Eastern Mennonite University

Reunion Vocal Band in 1989Reunion Vocal Band, pictured here in 1991, will perform a concert on Saturday, Oct. 10, during EMU's Homecoming and Family Weekend. It will be the largest gathering, some 18 members - 14 from the original group - since the musicians’ first meeting in 1989.

ticket information

Purchase: as of 10/8/09, tickets are no longer available for purchase online. You may still purchase tickets in advance at the RVB ticket table (adjacent to the main Homecoming registration table) Friday 3 - 8 p.m. or Saturday 7:30 a.m - 5:30 p.m. or buy at the door before the concert.

Cost: adult tickets are $10; EMU students with an ID are free, thanks to Campus Activities Council (CAC), which is sponsoring the concert.

Rebirthing Great Music

EMU's 2009 homecoming program Oct. 9-11 will include a Reunion Vocal Band concert on Saturday, Oct. 10. (Please see ticket information blurb on the right...)

It will be the largest gathering, some 18 members -14 from the original group - since the musicians’ first meeting in 1989, when group leader Jim Krabill, EMU class of 1973, first developed an irrepressible urge to "do music."

Krabill had just returned stateside after 14 years of mission work with wife Jeanette Neff Krabill '73 in Europe and West Africa. Today he is senior executive of global ministries with Mennonite Mission Network, Elkhart, Ind.

In high school, Krabill was a member of "Sons of Jubal," a folk-flavored group that released an album in 1969 of songs largely written by Mennonite young people and published in With magazine.

While at EMU, he was vocalist, guitarist and writer for the highly acclaimed folk-rock group, "Rebirth." They went on two national tours and made several recordings.

Musicians from all over the continent

In consultation with other former "Rebirth" members, Krabill drew up a list of about 40 musicians from across North America and contacted them. Eighteen showed up one weekend in September 1989 in Harrisonburg, Va., to get acquainted, share their personal and musical journeys, play spontaneously in small groups, and engage in a lengthy jam session.

At a second meeting in Harrisonburg on Jan. 25-27, 1991, participants began plans for a recording and narrowed a list to 14 songs – no small task, given the range of musical tastes and backgrounds represented. The weekend included an intense session on what to call the formative group. From a list of some 150 possibilities came "Reunion Vocal Band."

Making music year after year

For the next 18 years, band members reassembled annually, usually at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center, to reminisce, share personal updates and make some incredible music together. Reunion Vocal Band has recorded two albums, Hunger for Beauty in 1991 and What We Have Tasted in the mid-1990s. Group members wrote much of the material.

Band members scheduled to perform during the 2009 Homecoming concenrt are Michael Bade, Jim and Janalee Croegaert, Doug Jones, Michael Reece, Cheryl Zehr Walker, Steve Walker, and John Wiebe, as well as EMU alumni, Ken Brunk, Dean Clemmer, Rob Eby, Mark Hartman, James Krabill, Don Kulp, Jerry Lehman, Dennis Maust, Robert Maust and Elaine Warfel Stauffer.

--article by Jim Bishop, class of 1967