Ode to Don Chaffer and Waterdeep

As I reported last week, I am on holiday (vacation) in the States, mainly coming over for my sister’s wedding. Tonight, my wife and I are off to the UK for a few days before landing back in our beloved Belgium. It has been a great delight to be with family and friends for these nine days in Memphis.

My sister’s wedding was absolutely a wonderful day, though she did have somewhat of a fever on her wedding day, was taken to the emergency room for a shot of antibiotics with her and her husband missing their flight for the honeymoon. Nevertheless, the day was a great success and they would tell you that oversleeping their 4.00am cab ride to the airport was actually a blessing. And, in the end, they were able to head out to Jamaica two days later.

It was also good to see all that God was doing with Lifelink church and Visible School, and He is definitely doing great things. I think it would be fair to concur with the psalmist in quoting these words:

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:3)

Yet, there was another special event I wanted to mention that took place on my last evening in my southern hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. This was a definite treat for the soul. I was able to attend a small concert by Don Chaffer in The Abbey Cafe of the newly acquired building of Lifelink church. The building is located right in the heart of midtown Memphis, which, oddly enough, was also the venue where Johnny Cash played his first concert ever. Mind you, it wasn’t called The Abbey Cafe, nor was it Lifelink’s building. But Johnny Cash did play in that concert hall in that building. So, it was a little bit of an historic night as well, or kind of. Anyways, back to Don Chaffer…

Don Chaffer is lead singer and songwriter of the band Waterdeep. This band, out of Kansas City, has had many connections with Memphis over the past two decades, for many Memphian Christians will remember their concerts at the original 704B and later on at The Chi. And, though the whole band wasn’t able to make it down for the commencement of The Abbey Cafe, I must say there is probably no better person to play the first show in this small concert hall than Don Chaffer of Waterdeep.

He must be, by far, one of the best songwriters in all of America, maybe even the world. ‘What,’ you might ask?! ‘One of the greatest songwriters in the world?!’ Well, I believe it is those hidden gems that are usually the best, even though they might not be as well known. It is Chaffer’s Dylan-esque poetic heart, authenticity, and honest words that come forth in every lyric and chord strummed on the guitar. And that, my friends, is what makes him one of the best, not to mention his creative ability in utilizing very minimal musical instruments in the crafting of his songs.

It’s been a while since I have heard Waterdeep and Don Chaffer (I think they took a little Sabbatical from traveling). Thus, I wasn’t familiar with any of the songs he performed last night. But the songs still rang with that same Chaffer and Waterdeep heart that has existed for almost two decades now. The stories told with rhyme, drawing you in to the greater story. Again, for me, that is one of the qualities of a great songwriter.

And so, I am very much grateful for my opportunity to share in a concert with Don Chaffer last evening. It brought back many memories of my early Christian years, and, it was no doubt a beautiful opportunity for me to soak up some songs with my friends.

Don Chaffer and Waterdeep are always welcome in Memphis. When they come, they will not draw in the crowds like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, The Foo Fighters or any number of other well-known, platinum selling artists. But they will draw in a faithful crowd and, even more, they will, in their own unique and beautiful way, impart truth and poetic hope that will send us away knowing we heard a little bit of the Father’s heart, and even after we, possibly, shed a few tears.

So, here is my ode and thanks to Don Chaffer (and Waterdeep) for making it down to Memphis. I know Don had no idea I would show up, nor does he even know my name, though we have met a couple of times in life. But God knew what He was doing on a cool and rainy Tuesday evening in the heart of midtown Memphis. God had a little something special planned.

Check out Waterdeep’s new album – Pink & Blue.

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