Big Q: What was your first live concert?

We asked several Covenant leaders to tell us about their first experience with live music. Here’s what they told us.


At fourteen, I went with a group of friends to a concert at the Minneapolis auditorium by R&B bassist Bootsy Collins. He had played with James Brown and a number of other R&B artists as a young man and had ventured out on his own. He had this new wave, very electronic, very funky vibe and a larger-than-life stage presence, complete with all the props. We were mesmerized! Being at our first live music concert together felt like we had arrived—we were officially grownups.

Cecilia Williams
Executive Minister of Love Mercy Do Justice


Andraé Crouch and the Disciples, with kids from my church. We drove from Modesto, California, to an all-black church in downtown Oakland. It was a great concert but also a profound experience for our youth group from the Central Valley.

Mark Novak
Executive Minister of Develop Leaders


Ted Nugent. I was a freshman at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, a very conservative nondenominational Christian university. The concert was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I didn’t make it back before the 10 p.m. curfew so I received demerits, and I had to admit that I was late because of a Ted Nugent concert. I’m not really sure how I thought we could drive eighty-five miles, see a concert, and get back before curfew. Gotta love the thought process of an eighteen-year-old!

Terri Cunliffe
CEO, Covenant Retirement Communities


It must have been Second Chapter of Acts, Kim Boyce, or Carman, not sure which one was first. I used to go to the local Christian bookstore and pick up a Christian Happening magazine to learn about Christian music and venues in the area. I grew up in Chicago, and hardly any groups came to the inner-city for concerts, so my father would drive for hours out to rural areas to take me to a concert. As I reflect now on this, I think about what a generous gift that was from my dad, who was planting a church and working a full-time job.

Rebecca Gonzalez
Executive Director of Operations


A concert featuring both Firefall and Fleetwood Mac on July 12, 1976, at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. My older cousin Anne invited me to go with her. Her friend had canceled at the last minute, and Anne was so desperate to get the ticket paid for that she finally invited her fifteen-year-old cousin. (I was probably the tenth person she asked.) It sounded like fun, I had some extra cash, so I went.

John Wenrich
Executive Minister of Start and Strengthen Churches


Loggins and Messina. It was an outdoor concert the summer before my freshman year of college. My girlfriend and I got lost and arrived about halfway through the opening act, which was Jim Croce. We sat on the lawn and had a picnic dinner—I think it was cold fried chicken and salad. During the encore it started to rain and we sprinted to the car and were soaked by the time we got there.

Dick Lucco
Executive Director of Ministry Development


Van Halen in 1984. My high-school buddies and I were all Van Halen fanatics and got great seats in the eighth row. What I remember most was camping out overnight at the Rockford Metro Centre to get the tickets. The community of misfits that are hardcore rock fans—the feeling (and aroma) in the air, people playing frisbee,
the sheer variety of humanity—is what made the event so memorable.

Ed Gilbreath
Executive Director of Communication


Honestly I can’t remember my first one. My most memorable live concert experience was when I surprised my husband, Mickey, with tickets to see Creed in New York City. It was our first live
concert together and still my favorite!

Michelle Sanchez
Executive Minister of Make and Deepen Disciples


I grew up as the youngest of five music-loving siblings, and James Taylor was my first live concert. I think we all know virtually every JT song!

Paul Hawkinson
Executive Director of Finance


J. Geils Band and Peter Frampton. I was sixteen and had just gotten my license. My girlfriend and I traveled an hour north of our hometown in Salem, Oregon, up to Portland. She loved Frampton’s hair, so I did my best to do my hair like his.

Al Tizon
Executive Minister of Serve Globally


Freddi, Henchi, and the Soul Setters at Colorado State University. It was my first year at CSU. I had heard high school bands before, but these guys were true entertainers. They had the moves and the grooves, and I think they played about three hours. Coming from a smaller community, I had never heard songs of James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Sly and the Family Stone before. I remember the keyboarder had a Leslie rotary combo amp which made it super cool.

Steve Dawson
President of National Covenant Properties


The 5th Dimension in college. I remember being surprised by how long the ticket line was for advance sales. When I got to the ticket window, I found out everyone else was in line for Rolling Stones tickets. I got front row seats. Up, up and away.

Gary Walter
President of the Evangelical Covenant Church


This isn’t a good question for me—my first concerts were all orchestra! My parents brought me to all sorts of classical concerts from the time I was pretty young. Then after that, it was all jazz and big band concerts.

Ann Wiesbrock
President of Covenant Trust Company


The Monkees at the old Chicago Stadium with two girlfriends. I had just started playing drums to 45 rpm records in my basement and I was a huge fan of the band. But I couldn’t get into the screaming the way all the other girls were. I’d give a weak “eek” every now and then to fit in, but I just wanted to hear the music, watch the musicians, and maybe swoon a little bit over my favorite—Mike Nesmith, the bass player!

Meagan Gillan
Director of Women Ministries

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