The Steel Magnolias deliver in fire & snow

While on tour across the U.S., the Steel Magnolias stopped in a blizzard at the Royal Gorge in Canon City, Colorado. From left to right are Patti Seiffert, Delanie Klug, Debbie Daniel, Becky Lanning, Zena James, Lyndy Mace and Carla Spencer. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE STEEL MAGNOLIAS

The Steel Magnolias, ladies' singing troupe, had an abrupt ending to an otherwise wonderful 16-day singing tour through 10 states plus British Columbia.

It was the last Saturday night of the tour as the bus rolled into Deming, New Mexico, that the drivers realized there was a mechanical problem and the bus would be sidelined for the duration of the tour. The Steel Magnolias had one more concert of the 37 tour engagements, on Sunday, Oct. 22, in Van Horn, Texas, and it was close to midnight before the condition of the bus was made known to the tour director.

One of the members of the singing group, who was not able to go on tour, but had touched base with the team a couple of times on the 5,800-mile trek, was making her way from Lake Havasu, Arizona, to Van Horn, to be at the last Magnolia concert. When she was told of the situation, she made a beeline for Deming and arrived about 2 a.m. with the idea that she could fit nine people in her F-150 pick-up truck, if three of the ladies could ride in the truck bed. The team members thought it was illegal to have anyone in the back, but were quickly made aware it was not.

The ladies voted to go on to Van Horn, in the truck and make the 3 ½ hour drive to sing at a city wide open-air concert called “Worship in the Park.” They said goodbye to two of the bus drivers, plus two other members of the tour team.

The Steel Magnolias were troopers; there wasn’t a single complaint about being piled in the cab of the truck with all the paraphernalia in tow, plus three singers in the bed of the truck, who were nearly buried with more “stuff” piled on them, plus sharing space in the short-bed truck with the sound system. The ladies left all their luggage and hanging clothes behind, but managed to get all essential items as they were going to try to make the trip on home to San Marcos once the concert was over.

The Steel Magnolias performed for a full church in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada while on tour. In the back row: are Margo Gregory, Lyndy Mace, Carla Spencer and Zena James. In the front row are Patti Seiffert, Debbie Daniel, Becky Lanning and Delanie Klug.

The Steel Magnolias don’t usually accept invitations to sing at outdoor events because the heat is so hard on the team with all the choreography in their programs, but they accepted this one because it would be at the end of October, believing it might be a bit cooler. It wasn’t.

It was hot as blue blazes on an asphalt staging area where they would sing – so hot and bright that it was difficult to even look up into the blinding sunlight.

The team had to leave three ladies in Van Horn because it would be too difficult to make the eight hour drive for the ones riding in the truck bed, so they checked into a hotel believing that one of the drivers in Deming would be through to pick them up in a rental car.

One of the bus drivers was able to rent a vehicle in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to pick up the three singers, leaving the other bus driver and wife in Deming until Wednesday afternoon waiting for the bus to be repaired.

What a grand tour it was in spite of this ending. This situation is now just a minor detail, and the troupe is so thankful they did not break down in the middle of the desert. That would have been a much tougher ending, but all are so grateful to be back in San Marcos safe and sound.

On their trip to the Northwest, they were met with all kinds of weather, as well as some of the most spectacular sights of God’s creation. There was a snow blizzard coming down so hard as they approached the Royal Gorge in Canon City, Colorado, that they had to turn around and go back down the hill quickly, but not before singing at least one song with sweeping, stinging snow hitting their faces. The ladies were not aware that snow could actually sting, with heavy winds, it did.

The Steel Magnolias saw the devastation of the fires in Montana, Oregon, and received a phone call on their way to a concert in the Santa Rosa, California area that they might need to take another route and reschedule the concert for another time. The pastor of the church was in the hospital, and the associate pastor was evacuating his family from the area because Santa Rosa was now a disaster area. Debbie Daniel, the director, asked if there might be a custodian who could let the group in the church and the ladies would still come and sing, if even to a handful of folks. They had advertised that they would present a concert, so there might possibly be some who would be comforted by some smiling faces from a group of ladies from Texas singing southern gospel music. As it was, the custodian and one of the church members took it upon themselves to turn the sanctuary into a dining hall and began feeding evacuees. The Magnolias were able to sing to all who came for a meal and had opportunity to talk and fellowship with them.

These ladies sang in 25 churches plus senior centers and spontaneous “flash mobs” as they made their way from Texas into New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia, Oregon, California and Arizona before breaking down in Deming.

The Canadians in Victoria British Columbia had a special high tea for the team and in turn, the group presented a Christian concert to a full church on a Saturday afternoon.

The ladies were pleasantly surprised at the number of folks who came to hear them sing at each and every venue, not just in the evenings, but also at the daily 10 a.m. concerts along the way. They sang at several senior community centers, as well as churches, a coal miners’ hospital and many “flash mobs” over the duration of the trip.

It was amazing to witness the fortitude and energy these ladies had. They were physically loading and unloading the sound equipment from the bus, plus setting up and breaking down the system at each concert, and carrying uniform bags in and out of each singing venue. Everyone knew what needed to be done and they all set forth to finish well and run the full course of the race to the end.

“The tour was great because of all the people who came to see us and extend a warm and welcoming hand of love and support,” Director of The Steel Magnolias Debbie Daniel said. “It was also amazing to see God at work in the lives of people who, in some cases, were literally fleeing from the fires that had destroyed their homes.

“We had just been involved in hurricane disaster relief with evacuees in south Texas just a few weeks before we left on tour, so it was a joy to help other people thousands of miles away who were grounded in their faith, loved the Lord and were trusting him for their next step."

The Steel Magnolias also extended their thanks to the First Lockhart Baptist Church, who lends their bus each year for them. The breakdown in Deming, NM, was a challenge but the ladies were determined to be there for the crowd waiting for them. They were thrilled to sing and share their message of love through the Lord.

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666