Community Stories

A Tiny Concert With A Big Heart—For The Love Of Orphans

Ricky j Taylor & the Live Roots Ensemble Will Perform a Unique Gig October 21st 

A makeshift stage in a modest backyard in a small neighborhood on a dead-end street in Madison seems an unlikely venue for a renowned band to play a concert. But, on Friday, October 21, 2016, that’s exactly what the five award-winning members of Ricky j Taylor & the Live Roots Ensemble (LRE) plan to do.

And they aren’t asking for a dime in return. Instead, they want to bless orphans in Costa Rica.

LRE, known for their bluegrass-inspired folk music, will present an entertaining collection of original songs and traditional melodies to help raise financial support for the Hogar Metodista orphanage in Costa Rica. Hogar Metodista (Methodist Children’s Home) offers a loving, safe and nurturing environment for children who have lost families due to abandonment, abuse or neglect.

Old-fashioned Backyard Hoedown

This unique performance will take place at the home of Madison residents, Mark and Melissa Thornton. The couple described the upcoming benefit as an “old-fashioned, backyard hoedown”—complete with s’mores and hay bales.

“We want everything about this event to be warm, welcoming and energized with the spirit of community, family and friends,” Melissa explained. “Outdoor gatherings, music and children’s laughter just seem to go together.”

Serendipity and a Pocketful of Miracles

Ricky j Taylor calls it a stroke of serendipity. Melissa calls it something of a miracle. But they agree more than mere coincidence paved the way for their paths to cross and subsequently make this benefit possible.

A chain of what-were-the-chances events began last spring when friends invited Melissa and Mark to a music festival where Ricky j Taylor and the Live Roots Ensemble were one of several featured bands. “The authenticity of Ricky’s lyrics, and the sheer talent of the musicians, blew us away,” Melissa recalled.

“We were about to travel to Costa Rica on a mission trip, but something prompted me to email the band to let them know how much we enjoyed their performance,” she explained.

What were the chances that Ricky happened to be updating LRE’s website?

Ricky took note of Melissa’s writing and editorial experience. When he wrote back to thank her for the kind words, he also requested her professional skills to help with the website content.

“From our initial meeting, it was clear that God had something special in mind,” Melissa said. Ricky learned about the Thornton’s upcoming mission to Costa Rica to help with construction at the orphanage. His interest was immediately piqued.

What were the chances that one of his band members, Inge Wood, was from Costa Rica?

“That kind of connection doesn’t just come about by chance,” Ricky noted. It struck him that so many things aligning couldn’t be coincidental. “The idea that we, as musicians, can use our art to shed light on issues that impact society, has driven this band since its inception,” Ricky said.

“And just what were the chances my new favorite band would share my passion for helping others,” Melissa laughed. “I mean, that’s God’s hand. That’s a pocketful of miracles,” she said.

The Gift of Family

It immediately resonated with Ricky when Melissa suggested a benefit for the orphanage.

“As a father, heck, as a member of the human race, it breaks my heart to know some kids may never experience the beautiful gift of a family I had growing up,” he said. “My childhood was so dramatically different from what, I can only imagine, orphaned children experience.

Ricky said it took growing up and leaving home for him to realize the precious, almost idyllic, quality of his own childhood. “My father is a musician, and I relish memories of playing bluegrass music with him back home in Kentucky. He can still show me up on stage,” Ricky said with a smile. His brother, a Baptist minister, and his sister, who hosts a Christian radio show, are talented musicians as well. During family visits, the Taylor clan still enjoys playing music together.

Matters of the Heart

“Matters of the heart always have motivated my songwriting,” Ricky said. He wrote lyrics over the years to reckon with heartache, loss, longing and hope—songs he never intended for anyone else to hear. But, when Ricky decided to archive them, a musician friend recognized the universal appeal of these themes and encouraged Ricky to record an album. Thus, Ricky j Taylor & the Live Roots Ensemble was born.

“It comes as no surprise that we immediately found our way, or perhaps were guided, to events that strive to help others deal with the human condition,” Ricky noted. One of LRE’s first performances was a fundraiser to help children with significant disabilities receive music-based therapy. LRE then performed on the “Dugger Mountain Music Hall” program, an organization that assists women and children in crisis situations. Ricky also hopes to raise money for Alzheimer’s research by producing a music video based on one of his songs that deals with this heartbreaking disease.

“A concert to help raise support for the Hogar Metodista orphanage seems a natural next step in the direction and purpose for our band,” Ricky said. “I look around and see so much heartbreak and suffering. Yet, life continues to bring me opportunities to become friends with people like the Thornton family. And it renews my hope that, working together, we humans can make a positive difference for this old world,” Ricky said.

Tickets and Details

The October 21 concert is free, but space is limited, so reserve your tickets today!

In the event of rain, the concert will be held Friday, November 4.

Tax-deductible donations can be made at the benefit or you can donate online.

Hogar Metodista orphanage (Methodist Children’s Home of Costa Rica) is a Christ-centered, family-oriented ministry for children who need a safe and loving home.

Please email Lidia Zirkel for information on sibling group adoption and mission trip opportunities. Lidia’s email address is [email protected]

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