They didn't really know what awaited them, nor did they know me, a percussionist and music promoter working for Youth With A Mission at a missionary base called An Cuan in the tiny village of Rostrevor in Northern Ireland, the area of Ireland still part of the United Kingdom. They ended up playing nine gigs in 10 days, some planned, and some that came up as a result of their ability to charm with their music and their open, friendly demeanors. They opened by attending the weekly Songs and Stories event at the Rostrevor Inn, where the host spontaneously invited them to play a couple of tunes. They wowed the crowd in the tiny but packed room, and from then on they were known and appreciated by the folks in the music-oriented village. They put on a worship clinic on Saturday and followed with a free concert with two prominent local musicians, Fra Sands and Maria Nickolay, a concert that raised the equivalent of several hundred US dollars for the refugees An Cuan works with in Lebanon and France. They played during and after the service at the local Church of Ireland and led morning worship for An Cuan staff and trainees the next day and again that evening at the open-to-the-public Harbour Service. The next night they were invited to lead worship for a Lenten service at a nearby hotel, then went right to the local pub to play in a session of Irish folk songs and pop hits with local musicians. Then it was back to the Songs and Stories for two more songs the next night. For their finale they headlined the monthly An Cuan Open Mic Night. They added some Irish classics to their already eclectic and wide-ranging set list, which kept their listeners engaged during each of their performances. At the free concert, one woman kept whispering to her husband that she was going to leave after the next song, but she kept staying! Their worship sessions were spirit-driven, and actually so were their secular performances. Bottom line was that they did what musicians are called to do: connect with and move their audience. They did it with grace and ease and made many friends in a small and distant Irish village. Their return is eagerly awaited!
-- Ron Somers, retired USA Today Sports Journalist