Wichita, KS 07/25 1998

This Train and Mitch McVicker
Wichita, KS
Saturday, July 25, 1998
by Danl Blackwood

Better Book Room

Mitch at Better Book Room

The afternoon of the concert, Mitch and This Train had an in-store appearance at the Better Book Room, though only about 20 or 30 people showed up. Never the less, Mitch cheerfully greeted his fans, signed autographs, greeted old friends, and gave us a little impromptu acoustic solo concert. He sang three of the many new songs that he's been working on over this extended period of healing and recovery. This Train was a little late getting there from Tulsa, where they had performed the previous evening. Mitch sat in the music department of the Better Book Room, playing his Taylor acoustic guitar, and singing "Cry Of My Heart." As the very small crowd listened intently, it became startling apparent to me that even though Mitch has made several visits to Wichita, this was Mitch's first "official" public appearance in Wichita since the accident. It also became apparent to me that this was the first time I'd heard Mitch's singing voice since the accident, and I was pleasantly surprised at how strong he sounded. Even though Mitch still feels he like his voice has a ways to go before being completely healed, it was difficult to perceive any weakness. Of course, we were hearing songs that we never heard before. For the second selection entitled "Boat On The Water", Mitch taught us the chorus. In repetition, we repeated ... Mitch solo

Jesus lives in me
Jesus calms my seas
Jesus lives in me
Jesus calms my seas
Mitch teased us about our surprising lack of rhythm on such a simple praise chorus, but by the end of the song, we had it down. While Mitch was singing this song, Michael Aukofer told me he really liked this one, and pointed out one of his favorite lines when Mitch sang about how Jesus "may ask us to throw out our nets, and He may ask us to throw them out again." Michael was in town for a couple weeks doing a percussion camp at Friend's University; a camp he started about four years ago. He and I got together for a lunch and a visit at the Solid Ground Coffeehouse a couple days later, and I will be writing up an interview shortly. The short, intimate concert ended with "Strong", a song that Mitch is also performing at some of the regular concerts (though not tonight). This song reflects a lot on what Mitch has said is probably the main theme of all his music - how strong God's love is for us.
It ain't about me
It's about His grace
His grace is strong
This Train, Mitch, & Michael

Mitch continued visiting with fans and friends, as did Mark Robertson, Jordan Richter, and Cobra Joe of This Train. As is not uncommon for him, Mark was wearing some pretty wild shoes. When my daughter asked where he got those "really cool shoes", he told us of being in San Francisco just the previous week, and walking around in some brand new cowboy boots. (Whenever they get out there, they like to take advantage of finding "really cheap cowboy clothes.") When he realized the boots were absolutely killing his feet, and wouldn't have a chance to change into anything else for a while, he popped into a store and bought 'em. Though This Train didn't play anything that afternoon, they were their usual "wild and crazy" selves while just hanging out visiting.

I asked Mitch how the dates had been so far for this short summer tour. He said it was going pretty well, though most of the concerts were pretty small. They were very pleased with the previous night's crowd in Tulsa. He said even though it was a small crowd of about 150 in a fairly large sanctuary, they made them feel very welcome. When I told him we were concerned for his stamina, he said he was doing really well, considering where he was 10 months ago. Having had some touring experience was helpful in knowing how to pace himself, since he is still healing. There is still the double vision, and his singing voice is not quite back to full speed.

Mitch's mom and dad, Doug and Wendee McVicker, sold t-shirts, CD's, and pictures, as they did at the concert later in the evening. Mitch's grandma from Iowa, Wendee's mom, was also there. They are in fact handling all of Mitch's business for him as Mitch sets out independently on his continued career, while still negotiating for a record deal. I asked Doug how he felt about his "new job" and he said it was great to help Mitch. He and Wendee really appreciated all the support they receive from Mitch's friends and fans. They thought the days of following Mitch around (to basketball games) was over, and here they are - on the road again. However, he feels the music business is a lot less stressful than basketball. :-) My wife asked if Mitch got to play basketball at all anymore, but apparently one of the injuries sustained in the accident left him with limited movement in his right shoulder, making it difficult to shoot baskets. I guess he'll have to stick to music ministry.

Before we left, I bought my new Mitch McVicker t-shirt with the logo of the leaf in hand on the front (as seen on the back of the CD).

Solid Ground Coffeehouse

We arrived early at the Solid Ground Coffeehouse, located in Old Town near downtown Wichita, which is open during the day for great food as well as coffee drinks. There were some others there early for the concert, but about a half an hour before the show, Jason Handrich (the proprietor) had everybody clear out, so they could finish preparing for the concert. The Solid Ground is a fairly small venue as a concert hall, with a capacity of only about 250. There are about a dozen booths along the walls close to the stage (with space to sit on the floor in front of the stage), about a dozen tables on a step up level behind that, and a balcony with limited seating. When the doors opened at 7:00pm, the place filled very quickly to standing room only, because the 7:30pm concert was sold out.

I had the opportunity to meet a couple of my cyber-friends who attended the concert. I met Kathy Leal before the concert, and also later received some photos she took to include in this review. I remembered seeing Mecca Morgan and her friend Nicole at the Better Book Room, but we didn't "recognize" each other until after the concert. It's kinda hard sometimes without the luxury of pre-arrangements, but meeting cyber friends face-to-face is still one of my favorite things to do. Another friend that was there was Teresa Suazo, though we didn't get the chance to "meet". I

Dan O'Neil from Light 99 made a few announcements about upcoming concerts (including the Jesus Fest 98), and then introduced Mitch and Michael. They opened up with a new one, "Right There With Us," with the rest of the set being familiar songs.

Mitch and Michael

As the others said in their reviews, the comments between songs were kept to a minimum so they wouldn't run over, since there was a second show to do at 10:00pm. Mitch did mention that it had been a while since he had been here - that he was kind of on the back burner. "Now I'm on the front burner," Mitch said, to which everyone responded with cheering. Mitch played for about 45 minutes, and then This Train prepared for their set.

The crowd was responsive vocally for This Train, but we were pretty stationary. "You look so nice just sitting there," Mark said. Mark was his usual witty self, and I just wanna say, This Train is my new favorite band to see live. While introducing the title track from their latest CD, Mimes Of The Old West, Mark first asked if there were any mimes present. He then proceeds to explain he figured there are probably four or five thousand mimes in the world - all angry at them over this song. Mark assumed that anyone who went out in public in black tights and makeup would have a sense of humor. Well, he was wrong. :-) This Train

Just as quickly Mark would show us his more serious side, as they played "Goodbye." Because of the subject matter this song surprises many that it was written before the accident. Mark said it was still difficult to sing this song, and they hadn't even performed it outside the recording studio before Cornerstone a couple weeks ago.

They brought up Mitch to join them on "A Million Years", and then Michael joined them with Mitch to do a couple more songs, including a new concert favorite - a rocking version of "Screen Door." It'd be hard to do the "cup routine" on this arrangement. :-) Their set ended with the "sensitive" love song, "Monster Truck." After an encore of a five-part vocal acapella version of "No Not One," the show was closed with one of Rich's favorite concert closers, "Doxology". Mitch, Michael, and This Train

It was an enjoyable evening, though it was very crowded, and Mitch and This Train spent a lot of time signing autographs and visiting afterward, until everyone was finally chased out again to prepare for the second show. Like Mecca, I am already anxious to see them again on Aug 30th at the Jesus Fest 98 event here in Wichita.

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