Jars of Clay Live in My Living Room, Take 2

Here’s my complete summary of tonight’s Jars of Clay live streaming event on StageIt.Com:

In a word, it was awesome!

However, I think I’ve found the downside to live streaming events and surprisingly enough, it isn’t the technology.  It’s children.

Just a few bars into my very favorite Jars of Clay song, Revolution, my 6 year old son threw up all over the couch.

I would say that’s a pretty big downside.

Anywho, the first live streaming concert was held on March 18th, and apparently it went so well they decided to add two more dates to the line-up.  (If you’d like to read my review of the first concert, including the set list, click here.)  It would be tough to decided which was better, the first concert or the second one…but if I had to pick, I’d say tonight’s was better solely because of the set list (Revolution! My favorite!)  Speaking of the set list, here it is:

Trouble Is

Sing

Revolution (!!!!)

Scenic Route

Jealous Kind

Boys (Lesson One)

Portrait of An Apology

Fade to Grey

Silence

Coffee Song

If you know anything at all about Jars of Clay, you know that this is the epitome of set lists.  Definitely some of the most beautiful songs around, with just a couple notable exceptions (Hymn, Art in Me).  You can check out a playlist I made of the complete set list from tonight’s show below on Spotify:

The 3rd (and final? Maybe? I don’t know for sure.) installment of the Jars of Clay live streaming series is set to take place on June 11th at 7 pm EST. Head over to StageIt.com now for tickets (I already did!) Let me tell you, $5 a ticket to see Jars of Clay in any format is a steal.  Plus, you can wear your flannel footie pajamas, enjoy free concessions from your very own kitchen (I sipped some freshly brewed cinnamon tea in case you were wondering), and wear your hair in a ponytail and no one will care.

The next show should be really interesting, as the guys are going to play all covers that are suggested by the fans. I believe there is a way you can send in your suggestion for a Jars of Clay cover song, but at this point I’m not exactly sure how that works. If I find out, I’ll be sure to let you know (that is, after I send in my suggestion for ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen. I don’t particularly care for that song, but if anyone can make me like it, I’m sure Jars of Clay can!)

 

And now, back to spraying my couch within an inch of its life with Lysol Disinfecting Spray.

 

 

Winter Jam Tour: Sidewalk Prophets Review

So here on Spin: The Blog it is not a very well-kept secret that I am a mega-fan of the Sidewalk Prophets.  It is sort of a joke (but not seriously) that when the Sidewalk Prophets come to New Haven in June for Canal Days to play at our Faith & Family Night that the biggest threat to security will be me, and I’m the one who signed the contract for them to come and is in charge of the entire festival’s entertainment stage.  (I promise to be on my best, most professional behavior on June 8th, Girl Scout’s honor; and if not, I’m sure the police will have their tasers charged up and ready to go!)

Anyhow, my BFF Sarah and I were excited to see the Sidewalk Prophets at Winter Jam, and we were curious to see how they would adapt the longer show we are used to seeing to a shorter format.  (Sarah and I were guessing they would have maybe 15-20 minutes on stage.)  The Sidewalk Prophets pretty much stuck to a montage of crowd-pleasing favorites:  my all-time favorite song of favorite songs, You Love Me Anyway, The Words I Would Say, and Live Like That.  In a surprising twist, they bypassed completely their newest single, Help Me Find It, and instead closed out the show with the rollicking good Love Love Love that is accompanied by an appropriately awesome Lego-esque video.

Honestly, I thought that was a pretty sound move; I really like the song Help Me Find It and thought it was a good choice for the follow-up single to Live Like That.  In concert, however, Help Me Find It is one of the longer songs because of the way they work the intro to give lead singer Dave Frey the opportunity to showcase some of his vocal chops.  Winter Jam isn’t really the format for that kind of thing, though; it’s more like speed dating, where you’ve got the equivalent of 30 seconds to bring out your razzle dazzle before moving along to make room for the next big thing.  With that being said, you probably can’t go wrong with a song that features a Legos video and lyrics that incorporate Chuck Norris and Star Wars.  Everybody likes Legos, Chuck Norris, and Star Wars; plus, it’s decidedly unique for a video/song lyric combo.

Enough about that, though.  I’m going to tell you the most important point that I want to make in this review, and I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, even before Winter Jam when Sarah and I were discussing how we thought the Sidewalk Prophets would adjust their show to fit in the allotted time.  At some point last year, when I was in the midst of attending the 100+ concerts I saw in 2012, it occurred to me that only one group/band/artist/whatever you want to call it always made a point of always physically bringing the word of God out onto the stage in the middle of a concert.

Only one group.  Always.  Every time.

If you guessed that group was the Sidewalk Prophets, you would be correct.

I found that I really looked forward to that portion of a Sidewalk Prophets concert, and that it really added something special and meaningful to each and every show.

I can’t begin to tell you all how glad I was at Winter Jam when Dave brought the trusty old Bible out and started in with the words that are now almost familiar to me.  That part of the concert could have very easily been scrapped to squeeze in another song, but instead it almost felt like the whole show was revamped to be built around that moment with the Bible.

Really, isn’t the truths contained in the Bible what Winter Jam’s ultimately all about anyway?

I’m pretty sure it is, which is why I think this alone speaks very highly of the integrity and genuineness of the Sidewalk Prophets.

Of course, I should probably confess that as soon as I saw the Bible start to come out, I looked at Sarah and said, “Told you so!”  Perhaps that wasn’t one of my finer moments, but who doesn’t like to be proven right every once in a while?  Okay, so maybe just me.  My bad.

It certainly goes without saying that the quality of the Sidewalk Prophets musicianship at Winter Jam was stellar (as usual!), so I won’t drag this review on for any longer than necessary.  This is how I see it:  Royal Tailor may have more flair in the fashion department, TobyMac may well be kind of an icon, and Red quite literally set the stage on fire, but my favorite performance of the night by a considerable margin was the Sidewalk Prophets.  I think you’ll agree with me that once you’ve seen them in concert, there is something very special about this group of guys.  If you haven’t seen them in concert and don’t have either of their CD’s, then I have to ask…what are you waiting for?!  Christmas was last month!  (Preview their latest album, Live Like That, below on Spotify!)

Winter Jam Tour–Jamie Grace Review

 

I think Jamie Grace deserves major props for being the lone female artist representing at Winter Jam. For only being 21, she really went out there and killed it with the poise and grace of someone 10 years her senior. My BFF Sarah and I agreed that she really deserved something special for this review, and Sarah jokingly said (at least I’m pretty sure she was joking) that I should write an ‘ode’ to Jamie Grace. Traditionally, I think an ode was either a poem or a song, and believe me, Jamie Grace (along with the rest of the free world) does not want me writing or singing a song; a poem, however, I thought I could do.

So, for this review of Jamie Grace’s Winter Jam performance I have written the first ever (and only one I ever intend to write) acrostic poem for Spin: The Blog. It’s pretty bad, but that should in no way reflect poorly on Jamie Grace; I thought she was really great at Winter Jam! Maybe I should have tried writing a limerick instead…

J-is for Jazzy, so lively and bright
A-is for Artistic, with natural skill
M-is for Music, her gift to the world
I-is for Irresistible, her music, that is
E-is for Effervescent, so bubbly and sweet

G-is for God’s Girl, from the top of her head to the soles of her feet
R-is for Radiant, God’s light shining in her
A-is for Awesome; need I say more?
C-is for Christian, the heart of who she is
E-is for Eclectic, a fun mix of randomness

And there you have it: What is most likely the world’s worst acrostic poem ever! At least I took a few good pictures…enjoy them!

Winter Jam Tour–Newsong Review

Prior to Winter Jam, I was talking to my Mom and telling her that I had a writing assignment and would be going to the show.  Being a Mom, she wanted to know who all was going to be there.  I started down the list, “TobyMac, Sidewalk Prophets, Matthew West, Jamie Grace, Red, Royal Tailor, Jason Castro, Newsong…”

“Newsong?”  My Mom perked up.  “I don’t know any of those other groups, but I know Newsong.  Russ Lee, that’s one man that can really sing!” said my Mom.

Now, I’m not entirely sure because I’ve never seen this happen before, but I think in that moment my mother may have swooned an eensy little bit.

I wasn’t sure which to be more embarrassed by:  the fact that my mother may have just swooned, or the fact that my mother doesn’t know who TobyMac is.

With my mother’s endorsement of Newsong ringing in my ears, my BFF Sarah and I headed off to Winter Jam the next day.  I may have suffered some emotional regression during this time, because I sort of felt like a teenager who couldn’t possibly like the same music as her mother.   I’m going to be completely honest here:  I planned to take a concession stand/potty break during the Newsong portion of the concert because, and I’m being real here, if my Mom doesn’t even know who any of my favorite bands are, how reliable of a judge can she really be about who’s a good singer anyways?

Well, the time came for Newsong to play and wouldn’t you know that just as I was about to duck out, something of a technological nature went awry on stage.  After attending many a concert in my lifetime, let me let you in on a little secret:  it’s very revealing to watch what happens when things breakdown on stage during a performance.  Very revealing.  As a writer and avid people watcher, I can’t possibly walk away from the potential reality stage drama that could ensue during a meltdown of this magnitude.

Alas, the Newsong guys proved to be real pros, and whatever the problem was it only took 10 minutes or so to fix.  By then, I was into taking some pictures with the neat lighting they had going on up on the stage.

Keep in mind, at this point I still knew nothing about Newsong other than my Mom’s glowing words of praise.  I had to admit that they had a rich, robust sound and vibrant harmonies.  The first soloist to step out on the stage extension I mistakenly assumed was the guy my Mom had referred to as Russ Lee, because, well, he too could sing.  He was also easy on the camera lens, and I could see why my Mom would swoon over those cheekbones and shaggy blonde hair.  (I still have no idea what this guy’s name is, but Sarah informed me he was not Russ Lee.  Apparently, Russ Lee was the emcee of the Q&A session at the beginning of the afternoon, but that somehow managed to slip past me.  It would seem a lot was slipping past me during Winter Jam on January 20th.)

Then, Russ Lee took to the stage extension, and I have to admit, for once my Mom was right.  The man can sing!  (I won’t mention that he looks like a younger version of my Dad, because he did, and that in itself was kind of weird.  I guess we all know what my Mom’s type is now!)

You know, I really wasn’t expecting much from Newsong simply because of my Mom, so I ended up being very pleasantly surprised.  I totally loved the rousing Gospel trio sing along that I’m surprised didn’t blow the roof off the Coliseum during Newsong’s performance.  It was wicked good in a religious sort of way; and, for the record, I was raised in a Lutheran church so Gospel music is the equivalent of the German language to me.  I don’t understand very much of it, but when it’s done right, I can feel the emotion of it all the way down to my bones.  I also liked the new music they played so much so that I pre-ordered two of their new album, Swallow the Ocean, one for me and one for Mom.  (I’m not a pre-orderer, so this is kind of a big deal for me.)

So kids, the moral of this story is, if your parents happen to tell you before you go to Winter Jam that they love Newsong, don’t let that mislead you.  You have my completely honest and unbiased opinion that Newsong is very awesome and very cool so even though our parents may like them too, so save your trip to the concession stand/potty for the intermission  (there is an intermission…I forget when exactly, but I do remember there is one!)

Winter Jam Tour–Royal Tailor Review

If a was a gambler, one of the groups I would have bet the house on to put on a dazzling, crowd-pleasing, high energy show at Winter Jam that would not be soon forgotten was the band Royal Tailor.  I’ve seen Royal Tailor twice before, and I have a sneaking suspicion that when TobyMac wrote the song “Steal My Show” he was really talking about the guys from Royal Tailor because they definitely have some show stealing worthy talent.  (Just kidding about the TobyMac thing—I actually love the true meaning behind tobyMac’s Steal My Show!)

If I had gambled my house on Royal Tailor’s Fort Wayne Winter Jam performance on January 20th, I would have won it back—and then some.  Royal Tailor, which is made up of lead vocalist Tauren Wells, DJ Cox on guitar and backing vocals, Blake Hubbard on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Jarrod Ingram on drums, put on a spectacular performance at Winter Jam.  Soaring, and at time dueling, guitar solos compliments of DJ and Blake, combined with Tauren’s fiery lead vocals and a-m-a-z-i-n-g dance moves and Jarrod’s solid work on the drums drove the crowd to near insanity levels.

It was super fun!

Red may have brought real fire, but Royal Tailor quite literally lit the place up with their raw musical talent and emotionally provoking, inspired song lyrics.  I also have to give Royal Tailor kudos for being, at least in my humble opinion, the best dressed bunch of the night.

Seriously, folks, these guys have not just style, but flair.

Anyways, I think I took a bazillion pictures of Royal Tailor during their performance and they pretty much all turned out awesome.  Enjoy!  (And by all means, if you ever get the chance to go see Royal Tailor in concert anywhere, GO!!!)

Jason Castro: Winter Jam 2013 Review

Jason Castro was the third and final act of the Winter Jam Pre-Jam Party.  I have to say that every critique that I had of Jason Castro after his performance at the Star 88.3 Music Stage last July is no longer applicable.  If it wasn’t for his trademark dreds, and him having the same name and singing the same songs, I wouldn’t have known it was the same person.  Jason Castro was in great voice, and seemed at ease on stage.  He put on a really nice performance, although in my opinion it could have been a tad longer 🙂

For real, I’m not sure what more I can really say about Jason Castro that I haven’t already said in the last month.  I think he’s come a long, long way as a musician and a performer, and in terms of big name recognition acts at Winter Jam, he’s definitely one that most people will recognize if only because of his participation on American Idol.

My two pieces of advice are this:  First, if you’re only going to buy one CD in January, it should be Castro’s recently released Only a Mountain. 

Second, you know if you are going to Winter Jam and not splurging on a Jam Nation Pass ($50 and available at the Winter Jam website), you need to get to the venue super early, right?  Like 4-6 hours before the pre-jam party, right?  I know that seems like a long wait, but trust me, you don’t want to end up a Winter Jam Reject; and, getting to the show 6 hours in advance means you won’t miss seeing Jason Castro in the Pre-Jam Party, so it’s a win/win situation!  (One more thing—even if you get a Jam Nation Pass, you still want to get to the venue early—at least 2 hours before the Jam Nation doors open if you want a good seat!)

(On a completely random side note—as I was editing my photos from Winter Jam today, I noticed something I didn’t notice when I was actually at Winter Jam…Jason Castro’s drummer was a familiar face:  Justin from the Sidewalk Prophets!  How I missed that considering I took at least a hundred pictures during Jason Castro’s set I’m not sure.  What I am sure of is that Justin is one of the hardest working drummer’s on tour; he played with City Harbor on the Hundred More Years Tour last fall in addition to his regular duties with the Sidewalk Prophets.  Now he’s playing with Jason Castro; maybe I should put up a poll as to who Justin should tour with next? 🙂 Besides the Sidewalk Prophets, of course!)

Winter Jam Tour: OBB (Oswald Brothers Band)

 

The second act appearing during the Winter Jam Pre-Jam Party was OBB: also known as the Oswald Brothers Band. I literally knew like, nothing, about these guys when they took the stage on Sunday night.

Like, less than nothing.

Like, if I didn’t know better, I might have thought they were the Jonas Brothers nothing.

Am I crazy to be drawing a lot of comparisons between the Jonas Brothers and the Oswald Brothers? I mean, first there are three brothers in each band. In the Jonas brothers we had Kevin, Joe (swoon!), and Nick, and in the Oswald brothers we have a Zach, Jacob and Nich. (See any parallels there, my friends? Two Nick’s that play the drums and sing? Two brothers that have names that start with a J? I know, it’s uncanny!)

I also have to mention the obvious: they all have dark, well-styled hair, are clean-cut, most likely come from a close knit family, have a penchant for denim, and can all play the guitar.

The only distinct difference I can see between the two is that the OBB brothers don’t have a TY show on the Disney Channel. Yet.

Here’s the thing, though. If you think my references comparing OBB and the Jonas Brothers are derogatory, you are definitely taking my review in the wrong vein. I really liked OBB, just like I really liked the Jonas Brothers back in the day. (By back in the day, I mean 2009. Seriously, who doesn’t like the song Lovebug? Also, I only know the Jonas Brothers have a show on the Disney Channel because I used to watch it. Not religiously or anything, but faithfully; and I cannot believe I just admitted that on the internet!)

Anyways…enough about the Jonas Brothers. I liked OBB. I thought their music was appropriately awesome. I liked the fresh faced, positive vibe they had going on at Winter Jam. I liked the t-shirts and denim look they were rocking; it wasn’t too much, but it wasn’t too little, either. Everything about OBB was thoughtfully balanced and well crafted, from their song selections to the way they carried themselves on stage. When I met them after the show, I found they were just as genuine and sweet as they appeared on stage.

This is one boy band that I fully endorse my niece, Alyssa, listening to, and that’s saying something.

(Oh, and just one more thing—if you question the successfulness of the JoBro formula, remember this: Kevin Jonas is 25, retired, and set for life. There are many things worse than being compared to the Jonas Brothers!)

[spotify id=”spotify:album:4SAMSel1LT72h987gAsH0j” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

Winter Jam 2013: Capital Kings Review

So, first up to be reviewed (going in order of appearance during Winter Jam 2013) is the duo Capital Kings.  Prior to Winter Jam, I had never seen Capital Kings perform, although I did have an advance copy of their freshly released, self-titled debut, Capital Kings (and I liked it!  I really did!)  I did, however, have some reservations about how their blend of electro-pop infused music would translate to the stage.

To make a long story short, I should have figured with special guests on a debut album like Britt Nicole, Soul Glow Activatur (from Family Force 5), and that one guy known as TobyMac, Capital Kings would totally rock it.

For me, they were probably the biggest surprise of the night.  I thought that Cole Walowac and Jonathan White, also known as the Capital Kings, had a lot of fun, upbeat energy and a relatable, edgy-urban look that exudes confidence.  When you combine that with their uplifting lyrics and beats that make a person want to get up a dance, I believe you have a winning recipe!

Way to get the party started, Capital Kings!  I will definitely be looking forward to seeing more of you in the future.

Winter Jam Pick #1–Sidewalk Prophet’s You Love Me Anyway

[spotify id=”spotify:track:7DfPPcEHvUYgejHJJAYD7v” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

Ok, so I felt compelled to save my very favorite song of all time as my #1 song pick for Winter Jam.

I had to.

The ironic thing about my favorite song is that it might very well have never become my favorite song if I hadn’t accidentally bought the Sidewalk Prophet’s first CD, These Simple Truths, on iTunes.  (I intended to buy Sanctus Real’s CD, Lead Me, but in one of the great unsolved mysteries of the world, I ended up purchasing These Simple Truths; this means that Lead Me actually led me to my favorite CD ever.  Strange, but true!)

   Here is an example of what I mean:

I am the thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway

See now, I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
 For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then, I turned away with this smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night, I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life

But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known
Yes, You love me anyway
Oh Lord, how You love me

You love me, yes You love me
How You love me
How You love me
How You love me 

See what I mean?  It’s beautiful and awful and true all at the same time.

I especially love to hear this song live, and I have an especially sweet memory of hearing it at the WFRN Friend Fest last summer at Amish Acres near Goshen, Indiana.  It was a miserably hot day.  If I didn’t have to be there to interview David Crowder, who was the headliner of the night, I would have been back at my hotel draped over the air conditioning vent.

Even though it was approaching 100 degrees out, the Sidewalk Prophets put on an especially fantastic show that night, and while they performed You Love Me Anyways there was this group of little girls, probably sisters, playing on the grass a short distance from where I was sitting.  The little girls had bubble soap and wands, and even though I didn’t feel a breeze, the bubbles seemed to gravitate towards me.

I ended up being surrounded by bubbles during my favorite song, and I’m not sure if it was the bubbles or the singing or the music or maybe I had the beginnings of heat stroke, but I started to get really emotional (and I’m not an overly emotional person!).  It was just a really sweet, beautiful moment watching those little girls laugh and play,  to be reminded that even though the cost that Jesus had to pay for us was steep, He willingly did it anyway because He loves us so.

Because of that love, I’ thinking we should  celebrate with laughter and bubbles and joy every day 🙂

Tonight at Winter Jam, I’m guessing there will not be bubbles during You Love Me Anyway, and I’m good with that.  I will just be super excited to hear my all time favorite song, and be reminded of  the true focus and purpose of Winter Jam; yes, it’s sort of about the music, but without the presence of the Love and Light of the world, it would just be another concert.

Winter Jam Pick #2–Toby Mac’s Eye On It

 

I’m going to lay down some truth right now:  I have been a fan of tobyMac in one way, shape, or another since I was approximately 12 years old and tobyMac was just starting out rapping with DC Talk.  Fast forward 20 years, and I’m still a fan of tobyMac, although I no longer have DC Talk posters hanging in my personal spaces.  (Well, I do have an autographed ‘Hits Deep Tour’ lanyard hanging from the rearview mirror in my car, but surely that doesn’t count, right?)

My six year old is also a young tobyMac fan in training.  He has been known to sing various tobyMac hits on our family’s pool table with a toy microphone while busting out some pretty fierce dance moves that would no doubt make Mr. Mac himself proud.  This morning, he drew a picture for tobyMac that says on the inside “I love your music TobyMac.”  On the outside, he drew a big picture of a stage with three people on it.  When I asked who the people were, he rolled his eyes at me and said, “Mom, can’t you tell?  It’s DJ Maj, tobyMac, and da Bomb (also known as Brian Haley, tobyMac’s drummer.)”

I will never make that mistake again!

‘Eye On It’ is a crazy good song…we’re talking Family Force 5 cray button crazy good song here.  I love the opening lyrics to the song (and in case you were wondering, yes, my son Alex can rap the entire thing!)

“I set my eyes to the west, walkin’ away  from it all

Reachin’ for what lies  ahead, I got my eye on it

I see my sweat hit the  ground, I put my foot in the block

This is the race of my life and I can’t wait for this shot

‘Cause I can feel the wind at my back

Chest is pumpin’ like a heart attack

Feet are movin’ and my mind is locked

Pressin’ on with everything I got

I got my eye on it

I  got my eye on it

I got my eye  on it”

Sadly for Alex, he is not going to get to go to Winter Jam tonight since it’s a school night.  He also missed out on the Hits Deep tour because it was a school night, too.  He is understandably angry with me for being, and this is a direct quote, “the meanest mom EVER!”

I guess I will just have to enjoy seeing tobyMac perform ‘Eye On It’ enough for both of us 🙂

 

Rhett Walker Band’s Come To The River Live Acoustic Video

 

If you are like me, you’ve been hearing a new song on the radio that you really like this past week: the Rhett Walker Band’s ‘Come to the River’. I first became acquainted with the music of Rhett Walker this past fall when they headed out on the road with Kutless on the ‘Believer’ tour. I was super impressed with the show they put on, and have been enjoying the band’s debut album that not-so-coincidentally has the same name as the new single, ‘Come to the River.’

Next up for the Rhett Walker Band is heading back out on tour with Kutless (and MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Tedashii, Family Force 5, and Luminate) on the Rock and Worship Road Show this winter and early spring. If your in Indiana, feel free to get in line behind me at the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse on February 9th 🙂

(Side note: I think Rhett Walker fans have the best nicknames ever–Rhett Necks! I love it!)

Newsboys: God’s Not Dead Live Monologue

My beloved Newsboys have been out on the road touring hard on the highly successful 2012 ‘God’s Not Dead’ tour.  My son Alex and I had a fantastic time at their show in Mishawaka, Indiana, last October, and one of the standout moments from the night was when Jeff shared his ‘God’s Not Dead’ monologue.  If you didn’t make it out to the ‘God’s Not Dead’ tour in 2012, you can still catch Jeff’s monologue on YouTube!

If the YouTube video is not enough to quench your hankering for a live Newsboys concert, never fear:  the Newsboys have extended the 2012 ‘God’s Not Dead’ World Tour into 2013!  You can view all the stops on the tour and pick up a pair of VIP experience tickets by visiting www.Newsboys.com.