Can't believe I'm writing this as 2014 has gotten well underway. The last newsletter I wrote was much too long ago, and I remember thinking at the time, wow, I should do this newsletter thing more often. Oh well, so much for good intentions. Nevertheless, though the year 2013 flew by, I can honestly report that it was a good one for the Greenes.
A few highlights:
Vicki and I celebrated 30 years of matrimony, which felt like a pretty big deal, so we took a couple of vacations, one in January and one in October, both great getaways for the two of us. I could spend the next paragraph or so gushing over my bride of 30 years, but she really hates that sort of PDA (public display of affection), preferring instead a little LIA (love in action), as in helping with the Christmas decorating, so that's what I did before I headed out on tour in December.
I had a good year of traveling and playing, across the country and to points beyond.
A few highlights:
It was great to be on Gaither Homecoming events at Gatlinburg TN, Myrtle Beach SC, Anderson, IN, and, of course, the Christmas tour.
Last August Vicki and I were invited to join Chuck and Cynthia Swindoll and Insight For Living for a cruise on the Aegean Sea, visiting such exotic ports as Istanbul, Ephesus, the islands of Patmos and Santorini, and culminating in Athens, Greece. It was a fabulous trip made all the better by being with our old friends Steve & Mary Jean Green and Dick & Mel Tunney. (Note: This March I'll be joining IFL for another trip to Israel. Please visit our calendar for more information on that and a Norwegian Fjords cruise in July.)
It was my great pleasure to interview my greatest influence on the harmonica, Country Music Hall of Fame-r, Mr. Charlie McCoy, at the annual SPAH (Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica) convention this past summer in St. Louis. That was just one of several opportunities I had to participate at this great event. If you're a harmonica enthusiast, you really should check out this outstanding organization.
In September, I was back at the 42nd Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS, this time with Ron Block and Sierra Hull. Always love being at this great festival, and having these two immensely talented friends along made this ol' harmonica player seem almost legitimate.
Also in September I recorded my latest Christmas CD, December's Song. Had a blast being in the studio with some of my favorite musicians, singers, and engineers. By the end of October we were done, and I'm so pleased with the results. Many thanks to all who purchased it this holiday season! And if you didn't get your hands on a copy yet, it's still available in my online store.
Well, there's so much more I could report, but I gotta keep this short and sweet, remember? There's lots more coming up in 2014, so we'll try and keep you posted - and we're always posting dates in the calendar section of the website, www.buddygreene.com. If you'd like to book a concert or any other event, please call.
By the way, I'm extremely blessed by all the many opportunities that come my way to make music and perform. It's what I've always wanted to do, and the fact that I'm still getting to do it and enjoying it more than ever makes me a happy and grateful man. I'm more aware than ever that what I do is dependent on those with whom I get to do it. So to all of you who sing, play and travel along, work with me side by side, invite me to come and play, buy CDs, come to concerts, send notes of encouragement, pray for me and mine, and otherwise help me do what I do, I thank you immensely.
Best wishes for a great 2014!
Best of 2013
By the way, I heard and saw some great stuff in 2013 in the way of music, movies and books. Here’s a few I’d like to recommend.
Ron Block’s latest release, Walking Song, is pure pleasure from start to finish. All the songs were co-written with Rebecca Reynolds, a true poet, and she and Ron are a winning combo. Besides that, this record sounds great, not in small part due to the amazing musicians that contribute to the results.
Andy Gullahorn’s latest, Beyond the Frame, is amazing, every song a jewel of the kind of self-revelation that only the gospel can bring. Plus, I love the way this album is produced - understated but absolutely complete. Every song has just the right texture so that the music only supports, never overpowers or obscures, the lyrics.
A few years ago I met Randall Goodgame. It was right about the time he had decided that making records and performing for kids and their families was a passion and therefore something he should pursue full time. It was a good move. Now, after several Slugs and Bugs records produced with his friend Andrew Peterson, he has just released Sing the Bible with Slugs and Bugs, an album full of scripture songs, prayers, memory lessons, and other fun and cool ways of introducing young ones to the wonderful world of the Bible.
Finally, from my singin’/pickin’, preacher friend, Kenny Thacker, I highly recommend his Back Porch CD, especially if you’re looking for something bluegrass-y. Warning: this aptly named album will make you want to put down whatever you’re doing (i.e. washing dishes, sitting at a computer), and pick up your guitar or harmonica and play along. Call it what you will - irresponsible, lazy - I call it rescue.
I’m a big Flannery O’Connor fan, so I’m always on the lookout for Flannery-related stuff out there. Since O’Connor isn’t always appreciated or even understood very well by modern readers, I often hesitate to recommend her. That’s why I’m really excited about a book like The Terrible Speed of Mercy: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O’Connor by my friend Jonathon Rogers. Well researched and expertly written, it is an excellent introduction to this singular Southern writer, a devout Catholic and one of the few 20th century authors who was able to engage and challenge a post-Christian world, the religious and irreligious alike, through her fiction and non-fiction writings.
For those of you who are wondering how to have a full and meaningful life in a world of increasing dependence on technological gadgetry (laptops, smart phones, iPads, etc.) and their byproducts (email, Facebook, twitter, blogging, shopping on line,etc.), I highly recommend Arthur Boers' Living Into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions. If you struggle the way I do with knowing how to establish the right boundaries in a world where everybody and everything is screaming for my attention, you will love this book.
I loved N.T. Wright’s Simply Christian when it came out a few years back. It was Wright’s attempt to present the orthodox Christian faith to this particular time and generation in much the same way that authors like C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity), and John Stott (Basic Christianity) had done for there’s. I recently picked up his book Simply Jesus wherein he similarly goes about presenting the person and mission of Jesus, free of the political, denominational, or social agendas that so often color the flood of books out there about this most reported man in history. It has become a reference book for me and one I will heartily recommend to anyone who wants to know the simple truth about Jesus as he is revealed in the scriptures.