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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
It has been a while since the last newsletter, which was sent around Easter. At that time we were home, due to the fact that Kate’s mother was going through chemo treatments for non-Hodgkin disease (a form of lymphoma). The last treatment was in May, and because she was doing so well, we decided to leave for England, where we toured for a couple of months. We only did 12 concerts and two of those were in prisons in Wales. Several of the people who organized concerts in previous years, had retired, become too old or were unable to do it due to personal circumstances, and of course getting into the prisons has become almost impossible. We filled the time in between concerts, with visiting a lot of friends, who are all getting older and some more feeble, and it was nice to have the time to see them all. The concerts went well too and we had a blessed time in the Usk and Prescoed prisons in Wales. Here is one of the letters we received from one of the inmates there.
Dear A.G. and Kate,
Thank you both ever so much for coming back to see us and play for us here at Usk. I have been in prison since 2008, and this was the first time for me to see you perform. I have been thinking about what superlatives best describe what I saw and heard during your concert on the 15th of June. “Fantastic, Amazing, Wonderful”……. come to mind ….. J You gave me one of the most pleasant afternoons of my life!! Anywhere!!
I have to commend you on the mastery of your instruments, you both played so exquisitely with fun and passion, for the love in your hearts for your music and for your performance. I could see it, and not only that, I could feel it, it was electrifying.
And both your vocals was beautiful and so wonderfully complimentary. The chemistry between
you was like stardust. If you could bottle it up and sell it, you would be ‘zillion-aires!’
You certainly connected with us and I loved the audience participation and your great sense of humor. It made me smile and laugh and I felt I wasn’t in prison. Like it was chemistry of old friends, which did make it a special occasion.
Your arrangements of the songs and hymns was so apt you created a buzz, a wonderful moment in tijme here, one that I will never forget. I’ve told my family and friends about it and they thrilled and marveled that such an event was possible in here.
You said you wanted to bring some light and happiness in dark places, well you certainly did that and more. It was pure joy and a privilege to see your concert. I loved it!! Thank you and God bless you.
Gareth, HMP Usk, Wales, Great Britain
Late June, Kate’s mother went for another scan, and because the results of the second lot of chemo’s had not been as good as the first lot, she urged us to stay home, as there was no telling how the illness would progress. At that time we were still contemplating whether we should come, as the sponsorship has been slow and we really didn’t even have the money to pay for the flights. With the ‘not as good as hoped for’ result from the scan, we decided that our place was at home, with mum, and for the first time in 34 years we would not make a trip to America.
On the 2nd of July we did the last program of the English tour, on the Isle of Wight. A week later we returned home. A.G. felt he needed a break from playing and we didn’t touch our instruments for a month. After that we slowly started again and even took on some new songs, but the prospect of a concert (like we usually do late August in our ‘Grand Ole Opry’) made A.G. anxious.
As we wouldn’t be leaving any time soon, there was no reason we should have one in August, so we put if off until early November.
It gave us time to put a new 2 CD with old recordings together. In 1979 Don Stover and Red Rector were in Holland (touring with Bill Clifton at the time) and we spent a day in the studio. We had enough tracks for two LP’s. In 1987 our then record label, released Vol. 1 on LP, but they never released Vol. 2. At some point the studio where we had recorded the session, had been sold, and later closed. We tracked down the original owner of the studio and found out he had taken those (and other) recordings with him, and he had already digitalized them as well. Now that we were home and had time to put it all together, we were able to release all the recordings on this 2 CD, called Good Friends.
The concert was delayed again, because a large part of our audience was down with the flue and A.G. felt not up to it either.
He went to see the doctor and was diagnosed with part burn-out/part depression. Not a good combination. He was started on medication, but it could take from 2 to 6 weeks to start working. He also had his blood checked. The doctor wanted to make sure there were no physical problems.
The concert was re-scheduled for the 19th of November and it went well. On the 27th of November we went back to the doctor for an ‘in between’ check up. The blood-work came back fine, and he needs to continue with the medication he was taking for it. The doctor wants to see him again before Christmas, and we hope the medication will soon ‘kick in.’
Our next concert will be our annual Christmas Concert, here at home, and we’re already working on that.
It is hard to predict what we will be able to do the coming year, but we are hoping to be able to go back to England and Wales, and to come back to the US.
In an earlier email I asked all the sponsors to contribute this year as well, even though we were not able to go to the US this time. In previous years we were able to put our own money, as well as ‘left over money’ from our English tours, towards the cost of the American tours. That money has run out and England (and Wales) barely pay for themselves now-a-days. We really need to build up enough funds for the tickets and the cost of another American tour.
Again this year we lost some dear friends, and we pray for others who are struggling with health problems.
Thanks for all your support, your prayers and your love.