Newspaper / Magazine articles:
Coffeehouse offers new youth training - San Marcos Daily Record, 1972
New Home Found For Singers - San Marcos Daily Record, Thursday, October 5, 1972
His Group To Perform In Houston This Weekend - San Marcos Daily Record, Thursday, November 9, 1972
Randy Hill Drums For The Lord - Jack C. Hays High Newspaper – 1973
Who do you love? - Arizona State University Paper - 1973 [excerpt]
Jesus People movement trying to convert Vegans - Las Vegas Review-Journal - May 1973
Liberation Suite at The Ark - 1973
Morning Star – a different kind of place - Hays County Citizen – February 28, 1974
County Inmates Hear Concert - The San Antonio Light – Sunday, Feb. 3, 1974
Christians behind Iron Curtain - 1974
Liberation Suite off to Europe - San Marcos Daily Record - May 1974
It’s a miracle how we got here (say Texans) - Belfast Telegraph - June 23, 1974
Five Americans Rock Ulster - Buzz Magazine (England, July, 1974)
Bringing the Texas revival to Carrick - Newtownabbey newspaper - 1974
‘Liberation Suite’ performs in Ireland - San Marcos Daily Record, San Marcos, TX, Sun., September 8, 1974
Liberation Suite Back In Ballymena - Ballymena Guardian (?) - 1974
Gospel Not Glitter At Ballymena - Buzz Magazine - (England, 1974)
International Jesus Concert At Arcadia - Portrush, Northern Ireland newspaper – June, 1974
(includes info on Malcolm and Alwyn)
Jesus bridges the generation gap - Bangor, Northern Ireland - 1974
A girl with laughter in her soul! - The Guardian, Ballymena, Northern Ireland - September 5, 1974
(includes info on Jamie Owens)
Gospel rock at Metropolitan Hall - Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland - October 19, 1974
Liberation Suite - Harmony Magazine - 1974
‘Liberation Suite’ performing in London - San Marcos Daily Record, San Marcos, TX., Sun., November 17, 1974
Receiving rave notices...‘Liberation Suite’ impressing British - San Marcos Daily Record, November, 1974
(includes info on Barry McGuire)
College Rocked - Buzz Magazine, London, England - 1975
(includes info on Aaron)
Irishman Visiting in San Marcos - San Marcos Daily Record, San Marcos, Tx., Sun., March 30, 1975
No shamed experience - May 24, 1975 Larry Norman, Parchment, Liberation Suite concert review
Liberation Suite Add Three More - Buzz Magazine, London, England- 1975
(includes info on Terry Clark, Duane Clark, Stephen Houston of Fruupp)
Liberation Suite: Friday PB - Gongster, November 11th 1975 (Nottingham University newspaper)
Liberation Suite On America’s West Coast - Buzz Magazine, London, England - 1975
‘Liberation Suite’ returns home from European tour - San Marcos Daily Record – 1975
Liberation Suite Returns From Europe - San Marcos Daily Record
Liberation Suite in Concert Here - Del Rio News-Herald, Friday, August 19, 1977
“Talent” - Contemporary Christian Music Magazine – 1981
(includes info on Lib Suite, Solid Rock Band, Mark Williamson Band, Bryn Haworth, Norman Barratt Band and Malcolm and Alwyn)
CCM Europe - Contemporary Christian Music Magazine – 1981
(includes info on Redd Harper)
“Suite” Rock ‘n’ roll Returns to U.S.A. - Contemporary Christian Music Magazine, January 1981
LibSuite to rock Summerfest ’92 - San Marcos Daily Record – 1992
Contemporary Christian Music - By Paul Baker (1985)
Raised By Wolves (excerpt) - By John J. Thompson (2000)
Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music (2002) - By Mark Allan Powell
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Coffeehouse Offers New Youth Training
San Marcos Record, 1972
Whether they sing “Jesus is love, love is Jesus” or say those words to one another, youngsters attending the Morning Star leave with a “feeling of fellowship that bonds all of them together.”
This place of “fellowship, where anyone is welcomed” is a new coffeehouse which opened its doors every Friday and Saturday to the youth of San Marcos on April 21 from 9-12a.m.
The Morning Star is located on the second floor in the building that houses J.C. Penney’s department store.
“We try to reach out to others through music, the gospel and ourselves,” says Jim Darnell, program coordinator for the Morning Star.
The idea for a coffeehouse rose from students in high school and then some adults got involved with the idea according to Darnell. The basic format for the Morning Star came from a similar coffeehouse in Austin called the Well.
“Some of the students had attended the place in Austin and wanted to start a coffeehouse of their own in San Marcos so we helped them form a non-profit corporation, San Marcos Christian Youth Outreach Incorporation,” said Darnell.
A board of directors were appointed after the state approved the corporation. The consist of ministers from local churches and “prominent laymen.”
Darnell said the group of youngsters pray for everything that Morning Star receives. “We prayed one night tht we might receive some paint and the next day paint was donated to the Morning Star,” he added.
The Morning Star is a non-denomination [sic] function that presents a new aspect of Jesus Christ. The students and some adults talk to each other about the preaching of Christ, using the bible as their reference.
Those attending the coffeehouse get a chance to mingle with others in the 30 minutes between music sets. The coffeehouse sponsors three music sets during the evening.
A prayer session is offered every Friday and Saturday night from 8-9. This session is restricted to the staff of the Morning Star. The staff consists of those who have worked during the past months in the production of the coffeehouse.
Jack Enders, Austin preacher, instructs a beginner’s class for those who would like to know more about “the Bible and Jesus Christ.”
Don Jones and Craig Connally help coordinate the entertainment for the coffeehouse. Most of the time the entertainment comes from local students, but last weekend “Joy Of Living” from Austin sang for the youngsters.
Darnell measures the success of the Morning Star “with the good its done for the youngsters in area.”
“A few (three or four) students have given up drugs due t our religious training. We just offer them something that will replace their need for drugs,” says Darnell.
Darnell, San Marcos Baptist Academy instructor, thinks the youth in San Marcos need something to do on weekends and people to be with, at the same time they learn more about Jesus Christ.
“Winter, spring, summer or fall all you have to do is call” at the Morning Star for a fellowship experience.
Photo Caption: THE STAFF of the Morning Star pray as a unit prior to the 9 p.m. opening of the coffeehouse each Friday. The Morning Star offers a payer meeting for beginners also.
Photo Caption 2: CRAIG CONNALLY sings with the Morning Star Singers for entertainment during the evening. These singers are local youngsters and provide most of the singing.
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New Home Found For Singers
San Marcos Record, Thursday, October 5, 1972 – Page 7
You drive down West San Antonio Street and come upon a large white mansion with 19th century columns and a dark pink front porch. You hear the roar of rock music or perhaps the rattle-clank of a sing-along or maybe a director shouting “O.K. kids! Let’s get going!
If your curiosity gets the best of you, you must find a way in and find out what’s going on. Most likely you’ll find a lot of people, a lot of equipment and a lot of noise.
This is the general atmosphere in and around what is called “Weatherford House” for lack of a better name at the moment.
The house is being used as a studio for practice and recording of various Christian groups which have grown out of the former “Sound 70” program.
A program is under way to utilize Weatherford House as Christian performing arts center, providing instructions and training in music, art, drama, and stage design and lighting. The motivation behind all this is Christ.
Through educating kids and telling the “good news” the group hopes to spread the Christian gospel and strengthen the already existing Christian programs.
Dr. Darrel Baergen from the SWTSU Speech Dept. is assisting in the drama and stage aspects of the program. He is organizing a drama group that will do short skits that are designed to make the audience think about salvation.
Terry Stephens, whom the kids refer to as friend more than director, helps the group get organized. Mr. Stephes anticipates the making of a “pilot tape” for a radio station. A pilot tape is a recording used for promotional purposes, usually up to 15 or 20 minutes of music or whatever the organization is pushing.
Mr. Stephens also mentioned the possibilities of having “weekend excursions by drama and music groups.
The groups would depart from headquarters (Weatherford House) and then head for San Antonio or Austin, whichever city is decided on.
Designs are being drawn up for a mobile stage on the back of a truck, with a self-contained generator. This truck would be used for performing on beaches and in parks.
The group originally got started under the name “Sound 70 three years ago. Since then they have performed for various audiences around the country.
With two or three little shelf speakers a rickety Sound 70 pulled off the impossible.
“The Brass” [editors note: Liberation Suite] played Tijuana stuff, and the large group sang. There was also a bell choir.
Out of this combination of amateur scardy-cats [sic] grew a group of mature, professional, performers singing everything from formal choral pieces to progressive rock to gospel folk. “Sound ‘70 entertained everywhere; at the Austin Municipal Auditorium three times, the Austin Aquafest two years in a row, and the all night CARATAS Telethon on Channel 42 KHFI also in Austin. (Not to mention those irresistible trips to Brackettville, hosted by Happy Shahand, for Brackettville’s annual country fair.
Photo Caption: TERRY STEPHENS, director of Weatherford House, leads the former “Sound 70” in a Monday night practice.
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His Group To Perform In Houston This Weekend
San Marcos Record, Thursday, November 9, 1972 – Page 3
This week has been a frantic one of preparation at HIS PLACE, 802 W. San Antonio, as the various members and ensembles of HIS are rehearsing daily to prepare for their trip to Houston this weekend.
HIS will give a program in Spring High School, adjoining the new Houston Internation [sic] Airport, open Saturday evening, November 11. Joyce Newhouse, director of music at Spring, reports a full house is expected for the performance. Mrs. Newhouse first heard the group this summer at the Texas Choral Director’s Workshop, and extended an invitation to the group.
On Sunday morning, November 12, the group will give a 30 minute program at the First Baptist Church of Spring and return home following lunch at the church.
Programs for HIS in the near future include: two performances at the San Marcos Academy, one in November and one in December; a community Christmas concert in December, Sterling High School and Memorial Baptist Church in Baytown in January, and Dallas Baptist College in February.
Activities at HIS PLACE have been at a feverish pace during the past several weeks as numerous parents and members have been meeting almost daily to prepare for new outfits for the group, formal open house on November 19, furnishing of HIS PLACE, rehearsals, and recording sessions. Interest in the group is high as more than a dozen new young people have joined the group during the month of October.
Other young people in the San Marcos area interested in participation in art, drama, or music may either contact Terry Stephens for a personal interview or come to the audition times announced periodically in the San Marcos Record.
Appearing soon on the front lawn of 802 W. San Antonio St. will be a new sign created by Billy Windham, Industrial Arts faculty member at Southwest Texas University. It with state simply: HIS PLACE!
Photo Caption: MEMBERS OF HIS rehearse for Houston program at HIS PLACE, 802 W. San Antonio, as they prepare for performances at Spring High School and the First Baptist Church of Spring.
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Randy Hill Drums For The Lord
Jack C. Hays High Newspaper – 1973
Drummin’ for the Lord?! Hays High senior, Randy Hill spends his free time workin’ and a drummin’ for the Lord.
This past summer Randy along with his friends could be found busily at work preparing a place for teenagers of this area to have a common meeting place, The Morning Star, a coffee house in San Marcos. Randy was one of the main people that made this coffee house possible.
When Randy is not otherwise involved he plays in a band, “Liberation Suite.” “He plays a mean set of skins” and “…he adds a lot to Liberation Suite!” are two ways students express their feelings about Randy’s talents. He also holds the Hays Rebel Band together by the beat of the bass drum.
Randy helped a group of young people from the Baptist church in Kyle by playing drums for a Christmas folk
Students For Christ, a new club on campus, was promoted by Randy along with other interested parties. Randy was elected as chairman, head man, of this group.
Randy Hill, Hays High senior can always be found workin’ and a drummin’ for the Lord!
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Who do you love?
By Judy Pringle
Arizona State University Paper - 1973 [excerpt]
(“Who do you love?”) – “Jesus! – (“I didn’t hear you!”) – “Jeez-zuess!!!” seems to be drowning out the more Rabelaisian but classical “Gimme an ‘F’…!”; and it’s not 1968 anymore. Veterans of the rebel culture and the neo-indifferents are taking the Bible literally, seeing Jesus as the only way out of The Mess.
In a large tent pitched over at Central and Roosevelt, there’s a big Jesus-rooter revival going on every night at 7:30. They’ll be in town for another week or two. The entourage, a traveling salvation service, consists of 160 disciples, 5 semi-trucks, 2 buses (approximate value: one gem on the Pope’s little finger), and the epicenter, evangelist Bill Lowery, 30, the once and future salesman. Elmer Gantry started as a salesman, too.
The bumper stickers in the parking area (“Smile! Jesus Loves You!”) contrasted with my own “Honk if you love Ralph Nader or Germaine Greer!” and typified the philosophical differences I anticipated and later beheld. Inside the huge tent, three-fourths full on a Thursday evening, was electric music, tambourines, and joyous hand clapping. Big kerosene heaters lent an ominous smell; my thoughts ran repeatedly to the last, fiery tent scene in Elmer Gantry. Disciples took up collections in Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets. Receipts are always adequate to provide the necessities of life to the entire company; land for the tent was loaned compliments of the adjacent Episcopalian Church. I moved to the front for the sermon.
Bill Lowery is a speech teacher’s dream. He paces like a panther in his tight-fitting flares, gestures dramatically and speaks fluently with a combination of hippish lingo and colorful biblical phrasing (“The Devil’s a liar; loose your hold, Satan! Unless that’s your bag.”), imploring, beseeching his congregation to feel joy in Jesus, to let Him into their lives. Then some holy scripture. Rayhab was a harlot, but she had a heart of gold – stop me if you’ve heard this one – and Rayhab hid the two Israelites from the King of Jericho, who consequently found them not. So when the Israelites wrecked havoc upon the land (a ho-hum event in the Old Testament), Rayhab and her loved ones were spared unto the Lord. I don’t know what she did for a living after that.
“There are those who call themselves Christians …who only come to church for a spiritual belch, a religious burp!” Traces of the old ennui set in on Bill’s handsome face.’ “Brothers and sisters…sometime I feel the Holy Spirit telling me to save my breath.”
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Jesus People movement trying to convert Vegans
By Hanford Searl, R-J Staff Writer
Las Vegas Review-Journal [May 1973]
If you think it’s in vogue to be a member of the Jesus People movement, don’t believe it.
Just ask the 160 youthful zealots encamped around the Las Vegas area.
Since arriving here five weeks ago, the traveling evangelical entourage has experienced:
Time in jail for soliciting and meeting without a permit; hassling with city officials over a tent site for nightly meetings and being evicted from over-crowded living quarters.
“We came to Las Vegas because we felt compelled to awaken the once-a-week Christians to the fact that the city is evil in many ways, worshipping physical pleasures through gambling, widespread drunkenness and sexual sin,” reported 22-year-old Joe Grier of Peoria, Ill.
The response to members of the crusade has been about average. Some local officials ignore while others endorse the movement, according to Grier.
“Before coming to a new town we usually send letters ahead, inviting ministers and preachers to come hear what we have to say in our tent meetings,” commented Jim Dekeyzer, 30, of Moline, Ill.
Power House and Mizpah Missions, both of Las Vegas, have been the only local religious affiliations to extend aid to the struggling effort.
‘Income for the crusade comes chiefly from donations, reported Grier. This money helps pay for the 25-30 vehicle caravan, including five semi-trucks, four buses and private cars.
A common kitty is voluntarily received from incoming members and is watched over by secretary Donna Ramponi. “It’s kind of a united order fund for those in need,” said Dekeyezer, a former lead guitarist.
“We try to discourage kids from coming into the group because it’s not so glamorous,” replied Grier. “We live from day-to-day, so it’s best for an act of God to bring a kid into the ministry, not curiosity.”
On April 21, five of the hippie-type followers were arrested along the Strip for soliciting without a license their publication, “New Manna.”
Justice of the Peace Rex Bell dismissed the misdemeanor charges on April 24. In the decision he said, “Because you belong to a religious group, it’s questionable whether you would need to have a license.”
During the May 4 weekend, 61 “brothers an sisters,” including four juveniles were booked into city jails after they carried a 10-fout cross through the Casino Center.
The charge was meeting on the streets and preaching sermons without special permits.
Acting Municipal Court Judge Jerry Kaufman dismissed the charges saying that since the obstruction on Fremont street had been removed when the Jesus People were arrested, there was no need to pursue the case.
Bail was set originally by Kaufman at $25 apiece, but all defendants, represented by Morgan Harris of the public defender’s office, were released on their own recognizance May 7.
Deputy City Attorney Muriel Gund pointed out afterward it would have been difficult to convict the members of the crusade on the preaching charge since there were so many involved.
“The police may have seen them preaching,” she said, “but it would have been hard to identify specific individuals.”
Local youths were credited with causing the cross-bearing incident by both Jesus People spokesmen and city officials.
“Discipline is the by-work with our kids. We try to work with the system. We had told them, no more than two on each corner or walking along the sidewalk,” said Grier.
Two members of the crusade were involved in a two-truck towing collision on Intersate 15 Monday with a rider in the towed truck cab being thrown 40 feet to the ground near the Casino Center off-ramp.
Last week, two groups of crusaders were arrested at Las Vegas High School on charges of loitering on school grounds. Sixty-seven arrests were made, including 46 men and 26 women.
Dekeyser said all 67 will plead innocent.
…’the city is evil’
…help those in need
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Liberation Suite at The Ark
The Liberation Suite, a rock-gospel group, is back by popular demand at the Ark. They will perform on 5 Oct. ’73 at 8:00 p.m. Also, David Beal a folk-gospel singer from Houston, Texas will minister in word an song, on 6 Oct ’73 at 8:00 p.m. The Ark is located at 102 Ave D in Killeen, Texas. Everyone is extended a cordial invitation.
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Sharing His Word
Morning Star – a different kind of place
Hays County Citizen
February 28, 1974 – Page 17
SAN MARCOS- On a Friday or Saturday night, most of the traffic (automobiles and people) on LBJ Drive is probably directed at the movie, a café; or a choice saloon. But every now and then, a stop is made at a spot where “The Exorcist” will never play; hamburgers cannot be had, and liquor doesn’t grace the tabletops. When the Morning Star CoffeeHouse advertises as “a different kind of place,” here are no grounds for a false advertising suit. It’s a place where people meet to “spread and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Bob Morris, 21 year-old director of the coffee hose said that an average of 80 people crowed the main floor of 202 ½ LBJ, by walking up the stairs that lead to the second floor address. “The main method used here for lifting up the gospel is music. We are open from 8 p.m. until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, offering three sets of ‘gospel rock,’ or ‘Jesus music’ each night.”
What goes on between the sets adds to making the spot a different place. Morris and his staff of 35 Christians make themselves available to visitors for one-to-one counseling, be it marriage, drug or emotional, with Jesus as the key. “Our staff includes students, from jr. high age to college seniors, and many full time ministers of the gospel,” he said. It’s interesting to note that these days being a minister of the gospel doesn’t necessarily mean being a pastor or a clergyman. Morris, for example, is a sociology major at SWT. His plans for the future do not include preaching each Sunday in an established church, but it’s his goal to carry the word of Jesus. The Ft. Worth senior is a member of the New Testament Church. The founder of that non-denomination church is the same man who founded the coffeehouse, San Marcos resident Jim Darnell. The worshippers hold services at Owen Goodnight Jr. High on Sunday mornings and at the City Park on Sunday nights. Says Morris, “We try to keep the service open to discussion. The discussion is open to all believers, from Lutherans to Nazarenes. We feel that we’re one with God.” This informal attitude at church is the same as the concept of the coffee house, “We move as we feel with the Lord, we share what we’ve found,” Morris grinned, “We serve coffee and donuts at Morning Star, but that’s far from our main purpose.” So, gospel’s the main purpose, and music’s the method. Javier Rios, 22-year old San Marcos resident, lives with Morris and five other “brothers of the gospel” on West San Antonio. He likes music, and it’s his job to make visitors at Morning Star like it. “Our music is not the old-time gospel kind. It’s folk-rock, praising the Lord.
Our headlining band, “Liberation Suite,” appears regularly at Morning Star, and their instrumental sound could best be compared to ‘Chicago,’” the young musician said. Add Rios, “Sometimes people get tired of preaching. That’s why we hope they listen to the words of our songs. It’s another way to spread the message.” Morris adds that the music played at Morning Star is nearly always original. “It’s a way of telling other people what we’ve found in Christ.” Interested musicians are urged to contact the coffeehouse for interviews. When Morning Star opened about two and half years ago, most of the visitors were Camp Gary Job Corpsmen, who were probably hungry for a place to get off the streets. “We’ve reached many corpsmen,” Morris explained, “Anytime a large group visited us, we considered it well worth our efforts if we reached only one.” Morning Star is completely a non-profit organization. Who pays the rent? Believe it or not, God does. “We simply believe that God will provide for us,” Morris said, “and he does. We’ve never been in the red. Donations come to us all the time, from people all over the state.” If a definite sponsor, besides Jesus, were to be named for the establishment, it would be Hill Country Faith Ministry, Inc., an operation through which the Morning Star works. Founder Jim Darnell is on the board. “It’s sort of a home base,” Morris said.
The friendly young man is open and easy to talk with, and his sincerity is obvious. Okay, we have the where and how of the coffee house, this Citizen reporter told him, how about some more on the why? “The coffeehouse is there for people who want it. We never push our faith on anybody. Yet, more and more, people are noticing the place, kids dropping by,” the young man explained. “Jesus calls on us, each in a different way, and tells us what he wants us to do. Each person is an individual, and has the choice of heeding it or not. We have chosen to be ministers of the gospel.” When asked how a minister such as himself would approach a stranger with the gospel, he answered, “There is not a systematic how to go about sharing my good news.”
No question seemed able to puzzle the minister, not to even make him hesitate. The Citizen asked Bob Morris about the sudden interest displayed by man lately in the occult. Why the fascination of the forbidden? His answer came as quickly as did his smile. “The return of Jesus is very near,” he said softly, “and the power of Satan is very real. He is trying harder now since he knows he’s number two.” The obvious question was saved for last. Sometimes people like Bob Morris are called “Jesus Freaks.” Well Bob? “No,” he retorted, patiently, “I don’t like that term. I mean, a ‘freak’ is abnormal, right? Well, I was a freak before I found Jesus.
When Jesus Christ made me anew, I became a person.” Bidding adieu to Bob and his brothers, the Citizen reporter noticed that she had talked straight through the lunch-hour. But, when the reporter apologized for the inconvenience, Bob said, “That’s okay. We’re fasting today.” Seems that a fellow Christian needed special attention and the ministers were devoting all of their time to the cause. Bob seemed a little surprised when the reporter was impressed by their dedication. “Don’t you know that the strongest witness is love?”
THE RESURRECTION through the eyes of the artist, Javier Rios, at the coffee house.
MORNING STAR – 202 1/1 LBJ
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County Inmates Hear Concert
The San Antonio Light
Sunday, Feb. 3, 1974
Bexar County Jail was really “swinging” Saturday when prisoners had ringside seats for rock concerts provided by several musical group staging a “National Youth Moratorium on Indecency.”
The young people drew loud applause from inmates and police officers and passersby stopped to listen as
the band played in the parking lot across from the jail in the 200 block of Nueva.
Following the concerts, the young people marched to the Alamo for another concert and a rally during which they called for a halt to the “flood” of pornographic literature, offensive language and programming in the broadcast media and more honest, decent conduct from public officials.
A member of one of the bands, “Liberation Suite” rock group from San Marcos, Paul Lyon, 20, said, “We tell the prisoners the same thing we tell everyone else: Unless you are going with Jesus, you are fighting the way the universe should be going.”
During their visits to San Antonio, the young people gathered names on a petition calling for a return to “decency and faith.”
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Christians behind Iron Curtain
By Phillip Stephens
Have the Communists quelched the Christian movement behind the Iron Curtain?
“No,” says Friends in the West director Raymond Barnett, “the Christian church is strong, but under intense persecution.” This fact was emphasized night, Feb. 13, at the showing of the movie, “The Bitter Cup”, at the City Park Recreation Building.
“The Bitter Cup”, filmed behind the Iron Curtain in Hungary and Russia, depicts the life of the peo0le and the hazards of being a Christian in Communist countries. Contained within the film are some footages of a film shot by an amateur and smuggled out of Russia showing an actual Christian meeting being investigated by the Red Guard. The film also describes the work of Friends in the West, organized in an attempt to help Christians in the East.
The movie, filmed by photographer Mel Halvershem, was flown in from California to be shown before a meeting of young people and adults. During the course of the meeting, Barnett shared stories of Christians who had been arrested for their faith in Russia. Barnett has been behind the Iron Curtain numerous times.
A young man from San Antonio told his experience of how he had shared Christ with young people at Communist Youth rallies and at universities in Czechoslovakia.
Friends in the West has its international headquarters in London with offices in Denver and Canada. Barnett says FITW is a Christian, non-profit organization dedicated to the furtherance of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to people trapped behind the Iron Curtain, and to the relief and aid of those already of the faith there who are sufferings for their belief in Jesus.
“The ministry is carried on by dedicated workers, both in the Americas (U.S. and Canada) and in Europe. Outreaches include personal contact and aid to prisoners’ families behind the Iron Curtain, researching and publishing facts concerning Christian prisoners and placing Bibles and Christian literature behind the Iron Curtain. Publishing actual cases of people imprisoned for their faith has a tremendous affect on the government who places them there. Pressure from public sentiment has even resulted in the release of some and kept other alive,” Barnett states.
One of the new projects of Friends in the West is their Prisoners for Christ bracelets. Modeled around the popular POW bracelets, they are given for a small donation to people who promise to pray for the named prisoner daily. The bracelets contain the name of the prisoner, the date of his sentence, and a reference to the Bible – Hebrews 13:3.
Liberation Suite, local Christian jazz and rock band, performed several numbers before the movie was shown, while Don Forester, former basketball coach at SWTSU, led the audience in some choruses.
The movie was sponsored by the San Marcos New Testament Church. The group meets at Owen Goodnight on Sunday mornings and at the City Park Recreation Building on Sunday evenings.
[note from Liberation Suite: After the meeting members of Liberation Suite and Ray Barnett met together over a cup of coffee at Carson’s Truck Stop in San Marcos. Barnett told Liberation Suite that he thought that their music would go over well in Northern Ireland where he was originally from. He said he had a house in Belfast that the band could use as a base of operations if they could get there. The band said that they would pray about it. Three months later in May of 1974, the band members including wives Dawn Hill and Katy Bynum would leave Texas for Northern Ireland.]
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Liberation Suite off to Europe
San Marcos Daily Record - May 1974
Liberation Suite, local Jesus rock band, left San Marcos yesterday afternoon to begin a tour of Ireland and then Europe this summer. The band was sent out as missionaries from Hill Country Faith Ministries of San Marcos.
The band will travel to Montreal, Canada, via their maxi-van where they will catch a ship to take them and their van to Northern Ireland. Liberation Suite’s final destination will be the Belfast vicinity where they intend to establish a European base of operations. After this they plan to tour England and Europe to play Jesus Rock concerts.
While in Europe the band will be sponsored by the USO to play for military personnel overseas, and also by Friends In The West, Inc. under the directorship of Ray Barnett. Friends in the West was organized to assist in supporting Christians behind the Iron Curtain. The organization takes bibles and ministers to Christians in the East, and keeps Christians in the West informed of conditions behind the curtain.
Going to Ireland will be Paul and Howard Lyon, sons of Mr. And Mrs. Ed Lyon of San Marcos, Barry and David Bynum, sons of Mr. And Mrs. Lowell Bynum of San Marcos, plus David’s wife Katy, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Jim Caley also of San Marcos and Randy Hill, the drummer, son of Mr. And Mrs. Alton Hill [of] Buda. All but the Hills graduated from San Marcos High School. His wife Dawn will also be going. David and Katy will fly to meet the group in Montreal from San Antonio Sunday.
Liberation Suite began almost three years ago when the members of a local band, Rock Reconstruction Company, joined the brass ensemble of the former Sound 70 group. Soon after, during summer and fall of 1971, all the members of the group had a personal experience with Jesus Christ. Liberation Suite then decided to continue as a Christian rock group.
For the first year the group played locally, both independently and with the His group. Then in January, 1973, they joined the Christ is the Answer crusades for six months to tour the Southwestern United States. Since their return last July they have played all over the state of Texas and in Oklahoma.
While in Europe the band will be working in part with Bobby Hill, son of Mr. and Mrs. Julius Hill of San Marcos, who left for Ireland to work with Friends in the West this April. They will be accompanying Bobby on some missions behind the Iron Curtain.
Liberation Suite and Hill Country Faith Ministries are subsidiaries of the New Testament Church. The pastor is Jimmy Darnell.
[note: just a few things to take note of in this article. Although the band did ship it’s Dodge maxi-van to England, the group itself flew to Dublin on Aer Lingus airlines. The “His” group mentioned, was formerly called “Sound 70”. Although the band did have some contact in Northern Ireland with Bobby Hill (Randy Hill and Bobby Hill are cousins), the band never made it behind the “Iron Curtain” with Bobby and were never sponsored by the USO.]
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From Texas to Mallusk
The seven Texans living at Mallusk don’t wear 10-gallon hats and smoke cigars. And they aren’t here to prospect for oil.
Instead, they play guitars and sing the praises of the Lord. And they’re here because “God told them Northern Ireland was the place to be.”
Read about the Jesus Rockers in Page 7 today.
Belfast Telegraph - June 23, 1974
It’s a miracle how we got here (say Texans)
By Colin McClelland
Seven young Texans living at Mallusk plan to stage a series of outdoor ‘Jesus music’ concerts for teenagers in the cities and towns of Northern Ireland this summer.
And if things go according to plan, they intend to use Ireland as a ‘jumping-off’ point for Christian concert tours throughout Britain and Europe.
But the American gospel group, who call themselves Liberation Suite, are convinced that their journey to Mallusk would not have been possible without the series of ‘little miracles’ that marked their progress from San Marcos in Texas six months ago.
For they reckon that was the way God planned it.
Twenty-year-old Paul Lyon, who plays trombone and flute, and is the leader of the Jesus ‘family’ at Mallusk, said: “A colleague of ours in an international Christian organization called ‘Friends in the West’ suggested to us that our music would be appreciated in Northern Ireland..
“That was at the beginning of the year. As we were thinking about the idea, God came to us individually and told us we could do it. At that time we had no money, no means of transport, and no van to carry our equipment. But we knew that if it was God’s will for us to go Northern Ireland, then God would provide the means, Paul said.
God did, according to the group. For despite a series of setbacks and accidents, the Texans got their money, their transport and their van.
And since their arrival here earlier this month the ‘family’ have been ensconced in the rural luxury of Cottonmount House at Mallusk –courtesy of the Lord.
Now the five – strong band – two of who brought their wives along on the trip – plan to play their gospel message to the young people of the province, through the medium of open-air concerts.
Liberation Suite got together in 1971, shortly after its members had what Paul Lyon describes as a ‘salvation experience.’
“Three of us were playing in a rock group in Texas at the time. Individually, we were all moved by God, and we gave up playing altogether for a while. But then we realized that the Lord would use us for his own purpose – so we formed Liberation Suite and started to include Christian music in our repertoire.”
The band – Paul (flute, trombone), Randy (drums), Barry (guitar, keyboards), David (bass guitar, saxophone, rhythm guitar), Howard (trombone, harmonica) – toured the Western states of America with their Jesus show before the ‘call’ to Northern Ireland.
“the Lord provided the money and the van and the means of transport, as we knew he would,” Paul explained.
Liberation Suite plan to stay in Northern Ireland indefinitely, “as the Lord provides.”
In the meantime, they’re looking for venues and interested organizations who’d like to help them stage their Jesus rock shows. The bands’ telephone number is Glengormley 3499.
Photo caption: It had been a dull, overcast day. But when our photographer said, “Smile, please,” a sudden ray of sunshine came to light up the picture. For the young Americans sitting on the grass – from left David, Katie, randy, Barry, Dawn, Paul, Howard – it was just another of the Lord’s ‘little miracles.’
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Five Americans Rock Ulster
Buzz Magazine (England, July, 1974)
Over the past two months, upwards of 20 Northern Irish towns have been, literally, rocked to near standstills by five young Texans who are making Ulster their permanent home for at least another few months.
Liberation Suite, comprising Paul and Howard Lyon, David and Barry Bynum and Randy Hill, were told that they were ‘crazy’ when they suggested moving to Ireland for [a] spiritual campaign. But, probably with more faith than sense, they left the matter with the Lord – and eventually made the trip to Dublin just after it had been labeled ‘City of the Dead’ following car bomb blasts which killed 15 people.
And since then, they have covered Ulster’s face with a series of concerts, several of them open-air, which have surprised and delighted Christians and non-Christians alike.
Hundreds of people have looked on with fascination at open-airs in Coleraine, Antrim and Portadown. Many have prayed when appeals were made. Others have been convicted by the young men from America who have shown tremendous courage by playing in many venues where any form of ‘contemporary’ religion is not looked on kindly.
The reaction of Ulster’s young people has delighted them.
Says Paul Lyon: “It’s impressing for us to see the way in which young people here will admit to having no faith. In the States the normal reaction is, ‘Course I’m a Christian – I go to Church!’ but here I think there is a truer realization of what Christianity is – despite the problems.”
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Bringing the Texas revival to Carrick
THE STARS of a concert at Treetops Youth Club in Sunnyland, will be rock group from America called Liberation Suite.
Liberation Suite, however, are a group with a difference for in fact they are dedicated to religion and all their songs carry the message of God.
There are five members of Liberation Suite; Randy Hill, Howard Lyon, his brother Paul, David Byrum and his brother Barry, and they all come from Texas.
Their music is a mixture of jazz and rock, and their main influences came from Deep Purple, the Beatles and Johnny Winter. Before coming to stay in Carrick three months ago they had completed a successful tour of the South.
While in Carrick they have played several concerts in the area, and have been pleased with the reception they have got. “Carrick is a fine place and some of the people show a certain warmth which could never be found in the States,” commented Paul Lyon.
Only three years ago each member was at High School and looked set to go on to university. They all lived around Houston, the capital of Texas, trying in their own words “to be heavy by taking drugs and drink.”
However, at this time they explained, Texas was hit by a great religious revival, which changed their lives. They wanted to convert others and so they formed a rock group to spread the Gospel in their rather unorthodox manner.
“Religious music is in a bad state of affairs, they explained: “We want young people to be able to associate with us so we feel that we should wear our hair long even if many people do find it hard to believe we are dedicated Christians.”
The group believes that they are destined to become famous and say that any money they make will be put to good causes. After they leave the province they are heading for England, probably in November where thy will tour and make a record.
[Band note: “Did this reporter actually talk to anyone in the band? Needless to say, this article is one of the worst we’ve ever been on the receiving end of!”]
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‘Liberation Suite’ performs in Ireland
Page 2 – The Daily Record, San Marcos, TX,
Sun., September 8, 1974
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – “Liberation Suite,” a Jesus-rock band from San Marcos, is now ministering their brand of music to thousands of fans throughout Northern Ireland. Since leaving America the twentieth of May, the group has been playing and speaking to groups of up to 5,000 in open-air concerts, concert halls and various churches.
The group’s leader, Paul Lyon, speaking of the widespread success of the group in Ireland, stated that, “there is a widespread revival in Ireland. The Irish people are searching for the truth that will set their country free. Many of the citizens, young and old alike, are finding the truth in Jesus. We are very happy that God led us here so that we can be part of His Work.”
The group’s success has not been kept to the Emerald Isle but has spread as far as England, where they are now negotiating with several record companies who wish to record the local group. The band’s future plans include a move to England where they will base their ministry, and then to do extensive work throughout England and European continent.
‘Liberation Suite’ puts out the sounds as they perform at the 12th of July at Belfast, Ireland. The group, composed of (left to right ) David Bynum, Howard Lyon, Paul Lyon, Randy Hill and Barry Bynum, performed before a crowd of 5,000.
THOUSANDS OF IRISH listen to the sound of San Marcos’ “Liberation Suite” as they perform at Belfast, Ireland, July 12. The group is presently touring Europe and performing in cities across the continent. Performers in the foreground are Paul and Howard Lyon.
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Liberation Suite Back In Ballymena
Ballymena Guardian - 1974
Ballymena’s Flamingo Entertainment Centre is going “gospel” – for one night, at any rate.
Next Sunday evening (April 13th) Flamingo fans will be treated to an extraordinary band who play gospel music like its never been played before. Liberation Suite, the five rock musicians who have been “wowing” English audiences for the past six months, are coming back to Ireland for a ten-day tour. They did, of course, spend six months in Ireland last year and made several appearances both in Ballymena and Antrim.
Suite will be playing along with talented Belfast duo Chris an Alastair as part of a “One Way” coffee-bar setup designed to take the message of Christ to the young people o f our town, and the Flamingo is an ideal venue.
“We could have as many as 1,000 people there, and we can guarantee a top-class programme,” comments one of the organizers, Colin Craig. Colin, along with several other young people from local churches, has been working hard to organize the effort and is confident it will be a success.
Admission is free and the new Liberation Suite album will be on sale at the Ballymoney Street venue. The American outfit will get the coffee bar swinging with a half-hour session from 8:00 p.m. And Chris an Alastair will perform their individualistic brand of folk rock from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Liberation Suite will be in action again from 10:00 p.m. onwards.
Speaking between times will be Coleraine minister Rev. Brian Kingsmore.
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Gospel Not Glitter At Ballymena
Buzz Magazine (England, 1974)
Ballymena’s Flamingo Ballroom, in the heart of County Antrim, usually echoes to the sounds of bands like Mud, Bay City Rollers and the Glitter Band. But recently well lover 1,000 young people from the town packed the venue to hear Liberation Suite’s brand of gospel music.
Somewhere in the region of 100 young people responded to Rev Brian Kingsmores’ address after the concert.
The Flamingo manager was astonished, both by the attendance and results, and he has offered the use of the hall on a regular basis.
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International Jesus Concert At Arcadia
Portrush, Northern Ireland newspaper – June, 1974
THE Arcadia, Portush, will be the setting for what has been billied as a huge “International Jesus Concert,” on Wednesday, July 17.
Topping the bill will be English duo Malcolm and Alwyn, who have just released their “Fool’s Wisdom” album. Also appearing will be American band Liberation Suite and Londonderry outfit Salt.
All three acts will be combining to present a feast of top class music – music which will have a message relevant to the needs of today’s young people.
Malcolm and Alwyn have been in Ireland before – they appeared in Coleraine last year, and are sure to attract a large attendance. The duo, reckoned to be the best in this field from the UK, will bear testimony in song to the changing force which comes with a faith in Jesus.
Liberation Suite are also becoming well known throughout Ulster as a result of setting up a permanent base at Mallusk six weeks ago. Since then they have appeared in many towns, and recently staged open air events at Portadown, Coleraine, and Antrim.
Musically they have tremendous talent and should be well worth seeing.
Salt, four lads from Londonderry, are the home-grown talent on the bill. Like Liberation Suite, they have appeared at venues throughout the Province and established themselves as one of the most talented Jesus-rock bands in the country.
Malcolm and Alwyn will also be appearing at Milano’s, Bangor, and Kilkeel, Co. Down, before joining with Liberation Suite and Salt at the Ulster Hall, Belfast, next Saturday night. Admission to all concerts is 40p and 50p.
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Jesus bridges the generation gap
Bangor, Northern Ireland - 1974
By Geoff Martin
Jesus bridged the generation gap in Antrim last Friday afternoon.
A silver haired lady emerged from a crowd in the open square opposite Hall’s Hotel and clasped a long-haired, denim clad young man by the hand. The fact that he was playing electric guitar and singing rock songs didn’t matter much to her.
He was Barry Bynum, lead guitarist and vocalist with American gospel rock band Liberation Suite, in Antrim for an open-air concert. She was an elderly believer who obviously felt that the lads deserved praise and encouragement for their contemporary approach. And they were both united in a faith, which shows no political, religious or social barriers. As was only too evident in that moment, age or background doesn’t enter into Christianity.
Said Barry: “It was a nice gesture. She said ‘Praise the Lord for all of you.’ And added that she wished more people would do the same kind of thing.”
That lady wasn’t the only Antrim resident to be impressed by the obvious sincerity of the five young Texans who literally “rocked” the centre of the town almost to a standstill. Hundreds of shoppers, young and old, watched and listed to their message. Motorists were tempted to stop for longer than trafffic lights permitted in order to hear and see. Even local policemen stayed around the scene for much longer than their sense of duty required. Clergymen were captivated and even the local Mormons attempted to take advantage of the crowded situation.
Liberation Suite, comprising Paul and Howard Lyon (brothers), David and Barry Bynum, also brothers, and “spiritual” brother Randy Hill are all from Texas, but the only thing they believe in boasting about is the Lord of their faith.
He, they say, inspired them to come to Ulster, provided the means, and also other “accessories” such as a house in which to stay and venues at which to play. Already over 15 towns have been visited and in the near future they hope to play to British Army soldiers and to people in riot areas of Belfast and Londonderry.
They admit to having had human fears about an Ulster visit – and no wonder! When they were in Montreal, waiting to board their plane to Dublin, they were told by a Canadian on his way back from a holiday that Irish people “were crazy” – that was shortly after the recent strike. And when the boys arrived in Dublin it was being called “They City of the Dead” after 15 people had been killed in car bomb attacks.
But, encouraged by their faith, they set up a base at Mallusk and plan to stay in Ulster indefinitely.
“We have been surprised by the Irish people so far,” says Paul Lyon. “It’s impressing for us to see the way young people either say they are Christian and mean it, or make no pretence about not being saved. In Texas the attitude is ‘Of course I’m a Christian – I go to church!’ Here I think there is more true Christianity, despite the troubles.”
They have also been impressed by the way in which they have been accepted – not as hippies with a cult, but as Christians with a cause.
To those who feel that rock music cannot be used by God, they say, “We reckon that the Lord can use just about anything for His glorification. The fruits will bear it out, as the Bible says.”
There is, they realize, a danger that people will listen to the music rather than the message: “But if the Spirit is there it will communicate” they reason.
Pleased that the people of Antrim showed a sincere interest in their ministry, the Texans would welcome the chance of another visit. And that could happen in the near future because a local clergyman has made an initial approach with a view to a booking.
They also hope to visit Ballymena with a similar open-air show in August.
After that, there are bigger possibilities afoot.
An LP, early next year, could materialize and a large-scale advancement to the Continent is very much on the cards.
But whenever Liberation Suite do decide that their work in Ulster is finished, they’ll have one very permanent reminder of their Irish visit. David’s wife, who accompanied them on their trip, has just had the couple’s first child. And that means that there will always be a little of the Irish in the Bynum household!
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A girl with laughter in her soul!
The Guardian, September 5, 1974
Ballymena, Northern Ireland
Guardian Entertainment Guide
THERE’S laughter in her soul, as well as on the pretty features of blond Californian girl Jamie Owens, who plays in an all-American bill at Ballymena town Hall on Friday evening.
Jamie, reckoned to be the top female Jesus, music performer in the States, will wind up a short tour of Ulster with the Ballymena date. Supporting her will be Texas rock outfit Liberation Suite.
Well known in Christian circles as a part-composer and lead singer in the “Come Together” musical production, Jamie is a talented performer in her own right. Although only 18 years old, she plays folk-style guitar with the polish of a veteran and handles lyrics with a sincerity few female singers can match.
Liberation Suite, no strangers to the Mid-Antrim area, are a rock band with a heavy jazz influence which marks them as one of the most original, and talented, Jesus-rock bands no in Britain. As the result of a recent stint in England the five young Texans were offered the possibility of a recording contract with ABC records, one of America’s most professional groups.
Tickets for the concert, which are reported to be selling briskly, are on sale at Sam’s Boutique, Wellington Street, Nicholl’s Electric, Church Street, Brown’s Newsagents, Mill Street and the Evangelical Bookroom.
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Gospel Rock at Metropolitan Hall
October 19, 1974
I’M GLAD I went along to the Metropolitan Hall on Friday to hear “Liberation Suite,” an unorthodox five-piece group – lead guitar, bass ditto, trumpet (doubling flute), trombone, drums. The Met Hall is a useful size and as central as could be and ideal for events such as this, and the group were able to work up a clap-along easy-going atmosphere, which is as much as one wants for Gospel music ---(I’d hate to think of seat-ripping, etc., becoming accepted as part of the Lord’s Work!)
The instrumentation was written for in a way that got remarkably deep and full effects, e.g. in Reachin’ for the Sky”; most of the arrangements are the group’s own. Later, the lead-guitarist gave us a brilliant exhibition of free unaccompanied solo-line and here the building’s echo had a positive value. “Liberation Suite” (i.e., a composition called that, a rather ambitious piece in contrasting styles describing the process of salvation) concluded. The Texas-based group’s principal intention is, of course that of conveying a message, and a very good one it is, too, but they do not demarcate between that and enjoying one’s self; on the contrary.
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Harmony Magazine - 1974
By Dan Hickling
You’re a Jesus band from Texas, and were in the middle of the religious war in Northern Ireland. Protestants are looking for your Catholic sympathies. Catholics think that you’re probably Protestant. What way does God lead you to present yourselves and the gospel?
For Liberation Suite, just being American enabled them to preach about Jesus in Ulster, where nearly 1,000 have been murdered in a “holy war”. Lib Suite trombonist, Howard Lyon explains, “In Ireland, if you aren’t from (there), people have a tendency to listen to you. If you’re Irish and you get up and say something, they’ll label you as being from this political party or that political party.”
What is the background of this band, which as had the unique opportunity to minister through Jesus Music in Northern Ireland?
In 1969, Howard and his brother Paul (Lib Suite’s flute and horn player) started playing backup for a Baptist youth choir in San Marcos Texas, their hometown. They weren’t Christians yet; but within a year, both brothers had committed their lives to the Lord. Also, the rest of those who are now with the band began playing with the choir, and each became Christians. They are Randy Hill (drums) and the Bynum brothers; David on bass and Barry on guitar and keyboards.
At first they hadn’t thought of playing rock for the Lord; but began to realize what their music could be doing, according to Paul Lyon, as they each became baptized in the Holy Spirit. “When we saw this,” says Paul, “man, we really got excited. We saw something that as new Christians we had never seen before.” Thus, the ministry of Liberation Suite began.
The groups’ first gigs were high school dances where they would witness about Christ and play Christian songs. The Lord led them from there into a college ministry. One day the band set up their equipment in a parking lot at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos and began playing. In the crowd that was attracted by the band, was their pastor. He’d been rather skeptical of what Liberation suite were dong, but had not yet heard them play. But, says Paul. “He saw all these college kids hanging around and got a hold of some tracts and started passing them out and said ‘man this is great!’ He saw how it (Jesus Music) could be used.”
After three years of part time ministry, Lib Suite felt the calling to go full time, which they did in January 1973. They joined a traveling tent ministry and toured the western United States. They and 150 other Jesus People would go into a town and begin preaching. Their reception wasn’t always favorable. In Las Vegas they were escorted to the edge of town by popular demand.
They stayed with the tent ministry for six months. Lib Suite were then offered a chance to tour Europe, and though they’d been impressed some months earlier that they would make an overseas trip, God told them that it wasn’t time to go, and they declined. The band returned to San Marcos to pray for God’s directions.
They met a man who offered them free use of his house outside Belfast, Northern Ireland –if they could get over there. So they bought a van, which they had shipped to Ulster along with the rest of the equipment. They followed soon after and in May of 1974, began what they consider the real beginning of their ministry.
They landed into the midst of a nationwide labor strike. People were allowed just four hours of electricity per day. The band, realizing that they would need to rehearse at least that long daily, prayed about the situation. Says Barry Bynum, “for no reason that they can explain to this day, that strike was shut down. Things were set pretty much back to normal.”
Unlike most Christian groups who have gone abroad, Liberation Suite was not sponsored by any organization. They arrived unannounced and, with no publicity, began to take their message to the people.
Because militants would plant bombs in cars parked in business areas of towns, most towns would block off the main streets. The band was able to set up on the street – their only advertisement was their amplifiers. The curious were attracted by the sound and the gospel was shared. They played in 22 Irish towns this way. They later played dates in England, including one in the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Why did it take an American group to play in Ireland? Barry explains that if they were Irish “they’d think we were trying to defend Protestantism or Catholicism. It took someone neutral (to say) ‘Hey man, what you see around you is flesh and blood, but the real battle is the powers and principalities (of the air). The devil works on fear and you have two sets of people who are gonna bomb each other to pieces.’”
“We didn’t know before we went over…that Irish people generally like Americans” says Howard. Paul adds, “there’s a great fellowship among the Irish and American people over there. Everybody in Ireland has American relatives.” Because the people couldn’t identify Liberation Suite as being from either side, they respected and listened to them.
Jesus said to love and forgive our enemies, with the love that comes from Him. Irish Protestants and Catholics regard each other as foes and, says Barry, “one of the strongest testimonies I know of over there is an ex-UDA (Ulster Defense Association –Protestant and an ex-IRA (Irish Republican Army-Catholic) buy working together on an evangelistic team. They give their testimonies side by side and put their arms around each other and say, ‘man, the love of Jesus just breaks down the walls of hatred.’”
And it does.
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‘Liberation Suite’ performing in London
Page 4 – San Marcos Daily Record (November, 1974), San Marcos, TX.,
Sun., November 17, 1974
LONDON-Five young Texans who have won scores of Irish hearts since setting up a semi-permanent base near Belfast five months ago have just concluded their stay in Northern Ireland with a series of four “Farewell Concerts.”
Liberation Suite, reckoned by many to be [one of] the most talented Christian-rock bands in Europe at the present time, staged four concerts to say goodbye to their many friends and fans in the Ulster province. Over 2,500 young and old people alike packed the auditoriums of Portrush, Ballymena, Bangor and Belfast.
The band, comprised of Paul and Howard Lyon, David and Barry Bynum, and Randy Hill were told that they were crazy when they first suggested moving to Ireland for a spiritual campaign. But, probably with more faith than sense, they “left the matter with Lord” – and eventually made a trip from Montreal to Dublin just after it had been labeled ‘City of the Dead’ following car bomb blasts which killed 15 people.
Since the group’s arrival in Belfast in early June they have presented their contemporary musical approach to the Christian message in something like 30 towns north and south of the Irish border, and it has been a rare occasion when they have not been invited to return. During the annual 12th of July celebrations they even took advantage of the crowds to play before 5,000 people at Newtonards, and have also been invited to play to British Army troops at three different venues. Liberation Suite has crossed over nearly every denominational line, ranging from Roman Catholic to Pentecostal, and through their message of Jesus Christ as the common factor have unified many factions of the church. During their stay, the Suite has seen the lived of several IRA and loyalist extremists changed miraculously from violence to peace.
Even those who have remained unmoved by the message have realized the musical talent of this five-piece outfit who have shown tremendous courage in playing in many venues where any form of contemporary religious approach is not looked on kindly.
Despite many testing moments in their early days in Ulster, Liberation Suite’s ministry has been a fruitful one and they have been delighted by the reaction of Irish young people. “It seems they don’t so much want to make peace as find peace with themselves. That’s where peace really starts,” says one member.
Liberation Suite has now moved their headquarters to London. They have recently signed a record contract with Word Records LTD. (U.K.) and will be releasing their first LP early next year. The group hopes to make a trip home for the holidays and then will return to England for an extended tour. Liberation Suite is an outreach of Hill Country Faith Ministries of San Marcos.
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Receiving rave notices
‘Liberation Suite’ impressing British
San Marcos Daily Record (November, 1974)
“Liberation Suite,” a San Marcos based gospel rock group, has been receiving some rave notices in Irish and British newspapers during their recent tours in the two countries.
After performing in Ireland for several months, the group is now touring England and has recorded an album, along with entertaining in various British cities.
The following is a review of “Liberation Suite” written by Paul Davis, a script writer an program advisor to BBC Radio, a free lance journalist and music reviewer:
“It was a typical busy, noisy Saturday night in Piccadilly Circus – the heart of London’s swinging night life. The Circus flashed its colorful neon advertisements deliberately and calculatively down on the proudly dressed but gullible nightriders ardently pursuing the happiness they felt was to found in a night out on the town. As they busily endeavored to drink in another Saturday night’s entertainment – a scene that was duplicated in every major city of the Western world – a new evangelistic concept was getting under way only five hundred yards away in the New Gallery theatre of Regent Street.
“Every seat in the beautiful New Gallery was taken….two thousand peop0le seated patiently awaiting the foot lights to light up announcing the appearance of the singing American evangelists – Liberation Suite and Barry McGuire.
“Most of the artiste’s material was self-composed and original, created in the crucible of their own experiences…punch music, lyrics, and message…a blend of rock and contemporary folk styles. Their direct approach to the Gospel was admirable and obvious – all the more because the rock form of musical expression does not lend itself very easily as vehicle for the presentation of the gospel. Despite the fact that this musical expression was not every Christian’s personal choice they could quite readily identify with the musical moods and message created…a compelling and thrilling presentation.
“The evangelists interspersed their contemporary gospel songs with relevant convicting dialogue delivered in the youth lingo of the Seventies. Liberation Suite’s repertoire ranged from the dominant theme of “Run, Run Lucifer” to the plaintive affirmation to all that “My Lord’s a Remedy”. This outstandingly talented group from San Marcos, Texas cemented the audiences attention to the stage…set for a moving testimony in contemporary song and dialogue from former lead singer of the New Christy Minstrels – Barry McGuire. In a sincere and winsome manner the jovial, bearded Twentieth-Century troubadour attractively, lovingly, and prayerfully retold the good News that had revolutionized his life and given him a joy and peace that shone from his eyes.
“At the end of the evening’s concert the artistes invited seekers to come forward and share more of the wonderful Christ they had discovered. Many took up the invitation and the sharing continued until Theatre closing time and beyond…
“Back in Piccadilly Circus the organizers of the Circus’ entertainment would be greedily assessing the night’s takings but the yardstick of this Christian endeavors success, unlike its commercial neighbours, cannot be stated in economic terms but in deeper, unmeasureable values that only Eternity will qualify.”
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Buzz Magazine – London, England - 1975
Those who thought God was straight had the illusion blown away if they were at the Christian Union concert at University College London in October. They found that the CU had stepped right out of its usual groove of intellectual talks and had laid on a genuine rock concert with two professional bands – both very listenable and proclaiming clearly that Jesus saves.
Liberation Suite produced enjoyable heavy rock with firm harmonic control. And new band Aaron gave good support.
Aaron, a five-man group from Wolverhampton, have been playing pubs or anywhere they can lately, and have a keen finish to the music that obviously owes much to the rubbing of this hard scene.
The concert was promoted in the college by a poster campaign and by visiting in halls of Residence and student houses. The result was a comfortably full theatre and much friendly reaction. The CU believe the good effects of many contacts made will be felt for some time to come.
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Irishman Visiting in San Marcos
Page 2 – The San Marcos Daily Record, San Marcos, Tx.,
Sun., March 30, 1975
By Lanny E. Carvy
Irishman Miles McKee is a long way from home and the personable young man plans to stay away for a spell.
A friendship which developed between McKee an San Marcan Bobby Hill a few months ago in Belfast, Ireland, was instrumental in McKee’s coming to San Marcos last week by way of London, England, where he now makes his home.
Hill met McKee in Belfast while he was there with “Liberation Suite,” a Jesus rock group from San Marcos which is presently touring England.
McKee was then serving as a promotion manager for Christian Concert Evangelism in Ireland – and was quite impressed with “Liberation Suite.” He was asked to serve as manager of the group and accepted. The 23 year old man has been managing “Liberation Suite” since last May and has come to San Marcos to arrange a tour in the United States for the group this summer.
According to McKee, “Liberation Suite” is preparing to do another Irish tour in the near future and will be going to Holland for an appearance at a big music festival on May 8. They will end their present European tour with an appearance on May 24 at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
McKee said that the group is also planning a tour in Norway and Yugoslavia.
“The tour of Yugoslavia will take the group behind the Iron Curtain for the first time,” McKee said, “and it is being sponsored by the United States government.
Big things are happening to “Liberation Suite,” but the biggest happening yet occurred recently when the group’s first album was released in London. McKee said the album was only being sold in England, but he hoped to establish a market for it in the USA in June of this year.
David Bynum, Howard Lyon, Randy Hill, Paul Lyon and Barry Bynum, members of “Liberation Suite” are pictured in the beautifully designed album cover, which also details the background of the group and where they are from.
McKee will leave Texas in the fall when “Liberation Suite” returns to Europe, but from all indications now he won’t be in any big hurry to leave the Hill country and San Marcos for a while.
Photo Caption: IRISHMAN Miles McKee is proud of the recent release of an album by “The Liberation Suite.”
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No shamed experience
May 24, 1975 Larry Norman, Parchment, Liberation Suite concert review
WHEN LARRY Norman announced that he was stepping off the Christian concert treadmill I, among others, hoped that he would direct his huge talents towards seeking the wider audience he deserved. Instead, after what has obviously been a difficult period of re-evaluation, he returned to the Albert Hall in London on Saturday as top of a Christian bill, singing songs which marked no advance on his previous work.
His act contained more music and less chat than in the past, and in many ways he seemed an imitation of himself. What had been spontaneous now appears rehearsed, and his performance was a performance rather than a shared experience.
Opening with ‘Lead me on’, he continued with ‘Unidentified flying Object’ and ‘Why should the devil:’ before introducing the first new song, ‘Dear Malcolm, dear Alwyn.’
There were more familiar numbers and a few unfamiliar ones before he moved to the piano for the most musically interesting section of the set.
But many of the new lyrics were repetitive and only one new work really stood out. That was ‘Down the road’, a chilling song about temptation, worldliness and self-destruction.
The concert was opened by Parchment, who fought a losing battle with a lousy sound system. As a result, their bouncier numbers were more enjoyable than those which depended on words as well as music.
They were followed by Liberation Suite, an aggressive, driving band whose muscular approach to their music brought the warmest applause of the evening.
That applause should have gone to Larry Norman, and I’m sad that it didn’t. But a lengthy programme note accusing journalists of misrepresenting him, churches of rejecting him and promoters of cheating him showed a degree of paranoia that is still obviously affecting his work and performance.
All of the notes were there, the sound was right – it was just that vital spark which was missing. I hope it comes back.
- Micheal Jacob
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Liberation Suite Add Three More
Buzz Magazine, London, England - 1975
Stephen Houston, ex-Frupp, has joined Liberation Suite full-time after gigging with them a number times in recent months.
And also joining the Texas band, who have plans to be based in Britain until at least the summer, are the Clark brothers, Terry and Duane.
The brothers met with Lib Suite during the band’s recent American tour. Terry plays keyboards, Duane plays bass and both sing.
Commenting on Stephen Houston’s addition to the lineup, guitarist Barry Bynum told Buzz, ‘Steve became a Christian nearly a year ago. It is a very strong commitment today – as it was from his first confession of faith. Coupled with a strong desire to do the Lord’s will, his vision for his writing and performing is evangelistically orientated. He’ll also be a great asset with his talent on keyboards.
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Liberation Suite: Friday PB
Gongster, November 11th 1975
(Nottingham University newspaper)
The prospect of a Christian rock band can be an extremely daunting one if, like me you remember the original “Joy Strings.” Fortunately Liberation Suite failed to live up to that horrible reputation and proved to be a slick, well-rehearsed and more than averagely competent group of musicians, who really are a rock band and who have the ability to sound extremely good. Their line-up consists of the standard guitar, bass and drums plus piano, electric piano and an excellent two-man brass section with the ability to fill the gaps in even the shallowest material and make it acceptable.
I would not like to categorize their music but would merely say that they reminded me at times of Blood, Sweat and Tears (albeit without too much of any of those commodities) at times of It’s a Beautiful Day minus the violin and at times of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass.
The material ranged from energetic rock with a jazz feel through some well-handled blues to soothingly melodic instrumental passages which were reminiscent of Focus in their better moments. All their numbers were extremely well played (especially the blues and the instrumentals) and, although not memorable, very listenable. Yet with so many good things going for them, their set was only occasionally involving and had no more that a few isolated high spots.
(For me these were a beautiful slow piece sandwiched into a not particularly good “Jesus is Just Alright” and a very good blues number coming after a pretty lame version of “Presence of the Lord”).
The reasons for this were the drummer, who lacked any real bite and drive; the vocals, which were never out of tune but always insipid, the material, which was not as strong as the musicians, and the long and mostly turgid ‘raps’ in between songs when the members of the band took it in turns to tell us how they found God and eternal happiness.
I don’t blame for doing this – after all they’ve got a message to spread and no one would deny them the right to do so – I just felt they did it very badly and destroyed any semblance of continuity.
Overall, despite a bassist and horn section who could do no wrong, they lacked the necessary edge and material which changes a quite good group into a very good one.
Liberation Suite On America’s West Coast
Buzz Magazine, London, England - 1975
Liberation Suite are currently undertaking an extensive tour of the United States West Coast. Under the title of ‘Summer Freedom Festivals’ the concerts will also feature the band’s guests Jamie Owens and Psalm 150 an excellent West Coast Jesus band.
European operations for the band will be resumed at the Greenbelt Festival on Bank Holiday Monday. From the, Liberation Suite will be in England until Christmas.
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‘Liberation Suite’ returns home from European tour
By Marilyn Nehring, SWT Intern
San Marcos Daily Record – 1975
“Liberation Suite”, a Christian rock group from San Marcos, has just returned from a year long trip in England and Ireland.
The musical group is part of the Hill Country Faith Ministries located on San Antonio Street.
“It seems the Lord is always supplying the things we need,” Howard Lyons said, referring to the times when things almost seemed hopeless.
The USO promised them transportation, but a week before departure time backed out. They couldn’t get enough money to ship their van, fully loaded with their instruments. When the van finally arrived, vandals broke in and stole about $1,100 worth of their instruments.
Despite all of this, Paul Lyon said, “The Lord must have really wanted us in Europe.”
Several people here in town found out about the USO backing out on us and donated enough money to get us to Europe. The instruments were located three days after being stolen and a businessman loaned them $1,000 to get their van until more money could be sent from the U.S.
The group stayed at Cottonmount, a house belonging to the Friends in the West, another similar organization in Belfast, Ireland.
Liberation Suite played at churches and schools in Ireland and England. Because of the bomb threats in Ireland last year, all streets were blocked off, so they played on the squares and on the streets.
According to Barry Bynum, “Fellowship is a constant thing. We have a desire for Christian fellowship and this is why we live in house together.” Thirteen guys live in the Messiah Mansion on San Antonio Street. Several more girls live next door.
“We try to stay away from the kind of religion of just action. We try to relate more to God in being close, and sharing concern for others.”
The group feels that Christian attitudes on campus are undergoing a drastic change. “Last year,” remarked Barry Bynum, “there was an anti-God atmosphere. Now I feel things are coming back around toward Christianity.”
Barry Bynum writes most of the lyrics, but the group as a whole arranges the music. Some of the words are directly from the Bible, but most are from personal experiences and feelings about God.
Liberation Suite made their first album, by that same name, in England while they were there last December. Copies are now available at the Bread of Life Bookstore.
The five members of the group are brothers Paul and Howard Lyon, David and Barry Bynum and Randy Hill. Katy Bynum and Dawn Hill accompanied the group to Europe.
On June 21, Liberation Suite will be at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium for their own concert. It will be sponsored by several people in San Antonio.
Right before their trip to England this summer the group will perform at the Hill Country Faith Festival here in San Marcos. It is tentatively scheduled for August 15-17.
Then in August, the group will return to England until December. While there they will be touring to the Scandinavian countries and then to Yugoslavia.
Love for God is the idea behind the Liberation Suite. To them Christians are not a stereotype people, but they are different types of people together in fellowship.
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Liberation Suite Returns From Europe
By Janet Lane
(Newspaper source unknown)
The Liberation Suite is a group of musicians who write the lyrics and the music from their hearts, and sing of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ. In the last two years of touring Ireland, England, Germany, and Holland, these seven rock musicians have been welcomed with open arms wherever they go.
Five members of the band originated in the Hill Country Faith Fellowship in San Marcos. Having played together in different groups and attending the same church, the Liberation Suite came together and felt the Lord calling them to a new kind of ministry – one that would cause the group of young men to travel in the free world proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ.
In May of 1974, the members traveled to Belfast Ireland and arrived in the midst of the Ulster workers strike. In this troubled period of Ireland’s history, the group played to large crowds in the street and spread the word to both sides of the conflict.
After five months in Ireland and acquiring three new followers, one being part of Frupp, a popular band in Europe, the Liberation Suite moved to London. There in London an album was made on the Myrrh label, which finally made it’s way to the United States about a year later.
Greenbelt Arts Festival, largest Christian festival in Great Britain, made this comment, “When you combine their dynamic ministry with their indisputable musicianship, you’ve got one of the greatest bands around today.”
The group will tour in Canada coast to coast during July.
In August, the Liberation Suite will be back at their home base in San Marcos after fulfilling their ministry in Europe.
The Liberation Suite includes Barry Bynum, originally from San Marcos and lead guitarist, Stephen Houston, from Belfast Ireland, synthesizer keyboard; Howard Lyon, trombone; Terry Clark –keyboard, vocal; and his brother Duane Clark, bass; Randy Hill, drummer; and Paul Lyon, trumpet and flute.
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Liberation Suite in Concert Here
Del Rio News-Herald
Friday, August 19, 1977
The internationally known rock group, Liberation Suite, will make a special appearance in Moore Park Sunday afternoon between the hours of 2 and 5 o’clock.
The members of the six-piece band combine a variety of rock, classical rock and jazz music; the band uses almost a dozen different instruments and some quick switching by most of the musicians.
Flute, trumpet, trombone, harmonica piano, synthesizer, bass and both acoustic and electric guitars and six voices are combined in the group’s material.
Though the group play their own arrangements of songs written or recorded by other groups, the greater portion of their music is original.
Liberation Suite was formed more than six years ago in the Austin area when some of the present members began “jamming” together and soon thereafter, arranging music.
In 1974 the young men moved to Ireland, where they became nationally known, playing to packed houses throughout the country.
From Ireland, their talent opened the door for them to move to London, England, where they recorded an album on Myrrh records, an ABC label, during their seven-month stay.
A tour of the European continent and another tour of Ireland followed, with Liberation Suite performing to capacity crowds in concert halls, universities and arenas.
Upon their return to Britain, the Texas band drew a full house to London’s Royal Albert Hall. The musicians returned to Texas for a number of concerts and returned to England for another year.
Using Britain as a home base the group played at universities, colleges and concert halls in ten different countries. Following the group’s second trip to England the members decided to return to the United States for a “rest.” Since then, Liberation Suite, apart from a few appearances and some experimental recording, has been under what one member calls “laid back;” they were all in agreement, “After being on the road for so long we all needed to rest and live as individuals for awhile.”
Members of the group make no apology for their belief that they are “born again and know Jesus Christ.”
The concert is free and is sponsored by the Open Door Coffee House.
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Contemporary Christian Music Magazine (CCM) – 1981
-News from “Chapel Lane” confirms that this brand-new company really means business in Britain. Following the successful recordings of the Solid Rock Band, the Mark Williamson Band, and Liberation Suite, a stream of major British Christian musicians are set to make albums at the Herefordshire studios. First comes Bryn Haworth, whose new record “the Gap” was set for release in November. Soon after will come the Norman Barratt Band with an album produced by Vic Smith, producer of the Jam. Norman used to be lead guitarist for Alwyn Wall. He, himself, goes into the studios soon to record with former partner Malcolm Wild – a rebirth of Malcolm and Alwyn” Meanwhile Chapel Lane technicians were at Hammersmith Odeon to record the live concert given there by Jessy Dixon.
Contemporary Christian Music Magazine (CCM) – 1981
-A man who seems to be younger every time I see him is Redd Harper. He, too, has had a successful and busy tour recently of the UK. With only one day off in a month, he soldiered on magnificently. His album Country Gospel (with backup music by Liberation Suite) is well worth the price. It’s on Decca’s Emerald gem label.
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“Suite” Rock ‘n’ roll Returns to U.S.A.
by Karen Marie Platt
Contemporary Christian Music Magazine (CCM) Page 68, 71, January 1981
“THE CHURCH IS REALLY raising up young people,” proclaims the visiting youth pastor at the Assembly of God church in Bell Gardena, Calif. “now help me welcome a group of young rock ‘n’rollers just back from overseas. Their second album, recently released on England on Chapel Hill, is not yet available in the U.S., except here after the show …Liberation Suite!
“…clap your hands, stomp your feet, but don’t tear the place up,” declares the tall blonde lead singer, tambourine in hand, as the five-member band launches into its first number.
In front of the choir and the altar, huge P.A. speakers blare out commercial rock, fast and hard with a strong sense of the dramatic, assisted by a bass guitar hooked up to an Ampeg 2000 synthesizer, rhythm and lead guitar, and keyboards alongside the idle church organ.. four parts sing, “Play It All Day,” as the house lights dim leaving only a faint blue-white light that emanates from a large cross-shaped fixture on the ceiling.
The large, single-story structure is filled with young people from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds – Anglos, Blacks, Chicanos, Indians, Filipinos, among others – and a smattering of adults, some with children, some alone. As lead vocalist Howard Lyon launches into tunes from the group’s newest album, Stride for Stride, several couples – the men in suits and ties the women wearing bubble hairdos and synthetic furs – leave the room, children hand. But the teenagers stay. The group is hot.
“If you don’t know what to do during a country song, you clap your hands and stomp your feet and sing, ‘Yee-haw!’” declares a Lyon.
The crowed follows his direction and out comes the fiddle, sweetly sawed by bassist Fred Perez. Liberation Suite delivers hot harmonies, as good as you’ll find in any urban or rural cowboy bar band.
“My Lord’s a remedy for the common cold/My Lord is eternity and never getting old/My Lord is a Savior, He died upon the hill/ That’s why I am tellin’ you that I’ll do his will…”
These boys have been around a while. The band’s first LP, released on Myrrh in ’75 sold well and was ranked third by Britain’s Buzz magazine on its list of best albums for that year. Most of the players – Randy Hill (drummer and bandleader), Howard Lyon (lead vocals, trombone, flute, harmonica), Barry Bynum (guitar, keyboards) and ghost member Steven Fleming (engineer) – hail from Texas (mostly San Marcos, Steve’s from Wichita). Jim Hazel (rhythm guitarist) comes from St. Louis and Fred Perez (bassist) from Bakersfield. Westerners all, but the band can play more than simple Sunbelt rock ‘n’ roll. They’ve just returned from a long stay in the U.K., where they found it easier to get gigs and cut a second album. During their time there, among other dates, the band played a large peace rally in Belfast, one of the initial spawning grounds of punk and new wave.
“The only way not to be a puppet is to be born again,” witnesses Barry to introduce the next tune, a new wave sermon protesting the world’s string-pullers.
This band is versatile. The next tune addresses the pressures and changes we endure in high school – and forever. The sound here reveals a Chicago influence in Barry’s strong keyboards and Randy’s [editor: Howard’s] big trombone. Nothing special about the band except, perhaps, the lack of insipid guitar licks and the theme – Liberty.
Intermission. Only a few hard core “old folks” left – probably most church elders. The ushers close the doors to the foyer as the band retires.
“…Do you know what a silent offering is?” asks the youth pastor. “Green.”
“…What these young people have to share tonight is right on the same wavelength as young people today … pressed down, shaken-up and running together.”
The honorarium is $300.
After a brief intermission graced by a relatively sedate praise song sung by the congregation, Liberation Suite returns to a loud ovation and moves immediately into an easy California rock tune, “Where My Home Is.” Hauntingly they sing of heaven, accompanied by Keaggyesque leads by guitarist Jim Haze. The rest of the set is mostly choral rock – four part harmonies assisted by trombone, keyboard and symbols [sic] chiming out praises. Such a big, big sound from so few.
The is the Sound:
Keyboardist and songwriter Barry Bynum moves silently to the grand piano. “This song’s about what Jesus taught us by example,” he says “we are to be instruments of His healing….”
“Heal the Broken Hearted,” also from the new album, holds melody delicate and heartfelt, a voiced prayer, simple and sweet, offering the youth minister an opportunity to speak and call the congregation to “give it back to Jesus.” A prayer for healing, an altar call and all stand together – multi-colored congregation of teens, rock band, youth minister and a few understanding adults – raised hands voiced supplications and praises in prayer language, tears shed in contrition and joy.
By the way, this band sings a soulful four-part harmony with the best.
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LibSuite to rock Summerfest ’92
San Marcos Daily Record - 1992
LibSuite, the widely traveled rock band with deep roots in the San Marcos area, will bring it back home for Summerfest ’92 at Sewell Park on July 4. The band is expected to perform around 1 p.m. this is only one of two scheduled appearances they will make in the area this summer, as they are spending time in the recording studio putting the finishing touches on their latest album. LibSuite has made a career of touring England, Ireland, Holland, Germany, Scandinavia, and Poland, with their most recent tour being to Ireland last winter. Their current release is “Water and blood” and is available locally through Sundance Records. Band members include Randy Hill, Barry Bynum, Jim Hazel, Howard Lyon, James Yager, and Busby Hudiberg.
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Contemporary Christian Music
Where it came from
What it is
Where it’s going
1985 Crossway Books
(page 86, 87)
In California, the Maranatha Nights continued at Knott’s Berry Farm. At the Joyland Amusement park in Wichita, Kansas, the first Jesus Festival of Joy drew around three thousand people. In Texas, The Hill Country Faith Festival featured Terry Talbot, Liberation Suite, Jamie Owens, and Children of Faith.
The development of contemporary Christian music in Britain closely paralleled that in the United Sates, but on a smaller scale. The cultural exchange between the United States and Great Britain saw musicals by Jimmy and Carol Owens hitting popularity in England (including Come Together, If My People, and The Witness), Liberation Suite from San Marcos, Texas making a mark in Ireland an England, and Larry Norman colluding with various friend musicians in Great Britain and performing in concerts and on record.
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Raised By Wolves (excerpt)
By John J. Thompson
ECW Press 2000
Liberation Suite was also popular in the United Kingdom. Formed in Texas, and unaware of the Jesus Movement as it raged in California, the band existed both before and after its members became Christians. Ironically, they hooked up with a traveling ministry group as the house band and then made their way to the United Kingdom, where they recorded their debut album, Liberation Suite, in 1974. Their sound was basically pop rock with horns, a la Chicago. By the standards of the day, they were quite edgy, and their production was up to mainstream standards. They went on to release two more records in the 1980s, but Liberation Suite stands as their definitive statement. Although their albums would eventually all be distributed in the United States, this group of Texans found their largest following overseas.
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Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music (2002)
By Mark Allan Powell
Copyright 2002, Hendrickson Publishers
Randy Hill, drums: Howard Lyon, tromb., voc; David Bynum, bass, sax., voc (-1980); Paul Lyon, trump., flute, voc. (-1980); Barry Bynum, voc., gtr., kybrd. (-1994) // Jim Hazel, gtr. (+1980), Fred Perez, bass (+1980, -1990); James Yager, kybrd., voc. (+1980). 1975 – Liberation Suite (Myrrh UK); 1980 -- Stride For Stride (Chapel Lane); 1990 – Water And Blood (Spark).
Long before Christian ska, there was Liberation Suite, incorporating brass with hard-rocking Jesus music, first in the Texas hill country, and then in war-torn Northern Ireland and the British Isles. LibSuite, as they were usually called, was one of two important Christian groups to be part of the Texas Jesus movement. In the mid ‘70s – years before ArkAngel, much less King’s X, were on the scene – it was just Liberation Suite and Hope of Glory in the Lone Star State. LibSuite’s sound was likened to Chicago Transit Authority at the time (i.e., to the rock band that did “I’m a Man” and “Beginnings,” not to the abbreviated adult contemporary remnant that later did all those “Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry” pop songs). Indeed, Liberation Suite regularly performed “Where Do We Go from Here?” in their concerts, along with blistering versions of the Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus Is Just Alright” and Eric Clapton’s “Presence of the Lord.” Their first album remains one of the most important – and one of the best – contributions of the era.
The group formed in the small town of San Marcos, Texas, where all five members were part of the charismatic, nondenominational Hill Country Faith Ministries. The group consisted of two sets of brothers plus drummer Randy Hill, who would ultimately become the “keeper of the flame” in Mick Fleetwood fashion, holding things together through numerous personnel changes. Barry Bynum led the band, for instance, and is featured on all three albums, though he would not continue to perform with the group after 1994. Bynum and Hill had met when they were just fourteen; in high school they hooked up with the Lyon brothers, who were sons of a band director, and LibSuite was born. The teenagers all had born-again, personal-salvation conversion experiences while still in high school, and LibSuite turned into one of the country’s first Christian rock bands – they thought they were the only Christian rock band for some time, before heading west and learning about Love Song and J.C. Power Outlet. At first the band simply backed a choral group called Sound 70, but then, as Paul Lyon told Harmony magazine, they all got “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and began to realize their music served a greater purpose. Like true Jesus freaks, they joined a traveling tent ministry called “Christ Is the Answer” that moved from city to city putting on rallies every evening for the curious onlookers. LibSuite would play to draw a crowd and evangelist Bill Lowry would preach. Joe Greer, later guitarist for the band called e, was also a part of this Christian rock and roll circus. Benny Hester got saved at one of the rallies, as did Hill’s future wife. Back in San Marcos, the group was told by a visiting preacher (Ray Barnett) that their music would go over well in Europe, and he offered them accommodations in his home, if they ever should feel led to visit. They did feel led, and the whole band flew to Northern Ireland without any clue as to what they would do when they arrived. They maintain that they did not even realize there was a war going on (“All I knew about Ireland was that it was really green and had a lot of sheep,” Hill recalls), but they ended up staying for six months near Belfast during one of the bloodiest periods of the conflict. During that time, they would set up in downtown areas that had been blocked off due to car bombings, play their music to draw a crowd, and preach a message of Christ and reconciliation. In 1974, LibSuite played at the very first Greenbelt festival in England and subsequently became one of the top Christian bands in that country. For a time, Terry Clark (kybrd.), his brother Duane (bass), and keyboardist Stephen Houston were added to the group for an important tour of Europe with Chuck Girard.
Liberation Suite was produced by John Pantry and features a number of classic Jesus music songs. “Led to Roam” and “I Wanna Be with You” are Zeppelinesque, blues-rock numbers showcasing Bynum’s guitar solos. “Run, Run, Lucifer” is progressive art-rock, drawing comparisons perhaps to Supertramp, Kansas, and Styx. The song starts out slow (like almost every Styx song) and then suddenly breaks into a fast smorgasbord of artsy influences and styles: Jethro Tull flute, a gang-vocal chorus, and even a Spanky-and-Our-Gang ba-de-ba-de-bah a capella interlude. In the early ‘70s it seemed incredibly cool to have so much going on in one song, and “Run, Run, Lucifer” was a rare example of Christian music that was more innovative than much of what was being produced in the general market. “Oh, Lord, You Know That I Feel so Fine” and “More Than a Matter” give the brass a chance to shine and sound very much like early Chicago songs. “My Lord Is a Remedy” is a kinda dumb (i.e. humorous) country rock song. “Reaching for the Sky” is a fabulous rock-ballad, a song like Chicago’s “Colour My world” or Herb Alpert’s “This Guy’s in Love with You” that works precisely because of its simplicity. The standout cut on the album, however, and the one that would hold up the best twenty-five years later, is the simple acoustic song, “Hearken.”
As an artifact of the Jesus movement, Liberation Suite demonstrates both the passion and naivete of that revival. “More than a Matter” proclaims that “the end is coming soon” and that salvation is “more than a matter of going to heaven or hell,” two typical emphases of the movement. As historian David Di Sabatino points out, “Run, Run, Lucifer” exemplifies the “prevalent Jesus people belief that life is a contest between the cosmic forces of good and evil,” while “My Lord Is a remedy” typifies the “mindset of most adherents that Jesus is the answer to each and every problem.” The latter song actually declares, “My Lord is a remedy for the common cold.” In the early ‘70s, at least, the church in San Marcos from which the band sprang was a neo-Pentecostal assembly that did indeed teach that people of faith should not have to be troubled by such inconveniences as colds or dandruff or bad breath; Jesus would fix it all. The message of “Hearken,” on the other hand, is direct and timeless: ‘Hearken to the Lord, O lost generation / After searching for so many years / It’s written in the pages of the Good Book / The reasons for lying and dying and so many tears."
Stride for Stride moved the group more consistently toward the art-rock style of bands like Boston or Kansas – and comparisons to ‘80s Chicago would also apply. “Where My Home Is,” a song about heaven, is easy California rock in the same vein as Sweet Comfort Band. “Heal the Broken Hearted” is a piano ballad calling on Christians to heed Jesus’ example and become instruments of healing. Water and Blood was something of a disaster in that the record was poorly mixed and distributed without the group’s consent. In 2000, a new, remastered edition was finally made available. The opening, “Talk to You,” has the pop sound of Top 40 ‘70s radio and addresses the listener with a divine plea similar to those that would be posted on the numerous “message from God” billboards that became popular in the late ‘90s. “When you got time, I’ve got to talk to you.” The same divine-quest-for-humanity theme informs “the Distance” (based on the prodigal son story). “All Things New” is a modern folk-hymn to God’s victory over evil. “Emerald Isle” is more of a rock anthem closer to the sound of the band’s classic debut, with Boston-like gang vocals and some impressive guitar work. The album concludes with a new version of “Run, Run, Lucifer.”
In an interview with Jesus People magazine in 2000, Randy Hill would continue to extol the basic passions of primitive Jesus music as opposed to what became the contemporary Christian music industry and empire. “The Jesus movement was quickly poisoned by Christian record labels, Christian music magazines, and media hype in general…There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of music evangelism anymore. It’s either a bunch of preaching to the choir or bands crossing over to the secular arena and not saying much of anything at all.” Barry Bynum has continued to pursue a solo career, working both in Northern Ireland and in San Marcos, Texas, where he became worship leader for Hill Country Faith Ministries. He has released two albums in Europe only: Stickin’ Your Neck Out (1995) and To You (1998), which are available through his website (http://barrybynum.tripod.com/BarryBynum.html).
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