Willie Nelson sang in his hit song, “On the road again, I just can’t wait to get on the road again.” Boy, after this past year-and-a-half, I know exactly what he meant, and how he felt. Finally, I am busy once again speaking, singing, and doing humor. The month of October was the busiest one I’ve had since the virus brought everything to a screeching halt. This past weekend, the road I was on took me to Nashville. Billy Bob has finally played Nashville. I was not at the Ryman, or on Broadway, but I was at a special place, for a new friend, and for a wonderful purpose.
Last summer, Jean, Drew, and I spent a week on an urban farm in Nashville/Madison. David, the farm owner, and I, became friends that week. David’s family farm is located in the Neeley’s Bend area of Madison. There they raise cattle, sheep, and chickens, but they also have a community garden. This fall, David and his wife, Janice, have hosted outdoor-Saturday-evening concerts for the community. They call them “Bands in the Bend.” They usually have a bonfire, pots filled with homemade chili, goodies, and coffee, all at no charge.
Although Billy Bob doesn’t normally have a band, David invited me to come do a Bro Billy Bob concert as part of last Saturday evenings lineup, as well as Lisa Gray and her impromptu band that she called, “Lisa-and-the-Cousins.” Because of inclement weather, the event was moved inside to Amqui Railroad Station, there in Madison. I was disappointed by the news of the move, until I saw the place. The venue was originally the L & N passenger station and signal tower, built in 1910. In the 1970s, Johnny Cash, who lived in nearby Hendersonville, used to visit the signalman at the Amqui Station. Didn’t he sing something about hearing a train coming around the bend? The station fell into a state of disrepair, but in 1979, Mr. Cash bought it, and then saved it from demolition. The station was beautifully restored and is now a museum, educational center, and venue for concerts, weddings, and other events. Several of the original pieces of furniture and fixtures have been preserved. Numerous pictures of Johnny Cash now hang in the station, as well as other well-known musicians such as Woody Guthrie, Boxcar Willie, Kitty Wells, Roy Acuff, and others.
Why does the farm do these concert events? It is a time of fellowship with neighbors, as well as church members, but it is also a way to share about their ministries and missions. House to Home is one of the ministries. This ministry helps the homeless to get off the streets and into furnished apartments. The second ministry/mission is a farm they have in the desert of Kenya. There they are helping break the cycle of gender-based violence. They have helped close to 100 women learn to grow the own vegetables, sell them in the markets, and feed their own families, as well. They have also helped them set up a poultry-house operation. This provides fresh eggs, much needed compose for the gardens, and meat, once the chickens have ceased to lay. Please join us in praying for these ministries.
Drew made the trip with me last weekend. We were blessed to be back at the farm, where David’s parents graciously hosted us in their home, and to visit with our new friends from last summer, including Tiny the Great Pyrenees. It was a pleasure to play in such a historic venue, and especially for such great purposes. It truly is good to be back on the road again!
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.