It's another new year, a chance to pick yourselves up, dust yourselves off and start all over again on all those New Year's resolutions that never seem to quite become a reality. In the midst of making those lists of resolutions (or digging out the old one from last year), let me make a special request to local and regional CCM bands out there (you know who you are!). It's becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with what's going on locally, and I'd like to have this column focus a bit more on the local scene than it has in the past. So .if you or someone you know is in a Christian band, please e-mail me at email@example.com and keep me posted about what your band is doing. Got some upcoming gigs? Let me know! Had a change in the band's lineup? Let me know! Hey, the bottom line is I'm willing to give you a little free publicity if you'll let me know what's up in your neck of the woods, so get out there and e-mail your friendly "Grace Notes" writer!
While digging through the stack of stuff on my desk, I found a list of new releases for the month of January, courtesy of the very cool e-zine TLeM (The Lighthouse). Included in the list is a new release by one of my personal favorites, Mike Knott, entitled The Browbeats. The ubiquitous Carman is up to his old tricks with a new release called Mission 3:16, which promises to be . . . well, another Carman release. Perennial CCM-ers Morgan Cryar and Lenny Cordola have new releases on the way as well. Other artists with new albums in January include Blindside, Crooked Smile, David Davison, Elder, Steve Green, Christy Jantzen, Jason & The G-Men, Matanoi, Matt Redman, Squirt and Teremaze.
And since it's the end of the year, why not look back over the past year and see who your favorite artists were? The Pure Rock Report has compiled a list of who got the most airplay last year, and believe it or not, Jars of Clay was not the #1 choice of modern rock radio listeners in America! Jars was all the way down at #8 - the top spot was taken by All Star United's single aptly titled "Smash Hit" (did they know something we didn't know?). Here's the top ten rock/pop songs of 1997:
1. Smash Hi" - All Star United
2. Bottle Rocket - Guardian
3. The Worm - Bride (let's hear it for the local boys!)
4. Crazy - Plumb
5. Some Kind of Zombie - Audio Adrenaline
6. Alien - Third Day
7. Despite the Rain - Between Thieves
8. Crazy Times - Jars of Clay
9. Number 9 - The Waiting
10. Coffee Can - Guardian
So there you have it. New bands were popping up everywhere in 1997 - I can't wait to see what's in store for 1998!
In other national news, Newsboys singer John James is leaving the band to pursue other interests. Peter Furler, the band's drummer and a-little-bit-of-everything-else is pulling a Karen Carpenter and moving from behind the drum kit to take over lead vocal responsibilities for the band. Percussionist Duncan Phillips will be taking over the drums - no word yet on who's going to be taking over percussion!
According to the Pure Rock Report, you'll get a chance to hear this new lineup in the spring when they release a new album.
Dime Store Prophets will be officially broken up after their last-ever concert January 3. The members plan on developing some side projects they've been working on and insist there are no hard feelings - just a need to move on.
Finally, the Frontline Music Group, which is home to artists Altar Boys, Gospel Gangstas, Mark Farner and The Insyderz has been acquired by the Killen Music Group. It will be interesting to see whether or not Killen can rejuvenate this often-troubled label in the future and capitalize on some of the creative inroads that Frontline made into CCM.
All right, you have your assignment: get those resolutions done, get out there and buy a couple of these great new releases and - most importantly - e-mail me with your band material and concert dates. Let the rest of the world know what's going on with the music scene in this area! See you next month!