Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight

by Joseph Stanley

Cash Box Magazine September 25, 1993

REUNION RECORDING ARTIST RICH MULLINS has teamed up with producer Reed Arvin and an all-star cast of musicians to create his upcoming (October 5) release, A Liturgy, A Legacy, And A Ragamuffin Band, a recording quite unlike anything that has ever been done before.

The concept of the "ragamuffin band" was born out of Mullins' desire to create an album of highest merit that was more than just another slickly produced studio album. To achieve that, instead of hiring the usual "perfect" studio musicians to come in and record their individual parts, Mullins and Arvin pulled together a group of "ragamuffin" artist/musician friends for a recording retreat in South Bend, Indiana, and involved them in every aspect of the recording project.

The term "ragamuffin" was coined by Brennan Manning, author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, to refer to imperfect Christians —the fact that we're all sinners in need of grace. The concept is woven thematically throughout the new recording project, which is in itself a look at how the various perspectives of our lives blend with the rituals of our faith.

The Ragamuffin Band is comprised of Billy Crockett (acoustic guitars), Rick Elias (electric and acoustic guitars), Jimmy A (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin), Danny OTannerghty (electric and acoustic basses), Chris McHugh (drums), Erik Darken (percussion), Lee Lundgren (squeezebox, hooter, organ), Mullins (hammered dulcimer, piano). Beaker (lap dulcimer), and Arvin (piano, keys). Mullins' collaboration with these musicians has given the album a more personal, richer (no pun intended), diverse sound than Mullins' previous releases.

'The Liturgy" portion of this album, cuts 2-6, develops the concept of the liturgical aspects of worship: proclamation, praise, confession of sin, affirmation of faith and celebration of grace. These songs of liturgy include "Creed," his version of the Apostles' Creed sung with the hammered dulcimer; "Peace (A Communion Blessing From St. Joseph Square)," a song originating from his old neighborhood, nicknamed St. Joseph Square; and "Hold Me Jesus," a poignant ballad asking for divine comfort. ("Hold Me Jesus" is also the first radio single.

'The Legacy," cuts 7-12, addresses issues and ideas handed down from the past that play themselves out in the history of America, thus, 'The Legacy" of faith that has been passed down in this country in the past two-and-a-quarter centuries. Mullins sings of this legacy in "I Carry On," a song inspired by his French ancestors, who were teenage orphans who stowed away on a boat for America; "Land Of My Sojourn," is a song about what America might one day be like; the legacy of Christmas is explored in "You Gotta Get Up (Christmas Song)." Also a part of 'The Legacy" is a bit of the modern-day legacy, Mullins' version of "How To Grow Up Big And Strong," written by the late Mark Heard.

This intermingling of Liturgy and Legacy makes fora non-traditional album in Mullins' own inimitable style, weaving a broad, beautiful tapestry of Christianity in America as seen through the eyes of one of its most well-traveled citizens.

As a part oftheevent that is A Liturgy, A Legacy, And A Ragamuffin Band, Reunion will partner with Questar/Multnomah Publishers in their reissue of The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. Mullins will write the forward for the new reprint of the book and will accompany Manning on a promotional tour.