The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
After two side projects by frontman Jon Foreman, it was easy to start wondering if Switchfoot was still a priority for the singer-songwriter and his fellow band members.
The group delivers the answer to that question Tuesday, and it is an emphatic yes.
Foreman’s forays of the past two years included a series of seasonal solo EP’s and the duo Fiction Family that he formed with Nickel Creek guitarist Sean Watkins. Both were outstanding efforts — the Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer quartet of EP’s topped my list of Christian music last year. But Hello Hurricane shows Foreman still rocks, as hard as ever, with his bandmates. If anything, it sounds like maybe after getting some acoustic side projects out of his system, he was ready to rock. Hello Hurricane boasts the most blazing lineup of any Switchfoot album since the band’s early years.
That’s not news to anyone who has heard the leadoff single, Mess of Me, which launches an arsenal of distorted guitar, something we hear a lot on the album. On recent albums, Switchfoot has perfected an approach to the aching ballad, something we do get here with a few selections such as Always – the prettiest thing Switchfoot has done since 24 on The Beautiful Letdown (2004). But this is at its essence a rock record with the guitars, drums, and Foreman’s voice pushing the top of the envelope.
Lyrically, this is a familiar Switchfoot blend of introspection, activism, and spirituality. Mess of Me, for instance, is the latest reiteration of, “This is your life, are you who you want to be?” and This is the Sound is the most forceful of several challenges to the status quo. While Switchfoot has trended toward the mainstream martket, Christian fans should cotton to statements of faith such as Your Love is a Song and Yet.
And the album is a cause for fans in general to rejoice that while Foreman has taken on different forms over the years, the mothership of Switchfoot is as vital as ever.
This year’s Kentucky District round of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions will be an event of Wagnerian proportions, at least in length.
With 25 hopefuls, Saturday’s presentation of the Kentucky District Auditions at the University of Kentucky’s Memorial Hall will roll its start time back from 1 p.m. to 10 a.m.
The morning session will go to 12:30 p.m. After a half-hour break, the auditions will resume at 1 p.m. and go until their usual late-afternoon conclusion — just about the amount of time you might need to squeeze in a production of Die Walküre.
The district auditions are open to anyone who wants to give it a shot, and often feature 14-16 hopefuls. In the past, the Kentucky District has had as many as 20 auditioners.
Auditions chair Dr. Clifton Smith took the preponderance of Kentucky District applicants as a sign that word has gotten out that the Bluegrass State edition is well-run, attracts a strong panel of judges, and gives out attractive prizes. He noted that Saturday’s field will include singers from New York and Chicago, as well as hopefuls from Kentucky, Southern Ohio and Indiana. The three winners Saturday will get $1,500 each and they will advance to the Tri-State Regional Round Jan. 16 at Butler University in Indianapolis. Next stop after that is the National Semi-Final round at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Saturday’s judges will include Met luminaries including bass Richard Best, soprano Carol Vaness and tenor Douglas Ahlstedt.
Since moving to UK’s Memorial Hall in 2000, the auditions have proved popular among music fans who regularly pack Memorial Hall. Admission is free.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich