A lot of our friends may not be aware that in the mid and late 1970’s we were part of a Christian music group called, Dogwood. It started as a trio consisting of the two of us and a long-time friend from West Virginia named Ron Elder.
We started as the “house band” at Koinonia Coffehouse located on Music Row in Nashville. The photo to the left shows us on stage at Koinonia. For two years we provided live music at the coffeehouse and the invitations started coming to travel to other cities and sing.
Then in 1977 when our firstborn, Nathan, came along Annie requested a “promotion” to motherhood. To replace her, Ron Elder and I enlisted the help of a five piece band from Monroe, Louisiana called, “East of The Altar.” (Annie always said with some deserved satisfaction, “It took five men to replace me!”) Here’s the band
in a photo taken while we were traveling through Wyoming in 1979. Left to right are Stan Armour (keyboards), Ken Fletcher (bass/harmonies), Ron Elder (acoustic/lead vocals), yours curly, Mike Upshaw (sound engineer), David Crockett (electric guitar), Mark Smith (drums).
Dogwood continued to travel for the next couple of years and during that time the configuration of the group was reduced in size to a trio. Ken Fletcher (second from the left) stayed with Ron and me, as well as Mike Upshaw. In late 1979, as painful as it was, I felt it was time to cease traveling so much and being away from Annie and our son. We were also expecting with our second child so it seemed the right time to make an exit from the group.
With four recordings in our history, Dogwood was considered to be one of the pioneer groups in Contemporary Christian Music. I’m most grateful to have been a part of it and though I was convinced that it was good that Annie and I begin working together as a duet, I missed the group and the music we made.
It was an exciting phone call to receive from our friend, Al Jaynes, and asked if Dogwood could be a part of the Koinonia Family Reunion. Al was in leadership at the church we attended (Belmont Church in Nashville) and was hungry to hear the music that was heard so often at Koinonia Coffehouse that was across the street from the church.
Ron agreed to participate and Annie convinced us to perform at the reunion in Dogwood’s final configuration which included Ken Fletcher. As it turned out, though we all wanted Annie to be on stage with us, the night of the event she had absolutely no voice due to a severe case of laryngitis.
Ken Fletcher, Ron and I rehearsed for the event and when our son and Nashville music producer, Nathan, heard the music he had grown up hearing he affectionately suggested that we take our rehearsal into a studio and let him record it. We agreed to do so and the recording, that we titled, “Dogwood…Down The Road,” became a souvenir disc for those who attended the reunion.
Recently, Ken decided to create a beautiful new cover sleeve for the CD to make available to his clients in his business (Fletcher Financial Group) based in Monroe, Louisiana. On the back of the sleeve is a photo of the three of us then and now. (Time has had its affect…but aren’t we the better for it!)
Thankfully, our friend, Brian Mason, who assisted Al Jaynes with the planning of the reunion concert, made sure the event was filmed. The result was several of the songs landing on You Tube for folks to see. One of those clips is included here.
If you would like to get a copy of the newly covered and released recording of the Dogwood…Down The Road CD it is now in our store here at this website in the music section or you can click on the front cover photo here to get there.
Thanks so much for reading about this part of our musical history and as Dogwood always sang to those who we were privileged to stand before, we encourage you to…
keep on walking!