“There’s so much to be grateful for, words are poor things.” ―Marilynne Robinson
On April 2, 2016, The Oh Hellos played a concert at Grove City College to an auditorium that was 700 strong. In the crowd were college students, high schoolers, babies, moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas, professors, teachers, doctors, pastors, soccer players and fraternity brothers. Together we became a community, sharing in a special moment in time, dancing, whistling, clapping, and singing in unison to music we’ve listened to through headphones, car stereos, and record players. It was a beautiful experience, one that came after months of work, late nights, countless meetings, and thousands of emails, one that came because of a dream to tell and show people why good music matters.
On April 2, 2016, a dream went live, a dream that you can read about the start of here. But as the quote above says, no blog post or letter or social media post will ever be able to capture quite how grateful I feel after this concert experience. I could talk to you for hours about the event, go over every detail and relive it together with glee and child-like excitement. But for now, I share the words below.
These are my thank yous to all the people who helped this dream go live.
- Thank you to our headlining band, The Oh Hellos. You were exuberant, joyful, jubilant, heart-felt, soulful, and inspiring. You play with artistry, sing with an awe-inducing beauty, dance with an infectiously ecstatic spirit. The eclectic, creative community you make as a band is so fun to watch, and I loved getting to meet you all. Thank you for coming to a college you’ve never heard of and sharing your gifts with us. Thank you to: Austin Morrow for being such a friendly, patient, and kind manager, for Laurie Heath for being the sweetest band mom I think has ever walked the planet, for Tyler being so friendly and talking to so many students, for the oh-so-sweet Maggie talking to me about design and for having the voice of an angel, for Austin straight-up killin’ it on the drums and shaking GCC up in the best way, for Joey not getting locked in the coat closet in Crawford, for Drew and his ability to wear a trucker hat and be a bass-boss, for Josh asking about ghosts, for Nathanael being chill and pleasant and selling killer merch, for Reagan thrilling us with magical banjo-ing, and for Matthew making #CrowdSurfGCC a real thing.
- Thank you to The Gray Havens for being a KILLER opening act, for setting the tone for the evening and putting a smile on the whole crowd’s face. You two are so nice and I am thrilled for what your future holds. You’re amazingly talented, and such lovely and kind people.
- Thank you to Larry Kloess of Cause A Scene for being a light in the music community, and inspiring folks like me and everywhere to follow their dreams and to champion art and creativity wherever they are. The story that plays out on your Instagram feed uplifted me on some of the hardest days of this process, and helped me to see what it means to “come alive in what you do.”
- Thank you to Judah and the Lion and Mat Kearney for being the bands who ignited the idea behind this whole dream with their passion and explosive energy on display this summer on the JUST KIDS tour back in July. I will always have great affection for you all and the way you filled my summer days with anthems of fun and joy that ultimately inspired me to stop saying “sooner or later” and start “chasing the light,” even if I am only a “twenty-something.” You inspired this all.
- Thank you to Stonebridge Concerts: Josh Delk, President of Stonebridge Concerts, for all the work you did to make this event happen, including the great idea to invite The Gray Havens to our stage. Kara Mazey, VP of Stonebridge Concerts, for all the contributions you gave to this event. You are so driven, and your vision and aesthetics on this event were on point. Katie Knight for being the best marketing partner out there, Sam Farley for making on-point playlists, Caroline + Dave + Audrey for making the bands feel so welcome via food and hospitality and for navigating the behind-the-scenes with grace and poise, and for all the other members who helped in many ways to make April 2, 2016 so great.
- Thank you to Media Services staff and event volunteers: Kyle for his calming management skills, Matt for his STELLAR lighting design, Ashley Hegarty for being the most helpful and professional student stage manager, and all the other volunteers who stood and did the mundane tasks to that made this event a pleasant experience for the audience.
- Thank you to the friends who helped hang posters, work ticket tables shifts (MVP Zack McClelland with a record 34 sales in one day), lent mini fridges and gave tea bags, washed dishes, volunteered to be in videos, bought tickets, invited friends, and shared an encouraging word/words/essays/books/Facebook posts/hugs,etc..Looking at you Ashley White, Mary, Erin, Hunter, Kristina, Laura, Mary Grace, Emily, Laura, Julie, Taylor, Michael, Martin, Kelleigh, Andrew, Leah, and Clare…
- Thank you Abby Weaver, Rob McLain, and Rachel Shimrock for believing from the start in the dream, and for being literally front row fans for both the concert and this project. And to Abby, for your delicious cheesecakes that Tyler loved.
- Thank you to my parents and siblings who listened on the phone, in person, in the car, on walks, in the morning, noon, and night hours to all the ups and downs of this process, and for believing that good music matters, that the dream was worth it, that music can uplift community in a way no other medium can.
- Thank you to professors and college staff who both made steps to allow this event happen, and encouraged it to become the best it could be. Thank you to the Messers for being the best cheerleaders around and for truly investing in this community, for Dr. Mobley and your amazing pep talks, and for President McNulty who believes that good music should be an integral part of the college experience, and for championing the idea that an investment in creativity is an investment in flourishing of a community.
- Thank you to Molly Wicker, my most valuable player. Thank you for agreeing to be my right-hand woman, for sitting down at Crazy Mocha back in August and stepping off the edge to dream big with me. Thank you for taking a risk and for believing that this would be worth it. Thank you for believing that good music matters, and for doing the work that was required to make this concert a reality. Thank you for the endless emails you sent, the countless hours of work you put in, the patience and grace and kindness you showed to me when I was absolutely horrible, that determination and encouragement you provided when the to-do list seemed way too long. Thank you for all the late nights and spreadsheets and meetings done over long-runs. Thank you for helping this dream go live. Before too long, the lights will dim, and your dream will take centerstage. I cannot wait to see what beautiful experience unfolds in the days to come.
- Finally, thank you to the giver of all gifts, the provider of joy and hope and inspiration, the one who created creativity, the one who brought light from darkness, who made symphonies from silence. “Heaven knows I’m prone to leave the only God I should have loved, and yet you’re far too beautiful to leave me.”
On April 2, 2016, a dream went live. There’s so much to be grateful for, and the words above are poor things. This will forever be one of the most formative experiences of my life, one of the most special nights of my existence, a day I will remember until breath leaves my body. And even then, I shall join a new chorus of voices to dance, whistle, clap, and sing in unison to heavenly music. April 2, 2016 was a glimpse of what that’s going to be like, and I anticipate that day when I together I get to sing that hymn again:
Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I’ll praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love.
And so I close with this: “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” Psalm 150