In a previous blog I mentioned Alan Jones, a musician from Columbus who performed our first "Christmas Special." Alan and a friend sang a musical version of "The Night Before Christmas." This performance started a tradition that we kept off and on over the years. Usually, we scheduled performers who could include Christmas music as part of the evening, but in addition, we occasionally involved the Jesus House staff in skits or other silly things. You may have seen Tony Ross and me in sweaters and scarves doing our best to croon "The Christmas Song." When she was very young, Christi Mapes agreed to dress up like Rudolph. One year five of us dressed in choir robes and lip synched the Barking Dogs version of Jingle Bells. We did our best to make Christmas meaningful and memorable!
We also developed a tradition of hosting a Sunday evening Christmas Caroling party. This was an opportunity to take a group of 20-30 people around our neighborhood singing, then return to the House for hot chocolate and sit in front of the fireplace to read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."
In the early years we usually closed the week between Christmas and New Years, primarily because we were college students who used the holidays to travel out of town to visit family. In later years, we began having New Year's Eve events. More on those in a later blog.
The last Saturday before Christmas tended to have larger than normal crowds primarily because of returning college students. These students tended to be people who attended the House during their high school years and were excited to get back to us. Many of these students were responsible for adamsfishyodor, then later me as a solo artist, having opportunities to perform concerts on University campuses. Ohio University, Ball State (maybe while David Letterman was there?!?), Morehead University, University of Kentucky, Miami University, and Bowling Green (of Ohio) were just a few (that I remember) places of higher learning that found themselves invaded by people from the Jesus House. In the adamsfishyodor days these trips usually included additional car loads of, mostly, high school students. Not sure if anyone attended one of those schools as a result of a trip with adamsfishyodor but we did our best to be good will ambassadors. Concerts in university settings were some of my favorite. The crowds were favorably responsive to the music. After the concerts, though, we had the opportunity talk to people about Jesus. These were the settings where we seemed to have the largest percentage of non-Christians in the crowd. As much as I enjoyed performing music for people, and I have always enjoyed that a lot, the post-concert discussions were fabulous experiences.
This Week in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the Third Week of December.
1971 - Alan Jones (Banana Bread & Pumpkin Bread were served as special Christmas refreshments!)
1972 - Rich Davis
1973 - Sandy & Marge
1974 - Jim Bankowski
1975 - John Gould
1976 - Rising Hope
1977 - John Gould
1978 - Terry Fisher
1979 - Terry Fisher (two years in a row?)
1980 - Zion
1981 - Zion
1982 - Zion (The annual Zion Christmas concerts were huge!)
1983 - Bobby Maupin