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Sound Charity

by Stephen Hebert on Sunday - 31 May 2009

in Arts

I could not decide whether or not to put this article on Withering Fig, or on sbh*. Due to its spiritual content, I opted for Fig.

Craig Kinsey, who often goes by “The Rev” (because he spent several years in a monastery, as I understand) is the lead singer of a Houston-based folk/blues/crazy band known as The Sideshow Tramps. He looks like a bearded Jack the Pumpkin King as he rocks on his acoustic guitar. He is a great performer and the subject of this post.

I went and saw these guys at Dan Electro’s in the Heights on Friday. Even though the crowd was sparse, they were into it. In fact, I’ve never seen a crowd so into a band. The Tramps ripped through a set of tunes that was one part Bob Dylan mixed with one part Tom Waits and a dash of VooDoo — an incredible, old-timey sound that has been punked up. Washtub bass, washboards, cigar-box guitars, banjos, mandolins, all conspired to make a bunch of folks go nuts for 90 minutes. Here’s a link to a Houston Press review of a Tramps show in 2007 — it gives you an idea of what I am talking about.

As the Tramps were doing there thing, a friend of mine (who will remain nameless) yelled into my ear: “I think Jesus is telling me to give Craig my Martin.” The phrase “my Martin” refers to a very nice acoustic guitar. In fact, this axe has history: it’s the first guitar that my buddy ever bought!

“What?!?” I said.

“Jesus is telling me to give Craig my Martin.”

After the show, I was hanging out near the exit (after the Tramps played a great version of Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm”), and I saw my friend go up to The Rev and talk to him. Undoubtedly, he was giving the message that Jesus had given him.

Craig “The Rev” Kinsey went on to tell an interesting story. Evidently, the guitar that he was playing that night and that he had been playing on a tour that the Tramps had just finished was borrowed. He didn’t own a guitar that he could use. This borrowed guitar had to be given back to its owner the next day. My friend’s guitar had come at the most perfect time.

The next day, I witnessed the passing of the Martin to Craig. He seemed quite delighted.

“I told a friend of mine that this wasn’t happening,” he said. “The guy didn’t believe me. He told me that if I really picked up a Martin for free today, then he might just have to come back to Jesus.”

No doubt, the friend was joking, but I found this whole story to be an interesting testament to the interconnectedness of life and the amazing power that God has to affect things. My friend’s generosity, spurred by his faith in Jesus, came at the perfect moment for Craig Kinsey.

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