It was a hot August night in 1968 and I was sitting in the un-air conditioned Armory in Minneapolis, MN, listening to a rock concert. The hard rock group Vanilla Fudge had re-recorded a Supremes song “You Keep Me Hanging On” and it was climbing the charts. They were headlining a concert that also included the soft rock duo Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who had written a lot of hit songs for others and finally had a hit of their own “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight”. It seemed like a strange pairing, but rock in those days embraced many different styles.
About a week before the concert the ads changed and the “bubble gum” rock group 1910 Fruit Gum Company was added. It became the “Vanilla Fudge Concert featuring Boyce and Hart and the 1910 Fruit Gum Company”. An even stranger conglomeration, but I liked their music too, so why not enjoy all three groups.
That night Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart got the night off with a set of their music and then the next group came on. The 1910 Fruit Gum Company came on and played their hits, including “Simon Says”, “May I Take a Giant Step Into Your Heart”, and “1, 2, 3, Red Light”. As they played on, the crowd grew restless. More and more voices called out, “Bring on the Fudge.”
Finally the lead singer, Joey Levine, stopped and walked off stage. He returned with a man who turned out to be the concert promoter. Joey asked the man, “Are you gonna tell them or should I?” With that the promoter had to admit the Vanilla Fudge had cancelled and the 1910 Fruit Gum Company had been booked as their replacement. We had been tricked. We were not informed of the change and came under false pretenses.
Then Joey Levine said, “Okay, if you want to hear some rock and roll, stick around.” And the band began to jam. They played for the next hour and were great. They were not who we came to see, but by the time the concert was over, everyone seemed satisfied that we had gotten our money’s worth.
I have always been impressed by how the band who was not expected to headline the concert was able to step up under less than perfect conditions, and give us a night to remember. It took guts and musical ability to do what they did. But they performed to the best of their ability and won new fans in the process. I might have spent $5 or so for a ticket even if the Vanilla Fudge had not been mentioned. But I am sure there were many in the crowd who never would have attended without the draw of the harder edged group.
Sometimes in life we get stuck in difficult situations, like the 1910 Fruit Gum Company. We can either give up and go home, or we can give it our best effort. In the process, we can learn to deal with difficult situations and overcome negative attitudes. This can happen if you are a step parent or a last-minute replacement for a featured speaker or preacher. Sometimes we just have to make the best of a bad situation.
It is in these situations we learn to trust God to get us through. We may not feel adequate to the situation and want to quit. But if we just let God take over, we may find we are able to do more than we ever expected. In my devotions this morning I read the verses where Jesus tells his disciples, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:11-12)
This is not an excuse for being unprepared. But it is a reminder not to become overwhelmed and stressed out by our situations. Leave it in God’s hands and let go. We may find that we are able to do more than we ever thought. Just like the 1910 Fruit Gum Company was able to perform better than many in the audience ever expected.