146 thoughts on “Evangelists With Strange Instruments Redux”

    1. My Christian School had a teacher with an affinity for accordion, and he would take it with him on bus trips (away games, etc.) and expect everyone to sing along. I still get a tick when I see one.

  1. That’s a song I haven’t thought of in AGES!

    Before listening to the video, I think the chorus is: “And shall I turn back
    Into the world?
    No! No! Not I-I, not I!
    And shall I turn back
    Into the world?
    Oh, no, not I!”

    Now I’ll have to listen and see if it’s the same song.

      1. Have not heard that song since i was about 18 yrs old. And that was a loooooooooooonnnng time ago. I belirvr it was Jack Wertizan (sp?) He had a group that took young kids to Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks mts. to his camp every year.

    1. The song starts out: Lost Lost on the mountain of sin and despair, when Christ came and rescued me there. Used to be on every Saturday Night. Jack was an evangelist slanted to the youth. It was broadcast from Boston,Ma. Just can’t remember the name of tyhe show.

  2. Back in the 70s, we had a lady in our church who played the accordion. When she shook the thing, she shook her whole body. Somehow, that was overlooked by the leaders of the church. Of course, I can hear one of you out there asking, “Or was it?”

  3. My all time “favorite” was Theron Babcock playing the theremin. Was he named after the instrument or was the instrument named after him?

    1. Neither. The theremin (surely the strangest musical instrument ever invented) was developed by Dr. Leon Theremin, a Russian physicist. Most people know it through its use in musical arrangements for sci-fi movies in the ’50s and ’60s. It’s fascinating to see and hear one being played. What did Babcock do with it?

      1. Just butting in to say I went to see the punk band Black Flag a couple of weeks ago, and the opening act had a theramin. It was actually the guitarist from Black Flag in the opening act as well, and he played it with one hand and his guitar with the other. Don’t nobody say punks can’t play. πŸ™‚

        1. Man, I saw Black Flag back in the early 80s. I’m surprised they’re still around.

          (Yeah, I’m old.)

      2. I never really thought that it was named for him or that he was named for it, but did think it was kind of funny (or “punny”) that the names were so kind of similar.

    2. Theron Babcock was truly a gifted musician. Too bad his talent was wasted in a fundie dog and pony show.
      When I took music lessons as a child, I began to write my own music. My mother, like many fundies, hated creativity. Babcock told my mother that my desire to write my own music was a gift from god and that is should be encouraged.

      1. I have a friend whose mother is an excellent classical pianist, conservatory-trained. She used to fill in occasionally for the organist at their [well-known] independent evangelical church. One Sunday, she did a Bach piano concerto. One of the pastors told her after the service, “You don’t need to play that fancy stuff; we don’t do that kind of music here.” She was very hurt. She stayed in the church, however; I’d have “up and left.”

      2. He was indeed talented. I found a book of his songs in our church called “The Best of 5,000.” He was quite a prolific song writer. I think was the kind that took a theme suggested in a church service and wrote a song on the spot. Not many of them were probably his best. If he had been more of an evangelical, rather than a fundamentalist (and not travel with an evangelist), he could have been more of a “Harold DeCou type” and probably would not have delved into the more circus type of musical acts.

      1. Years ago I saw a fundy evangelist play one of these. Actually I found it fascinating. Never heard of a theramin before. πŸ˜€

    3. I love the theremin. I hope to own one someday.
      I would agree, however, that it is a strange instrument, unlike the accordion, which is one of the great instruments of the modern era. For example, without the bandoneon, which is a type of accordion, the entire oeuvre of Astor Piazzolla would be impossible to play.

  4. All that Worldly drinking music is distracting from the message of the song.

    If you think this is bad, you should hear Dwight preach…I’d listen to him sing with an accordion all day rather than put myself through that again.

    1. Yes, the last time my husband and I heard him preach, my hubby was like watch his movement. Surprising, it was like watching a robot 😯

      1. I’ve got to admit he plays the accordion better than he preaches, and he preaches better than he tweets. 😐

  5. I have heard the guy preach! He is as fundy as they come πŸ˜† All in all, his singing wasn’t too terrible from what I remember, but then again it’s been like 4 or more years since I heard him sing. :mrgreen:

  6. Try hearing it every night while you are growing up. My evangelist father was the one who inspired Smith to play it.

    1. I was a few years behind Smith at the same school. If your father is who I’m thinking…I heard him play the accordion a number of times. He seemed to be a favorite evangelist among the churches I grew up in.

      1. What churches did you attend?

        I did time at Ambassador from 2000 – 2004, would you have been there any of those years?

        1. Sorry, I should have been more clear – I knew Dwight in high school. I was in 2-3 IFB churches in Minnesota in the later 80’s and through the 90’s.

        2. Not there, but that’s definitely the circle I was in. I had started going to a different summer camp before I went to school with all the Camp Clearwaters people, so I never actually went there.

          My memory is getting fuzzy with all the different traveling evangelists I’ve heard over the years, but is your dad also the one that held a handkerchief throughout his sermons and wiped the spittle off his lips while preaching? I remember him actually being one of the more interesting preachers to listen to, and not just because of the handkerchief. πŸ™‚

        3. That’s it! I couldn’t remember his name. There’s a good possibility you might have been at our house for dinner once upon a time. I don’t specifically recall which evangelists we had over and which ones we didn’t, and which ones had their families with them.

        4. EK-ABC-WHBC-FREE, We went to school together. I had to pull out the ol yearbook to make sure I remembered correctly. Anyway…it’s a relief to know others are finding freedom. I only relate to about 25% of the madness Darrell posts on here but I can say I relate to the other readers in some very deep ways. Good to see you on here. Hope all is well! (btw you interned one summer in PA with my now-husband, if that helps)

        5. KM? Great to hear from you, it’s awesome to reconnect with people I knew from those days who made it out. You seemed so much, I don’t know, more normal or “less fundy” than most. With my background, I can relate to practically everything on here. If it wasn’t something I personally experienced, I was usually only a degree or two of separation away from it.

          Things are good here, we are in WV now, going to a community church with better preaching than I ever heard in fundamentalism, and I ship out one week from today for basic training to eventually become an officer in the Army National Guard.

    2. Your father the one who inspired this clown?! Oo, one hundred years shoveling the dung pits of Purgatory for you! πŸ˜›

      1. Yeah, I remember knowing Dwight at teen camp before he went to bible college. Pretty sure my dad had a big part in his winding up at Ambassador as well.

    3. I’m pretty sure that he copied his preaching mannerisms from him as well (and I would bet a lot of his messages too)

  7. I did accompany myself on a lap steel doing a Josh White song once. The pastor was out of town. πŸ˜€

  8. How come the accordion, the official musical instrument of Oktoberfest, beer halls and polka dancing, can be used in the service of the lord, but the guitar is still the devil’s instrument?

    1. One time, a pastor in Wisconsin did not want my dad to play the accordion in church, for those reasons.

      1. I used to go to mukwonago baptist church. If you visit and want to play special music you have to perform it in front of the pastor and song leader before they let you go up and sing/preach. Women can’t even wear earrings on the platform. The church is a cult and needs to be exposed.

    2. That’s why my mom said I wasn’t allowed to learn it. Same rationale for forbidding saxophones, as well.

      1. The real reason against saxophones is that “sax” is too close to “sex”. I’m surprised there’s not a fundy uprising against “six”.

  9. Hmmm…….

    I can’t quite get this genre nailed down. He’s waaaaaaay too white for zydeco, and too sober for polka. Somebody help me out here.


    1. If you absolutely have to play it, that’s definitely how it’s done! Loved the washboard, too.

      Not really a fan of Oktoberfest accordion, but zydeco is . . .different.

  10. Even though this will ruin my SFL cred, I kind of liked this. Of course, the 2 Vicodin I took this morning (bulging disks at L4-L5-S1 are VERY painful) may have something to do with that…

      1. I’m not sharing with anyone! (Except for you, Big Gary, Dr Fundystan and maybe RobM…but don’t tell the others.)

      1. This is cool! At least the strings won’t break like a “real” harp – but how do you tune it?

    1. Did you say pharmaceutical grade analgesics? You could overdose trying to assuage the headache bad theology causes.

  11. Never had any experience with this man. I did think that his voice (which seemed to be pretty good) was at times covered up by the accordion. Really, though, I don’t have a problem with him playing that – presumably, it is used as a gimmick to get people to come and listen. I don’t really have any problem with this post. I don’t know the song, either.

  12. My dad always wanted either a piano accordian or a button accordian. Of course, he also participated in many harmonica “specials”. These instruments are all triggering.

  13. What is perfect pitch? Throwing an according in a dumpster from 10 feet away without hitting the sides. 😈

  14. I’m assuming he is gearing his ministry toward the youth. I can see teenagers lining up for the accordion…. πŸ’‘

  15. Y’all stop hatin’ on the noble accordion!

    Sure, it sounds bad if it’s played badly. So do trumpets, guitars, clarinets, violins, etc.
    But an accordion isn’t supposed to mimic an asthmatic donkey. It’s not the instrument’s fault some people play it that way.

    Without the accordion, we wouldn’t have Zydeco, Cajun music, tangos, polkas, mazurkas, Conjunto, NorteΓ±a, and whatever they call that music from Quebec.
    We wouldn’t have Brave Combo.
    Worst of all, we wouldn’t have Esteban “Steve” Jordan.


  16. 2 seconds…. I lasted 2 seconds… then I started twitching and had to turn away…. I firmly believe that even angels and possibly even Jesus cries when they hear this….

      1. Ack! The other organist at our church (my mom was one of two) used to put the setting of the Hammond on “double warp warble” as my dad used to say. It was seriously vertigo-inducing.

  17. In the various russian churches we went to there was the occasional accordionist, singing solo or with a small group. One guy stands out in memory, couldn’t play the thing to save his life, but I guess he had to try.

  18. I swear this keeps threatening to turn into “Way, Hey, Blow the Man Down!”
    Around Cleveland (near where I grew up), among the older folks, the accordion still evokes memories of the old “Polka Varieties” show which ran every Sunday, and which that good ol’ squeezebox always featured prominently. 😎 πŸ˜€

  19. I saw the title before the video loaded and thought it was gonna be Paul Schwanke.

    1. You would need both a face guard AND ear plugs if it was good ole’ Paul…. All that spit when he gets fired up HAYMEN!

    2. That was the exact thing I was thinking also! I actually…played mine with him one time. 😳

    1. @Christian Socialist:

      “I’m ruined. Here’s why.”

      I’m assuming, by your PS, that you are being facetious? That link was so…uh…non-fundamentalist. I just sat at the computer wide-eyed and speechless.

      I’m not sure what heaven is going to be like as far as our singing, but this was as heavenly as I can imagine.

      Wow, what would happen if that was “performed” in front of a KJVO-hyper fundy-type of church?


      1. Dear BigRedOne:

        I laughed, wept and laughed at your remarks.

        I was actually being serious – my point being that after knowing the unspeakable glory, beauty, majesty and power of great music, I truly am β€˜ruined’ for all the accordion playing, β€˜wonderful’ quintets, cheesy piano runs and monkey grinding music-box music featured at your local IFB church. I could never enter into the spirit of such so-called β€˜music.’

        As to how members of your typical KJVO hyper-fundy style church would respond – I can only guess. But guess I will.

        They would complain that this music is too catholic. They would say that it seeks and focuses on manmade achievement to the exclusion of God’s praise. They would cavil [of all things] that they couldn’t worship with this because [pay close attention here …] that music β€˜isn’t in their language.’ They would want to know why you would want such music when you could clap your hands and get your blood flowing with rousing camp fire songs by the likes of Ira Sankey. This would be followed with preaching that is the homiletical equivalent of β€˜Shall I Turn Back.’

        Christian Socialist

        I wouldn’t put it past some jerkazoid to crack if we ever hope to hear such heavenly music in glory, we must endure the purgative fires of fundamentalist music hell on earth.

      1. Dear Thinker:

        The irony and the tragedy is that there is so much music that is no less beautiful, powerful and moving.

        Christian Socialist

        1. Dear June:

          Thank you so much for those contributions!

          Add to this the opening song to Saint Matthew’s passion …

          Christian Socialist

    2. I think I set a personal record for shortest time listening to a Youtube video. Uggh. No more link clicking from your posts, CS.

  20. Alright you fans of ‘The Who’ Sing it with me:

    DwightSmith’s got a squeeze box
    he wears on his chest,
    when he comes to town
    we never get no rest

    Cause he’s playin’ all night…
    and the music’s all right!
    DwightSmith’s got a squeeze box
    nobody can sleep at night!

    In and out, and in and out, and in and out, and in and out…

    Cause he’s playin’ all night…
    and the music’s all right!
    DwightSmith’s got a squeeze box
    nobody can sleep at night!

  21. Can someone contact Weird Al and see if he would be interested in doing a song.

    Some ideas:
    -Fundie Paradise (Amish Paradise)
    -Love In My Preachers Office (Love in an Elevator)
    -Door Knocking High (Rockey Mountain High)
    -We Built This Bus Route (We Built This City)
    -Jean Skirt O’ Mine (Sweet Child O’ Mine) 😈

  22. because you can’t take your show on the road unless you have a gimmick, who would come just to year you preach eh?

  23. So Ambassador Bible boys would practice preaching at our chapel services (our pastor taught missions there), and Dwight was one that everyone liked because he seemed to actually care and be earnest without being stupid (compared to the others that s/trolled through). However, I remember one sermon after he became an evangelist rather than a Bible boy wherein he basically preached perfectionism as a possibility in this life. I won’t quote him bc I can’t be exact, but it stuck out because I knew that wasn’t in line with orthodoxy, but no one else seemed to catch it. Maybe I was imagining it, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t.

  24. Wow, that took me back about 25 years. I grew up in Lehigh Valley Baptist in PA where Paul Schwanke was a regularly invited guest. I remember as a little boy listening to him playing his accordion and thinking it was the coolest instrument in the world.

    1. Hey Tyler D, we were members at LVBC 25 years ago also. I went to EBA for Kindergarten and 1st grade before we moved. I was too young to understand what was happening and why, but we have run into a lot of friends who were former members over the years.

  25. Hey Tyler D, we were members at LVBC 25 years ago also. I went to EBA for Kindergarten and 1st grade before we moved. I was too young to understand what was happening and why, but we have run into a lot of friends who were former members over the years.

  26. EK, I thought you might have been. We were probably at EBA around the same time. I was there from K until graduation in the late 90s. Lots of crazy stuff happened at that place….

    1. Haircuts must have accidentally been left out of the list of gifts of the Spirit in the New Testament.

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