Thursday, July 03, 2008

Terry and Carmen Thompson Benefit--How It Went

(See my handful of pics above or click to see them at your own pace)

(Click here to see and purchase Benjamin Gibbs’ many pics)

Every now and then something goes so much better than you pictured it, you have to reevaluate whether you're too pessimistic about other areas of life as well. That's how it was with the Terry and Carmen Thompson Benefit last week.

We had a great turnout, especially for a Tuesday night, and especially given the market. Nashville area residents tend to be a little jaded toward the nationally-known artists we get to see—often for free—at more benefits per capita per year than the average city of comparable size (or so it seems). We can't help it if we're spoiled.

When I arrived at the Factory in Franklin, I was immediately impressed by the scale of the event; a lot of work had been going on all day (while I was at work) as well as during the weeks leading up to it. A large platform was set up on one side of the room with tables full of items up for bid and people examining the stuff for sale. A large room in the back held tables of the usual party food (nearly always too much when you’re at the party, but you can’t eat enough because it is awkward to eat a lot at a party and you don’t want to look like a pig in front of people you might want to impress—or at least not disgust. So I seldom enjoy eating at a party).

The concert began with a video welcome by Joni Eareckson Tada, a renowned figure in evangelical Christian circles ever since her inspirational autobiographical book and subsequent film came out in the 70’s.

The music was top-notch, unsurprisingly. Many of the songs were familiar to the crowd with a few exceptions. Amy Grant was clearly aware of what the night was about, but her usual laid-back self. She remarked that “only in Nashville” could she get away with collaring a guitarist backstage to help out on an otherwise solo acoustic song at the last minute. Then she did a couple of her hits (“It takes a little time sometimes/To get your feet back on the ground”) with the band backing her up. They lost each other along the way on one song, but she laughed it off, they worked it out and got back on track. Not many artists of her fame and stature would even consider such a loose approach to a performance; Amy seems more aware than most of how little she has to lose at this point in her career. Definitely part of her charm.

Vocalist Michelle Prentice, the instigator of the whole affair, did an impressive operatic solo a cappella that made me realize I don’t hate ALL opera! Seriously, I really enjoyed it. But then, it didn't last for hours and I didn't have to dress up to listen to it, so....

After several more performances, including one by Terry Thompson himself with help from Carmen, and after a hefty sum of money had changed accounts from buyers to the benefit fund, Michelle called the planning committee on stage and led us in singing “You’ve Got a Friend” to (and with) Carmen. Cheesy, maybe, but sincere. (pictures here and here and here)

The results, in addition to all the new friendships formed and goodwill shared…we raised $40,000 for Terry and Carmen. We’re talking about next year’s benefit already (well, Michelle is, anyway). Should be even bigger and better. And next time, I eat beforehand.

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