The Talbot Brothers

18 Jul


Sometimes there are events, places, names, and people that come up in your life more than once, with long periods of time lapsing in between meetings. One of these people,Β or should I say, two, are Terry and John Michael Talbot. The first time that I saw them perform together was sometime in 1970, when I was still living in Detroit, Michigan and its suburbs, Warren and Birmingham. My girlfriend and I used to go to the East Town theater on Harper, on the east side of Detroit. The East Town and the Grande Ballroom, which was on the west side of Detroit were venues comparable to the Fillmore and Avalon Ballrooms in San Francisco. All the new music that was exploding out of the late 1960s counter culture scene in the USA and Great Britain played at these venues, and Kathy and I were there each week to witness them.

Some of the opening acts that played before groups like Traffic, Alice Cooper, and Steve Miller were Glass Harp, Mylon Lefevre, and Mason Proffit. Mason Proffit was led by the two previously mentioned brothers, Terry and John Michael Talbot. They were of a genre that took what Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers had created out of the merger between country, folk, and rock in the early and mid 1960s and made something new of it, and later the Eagles perfected it. The Talbot Brothers were Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in coon skin caps, singing about justice, morality, and social issues, like brotherhood, love, and peace. Nothing new for the counter culture, but a message that was not always well received by apathetic stoned audiences, especially when Terry would harangue them about their lack of enthusiasm.

In June 1971, we moved from Detroit to Los Angeles, and found the venues that featured our favorite music artists in the City of Angels, and its suburbs. From the Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood to the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach we hit all the spots. When we hit the Golden Bear to see Jo Jo Gunn, Mason Proffit was the opening act. After watching their set, during the intermission I ran into Terry Talbot and talked to him about the difference between crowds in Detroit and L.A.

A week later, I became a sold out, born again Jesus freak and ended up destroying all my albums, and stopped attending secular rock concerts. At the same time some of the secular artists that I listened to committed their lives to Jesus, and began recording what was then called Jesus music. Terry and John Michael Talbot were among the ones to do this, when they signed with Billy Ray Hearn’s Sparrow Records, in 1974. It took a while for them to figure out where they belonged in the Jesus movement, but once they did, they moved forward without hesitation.

They both released solo albums and a couple of albums together, then John Michael freaked out the Protestant religious community by becoming a Franciscan monk and eventually establishing a Roman Catholic hermitage that was sanctioned by the Pope in Rome. After a period of insanity in my own life where I travelled around the country with my family, trying to find God’s will and perfect place, I ended up in Salem, Oregon.

The first Sunday that I attended New Hope Foursquare in 1986, I did a double take as I saw that the worship leader was Terry Talbot, who was the most energetic and enthusiastic worship leader I had at that time experienced. With only an acoustic guitar and his voice, he led the congregation in song. When he played β€œLion of Judah” my heart cried and I lifted my hands in worship to the living God and Jesus Christ His Son. A year or two later Terry invited his brother John to come play at New Hope, and he did. Then Terry moved to Arkansas, to live, with his wife and children, in the Hermitage that John Michael founded

I eventually wrote articles about Terry and John Michael Talbot for Encyclopedias and books about contemporary Christian music. The articles included the brothers’ entire history from the early days before Mason Proffit, to their solo careers through the 2nd decade of the 21st century.

These are a couple of shots that I took over the decades. Mason Proffit is at the Golden Bear in July 1971, when I was learning how to use my first 35mm camera. I was hand holding the camera with the f/stop on my Petri rangefinder wide open at a shutter speed of 2 seconds, which blurred. Now I sometimes shoot images like this on purpose for creative reasons. The other shot was of John Michael Talbot from a 2005 concert in Eugene, Oregon, at a Catholic church. I wrote about them in Jesus Rocks The World: The Definitive History of Contemporary Christian Music, that was published in 2012 by Praeger.


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