Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

FFH brings their "Ready To Fly" tour to Louisville on September 12. Big Daddy Weave and new artist Warren Barfield will open.

FFH (Michael Boggs, guitar and vocals; Jennifer Deibler, vocals; Jeromy Deibler, guitar and lead vocals and Brian Smith, vocals and bass) has had a big year so far in 2003, with a #1 song, spring tour and more. Their current CD, Ready To Fly, featuring that #1 song, "You Found Me," debuted at #2 on the Christian music Soundscan charts. It produced the band's highest debut sales numbers to date.

With five #1 songs already to its credit, FFH continues to find favor at radio. "Radio has always been extremely supportive of FFH," notes Phil Conner, radio promotions for Essential Records. "However, we hope that the songs on Ready to Fly will help to carry FFH to the next level. If 'You Found Me' is any indication of how radio will receive this album, we are definitely looking forward to what lies ahead."

Ready to Fly's early momentum was boosted by a spring leg of the tour as well. The tour has had five sold-out shows to date, including venues in St. Louis, Wausau, Wis., Knoxville, Tenn., Decatur, Ill. and Flint, Mich. Decatur also added a matinee to accommodate the demand for tickets. Greg Oliver, president and founder of booking agency GOA, Inc., says "We're very excited about how well this run of dates is going, especially given the unpredictable tour climate right now. FFH has a way of turning out the crowds with its ministry focus and entertaining live performance."

Co-produced in conjunction with Scott Williamson (Lincoln Brewster, Point of Grace), David Hamilton and Jeromy Deibler, Ready to Fly ventures into uncharted territory for the foursome, boasting piano-based melodies, emotive strings and lyrics that explore the vulnerable side of life.

The "Ready to Fly" tour kicked off April 22 in Cedarville, Ohio and is the band's first headlining tour since "Found A Place" in spring 2000. The Paul Colman Trio and Go Fish joined FFH as part of the tour's lineup. FFH will continue to fulfill its mission statement to "reach as many people for Jesus as quickly as possible" by setting aside 10% of the tour's tickets for outreach and evangelistic purposes.

Sales of the band's three recordings have collectively reached close to one million copies and generated numerous radio hits, including "Watching Over Me," "I Want to be Like You" and "One of These Days." The group toured as an independent act for more than seven years before signing with Essential Records.

It's not all about stats and sales, of course. The group recently performed its first military concert for an audience of 3000 at Fort Jackson Army Post in Columbia, S.C. The evening's offerings included classic FFH tunes, a sing-along to "America the Beautiful" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" as well as a free copy of an FFH album to one hundred-seventy-five soldiers who prayed to accept Christ.

Jeromy Deibler says, "The soldiers were so appreciative of us just being there that they clapped and sang every song like we were the Beatles. In the middle of our set we sang 'America the Beautiful' during which the entire group of soldiers, all dressed in their standard issue fatigues, stood to their feet and belted out like it was their personal theme song. We followed it with 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' which we were barely able to get through. Those songs never had more meaning to me than they did at that moment and I will never sing them the same way again."

Chaplin Arthur Pace, project manager of the event says, " We really didn't know what to expect as far as the turn-out and response to FFH's performance. FFH gave a call that really reached them and we were thrilled at the number of people who wanted to know the Lord."

Deibler remarks, "Anyone who is at all concerned about the state of our country should visit an Army Post like Ft. Jackson. What they will find there are the smartest, most committed young men and women in America-the best we have to offer. I have never been prouder to be an American than I am right now."

In appreciation of the soldiers' efforts, Chaplin Pace donated 3000 FFH records to all who attended the show. "Part of our outreach is making CDs available by the thousands to each of our brigades to distribute to the troops once they graduate from training. The FFH CD will remind them of the group's powerful ministry in many soldiers' lives that night, an experience they are not soon to forget."

Big Daddy Weave will also appear at Graceland on the 12th. This marks their second appearance at the church this year. The Dove-nominated group opened for Rebecca St. James there in the spring. BDW is slated to release its highly anticipated sophomore album, Fields of Grace, on the 30th. The recording follows its 2002 label debut, One and Only.

According to the band's record label Fervent Records, Fields of Grace features songs that provide a glimpse of Big Daddy Weave's life as a band, embodying one's personal journey with God. Musically, the sounds capture the style of how one would hear Big Daddy Weave live.

"It is really cool for Fervent to trust our creativity, allowing us to experience the awesome process of producing an album," says the group's lead singer and guitarist Mike Weaver. "Fields of Grace is about dealing with everyday life and how we respond to God's presence, revealing the things about which we're excited, the ways He has blessed us and, at the same time, the things with which we struggle."

FFH, Big Daddy Weave and Warren Barfield will perform at Graceland Baptist Church, 3600 Kamer Miller Road in New Albany, on September 12. Tickets are on sale at area Christian bookstores.

"Summer Jam 2003" took place at Valley View Church on August 15. About 1,000 people were on hand to see Newsong, Plus One, Detour 180, Todd Agnew, Mizzie and Royal Ruckus that evening. I was a few minutes late and totally missed Mizzie. She is the blonde woman you may remember from the group Raze. I was told she danced a lot, so I suspect her sound is similar to that of her former group.

I caught a few minutes of Royal Ruckus, which has a rap-pop sound. The crowd liked it. The cheers and screams got louder for Todd Agnew and especially for Detour 180. I would compare Detour to Lifehouse in sound. This group had the place going pretty crazy like they'd been on the scene for years. It will be interesting to watch their career over the next few years.

Plus One, looking much different than their "boy band" past, took the stage with a full band, playing instruments themselves. Though the group has fallen off of the charts and switched record labels over the last couple of years, the girls in the crowd didn't care. The screaming, though smaller in number, was as passionate as it was when the group played at The Kentucky State Fair a couple of years ago. The band sang a few new songs (a new CD is in the works) and updated versions of their "boy band" radio hits.

Headliners Newsong was in fine form that evening and crowd loved every minute. Playing everything from violin, to sax, multiple keyboards and more, the group sang some of its biggest hits before offering a traditional "altar call," with some of the audience coming forward to either become Christians or rededicate their lives to Christ.

In October: "The Outrageous Comedy Tour" with Mark Lowry, Chonda Pierce and others comes to Freedom Hall on the 10th. Derek Webb plays at a benefit concert that night at Ormsby Heights Baptist Church. The "Girls Of Grace" Conference with Point Of Grace comes to Southeast Christian Church on the 24th and 25th. More on these to come next month in LMN.