Kristi and I had the honor of being part of a special event on Saturday evening. One of my closest friends in the world, Mike Houghton, whom I have known for over 25 years (met when he moved to Live Oak from Miami, lived with him in college, was in my wedding, continue to screw each other up theologically and politically) was surprised by his wife and 75 friends and family for his 40th birthday in Tallahassee (oh, to be in the promised land seeing the shrine of Doak Campbell Stadium).
Making life difficult for all other spouses, Kim brought one of Mike's favorite musicians in the world, Bill Mallonee (of Vigilantes of Love fame) to surprise Mike and friends with an intimate acoustic show.
Being a longtime fan and former concert promoter, it was good to see Bill once more (since 1993 I have seen him about 20 times and hung out many more times). Life has changed for him (proving once again that true art and suffering are bedfellows) and his music is not appreciated nearly as much as it should be. Named one of the greatest living songwriters by Paste magazine and being called as good a songwriter as Bob Dylan does not pay the bills.
As I think of ways to support Bill and his art, I realize that his music, like that of U2, the 77s and Rich Mullins have been very influential on the emerging church conversation and many of the leaders of Emergent Village. Somehow, we must honor our influencers (the artists come well before the theologians) and their legacy (not just the preachers but the artists) by sharing the wealth and becoming patrons, inviting them to our events (at our dime), adopting them through our churches, asking them to write books and publications, buying their music and spreading the word (I am sure this is the tip of the iceberg).
During my years I have seen too many talented artists (especially musicians) suffer greatly for their art while those of little talent and great abilities to self promote reap the accolades deserved by the forerunners. I have had countless conversations with musicians spit out by the church because of their theology, language, questions, etc. only to grow bitter and jaded. As I write this blog posting, I wish I was unlimited in resources to be the patron I long to be. But I am not and most of those reading this are not. However, we can come together and pool our resources to support artists such as Bill Mallonee (and many more). We can ask those with
influence and resources to support or promote the art of people like Bill. I know I can, and will.
I will add this to my list of things I hope to do something about. Until then, check out Bill's music.
Bill's myspace site
Bill's official site
buy and download Bill's music (including most VOL)
some free music to download