Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Damascus Road "A Glimpse of Freedom" 1977

Story of Damascus Road
by original member Steve Schalchlin:
We began as a group when I was going to Jacksonville Baptist College in Jacksonville, Texas. We were both singing for a hometown cable channel raising money for kidney machine a lady in town was needing. They sang a Gospel song and I sang "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" by the Beatles. (?)

As we matured (i.e. someone gave us a Love Song album), we shed our quartet clothes overnight and began writing songs that we could relate to. We were very young as writers, though, and had no other bands in the area to get inspiration from, so that's why our album veers so wildly from one style to the next. We had no artistic focus, really. Our "best friend" was Tom Autry, whose album you also have on the list. We played gigs together.

Most of our ministry (and we were a ministry -- Tommie Helm, the leader of the band, would preach when we held revivals) took place in East Texas, Louisiana, and -- well, West Texas. Texas is pretty big, so we were always in our van. The biggest concert we did was a July 4th celebration which drew in thousands of young people from all over the state. We set up on a mountaintop in East Texas. It was a fantastic event every year.

Tommie even hand lettered a "Declaration of Dependence" upon God which looked liked the Declaration of Independence, and we all signed it.

We never made any money, of course, despite five grueling years of playing and singing. For me, I learned to sing and to write. The songs on the "Glimpse of Freedom" album were among the first I ever wrote. (I wrote and sang the easy listening ones you hated.)

Toward the end of the band, though, just as we were getting really good and even headlining area festivals (on top of groups like Petra, etc.), we had to break up. I had a crisis of faith and told them that I could not go on because to do so would have been hypocritical. One thing our band had going for it was absolute integrity to the Word in our personal deportment.

It, unfortunately, left the band high and dry. I was the main songwriter and driving artistic force. They tried to hold it together, but couldn't. I think even Tom Autry joined for awhile. Finally, they broke up. The twins, Johnnie and Tommie Helm still live in Jacksonville two doors down from each other.

I personally drifted for years and years, playing in cover bands and doing a little theatre, first in Dallas and then around the country. Soon, I landed in NY and then LA, where I became Managing Director of The National Academy of Songwriters.

I currently have a musical playing in New York called, "THE LAST SESSION," which is about a band reunion in a recording studio. Though it confronts sensitive issues like AIDS and homophobia, it seems to be very popular among conservative church groups as it is among those who oppose Christian conservatism.







Members:
Tommie Helm (leader, back-up vocalist and evangelist)
Johnnie Helm (Tommie's twin brother, lead vocals and lead guitarist)
Steve Schalchlin (keyboards, lead vocals)
Dennis Byram (drums, lead vocals)
Pat Asher (bass guitar, back-up vocals)

Download link in comments.

Thank you, John!

6 Comments:

Blogger Lizardson said...

Download

23 December, 2006 12:32  
Blogger Bob Haldeman said...

I love the description on this posting. Something that didn't come out of Ken's book. Speaking of Ken, according to him there 3 bands with the name Damascus Road. I have 2 out of the 3 but I am looking for the band that came from North Carolina in '73. Any chance you have that one?

23 December, 2006 15:14  
Blogger Katoikei's Jukebox said...

well thanks to diakoneo of ancient star-song i finally ended up here. all new to me. seems there was a whole lot of spirit and understanding before this here album. peace in this season. katoikei.

13 April, 2009 01:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember those Damascus Road days, even traveling with The Raven family to see y'all perform. GREAT memories !!

27 October, 2012 04:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gracias

07 April, 2014 13:02  
Blogger Frank said...

Did you guys do a song that starts with, "I pulled into Dallas about half passed 10"? I'm looking for the brothers who were in Damascus Road band in late 70's in Jacksonville TX. My name was Isaiah and I was with my friend River when we met them. We got a job working on the Holiday Inn in Jacksonville, which I think John was also working on. Please contact me at fgjohn53@gmail.com if so. Thanks.

23 October, 2014 00:13  

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