Tuesday, March 24, 2009

jesus house recordings

All of the recording we've been involved with lately has resulted in me remembering past recording projects by artists who frequented the Jesus House. Most of you were not around in the first few months of the JH but Randy Matthews' first album, "Wish We'd All Been Ready" was released around the same time we opened in 1971. This album is pretty tame by today's standards and would not even be considered a rock & roll album but remember this was released on Word Records, which, up to that point had released only gospel-style quartets and soloists. Randy was a huge stretch for them. For his second record, "All I am is What You See," they started the Myrrh label which later included releases by artists like Amy Grant and Petra.

With this as our beginning, you might think that it was very common to have recording artists at the House as well as have regular House musicians with records. The major label artists we had perform at the House was very small. They included Ray Hildebrand, Andrew Culverwell, Gary Chapman and Albrecht, Roley & Moore. Technically Chapman & A,R,&M played at Conglomerate, not one of our regular concerts.

The most common form of recording that artists did in those days was called "custom" recordings. Instead of being signed to a record label, the artist scheduled their own recording sessions, designed their own album covers and sold the records out of the trunk of a car or from a table set up in the back of the room! Jesus House artists who recorded custom albums (in no particular order) included: Rising Hope, The Willoughby-Wilson Band (an EP, their album came later), Soul Purpose, Zion (Before Amy Grant recorded Rich's Sing Your Praise to the Lord), Jon Owens, The Wild Olive Branch Band (what a long name), Jim Bankowski, Bill Williams (Rev. Billy Rose!), Steven Alexanderson and Geoff Thurman. I'm sure there are others, but that's a pretty good list for now.

The one time Servant played the Jesus House, they were not yet signed to a label.

Artists from the Jesus House who went on to sign with a label include Rich Mullins, The Willoughby-Wilson Band and Prodigal.

If I've left anyone out, please excuse and correct me. I'll be glad to edit this post and include other names.

There are artists like John Gould that I always thought needed to be recorded. That is one reason why I am so glad for the current Jesus House Recording Project. Recording is so much easier and affordable today.

In the next entry I'm going to get back to some of the chronological history. There are still stories to tell and time is running short. I will cease writing new material after the next, and most likely, final, Jesus House Reunion Concert on May 2.

This Week (technically last week) in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the Third Weekend of March

1972 - Terry Fisher, Marc O'Hara This was the first time I sang at the Jesus House. I was really scared and did not want to do it. Up to this point in my performing history, I sang for two youth retreats and used to sit around the House playing guitar and writing songs. In our early months Randy Matthews made me sing for him once, which was really hard, but he liked my song, "Jesus Freak" the first Christian song I ever wrote. Some people like to say, "The Lord gave me this song" when introducing a song but I could never say that about Jesus Freak, at least with a straight face. I was not sure the Lord wanted anything to do with the song! Nevertheless, I'm sure I sang it that night, along with the second song I ever wrote, "Sing a Song About Jesus." which was based on a Sesame Street song. One final detail before I proceed to 1983, I was tricked into singing. It was a conspiracy among some friends that included Marc O'Hara! Marc was scheduled to sing, but claimed he couldn't be there for the first set so I was left to sing. But wasn't it amazing when Marc walked in the back while I was on stage singing??? Still, we had 105 people there that night and ended the evening with four baptisms! Okay, back to our regularly scheduled list...

1973 - Mike Wilshire, Marc O'Hara (What is it about Marc not singing the whole night?)
1974 - Larry Pennington
1975 - Soul Purpose (Kent Odor was in Michigan this weekend. Wonder what he was doing?)
1976 - Soul Purpose
1977 - The Paul & Dave Band
1978 - Jim Bankowski, Sharon Wilson
1979 - Bruce Kircher
1980 - Kevin Boys
1981 - Terry Fisher
1982 - Share-it Nite
1983 - New Creation

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