This month the "Stupidest Thing I've Heard All Month" award goes to Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville. According to the Christian music industry news e-zine, Pure Rock Report, the organization has removed all copies of the debut release from ska/swing band The W's because of their desire to "remove objectionable products from their stores." Apparently, the group had the audacity to use the words "suck" and "butt" in two of their songs. The "Most Gracious Response To A Ridiculous Situation" award goes to the band's label, 5 Minute Walk, who were quoted as saying "this is true, but we aren't dwelling on it...We believe [The W's] are relevantly relating with their generation." Yep, think I'm gonna go on down to my nearest bookstore and snatch up a copy of The W's latest for myself...
In other news, Jars of Clay is gearing up for a 40-city college tour starting in early October with opening acts Burlap To Cashmere and Silage. Unfortunately at press time the tour was not scheduled to stop any closer to Louisville than Bloomington, Indiana, but it may be worth the trip just to see Burlap To Cashmere who, in my humble opinion, just may be one of the best Christian bands out there right now (and Silage is pretty darn good, too!). For those of us music fans who tend towards the financially strapped side, the tour has also been greatly reduced in cost from other tours of its ilk in order to accommodate the pocketbooks of poor college students...For fans of the band The Prayer Chain, I would just like to gloat and tell you all I saw the band three times in a row when they were just starting out, and they were the most incredible shows...and if you'd like to write in to me and gloat right back, I'd advise you to get in your cars and head to Chicago where the band is planning to do a "one more time" reunion show on October 3rd for fans who did not get to see the band's last performance in California in May 1996. Trust me--you pull this off and my Prayer Chain concert stories will never sound as good again! To make the reunion show even more tempting, the band is kindly releasing a 30-song, two-disc set of rarities, unreleased songs and personal favorites of the band that will only be available at this show. If you score this CD set, I will be your best friend. Seriously. I mean that. Really...When the GMA descends on NashVegas this year, look for something a little different than usual. Okay, look for something greatly different than usual--the Dove Awards will be missing! Instead of combining the week-long conference with the Christian version of the Grammies, the Gospel Music Association has decided to split the two up so that the awards will be held on March 24, 1999 and the GMA Conference will be from April 18-21, 1999. (Of course, noticing that the conference is only scheduled for three days now, I'm wondering why they're still calling it Gospel Music Week...)
For those of you wishing to indulge in a little hometown pride, Louisville's favorite heavy rock band, Bride, has just wrapped up the recording process for their soon-to-be-released project Oddities. Look for the new release in October. Also, the band has a slightly different look as they welcome a new bass player, Andrew Wilkinson. During this month, don't forget to check out local praise-pop band Hand To Hand who will be appearing at St. Aloysius in Shepherdsville, Kentucky on October 15th and Holy Ground Coffeehouse on October 17th.
Perhaps the most touching and emotional CDs that crossed my desk this month was the EP disc featuring the song "B Strong," a tribute to the victims and survivors of the Heath High School shooting tragedy in Paducah, Kentucky. The disc features the talents of such nationally known CCM artists as Selena Bloom, Scott Wesley Brown, Christafari, Morgan Cryar, Rick Cua, Al Denson, Jordan Dickerson, Mancy A'lan Kane, Greg Long, Michael O'Brien, Peter Penrose and Pam Thum. The disc also includes a dramatic audio reenactment of the shooting (which is a little hard to take, quite honestly), an interview with Ben Strong, (the leader of the Heath High prayer group at the time of the shooting), and a testimony from Strong concerning the incident. This CD would be a great tool for youth leaders and Sunday School teachers interested in finding a way to incorporate Christian truths with the headline news. The disc is distributed through Pamplin Music Distribution, produced by Audience Records and should be available in Christian bookstores.
On a final note, let me encourage you to go out and, while you're picking up that copy of The W's, grab the latest copy of CCM Magazine as well. No -- for all my alternative friends out there -- I haven't lost my mind. Sure, this magazine can focus a little too much on the vanilla side of Christian music, but this month they feature a nice little interview with one of my personal favorites, Pierce Pettis. In the interview, they even let him get away with saying "There's nothing at all wrong with people who are Christian artists, that is a sort of ministry. But I don't see that as what I do. That's a little different from just being a musician, an artist who is a Christian. It's great to have a message and to submit yourself any way you can. But at a point, you have to trust your heart and not say, 'Did I say Jesus enough times in the lyric?'" Pettis is an excellent and rare songwriter who deserves every bit of acclaim he gets, and kudos to CCM for acknowledging that fact. Or, skip the interview and go straight for Pierce's newest release, Everything Matters, which has been in permanent rotation on my CD player since I brought it home.
Well, that's it for me this month. Try to go out there and be as relevant to your generation as possible, folks -- no matter who it might offend.