A Bittersweet Evening: Saying Farewell to Downhere

This week, the band downhere came to the end of their Living The Dream Farewell Tour, and I could not be more grateful to have been able to attend their second to last show of the tour in Williamsburg, VA on October 14th.  Since July, when the band announced their plans to finish touring and recording, I almost never even tried to wrap my mind around the reality that it was coming to an end.  I doubted I’d even be emotional at the Farewell show.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise that I was quite wrong about that!

It was such a delight to reunite with my dear downhomie friends, who have been present every time I’ve seen downhere live, and who I wouldn’t know nearly as much as I do if it wasn’t for downhere.  I met new friends as well; some who I’ve come to know online recently (again, because of downhere) and couldn’t wait to meet in person, and others who I’d only come to know for the first time that evening.  One of the many emotional aspects of the evening was looking back on how many special friendships of mine have been formed through mutual interests in downhere.  Friendships that have brought me so much joy, laughter, fun, encouragement, prayer, growth, and upbuilding fellowship.  I talked later with Jeremy Thiessen (drummer) about that special, instant community that comes with downhere fans; how it wasn’t the doing of the band, but God working through the band to create something huge, valuable, and lasting among people.

Performing live in Williamsburg on the Living The Dream Farewell tour

(Photos from the concert can be found here)

The show itself was completely incredible; everything we could have hoped for.  Everything sounded positively great.  The band gave it their all in every performance and played with maximum excellence, as always; I’ve never heard anything less from them live!  It was so exciting for us fans to hear them open with the classics “Starspin” and “Larger Than Life” (the latter being one of my personal favorites), and for me, to hear them play so many of the same songs they played the first time I saw them live two years ago.  Another thing that added to the emotion of the evening was simply watching and hearing the set;  being that this was my very last time seeing downhere in concert, I was compelled to ponder and take in each song that was played.  It would be the last time I would hear all these songs live, and I wanted these last times to be savored and thoroughly enjoyed.  This was where my denial of emotion came to an end.  The inclusion of “All At War” was the first thing to begin bringing me to tears (for which I was later teased by co-leadsinger Jason Germain), but I lost it when they played three songs back to back that have been of great, great comfort to me in trials and struggles; the tears came, doubled, and tripled when “Calmer of the Storm,” “Hope Is Rising,” and “Rest” were played.  I was moved again by the personal impact of the lyrics, and reminded of how God has used these songs in my life; reminded of his faithfulness in difficulties.  I could continue to go on and on about the excellence of the whole set, but I’ll wrap that part up by fast forwarding to my favorite part: the final song of the set was the beautiful and worshipful “Great Are You,” during which emotions definitely began to arise in the room.  The whole song and show were ended with the singing of the Latin words we’ve heard in “Reveal The Kingdom:”

“Exsiccatum est foenum, et cecidit flos; Verbum autem Domini nostri manet in aeternum.

(“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”)

I couldn’t help but come to tears at this point, pondering that verse.  These times of downhere and their wonderful shows have been absolutely incredible and adored, and will be remembered with so much fondness by us fans, and while we’re watching these things come to an end, what lasts is all God has done through it.  Apart from his own work, a song is only a song.  His word will stand forever.

I am beyond grateful to have been able to see downhere live these four times.  I have been immensely blessed during each experience on so many levels.  The sets, the stories shared, and the encouragement given.  Another blessing is having been able to meet and spent some time with Jason, Marc, Glenn, and Jeremy after the sets with my friends.  I’ve enjoyed the short but sweet conversations; the deep, mundane, and the humorous; from the color teal, to photography, to dealing with stress.  I’ve also been amazed by their exceptional memory; I never really expected them to remember me from show to show, but even with a good amount of time passed, they’ve remembered me and immediately greeted me with enthusiasm and kindness.  This is how they treat all their fans; they are always eager to show welcome and warmth to everyone at the shows, and make a true effort to connect.  I am just one of many who have been blessed by this!

“Bittersweet” has to be the defining word for that night, but it was more sweet than bitter.  Though much sadness was experienced among everyone at the show, including myself, over the ending of such a sweet era, it was both intertwined and overwhelmed by joy and gratitude.  I am endlessly grateful to God for how he has used the music and ministry of downhere in my life;  I have learned that I am not alone in the struggles I face.  I have learned that God’s forgiveness is final and that his grace is abundant and available.  I have learned, that even in my doubt, God’s love for me is greater than I can possibly imagine.  For these things, and more, I will forever be grateful.  Thank you, and farewell.

Setlist:

  • “Starspin”
  • “Larger Than Life”
  • “Cathedral Made Of People” (with “Protest To Praise” chorus)
  • “All At War”
  • “My Last Amen”
  • “A Better Way”
  • “Calmer Of The Storm”
  • “Hope Is Rising”
  • “Rest”
  • “Living The Dream”
  • “The More”
  • “Let Me Rediscover You”
  • “Here I Am”
  • “How Many Kings”
  • “Bleed For This Love”

(Encore)

  • “What It’s Like”
  • “Great Are You” (with Latin verse)

Music makes rainy days better

I’ve met quite a few people who just plain can’t stand rain.  Why?   It’s too depressing, makes them want to stay inside, and so forth.  I totally get that.  However, over the years, I’ve started to enjoy the rain when it comes around.  You know what’s made rain not only bearable, but enjoyable for me?  Music.  Music is powerful in that in can strongly influence emotions and the way one looks at the world, and for me, it’s changed my feelings about rain.  I even have a rainy day playlist on my iPod.  This playlist consists of songs that have something to do with rain or water, songs that have nothing to do with rain but have rain in their music videos, or songs that I associate with rain for no apparent reason.  Allow me to share with you a few of my favorite selections from that playlist… and it’s a very random playlist at moments, mind you…

  • “Rain Down” – Delirious? (YouTube / iTunes)
  • “Inside Outside” – Delirious? (YouTube / iTunes)  (Can you tell D: makes great rain songs?)
  • “Only Water” – Brandon Heath (YouTube / iTunes)
  • “In the Hands of God” – Newsboys (YouTube / iTunes)
  • “Raincoat” – downhere (YouTube / iTunes)
  • “Rain (Set Me Free)” – World Wide Message Tribe (YouTube)
  • “White Shadows” – Coldplay (YouTube / iTunes)
  • “Singing In The Rain” – Gene Kelly (YouTube / iTunes)
  • “Singing In The Rain / Umbrella” – Gwyneth Paltrow & Matthew Morrison / Glee cast (YouTube / iTunes)
  • “Man or Muppet” – The Muppets (YouTube / iTunes) (No joke… it is an awesome sauce song)

Do you have any favorite rainy day songs?  Tell me.  More music for this crazy playlist creator.

To all involved with The Called to Love Tour

… and they’re back!  Picking up where they left off last fall, the wonders that are downhere, Jason Gray, and Aaron Shust began the second leg of The Called to Love Tour last week in Alexandria, Virginia, are continuing the tour until May.  I am still so, very thrilled that I was able to attend the tour again when it came to Virginia for its opening night last Thursday;  so thrilled, in fact, that I feel the need to say a couple thank-yous.

First off, the night was indescribably delightful.  I couldn’t have been happier to talk to those kind, fantastic people again and hear them play their wonderful, encouraging music.  As usual, downhere, Jason, and Aaron were all outstanding in their performances and in their ministry, moving us with their tunes, making us laugh at all the right moments, building us up with their words of encouragement, and uniting us in a time of intimate worship.  I could go into more detail, but I’ll simply say that it was everything it should be.

I wanted to take time to thank everyone involved with the tour for blessing us fans at these shows in such huge ways.  To Aaron, Jason, and the men of downhere, THANK YOU.  Thank you for showing us fans kindness, both on and off stage, by the way you share your hearts through songs, stories, and conversations.  I know that everyone who has attended the shows, including myself, has been extremely blessed by those things.  We are all immensely grateful for you guys.  To the roadies, sound guys, everyone selling merch, and the rest of the crew, for working so hard, non-stop, pulling these things together.  You’re the ones that keep everything happening.  What would a show be without you all?  To Brandon, Duffy, and Nate, for serving Jason, Aaron, and everyone else with your super talents and help!  Now, thank you to everyone involved, for something that I’ve especially noticed this tour: perseverance.  Whenever there’s been difficulty, whether it be the inability to fit lights and equipment into a tiny church, losing a tire, or waking up with a cold, everyone has persevered.  Everyone keeps moving, and the show goes on.  Such awesome dedication among both musicians and crew.  There are a million more things I could mention, but for all the things mentioned before, thank you, once again, to everyone, even those not listed, involved with The Called to Love Tour!

Now, a suggestion.  This suggestion goes out, not to the musicians and crew, but to fans, and even non-fans.  If at all possible, PLEASE try to attend this wonderful tour!  Even if you don’t know the first thing about any of the music, go anyway!  You will have a wonderful time and will certainly be blessed.  Take in the music, say hi to the guys, and enjoy the heck out of the night!  There are 21 dates left.  Visit the Called To Love Tour website to see if it’s coming to your area!

 

A few shots from opening night in Alexandria, VA –

 

 

downhere | Jason Gray | Aaron Shust | Centricity Music

An evening at the Called to Love Tour

The Called to Love Tour
downhere w/ Jason Gray and Aaron Shust
November 12th, 2011
Woodbridge, VA

2011 has been a big year for Centricity Music artists downhere, Jason Gray, and Aaron Shust. All three released fantastic, successful new albums around the same few, so what better time for the three to come together for an explosively awesome tour? Headlined by downhere, the Called to Love Tour began this fall in October and ended one week ago, primarily covering the East coast. Now, last year in 2010, I was incredibly blessed to see downhere (one of my absolute, all-time favorite bands, as any friends would know) for the first time when they came to Fredericksburg, VA, but did not expect they would return to the area just one year later for the second to last date of the Called to Love Tour in Woodbridge, where I would be blessed to see them for the second time, as well as Jason Gray and Aaron Shust for the first time! So, did this show live up to the high expectations and excited countdowns? (Okay, MY expectations countdowns) Was it a worthwhile visit for old fans and new listeners alike? Allow me to back up my confident “YES” by walking you through the wonderful show…

After meeting up with some fabulous fan friends at the venue, we visited the pre-show meet and greet, which was held in a small room where the few who purchased tickets that included that were able to chat with all the artists in a casual, unhurried way. (Definitely a far better option than busy and rushed after-show autograph lines – go for the VIP tickets whenever there’s an opportunity. Completely worth it!) After meeting and chatting with the downhere guys for the second time, I was able to meet Jason Gray and Aaron Shust for the first. I just have to make it known that each of these artists are truly fantastic people… it’s not uncommon for a meet and greet to be a bit on the awkward side, nor is it uncommon for musicians to go about them with a bit of a detached, business-like attitude (not that I put anyone on an “attitude pedestal” – we’re all human), but that was definitely NOT the case with these men. I have never met musicians who show such welcome, warmth, and connection to those they meet, not simply leaving all the hellos and thank-yous to the fans, but taking time themselves to get to know them. I was very blessed and encouraged by their conversations and friendliness, and I hope, if anyone reading has not yet met them, that they will have the privilege to do so one day!

Immediately after the meet and greet, I took my seat and was happily surprised to find that before the expected artists performed, the crazy amazing David Martel (brother of downhere co-lead singer Marc Martel) sang three lovely songs to the waiting audience. He may share various resemblances with his brother, but his style is 100% his own! His dreamy sounds, delightfully robotic dance moves, and brilliant stage presence drew us all in and made it difficult to see his set end so quickly. I hope to see him around more often in the future!

Very soon, the main show started and Aaron Shust opened his set with “This is What We Believe,” from his new album of the same name. Aaron’s whole set was a fantastic way to start the night, preaching the gospel in every lyric and continually keeping things upbeat. Though he sang many fantastic songs, it would not have been right to go on without his best loved single, “My Savior, My God,” so, of course, he included it later in the set, to the crowd’s delight! He closed perfectly with the beautiful “My Hope is in You” from his newest album. While he has a solid, fantastic sound, what really made the set for me was every song being jam-packed with gospel/truth-saturated lyrics… very well done!

After a video playing on the screens of Jason Gray asking Aaron Shust a series of hilarious (staged) questions comparing Aaron to Jason in some way or another, the wonderful Jason Gray began his set on a positive note with “Good to be Alive,” a great way to quickly warm up the crowd and make them right at home, then went into one of his somewhat recent radio hits, “More Like Falling in Love,” where he invited vocal participation from the audience, teasing the guys who weren’t quick to sing the high notes. He soon had all sit down for what he humorously called “Acoustic story time at the library with Jason Gray,” where he informed the audience that he suffers from a speech handicap known as stuttering – “Ironically, ‘stutter’ is one of the hardest words for us- you get the idea. Who’s coming up these words??” Even in the seemingly serious moments, his humble sense of humor remains.

A personal highlight for me was his performance of “Fear is Easy, Love is Hard,” to which he added simple, beautiful verses that were not in the studio recording, then talked about fear itself – how we were made for more than to be ruled by fear and shame, and that “It was for freedom that Christ Jesus has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). He was soon ready to perform the next song, only he told us that the needed piano player was not yet on stage. While waiting, he decided to give us a little magic show (that was a treat), then, finally, the awaited piano player arrived, Mr. Gray told us to pretend the silly magic show never happened, and we found that said piano player was downhere co-lead singer Jason Germain, who was running late due to “a deep, theological discussion” with Aaron Shust. Soon came an intimate, stripped down piano/vocal performance of “Nothing is Wasted” from the two Jason Gs, which Jason (Gray) introduced as a song “for those in the room, broken, who wonder if all that has gone wrong could be made right.” Definitely struck a chord with the audience. When the beautiful song finished, he told us, “You’re the only audience to see me do finger magic! That’s worth something… maybe not!” The musical mood picked back up with “I Am New,” and then ended the set perfectly with his newest hit, “Remind Me Who I Am,” which has been spreading like wildfire online and on radio, creating so much impact that the Remind Me Project was started as one more way of reminding us who we are in Christ. The end of the set was met with well-deserved, thunderous applause and cheering of the enthusiastic crowd. What a beautiful show! We were all captured and impacted by the comforting and challenging truths presented in each song, as well as by the approachable, transparent, and delightful personality of the musician delivering them.

After a decent little intermission, the lights finally dimmed, and the men of the hour, the wonderful downhere, were ready to begin their epic set. Jason Germain was the first to appear, grabbing our attention with sweet, enchanting sounds from the piano, which soon turned into the opening hook of “My Last Amen,” quickly joined by bassist Glenn Lavender playing the trumpet, as he always does for the brilliant song, followed by the vocals of Marc Martel, and the drumming of Jeremy Thiessen. The band went absolutely all out with this opening – punching up the sounds and rocking the room towards the end, Marc allowing his voice to freely fly off to ranges only he can reach, and so on. We were hooked. Things settled down a bit as they moved on to radio hit “Here I Am,” only to return to super excitement with “Living the Dream,” off their latest album, On the Altar of Love. Slowing down once again with the opening piano from “Let Me Rediscover You,” a hit off the new album, Marc humorously acknowledged, “Well, it can’t be fun and games all the time.” Even without the fun and games, the audience was united in a beautiful moment of worship, crying for a fresh, personal “rediscovery” of our God. Continuing in worship, they began the incredibly beautiful anthem, “Reveal the Kingdom,” during which there was a mind-blowing musical switch-up, playing the piano unlike anything we’d heard, increasing the tempo, and singing with the utmost passion. The closing lines were sung beautifully in Latin, and the lights instantly went out. A definite highlight!

Continuing the stream of new songs, things picked back up with “Altar of Love,” a wonderfully upbeat anthem for love, humility, and unity. Next was “Rest,” which, contrary to the title, was performed with a great deal of energy. After this, the beginning of the end was slowly and sadly arriving. Marc went on to tell the audience (readers – if you haven’t heard of this already, you most certainly should!) about his recent YouTube audition for the Queen Extravaganza that went viral due to his shocking vocal similarities to Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury (which downhere fans have known and adored for years before, of course), and even got him on the Ellen Show (a VERY surreal and exciting day!). His original audition video where he sung “Somebody to Love” has reached 5,000,000 views – “Compared to Justin Bieber, it’s not that much, but it means something to me!” he told us. Of course, he and the rest of the downhere guys went on to give a solid, top-notch performance of “Somebody to Love,” where they were soon joined by David Martel, Aaron Shust, and Jason Gray, who sang fabulous BGVs. The three stuck around and everyone closed the set with Hillsong’s “Mighty to Save,” took a bow, and left the stage… but we, the audience, loved the band too much to let them leave so soon. “You guys are surprisingly nice!” Marc humorously remarked when he returned to the stage after our relentless applause. He got on the piano and sang us a delightful little song called “Audience,” the band’s traditional end-of-show tribute to their audiences. Finally, as requested by various members of the audience, they performed “How Many Kings,” the Christmas song that has taken the radio by storm since it released – if you don’t know downhere, chances are you definitely know that song (and if not, where have you been hiding?? Go listen!). The show came to a complete and final end, and we were all perfectly satisfied and beyond happy from all we had seen and heard. Now, one side note – one of the greatest strengths of the show was each artist’s lyrics being displayed on the screens – it was an extremely helpful way to help new listeners adjust and feel like a part of the event!

After staying late with some the same fabulous friends from earlier (who know the artists) and enjoying sweet chats, funny stories, and ridiculous pictures with each of the fantastic guys who performed throughout the night, I was simply awestruck by the incredible showmanship and friendliness of everyone. I urge you, readers, to RUN and not walk to see these musicians as soon as they come even a little close to your area. Not only will you enjoy a perfectly delightful show, but you will be blessed by constant encouragement and worship with other Christians. Go!

From the show –

PHOTOS

VIDEOS

Aaron Shust setlist: “This is What We Believe” / “Risen Today” / “To God Alone” / “Your Majesty” / “We Fall Down” chorus / “Never Been a Greater Love” / “My Savior, My God” / “My Hope is in You”

Jason Gray setlist: “Good to be Alive” / “More Like Falling in Love” / “The Sound of Our Breathing” / “Fear is Easy, Love is Hard” / “Nothing is Wasted” / “I Am New” / “Remind Me Who I Am”

downhere setlist: “My Last Amen” / “Here I Am” / “Living the Dream” / “Let Me Rediscover You” / “Reveal the Kingdom” / “Altar of Love” / “Rest” / “Somebody to Love” / “Mighty to Save” / {ENCORE} / “Audience” / “How Many Kings”

CONTEST – win Peter Furler’s new CD On Fire!

**CONTEST CLOSED**
Winners will be randomly selected July 5th
Well, I’ve got something new and unusual happening on this blog, and I’m VERY excited about it. Thanks to the awesome peeps at Sparrow Records, I am holding a contest where 5 people will each win a copy of On Fire, the new CD from former Newsboys lead singer Peter Furler! Want one? You have until July 4th to enter – go ahead right now… but read the rules thoroughly first!
onfire.jpg
Even if you don’t know the name Peter Furler, then you undoubtedly know of the Newsboys and the songs Peter performed with them, such as He Reigns, It Is You, Shine, and countless others. After founding the Newsboys around 25 years ago and singing lead for many years, Peter Furler stepped out of the spotlight in 2009. To the delight of many long-time fans, including myself, he has returned after two years with his debut solo album On Fire. Each song is joyful, upbeat, worshipful, and God-glorifying, with traces of a classic Newsboys sound, but most of all, Peter’s own sound and artistry. Of course, it wouldn’t be a signature Peter Furler project without some witty, humorous lyrics here and there. Newsboys fan or not, you will definitely love this album!
RULES
How do you enter to win a copy of On Fire? Here’s what you need to know:
• Leave one nice little comment on this post.
• Commenting more than once will disqualify you from winning.
• You MUST include a valid email address in the comment form (no worries, it will not be published).
• The contest closes on July 4th at 11:59pm EST, and the 5 randomly selected winners will be announced on July 5th.
• If you win, I will send an email to the address you provided in the comment form, asking you to reply with your mailing address so I can send you the CD. If I don’t receive a reply by July 11th, a new winner will be selected in your place, so if you want that CD, make sure you reply promptly! 🙂
Just FYI…
• The 5 winners are selected completely at random with no partiality.
• The CDs were kindly provided by Sparrow Records. I personally received no compensation. This contest is for the promotion of Peter Furler’s music.

GO!!

The best of 2010

Before we meet 2011, I want to compile a list of what are, in my opinion, the best (or my favorite) things of 2010; simple moments, events, music, entertainment, etc…just taking a moment to remember all the great little things!
Favorite things of 2010
• Spending lots of time babysitting my sweet toddler niece and realizing that she was one of my best friends.
• Watching my tiniest baby niece learn and grow, and turn into an impossibly sweet and loving little girl.
• Gaining a beautiful baby nephew.
• Developing wonderful, close friendships with amazing people in my church for whom I am so grateful.
• Writing songs with someone other than myself for the first time.
• Visiting New York City for the very first time…an absolutely amazing trip that I will NEVER forget!
• Just today on December 31st, visiting National Harbor in Maryland with my mom. We walked, took pictures, had coffee and hot chocolate and Cake Love cupcakes, browsed various stores, enjoyed the harbor…we just had a simple and WONDERFUL time together!
Music…
• The long-awaited release of tobyMac’s latest album, Tonight and Stellar Kart’s Everything Is Different Now, and, of course, though a drastic change from what we fans are used to, the Newsboys’ Born Again was a great one! And, I cannot forget the release of the CD/DVD/Blu-Ray, The Farewell Show: Live In London by Delirious?, one of my absolute, all-time favorite bands on earth, who disbanded near the end of 2009. My eyes may or may not have been…uh…”watering” by the time I was done watching the Blu-Ray………
• Discovering new music – Mumford & Sons’ album Sigh No More, Train’s song “Hey, Soul Sister” (no doubt it’s been over-played, but for an understandable reason – it’s a great song!), various songs by OneRepublic, and, though I once insisted I would never listen to her…Taylor Swift.
• By God’s grace, attending three concerts I always dreamed of seeing but thought I would never be able to see: the American Idol Live! tour (headlined by winner Lee DeWyze), the Jonas Brothers on the Camp Rock tour, and the completely wonderful downhere! (who rarely come to Virginia)
Movies…
• Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part 1, of course! Waiting for Part 2 is bittersweet…I’m excited to see it, but it’s the end of the whole series!
• I’ll be honest. I was psyched about the third Twilight movie, Eclipse.
• I’m sure that if I had seen it, Inception would be on my list. Shame on me! 😉 I need to watch it!
Television…
• Discovering a sadly short-lived ABC show called Pushing Daisies, featuring the fantastic talents of Lee Pace, Kristin Chenowith and many others. Such a unique and wonderfully written show; it’s such a shame it was canceled so prematurely!
• I’ll honestly never know why I didn’t start watching Glee when it first came out. One day this past May, it came on right after American Idol (as it always did), and I decided that I might actually watch it, and as soon as I did, I couldn’t believe that I, being someone who loves music so much, would have missed out on it!
• The ending of LOST. There’s little I could say except that to me, it was a perfect ending to an epic and wonderfully confusing show.
• Last, but never least, the welcoming of Matt Smith, “the new Doctor,” on Doctor Who. Contrary to my expectations, he has been absolutely fantastic as the Doctor and I’m glad that he’s playing the part!
After looking back on 2010, we’re now looking forward to 2011. God is the same yesterday, today and forever – he’s the same God in 2011 that He was in 2010!
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8
Our God is faithful! Happy New Year!

My First downhere Show

…and hopefully the first of many! After a long time of hoping, waiting (and honestly, praying!), God kindly blessed me with the opportunity to see one of my all-time favorite bands, downhere, in concert on August 22nd in Fredericksburg, VA. Since becoming a major fan of the band and their music over the past couple of years, I’ve strongly desired to see them live, but never had the chance as they were never around my area. After all the waiting, hoping and praying, I was immensely happy and equally surprised to find that they were coming to Virginia. Was it worth the anticipation? Read on and find out…
…okay, I can’t bear to do that. Real quick, the answer is, “HECK YES!!!”, but I do want to talk about how awesome the show actually was. Unsuccessfully battling nerves (happy excitement!) about the event, I waited outside for the venue doors to open, got my tickets, met up with some friends who are long-time downhere fans, and waited for the show to start. Just when the concert was supposed to be starting, a hilariously awkward moment came about…a member of the church said a quick prayer before everything, and, telling things to start up, told the audience, “Now, watch this!”…only, we weren’t entirely sure what we were supposed to be watching! As an awkward silence filled the room, we were warned that there were some technical difficulties, but things were quickly ironed out and the show began with a five minute video intro playing on the screens. Soon enough, the video was ending with countdown to the start of the show, and the members of downhere came onto the stage; first drummer Jeremy Thiessen and bassist Glenn Lavender, then lead singers Jason Germain and Marc Martel. The deep, mysterious sounds of “Cathedral Made of People” (always a perfect opener) filled the room. It was amazing how such a huge, grand sound could come from only four people, and still remain just as brilliant in such a small venue. The performance was absolutely epic, and I truly mean it.
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Keeping the energy up, they went into “The More,” which wonderfully included even longer and higher notes from co-lead singer Marc Martel than in the studio recording. When “The More” concluded, Glenn Lavender switched from his bass to a trumpet to open the fantastically brilliant single “My Last Amen.” Before mellowing things down with “Hope Is Rising,” co-lead singer Jason Germain shared a story about his past experience with recurring panic attacks and finding hope in the midst of that. He encouraged the audience, addressing those who may be in the middle of a “storm,” that our hope is found in the person and power of Jesus. “Hope is rising,” he said as he ended his story and began the song. Interestingly, a verse (sung by Marc) from the song “Iliad” was added to the song…it flowed very nicely with the rest of the song! Moving on, the performance was incredibly heartfelt. Both Jason and Marc gave stellar vocal performances with soaring harmonies. One of the most remarkable things about downhere is how their two lead singers’ voices couldn’t be more different from eachother, yet work together beautifully.
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Next was “How Many Kings,” a song that has really invaded Christian radio for the past three years and gotten the band a great deal of attention. Marc first shared a story about how the song came about; how the mission was to write a song that would “look at Christmas from a different angle that no one had thought of in two thousand years.” “You know…easy,” he finished humorously. Of course, as we all know, the end result was perfectly successful! 😉 As always, the performance was absolutely fantastic!
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The band went on to perform their latest single, “You’re Not Alone” (which FYI, is also on their recently released collection of B-sides, Two At A Time). Although the majority of the song is sung by Jason, it was nice to be able to hear Marc’s vocal contributions a little more clearly. They went straight into “What It’s Like,” from their sophomore album So Much For Substitutes, during which there was fantastic vocal participation from the audience, and then, the best part: crazy, awesome dance moves from Marc Martel that you simply have to see. On that note, Marc’s showmanship is incredible; full of personality. He does things on stage that many other performers are afraid to do; in that way, he reminds me of people like Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin and former Delirious? lead singer Martin Smith; fearlessly interpreting and expressing the music, either through dancing, jumping, or, in Marc’s case, vocals that travel to ranges unreached by the average musician. Seriously…you should hear his high notes!
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Keeping things upbeat and interesting, they went on to perform “The Problem,” from their most recent album, Ending Is Beginning…it’s common at almost every concert to notice things like this, but this was one of many songs that sounded even better live than the already-brilliant-and-awesome studio version; the instrumentation (particularly Jeremy Thiessen’s drumming) had even greater punch and personality than before (and believe me, it was definitely there before!). Of course, who can forget that simple, but trademark intro bassline from Glenn Lavender? Though it’s only heard a couple of times, I feel the song wouldn’t be quite the same without it.
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Slowing things down a bit again (but by no means boring us), Jason returned to his piano and played the opening chords of “A Better Way,” and when finished with that song, went into “Great Are You,” from the band’s self-titled debut album (released in 2001); both beautiful, heartfelt songs. Picking up the pace a bit, they started “Here I Am,” one of their more recent singles that has become very popular on the radio. I enjoyed these three songs immensely. At this point in the concert, those three songs that were performed were songs that are sung mostly by Jason. I must say, I love Jason’s songs. A lot of his songs tend to be slightly more mellow, but they are just as important and just as enjoyable as the rest of downhere’s songs; Jason’s voice and style are simple, but strong. His voice and writing have this heart and depth that are absolutely vital to the band’s sound. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be there without him; but anybody familiar with the band knows that the voices and styles of both Jason Germain and Marc Martel are equally important in downhere. So, making my point, I immensely enjoyed hearing a few “Jason songs” all around the same time!
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Sadly beginning the end of the concert, the band performed “Bleed For This Love,” which involved lots of delightful audience participation with vocals again (I loved how interactive Marc was with the audience), and plenty of enthusiastic jumping as well! It ended with Glenn taking out his tambourine, the audience singing happily and loudly along with the band, Marc saying thank you and goodbye to the crowd, and, of course, we didn’t forget to cheer on the encore! They weren’t going to leave us hanging for too long, so Marc came back out to the piano that had normally been used by Jason, talked a bit, and went on to play the band’s trademark encore song, “Audience,” a humorous and downright brilliant musical tribute to…well, the audience! After playing and singing the first couple of verses on his own, Jason, Glenn and Jeremy joined in to give the little song an epic and grand ending, then, for the final song, the band ended appropriately on a worshipful note with Hillsong’s famous “Mighty to Save,” pointing us to the glory and power of Christ and the gospel.
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How do I begin my ending? The show was FANTASTIC. Their talent was impeccable. I had the great pleasure and privilege of meeting and talking to the band a bit, and of my favorite artists that I have met, they were some of the nicest, most down-to-earth ones yet. What can I say? It was a ridiculously wonderful, fun, fantastic evening. With all the anticipation, it went by so fast; I would have loved to have heard them play more (I must confess, I hoped to hear “Rockstars Need Money,” but I totally understand if they’re tired of playing it!), but everything was fantastic. Though their music is amazing and their shows are wonderful, the one thing that first got me listening to downhere and the thing I love the most about them, is their passion for keeping things focused on Christ. It was almost three years ago when I heard downhere for the first time on the radio; like the experience of most new fans, it was “How Many Kings” that I heard. Though I liked the unique sound because it was different from most of what you hear in contemporary Christian music these days, the thing that I found most appealing was the thing that you really don’t hear enough of in CCM: Gospel-centered lyrics. I’ve always LOVED downhere’s music and sound, but what I love the most is the lyrics and the attention they give to the Gospel. I’m glad God’s put that on their hearts. It’s something I’ve always felt there needs to be more of in music, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that God’s using them to get it there.
So…goodnight, goodbye, go listen to downhere, and if they’re having a concert in your area, go check it out! Trust me…you’ll be glad you did!
Set list:
Cathedral Made of People
The More
My Last Amen
Hope Is Rising
How Many Kings
You’re Not Alone
What It’s Like
The Problem
A Better Way
Great Are You
Here I Am
Bleed For This Love
Encore
Audience
Mighty to Save
Of course, you will never find me without…
Pictures from the concert…
…and videos, too.

An American Idol Experience

…no, I didn’t visit the Disney World attraction. I didn’t audition for the show, either. By a crazy miracle, I was blessed with tickets to the 2010 American Idol Live tour! Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid fan of the TV show American Idol, so it should be no surprise that this was impossibly exciting to me! (And I still can’t quite believe it happened!) I attended the concert on July 23rd at the Nissan Pavilion (which is now unfortunately renamed Jiffy Lube Live; I prefer to call it by its original name!), an outdoor venue…yes, it was HOT! I cannot begin to tell you how steaming it was out there; but for me, it was absolutely worth it! It was an extremely enjoyable concert for all ages. Performing were the top ten contestants from the latest season of American Idol, including winner Lee DeWyze and runner-up Crystal Bowersox. They all performed in order of who was first eliminated on the show, ending the concert with the winner.
First to perform was the sweet and sensitive Didi Benami, who, unfortunately, experienced technical difficulties with her mic. She came out on stage and sang almost the entire song with no sound coming out of the mic, until her show was finally stopped and she and the band went backstage while the technical difficulties were being ironed out. Even in the midst of that, Didi was a very good sport and remained optimistic. Finally, everything was fixed, and she came back out singing “Lay It On Me” by the Rescues and happily shouted to the crowd, “Can you hear me now?”…and we could hear her loud and clear! She then closed with Kara DioGuardi’s “Terrified,” left the stage, and then Andrew Garcia came out with his guitar singing his unique version of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” that got him so much attention during the Hollywood round of American Idol, and closed with Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning.” Andrew has a great personality; he’s not afraid of crowds and seems very comfortable on stage!
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Next was Katie Stevens, a teen full of energy and powerhouse vocals, singing “Here We Go Again” by Demi Lovato and “Stronger Than Ever” by Christina Aguilera, which Katie sang with the rest of the female contestants and Christina Aguilera herself at the American Idol finale. I enjoyed Katie’s show quite a bit; even in the ridiculous heat, her energy was so infectious that she got me dancing and singing instantly. Those songs were a perfect fit for her, and I think she has potential to make some strong, energetic pop music. She’s a very tough, confident performer!
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After Katie was Tim Urban, whose smile and perpetual optimism in the midst of tension on American Idol always made him impossible to dislike. He came out with his guitar and sang “Better Days” by the Goo Goo Dolls, then closed with a more acoustic guitar-focused and definitely perfect-for-Tim version of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” which seemed to be a good crowd-pleaser; and being the Coldplay fan that I am, it was definitely pleasing to me! Tim seemed very much at ease, happy to be playing his music. I hope and can’t wait to hear original material from him in the future!
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Next up was the wild and unique Siobhan Magnus. Her entrance was mysterious and theatrical; the lights were dimmed and glowed red, music reminiscent of the soundtracks from the early Harry Potter movies played, and she stepped on to the stage sporting a big, poofy skirt, a corset-style top, wild boots and fishnet stockings, and began her fantastic, energetic version of “Paint It Black,” which she sang on the show on Rolling Stones night. It was just as great as it was on TV! And, yes, she even ended with that trademark scream of her’s! She sang “Spiderwebs” by No Doubt, energetically jumping and dancing, then closed with “Stockholm Syndrome” by Muse, which fit her personality and voice perfectly. The show was great; Siobhan is quite the entertainer! The funny thing about her is how she can put on a wild, screaming, theatrical performance and end her song with a sweet, tiny “thank you so much!” to the crowd; I believe former American Idol judge Simon Cowel said it best when he told her during the show’s semi-finals, (cue British accent) “You are a funny little thing, aren’t you?”
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Next was the young and humble Aaron Kelly. It seemed that while he was competing on the show, his talent just hadn’t quite reached its full potential. However, one of the great things about the American Idol tour is that it gives contestants a chance to let loose and grow without the pressure of competition, and I think Aaron is one of the contestants to whom this tour has been very beneficial! His voice was consistently strong the entire time. He opened with “Somebody Like You” by Keith Urban, then “Walking In Memphis” (a personal favorite of mine) and “Fast Cars and Freedom” by Rascal Flatts…all really great songs for him; really suited his country style. For his fourth and final song, he was joined by Didi, Andrew, Katie, Tim and Siobhan to sing “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, which was the song Aaron sang when he auditioned for American Idol. A more intimate performance, each person sat on a stool and did a lovely job singing; it seemed to go over well with the crowd. They gave it a grand finish, and ended that show. One of the best parts of Aaron’s show is when you watch him perform, you can tell he really loves what he’s doing. I have no doubt that he’ll produce some great music in the future, and I can’t wait to see what he does! I’ve got a feeling he has a bright future ahead of him. (By the way, check out his Flickr…he’s a fantastic photographer!)
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After a brief intermission, it was time for Michael Lynche – known to his fans as Big Mike. Most of Mike’s set was fairly mellow, but very heartfelt and beautiful. He opened with “This Woman’s Work,” which he sang in the semi-finals of American Idol. He brought a more moody feel with “Ready For Love;” an absolutely wonderful performance. He brought things up more for the end of his set with Justin Timberlake’s “My Love,” an incredibly fun crowd-pleaser. Mike’s set was very enjoyable; he delivered a solid vocal performance and has a great personality; absolutely fantastic with crowd interaction! Most of all, he is very good at what he does and takes it seriously, but knows when to have fun, too! Very talented guy.
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Next was Casey James, a favorite among fans of classic 70’s rock. The mood was perfectly rock and roll when he came out with his famous blue Fender Stratocaster guitar, playing The Black Keys’ “I Got Mine.” He then performed “Don’t” (sung originally on Idol for Shania Twain week), and invited Michael Lynche back to the stage to duet together on “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman,” which they sang together on the show; an absolutely fabulous performance from Casey and Mike, both on television and in person. Their harmonies were strong and sung with great passion; they both did a fantastic job! Casey closed his set with the Rolling Stones’ “It’s All Over Now,” (performed for Rolling Stones week on Idol) bringing the definitive Casey James sound once again. Casey is an extremely skilled guitarist with a fantastic voice, and I hope he makes some awesome music in the near future!
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Nearing more and more to the end of the night, it was time for runner-up Crystal Bowersox, who competed in the finale for the title of American Idol 2010. Crystal came on stage, extremely free and at ease with her guitar and trademark sunflower in her hair. She opened with “What’s Going On” and then went to “Come To My Window.” One thing I enjoyed about Crystal was her fearless personality; she is skilled with crowd interaction and seemed happy to take moments to talk to the crowd a bit, and even leaned down from the stage to hand her guitar pick to a fan; but know that, like at most concert these days, there was a “fence” of sorts separating the crowd a good bit away from the stage; far enough that leaning out from the stage would not be the easiest thing (picture from Twitter user). She continued her set, telling us that her next song was one that meant a lot to her, and putting down her guitar, sang “Up To The Mountain,” which she sang at the Idol finale (if she had won, it would have been her “coronation song”). She closed her set with Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart,” one of her slightly more upbeat selections from the night. Now, my one complaint (which is more of a “suggestion” than a complaint) is that I would have liked to have heard some more upbeat, rocked out songs from her set that night; though it was a good set and she played and sang great, I felt it leaned a bit too far towards the mellow side and got (I really hate to say it) slightly boring at moments; I think it would have done her set good if it had something like “Black Velvet” (performed at the finale), or if the band had given “Piece Of My Heart” a stronger arrangement; it was done with a more acoustic style, which sounded good, but considering how mellow the rest of the set was, I think it needed a bit more punch…but don’t take what I said the wrong way. I just think that with more songs like what I was suggesting, people could see more of Crystal’s capabilities. But like I said, it’s merely my personal opinion. I know Crystal’s style is usually more stripped down, and she should absolutely do what she loves! Crystal’s vocals were lovely, as always, and she’s a very talented artist!
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Finally, it was the moment we’d all been waiting for…and DEFINITELY the moment I’d been waiting for! The lights were dimmed once again, bright red colors appeared on the screens, those little sounds that open U2’s “Beautiful Day” began to echo around the amphitheater, and the screams of the fans (myself included) only increased when the name and face of the 2010 American Idol winner Lee DeWyze showed up on the screen… finally, all lights were out, the man of the hour shouted an enthusiastic “Hello!” and was greeted by the wild and gleeful cheering of his fans (and by the way, all the lights came back on but his spotlight…until about a third of the way through the opening song, Lee was just a silhouette! We all cheered happily when the light finally turned on). For this show, I forsook my far away seats to go stand by a barrier near by the stage so I could watch and take better pictures of Lee during his opening song, and I am extremely glad I did! As guessed, he opened with “Beautiful Day,” his coronation song from the American Idol finale. Many may remember that on the show, he performed the song with the same arrangement as the original version by U2, but as it didn’t suit him greatly, a new, more acoustic/pop-influenced arrangement was composed after the finale that fit Lee’s vocals and style perfectly; an extremely wise idea with great results! He mellowed things down a bit with a fabulous performance Elton John’s “Rocket Man”; once again, arranged to fit his voice and style. He went on to play Leonard Cohen’s famous “Hallelujah,” performed the week before the Idol finale. Though this has to be one of the most covered songs in the history of music, I must say, Lee’s has to be one of the best versions of the song I’ve heard. The way his voice just tears out; it brings out how the song’s meant to be heard, with raw emotion and passion. Next was another one of Lee’s absolute best performances from American Idol, “Treat Her Like a Lady,” which, as he introduced it at the concert, “is a dancing song!”…and he was quite right. It was impossible not to dance. He was very interactive with the crowd, sang strong and consistently, and seemed to enjoy everything quite a bit himself! Still keeping things upbeat and epic, he closed his set with Kings Of Leon’s breakout hit “Use Somebody”; another fantastic song that suits Lee perfectly. He sang it beautifully, and performed with great enthusiasm. I would have loved to have heard and seen more of Lee, but the little show we got from him was, to use what seems to be one of his favorite words, “AMAZING.” (explanation HERE) Those of you who watched this year’s season of American Idol might remember him as seeming more laid back and sometimes “scared” during most of his performances, but let me tell you, his voice, performances and stage personality have grown like you would not believe. He genuinely loves his fans, and you can tell from watching him perform that he absolutely loves what he’s doing; I haven’t seen a lot of musicians that perform quite as passionately as he does. He doesn’t hold anything back; he seems to genuinely enjoy singing and performing, but remains very humble all the while. I absolutely cannot wait to hear the music he makes on his upcoming album (due to release in October). If his show on the American Idol tour with only five songs is this good, I can’t wait to see him in the future on his own!
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To my dismay, the fabulous night was now ending. Similar to what it’s like watching American Idol on TV, you’re looking forward to experiencing the many hours ahead of you, and finally, when they’ve all passed, you feel like it’s only just started and don’t know how time passed so quickly. So, right when Lee’s set ended, he and the rest of the guys from the top 10 quickly gathered together on stage and sang Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” with strong harmonies and pulsing beats. Immediately, the guys left the stage and all the girls came and sang Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You,” but it wasn’t long before they were joined by Lee DeWyze, then, soon after, the rest of the guys joined the girls and the entire top 10 sang the song together. The harmonies were incredibly smooth and the performance was full of energy and fun. Everyone said their goodbyes, Lee and Crystal thanked the crowd, said goodnight, everyone exited the stage, the band ceased to play “My Life Would Suck Without You,” and a big marquee rolled across the screens saying “thank you,” “good night,” “American Idol Live tour 2010”, and all that good stuff, and the infinitely fun evening drew to a close.
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There are still some dates left on the tour, so if you have a chance, I highly recommend you catch one that comes near you! Check Live Nation for tickets! If you’re looking for an incredibly pleasant, enjoyable and ridiculously fun Summer evening, go to the American Idol Live tour this year! I promise it’s a great one!
Also, please do me a favor and check out the following…
Pictures from the concert
…and videos from the concert 🙂

Everything Is Different Now

Ages ago, when I first began my little blog, I often liked reviewing the albums I was enjoying. It wasn’t too long before I stopped doing that. Not really sure why, but it just didn’t happen again. However, I’ve found in the past year or two that somewhere in me, there’s still a desire to review. So, I recently saw an opportunity, now that one of my all-time favorite bands, Stellar Kart, is releasing their new album Everything Is Different Now on Tuesday, March 9th. The album has actually been available at live shows and the band’s online store since September, but on the 9th, it will be available to the general public in all stores. The review begins…
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Stellar Kart’s newest album, Everything Is Different now, definitely lives up to its title, and in a very good way. I can see huge growth; musically, lyrically and spiritually, on this album. The band’s raw, punk sound stayed for their first two albums, until they released their third, Expect The Impossible, when it changed to more of a “power-pop punk-rock” sound (as they used to call it). Now, don’t get me wrong, ETI was a fine album, and whatever I say about it is just my personal opinion; no disrespect! 😉 A couple of Stellar Kart’s biggest hits came from it (as well as some of my favorite Stellar Kart songs). However, I must confess that it was not my favorite Stellar Kart album. Again, I’ve always enjoyed listening to it, just not my favorite. Part of it, I think, was that it was such a far cry from everything else we’d ever heard from them before. A musical improvement, no doubt, but to me, it sounded in some ways like it was trying a wee bit too hard to be different and to reinvent (again, just what it looked like to me. I don’t know the guys, so I don’t know that that was really happening! I’ve also learned since then that an artist needs to be artistic). So, is there a point to everything I’m saying about Expect The Impossible when I’m supposed to be reviewing a completely different album? The point is, I feel like Everything Is Different Now combines all the best parts of Expect The Impossible with the best parts of the first two albums, which did need some growth. Everything Is Different Now, to me, is a very balanced album. It does have a different sound from Stellar Kart’s earlier material, but it’s undeniably Stellar Kart. They definitely went back to their roots on this one, but progressed quite a bit at the same time. As cheesy as it sounds, I’m proud of them.
Everything Is Different Now opens with the fresh and upbeat worship song “All My Heart,” which is a perfect introduction to the album, giving a pretty good idea of the things to come. Next comes a cover of the Steve Fee worship classic “We Shine,” which is Stellar Kart’s first single from this album. Now, some might have a problem with the fact that half of the album is made of covers. I’m not usually into a bunch of covers all being on one album, however, I think that it seemed to work out pretty well in this case. I think that the songs they’ve chosen to cover, as well as the new ones they wrote, express where they are as artists and as people. Some songs seem to be done as a tribute to the original artist or just for fun, and then there are well-known worship songs; the previously mentioned “We Shine” and Matt Redman’s “You Never Let Go.”
Musically, the title song seems to pick up where “Hold On” left off on the band’s sophomore album We Can’t Stand Sitting Down (not saying it’s a copy or anything, just has a similar styles, mixing and harmonizing). In my opinion, it’s one of Stellar Kart’s best songs to date. I can definitely see it becoming the next radio single very soon. You would never know it if you’ve only heard their more upbeat songs, but the band has always made fantastic ballads, and that definitely shows on this album. One song I think will be popular among devoted fans and new listeners is “It’s Not Over,” a hopeful, encouraging, very acoustic guitar-based song, featuring a lyrical collaboration with Chasen Callahan, frontman of the band Chasen (known for their hit “Crazy Beautiful.”) The album’s closer “Like The Sun” is a piano-driven ballad that mildly resembles the gentler moments on Expect The Impossible in some parts. One of the greatest lyrical stand-outs and most worshipful moments on the album is “Rescue,” made noticeable to me by a very enthusiastic, Gospel-centered lyric, co-written with a few members of Hillsong United (I think I heard it was with them; don’t quote me on it). It keeps the classic Stellar Kart “power-pop/punk-rock” sound with an upbeat tempo, bright, crunchy guitar hooks and buzzing synths. With such worshipful lyrics, I would be surprised if it doesn’t make it on the worship setlists of various Church youth groups.
Now, there is one song of which I’ve only heard about 20 seconds, and am looking forward to hearing in full-length. It seems that since the album was first being released at concerts, there are going to be a few minor adjustments, one of which is a song called “Something Holy,” which was not on the earliest version of the album, the version I bought in September (I’m assuming the other adjustments will not be on the CD itself but on the packing, where the track list on the back of the case had mixed up the order of a few songs, and in the insert, where an old draft lyric was printed instead of the final one…I think the latter will actually be a gem to fans who bought the early version of the album, giving them the feeling of seeing a small “behind the scenes” featurette). The very little I heard of the song had what sounded like Owl City influence and seemingly good lyrics, so my plan is to buy it on iTunes the second the album officially releases 😉
Overall, Everything Is Different Now is a huge step of growth in many ways for Stellar Kart, and I believe it will give them a broader appeal than they’ve had in the past, but without compromising the band’s signature sound. I can see them gaining more fans and attention from the industry and from music listeners overall when this album gets out. As a fan, a music-lover and a Christian, I certainly hope that happens. My hope that people will not only enjoy the music, but be encouraged and moved by the lyrics as well. For that very reason, I highly recommend that you check out the album, and if you like it, buy it!
Where to buy:
Stellar Kart’s storeMusiChristianAmazonAmazon MP3

Where are we now?

This time, I’m back for real. Yes, for real! So, where are we now? Well, we have quite a bit to catch up on. As one of the things I primarily blog about is music, it’s important that I address the changes that have taken place within my favorite bands! First off, I developed an official Top 5 All-Time Favorite Artists list: The Newsboys, TobyMac, dc Talk, Delirious?, and Stellar Kart. Well, that’s not so huge, but I felt it was worth saying! 😉 Delirious?, as many of you know, had their last concert together this November (I am sad about their ending, especially as I never got to see them in concert and now probably never will, but I’m fully supportive Martin Smith’s decision to devote more time to his family and am looking forward to seeing where everybody goes in the future!). Stellar Kart’s long-time and original guitarist Cody Pellerin left the band last Summer, and was replaced by the awesome and hilarious Jon Howard (formerly of the band Dizmas). Oh, and speaking of which, God kindly provided me an opportunity to see Stellar Kart live at Awakening Fest 2009 in September (Jon is perfect for the band!), which may as well have been my first Stellar Kart concert (since the last time I saw them was at the Newsboys’ GO tour, when I knew nothing about them); yes, it was AMAZING! I had the great privilege and pleasure of meeting the whole band; it was wonderful to finally be able to say “thank you” and tell them how God’s used their music in my life.
Since my last post, I’ve also attended the Newsboys’ Join The Tribe tour in 2009 and the Winter Jam ’09 tour (headlined by TobyMac; AMAZING event!) in the same weekend. Reviews will come…eventually…I hope…(okay, this is getting to be a depressing post!) Well, as for that Newsboys concert, it turned out to be more important than I realized when I was there! As you can see below, my last entry contained comments about recent member changes in the Newsboys (well, by recent, I guess I mean year-old and forgotten by now!). Since my last post, there’s been yet another change in the Newsboys. Pretty much all of you who might like the Newsboys or follow them a bit know, since it’s been almost a year! While I was very sad to hear of Paul Colman’s departure in January of ’09, I contently welcomed former long-time guitarist Jody Davis back into the band. This following change in the band, however, was far more drastic than the first. I woke up one Sunday morning, March 8th and, quite unexpectedly, noticed rumors circulating on the internet about lead singer Peter Furler leaving the band. Naturally, I was shocked and very confused! As a fan, of course, the idea was sad to me. But while questions would continually pop into my head, I chose not to jump to conclusions, as there hadn’t even been a press release yet. Besides, there seemed to be plenty of evidence against it…they were only eight dates into the new Join The Tribe tour (FYI, I had seen the third date of the tour two weeks earlier). They were releasing a new album in a couple of months. Wouldn’t it be a little odd for Peter to drop out in the middle of all that? Nah, it couldn’t be true. Things just got all the more confusing when a bunch of talk was coming up about Michael Tait (formerly of dc Talk and his band Tait) becoming Peter Furler’s replacement. You’re kidding, right? Two of the most popular bands in Christian music having a “mash-up?” Two of my all-time favorite bands? That’s crazy. Actually, in some ways, it made a lot of sense. Michael had made surprise appearances at a couple of the tour dates, including the one I attended, to sing with the Newsboys on a couple of songs, and they hadn’t said why he was there. My sister and I just figured it was a random, but cool idea for an interesting cameo. But it became far more “official” sounding when people on the Newsboys message board who had attended the Acquire The Fire conference in Texas the previous night (the 7th), said that the band came on stage with Michael Tait in Peter Furler’s place, and that Michael announced later that night that he was indeed the new lead singer.

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