Petra fan convention to hit Indy June 21-22
by Reggie Edwards
Last year’s 3rd annual Petra Fan Convention was the first to be held in Indianapolis. It served as the release party for John Schlitt’s new solo record, The Greater Cause, which was highly-anticipated in the Petra camp. Greg Hough, Bill Glover and John DeGroff, three of the original four Petra members also played together for the first time in years.
So how could it get any better? Easy, bring in Petra cofounder Bob Hartman to play alongside Schlitt for the return of II Guys from Petra. And this year, at the 2013 Petra Fan Convention: On Fire that will be exactly what happens.
The team of Hough, DeGroff and Glover went over so well with Petra fans last year that the three decided to go full-time with the outfit and make a new CD, the first since 1977’s Come and Join Us, and which will be debuted at On Fire 2013.
Sam Scales, who played last year’s convention, along with Tawana and Steven Billings will also grace the Petra Fan Convention stage this year, getting the party started early with their great talents.
The Petra Fan Convention is an experience any Petra fan would love, offering a chance to get up-close-and personal with Petra members, a chance to relive and recount old Petra stories, show off and/or look at rare Petra memorabilia and more.
To top it off, Petra members close things out with an up close performance. Last year saw GHF (God Has Forgiven featuring Hough, Glover and DeGroff) as well as Schlitt performing songs from The Greater Cause and classic Petra tunes.
“It’s special to see these friends who have very been loyal to Petra and have made a point to tell us that their lives have been touched by what we’ve done, which is always a ridiculous blessing to us,” says longtime Petra frontman John Schlitt. “It’s intimate, it’s not gigantic, it’s not some stadium-type-of-thing and we get a chance to talk to pretty much everybody and find out what’s going on in their lives. It’s sort of like a gigantic family reunion.”
The Petra Fan Convention is the only thing of this level Schlitt has done and with co-founder Bob Hartman present this year, fans are in for the experience of a lifetime, an up-close experience Schlitt compares to the Petra Farewell Tour in 2005.
“It’s the only thing I’ve ever done like this and now that Bob and I are gonna do it together this year, I guarantee Bob’s never done anything like this before, so again, it’s a special thing,” says Schlitt. “It’s like what we did on the Farewell Tour- every night afterwards we signed autographs and sometimes the autograph signing was longer than the concert but we wanted to do it just to say ‘thank you for your support and for the years of being with us.’”
II Guys from Petra, which was formed in 2007 after Petra had formally retired, featured a two-man lineup of Hartman and Schlitt, who toured in support of a new praise and worship album titled Vertical Expressions.
“We did a tour then with Vertical Expressions,” Schlitt explains, “which was just a collection of praise and worship songs we really liked and did it our way, which has a long story too that we’ll tell at the event, but everybody at the event already knows the story so I don’t know why we’re wasting our time telling it,” jokes Schlitt.
Schlitt says that Hartman and himself try to get together every once in awhile and just finished a new possible Petra single with Farewell bassist Greg Bailey. The two rarely see each other and don’t get to talk on a regular basis so it was a blast.
“It was a lot of fun and Bob and I are good friends but we hardly ever talk to each other,” explains Schlitt. “But when we do it’s worth it because we have so many things to talk about and get caught up with, it’s just very cool…so it’s fun to have an excuse to get together and in June it will be the same kind of thing.”
This year’s convention will take place June 21-22 and there are now two ticket options:
Ticket option #1: $42 you get to attend both days, the Pre-Party Jam Friday night with GHF and Saturday with the GHF CD release listening party, II Guys fromPetra, GHF, Sam Scales Tawana and Steven Billings.
Ticket option #2: $32 Saturday only ticket. GHF CD release listening party, II Guys from Petra, GHF, Sam Scales Tawana and Steven Billings.
Interview with John Schlitt
Interview with Petra Fan Convention Organizer Rob Pugh