The summer tour of 2016 began on May 16th and Best Friends didn’t return home until June 5th. Before they were finished, the tour took them through 7 states, 11 cities and over 4,200 miles. It was long and challenging, but ultimately very fruitful and lots of fun.
We laid out the tour with a general idea of where we wanted to go. Before we could even start calling about it, we received a call from Cody Mitchell in Hobbs, NM. He wanted to book a date at some point and this felt like a great first stop.
Our concert in Hobbs was held at the Jefferson Street Church of Christ. The crowd was small (about 100), as we’d come to find out was the norm for the duration of the tour. Another axiom of this tour was that the size of the crowd really did not matter. Everywhere we went, people were touched – including us.
The Hobbs concert was mostly an older generation of attendees. Our initial fear was that our musical style might be a bit much for this crowd. That fear proved unfounded, as there was a wonderfully positive reaction from everyone who attended.
Many of our stops were defined by food. Not surprising, as the food that was served was often more memorable than the concert that was given. It is the interaction with the people that remains in mind. They had a very nice meal for us at the building including a table full of homemade ice cream and desserts. The meal that we remember most, unquestionably, would be breakfast the next morning at Casey’s Cafe.
Casey’s is a very old cafe that is included as part of an indoor antique mall, part of a larger building complex downtown. The cafe itself is lined with memorabilia and small collector’s items. We arrived somewhat early, around 7:30, and they immediately began to pump us full of coffee and food. Within moments of sitting down, we were joined by the owner’s husband – he simply pulled up a chair, said hello and started telling jokes. For the next 30 minutes he told jokes, one after the other. Some were funny, some not, but it made the morning welcoming and fun. We even had the opportunity to sing Happy Birthday to a few of the morning regulars (of which there are many). It was a great way to start the day and send us off to El Paso.
El Paso, TX
Early on into the planning and calling for this tour, we contacted Carlos Gonzales from the Los Angeles area. More about him later, but he put us in touch with his father, Paul Gonzales, at Northside Bilingual Church of Christ.
Northside was a declining church with only eight people left in a large, well-kept, fenced-lot building. When it became clear to them that they needed to do something, they contacted Paul and offered him co-use of the building for a Spanish church. The Gonzales family are loving, mission-minded people and Paul had a greater vision. The remaining eight members of Northside started meeting in the fellowship hall on Sunday mornings and Paul started a bilingual church in the main auditorium. They now have about 80 people who meet regularly at Northside Bilingual. Our concert drew 160, doubling his normal attendance. You could see Paul’s smile from miles away. For him, this was all about making new connections, which became the theme of our tour… church support.
Best Friends had an excellent presentation, including a worship set in Spanish. We will return to Northside Bilingual.
Our Tucson concert was somewhat of a last minute addition to the tour and was held at Mountain Ave Church of Christ. The concert was lightly attended, even though it was on a Wednesday evening. They were overjoyed since we, once again, doubled their normal attendance. This became yet another theme of our tour.
We were introduced to the “joy” of some place called EeGees, which was basically a stripped down Dairy Queen with a specialty fruit drink. Tucsonians (Tucsonites?) apparently swear by it. I have to admit that their fruit drinks were pretty good. Along with that, there is no doubt that Tucson is one of the most beautiful cities in the southwest. And then, on to Tempe.
We had a short run into Tempe on this day and spent part of it at the Arizona Mills Mall, which is apparently done by the same company that does the Grapevine Mills Mall in DFW. they were basically the same mall. Our longboarders, Alvin and Jackson, were able to pick up some equipment for their boards (which were packed into the trailer). They somehow cajoled Best Friends into singing for the store staff and got a discount off their purchase.
San Diego, CA
There’s no town like San Diego, and we got the opportunity to work with Jason Godfrey at El Cajon Boulevard Church of Christ. El Cajon is an old church, and their building reflects it. Not that it was run down at all. It was just old and had been added onto multiple times. Architecturally, it is built upwards instead of out. The church has several levels and there’s even a staircase that leads to nowhere.
The concert was a success, even though it was lightly attended. It was a beautiful building, and we had a good experience. We also met a Chap-to-be at the concert. The young lady was a graduating HS senior and soon to move to Lubbock. She was very excited to see Best Friends.
Afterwards, some members of Best Friends had their first experience with In-n-Out Burger. It would not be their last of the tour. For that matter, there’s a new In-n-Out coming to Lubbock in 2017.
The first leg of our tour had come to an end. It was a hard 5-day run of singing and driving, but now we were in California. The story continues in Pt.2.