10 Years

Photo by: Alison Weakley Photography

In the fall of 2009, I packed my 1998 GMC Jimmy to the brim, cleared a nest in the back for a sleeping bag and pillow amongst the PA system, boxes of CD’s, mic stands, and suitcase. I left my apartment in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin to set off for a grand adventure – a 3 week tour of the eastern United States of America. My first ever. My first of many, I hoped.

Before my first show of the tour (at a place called the Barking Spider Tavern) in Cleveland, I remembered thinking, “Wow, I’m playing a concert in Cleveland… This feels kinda big.” On the surface, it may appear to be a modest jump from one midwest city to another, but it meant the world to me at the time… I was taking a step from hoping, studying, and practicing to be a professional musician, into living it. (One clarifier: studying, practicing, and hoping on the next step should never stop. These things just have seasons where focus rests most heavily on one of these disciplines or mindsets).

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is: “If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?” That question sometimes stumps me for a second. I think of my love of teaching, sports, food, writing and reading. I know I have a variety of interests, and a little talent for a few things.

A few times in these past 10 years, I’ve wondered if I’d be forced to consider one of them more seriously out of necessity: During car trouble in rural Kansas that disrupted a full week of a tour, landing in the hospital (pneumonia and dehydration), two car accidents (one really big one with a drunk driver that hospitalized Lesleigh in Indiana), low-attended shows after long drives, etc. These life events make you think hard about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, who you really are, what you’re made of, and what you rely upon. Now, I count it all joy!

What I come back to is this: Foundation. I know that I am designed with a purpose, and that there is older, truer wisdom to rely upon than the fleeting happinesses that come and go from day-to-day, and moment-to-moment… Striving to teach and to shed light in the world is often confronted with darkness; but pressing onward, I aim to live into what my foundation is, and to cherish and protect what true joy is built upon as a daily discipline. This wisdom is what holds me up, propels me, guides me, and sustains me:

2 Corinthians 4: 8 “We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

And just like the old gospel song, I sing with my mind, mouth, and heart: “I’ve got peace like a river, joy like a fountain, and love like an ocean in my soul.”

10 Years down. The beginning of a lifetime of service through music and ministry. Thank you for all of your love and support around the world. I work every day for your joy.

Love,
Tony