Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Linda Larson Thompson

"So what's Hand in Hand?" I asked.
“Well, it’s a place where kids go and hear bands and sit on the floor and then someone shares the gospel”.
My friend Linda had heard about Hand in Hand the year before and had high hopes that we would sing there some Saturday night.
She also said we’d be going there that first Saturday night upon arriving in Phoenix.
Well, she might as well have said we’d be going out for Mexican food when we arrived, (which we did, by the way- cheese crisps at Don Jose’s on Thomas) because seriously, I had no idea what she was talking about. It was 1977 for crying out loud. I was not familiar with Christian music… or Mexican food.
I was a Norwegian farm girl from Wisconsin, in a two-door Opel, with all my worldly possessions, on my way to Phoenix with my best friend. The other Linda Larson.

Let me back up a bit.
Linda & I grew up in the same farming community in Wisconsin. Linda was two years older. We went to the same school, both cheerleaders and played on the same fast-pitch softball team. And we had the same first and last name.

But after Linda graduated from high school in '73, our paths took a drastic change.
Linda took a walk on the wild side. I started my walk with Jesus.

Linda eventually ended up in Phoenix and wrote me a letter that blew me away. She had found Jesus and she was on fire! God had done a miracle in her life. She was coming home for the summer and she wanted me to think about coming back to Phoenix with her in the fall.

Well, long story short, Linda came home and we began to sing and write music together. We sang everywhere we could. And we spent hours together, forging a spiritual friendship that would prove foundational in my resolve to “deny myself, take up my cross and follow Jesus (and Linda) to Phoenix.”  And I can honestly say that I have never been more sure of anything in my entire life.

Linda and I sang at our little Lutheran church that beautiful September morning in 1977. And yes, that's Linda & I wearing the matching denim outfits I made from old blue jeans... just moments before hugging our family and friends goodbye and embarking on a journey of faith that would rock my world. We had 2 cassettes on board... 2nd Chapter of Acts and Keith Green. I had never heard such music. It would change my life.

We immediately found a furnished apartment. The next day we bought brand new Takamine guitars from DC Seville at Melano’s Music... who, unbeknownst to us, would be our record producer 6 months later. Then while trying to find Hand in Hand, we got lost and ended up at another Sat. night concert venue at People’s Church in Scottsdale, where we met Don Burchfield who was also a concert promoter. We sang for him two days later and he immediately booked us to open for Barry McGuire.

When we, Linda Larson & Friend weren’t singing somewhere, we were attending Hand in Hand. And yes, we were major groupies. We loved the bands, the ambiance and the sweet sense of family.
And all the while we were trying to get an audition so we could sing there someday.

Well, it was at that Barry McGuire concert months later that the guy who did the auditioning for Hand in Hand, came up to us and said he'd put us on the schedule. And it was at that very first Hand in Hand concert that I met my future husband. Yes, we were scheduled to open for Randy Thompson! 
Think about it, that very first week in Phoenix literally set the stage, pardon the pun, but literally set the stage for me to meet my future husband at that very first Hand in Hand concert 6 months later! Still blows my mind!

And the only reason Randy asked for our phone number that night… Linda and I were in the studio recording "Quiet Times" and he wanted to get some studio info. So when he called, he sorta accidently asked me out. Which can be rather confusing when you consider that Linda and I had the same first and last name... so thankfully he thought to ask for the Linda Larson that was not engaged. haha!

Anyway, that’s how I heard about Hand in Hand. And it would change my life. I would experience God using me in ways I never thought possible.

And now I can’t wait to hear your story. Please take some time and write your story and email it to me along with a few pictures. And if it’s only a couple paragraphs, that’s ok. We want this to be a safe place to reflect and remember and maybe reignite your passion for music, songwriting and sharing Jesus.

And now a shameless plug for my personal blog- lindathompson.blogspot.com
Love & miss you all, 

1 comment:

  1. Linda, Thanks so much for sharing your story. I just love hearing how God weaved all of our lives together in those days. Now we want to hear Randy's side of "accidentally" asking you on a date. Somehow I can't quite believe that it was accidental on his part.

    I'm working on my story of how I found Hand in Hand and hope to send it to you sometime soon. Can't wait to see more from other people. Love the blog design too!

    For some reason my http://nanhann.wordpress.com/ account isn't working for my login, so I'm linking to my Google account. Hmmm...