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There are concerts, and there are events, but then there are occasions so sublime they become the “I was there that night” stories we tell the next generation. September 2017? The tribute concert at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium honoring the legacy of Rich Mullins? The one where they played the entire Ragamuffin album, note-for-note? I was there.

In 1995, songs from Rich Mullins’ masterpiece, A Liturgy, A Legacy, And A Ragamuffin Band (buy) were still charting when he released and toured the follow up, Brother’s Keeper. On November 12 of that year (while on the cover of CCM Magazine) Rich and his band played the storied Ryman in Music City, U.S.A.

A young musician named Andrew Peterson drove from Florida to the Ryman to see the show. And though he’s embarrassed to tell the tale now, he even snuck backstage to try to meet the man whose music had changed his life.

Two years later, Rich was gone.

Twenty years have now passed since that jarring September day when an abbreviated life made its magnitude and its magnanimity known by its void. Peterson and his ilk have carried the Mullins mantle, creating songs that capture the space between the winds of heaven and the stuff of earth. He’s occupied that space so well that if a Mullins fan were to dream up the most fitting way to honor a fateful anniversary, it would be this: Andrew Peterson and his friends, playing the Ragamuffin album, at the Ryman.

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