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Chagall Guevara Return to the Stage After 30 Years at Rowdy Ryman Reunion Show in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The history of the music industry is littered with bands who make the claim that they were influential in their time. They will tell you with haughty hubris and hyperbole how they could have been contenders if only circumstances had been different. In the case of Nashville's Chagall Guevara - a group who generated a huge buzz in Music City thirty years ago - this scenario stands as more fact than fiction as they packed the Ryman Auditorium for their much anticipated reunion concert in Nashville, Tennessee on July 02, 2022.

Chagall Guevara return to the stage after 30 years.

Everyone loves a great comeback story so here is one for the ages. In the late 1980's a group was formed under the title Chagall Guevara comprised of Steve Taylor, Dave Perkins, Lynn Nichols, Mike Mead and Wade Jaynes. Their name was derived from a combination of Che Guevara a Communist revolutionary and painter Marc Chagall to imply the idea of "revolutionary art". At that time all of the band members had connections within the Christian music industry but this outfit was an attempt by them to move more towards the mainstream.

They headed to Nashville and were soon selling out local shows plus getting opening slots for bigger bands such as Squeeze in the UK. Their only album, the self-titled Chagall Guevara came out on MCA Records in 1991 but the release was not handled well and the guys soon parted ways with the label. Yet, for the few short years that they had been together Chagall Guevara had formed a cult following of fans who were clamoring for more.

Steve Taylor was right at home at the Ryman Auditorium in 2022.

About three decades later in the summer of 2020 a Kickstarter drive was set-up to raise funds to compile rare live and studio material from this group. By 2022, Chagall Guevara had also completed a nine track album called Halcyon Days that was made available to Kickstarter backers in mid-May with a public release date set for June of 2022. With funds left over they were able to organize the live reunion show at the legendary Ryman. At the venue, as we were making our way to our seats, we observed a long line at the merch table with quite a few folks sporting Chagall Guevara gear. It was clear that people were excited to be at this much anticipated affair.

Chagall Guevara opened with the up-tempo "Tale o' the Twister" flowing into the snappy "I Need Somebody" followed by the catchy "Got Any Change?" Lead singer Steve Taylor greeted the ecstatic crowd with shout outs to all the people who had supported them and paid for this to happen. They also thanked their wives. Steve advised us that they were filming but with no guarantee of what may come of it.

"Resurrection #9" from Halcyon Days was a rousing modern number in line with their past. "Surrender" had a heavier feel and the title track was a winner too. Steve pointed out the back drop behind the stage to inform fans of what the new album cover looked like. More shout outs came from Dave Perkins who was holding a long list of names as he pointed out the many friends and industry associates who joined them in the Mother Church for this unlikely rock revival. A show of hands revealed most of the house was from out of state, from north of the border with one family traveling all the way from South America to be at the celebration. One uber fan who had pushed for this reunion received a legendary piece of band memorabilia in the form of a well-worn cowboy hat for his efforts.

Clockwise from Top Left: Mike Mead, Lynn Nichols, John Mark Painter and Dave Perkins.

Considering it had been so long since they last worked together Chagall Guevara were in great form. Steve was a charismatic front man - moving like Jagger at times while singing with passion. He was also personable when chatting with the crowd. Taylor is the real deal!

"Still Know Your Number by Heart" (with guest tap dancer) combined elements of country with punk and "Take Me Back to Love Canal" built on that rebellious tone. "If It All Comes True" was a more serious song expressing concern about the state of the world while waiting for a child to be born. Chagall Guevara's encore was a mix of originals and creative covers such as "Treasure of the Broken Land" (Mark Heard) featuring Phil Madeira and "Gloria" (Them) with local celebrity Soccer Moses on guitar which ended this epic event on a holy note.

It was interesting how at their formation three decades ago that Chagall Guevara tried to move away from the Christian music label. But, their lineage turned up at the Mother Church. At the Ryman we spotted Phil Keaggy who was there to support guitarist Lynn Nichols - who had played, produced and contributed to some of Phil's most influential albums back in the 80's and Soccer Moses as a lot of folks know is Stephen Mason from the band Jars of Clay. Fans came out in force to see Chagall Guevara and they were given a magic and memorable night that truly was another Music City Miracle for everyone involved.

Spotted in Nashville: Phil Keaggy, John J. Thompson and and Soccer Moses.

Opening for Chagall Guevara was Over the Rhine who is a singer/songwriting duo. Together multi-instrumentalists - Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler (who've been married for 22 years) have built a vivid, emotionally-charged body of work that has won them a devoted following and critical acclaim. They started out around the same time as Chagall Guevara and share some musical connections.

People were attentive as the couple performed songs from their past and most recent record Love & Revelation. Their latest is packed with melodic songs filled with memorable imagery such as the moving "Broken Angles". Karin explained that it was about the fallout from losing someone to suicide. "The Seahorse" was another compelling composition. Over The Rhine successfully engaged the audience who were waiting for the energetic headliners and by doing so made for a complete night of divine and diverse music.

CHAGALL GUEVARA SETLIST: Tale o' the Twister | I Need Somebody | Got Any Change? | Escher's World | Play God | Resurrection #9 | Surrender | Halcyon Days | Can't You Feel the Chains? | Still Know Your Number by Heart | Take Me Back to Love Canal | Monkey Grinder | Violent Blue | If It All Comes True | Murder in the Big House | Encore | Candy Guru | Treasure of the Broken Land (Mark Heard cover) | Encore 2: | Love Is a Dead Language | I Got a Line on You (Spirit cover) | Gloria (Them cover)

Over the Rhine opened the festivities at the Ryman.

Related Links: For more information on CHAGALL GUEVARA and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Chagall Guevara | Over the Rhine | Ryman Auditorium


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