Awesome FREE Christian Music Events in Indiana!

If you are here on Spin: the Blog, I can only imagine that you probably like Christian music. (What a coincidence!  So do I!)

You may or may not live in the great state of Indiana, so if you don’t happen to be a Hoosier, then I feel for you in more ways than one; particularly because you are going to miss out on some awesome FREE Christian music events coming up in August!

Here are the details:


The City Harmonic II

The City Harmonic!!!

WORLD PULSE MUSIC FESTIVAL–Seriously, this music festival has THE BEST line-up of any free Christian music festival I’ve ever heard of, and I’ve pretty much heard it all at this point. Coming to South Bend on Saturday, August 10th, 2013 the line-up includes, check this out: Tricia Brock (formerly of Superchick! Rock What You’ve Got! I Love her!!), Jason Castro (Uh, hello? Who doesn’t like Jason Castro? I think it would be impossible NOT to like Jason Castro!), the City Harmonic (I LOVE this band to the moon and back. Seriously, you have not lived until you’ve seen the City Harmonic in concert. Trust me on this!), Natalie Grant (No, I’m not kidding. I said ‘Natalie Grant’ and ‘Free’ in the same paragraph!!), Audio Adrenaline (Again, I am not joking. I paid $50 two months ago to see Audio Adrenaline and I thought it was a deal!), and…wait for it…SWITCHFOOT! Switchfoot! Can you believe that?

Jason Castro

Jason Castro

Like I said, this is THE line-up of free line-ups and it is coming to South Bend on Saturday, August 10th, 2013!

Tricia Brock

Tricia Brock

PLEASE NOTE you do HAVE TO HAVE a ticket to get in, but like I said, the tickets are free and still available over at (For more information and/or additional places to pick up tickets, visit the festival’s website at Of course, you will have to pay for parking ($25) and food (a complete list of what’s available and the prices are on the festival’s website).

I would happily pay these prices for parking and food any day that I get to see the City Harmonic play a live show, but when you throw in Tricia Brock, Jason Castro, Natalie Grant, Audio Adrenaline, and SWITCHFOOT to the mix…well, you know I’m gonna be there, and you should definitely be there too! In my opinion, this is going to be THE Christian Music event of the summer in Indiana so go grab some free tickets now while there are still some left!


I swear I know nothing about these guys.  My son, however, is an expert on them!

I swear I know nothing about these guys. My son, however, is an expert on them!

CHRISTIAN MUSIC DAY at the INDIANA STATE FAIR–Again, another free event (although you do have to pay admission to the State Fair venue. Discount admission tickets are available at all Indiana Wal-Mart stores, CVS Pharmacies, and Indiana Farm Bureau Offices for $7. Kids under 5 are free! Gate admission is only $10.) The line-up for this festival taking place on Sunday, August 11th, 2013 from 2-9 pm is Brianna Caprice (I don’t have a clue who this is, but I intend to find out!), Jason Castro (he’s a busy guy this weekend!), Love & The Outcome (I’ve seen this duo and they are AMAZING!), some band called for King & Country (don’t know why anyone, particularly my 6 year old son Alex, would want to go see these guys. HA! 🙂 and Matthew West.

Matthew West’s kind of a slacker, but the rest of the line-up is decent. 

(Of course, I’m just kidding!  Matthew West is one of if not THE BEST entertainers in all of Christian Music.  You have to go see him if you haven’t yet!)

If those names aren’t enough to get you down to the State Fair on Sunday, August 11th, then I don’t know what will. (The World’s Largest Popcorn Ball? A 4,500 square foot barn made out of glass? An outdoor ice skating rink in Indiana in August? Just a few suggestions!)

Love and the Outcome

Love and the Outcome

The website for the Indiana State Fair is

I’ll be at both of these festivals the weekend of August 10th and I hope to see you there! Should be a rockin’ time 🙂  Let’s just hope the weather is not too sweltering hot…if I have another weekend where the temps get up like they did at LifeFest when my nail polish literally melted off of my nails, I don’t know if I’ll live to tell the tale!

City Harmonic to Release New Album, Heart!

I am beyond excited about this!  Since my words alone cannot convey how awesome this project is going to be…you should read the press release below and mark your calendars for September 3rd!





An Album On Being, And Becoming, Human, HEART Poetically Shares Band’s Personal Joy,

Suffering, Wrapped in Grace, Discipleship, Centrality of Christ


The ‘Heart’ of Album, “City On A Hill,” Releases To Radio This Month


Band Relaunches, Adds Tour Dates, Photos, More


Internationally acclaimed band, The City Harmonic, is set to release globally its highly anticipated sophomore album, HEART, September 3 through Integrity Music.  The 14 songs on HEART are underscored by the cinematic and communal aesthetic prominent in all of the band’s music while building from where the band left off with its widely acclaimed, JUNO Award-winning I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home).  Reflecting life lived by the band members since their full-length debut, the new album shifts from the dream of what could and should be to the complexities of how to follow the true humanity of Christ’s example in the world.


Co-produced by the band – vocalist/songwriter and pianist Elias Dummer, bassist Eric Fusilier, guitarist Aaron Powell and drummer Josh Vanderlaan – and Jared Fox, HEART places Christ at the center while delving into themes of grace, discipleship and being, and becoming, truly human, all the while giving the listener permission to sing out in hope, in hurt.


“We set out to write an album ‘on being, and becoming, human,’ but, in a way, it’s about image bearing,” says Elias.  “By that I mean that yes, we’re human — and the Bible tells us that we’re made in the image of God and each and every human has an inherited dignity as a result. But there’s more to it than that…God made this universe around us and often refers to the cosmos as a temple. I mean if you stop and think about the role an ‘image’ or ‘statue’ might play in a temple, you begin to see that we humans have quite a role to play. Whatever our present circumstances, the biggest challenge before us is to recognize that in Christ we’ve been given the responsibility and capacity to become like Him, and as we do, we are becoming exactly the kind of humans we were meant to be from the beginning. 


“People have always talked about ‘the square’ representing the physical, the tangible, and the circle representing the spirit, God,” continues Elias, making reference to the new album cover artwork. “How do you square the circle? How do you make these things connect?  Jesus was the perfect man and God.  Only in Jesus do we have the ability to say, ‘I’m a whole person, not a broken apart thing, whole but broken.’ On HEART, we try to unpack what it means to be fully human.”


At the core of the new album is the first radio single, “City on a Hill,” which is steeped in the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5.


“‘A City On A Hill’ takes the high concept view of Christ and brings it down to earth in the form of the very things he said in the Sermon on the Mount,” says Elias.  “It also forms a natural transition into the balance of the album which attempts to marry the ideals with our real lives.


“In Christ, God has given us the perfect example to live by, and the means to live that way,” adds Elias. “For the Christian, discipleship isn’t simply adding knowledge to our lives, but it’s to become increasingly more like the human example we’ve been given – to become ‘little Christs,’ and carry our cross through the mud and mire of a broken world in the knowledge that by the grace of God we arise brand new.”


In the past two years, life has hit The City Harmonic ‘square on.’ They went from working day jobs to recording and touring full time. Aaron had his first child, Josh was married, Elias had his fourth child and Eric was diagnosed with cancer. In a very real sense, life set the context for HEART.


One of the songs on the album, “Strong,” written by Elias and Eric, grew from a place of vulnerability in the middle of Eric’s battle with cancer. “I wasn’t really in a place to write anything,” Eric confesses. “Emotionally, I felt like a child who had been let down by his parents for the first time.  I just couldn’t see [my illness] as a blessing.  I couldn’t connect with God. To confront that stuff and write, ‘I am strong in my weakness,’ was really difficult because I couldn’t deny how I really felt…” 


Near the one-year anniversary of the stem cell transplant that saved his life, Eric’s cancer is in remission. “Being on the other side of it, my emotions now line up with what I believe. God really has been there the whole time, using this for the good. It’s a clear picture of God’s people coming together, working together… a profound experience.”


With Eric planning to rejoin the group on the road, having been sidelined since his cancer diagnosis early last year, The City Harmonic launches their headline tour with special guests Shawn McDonald and The Royal Royal in October.  Watch the recently relaunched site,, for all the latest tour dates and more as the band is about “getting people in on the act—hearts pounding and feet moving.”  Listeners continue to resonate en masse, instinctively joining the chorus while the band’s music dynamically bounces from sparse intimacy to soaring celebration and back again.


Forming nearly three years ago, The City Harmonic went from anonymity to widespread acclaim, headlining tours across North America and gathering numerous awards along the way.  In addition to the Juno Award, the band has a Gospel Music Association (GMA) New Artist of the Year Dove Award nomination, four GMA Canada Covenant Awards and nearly 3,000,000 YouTube channel views. The band’s “Manifesto” has sold well over 100,000 copies, marking the only song from a new artist in 2011 to break into the top 10 of the SoundScan Top Current digital singles sales chart.


All the latest detail on the band and its touring can be found at:


Yay for The City Harmonic! 2013 Juno Award Winners

One of my favorites of favorites just won their first ever Juno Award!  Big congratulations are in order for The City Harmonic!  I’ve been blessed to see these guys in concert (and meet them!) and I couldn’t be happier for them on this well-deserved accolade.  I’m so looking forward to catching them in concert in May and then again in (I believe) early August.  You can read all about it below (and keep scrolling, as I’ll post a YouTube video at the bottom of the post for your enjoyment!)


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From Press Release:



The City Harmonic “I Have A Dream” Spring Headline Tour Features

 The Digital Age, Remedy Drive, 33 Miles, Eric Brandon

Band’s YouTube Channel Gathers Nearly 2.5 Million Views

Internationally acclaimed band, The City Harmonic, adds to its list of accolades with its widely acclaimed and first full-length album, I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home), garnering the band its first JUNO Award from The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) for “Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year.”  The 42nd Annual JUNO Awards, hosted by Michael Bublé, aired on Canada’s most watched television network, CTV, Sunday, April 21.

Continuing to resonate en masse as listeners instinctively join the chorus while the band’s music dynamically bounces from sparse intimacy to soaring celebration and back again, The City Harmonic is currently in the middle of its spring “I Have A Dream” headline tour.  Not as interested in finding fans as they are looking for participants in the journey, the tour is billed as an immersive worship experience.  With full production alongside the band’s already engaging live performances, the tour also includes special guest artists The Digital Age, Remedy Drive, 33 Miles and Eric Brandon.  The upcoming tour dates include:

April 25th                                     St. Louis, MO

April 26th                                     Lake Zurich, IL

April 28th                                     Cokato, MN

May 3rd                                       Pikeville, KY

May 4th                                       Lexington, NC

May 5th                                       Greenville, SC

May 10th                                     Overland Park, KS

May 11th                                     Tyler, TX

May 12th                                      Waco, TX

May 18th                                      Southfield, MI

The City Harmonic’s JUNO Award follows a Gospel Music Association (GMA) New Artist of the Year Dove Award nomination, the band’s fourth GMA Canada Covenant Award received last fall and over 2,450,000 YouTube channel views.  I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home), labeled “fabulous,” “infectious,” “exciting,” “spectacular,” “worshipful,” “captivating,” “creative,” “brilliant” and more by the critics, also sparked the hit singles and videos, “Manifesto,” “Mountaintop,” “Holy (Wedding Day)” and the award winning title track. The band’s “Manifesto” has sold well over 100,000 copies, marking the only song from a new artist in 2011 to break into the top 10 of the SoundScan Top Current digital singles sales chart.


The City Harmonic, who wrapped a 65-city tour with Newsboys last spring, made appearances on main stages across the US in front of tens of thousands during the 2012 summer festival season, and led its first headline US tour last fall, are about “getting people in on the act—hearts pounding and feet moving.” Forming a little over two years ago, the band went from anonymity to widespread acclaim, headlining tours across North America and gathering numerous awards along the way. 

2013 Juno Award Nominees for Christian/Gospel Album of the Year

I have something totally embarrassing to admit as a precursor to this blog.

Why the heck didn’t I know Justin Bieber is Canadian?

I guess the saying “You learn something new every day” is true.

Anyways, as I was doing some research on the Juno Awards and nominees for 2013, I came upon this startling revelation about Justin Bieber.  Truth be told, I actually kind of like him more now that I know he’s Canadian.  (I like Canada, and Canadians, a lot.  It’s a long and somewhat boring story so I won’t bother you with it here.) 

I’m also way more confused than ever after reading the list of Juno Award nominees.  First, I discovered that to be nominated in most categories for a Juno, you have to actually be Canadian.  That’s kind of neat…I guess.  (Another shocker:  both Carly Rae Jepsen and Nickelback are Canadian.  In the case of Nickelback, I guess this goes to show that even a fantastic place like Canada can produce  a dud every now and again.)  I also learned that one of the nomination categories is for something called a ‘Francophone Album of the Year’, which even after Googling what that would be left me more confused than I was to begin with.  (A not so shocking fact:  Celine Dion is Canadian.  I think she was nominated in every category except for “Best Aboriginal Recording”, which leads me to more questions…what is an aboriginal recording anyway, and aren’t aboriginal people technically from Australia?  So how can they be nominated for a Juno if they aren’t Canadian?  I’m super confused.  My uncultured American-ness is showing, I guess.)

So, since I am way confused about many things related to the Juno Awards, I will stick to what I know best:  Christian/Gospel music.  With that in mind, a big huge congratulations to the nominees for Christian/Gospel Album of the Year:  Colin Bernard for ‘Hold On’, Manafest for ‘Fighter’, Newworldson for ‘Rebel Transmission’,  The City Harmonic for ‘I Have a Dream (Feels Like Home)’, and Thousand Foot Krutch for ‘The End is Where We Begin’.

Seriously , with the exception of Colin Bernard who I do not know much about, this is a tight group of nominees.  Of course, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that The City Harmonic are my boys.  I love them!  I also am a fan of Thousand Foot Krutch and Newworldson, and just recently was introduced to the music and story of Manafest, who I’ve written about on the blog.  He’s really big both in Canada and internationally.

I seriously would not want to be the Canadians in charge of picking the winners in this category!

In case you aren’t familiar with any of these uber talented Canadians, check out the YouTube footage below and see who you think will win the Juno for this category.  (Personally, I think they are already all winners just because they are Canadian!)

(FYI–some of these videos may be from prior projects…I’m just picking my favorites, people!)

Colin Bernard:  Hold On

Manafest, “Fighter”

Newworldson, Rebel Transmission

The City Harmonic, I Have a Dream (It Feels Like Home)

Thousand Foot Krutch, War of Change

The City Harmonic News!

Instagram photo of Eric Fusilier's triumphant return to the stage with The City Harmonic after beating cancer

Instagram photo of Eric Fusilier’s triumphant return to the stage with The City Harmonic after beating cancer

Yesterday was a super big day for music news!  It was both Grammy Weekend and the opening weekend for the Rock & Worship Roadshow, to name but a few things that were happening in the world of Christian Music.  Even with these two huge events happening, however, these weren’t the stories that caught my attention this morning when I looked over my social media feeds.

Nope, it was a single, inauspicious tweet and instagram photo that caught from The City Harmonic that caught my attention.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with The City Harmonic, you should be!  This band of Canadian rockers has one of if not the very best live performances around, not to mention the fact that their critically acclaimed debut release, I Have a Dream (It Feels Like Home) is the bomb.

Yet, just a year ago in January of 2012 the band’s world was seemingly rocked when bassist Eric Fusilier was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia known as ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia).  In a letter posted on The City Harmonic’s website on January 12th, 2012, the band wrote:  “It is with a heavy and yet hopeful heart that we ask your help in prayer. A few nights ago, our brother-in-Christ and bandmate Eric Fusilier was feeling weak and unable to move. As such, he and his wife visited the doctor and underwent a series of tests. Within a matter of hours they received a phone call urging them to hurry him to a hospital for further tests and to treat some serious concerns.  Thankfully, this is a treatable and potentially curable cancer, however it will be a challenging road ahead for Eric and Laura’s families as well as their friend and family. For now, we simply ask that you join with us in prayer for the Eric, Laura, and all those touched by him. Please pray for his health and well-being, and thank God for his courage and continued good-spirits in this difficult time.”

After a brief remission of the disease in March, the band reported that Eric had suffered a heartbreaking relapse on Easter in April of 2012.  As Eric faced additional treatments and a difficult stem cell transplant, the band wrote the following on their website:  “Yet again we are asking for your support and prayer through this difficult time, specifically for Eric’s health as well as the emotional and mental well-being of those around him and close to him. We are trusting this Easter weekend that just as Christ rose from the grave and defeated death, that we live for the God who is capable of defeating death and all of his agents, including Leukemia.”

So, you’re probably wondering about that tweet that caught my attention this morning.

It simply said, “For the first time in over a year (and since beating cancer) we were joined onstage tonight by the one and only Eric Fusilier!”

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

I’m so happy for Eric and his family and friends on his triumphant return to the stage with The City Harmonic!  Truly, these are some of the nicest guys you could ever care to meet.  Check out the band’s official video for “Mountaintop” below, which features an especially poignant appearance by Eric that was filmed in the midst of his treatments.  I think the lyrics “We’ve been to the mountaintop. We’ve seen the glory of our God.  He is here in the valley low, He’s here I feel it in my bones, Our God, here and now We are the body of our God…What happens to me now I know for sure that we’ve been changed somehow and we’ll be the glory of our King In His kingdom come” are especially meaningful considering Eric’s journey back to health, supported by his bandmates, family and friends in prayer.


Side Note:  I’m really looking forward to seeing Eric play with The City Harmonic when they come to South Bend for the World Pulse Festival in August!

For King & Country’s To Blame; Or, Why Alex is No Longer Speaking to Me

My 6-year-old isn’t speaking to me today.  If you believe what he told me earlier this morning, he’s never speaking to me again (at least, that’s what he informed me before the no-communication ban took effect earlier.)

You might be thinking to yourself, “Why isn’t Alex talking to you, Beth?”

The answer is simple:  For King and Country is to blame.

This past week, I’ve been busy chasing down a long time dream of over 10 years that I’ve had to bring a Faith & Family Night to my community’s annual Canal Days Festival.  At the heart of my dream was to cap the evening off with a Christian music concert with an act that people have actually heard of and want to see perform.

Nothing against the local boys Spike & the Bulldogs who usually close out the festival on Saturday night, but if you’re under sixty years of age seeing them perform once is enough in my opinion.

After attending a Canal Days Festival Meeting last week the pieces in my mind began to fall into place about my long-standing dream.  I realized that the primary reason I had never pursued this dream of mine was twofold; first, the whole idea of putting something together like this was kind of daunting.  I would have to come up with the sponsorships and funding to cover the costs of nearly the entire event.  For a shy person like me, having to go out and pound the pavement to drum up support for a Faith & Family Night seemed impossible.

Second, I never had a particular act in mind that I actually thought would work for something like this.  Whenever I toyed with the idea in my mind, the acts I came up with were either too big or too small to really fit the bill for Canal Days.

Last Friday, the second part of my problem seemingly resolved itself in my mind.  I had not one, not two, but three acts that would be absolutely perfect for a Faith & Family Night at Canal Days.  In my mind, one was clearly the forerunner for event.  I love love love these guys, and to me, they were the obvious choice for this event, but the other two groups were both solid choices as well.

After a brief fact-finding mission to determine costs and who would even be available on the day in question, I knew without a doubt that my dream was well within reach.

The only thing getting in the way of my dream at this point was me.

I prayed about what to do, and the answer of what I was to do was pretty clear:  go for it.

No fears/no limits, right?  Exactly.

The first order of business in my mind was to round-up a radio station willing to co-sponsor the event with Canal Days.  According to everything I read online, this is normally a very long and involved process of at least 8 weeks.  ‘What the heck,’ I told myself.  ‘Fill out the form and see what happens.  You won’t know unless you try.’

In less than 24 hours, I had my radio station co-sponsor signed; and, I never even had to make a single phone call.

After conferring with the President of the Canal Days Festival, the first ever Faith & Family Night had the green light to proceed full steam ahead with my first choice of acts for the concert.

This brings me back around to why Alex is not speaking to me anymore.

Alex is a huge For King & Country fan.  He loves them, and most nights, falls asleep listening to their current CD, Crave, while wearing his autographed For King & Country t-shirt that he got at one of their concerts this past summer.  Alex knew that For King & Country was in the running for the Canal Days concert and was really excited about it; however, in the end that isn’t the group his Mommy signed for the concert.

Alex, of course, is not pleased.

This morning he tried valiantly to change my mind, but my mind is made up. Apparently, Alex did not know the words he should say to make me change my mind.

What’s making this whole thing even more perfect is that while I’m reveling in this current triumph, I have plenty of peace and quiet because Alex isn’t talking to me.  It’s a win-win for me!  Besides, he’ll get over it eventually; I’m pretty sure he’ll love me anyways.

(For those of you wondering exactly who is going to be performing at Canal Days on Saturday night this year…I’m not saying, at least not just yet.  I will give you a few clues, though:  I’ve written about these guys a lot on Spin: The Blog, and it’s not the City Harmonic.  It’s not Barry Manilow, either.  The other clue is, I’ve hidden parts of the titles of three of their well-known songs in my blog entry.  Other than that, I’m not confirming or denying anything!  You’ll have to check back for updates in the near future!)

Living the Dream: An Ode To The Barbie Dream House

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to live the dream.

          You see, lately my life has taken some amazing turns which have made me think somewhat reluctantly that I may perhaps be living the dream.  It’s kind of a scary thought, actually, to realize at my age that a considerable amount of my dreams are starting to come true.  While the old adage better late than never is true, I can’t help but feel a little wary that this is all a little too fragile, like a Ming dynasty vase sitting on a pedestal with my son Alex playing indoor hockey nearby.
          I can’t help but wonder if it is going to last.
          Here’s the other thing I keep thinking about in conjunction with my thoughts about living the dream:  my six year old niece Alyssa’s Barbie Dream House.
          That’s pretty weird, right?
           So this is the story of Alyssa’s Barbie 3-Story Dream House.  A few weeks ago, my Mom (and Alyssa’s Grandma) called to talk to me.  This is essentially the conversation that we had:
          Mom:  Have you talked to your sister lately?
          Me: No, not lately.  Is everything okay?
          Mom:  So you haven’t heard about your niece’s big purchase?
          Me: No, I haven’t.  What did she buy?
          Mom:  She sold a bunch of her toys to Once Upon a Child, took the money she got and bought a Barbie Dream House that cost over $100!  And she had money left!  Now she says all she needs is a new Ken doll.
          I have to say, in that moment, I was extremely proud of my niece the little real estate maven.  Not only is she the most beautiful little girl in the whole entire world to her Aunt Beth with her dark brown hair, chocolate pudding eyes and radiant smile, she’s smart as a whip, too.  No one will be more surprised than me if this girl doesn’t grow up to be the first female President of the United States of America, or at the very least, the CEO of some mega company like Google or Apple.
         Auntie B was so impressed with the story of the Barbie Dream House and how my niece  made her own dream of owning a little piece of real estate heaven come true that I made a special detour thru Indianapolis on my way home from Cincinnati a week ago to see the place (and to deliver a little housewarming gift:  a Marry Me Ken doll!)
          My words alone cannot begin to describe the magnificence of the Barbie Dream House, so I will quote the product description from Mattel’s website:  “The Barbie 3-Story Dream House is the ultimate luxury home, and it’s newly renovated with fab pink columns on glamorous photo-real wallpaper. Three fabulous stories include an elevator, lights and sounds. The first floor features a dining area, fully stocked kitchen and elegant, light-up chandelier. The second floor has a living room with a TV and “Roaring” fireplace, plus a signature-style bathroom. On the third floor is a posh bedroom suite with canopy bed and an outdoor balcony with a hot tub and tiki lights. Sounds include a doorbell, kitchen diner, crackling fireplace, running shower water and flushing toilets.”
          A Dream House, indeed!  I guess I need to reassess whether or not I’m really living the dream after all.
          As I sat on Alyssa’s pink and white trundle bed while she excitedly gave me the grand tour, my heart was brimming with love for this little girl who literally lights up my life with how good and kind and sweet she is.  To me, she is everything that is true and beautiful in a world that is increasingly plastic and counterfeit.
          A line of lyrics to The City Harmonic’s song “Fell Apart” lingered in my mind as I watched my niece animatedly demonstrate the different Dream House features from the “real” elevator to the “real” roaring fireplace and “real” running shower. The words “You’re something real in a world that’s fake” made me realize right then in that moment the only thing that is really real in this entire world is the very real little girl with a very real little heart standing before me.
       Oh, how I adore her with all of my own heart.
        At six years of age, Alyssa is still too young to be caught up in all the junk of this world.  Her parents have done a marvelous job of protecting her tender heart from influences that would seek to steal her innocence, her goodness, her kindness from her.  The deepest prayer of my heart is that she will retain her realness in a world that is fake for as long as humanly possible.
          My other hope for my beloved niece is that as she grows up, she will see the Dream House (and sadly, Barbie and Ken) for what they truly are—dolls and a dollhouse.  This is not the stuff that real dreams are made of.  Well, I take that back.  It might be the stuff that dreams are made of for Marry Me Ken—right now on a quiet cul de sac somewhere in Indianapolis, he’s probably sitting in the hot tub surrounded by at least 3 Barbies and a few tiki lights while watching the “life like” flat screen TV.
          As for the rest of us, I would wager that dreams with more substance might lead to a more gratifying existence.
          Most of all, I pray that Alyssa will always remember the one that The City Harmonic is actually talking about when they sing “You’re something real in a world that’s fake.” As much as it breaks my heart to think about it now, I know there will come a time when Alyssa’s dreams may seem to fall apart.  Dreams are fragile like that.  When her dreams begin to melt like a Barbie left out in the summer sun for too long, I pray that she will cling to the very real promises of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
          Granted, He doesn’t offer us anything flashy like a Dream House.  He doesn’t promise us a real flushing toilet that lights up and makes noise. He doesn’t try to falsely impress us with an elegant light up chandelier or “roaring” fireplace.  He doesn’t extend an invitation to use His hot tub and watch His flat screen TV.
          No, instead He offers His own perfect and blameless life up on the cross in exchange for our messy and blemished ones.
          He offers to carry our burdens and cast our sins away as far as the east is from the west. 
          He offers to put us back together when we are falling apart, to be something real and everlasting in a world that is fake.
         He offers us hope and peace and love in a world where those attributes are progressively hard to find.
          As for me, I’ve come to see that I am living the dream and it isn’t as fragile as I once thought. My dream to be forgiven, to find hope, have peace, and share love have already come true as a direct result of my relationship with Christ.  Everything else that comes to pass as a result is just frosting.
           I only hope that Alyssa’s dreams may one day be as sweet.

Tuesday Tunes Playlist

Dear Readers:
I’ve received quite a few e-mails lately asking me about what my music playlist sounds like lately. Yes, I’m aware that I have been somewhat negligent in writing about music lately, and I do apologize for that.  So for fun today I thought I would post a Tuesday Tunes Playlist of what I have been listening to lately and what has been speaking to my heart. Enjoy!
#15—The Words I Would Say (Sidewalk Prophets)—Yep, I realize that this is kind of classic.  It’s by far the oldest song on this list. Lately, this song has been popping up in my life in weird places when I need a boost.  For instance, I was in a real foul mood at Gordon Food Service shopping for a picnic at church last weekend, and sandwiched in between songs by The Cure and Bon Jovi was ‘The Words I Would Say’.  Very strange, but in a good way.  It definitely brought a smile to my face and turned my attitude around in record time.
#14—Obsolete (Sara Groves)—I really like Sara Groves.  She has a haunting quality to her voice and the lyrics to her songs are just flat out brilliant.  This song just kind of hits my feelings on the head lately, and in a way that I don’t think even I could describe as well as Sara does in this song.  Highly recommended listening, along with the rest of the her album ‘Invisible Empires’.
#13—Redeemed (Big Daddy Weave)—This song just touches my heart every time I hear it, which fortunately is quite frequently as it’s getting a lot of radio play these days in my neck of the woods.  I think this may be my all-time favorite BDW song!
#12—Higher (Lecrae featuring Tenth Avenue North)—I have to admit, when I first saw this song listed on Lecrae’s newest album, Gravity, I did a double take.  Lecrae…and Tenth Avenue North?  How exactly would something like that work, anyway?  Well, let me say for the record it works quite beautifully.  Great song, I totally love it.  Further proof (at least to me) that Tenth Avenue North makes everything better!
#11—Gold (Britt Nicole)—There are a lot of really good songs on Britt Nicole’s latest project.  If I had to pick one, I’d say ‘Gold’ is one of my favorites.  Without fail, it brightens my day and gets me going no matter what else might be going on.
#10—Pushing on a Pull Door (For King & Country)—Yes, for those of you in the know, this is my theme song.  I have written an entire short story based upon inspiration derived from this song. Luckily, I haven’t actually been hanging upside down lately like I was in the story I shared, but I’ve definitely been pushing on some pull doors lately. 
#9—Good Morning (Mandisa featuring TobyMac)—Here’s a no fail recipe for a song that I will love:  Have Mandisa sing something positive and upbeat, and toss in some TobyMac for good measure.  Seriously, that’s a no fail recipe for a great song.  These two together are like peanut butter and jelly (well, that might not be the best example since I’m allergic to peanut butter). Anyway, I think you get the picture.
#8—For the First Time Again (Jason Gray)—I’ve just recently discovered Jason Gray, and I’m quickly becoming a fan.  This song really hit me the other day while I was driving along in my car, as it very accurately described a place in my life I’ve been feeling lately.  I’ve listened to it a lot in the time since then.  If you are feeling a little run down, I would recommend listening to this song for sure!
#7—Opposite Way (Leeland)—I had a strange experience with this song over the weekend.  Honestly, if I’ve listened to this song once, I’ve listened to it a hundred times  as I love the CD Opposite Way.  Yet, as I was driving along the highway on interstate I-469 on Sunday, Opposite Way came on the radio and it was as if I heard it for the first time.  I was struck by the lyrics, and I swear it was like I never really heard what was being said in this song before.  I would encourage you if you don’t have this CD to get it, or at the very least look up the lyrics to this song.   Beautiful, poignant, touching.  Definitely go check it out!
#6—All I see is You (Trevor Morgan)—I really like Trevor Morgan’s CD, The Blessed and the Broken. If you don’t have it, you should. It’s really, really good.  I’ve been listening to All I See Is You a lot lately, and it has become the prayerof my heart these last few weeks. Another highly recommended song, and CD.
#5—Angel By Your Side (Francesca Battistelli)—Her name maybe difficult to spell and kind of hard to say, but definitely worth the effort.  I love this song, as it has been both an encouragement and comfort to me lately. 
#4—Even If (Kutless)—I’m a longtime fan of Kutless, and as such I have to admit that their latest project “Believer” is one of my favorites.  What I like about Kutless is that they sing the truth.  They aren’t compelled to make everything tidy and neat, and they tend to cut straight to the heart of what really matters.  I really admire them for that.  Even If is one of those songs that is a brilliant amalgamation of hard truths amidst a unifying hope in the Lord.  For sure, if you haven’t yet, you’ll want to give this song a listen.
#3—Center of It (Chris August)—I posted a review on my blog awhile back about Chris August’s new CD, The Upside of Down.  It’s been in a continual state of replay since I got it back in August.  It was hard to pick just one song off of the album to include on this playlist, but I decided to go with Center of It because of the reminder it provides me that no matter what is going on in my life, God is in the center of it all.  Worth a listen (or a hundred!)
#2—Never (Hyland)—Okay, here’s my rant for today.  I think Hyland is one of most underrated groups in Christian music today.  They have some really great songs and I so enjoy listening to their CD, Weights and Measures.  They also have a single out called “Beauty in the Broken,” which I think is spectacular.   Their song, Never, is also a standout in my book.   The lyrics are so relatable and heartfelt that I find myself coming back to listen to this song over and over. 
#1—Banner of Love (Luminate)—This is such an awesome song it should be mandatory listening for everyone.  If everyone listened to this song, and then attempted to live by the lyrics, the world would no doubt be a more beautiful place.  Truthfully, if you haven’t heard this song yet, you need to listen to it and you’ll see why it’s my #1 pick on my playlist this week! 
And there you have it!  You can view pins of all of these videos on my Pinterest Board, Tuesday Tunes Playlist!
Much Love,

The City Harmonic Concert Review

The City Harmonic

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   Utterly passionate.  Filled with zeal.  Spontaneous.  Fun.  Inspiring.  Everything I could have asked for and more.  Those are just a few of the ways I would describe The City Harmonic’s performance on the Star 88.3 Music Stage at the Three Rivers Festival on July 15th, 2012.
          I have to say, I was expecting The City Harmonic’s portion of the concert to be good.  Really good.  After all, both the EP ‘Introducing the City Harmonic’ and the full length CD ‘I Have a Dream (It Feels Like Home)’ are musically stunning.  Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so:  ‘Introducing The City Harmonic’ was a top 5 download on iTunes, and  the group went on to become a best selling new artist on Billboard’s top current digital sales chart.
        Plus, there is that little YouTube sensation known as ‘Manifesto’ with well over 1.5 million hits as of today.
       I’ve learned over the years of attending concerts that it’s best to keep my expectations marginally low, that way I don’t end up bitterly disappointed if I end up at some awful reincarnation of a Milli Vanilli concert:  mildly appealing on the radio, but horrifically disastrous live and in person.
        After seeing The City Harmonic perform on Sunday, I realized that expecting them to just be “really good” was kind of an insult to how superbly talented they truly are.
     Hands down, The City Harmonic’s performance on the Star 88.3 Music Stage has been THE concert of the summer as far as I’m concerned, and I’ve seen a lot of exceptionally good concerts this summer:  David Crowder, Casting Crowns, Sanctus Real, Tenth Avenue North, Matthew West, Sidewalk Prophets, Mandisa, For King and Country, The Afters…and I think you get the general idea.  Lots of great music for me all summer long, yet there has only been one group whose performance ran away with my heart!
        If you aren’t familiar with The City Harmonic’s musical stylings, one comparison I’ve read over and over in my research is to the band Coldplay.  I like Coldplay, and I can hear the similarities between the two:  both groups are creatively brilliant musically, with a strong focus on the piano and lead singer. Personally, I prefer Elias Dummer’s voice (The City Harmonic’s lead singer) to Chris Martin’s of Coldplay.  In my opinion, Elias has a stronger, more confident sound and a rich,vibrant tone to his voice that really stands out. Performance wise, I also see some similarities between The City Harmonic and the group The Fray (‘Over My Head’, ‘You Found Me’) and between Elias Dummer and Pat Monahan of Train.
         Regardless of who The City Harmonic may sound like in mainstream music, they unquestionably stand apart from the rest of the crowd in Christian music in a really good, really wonderful way.  Their music is like a driving force for the soul: energizing, uplifting, and exhilarating, while consistently pointing all of the glory back to the One for whom they sing.
         Lyrically, their songs are not just catchy, but brilliant (and if you don’t believe me, Google the lyrics for any one of their songs!)   Some of the standout songs from The City Harmonic’s performance on Sunday, if I had to pick a few, were ‘Mountaintop’, ‘Holy (Wedding Day)’, ‘Yours’, and ‘Spark’.
         Only adding to The City Harmonic’s awesomeness is how very, very friendly and personable all of the guys in the band were.

       For fun on Monday at the suggestion of one of my readers, I gave out some awards from Sunday’s Star 88.3 Music Stage and The City Harmonic managed to snag several awards, one of those awards being “The Friendliest Band”.  The City Harmonic just barely managed to squeeze out Royal Tailor for that award.  I almost think they had an unfair advantage being Canadian and all, but those are the breaks.  Sorry, Royal Tailor!
         The deciding factor in “The Friendliest Band” award was mainly due to something I witnessed as I waited in line to go thru the VIP Meet & Greet for The City Harmonic.  I noticed two little girls standing by the fence off to the side of the stage desperately trying to get the attention of somebody, anybody, to sign an autograph for them.  It was very cute, but sad, because no one was paying a bit of attention to them.
        Elias, The City Harmonic’s lead singer, happened to walk by and no doubt he was very busy trying to get everything wrapped up from the performance and get to the Meet & Greet; yet, he saw the two little girls standing there by the fence and stopped to talk to them, take a picture and give them both autographs.  The looks on the faces of those little girls as they walked away was priceless!
         As if I wasn’t already a fan after just seeing The City Harmonic perform moments earlier, I was definitely sold at this point.  Then, a little bit later in the Meet & Greet line I asked if I could take a picture of the band for my blog and Elias nearly jumped across the table and said, “How about I take a picture of both of us?”  Either Elias is very friendly, or just likes having his picture taken.  I’m thinking he’s probably just a very friendly guy!

Elias Dummer, lead singer for The City Harmonic, and me, Beth Stauffer

         I wholeheartedly recommend you go right now and buy both of The City Harmonic’s projects, ‘Introducing The City Harmonic’ and ‘I Have a Dream (It Feels Like Home)’ wherever you buy your music.  I suspect that you will react to hearing The City Harmonic’s music the same way Mark, the Pharmacist at CVS did, earlier today when I drove thru the Pick Up window listening to ‘Spark’ on the CD ‘I Have a Dream (It Feels Like Home)’.  Mark said to me,  “What are you listening to?  It sounds awesome!  Is that really Christian music?  I want to get that!”
        Yes indeed to all of the above, Mark, yes indeed!
        To recap, I totally and unabashedly recommend you go see The City Harmonic wherever and whenever you get the chance.  You’ll have a chance this fall as they headline their first ever tour, the I Have A Dream Fall 2012 Tour, along with Daniel Bashta, Eric Brandon, and writer and speaker Bob Lenz.  Yep, I’m thinking it’s going to be epic!  You can get more information about the I Have A Dream Fall 2012 Tour by clicking here.
       Two more quick things, not really related to The City Harmonic but kind of related to the City Harmonic.  If you would like to see the full run down of my fun awards from the Star 88.3 Music Stage, click here.  If you would like to read a short story I wrote recently after listening to The City Harmonic’s song, ‘Yours’, click here.
        Most of all, thanks for reading!