Alex Expands His Musical Horizons, Sidewalk Prophets Style

It is not a secret that 6-year-old Alex is the biggest for King & Country fan in the 46774 zip code by a vast margin.

Believe me, he takes this title and its inherent responsibilities very seriously.

As some of you may recall, last fall I experienced a full week of his wrath when Alex gave me the cold shoulder.

The silent treatment.

The evil eye.

The reason?  No biggie, at least in my mind–I booked the Sidewalk Prophets for the first Faith & Family Night at the New Haven Canal Days Festival.

In Alex’s mind, however, it was the end of the world because I had betrayed him in the worst possible by way by not booking for King & Country.  (In my defense, for King & Country wasn’t available when I inquired.)

In the days leading up to Faith & Family Night, Alex made it clear that he planned to make his dissatisfaction with me known to the Sidewalk Prophets in no uncertain terms as soon as they arrived in New Haven.

To put it mildly, I was living in a state of sheer terror about what Alex was going to say/do for the entire week leading up to Saturday.  For those of you who know Alex, you know exactly what I mean.

I decided my best plan would be to find a secure location to lock Alex up, leave him with a day’s supply of food and water, and a porta potty.  (Just kidding.  That thought never crossed my mind.)

My next best option was to take him out to the farm and leave him with Grandma and Grandpa for the day.  No one, including Grandma or Grandpa, was going to go for that one.

Plan C was bribing the Police Chief to baby-sit (and by baby-sit,  I would have totally gone for handcuffing him to the Chief’s golf cart while he was on patrol all day) for $100 and 2 VIP Wristbands to the concert, but since he had already watched Alex once this week, I was flat-out of luck.

I knew I was just going to have to bite the bullet and hope Alex didn’t do what he does best– that is, say the most hilariously inappropriate things at exactly the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) moment.

Saturday morning started out well enough.  Alex was busy over at  the parade, and I hadn’t seen him anywhere near the Main Stage all morning.  I was starting to relax, and think that maybe,  just maybe Alex would be so busy having fun he’d forget all about the for King & Country/Sidewalk Prophets debacle of days gone by and just enjoy the beautiful day in the park.

I should have known better.

Shortly after 12 pm out of the corner of my right eye I see Alex running like a freight train straight towards me from the direction of the park, and out of the corner of my left eye I see Dave from the Sidewalk Prophets emerging from the Park Hill Center.

Alex and Dave are headed straight towards one another.

Uh oh, I think to myself; this probably isn’t going to end well.

Dave sees Alex approaching and holds up a banana from the hospitality cart.  “This is a hold up,” Dave says, turning the banana in Alex’s direction.  “My name is Dave.  What’s your name, buddy?”

“Alex,” he replied, and I could tell he was trying really hard not to smile at Dave’s banana antics.

“What grade are you in?”  Dave asked.

“Gonna be in 1st grade,” Alex said.  “Are you one of those Sidewalk Prophets guys?” Alex asked, his eyebrows furrowed like he was interrogating a suspect in a criminal investigation.

“Yep, I am,” Dave laughed.

“You should join a real band like for King & Country,” Alex said.

And there it was.

Of course, I apologized profusely, and tried to explain Alex’s obsession with for King & Country (but really, how do you explain something like that?  I mean, there are literally no words to describe it.)  

“So, do you play the drums?  I have a drum set and cymbals just like Luke & Joel,” Alex told Dave.  “I even have suspenders just like Joel!” added Alex proudly.

“Nope,” said Dave,  “I’m the singer.”

“Luke and Joel are singers too,” said Alex.  “They’re the best singers in the whole wide world!”

Dave is laughing, I’m looking for the nearest hole in the ground to crawl into and die, while Alex is beaming with pride because he’s talking about the one subject on earth he’s a certifiable expert in, his favorite band of  blokes, for King & Country.

Luckily for me, Alex’s attention was easily diverted when I slipped him $8 and pointed him in the direction of the park.  He ran off to go get his face painted like a cheetah, sparing me for the foreseeable future from any more embarrassing moments related to his for King & Country fanaticism.

Meanwhile, while Alex was being transformed into a cheetah,  I went to track down the afternoon entertainment for the Main Stage, the magician ‘The Great Andini’.  My hope was that he would be able to use me in his act and make me disappear, like, permanently.

Alas, since The Great Andini was not able to make me permanently disappear, I was available to drive 1/2 of the Sidewalk Prophets in the minivan I borrowed from my Mom to the 909 Room for a pre-show meet and greet at 2:30 pm.  Of course, Dave ended up stuck with me (I’m sure he was thrilled about that!), along with Justin, Cal, and the band’s road manager, Duncan.  I tried to explain the whole Alex/for King & Country situation by, well, blaming it on for King & Country.  (Well, it is kind of their fault!  They made Alex a really nice, totally unexpected video message, and took time to personally meet him and just be exceedingly kind to him.  So, yes, I feel totally justified by blaming it entirely on for King & Country.  No one has every accused me of being an overly logical and rational person.)

Listening to my own explanation in the van made it pretty clear, at least in my own mind, where Alex gets his mad public speaking skills from.

The 909 Room meet and greet ended up being another legendary fiasco in a string of legendary fiascos on Saturday; granted this one was not entirely my fault.  My BFF Sarah and I somehow managed to rock Plan B, and all was well in the world for a few minutes…..until, after everyone had gone through the line, Dave looked at me and asked, “Hey, where’s Alex at?”

“Um, he wanted to go to the Magic Show back at the Main Stage…you know, the whole for King & Country thing.”

Of all the dumb things to say, I had to come up with that.  I’m a writer, for heaven’s sake.  At the very least, I could have come up with something interesting, like he was kidnapped by an army of evil clowns on the Midway who were holding him ransom for face paint and giant squeaky shoes or maybe  he joined the carnival and is now the youngest person in Guinness Book of World Records history to ever operate the giant spinning bear ride on the Burton Brothers Midway.

Anything that didn’t have to do with for King & Country would have sufficed.




Fast forward to the middle of the Sidewalk Prophets show later on Saturday night.

I’m hanging out with my lighting gurus, Nate and Chad, backstage.  Alex is sitting on my lap, intently watching what is going on up on the stage.

Alex turns his head towards me, his blue eyes soft and wide, and he whispers, “Mommy, can Dave join for King & Country’s band?”

“No, Alex.  Dave is a Sidewalk Prophet.  He has a special place in that band, just like Luke and Joel have a special place in for King & Country.”

“Mommy, I think I like Dave anyway, even though he’s not in for King & Country.  He’s just as nice as Luke and Joel, and he sings really good, too,” said Alex.

I totally agree.

Then, from the stage Dave began talking about how God sometimes uses the broken and the least likely people around to do some of the greatest things for His kingdom.  This was a new part of the Sidewalk Prophets set that I had not heard before, and I really liked it.  Dave mentioned names from the Bible such as Mary Magdalene and David, but the one name that he spoke of that really struck me was Moses.  As he talked about Moses, a man who was one of the truly great leaders in the Bible, he said that Moses was unlikely to ever be a great leader because he was a stutterer.

I watched as Alex sat riveted, watching Dave talk about Moses and how God used Him even though he wasn’t perfect, and how He can use each one of us not in spite of our flaws, but because of our flaws.

I’m quite certain this caught Alex’s attention because this is not just Moses’ story.  This is Alex’s story, too.

You see, when Alex was three years old, it became apparent that he had a serious speech disfluency, also referred to as a stutter.  When the children in his preschool class started to make derogatory comments about how Alex talked, he shut down and completely stopped talking for an extended period of time.

He began therapy and while he has made great strides in his fluency over the years,  it remains something that he is very aware of and has to work very hard at overcoming on a daily basis.  I’d be lying if I said Alex didn’t battle  with his speech at times, and the pain and frustration and anxiety I know he feels being different from the other kids is heart wrenching.  It pains me to see him struggle, to have to work so hard to do something that comes so easily for most of us.

Last week was especially tough for Alex, because the hard ‘C’ sound in ‘Canal’ days is a very difficult one for him to make smoothly, and he told me several times in frustration, “Mommy, I’m having a hard time with my speech today!  Why did God have to make me so different, Mom?”

I wasn’t sure Alex really listened when I told him why I thought he was uniquely and wonderfully made; however, there was no doubt in my mind that he was hanging on to every single word Dave said on Saturday night from the Canal Days Main Stage.

My heart was full when, after listening to Dave talk about Moses, Alex whispered in my ear, “Mommy, I’m just like Moses!  Does that mean Dave is talking about me?”

“I think he was talking about all of us, ” I said with a smile, giving him a hug, “but maybe especially about you, sweetheart.”

Alex beamed and threw his arms around my neck.



After the concert, I was chatting with the Sidewalk Prophets fans who were waiting in the signing line to meet the band when Alex came running over to me waving his arms in the air.

“Mommy, Mommy!”  he said excitedly, “Can Dave sign this for me?”

Alex held out his most prized possession, his autographed for King & Country ‘Crave’ CD.  He listens to it on repeat, he sleeps with it, he takes it with him to school; and now he wanted the Sidewalk Prophets to sign it.

Oh boy.

“Alex, that might not be such a good idea,” I said gently.  “We’ll buy you a Sidewalk Prophets CD, and they can sign one of their own CDs for you.”

“But Mommy, Dave and the Sidewalk Prophets are my favorites just like Luke and Joel,” said Alex.  “Can’t they all be friends on the same CD?”

“Yes, they can, but since you like the Sidewalk Prophets wouldn’t you like one of their CDs?”  I asked.

Alex smiled and nodded his head.

A few minutes later, Alex was tearing into his very own copy of Live Like That with a big grin on his face.  When it was his turn to approach the signing table, he marched right up to Dave and plopped his CD down on the table in front of him.

“Hi Alex,” said Dave.  “How are you doing, buddy?”

For a fleeting moment, Alex was shy.  This has happened maybe twice in his lifetime.

“Go ahead, tell him what you told me earlier,” I said encouragingly.

“You’re my favorite, Dave,” said Alex shyly.  “I like you AND for King & Country.”

I’m not sure Dave realized what an epically big compliment this was, but I did.

Big deal.  Very big deal.



A little later on, I was able to thank Dave for that part of the concert when he talked about Moses and explain about what that meant to Alex.

“That’s God working,” he said humbly, “but I didn’t notice anything unusual about Alex’s speech?”

I explained a little more about Alex’s prognosis and therapy.  “That’s awesome,” said Dave, referring to how well Alex has done with his therapy.  Then, Dave shared that he had devised a little plan of his own to surprise Alex for his birthday that may, in fact, rival the video messages of for King & Country.  (Not that this is a competition or anything, because it really isn’t.)

This made me remember something that Dave talked about when I interviewed him back in April.  The basis for the Sidewalk Prophets current project, Live Like That, was a verse in Hebrews 12:1 that says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  During the interview, Dave spoke freely about the amazing cloud of witnesses that influenced his life as boy growing up in Terre Haute, Indiana.

It occurred to me that at just 6 years of age, God has already been working for several years now to surround Alex with his own cloud of witnesses, preparing him to run with perseverance the race of his life that is still largely before him. In a world where so many kids don’t even have a father, we are so blessed that Alex is being influenced by so many men of strong Christian faith, like Luke & Joel of for King and Country and Dave Frey of the Sidewalk Prophets, and by public servants like firefighter Josh Hale and Police Chief Poiry, by Pastor Matt and Alex’s Uncle Phil, by his father Jon and his grandfathers, to name just a few.

Blessed kind of seems like the understatement of the century.

Yet, blessed we are that so many people who cross our paths are living a life like that, and it doesn’t really matter if they are fans of the Sidewalk Prophets or for King & Country or The City Harmonic (another story for an entirely different day!)  All I know is, when I see the Lukes and Joels and Daves and Joshes and Steves and Matts and Phils of the world showing kindness to my sometimes snarky 6-year-old with a speech impediment, I can’t help but think of the verse in John 13:35 when Jesus tells us “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

If you’re a fan of Jesus, if you love Him and love His people, then you should know that Alex & I are YOUR biggest fans!

Just one question…where can we get a t-shirt?

Live 4:1 To Rock Canal Days Main Stage

You know what I think is really interesting?  It’s the fact that the most successful people in the world never, ever start out on top.

For instance, Warren Buffet’s first job was a newspaper delivery boy.  Oprah Winfrey was a grocery clerk.  Even Saturday’s Faith & Family Night Headlining Band at Canal Days, the Sidewalk Prophets, started out small.   Just down the road on I-69 at Anderson University, lead singer Dave Frey and guitarist Ben McDonald started their musical careers by taping microphones to the ceiling of their dorm room and posting files to the (then) legal file sharing site, Napster.

Before the Sidewalk Prophets take to the Main Stage on Saturday night, June 8th, you’ll have a chance to see an area band with similar humble beginnings.  Live 4:1, comprised of Darlene Bush, brothers Greg, Jon, and Kaleb Krempel, Natasha Perrine, James Saunders, and Chris Kindlesparger, will bring their unique 7 piece blend of praise and worship music to the Main Stage in Schnelker Park beginning at 4 pm.

Live 4:1 began in 1996 when many of its core members were only in the 5th or 6th grade, Darlene Bush told me during an interview on April 8th.  At the time, the founding members were all part of the praise band called Next Wave at Huntertown United Methodist Church, and Bush and Debbie Krempel (the mother of Greg, Jon, and Kaleb) worked with the group, encouraging them to rehearse and sing as much as possible.

By 2004, the core members of the group felt called to make a true commitment to where they felt God was leading them.  A suggestion by a friend referencing Ephesians 4:1 (I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called. Ephesians 4:1  ) led to the name Live 4:1.

Live 4:1’s current project, an independent release entitled Let It Rain, has imprints of the band’s heart all over it from the tracks contained on the CD to the design on the jacket.  “This project really reflects who we are as a band and where we are at musically,” says Bush, a vivaciousness reflecting in her voice and eyes.

Musically, the band credits such diverse influences as MercyMe, Casting Crowns, Israel & New Breed, Michael W. Smith, Fred Hammond, Hillsong, and Vineyard.  The band also credits, rather fully embraces, the diversity that makes the band so unique and distinctive.

“We are from different ethnic and church backgrounds; but God created a melting pot, blending us all together to create a Christ-centered sound that touches the lives of people everywhere. It hasn’t been an easy task, especially being a young group with the view society has of youth today,” said Bush, “but we have a message we want people to hear! Although we could be in the world taking part in all it has to offer, we choose to serve God. We desire to serve in whatever way He wants us to.”

After nearly 17 years together for some of the member of Live 4:1, you might think that performing might start to become a little monotonous.

You’d be mistaken.

Actually, this summer may be one of the most exciting times in recent memory for the band for a lot of reasons.  First, nearly half of the band is getting married this summer.  (Don’t worry, they planned around their appearance at Canal Days!)  Live 4:1 is also working on new material, and talking about going back into the studio to record some new music, says Bush.

“Wherever, however He leads, that’s happily where we are going,” says Bush.

Wherever they end up, Live 4:1 remains committed to being true to the message within the music.  When I asked Bush a question I was recently asked about whether or not Christian music is as good musically as mainstream music, she replied, “I would point people to Chris Tomlin.  Steven Curtis Chapman.  Israel Houghton.  Fred Hammond.  These are artists that are all about the message, not the sound. It’s the same thing with us.  It’s all about the message.  The message is the most important thing.  I can get you bopping your head and rocking, but if you’re not hearing the message, it means nothing.  The message has to be heard, then the bopping and the rocking will come.”

Vocalist Natasha Perrine agrees.  “It has been placed on our hearts to minister to the lost and encourage the doubtful,” she said.

“We’re all about the ministry; that’s what Live 4:1 is all about.  Nothing else matters,” said Bush.

Live 4:1 will play the Main Stage in Schnelker Park on Saturday, June 8 from 4-6 pm, with a free Meet & Greet autograph session immediately following their set.



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!!)



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.


Dave Frey performs at Winter Jam 2013 on January 20, 2013

These days, Frey’s childhood dream is straight up reality; earlier this year, as the lead singer for the Sidewalk Prophets, he toured with Winter Jam, the #1 attended tour in the entire world in the first quarter of 2013, using his God-given gift to perform for more than 550,000 people in four short months.

“You know, especially once I saw bands like DC Talk and Jars of Clay and Third Day as a kid I dreamed of being on stage, and now here I’ve stood on stage next to each one of them. It’s like, ‘How blessed am I?’” asked Frey incredulously.

Well, as Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”




When I conduct interviews, I have to admit that I really don’t have an official angle I work like a lot of writers do when they do interviews. Truth be told, I never do have an angle and it doesn’t matter if I’m interviewing former Governor Daniels or David Crowder. Like any proper journalist, I always have a list of questions to ask in case I develop a temporary case of amnesia, but aside from my handy-dandy list, my main objective is always to just ask some general questions and see what themes evolve over the course of a conversation.

This may not be the method taught at the Harvard School of Journalism, but it works for me; which brings me around to my point. Dreams, both fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled, served as a touchstone of sorts in my conversation with Dave Frey.

Perhaps what I found the most interesting about how this theme kept recurring in our conversation was how Frey consistently pointed much of the credit for achieving his dreams back to others: to God, to his parents, his band mates, his friends, and even teachers from his hometown of Terre Haute.

“Growing up, I had this cloud of witnesses guiding me to truth and love and faith,” said Frey, referring to the verse in Hebrews 12:1 that sparked the Sidewalk Prophet’s latest song and album of the same name, Live Like That.

One such person that had a strong influence on the young Frey was his 10th grade history teacher, Dan McGrath. “There was something about him. You could see the passion inside him. It was infectious,” said Frey. “He loved history, and there are a lot of people who don’t like history, that are bored by it. Why are we rehashing the past, you know? Mr. McGrath just made you realize why history was important, that this was something you could learn from.”

“Watching him, I felt like I was watching Jesus teach his disciples. That’s the passion that Jesus brought, this desperate passion,” said Frey with passion in his own voice. “‘You gotta know this, because this is my heart,” he added after pausing for emphasis.

“I could just see His heart inside of Mr. McGrath. You know, in a public school you can’t necessarily lead kids in prayer but come to find out years later Mr. McGrath was a Christian the whole time. You know, he was showing me that without ever saying it,” Frey said softly. “I was incredibly blessed by his life, and by many other teachers. Teachers are so important in shaping the world.”

Another teacher who had an even more powerful role in shaping Frey’s life besides Mr. McGrath is his mother, who Frey told me has been teaching for 36 years. According to Frey, in addition to her work as a teacher she also serves as the “unofficial” chief promoter of the Sidewalk Prophets.

“My Mom will go to a show and ask people, “Who’s your favorite band?” If they don’t say Sidewalk Prophets, she’ll say “Oh, they’re good too, but I really love those Sidewalk Prophets!” Then she’ll go and buy them all t-shirts,” said Frey with a hearty laugh, adding “I’ll come back and Mom’s bought like 20 t-shirts. She’s our greatest promoter, that’s for sure.”

With that, Frey’s tone turns momentarily more serious. “She and my Father are both the reason I am where I am. They took me to church and showed me, ‘This is what life’s about: bringing joy to others and doing it thru the message of Jesus.’ Yeah, I am very blessed to have the mother and father that I have. Very blessed.”

As someone who has dedicated her adult life to encouraging and empowering young children and families, I love hearing stories like Frey’s.  Truly, it takes both strong parents and influential ‘others’, like teachers, pastors, and youth leaders to bring out the best in kids and ensure that every single child has the very best chance to lead a fulfilling life, a life where they have the tools they need to go out and forge a path to make their own dreams come true.

Perhaps that’s why having a Faith & Family Night to celebrate the importance we place on these values in New Haven is so important to me? No matter the reasoning, it seems my longstanding dream had once again kind of inadvertently found its way into the interview, and intersected with the life and times of Dave Frey.




“You know, I think you really have it in the right order: faith, family, friends,” said Frey. “That’s the order we ought to live our lives.”

I totally agree.

Yet, I wondered, ‘Isn’t it hard to do that when you are on the road more than 200 days a year?’ I mean, seriously, the Sidewalk Prophets are notoriously (in a good way) one of the hardest working groups around with a consistently punishing tour schedule. (For instance, did anyone else realize a few years back they did both the Rock & Worship Roadshow AND Winter Jam in the same winter? While driving a van? And they all lived to tell the tale? Pretty remarkable if you ask me. I barely survived a December road trip to Minnesota in a Honda Civic with my BFF and 2 youngsters.)

“We always have to realize that this is a calling that God has laid on our hearts,” said Frey in his usual gracious and humble manner. “We get to serve him in a mighty way and we don’t want to take that for granted. Not only do we serve him, but we get to do what we’ve always dreamed of. This is a double blessing. It blows my mind how blessed we are. We can’t take that responsibility for granted.”

With this responsibility in mind, Frey will return to his home state of Indiana with the Sidewalk Prophets co-founder, Ben McDonald, lead guitarist Shaun Tomczak, bassist Cal Joslin, and drummer Justin Nace on June 8th to rock the first ever Faith and Family Night in Schnelker Park beginning at 8 pm.

“We’re really excited to come to New Haven,” said Frey. He admitted that while growing up in Terre Haute, different festivals would frequently come to town to play, just not faith-based festivals. “That made it tough,” remembered Frey. “We’d have to drive to Bloomington or Indy or Illinois for the Christian music festivals.”

Frey recalled with a smile to his voice going to concerts at the park in Terre Haute with his Mom as child. “Mom would go to the park with her friends and I would head to the park with her friends’ kids. I would listen from far away. I wasn’t prone to loud music as a kid. I didn’t want to hear them blasting their music, so I’d go out to the swings and listen from afar,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t get over my aversion to loud music until I was in middle school.”

I think it is fair for me to speak for all the Sidewalk Prophet fans of the world when I say I’m really glad Frey got over his distaste of loud music.

“You know, that’s what’s great about outdoor festivals,” said Frey. “Not everybody wants to be front-row-blown-away-by-the-sound. (Side Note:  My BFF Sarah & I like to be front row center, blasted by the sound unless it’s a RED show.  Sarah may still be missing part of an eyebrow from the last time we got too close to a RED show.)   “There are people out swinging, and families interacting and having fun, and people just there for the atmosphere. Maybe someone who’s just there for the atmosphere will have their life changed because of what God’s doing. That’s our great hope. Hopefully our music is more than just sound bouncing off swing sets; hopefully it’s something that cuts to the heart, perhaps even unexpectedly.”

This is certainly my great hope as the Director of Festival Entertainment, and the great hope of more than 100 pastors and community residents who have been meeting with me since January to pray for the success of Faith & Family Night.

Now, with hope addressed, my mind comes full circle to the dream that started this whole idea of a Faith and Family Night in the first place. I am quietly reminded of something my favorite poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote: “God’s gifts put men’s best dreams to shame.”

This is so beautifully true; but perhaps Dave from the Sidewalk Prophets said it best in a slightly more modern way when he told me, “When I stand on stage, getting to do what I love, it’s a gift; but when anyone just tries to do something that they love, and spread the love of God, He’s going to bless it when it comes from a real and genuine place. He really is.”

I, for one, am pretty sure that the musical gifts that New Haven is about to hear courtesy of the Sidewalk Prophets on June 8th will exceed even my most ambitious dreams.

Praise God for that!


Beth Stauffer would like to thank Mr. Frey for taking time away from his vacation with his family to conduct this interview.  It is sincerely appreciated!


Faith & Family Night Concert Information:  Saturday night, June 8th, 2013.  Pre-show with Central Lutheran School students begins at 7:45 pm at Schnelker Park, Prospect Avenue, New Haven, Indiana.  Hosted by WBCL 90.3 FM.  Opening act–Word artist Love & The Outcome at 8:00 pm, followed by the Sidewalk Prophets at 8:20 pm.  VIP Wristbands for premium seating available for $10.00 donation at the New Haven Parks & Recreation Department, 1125 Hartzell Street, New Haven, IN 46774.


What did Dave Frey say about Chris August during our interview?  This is a direct quote:  “Chris August is a big jerk.”

OK, Jill, calm down.  He was kidding.  Really, he was totally joking.  I actually thought it was pretty funny!

Dave then went on to say that he and Chris August are actually good friends, and even went to a hockey game together recently.  So, I think it is safe to say that Chris August is not a big jerk.


Why were the Sidewalk Prophets my #1 choice for Faith & Family Night?  Check it here

Not convincing enough?  Maybe my 3-year-old friend Ned can help.  Check out her Sidewalk Prophet story here

Here’s the link to read the story about my incredible friend Pam.  I last saw Pam and her family in December when I was in Cheese country (aka Wisconsin), and they are all doing exceedingly well.  Since I wrote the linked letter in June 2012, Pam’s sister Daria has completed several rehabilitation programs available to her, and the family prays that she will be released early for good behavior by September.  Please join me in praying for Pam, and Daria, and the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the entire family to be met.

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!)