Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /home/vhosts/rinuskrijnen.nl/subdomains/agandkate/httpdocs/templates/kate2/functions.php on line 188
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our previous newsletter ended in Virginia. After that we travelled to North Carolina, where we first did three programs in churches. On the 19th of October we were back in prison, in Wilmington, North Carolina. We’ll pick it up from there.
October 19th – Wilmington, North Carolina
Got to the New Hanover prison in Wilmington just before 5pm. When we pulled up, an officer walked up to us and asked what we were there for. Kate told him and he told us he would check it out and we should park in the car park. A little bit later he returned to tell us nobody knew anything about the program and that the contact person had already gone home. He suggested Kate would walk up to the gate house, in 5 minutes or so, to check things out with the next shift. The assistant warden of programs, who had been the contact person in the beginning, had emailed us with the message that he was ill, but that another person would be there to assist us. However, this person had obviously gone home. Rather strange! In the mean time, chaplain Brookshire (who used to be the chaplain here for years, but retired) walked up to the car and AG had a chat with him. He brought a letter he had found on his desk, when he had cleaned it up. He had intended to mail this a long time ago, but never had. When we opened it later, it was a newsletter and it had a piece about us in it. It dated back to 2007. Chaplain Brookshire does chaplaincy work here again but wasn’t allowed in tonight, as the men had to sign up and he was told there wouldn’t be enough space for volunteers (including chaplains). Nonsense, but that was the rule. After 20 minutes or more, a prisoner named Rasool, brought out a flatbed cart. We loaded everything on there and were allowed in. We quickly set up and at 6pm a lady appeared and shook our hands. Supposedly she was in charge. Just before 6:30pm the men started coming in, but they only half filled the chapel. Another call out was made and more men came in and at 6:45pm we started. We had until 8:30, so plenty of time. From the moment go, it was a blast. They whooped and hollered and had a ball. Their “boogadee-boogadee” was so loud we think they heard it in Virginia. They sang with us on a lot of choruses, even on some that weren’t on the card, like ‘Keep on the Sunny Side,’ Abilene’ and ‘The Blue Ridge Mountain Blues.’ Several men knew quite a bit about bluegrass music. A couple of them were going to be released soon and asked about our web site and email address. Rasool helped with getting everything to the car and just after 9pm we were back at the motel.
The next day we stayed in Wilmington and had a chance to go to the beach at Wrightsville Beach (one of our very favorite beaches). On Wednesday we travelled to Lumberton for the next prison program.
October 21st – Lumberton, North Carolina
At 5:30pm we were at the Lumberton prison. An officer came out with a cart and checked things off the list while we put it on the cart. He remembered us from before and he and the other staff in the gate were all friendly. Now that there are no chaplains in several of these prisons, we set the date with a programs person, who usually has gone home by the time we get there, and we then have to deal with security officers. An officer escorted us to the chapel, where we first had to fill in some paperwork and then set up our gear. They set out 78 chairs (that’s how many men had signed up to come), and that pretty much filled up the room. Saw Jackie, who writes us regularly, but didn’t have a chance to talk to him. It wasn’t easy to get the men involved. The singing wasn’t great either, not half as good as at New Hanover. AG felt it was hard work, Kate thought it was ok. Of course we got spoiled on Monday, with such a wonderful response.
Hi AG and Kate,
How are those adorable girls today, Amber and Jessi and how are my favorite country and western singers doing today? I hope and pray that you had as much fun as we had, on October the 21st. Thank you very much for the beautiful and inspirational concert, here at Lumberton Correctional Institution. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Yours in the love of Jesus. Jackie, Lumberton, North Carolina
The next week we spent visiting several groups of sponsoring friends, in North and South Carolina, and we did two programs in churches as well. On the 29th we were back in prison.
October 29th – Morganton, North Carolina
Just after 5pm we arrived at the Foothills Maximum Security prison (called Big Foot – the minimum security prison is called Little Foot). Chaplain David had brought 2 flatbed carts, which made it a little bit easier bringing the gear in. The officer who had to look through everything was very friendly and once in the chapel, we had plenty of time to set up and chatted to David while doing so. The guys started coming in around 6:40 and we had a good crowd of about 50 young men. David opened with a prayer and introduced us. The young men joined in with enthusiasm. When we mentioned that we had been to Newton and mentioned Snuffy Jenkins, one of the young men almost jumped up and mentioned that the Snuffy Jenkins Festival is held in his home town every year. Some men knew a bit more about bluegrass, but most of them had not heard of the names we mentioned. One of the men came up afterwards and told Kate that he was from the town where the Ola Belle Reed Festival is held. Kate shared with him that we love her music. Two black young men came and had a look at the dulcimers and one of them promised he would write to us. Another man came by and said: “That’s awesome what you do.” We packed up and once everything was back in the car, David gave us a gift from him and his wife. That’s extremely nice of him.
AG and Kate,
My name is Dakota Ball and I am at Foothills Correctional. I just attended your concert and I would like to say ‘Thank You.’ It was a good blessing and I really enjoyed it. I am from Hendersonville, North Carolina, and I grew up on Waylon and Hank. I was hoping you were going to do ‘ Folsom Prison Blues’ but the ‘Blue Ridge Mountain Blues’ made up for it. You have wonderful talents and I appreciate what you do. I’m going to keep you in my prayers.
Sincerely, Your brother Dakota, Morganton, North Carolina
AG and Kate,
I really appreciate you coming and bringing your music to cheer us up. The Lord knows we need to smile more. Keep moving forward and know you are doing a good thing. Thank you so much. I enjoyed your show. Sincerely, Bruce, Morganton, North Carolina
AG and Kate,
Thought I would write to you and let you know that I really enjoyed you coming to Lumberton and singing. AG was right, for a little while you took us out of here, especially when you sang the Blue Ridge song, as that’s where I am from, Stuart, Virginia. God bless, Charles, Morganton, North Carolina
October 30th – Morganton, North Carolina
Got to Little Foot at 5pm The officer standing outside asked who we were. He radioed central control and told them we had arrived, he was told to escort us in, which he did. When we arrived in the yard, the chaplain and several men with a cart were waiting for us and all the help made light work. Before we started, one of the men who had helped bring the gear in, asked Kate about the autoharp and the dulcimers and about our travels. Another man came by to tell us he had seen us in Craggy Prison (Asheville) in 2009. He had been out, but had come back in again and was now serving another year. Another man told AG he had been to Holland a couple of times with his family and loved it. Great turn out and wonderful response. The guys really had a night out. A couple of the men were from the Blue Ridge Mountains, not many knew Pappy Sherrill or George Hamilton IV. Many guys came by to thank us for coming. One guy asked about our language. Another man came from Murphy and talked about the Olla Belle Reed Festival. The guys helped us carry the gear outside again and handed us the gear while loading up the car. When AG brought the car in, an officer told him one of the headlights was out. We’ll check it tomorrow.
AG and Kate
Hello friends. Thanks for taking the time to show you care for those that sometimes feel that no one cares for them. Your thoughts, music and words are uplifting and brighten the day of many. Your music and time takes us briefly away from where we are stuck at the moment. “God has not called us to hate those who do evil, but to pray for them and bring them in His family as our brothers and sisters.” I love your country, The Netherlands. I had the pleasure to visit 4 times since 2000. Your country is very beautiful in sight and way of life. I have concentrated on having my visits late April, for the blooming season, and the flower parade that ends in Haarlem. My wife and two daughters loved biking across the country side and smell the fields of blooms along the windmills. I hope to once again visit your country with my family in the future. Thanks again for ALL you do and take care my friends. Much love, Todd
The program that was scheduled for the 31st of October at the minimum security prison in Marion was cancelled 10 days ago. They had double booked?!?! We stayed the next couple of days in Morganton and had a chance to meet up with another set of friends, which was great. On Monday we travelled to Asheville, for the next two prison programs.
November 2nd – Asheville, North Carolina
At 5pm we arrived at the Craggy Minimum Security prison (used to be called Buncombe). They now have a New Life Center, built with community funding and it’s situated right next door to the prison, so we were able to pull right up to the door and unload. We had been told that the program was to start at 6:30pm, but we saw on the poster it was advertised for 7pm, so we had plenty of time to set up. Chaplain Humphries (whom we had not met before) met us, together with Tom (one of the prisoners, who helps in the chapel, and who has been writing to us for years), and they helped us bring in the gear. Later we met chaplain Plemmons as well. He thanked us for coming and handed us a donation. Thanks! He shared with us that there would be a Dutch couple coming in. They usually do a bible study on Monday night, and had given up their night for us. He also apologized for the fact that he was unable to stay for the program. The chapel is great, plenty of space and much nicer than the dining hall (where we played before). Had a great night. About 40 men attended (there are only 180 men in this unit) and they really joined in well. Afterwards several men came by to thank us and one of them came and shared with us that he was related to the Callahan Brothers. We told him we worked with Homer Callahan (his uncle) at the festival Walter Bailes had organized in Sevierville, in 1983. Tom and chaplain Humphries helped with loading up the car and 15 minutes later we were back at the motel.
Dear AG and Kate,
Thank you so much for visiting with us at Craggy Minimum last week. Inasmuch as you did it for us, you did it for Jesus. You came across the world to minister to us. My pastor, who lives 15 minutes away for here, can’t find the time...... I doubt whether you noticed, but when you sang about ‘waiting by the Jordan, drawing pictures in the sand’ the tears were streaming down my face, into my beard. You see, I am 68 and my wife of many years, is all I have of value in this world, and I am a portrait artist. My eyes are all wet, even when I am writing this. That song really got to me. I am going home to my wife, on the 17th of January, 2016, that’s 69 days away, and I will be shopping for your music soon after that. God bless you and keep you in the palm of His hand for many years to come and for all eternity. Please keep up the good work, as God gives you the time and the ability. Best wishes, Bob, Asheville, North Carolina
November 3rd – Asheville, North Carolina
At 5pm we were at the Craggy Medium prison. Kate went in and was told the chaplain would be called. A little bit later we saw some people on the other side of the fence with a cart. However, they didn’t come out, but a gentleman did, who introduced himself as chaplain Casto. He told us that chaplain Plemmons was not in, and that he had been told by security that we would not be able to get in until 6pm. The program was scheduled to start at 6:30 and he understood that that would not work, so he asked around to see if anybody would be able to help us get in earlier. Eventually he got it sorted out, two officers looked through our gear and we were able to get in. We got to the chapel at 5:30pm and had an hour to get ready. The chaplain did not do an introduction, so when the men (84 of them) were in, we got started, and they responded very well. Afterwards several men came by to shake our hands and thank us. One of the chapel workers helped us pack up. The chaplain had left by then, and the officer, who had been in all night, escorted us to the gate.
The following day we travelled to Spruce Pine, where we did a program in the Mountain View Prison on the 5th.
November 5th – Spruce Pine, North Carolina
At 5pm we were at the Mountain View prison. It had started to get foggy again and we were worried about driving back afterwards. Kate went in and came back out with two large flatbed carts and we put everything on them. Back inside the gatehouse, the officers were very friendly and joked around a bit. Someone else walked in, didn’t introduce himself, and mentioned that we needed to fill in some forms. Later on we found out he was one of the chaplains. A man, who wasn’t dressed like an officer, was going to look through things and insisted they’d be done in the order they were on the list. This is almost impossible because of the way things are loaded on the carts. Kate told him so, but he insisted to do it his way. And this really made Kate mad. The list starts with the speakers and they are on the bottom. ‘See?’ she said. So after he wanted to look at a couple of other things that were on the bottom, she just went ahead and did it her way. Eventually we were ready to go and this chaplain took us to the visits room, where he turned around and left, and never said a word! In the visits room we met the other chaplain, Don Stafford, whom we had met several times before. The noise of the air-conditioning was overwhelming and we double checked to see if it could be switched off. Kate had checked about this earlier and again this morning, and the chaplain she had talked to, promised he would get it sorted out. Well, he was the one that had gone home but chaplain Stafford checked with the captain and it was arranged that it could be set lower. It made a great difference in noise and we could work with that. While we were setting up, chaplain Stafford told us that country star Randy Travis’s brother is in this prison. He would introduce us to him later, but that didn’t happen. Had a full house, about 85 men, and it was a great night. When we did ‘The Blue Ridge Mountain Blues’ we checked to see if there was anybody from the Blue Ridge mountains, and there were several. Afterwards many men came by to thank us and one man told A.G. that he had known George Hamilton IV, as they had been neighbors. He also mentioned that George IV had helped Ronnie Milsap get started, and that they had recorded with Arthur Smith. Chaplain Stafford said he’d like to have us come and play at his church next time. It’s in Spruce Pine. Todd, who helped us, said: “See you in two years.” Guess they are all counting on us being back again in two years. There was a little bit of fog on the road to Spruce Pine, but it wasn’t bad. We were back at the motel at 9pm.
Dear AG and Kate,
Many thanks and God bless for the wonderful concert here at Mountain View. It was good to see you and to hear your beautiful music. I was overly enjoyed for every second of it and I am already looking forward to your next concert. I wish it could be sooner than two years. Many thanks for the picture postcard, please keep writing and sending pictures. Sincerely and God bless, John, Spruce Pine, North Carolina
From Spruce Pine we travelled to Knoxville, visited with friends and had a look in the good CD stores there. On the 9th we travelled to Wartburg, Tennessee, to do the next program.
November 9th – Wartburg, Tennessee
At 4:30 we were at the prison. The officer was very nice, some of the things were scanned, others just looked at/through. Chaplain Steve arrived in the gate
house and helped us get in and helped push the cart as well. Once we were out on the yard, inmate Terry met us. Terry’s a musician and we have known him as long as we’ve been coming here. He pushed the cart all the way to the other side of the yard into the new area, where the chapel is now situated. When we were setting up, we found out we could start earlier, if we were ready to, so we rushed and started at 6:20. About 50 men came, but it wasn’t full. Wondered about the advertising. A.G. thought it was a great night, but Kate thought it was hard work. The men didn’t pick up on the ‘ The Blue Ridge Mountain Blues’ and ‘Keep on the Sunny Side’ as they did in previous prisons, but maybe they were not as familiar with the songs. They did join in well with ‘My Ship Will Sail.’ Managed to get everything packed before 8pm with help from Terry and a man named Don. They also pushed the cart all the day back to the entrance. Spent some time talking to Steve before we left for the motel.
Travelled to Nashville, did a program at Shallowford Pentecostal Church again, and spent a couple of days in Nashville. On the 13th of travelled to Eddyville for the next 4 programs.
November 14th – Eddyville, Kentucky
Arrived at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at 10:30am and a bunch of guys were waiting to carry the gear up the stairs, as they no longer let volunteers use the elevator??? Chaplain John Neece was waiting for us and once everything was scanned and looked through, we went through the yard again. The last couple of times they allowed us to go through the corridor, at the back of the chapel, but not today?? John had arranged a lot of help, so it was no trouble. Paul and Steve (two of the inmates we have known for years) helped us in any way they could, and we were able to get ready on time. We started at 12:15 for a very small group. Some of the tried and trusted were there, but it’s a shame that we can’t get more men to come. Then we had to wait from 2pm until 3:30pm for the next group, the PC’s (Protected Custody). Only 10 men in this group (very small number compared to previous times). Afterwards we talked to several of the men, as the guard was late collecting them (they are escorted to the chapel). One of the men talked to Kate about his grandfather, who was a radio announcer. He would love to have some recording of him and he wondered whether there was any way of getting information. Kate promised him to try, if he would send her information. Another man told A.G. his father lived in England, and yet another man came and told us that he lived in Owensboro. He remembered that ‘our’ apartment isn’t far from Owensboro and told us he really misses Owensboro. We talked about Goldie’s (a small theater where they had music shows) and about Carmel Home (the retirement home where we play every year). He’s getting out early next year and can’t wait to go home. It was after 5pm, before the men were collected and we were able to go as well. Had a meal at the Chinese Buffet and then back to the motel room, where Kate first finished the newsletter and then did the envelopes for the Christmas letters and after that a song sheet for the following day. Practiced a couple of songs for the next day as well.
Dear Kate and AG,
I hope this letter finds you doing well. It was a blessing to see you before I got out and I really thank you and AG for prayer over me, it meant a lot. You have been very special to me and I thank God for you both every night. Well, this will be the last time I write to you from prison and as soon as I get out I will write again and give you my new address. Please take care of yourselves. Love and prayers, Kenny, Eddyville, Kentucky
Hi Kate and AG,
How are you doing? Did you have a safe trip home? I am getting used being out of prison, trying to find a job. I hope you will have a wonderful Christmas and please write me at my new address or send me an email. Please take care of yourselves and send me some pictures. Love and prayers, Kenny, Louisville, Kentucky
November 15th – Eddyville, Kentucky
Got up very early and loaded everything in the car, as we would be travelling after we were through today. Arrived at the prison at 8:15. Volunteer Wayne Hughes was there, who lives not far from the apartment we use. A lady named Diane had come in with him, as well as a Native American, who had come to take the service for that group. When we arrived in the chapel, Bobby (one of the inmates) brought us a card that had been signed by several of the men, and Kenny (who writes us regularly) came by to say goodbye. He’s going home at Thanksgiving. Leaving prison can also be a mixed blessing, as the men leave their friends inside behind. He promised he’d send us an email, once he’s out. The service was blessed and the men really joined in well. I think our fingers and voices were still half asleep, but the men had a ball. In ‘His Eye Is On The Sparrow’ we had them all singing and swinging. Afterwards we talked to Robert (one of the men who has been here as long as we have been coming here and has spent almost 40 years in here), and it looks like he’s doing ok. Kenny came by several times to say goodbye and another men told us about growing up with bluegrass and old time music. As soon as the men had left, A.G. started tuning the autoharp. The men from Death Row came in while he was still tuning. Only 5 of them came, but we had a blessed time with them. Sam told us he had received his birthday card, but Greg’s birthday card was denied, because it had a semi-lose sheet in it???? How stupid, that’s the design of the card, that’s how you buy it! We’ll resend it in some other form. The men joined in really well and we had a very blessed time. Time was up, quicker than we thought, and we finished with the bluegrass version of ‘Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.’ After a big hug from all the men, we said goodbye and then Paul, Steve and Kenny and others came back to help us pack up. Diane and Wayne helped with a couple of men, to get everything to the front lobby and there the other crew (minimum security men who live just outside the prison gate in special quarters) was waiting to carry it all down the stairs.... However, all of a sudden it was decided that we could use the elevator??? At 1:15pm we hit the road again.
Dear Kate and AG, our family in Christ,
Since you arrived in this country, the political wind has blown through the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In January 2016 the Death Penalty will be coming up again and I believe that the time is right for them to decide to do away with the state’s death penalty. We pray for a change for the better. I want you to know that this a very sad facility. Although I, and the brothers who attend your programs, do not live in such a state of mind. I used to be like that too, but I have given my life to Christ and changed my ways. It is hard for me to describe what your visits mean to me and the others (I don’t only speak for myself). We’re grateful for your time, music, love and compassion. Please know we keep you lifted up in prayer all the time. Me and the brothers love you two always in the greatest love and respect of our Lord Jesus Christ. Greg and all the brothers, Eddyville, Kentucky
The last week of the tour, we spent at the apartment near Owensboro, and we did one more program, at Carmel Home in Owensboro. On the 21st of November we flew home again. A very long, tiring journey. It had been a good tour, and we were thankful for blessings and safety and were now glad to be home again.
We spent the winter months at home and at Christmas we received a lot of mail, also from a lot of prisoners.
A.G. and Kate
I am still on probation until 2018. I will never forget your amazing message, when I saw you at Kershaw Correctional (South Carolina). Thank you so much. Keep up the good work, God bless and Merry Christmas John, South Carolina
AG and Kate,
We want to wish you all a Texas sized Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If anyone displays the Christmas spirit all year long, it would be you two. Best wishes to you and your families, Mike, Texas
Merry Christmas AG and Kate,
I just wanted to take a few minutes to wish you both a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. When God blessed me with your friendship, He gave me more laughter in my world, more meaning in my life and more love in my heart. Having you both as friends means more that I can ever express. I love you both.
During the early part of the year, we spent a lot of time doing work in, on and around the house. Kate was struck with tendinitis in her thumb and wasn’t able to play for several weeks. After that we both had the flu. Early March Kate had X-rays done on her hands, and the outcome is the beginning of osteo arthritis. It’s in its early stages and she’s still able to play, even though sometimes it’s a bit painful. One way or another, it totally slipped our minds to do a newsletter around Easter, and we do apologize for that.
On the 23rd of April we left for England again and spent 10 weeks travelling the whole country, including Wales this time, and doing 3 programs in prisons. There were 4 on the schedule, but one was cancelled 10 days before it was to happen, due to ‘operational difficulties,’ whatever that means. The prisons are so understaffed and overcrowded, that we can see where there easily could be difficulties. Our first program on the tour, was supposed to have been in a prison on the 26th of April. However, the week before we were to leave for England, we received an email with the message that it could not happen on that date, so we moved it to the end of the tour. Then, the first program on the tour was on the 28th of April, at Wayland prison.
April 28th – HMP Wayland
Arrived at the prison just before noon. We checked in and then sat down and waited for chaplain Nacer to arrive. He came out and shared with us what the plan was. Chaplains Bob (Wilson - who was the head chaplain here 5 years ago, and whom we worked with several times) and Mohammed (don’t think we met him before) were a big help. Once we had it all loaded onto two carts, they took the carts in through the vehicle gate and we walked in through the visitors entrance. When they were through, Bob came back to get us and by the time we made it to the chapel, the carts were already in the chapel and the chaplains had carried everything to the stage. Great help! With a cup of coffee we set up and around 2pm the men started coming in. One of the men told us he was over the moon that we were back, he had seen us two years ago and had missed seeing us last year (couldn’t get it planned due to circumstances with the chaplaincy). A few others came in and shook our hands and even though it was a small turnout we had a great time. Bob introduced us and we played for an hour and a half. The men were really with us and seeing the smiles on the men’s faces makes it really worthwhile. Afterwards they served tea and coffee and we had a chat with several of the men. The man who had come in first, and who was so enthusiastic about seeing us again, came over and told us that we were different from any other group coming in. He said: “You’re one of us.” He also told us that he didn’t grow up as a Christian, that he came from a middle class background but with no Christian input. After he’d come to prison, he had noticed that only Christian people were coming in to do anything for the prisoners and that had made him think. A.G. also talked to a group of travelers. One of the men said he had noticed that the tune of ‘The Great Speckled Bird’ was identical to the tune of ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.’ Wow, he was right too. To find that out in Wayland, is something else. He also asked whether we met any travelers in the US. Never have, not as far as we know. By 4pm we started packing, as the chapel had to be cleared by 4:30 for the next program, a bible study. Some of the men helped with the packing up, and the chaplains with one of the volunteers (who had come in for the bible study) helped with getting the carts to the gate. It had started to drizzle a little bit, but not enough to cause a problem with loading the car. Goodbye chaplains, see you next year?? We’ll see.
We travelled all over England, did programs and visited lots of friends, and for the first time in 20 years or so, we did some programs in Wales again. One of them was a program in the prison in Usk.
June 3rd – Usk, Wales
Arrived at the prison at noon and everything seemed very well organized. We drove into the gate lock, an officer took our details and looked in the car, and then escorted us to the chapel. Chaplain David was there to meet us with a couple of men, to carry all the gear into the chapel, and we could leave the car parked around the corner. Steve, who works in the chapel, had seen us in different prisons around the country, like Acklington (in Northumbeland) and Albany (on the Isle of Wight). He was the one who had mentioned us to the chaplain, who had contacted us and now we were here. Steve made us some coffee and helped us set up. We thought it was to start at 2:30, but it was actually 1:30. We managed to get ready on time. About 35 men (of the 240 that are there) attended and we had a really blessed time. It blew us away. They were mainly older men and they responded very well to everything we said and sang. Played for an hour and three quarters and could have done another hour for them. Afterwards lots of men came by to thank us, we signed autographs, one of them brought some songs he wanted us to have, another brought a couple of bars of chocolate. One man told me he had met Johnny Cash and knew a lot about him as well. He mentioned that ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’ was his first hit for Sun Records. He also mentioned that John proposed to June on stage, during ‘Jackson.’ He had seen Cash in the 60’s before he married June. Another man told Kate that she had made him laugh when, during the program she started losing her voice a bit (due to the last bits of a cold) and she said: “I have something in common with Johnny Cash. All the times we saw him, he had a cold.” He told her the story of when he was a paramedic and working in Sheffield when the Highwaymen performed there. At some point he was called to the dressing room area, because Johnny Cash had a cold and could hardly sing! He also mentioned that he was at the Tammy Wynette concert in Sheffield, when she was struggling a lot with her health and a doctor came and advised her not to go on stage. She did so anyway. That wasn’t long before she passed away. When the men were gone, Steve helped us pack and we were out by 4pm.
After that program we left Wales and travelled to Gloucestershire. We set up for the next program, and noticed our amplifier started distorting, but it stopped before we started singing. However, during the program the distortion returned. We were able to finish the program and at the next program (in Devon) we decided to use the spare amplifier we carry with us, only to find out it didn’t work at all. They had a PA system in the hall, and we were able to work with it. The following day we started phoning around and searching on line for another amp. We found a Peavy amp (identical to the one we use in the US as a spare), friends gave us a ride and we bought it. We were back in business and able to do the remaining programs on the tour.
The program at the Warren Hill prison in Hollesley Bay was the last one on the tour.
June 30th - HMP Warren Hill
Made it to HMP Warren Hill at 11:45am. When we pulled up, our friend Donna Rae was sitting outside the visitor’s centre, drinking coffee. We had arranged for her to come in with us. She used to be a prison volunteer. Here’s her story about the day:
We've all had them. The gigs you would like to forget. Breaking down on the way, getting to the venue by the skin of your teeth covered in oil and dirt. Or the venue opening twenty minutes before the show starts. And of course, changing in the broom cupboard, or worse, the toilets.
But when you've been to one of AG and Kate's prison concerts, you know what problems really are.
So we get to HMP Warren Hill, Suffolk, England, at 11-45 for a 1-45 start. The chaplain is due to meet us at the gate, but for some reason he's not in the prison. But never mind, there's another chaplain on duty. The problem is, he's on his rounds and they can't contact him. Kate checks her watch, and yes there's still time to get the car through before they stop all vehicles at 12-30.
We stand outside in the sun getting a tan. 10 minutes later Kate checks to see if they have managed to get hold of the chaplain. No, is the answer. And the same when she goes back 10 minutes later. By this time, it's going to be too late to get the car through, and it's too far to take the gear on a trolley. "See you next year." says Kate, more calmly than I would if it had been my gig. (After all, they've only come from Holland.)
We decide to go for a coffee and a chat at a garden centre a few miles away, and decide on plan B. Kate's phone rings. It's the chaplain who was doing his rounds when we were at the gate. He's really annoyed, as they only tried once to get hold of him. He asks Kate if they could do an evening show, if he can arrange it? Yes, is the answer. (It's no small task to rearrange a prison program.) So we wait. In less than 30 minutes the chaplain rings back to say it's on. (Yey! I do get to see a live show after all.) We needed to be back at the gate by 3-30 for a 5-30 start.
We decide to have a meal as it's going to be a long day. We're back at the gate by 3-30, and after the usual hold-ups getting us and the car checked, and waiting for someone to take us through, AG and Kate are ready by 5-30, to play to a small, but enthusiastic group of men.
We leave about 8-00. All this for a 11/2 hour concert, during which they dedicated the song ‘Grey Stone Chapel’ to me. But that's just what AG and Kate do. All for smiles. (And they were all doing that. And singing.)
God bless you guys.
Before we started a man had come up to AG and told him he had worked a lot in Holland, in Bergen op Zoom and other places, Kate talked to a man called Andrew, who had seen us several times before and had been diagnosed with cancer. After treatments he has been left with epilepsy, but told her he’s doing ok and thankful for God helping him through it all. We needed to finish no later than 7:05pm as some of the men would be picked up by 7:15pm. Afterwards a couple of the other men stayed to help with carrying our gear to the car. An officer came and picked A.G. up to get the car and a friendly officer escorted us in and out. Then goodbye to Donna Rae, who had stuck it out with us all day. Back at the campsite by 8pm.
On the 2nd of July we returned home, and we can look back on a blessed time again. Financially it was a lot more difficult than before. Several fellowships were not able to host us, for different reasons, and the prisons no longer pay us anything. For years we used the extra funds from England, to help pay for the American tour. This time there was nothing left over, and we’ll possibly struggle to make ends meet in the US.
We’re busy working on that tour. We’ll be leaving home on the 27th of August and it looks like we will have a very busy schedule, with lots of programs in Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas and Tennessee.
The churches will be far outnumbered by the prisons and that’s why we’d like to ask ALL OF YOU to consider helping with the funding.
THANKS in advance!