Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken

Last night I had the pleasure of getting to see one of my favorite musicians perform at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.

I was introduced to Caedmon’s Call by a dear friend during my freshman year of college back in 1995. Caedmon’s covered a song called “There’s a Stirring” that was particularly meaningful to us when we lost another of our friends in a car accident in 1996. Little did I know that I would also mourn the passing of my friend who introduced me to them in 1997. College was a very bitter-sweet time for me. To this day I have trouble keeping a dry eye when I hear that song.

Before I lost the friend who introduced me to Caedmon’s, we traveled together to her hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas to see them perform at the university there. I saw them again a couple of years later in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. While I loved all their music, I started noticing a pattern that my favorite Caedmon’s songs were often written and sung by Derek Webb. It was almost as if he was writing the soundtrack of my life. Do you know what I’m talking about?…those moments when you hear a song and you think “yes, that’s how I feel!” and then you wish you yourself were eloquent enough to express yourself with such depth and beauty?

If I had to choose the lyric that best “gets me” it would be from the song “Can’t Lose You” from their album Long Line of Leavers:

So now everyone’s evolving and I am just the same, As I was ten years ago, but I don’t know, Maybe the simple life is more the way to go, But then again, I’m mostly all alone

‘Cause I’m losing everyone, But I know I can’t lose you, And maybe my time will come, But I know I can’t lose you…

…And maybe I have the gift that everyone speaks so highly of, Funny how nobody wants it

Derek didn’t perform this last night, but you can see him performing it here:

He did, however, give a shout-out to the single folks and performed “Table for Two” after someone requested it.

In 2003, Derek stuck out on his own and has produced a number of very good solo albums and EPs in the years since. He’s even toured with Caedmon’s Call again (I caught them together again at a church in Kokomo, Indiana in 2008). His lovely wife, Sandra McCracken is also a talented musician, who I had never seen perform live until last night. And what a treat it was to see them together! By the way, if you visit Sandra’s website, you can download a sampler album for free.

Kenny Meeks, who has a bluesy sort of sound, opened for them and also joined in for their final number (a Bob Dylan cover). Meeks was involved with Derek’s first solo album, She Must & Shall Go Free. I thought he was great and bought one of his CDs after the show.

Sandra also did a couple of her own songs. She has a really amazing voice that reminds me of Brandi Carlile or Aimee Mann, but it is uniquely her own. I had heard some of her music through following Derek’s career, but hadn’t made the effort yet to become her fan. I’m going to make that effort!

They were promoting their new joint project, TN EP. This is the second EP they’ve done together and Derek talked about how they both desire to maintain their solo careers and don’t want to become known as a husband-and-wife duo. However, they do enjoy creating music together occasionally and they both talked about what a treat it is to get to travel places together. Here’s a song from the new EP, which they performed last night, “From Me to You:”

They both took requests (unfortunately, I wasn’t loud or fast enough to get my “Can’t Lose You!” shouted out). I’m not going to remember them all, but here’s a few:

Wedding Dress (this was a request)

Mockingbird (another request)

Watch Your Mouth (from their first EP, Ampersand)

A New Law (kinda thinking he did this one, but second-guessing myself!)

I Wanna Marry You All Over Again (Awwww, this one is so sweet)

The Spirit Vs. The Kick Drum (from Stockholm Syndrome)

Freddie Please: Derek isn’t afraid to speak his mind and that’s one of the things I appreciate about him. In introducing this song, he talked about imagining what Jesus might say to Fred Phelps, the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, face-to-face. He then joked that he decided that it needed to be a 50s doo-wop love song…from a guy. It finally made sense to me! I had been puzzled listening to this song previously.

Lover: When he introduced this one, he talked of how he’s been known for making “Christian music” for the last 15-20 years. He warned to be wary of anyone trying to tell you that stuff is “Christian” and that it is a marketing ploy. And then he joked that this is the only song he’s written about Jesus. He also talked about God being Lord over 100% of our lives, not just the 2% of topics considered okay for “Christian music,” including sexuality, politics, relationships, etc.

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