The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
The first day of Ichthus 2009, the 40th edition of the Wilmore Christian music event, included rain and mud, a battle of the bands with mostly Kentucky acts, and an evening bill of Family Force 5 and Hawk Nelson.
There’s plenty of pressure in performing in a battle of the bands in front of top record executives for the chance to play on the main stage at Ichthus and go on to another competition that could put you in line for a deal with a major label.
Add to that being woken up at 4:30 in the morning by a severe thunderstorm that makes you throw all of your stuff in plastic bags and sleep — if you can call it that — in your car for the rest of the night.
“Our campsite was flattened,” said Christina Conyers, one of the singers in CrossLife, one of the nine bands that competed in the Ascenxion Scout Competition Thursday morning at Ichthus.
Jones Beene, guitarist for Athens, Tenn. band Calling Glory, was in an actual home. But still, the thunder roused him around 5 a.m., and he decided to go ahead and get up.
But that is not all the competing bands had to deal with. Since the campsite was closed due to weather issues until after 10 a.m., the competition, which was supposed to start at 9 a.m., was moved to one of the worship stages in the campground and didn’t start until nearly 10:30.
“The good thing was we were too busy running around to get to the new place to have any time to get nervous,” said Eric Draine of Versailles based Eyesuponus.
The competition did offer up a variety of Christian pop styles, from the worship set of CrossLife, to the atmospheric sounds of Calling Glory, to the metal of Elizabethtown-based Wisdom’s Call.
The bravery award had to go to 16-year-old Allison Stafford of Radfordville, who took the stage and said, “I don’t have a band, but I’m going to get up here and sing anyway.”
She was a lone girl with a guitar in the middle of a bunch of dudes with bands, and she confessed it did intimidate her, but, “I knew God was with me.”
Stafford said she had been inspired by seeing BarlowGirl at Ichthus a few years ago, and she said, “I want to do that.”
She got onto the Ichthus stage via an online competition that narrowed the field down for the live showdown, that was really cordial for something billed as a, “battle.”
The ultimate winner was the Lee Roessler Band out of Alexandria, in Northern Kentucky.
“It’s great,” said Roessler, the head of the trio. “But I don’t view it as a competition. We’re all out here just praising God.”
It was a competition with a prize. Roessler will play the Ichthus main stage at noon Friday. Calling Glory, the runners up, will play the Edge Stage at 6:20 p.m. Saturday, and third place finisher’s Wisdom’s Call will play the Edge at 3:10 p.m. Friday.
May28Filed under: album review, Ichthus Festival, Music, rc talk - Christian pop culture; Tagged as: 7:13, Allison Stafford, Calling Glory, Chasing Canaan, City of Black and White, Crosslife, Divine Day, Eyesuponus, Ichthus Festival, Mat Kearney, review, The Lee Roessler Band, Too Many Drummers, Wisdom's Call
Review: Mat Kearney — City of Black & White
Mat Kearney approaches sophomore album pressure in a different way: He sings about it . . . in the opening lines of the opening track of his sophomore album.
Here we go at it three years later
Will you help me to dream it all up again?
Tired of the same song everyone’s singing
Rather be lost with you instead
Kearney’s 2006 Columbia Records debut, Nothing Left to Lose, was a mainstream hit and also found the artist embraced by Christian listeners for his faith and songs that certainly had faith-based underpinnings. Now, the aforementioned three years later, Kearney is back with a new album that should reaffirm the Christian market’s faith in him as well as his status as one of the leaders in the current singer-songrwriter ranks that includes Jason Mraz and Gavin DeGraw.
City of Black & White has some ambition, clocking in with 14 tracks that run around an hour. It also finds Kearney diversifying his sound and subject matter. The unity of the album is a steady echo, as if we are always navigating concrete and glass towers in an urban jungle. That best resolves in the title track, which ends in lonely threads that sound like dulcimer and slide guitar.
The lyrical content is empathetic, individualistic stories and portraits, Annie being the most immediate and memorable. Most of the songs have a spiritual interpretation, if not an overt message. With City of Black & White, Kearney has cleared the sophomore hurdle, and his future is sounding good.
The Ichthus Battle is set: Get your coffee, kids, because the Ichthus Festival‘s Battle of the Bands will get started at 9 a.m. June 11, the first full day of the fest. Nine bands will be vying for a spot on the Ichthus Main Stage during the festival, and that winner will advance to a national competition between bands that win battles at other fests during the summer, with the possibility of a Word Records deal being the big prize.
The contendah’s are:
Eyesuponus of Versailles, which won a secondary stage spot in Ichthus’ first band battle in 2007.
7:13 of Paintsville
Crosslife of Owingsville
Too Many Drummers of Lexington
The Lee Roessler Band of Alexandria
Allison Stafford of Bradfordsville
Chasing Canaan of Shreveport, La.
Calling Glory of Athens, Tenn.
Those seven acts got in through online voting in the Ascenxion Scout Competition. Two additional bands made it through preliminary competitions.
Wisdom’s Call of Elizabethtown won a competition in Tennessee.
Divine Day, which was an Ichthus winner last year, won an Ohio competition.
The whole festival, numero 40 for the fish, is now under two weeks away. Keep checking in here and on my Twitter page for updates, stories and info. At Twitter, we use the hashtag #ichthus.
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