St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Thorsby held its annual Spring BBQ & Concert fundraiser on Friday, May 2 with approximately 130 attending.
The BBQ was organized by the St. Matthew’s Lutheran women’s group and was a fundraiser for the church building fund. Church Secretary Janice Neuman said everything except the wieners was donated. “Numbers were down a bit this year, but we were happy with outreach because people came from Leduc as well as from Thorsby.” Neuman added St. Matthew’s usually holds two fundraisers per year–the spring BBQ and concert, and an October harvest supper, usually before Thanksgiving.
Singer, songwriter, guitar and harmonica player Doug Rawling and a few of his friends provided a lovely, “close to the earth, grassroots” musical concert following the meal.
Doug describes his music as “kinda folky-country—Rocky Mountain country because it isn’t like Nashville country…a little more Simon and Garfunkel with a little Eagles’ influence.”
Doug has toured for over thirty years starting out with his younger brother Bruce as the Rawlings Brothers. They played “off and on with different bands, touring across Canada and throughout the upper western US,” and opening for Leahy, George Fox, George Canyon and others when not putting on their own concerts.
“About a year and a half ago,” Doug explains, “Bruce figured it was time to do other things.” What’s a singer songwriter to do when his God-given talent is still urging him forward? Doug’s epiphany came during camp.
As Director of Wilderness Ranch, Doug noticed some incredibly talented musicians at camp. “We’d be singing during chapel time and I’d think, this is beautiful, we could be a band. So I talked to some of them and asked if they’d be interested in touring. This is the third spring I’ve gone out with staff members.”
Joining Doug for the Thorsby Concert were Anna Ree, Stacie Haugen, and Greg Rokos. Ree played the violin (or a good ol’ toe tappin’ fiddle, if you prefer) and sang harmony vocals. Haugen played guitar and delighted the audience with her delicate as a brush of an angel wing vocals and harmonies. Bass player Rokos serves as an instructor with the Camrose based Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute (CLBI) Foundations program for young men at the Wilderness Ranch. Rokos describes Foundations as a post-secondary “hands on course in Bible studies and practical living—cooking, chores, wood chopping, cleaning.”
Doug credits the band for playing “very musically”—meaning they allow each other’s talents to shine. “I’ve played before with some fantastic musicians, but it’s harder to make music with some of them because they just play too much. You know, you’ve got to leave holes so the other guys can play, too.”
Proceeds from the Doug Rawling concert are earmarked for future local community outreach projects as well as the Wilderness Ranch Ministries offering Christian riding camp programs. The ranch is located in the beautiful mountains of Southwestern Alberta near Pincher Creek. Camp runs from June 30th to the August 30th Long Ride fundraiser.