Petra 50th Anniversary Tour

Petra was in the area last Friday night and I decided to go see them. They last toured about ten years ago.2024 is their fiftieth anniversary. Their first album was released in 1974. I have a copy of the LP and the CD.

Their concert was across the border in Creston, Canada. Since moving to north Idaho a year ago, I have never driven into Canada. I’m the only one in the family with a valid passport, but since my wife is out of town, so I decided to go.

Two weeks ago, I bought a VIP pass for $75 (Canadian). The pass was for an event starting at 5 PM. We were given a poster to get autographed and also allowed to get autographs on another item.

The following is a recap of my adventures that day.

I got up just before 7 and did my morning chores. My wife and I were on the road at 8 AM. At 10 AM we did our Costco run in Coeur d’Alene. We tried to do a Costco run the previous Friday but were not allowed into the building because somebody in the area decided to try moving a power pole with their car. They succeeded in knocking out power to parts of the town including Costco. Oh, inside the building they have a whole section of generators for sale but whatever.

We then went to Rathdrum for lunch at a dive called Nadine’s. They have a salad that faintly resembles the Yucatan salad from Dos Coyotes. Then I dropped my wife at the airport in Spokane and by 1 PM I was returning home to walk the dog and then headed to the concert. In preparation to go to the concert I got my passport and my copy of the first Petra LP. Yep, a vintage 1974 album titled “Petra.”

Near my house, we have two border crossings: Porthill and Eastport. The Porthill crossing is closer but closes at 7 PM. It used to be open longer but since Covid the hours have been shortened. I crossed at Porthill. It was easier than I thought. I was asked if I had any firearms or ammo. I replied, “No.” I was asked about my business and how long I would be staying. I told the man that I was going to a concert. He replied, “Oh, you’re going to see Petra?” I replied, “Yes.” I was then allowed into Canada.

Please understand that I was somewhat apprehensive to do this because all my other trips to Canada were to Victoria. In Victoria they drive on the wrong side of the road just like in England. Thankfully this part of British Columbia is like driving in the US except they use the evil metric system.

Creston is a small town of a few thousand people. I was very surprised that they landed a Petra concert. Just before the venue, I found a Dairy Queen, likely the only fast-food joint in town, and ordered a chicken sandwich. I then arrived at the community center and ate most of my dinner in the car. It was a multi-use facility.

The VIP event started about 5:15. The event was really laid-back. I told them that I was there for the VIP Petra event, and they let me in. The people running the VIP portion of the event had no list of names as to who had paid for the VIP pass, they just took me at my word and let me in the room.

Shortly after I got my pass, the band members, five in all, entered the room and were seated at one end. The band members were never introduced by name.

Bob Hartman (middle) John Schlitt to his right

It turns out that only one guy was an original member of the band. What years the others joined was never discussed. A question-and-answer period was held first. Most of the time was spent recounting the story of how John Schlitt came to replace Greg X Voltz as lead singer of the band. The story was not told by John, but the only remaining guy from the original band, Bob Hartman.

John was lead singer for a 1970’s rock band called “Head East.”

John got caught up in the rock n’ roll lifestyle and got so messed up on drugs that they fired him from the band. He hit bottom and “got saved” as they say in Evangelical circles. He then finished college and did geology and mining stuff in Utah for a few years. He thought he was done with music until Petra happened. The whole answer was about 20 minutes long, so I really am giving you the thumbnail version.

Oh, the one question that was deflected concerned whether there would be a live album recorded on this tour. The band equivocated on this idea. Folks, based on what I’ve been seeing, the live album will be recorded in Oklahoma City on July 26th.

Following the Q & A session, the autograph portion began. The band members signed whatever was presented to them. Besides my original Petra LP, there were backpacks, ball caps, and CD covers. I was surprised that I was the only one with an LP. The Petra LPs are being re-released along with remastered CDs by Boone’s Overstock and Girder Music.

As people were getting autographs, they had a person assigned to take photos of each person or group going through the line, so you got a personalized photo with the band. As of this writing, the photos are not on Facebook yet.

At the conclusion of the VIP event, I went out to my car and put my treasures in the car. I then went into the concert venue. Being that I’m in Canada, would it surprise you that the venue was on the floor of the local hockey rink.

The one question I almost asked was concerning the song, “God Gave Rock N’ Roll to You.” Per Wikipedia, it was originally done by Argent in 1971. Petra changed some lyrics and did it in 1977 and again in 1984. KISS did their own variation of it in 1991 for the movie Bill and Ted’s Bogus Adventure.

Having some time to kill, I looked at the merchandise for sale and Petra had zero music for sale: only shirts. I learned from the guy at the table that only merchandise manufactured in Canada was allowed to be sold at the concert. Also, they could not accept any form of payment except cash or PayPal. Even with international data roaming activated on my phone, I was unable to download the PayPal app. It’s probably been at least ten years since I tried using PayPal for any type of transaction, so I don’t even know if I still have an account with them. NAFTA be damned, international commerce is a pain in the rear.

The warm-up band came on stage about 7 PM. They were never introduced. I researched their name, it was “Revival.”

The band performed about seven songs. Their last song was a cover of “Jesus Freak.” Per Wikipedia, the song was originally done by DC Talk. I have heard it before and have a cover of it done by Larry Norman.

Revival

People say I’m strange, does it make me a stranger

That my best friend was born in a manger

Jesus Freak
Revival

Revival finished their set about 7:40. It was then announced that there would be break and Petra would take the stage at 8 PM.

Sure enough, Petra took the stage at 8 PM and played for an hour and a half. Some of the folks really got into it, singing and dancing, and occasionally clapping to the music. Other folks watched with less visible enthusiasm. I would say that the crowd was about four to five hundred people and most of the audience was between 40 to 60 years old.

The overall playlist was much like Petra’s Farewell CD with some other songs added. Also, the rock and acoustic medleys were longer. John Schlitt’s vocals were remarkable good; especially since the guy is probably in his seventies. He looks like an older version of Christopher Lloyd’s “Doc Brown” from Back to the Future.

Christopher Lloyd “Doc Brown”

Bob Hartman’s guitar solo was much the same as Farewell.

As I said previously, the band was never introduced but I think the other band members are:

Greg Bailey – Bass, cello, backing vocal

Cristian Borneo – Drums

John Lawry – Keyboards, keytar, backing vocal

Attached are some photos of the concert.

Following the concert, I hit the road and went to the other border crossing at Eastport. I must say that it was odd driving down unfamiliar mountain roads at nighttime with the speedometer at 100. After about 40 minutes, I finally arrived at the crossing back into the United States.

I was instructed to turn off my engine and then was hit with a barrage of questions. As best as I can remember they included the following:

  • Was there anyone else in my car?
  • Did I have over $10,000 with me?
  • Did I have alcohol or tobacco products?
  • Did I have any fresh fruit or vegetables?
  • Where was I coming from?
  • Where was I going?

I felt really unwelcome to be entering the US. Perhaps I should have answered in Spanish, it might have been quicker to be allowed into the country. It might be that I was the only person in a while the guy had a chance to talk with, I don’t know but he finally let me go. I walked in the door about 11 PM.

Now I just need to find a few frames for my autographed stuff.

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