“You Gotta Hear This…” Andrew Peterson and Jason Gray on Tour

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In 2003 I was a dreaming indie artist meeting with people in Nashville who I hoped might champion my music and make life a little easier by rescuing me from obscurity (oh how naïve I was about the way the music business worked).  I’d had many such meetings over the years, but this one was different—in my mind at least—because I was finally learning how to write the kind of pop songs I hoped might make me attractive to a label.

During that trip, one of the people I met with gave me a stack of CDs for my drive home. Among them was Love & Thunder by Andrew Peterson. It was the first CD I put in my player and it ended up being the only one I listened to for my six hour drive that day.

Before a word was sung, I was surprised to find tears in my eyes, tears that would accompany me through the entire record as not only the artistry but also the spirit of the music stirred deep waters in me. “What am I doing?” I kept asking myself, reassessing my own music and the kinds of songs I was writing in hopes of courting the attention of the Christian music industry.

I still believe that accessible pop songs with a broad appeal as well as a heart and a brain are the hardest kind of songs to write, and therefore the kind of challenge I still really enjoy, but certain ambitions in my heart were laid to rest that day and new ones were taken up. All these years later Andrew Peterson’s work remains an inspiration and a guiding light to me. He is one of my heroes. He is also one of my great friends.

The first time we did a show together was eight years ago, I think. Afterwards he, Ben, Taya, and I sat at a Perkins and talked late into the night about things we loved. We talked a lot about books and authors like Frederick Buechner and Wendell Berry whose works had enriched our lives. We laughed a lot.

The next time I got to do a show with Andrew was many years later in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the week my label debut, All The Lovely Losers, was releasing. We were backstage and he was talking with me as he nonchalantly poured water into the cap of his water bottle. As the emcee was announcing me, Andrew said, “Well, have a good set,” and then tossed the capful of water into my lap so that I walked on stage looking as though I’d had an unfortunate accident. Of course I loved him for it.

I remember staying at Andrew and Jamie’s house a number of years ago. Jamie had left chocolates on my pillow and I had to break it to her that I had given up sweets for Lent. When I got back later that night, the chocolates had been replaced by a can of mixed vegetables on my pillow. I still have that can of vegetables and it occupies a prominent place in both my memory and my home.

Andrew has laughed with me and cried with me and enriched my life in ways too deep and wide to measure. He is a trusted friend who keeps some of my secrets. I know a few of his, too. Where once his work inspired and moved me, now his friendship shapes my life. But I’m still a fan, too.

As a young man I was always a music evangelist, telling my friends, “you gotta hear this artist I love!” I think I wore some of them out with my enthusiasm as I tried to turn them on to music I was passionate about. Who am I kidding—I still do that.

Andrew and I have talked about doing a tour together for years and I’m grateful that we finally get to do it. I’m excited about it for selfish reasons, looking forward to laughter, shared stories, and being with my friend. But I’m also excited to get to share him. Andrew has enough fans without my help, but one of the things I’m most excited about is the idea of getting to introduce Andrew’s music to people who have connected with my music on the radio in recent years.

I’ve always approached writing more accessible “pop” songs with the hope that people would buy into the whole record and hear the other songs. “Thanks for listening to ‘More Like Falling In Love,’ have you heard ‘I Will Find A Way?’ I wrote it with my buddy Andy Gullahorn?”

As I get ready to go out on the road with Andrew, I’m grateful for a similar opportunity. “I’m glad you like ‘Good To Be Alive,’ but you gotta hear this artist I love. . .”  I’m also looking forward to meeting Andrew’s fans.

Andrew and I will be hitting the road this weekend with my good friend Spencer Ford (who joined me and Todd Agnew in the fall) on percussion as well as one of my favorite players around, the always impeccably dressed James Gregory on stand up bass. We’ll do two individual sets at the top followed by a joint song swap set in the second half. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll perform daring feats of singer/songwriterism. I’ll be nervous when Andrew is holding a water bottle. He should be too.

I hope you can join us for one of these special nights. And even if you can’t, if you’ve never heard Andrew’s music, you must check out his latest record, Light For The Lost Boy. It is one of the most beautiful and compelling records he’s ever made, which is saying a lot. “You gotta hear this artist I love…”

Tour Dates:
2/16 Harrisburg, IL (SOLD OUT)
2/22 Syracuse, NY
2/23 Woodbridge VA
2/24 Knoxville, TN
3/1 East Ellijay, GA
3/2 Charlottesville, VA
3/3 Williamsburg, VA
3/8 Omaha, NE
3/9 Racine, MO
3/15 Elmhurst, IL
3/16 North Royalton, OH


32 Comments

  1. Laura Peterson

    SO looking forward to this! My first introduction to the Rabbit Room artists & friends community was four years ago at a conference in Grand Rapids, MI, where Jason played a set on Friday night and Andrew played on Saturday. No exaggeration to say that it was kinda life-changing. Thankful for both of you. See you in North Royalton!

  2. mike

    You will be in Ellijay Georgia soon, I can’t wait. I’m bringing some folks who don’t know your music. We are really looking forward to it.

  3. Adam Bennett

    So incredibly bummed that there isn’t a show closer. I’d pay money to see you both. I’d pay more to see you play together. Best of luck on the road!

  4. Peter B

    Thanks for sharing all of that — but especially the humility-inducing Water Bottle Cap Story 🙂

    We’re immensely glad that you are still faithfully doing your work, Jason. Hopefully we’ll catch you in Nashville again this year (if not sooner).

    2003 seems like a really long time ago.

  5. Hannah

    Just might have to go to your concert in Knoxville after reading this.

    Glad I was home when I read about the can of mixed veggies. Laughed a bit too loud for anywhere else!

  6. Loren Warnemuende

    My husband, Kraig, and I will be reconnecting with Laura Peterson and some other Hutchmoot pals at your March 16 show. My dearest of hubbies is showering me with a birthday treat that takes us three hours from home and kids, but gives us one of our first trip-away-without-kids dates. Someday there might be enough of a draw here in southeast Michigan to get you guys nearer to our hometown; for now I’m glad we can come to you. So thankful for the artistry and spiritual depth that you and Andrew don’t skimp on…not to mention the humor 🙂 .

  7. Jill

    interesting how I didn’t know who Jason Gray was until Andrew Peterson introduced me to his music! 😉
    Looking foward to the show on march 2nd. looking foward to seeing both of you!

  8. Matt

    AP,

    I had to fly to Minnesota to see you in September at Piper’s Church. Can you make the trip to see us out here in Phoenix, Arizona. Yes, there are believers in Arizona. 🙂

    Love you Brother!
    -Matt

  9. Keith Kolstad

    My wife and I were at that concert in Green Bay. You sang “Blessed Be” and “Grace.” “Blessed Be” has been my ringtone since I purchased your CD at that concert and we have been big fans. This past summer you came to our stomping ground in Menominee, MI, and we were thrilled. This was a nice article about Andrew and you. Thanks for writing it. All the best to you guys on your tour. Wish we could see it.

  10. Tim Bourne

    I love the connection between these artists. For me, it started with Caedmon’s Call. Attending their shows I got know about Bebo Norman, Jill Phillips, Andy Gullahorn and Andrew Peterson. Through them I’ve learned about Eric Peters, Randall Goodgame and, yes, Jason Gray. I just keeps on giving.

  11. LauraP

    Hey JG,
    How come the Omaha concert date isn’t listed? March 8. I’ve got my tickets, just don’t want your other Nebraska fans to miss out!

  12. yankeegospelgirl

    “As a young man I was always a music evangelist, telling my friends, ‘you gotta hear this artist I love!’ I think I wore some of them out with my enthusiasm as I tried to turn them on to music I was passionate about. Who am I kidding—I still do that.”

    No, that’s actually me you’re talking about. (How did you know?) And I also really enjoy getting to know and interact with some of those artists. Most of the time it works out well.

  13. Katie

    …and not a single New England show. 🙁 I’ve never driven more than 2 hours for a concert, but I’d totally make an exception for this one if it came within 8 hours of me.

  14. Lisa

    If you ever come up to Canada I would have front row seats! Come on, it would be an adventure!! I’d bring lots of my friends – the ones I’m always saying, “you just have to hear…” to! Please, please???

  15. Michael

    I really wish that you and Andrew Peterson would make a sweep through Texas. I have seen each of you on separate occasions and cannot even begin to imagine seeing you both on the same stage and interacting with one another! Blessings to you both! You have been an inspiration to my family and I…

  16. Mike

    I hope the Missouri part is correct and the Racine part is wrong…would love to see this concert, and I am in Missouri.

  17. James Witmer

    Just a note for any rabbits in the western part of Pennsylvania:
    North Royaltan is only a bit over an hour west into Ohio, so this is one of the closest shows either Andrew or Jason have done in quite a while. See you there!

  18. Dan R.

    #17 Katie:
    I feel your pain, as I thought I lived in one of the remotest locations from these kinds of concerts. Are you sure you can’t make it to the Syracuse show this Friday? I only say that because it’s relatively close to much of New England. I remember coming 6.5-ish hours to NH for the BTLOG show this year. It was an adventure, but definitely worth it, and I have high hopes for this show as well (which is much closer to home for me). Sometimes you have to ask yourself how far you’re willing to go (literally) to get to these shows.

  19. Michael Hinesly

    I have been fortunate to see both you and Andrew Peterson in separate concerts. To see you both on the same stage interacting would be an amazing time of reflection, worship and fun! Please bring this tour to Texas!!!

  20. Julia K.

    Just want to let you know Jason your song “Good to Be Alive” has helped my daughter mentally and physically heal from a serious car accident this month, and I surprised her with tickets to your March 15th concert , we really look forward to that special day! God’ Blessings!

  21. Miranda

    So, fun fact about me…
    I have listened to AP’s music since I was a little girl, long before I was a believer in Jesus. I don’t even remember how I heard his music the first time (that’s how long I’ve listened..weird, right?). Imagine how much I’ve been influenced by the ancient truth in his songs as I’ve learned who Jesus is and as He has continued teaching me/breaking off lies I’ve believed about Him. This weekend, I am fulfilling a childhood dream of mine (now that I’m 20!)…I’m gonna go see Andrew Peterson in concert. Jesus and I are gonna have a great time…along with AP and JG, with all the wonderful folks there. SO stoked.

  22. Peter B

    Miranda, that’s pretty wild. Congratulations on finally getting to see Andrew (and Jason) in concert!

    It’s funny to think of someone listening to him as a child — since Carried Along found me grown up, employed, and married (albeit with very few clues about who I was supposed to be). Someday in eternity, we’ll have to pull out all these stories and see how they fit together.

  23. Miranda

    Peter, I’d love to sit in eternity and talk about these stories with you. What’s interesting is, I was three when Carried Along came out (I just realized this the other day). I used to listen to that CD (and still do…). When I was sad, I would turn up Rise and Shine because it reminded me of happy days (and still does). So help me, this music is like sunshine to my soul. Simply beautiful. 🙂

  24. Dani

    Hey Jason (and Andrew); Thanks so much for stopping in Syracuse NY. I enjoyed the concert. It is quite powerful to be able to hear the stories behind the songs. Thanks for sharing your hearts with us…and being patient with the technical difficulties. I so enjoyed the song, and just the fact that Andrew wrote a song for you, Jason. Super special to have a friend like that. Yal’ come back now…ya heeeear? Ha!! Ok, take care and hope to hear more new tunes soon!

  25. Rebecca burch

    We are so thankful for you both! I hope your time in Williamsburg, VA at the Chapel was a blessed time for you as it was for us! Thank you!

  26. Julie

    Andrew and Jason, what an amazing concert you put on last night in Williamsburg! As I was walking into the church I was talking on my phone to my brother from Arizona, who is heading to Nebraska this week to visit my parents and siblings(I’m 1 of 11!). I’m so excited to tell him that you will be there in Omaha on Friday and going to send a shout out to all my siblings about you being there. I know your evening of honesty, humor, and music would bless them. I pray the opportunity arises for them to be there. Thank you both for following the leading of your hearts guided by the Holy Spirit, it was so evident and a joy to be a part of.
    Jason, your song about the girl in the room spoke to my heart immediately. My 21 year old daughter is stuck in a “room” and struggles with fear and not knowing who she is. She was able to stay for half the concert last night before leaving to head back to her “room”. She dropped out of college this year to leave the pain of her false reality. Too much work pretending to be who she wasn’t. It’s been very painful to watch her isolate herself and say she is just to awkward/uncomfortable to be around people. I had a dream recently with her sitting in a chair an attic with nothing in it but a tormenting person dancing all around her teasing her as she sat in that chair screaming in fear while all along he had no power over her. She only had to stand up and walk out. Freedom is always that simple yet so hard to grasp at times. And 8 years ago God gave me a vision for her of a lock with a huge barrel and many numbers. He spoke to my heart and said she would be locked up until all the numbers lined up and then she would be set free. Would you join me in prayer that God’s light would penetrate the darkness and lies to reach my daughter(and a whole generation lost in social media, false truth on MS/HS/College campuses, etc) with the truth that she is His beloved and she has a destiny through Him? To be set free from all the fear and shame you spoke and sang about last night. I am thankful for the blessing of who you are today.

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