Faith & Family, Wishes & Dreams: An Interview with SWP Dave

Dear Readers:

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!!)

Enjoy!
B

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help me find it

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Harlem Shake (Winter Jam Edition)

The lovely folks over at Winter Jam recently shared the following video of the tour’s 2013 bands and staff doing the Harlem Shake.  Since I am currently obsessed with the Harlem Shake and thought this particular video was pretty hilarious (and I’ve watched A LOT of Harlem Shake videos on YouTube lately, which I probably shouldn’t admit but oh well…) I thought I would share here with you.

My only critique of the video is that it looks like the Winter Jammers are having so much fun on tour that it may in fact be illegal in some parts of the country; hence, the reason why they are selling out show after show all over the country.  Love it!  (And if you have the chance to go check out Winter Jam 2013, go and get there early so you don’t become a Winter Jam Reject 🙂 )

‘Steal My Show’ Lyric Video–tobyMac

TobyMac – Steal My Show (Official Lyric Video) from tobymac on GodTube.

Headed out to Winter Jam? Gearing up for the WFRN Friend Fest in June? Well, you might want to learn the words to tobyMac’s latest single off of the ‘Eye On It’ extravaganza…’Steal My Show’! It’s one of my favorites for sure. Check it out above! (And, if you like the song, be sure to check out the story behind the song below!)

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!)

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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

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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 🙂