Billy Bob has finally played Nashville. I was not at the Ryman, or on Broadway, but I was at a special place, and for a special purpose.
Last summer, Jean, Drew and I spent a week on an urban farm in Nashville/Madison. David, the farm owner, and I, became friends that week.
David’s family farm is located in the Neeley’s Bend area of Madison. There they raise cattle, sheep and chickens, but they also have a community garden. This fall, David and his wife, Janice, have hosted outdoor-Saturday-evening concerts for the community. They call them “Bands in the Bend.” They usually have a bonfire, pots filled with homemade chili, goodies and coffee, all at no charge.
David invited me to come do a Bro Billy Bob concert as part of last Saturday evenings lineup, as well as Lisa Gray and her impromptu band that she called, “Lisa-and-the-Cousins.”
Because of inclement weather, the event was moved inside to Amqui Railroad Station, there in Madison. I was disappointed by the news of the move, until I saw the place. The venue was originally the L & N passenger station and signal tower, built in 1910.
In the 1970s, Johnny Cash, who lived in nearby Hendersonville, used to visit the signalman at the Amqui Station. Didn’t he sing something about hearing a train coming around the bend? The station fell into a state of disrepair, but in 1979, Mr. Cash bought it, and then saved it from demolition.
The station was beautifully restored and is now a museum, educational center and venue for concerts, weddings and other events. Several of the original pieces of furniture and fixtures have been preserved. Numerous pictures of Johnny Cash now hang in the station, as well as other well-known musicians such as Woody Guthrie, Boxcar Willie, Kitty Wells, Roy Acuff and others.
Why does the farm do these events? It is a time of fellowship with neighbors, as well as church members, but it is also a way to share about their ministries and missions.
House to Home is one of the ministries. This ministry helps the homeless to get off the streets and into furnished apartments. The second ministry/mission is a farm they have in the desert of Kenya. There they are helping break the cycle of gender-based violence. They have helped close to 100 women learn to grow their own vegetables, sell them in the markets, and feed their own families, as well.
They have also helped them set up a poultry house operation. This provides fresh eggs, much needed compose for the gardens, and meat once the chickens have ceased to lay. Please join us in praying for these ministries.
Drew made the trip with me last weekend. We were blessed to be back at the farm, where David’s parents graciously hosted us in their home, and to visit with our new friends from last summer, including Tiny the Great Pyrenees.
It was a pleasure to play in such a historic venue, and especially for such a great purpose. It truly is good to be back on the road again.
Bill King is director of Tuskegee Lee Baptist Association (www.tuskegeelee.com). He is a minister, author, singer/songwriter, and performs humor as Bro. Billy Bob Bohannon (www.brobillybob.com). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.