The Ragamuffin Album: Live

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When someone unfamiliar with Rich Mullins asks me where to start, I always tell them A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band. The irony is, when that record released in 1993 during my freshman year of college, my roommates and I were a bit cold to it at first. We were connoisseurs of the rest of his catalog and had been covering his songs at youth events and in special music slots for a while, so it was with a lot of excitement that we tore off the cellophane and put the CD in the player. We liked it, but were a bit underwhelmed. But some of the best works of art play hard to get—sometimes you have to spend some time, give the songs space, live some life with them at your side, before they open themselves up to you. So it was with the Ragamuffin album. Now I put it up there with Paul Simon’s Graceland, Counting Crows’s August and Everything After, and Marc Cohn’s first record as one of the finest albums ever made.

It was the last album that Reed Arvin produced for Rich, and feels like the culmination of everything they were working towards for all those years. Those lush strings, Chris McHugh’s massive drums, Rich’s dulcimers (lap and hammered), Jimmy Abegg’s tasteful electric guitars, Reed’s piano playing, Billy Crockett’s ridiculously pretty acoustic guitars, were the perfect undergirding for Rich’s raspy voice and those gorgeous, epic lyrics. Almost 25 years later, I still marvel at their power.

Last year my friend Scott Mulvahill put on a tribute show for Paul Simon’s Graceland, and it was one of my favorite nights of music ever. No exaggeration. A bunch of stellar musicians who loved Graceland learned every note, every background vocal, every word, and invited their friends to celebrate it with them. We weren’t there to celebrate Simon so much as this thing, this work of art, that he helped to put into the world. In a town where everybody’s trying to get noticed, there was something magical about the fact that everybody on the stage was there to draw attention something else.

That was the night I had the idea for this show. That’s why we’re going to try to replicate the album note-for-note. Because the Ragamuffin album isn’t just about Rich. It was his songs, yes, but it’s also about Reed Arvin’s production, about Jimmy, Chris, Rick, Billy, Matt, Danny, and the other musicians and vocalists and engineers who came together in community and happened to make something that’s as powerful now as it was twenty-four years ago. Most of all, though, we hope the gift the Lord gave to Rich will spill out into the audience, and that all of our attention will be drawn past the beam of light that was that record and to the source of the light, whose name is Jesus.

I think that’s what Rich would want.

The first half of the concert will be much like the Behold the Lamb shows. We’ll have some special guests play their favorite Rich songs, tell some stories, have some fun. Then after the intermission we’ll play through A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band. One more fun fact: the first time I ever saw Rich live, it was at the Ryman, with Carolyn Arends and Ashley Cleveland on the tour for this album. This is me geeking out. I can hardly wait.

Tickets are on sale now.

 

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


18 Comments

  1. Rachel Riddell

    @rachelriddell

    This is going to be beyond epic. I’m geeking out with some gut sucker punch aching grief and happiness all thrown together. Thank you so much for putting this together!

    p.s. Carolyn Arends and Ashley Cleveland were on the Brother’s Keeper tour, not the Ragamuffin tour. I saw the show twice on that tour, once in a small high school gym, and once at a big evangelical college. But to have seen him at the Ryman…. oh my heart.

  2. Kelley Hall

    @kelley

    This album so blessed me, and, running on repeat,  carried me through some difficult times. Just bought tickets for this show. Thank you for honoring Rich’s  legacy and pointing others to the One he followed.

  3. Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    Rachel, you’re totally right! I remember him playing a lot of songs from Liturgy/Legacy, but it was definitely the Brother’s Keeper tour. (I’m still geeking out.) 🙂

  4. William Marshall

    Any post about Rich Mullins that mentions ‘August and Everything After’ is a great post! I was at Rich’s show at the Ryman that you mentioned (I saw the Counting Crows there as well). It was the only time I got to see him live, what a great show! Thanks for continuing to draw attention to such good music (and making some good music on the side!)

  5. Brian

    For those of us who live overseas is there any chance this will be recorded??? I saw Rich two times when I was in my teens (Wheaton and Omaha) and they were so memorable. I have been trying to convince people for decades now that Liturgy is the greatest christian album of all time. I’m glad some one out there agrees. 🙂

  6. Derek

    What a wonderful idea for a show. My biggest hope is that Andrew pops up with a surprise announcement in the coming weeks along the lines of, “You know what…it just makes sense to do a second show in Wichita, KS.” It was after all one of Rich’s adopted hometowns (and mine, as well). Barring that, I hope Andrew’s next announcement is, “You know what…it just makes sense to do a pro-shot DVD of this event.” Either is fine with me really. 🙂

  7. Esther

    If only I was in Tennessee and not in graduate school. 🙁

    I love this record so much. The deep cuts are just as good as the hits if not better. I hate it when Christian films paper over scenes with CCM music to escape the hard work of actually writing a good scene, but I admit that if I were a filmmaker, I’d be sorely tempted to use Rich’s songs. I’ve always thought of the song “Peace (A Communion Blessing)” as a song about two friends who used to be very close but have tragically grown apart.

    “Here in America” is another standout for me. I always heard it as though it were a reply to Simon and Garfunkel’s “America,” which I wrote more about here a few years back (on July 4th!):

    hhttps://tinyurl.com/ydg4batc

  8. Jeremy D Smith

    @jeremyluvsaudra

    This is brilliant! Ragamuffin came out my Sophomore year of college and became such a help along my journey.  Particularly Peace which spoke deeply to me at a time when peace was hard to find and became my favorite song on an amazing album.   I do wish I could see this, but like many, don’t live close enough.

    A tour perhaps?  Appreciate you, Andrew.  Keep doing and my God keep speaking though you.

  9. Jonathan

    Ah, clearly this is the group to ask a question of–after many, many listenings to the album, I still cannot figure out “How to Grow Up Big and Strong.” I don’t “get” it. Anyone have any suggestions about what Rich was communicating or how it fits with the rest of the songs?

  10. Elia Tyson

    @eliatyson

    Hello Mr. Peterson! I woukd really love to see this (it’s my favorite Rich Mullins album performed by my favorite musician), but I live in Thailand and won’t be able to make the show. Is there any chance it will be live streamed, video, or audio recorded?

  11. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Jonathan,

    I read that song as an indictment of American (especially) masculinity or manhood, and a suggestion that we ought to be growing toward the ideal of Christ rather than the ideal of the Marlboro Man. In that light, it seems pretty clear to me how it fits in with the rest of the songs on the record.

  12. Esther O'Reilly

    @esther

    While we’re  discussing song interpretations, would “I’ll Carry On” be properly interpreted as a song for immigrants who are leaving the “Old World” to come (presumably) to America? It’s vague enough that it could be taken in more general coming-of-age directions, but the bit about “hoisting a sail” seems to indicate a journey across the ocean.

  13. Gary

    “…one of the finest albums ever made.” I agree. It’s a work of art. Words fall short to describe The Color Green and Land of My Sojourn, how they move me every time I listen. We have our tickets and will spend a long weekend in Nashville. Just can’t wait. Thanks Andrew, and thanks Rich for writing amazing songs.

  14. Bo

    So excited for this concert, and that Nashville is only 4 hours away! Just wish I’d checked this site sooner so I could have snagged better seats. Oh well, I wouldn’t miss this for anything! Thanks, Andrew, for telling me about it when I met you at the Buechner conference last month.

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