Screaming guitars and songs of prophecy rang out over Mount Carmel Saturday, an eerie reminder of the compound’s past.
But this time the music wasn’t a recruitment tool used by cult leader Vernon Howell, also known as David Koresh. It had a different purpose—to serve as a “prophetic rock requiem and memorial concert” for the four Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents and the more than 85 Branch Davidians who died at the compound.
Eli Worden and the Free Spirit Band kicked off the concert, attended by about 75 people, with his song, “From the Ashes.” Worden says the song was inspired by a dream he had in February of 1990 of gunfire, tanks, fire, smoke and people screaming for help.
Worden, who describes himself as a Christian who plays classic and “spiritual” rock, said before the concert that he had overcome any apprehensions about playing at the compound.
Still, he couldn’t ignore the atmosphere.
“Well, I’m a sensitive person,” he said. “I can feel there’s been a lot of pain here.”
The free concert was not a publicity stunt, but an effort to seek donations for a memorial to be placed on the grounds to honor the dead, he said.
“You must always follow in your heart what you think to be right,” he said.
Worden, who has lived near Waco off and on for years, expected curiosity and the music to attract some, but he thought the desire to come together in Central Texas “to show the U.S. what kind of people we are” would attract others.
He was drawn to the compound site 10 miles east of Waco recently, he said. There he met Amo Bishop, the ex-wife of former Davidian leader George Roden.
Roden lost control of the Branch Davidians and the 77 acres near Elk after a 1987 shootout with Howell.
It was Bishop who helped Worden arrange the concert.
She said Saturday she was pleased everything was ready on time for the event.
Bishop said she invited surviving Branch Davidians, but said she didn’t know if they would come.
She also told Roden, who is in Big Spring State Hospital, about the concert. He was pleased about it, she said.
Harley-Davdison T-shirts and black leather seemed to be the unofficial dress code at the concert. Musicians from the local music scene and the curious turned out for the event.
“I just came out,” shrugged Mark White, a local musician with the band “Existance.”
He approved of the concert “as long as it’s for the right reason.”
Dorothy Light of Georgetown came up to see the place for herself after hearing so much about it in the news.
“I’ve read about everything in the papers,” she said. “It seems like such an amazing thing.”
Darlene Valles, a Waco resident, said she was curious, too.
It was her first up-close look at the compound ruins.
She said she doesn’t know what to think about the concert.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It seems kind of strange to me. We’re surprised at the look of the people out here.”
“It makes me want to have a motorcycle right now,” joked her companion, Julie Edwards.
The crowd seemed peaceful, but the band didn’t take any chances. Those driving into the compound were asked if they had any guns.
Larry Willis, brother of lead guitarist Robby Willis and in charge of security for the event, said he thinks Howell would have approved of the concert.
“He liked rock and roll. He liked guitars,” Willis said.