of mine, and I’ve come to realize how much they need and appreciate my encouraging words. I used to think they knew how talented they were to be able to and write and perform good music. But most of them are pretty insecure and really like it when their listeners tell them they love their music and why.
I’ve booked some house concerts, and volunteered at other concerts, and I’ve formed relationships with artists like Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, and Eric Peters; , and it’s so fun to have them know my name and who I am. The lesson I learned was to not be timid, but to take the risk and talk to my favorite musicians whenever I get the chance. They always appreciate it, even if I’m not wearing one of their t-shirts.