Ok, so my feature articles from my interview with Dave Frey of the Sidewalk Prophets have all gone to print as of this weekend. which means I can officially release a special edition blog that includes all the best parts of the different Faith & Family Night stories from area publications. If you live in Northeast Indiana, you may very well live in one of the more than 100,000+ homes that received one of these publications recently: Fort Wayne Newspapers publications, New Haven Life magazine, West Bend Newspaper, New Haven Bulletin, WhatzUp Entertainment Newspaper, The Frost, East Allen County Times Newspaper, KPC News Media publications, or Northern Allen County Life Magazine.
I hope you’ll enjoy!
If you read all the way thru to the end, I’ll post some bonus material for you, my blog readers! First, I will tell you what Dave had to say about my Ohio BFF Jill’s favorite person in the universe, Chris August. Second, I will post some links to previous blogs I’ve written about the SWP’s, and why I thought they would be perfect to headline the first Faith & Family Night Festival in New Haven. (I mean, I waited 10 years to make this happen, it kind of needed to be perfect, know what I mean?) Finally, I will post a link to a story about one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, when I met my friend Pam from Minnesota (waving at Pam!!)
One of the things that I believe is universal to all people in all places is the innate ability to dream; by ‘dream’, I don’t really mean fall asleep while strange scenes play out in the recesses of your mind. What I really mean is we all have hopes, and wishes, and, well, dreams.
For some of us, our dreams are relatively straightforward: to be a firefighter, a teacher, a doctor. For others, the dreams are a little more complex: to be the next Larry Bird, Beyonce, or Leonardo di Caprio.
For me, I believe that God, who uniquely and lovingly created me, also uniquely and lovingly created and placed the dreams I have in my heart.
Specifically, I’m referring to one of the dreams I’ve had for over 10 years now to bring an event to my adoptive hometown of New Haven that celebrates the strong foundation that this city is built on. What originally drew me to New Haven is its rich history of faith interwoven with the heritage of many legacy families and relationships that last for decades.
On June 8th,2013 in Schnelker Park in downtown New Haven, the New Haven Canal Days Festival is set to host the first ever Faith & Family Night headlined by the Sidewalk Prophets. This is where my dream of hosting such an event will intersect with fellow Hoosier native Dave Frey’s childhood dream of being a singer; Frey is the lead singer of the Dove award winning, Word Record label band that is based in Nashville, Tennessee.
For Frey, there were two main dreams driving him as a kid growing up in Terre Haute, Indiana. “I dreamed of either being a Chicago Cub or being on stage since I was a little child,” said Frey with his distinctive chuckle in our interview on April 10th. “Since I wasn’t the most athletically inclined, I ended up going to school to be an English teacher at Anderson University.”
God, however, hadn’t forgotten about Frey’s childhood dream of being on stage. In fact, according to Frey, it was quite the opposite. “God just kept showing me that this gift he had put inside me was more than just a hobby,” he said reflectively.
Dave Frey performs at Winter Jam 2013 on January 20, 2013
These days, Frey’s childhood dream is straight up reality; earlier this year, as the lead singer for the Sidewalk Prophets, he toured with Winter Jam, the #1 attended tour in the entire world in the first quarter of 2013, using his God-given gift to perform for more than 550,000 people in four short months.
“You know, especially once I saw bands like DC Talk and Jars of Clay and Third Day as a kid I dreamed of being on stage, and now here I’ve stood on stage next to each one of them. It’s like, ‘How blessed am I?’” asked Frey incredulously.
Well, as Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
When I conduct interviews, I have to admit that I really don’t have an official angle I work like a lot of writers do when they do interviews. Truth be told, I never do have an angle and it doesn’t matter if I’m interviewing former Governor Daniels or David Crowder. Like any proper journalist, I always have a list of questions to ask in case I develop a temporary case of amnesia, but aside from my handy-dandy list, my main objective is always to just ask some general questions and see what themes evolve over the course of a conversation.
This may not be the method taught at the Harvard School of Journalism, but it works for me; which brings me around to my point. Dreams, both fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled, served as a touchstone of sorts in my conversation with Dave Frey.
Perhaps what I found the most interesting about how this theme kept recurring in our conversation was how Frey consistently pointed much of the credit for achieving his dreams back to others: to God, to his parents, his band mates, his friends, and even teachers from his hometown of Terre Haute.
“Growing up, I had this cloud of witnesses guiding me to truth and love and faith,” said Frey, referring to the verse in Hebrews 12:1 that sparked the Sidewalk Prophet’s latest song and album of the same name, Live Like That.
One such person that had a strong influence on the young Frey was his 10th grade history teacher, Dan McGrath. “There was something about him. You could see the passion inside him. It was infectious,” said Frey. “He loved history, and there are a lot of people who don’t like history, that are bored by it. Why are we rehashing the past, you know? Mr. McGrath just made you realize why history was important, that this was something you could learn from.”
“Watching him, I felt like I was watching Jesus teach his disciples. That’s the passion that Jesus brought, this desperate passion,” said Frey with passion in his own voice. “‘You gotta know this, because this is my heart,” he added after pausing for emphasis.
“I could just see His heart inside of Mr. McGrath. You know, in a public school you can’t necessarily lead kids in prayer but come to find out years later Mr. McGrath was a Christian the whole time. You know, he was showing me that without ever saying it,” Frey said softly. “I was incredibly blessed by his life, and by many other teachers. Teachers are so important in shaping the world.”
Another teacher who had an even more powerful role in shaping Frey’s life besides Mr. McGrath is his mother, who Frey told me has been teaching for 36 years. According to Frey, in addition to her work as a teacher she also serves as the “unofficial” chief promoter of the Sidewalk Prophets.
“My Mom will go to a show and ask people, “Who’s your favorite band?” If they don’t say Sidewalk Prophets, she’ll say “Oh, they’re good too, but I really love those Sidewalk Prophets!” Then she’ll go and buy them all t-shirts,” said Frey with a hearty laugh, adding “I’ll come back and Mom’s bought like 20 t-shirts. She’s our greatest promoter, that’s for sure.”
With that, Frey’s tone turns momentarily more serious. “She and my Father are both the reason I am where I am. They took me to church and showed me, ‘This is what life’s about: bringing joy to others and doing it thru the message of Jesus.’ Yeah, I am very blessed to have the mother and father that I have. Very blessed.”
As someone who has dedicated her adult life to encouraging and empowering young children and families, I love hearing stories like Frey’s. Truly, it takes both strong parents and influential ‘others’, like teachers, pastors, and youth leaders to bring out the best in kids and ensure that every single child has the very best chance to lead a fulfilling life, a life where they have the tools they need to go out and forge a path to make their own dreams come true.
Perhaps that’s why having a Faith & Family Night to celebrate the importance we place on these values in New Haven is so important to me? No matter the reasoning, it seems my longstanding dream had once again kind of inadvertently found its way into the interview, and intersected with the life and times of Dave Frey.
“You know, I think you really have it in the right order: faith, family, friends,” said Frey. “That’s the order we ought to live our lives.”
I totally agree.
Yet, I wondered, ‘Isn’t it hard to do that when you are on the road more than 200 days a year?’ I mean, seriously, the Sidewalk Prophets are notoriously (in a good way) one of the hardest working groups around with a consistently punishing tour schedule. (For instance, did anyone else realize a few years back they did both the Rock & Worship Roadshow AND Winter Jam in the same winter? While driving a van? And they all lived to tell the tale? Pretty remarkable if you ask me. I barely survived a December road trip to Minnesota in a Honda Civic with my BFF and 2 youngsters.)
“We always have to realize that this is a calling that God has laid on our hearts,” said Frey in his usual gracious and humble manner. “We get to serve him in a mighty way and we don’t want to take that for granted. Not only do we serve him, but we get to do what we’ve always dreamed of. This is a double blessing. It blows my mind how blessed we are. We can’t take that responsibility for granted.”
With this responsibility in mind, Frey will return to his home state of Indiana with the Sidewalk Prophets co-founder, Ben McDonald, lead guitarist Shaun Tomczak, bassist Cal Joslin, and drummer Justin Nace on June 8th to rock the first ever Faith and Family Night in Schnelker Park beginning at 8 pm.
“We’re really excited to come to New Haven,” said Frey. He admitted that while growing up in Terre Haute, different festivals would frequently come to town to play, just not faith-based festivals. “That made it tough,” remembered Frey. “We’d have to drive to Bloomington or Indy or Illinois for the Christian music festivals.”
Frey recalled with a smile to his voice going to concerts at the park in Terre Haute with his Mom as child. “Mom would go to the park with her friends and I would head to the park with her friends’ kids. I would listen from far away. I wasn’t prone to loud music as a kid. I didn’t want to hear them blasting their music, so I’d go out to the swings and listen from afar,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t get over my aversion to loud music until I was in middle school.”
I think it is fair for me to speak for all the Sidewalk Prophet fans of the world when I say I’m really glad Frey got over his distaste of loud music.
“You know, that’s what’s great about outdoor festivals,” said Frey. “Not everybody wants to be front-row-blown-away-by-the-sound. (Side Note: My BFF Sarah & I like to be front row center, blasted by the sound unless it’s a RED show. Sarah may still be missing part of an eyebrow from the last time we got too close to a RED show.) “There are people out swinging, and families interacting and having fun, and people just there for the atmosphere. Maybe someone who’s just there for the atmosphere will have their life changed because of what God’s doing. That’s our great hope. Hopefully our music is more than just sound bouncing off swing sets; hopefully it’s something that cuts to the heart, perhaps even unexpectedly.”
This is certainly my great hope as the Director of Festival Entertainment, and the great hope of more than 100 pastors and community residents who have been meeting with me since January to pray for the success of Faith & Family Night.
Now, with hope addressed, my mind comes full circle to the dream that started this whole idea of a Faith and Family Night in the first place. I am quietly reminded of something my favorite poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote: “God’s gifts put men’s best dreams to shame.”
This is so beautifully true; but perhaps Dave from the Sidewalk Prophets said it best in a slightly more modern way when he told me, “When I stand on stage, getting to do what I love, it’s a gift; but when anyone just tries to do something that they love, and spread the love of God, He’s going to bless it when it comes from a real and genuine place. He really is.”
I, for one, am pretty sure that the musical gifts that New Haven is about to hear courtesy of the Sidewalk Prophets on June 8th will exceed even my most ambitious dreams.
Praise God for that!
Beth Stauffer would like to thank Mr. Frey for taking time away from his vacation with his family to conduct this interview. It is sincerely appreciated!
Faith & Family Night Concert Information: Saturday night, June 8th, 2013. Pre-show with Central Lutheran School students begins at 7:45 pm at Schnelker Park, Prospect Avenue, New Haven, Indiana. Hosted by WBCL 90.3 FM. Opening act–Word artist Love & The Outcome at 8:00 pm, followed by the Sidewalk Prophets at 8:20 pm. VIP Wristbands for premium seating available for $10.00 donation at the New Haven Parks & Recreation Department, 1125 Hartzell Street, New Haven, IN 46774.
What did Dave Frey say about Chris August during our interview? This is a direct quote: “Chris August is a big jerk.”
OK, Jill, calm down. He was kidding. Really, he was totally joking. I actually thought it was pretty funny!
Dave then went on to say that he and Chris August are actually good friends, and even went to a hockey game together recently. So, I think it is safe to say that Chris August is not a big jerk.
Why were the Sidewalk Prophets my #1 choice for Faith & Family Night? Check it here
Not convincing enough? Maybe my 3-year-old friend Ned can help. Check out her Sidewalk Prophet story here
Here’s the link to read the story about my incredible friend Pam. I last saw Pam and her family in December when I was in Cheese country (aka Wisconsin), and they are all doing exceedingly well. Since I wrote the linked letter in June 2012, Pam’s sister Daria has completed several rehabilitation programs available to her, and the family prays that she will be released early for good behavior by September. Please join me in praying for Pam, and Daria, and the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the entire family to be met.