Since it's August and we have officially reached the dog days of summer, I thought that maybe this month everyone might appreciate some "cool" activities: cutting edge CCM stuff that can be done in the comfort of your air-conditioned home! So this month I'm focusing on some Web sites that fans of CCM might be interested in checking out. Some are fan sites for a single artist, some are mega-lists of CCM Web sites, and one or two of the sites are worth checking out just because there's a good opportunity to get some great free stuff! Okay, let's jump in to this and get surfing!
One of my favorite sites that I hit quite often is actually put together by some local guys that might be rather familiar to regular readers of Louisville Music News. It's a CCM e-zine (Webspeak for electronic magazine) called Oui-B-Jammin that focuses on local and national Christian music news and releases. For instance, clicking on the site's WWW address this month lists a bunch of national label and artist information and mentions a couple of new local coffeehouses in the area: He/Brews Coffeehouse based out of the First Southern Baptist Church in Galena, Indiana and Happy House Cafe, a coffeehouse based out of The Happy Church in Jeffersonville. This site also has links to local bands Neptune and Death Defying Leap and local coffeehouse Jonah's Java. And talking about Death Defying Leap, lead vocalist Steve Estes is a major contributor to the site and lead guitarist Donzo is the site's originator. Also popping up on the e-zine is Robert Gruber, who frequently reviews CCM for the Louisville Music News--hey, it's a small world after all!
Oui-B-Jammin's WWW address is: http://www.win.net/dad/oui.html
Fans of certain national artists, both indie and otherwise, might want to get the latest information on their artist of choice from these sites:
Michael Card: http://michaelcard.com
Sarah Masen: http://place2b.org/cmp/artists/here/m/masens.htm
Sarah Jahn: http://www.warneralliance.com/sarahjahn
Victoria Williams: http://www.daenet.com/art_clippings/vw/opening.html
Caedmon's Call: http://www.neosoft.com/~caedmon/bio.htm
Five Smooth Stones: http://5ss.simplenet.com/sinfo/index.htm
Tony Vincent: http://www.tonyvincent.com/Bio.htm
Greg and Rebecca Sparks: http://www.dhp.com/~ashley/sparks
The sites I've listed above tend to be slightly harder-to-find sites, but if you want to choose from a list of literally hundreds of links to record labels, artists, e-zines, whatever, set your browser to discover the wonderful world of The Omnilist of Christian Music at:
Another mega site like the Omnilist is "The (Almost) Definitive Contemporary Christian Music Hot Page" located at:
Basically, if it's on the Web and it's about CCM, it's somewhere on these pages!
Finally, I'd like to talk about a couple of sites that are two of my favorites. The first is:
The Pipeline is a sort of grassroots PR group that has successfully boosted Caedmon's Call, Reality Check, Sarah Jahn, The Altered and others. Basically the deal is this: you go into the site, read all about the site and what they do, then if you are so inclined fill out an online questionnaire (warning in advance: know your Monty Python before entering!!!) and if you are one of the lucky few they start sending you FREE CDs and tapes for you to review and do some grassroots PR stuff on (things like call your local bookstores and make sure they carry the product, etc.) It's a lot of fun, the free stuff is great and the things you have to do to keep the free stuff coming is relatively painless, especially if you're a true fan of the music. I would especially recommend this site for fans of alternative CCM music.
Another site I'd like to personally plug is:
This is the Web site for Fingerprint Records out of Boston, Massachusetts. Fingerprint is run by Dan Russell, longtime friend of the late Mark Heard, who co-founded Fingerprint with Dan. Here and here alone is the place to get hard-to-find earlier releases of Mark's music. Mark Heard was, until his death in 1993 from heart failure, the most poetic, visionary voice in CCM ever. Even though his music never gained the respect it deserved in the Christian market, secular musicians like Bruce Cockburn, Pierce Pettis and Emmylou Harris praised the singer/songwriter's work very highly and have covered several of his songs. Ordering Mark's music directly from Fingerprint not only benefits Mark and Dan's indie label and keeps it going with much-needed funds, it also helps Mark's widow and their daughter, Janet and Rebekah Heard. Fans of one of the most critically-acclaimed bands of the 1980's, The Call, will also want to check out this site for releases by Michael Been, former lead singer of The Call, and a new release of The Call's greatest hits.
So--there's my web picks of the month. Go check them out--you'll be glad you did.
And before I go, let me give a great big round of applause to Paul Turner and his bookstore, Expressions of the Heart in New Albany, Indiana for being the ONLY local CCM bookstore to carry used CCM CDs! Please go out and check out Paul's music selections, which he told me were pretty extensive. Finally--a cheaper way to round out my already too-big collection of CCM! Ah, bliss...
See you next month--in the meantime, check out your local CCM coffeehouses, buy a couple used CDs from Paul, surf the Web and try to stay cool!