The way Kevin Keen describes it, James Garner came as a blessing.
While the Aldersgate associate struggles to make eye contact with another person, and it is sometimes even impossible for him to utter a word, Garner is an undisputed musical genius.
“James can listen to a song one time, and it’s like the song’s recorded in his brain. He can play it. He knows it,” Keen said.
“His soul is filled with music.”
Keen, a supervisor at Aldersgate Enrichment Center, a Christian-based residential work center for men and women with mental, emotional and physical handicaps, said he knew that Garner’s gift from God had to be shared.
Now, after five months of toil, of struggle, of building up and sliding down, the two have released a CD, “When I Look Into the Eyes of the Father.”
The CD is an eclectic mix of tradition, blues, some definite “God Rock,” Keen said. “And really there’s sort of a new twist that I don’t know how to describe. All I know is, it’s something wonderful. It came through and it came true and God put a lot of people in our path so that it would.”
“It’s all Christian music,” Keen said. “My dream is that maybe just one of these songs will touch someone and bring them a little closer to the Lord. That’s my hope.
“God’s work is in this cd, the way we were able to pull James’ inner person out through music, that’s God’s hand.”
According to the credits on the CD jacket, Garner plays acoustic guitar, Keen’s on electric guitar and keyboards for some selections. Mark Patterson, from Goldthwaite, is on drums.
“Mark really helped us out,” Keen said. “He’s a real talent. I asked if he could help and Mark said, ‘When? Where?’ and he was there.”
Raymond Galloway wrote the bass tracks for the CD and Samantha Bush and Anthony Williams did backup vocals.
“There’s a lot of people we’ve got to thank for this,” Keen said, “that really I can’t thank enough.”
The CD was recorded at Baker Street Studios in Brownwood and Shaun Hohertz co-produced it with Keen.
“Jodie Hohertz is one of those who helped in a big way,” Keen said, “Not only for the help and support she offered from Brownwood Music Co., but also because she just knew how to get us at the right place, at the right time.”
Garner and Keen have made a couple of stage appearances, including one last year at Heartland Mall, and several weeks ago at the 2008 United Methodist Church General Conference. On Wednesday, the duo will return to Fort Worth and play and perform for the UMC’s annual conference.
“When I Look Into the Eyes of the Father” is available for $15 at Brownwood Music on Baker Street; at the Aldersgate Enrichment Center front desk, at the Aldersgate complex off Highway 84-183 between Zephyr and Early; and at Wild Bill’s Pawn Shop, 1001 N. Fisk in Brownwood.