Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

Tickets for the "Concert for the Community" featuring Third Day were close to selling out at press time. If you still want tickets, check itickets.com for availability. The concert takes place May 1st at Southeast Christian Church. It's being called the "Concert for the Community" because a portion of proceeds is being donated to local charities. It's also is celebration of 88.5 WJIE-FM's 20th Birthday.

Skillet comes to Headliners on the 5th of this month. Hard rockers Decyfer Down and local group Wake The Day will also appear.

Due to the success of Comatose, including their second consecutive Grammy nomination, over 300,000 in sales (doubling sales of their previous recording in half the time) and four back-to back radio No. 1 hits, Skillet released the Comatose CD/DVD Deluxe edition on December 26. Skillet is known in some circles for their loyal fans, many of which are known as the "Panheads," and this year they did not disappoint, giving Skillet honors in several Readers Choice awards polls, including: 2007 Christianity Today's Reader's Choice for Best Band or Group. In addition, per the website, "Comatose technically won out for Best Album of 2007, we just don't feel that it's right to award the same album two years in a row."

According to their label, INO, the band got 2007 Ignite Your Faith magazine's Best Hard Rock or Punk Artist, Overall Artist of the Year and John Cooper took top honors for Best Christian Male Vocalist. In addition, Skillet came in third, following Switchfoot and Relient K, for The Salt and Light Award, a new IYF award honoring Christian artists impacting the mainstream with the Gospel. I've never heard of that magazine or of these awards, but it's nice to see the band get recognized. They certainly seem like one of the hardest working bands on the road.

About.com's Top 40 Christian Hits of 2007 named "The Last Night" one of the top 10 hits of the year, stating, "The song talks about someone considering suicide after living life in despair and not having support from their parents. A friend reminds him/her of God's unconditional love and they're eventually talked down from that ledge. Just like every song on the album, this one rocks!"

They also got the 2007 Jesus Freak Hideout.com Readers Choice Awards for 'Song of the Year,' ("Rebirthing") 'Hard Rock Album of the Year' and 'Album of the Year' (Comatose) and also tying for the sixth favorite song of the year with two of their songs, "Comatose" and "Whispers In The Dark."

On top of their four consecutive No. 1 radio hits, Comatose was the No. 12 Top Contemporary Christian album on Billboard's Year-End list and Skillet was also lauded with R&R's No. 1 Christian CHR Song of the Year for "The Last Night," which was also R&R's No. 2 Christian Rock song of the year. In addition, the band was named No. 2 top artist for 2007 on both the CHR and ROCK year-end lists. In follow up to their radio success, this month both "The Older I Get" and "The Last Night" will go for more when they are released to Christian AC radio and Mainstream Active Rock Radio respectively.

The roots of Decyfer Down go back to more of an acoustic outfit than a rock band. Drummer Josh Oliver and guitarist Brandon Mills started the band at a time when each simply wanted to renew their Christianity. For Oliver, it was a case of being burned by "religion," while for Mills, it was a time to surrender a life of parties and drugs and return to his faith. "We were just trying to crawl our way back into a deeper understanding of God - for him to heal the wounds we had in our own personal lives," says Oliver. "The music began to change and evolve as our walk with God did," as underneath the acoustic surface their love of rock music began to take over.

"I always loved rock music; that's where I came from," says Mills. "But when I went through that drug stuff, I pawned everything. The only thing I could afford to get out of the pawnshop was an acoustic. As the years progressed, I felt God was giving me the opportunity to get back to what I loved, to start over. I couldn't have handled getting back to the rock lifestyle before then."

Eventually, Oliver's brother Caleb joined the band. "When it became Caleb, Brandon and me, we were more confident spiritually and had good support around us. God was doing amazing things and we knew he called us to do this type of work. We did seem to hit a ceiling though," says Josh. "Then all the sudden Chris came into the picture and it was a whole new beginning. God took us from that broken, renewal atmosphere to approaching people boldly with the truth.

The addition of metal-driven guitarist Chris Clonts with Caleb Oliver moving out front as vocalist and bass player was the birth of a new band. It gave the band a new sound and purpose. The band found itself playing with mainstream rockers like Cold, Puddle of Mudd, Breaking Benjamin, Theory of a Dead Man, Smile Empty Soul, Authority Zero, Crossfade and Adema. New audiences, a new identity and a bolder sound made for the right time for a new band name. "I kid you not...I opened the dictionary and there's the word decipher," Clonts says. "We have three pages of names and I open the dictionary and find this word."

Two personal observations on Skillet: John Cooper is one of the nicest guys in rock and the band definitely can "bring it" live (as they say - do they still say that?). Now all they need to do is cover "Panheads Forever" by David Allen Coe! Tickets for the show are available at ear-X-Tacy, Mom's Music (Jeffersonville and Louisville), LifeWay Christian Stores (Louisville and Elizabethtown).

If the Third Day show has finally sold out (or not), you can still get a ticket to see the other biggest band in Christian music: Casting Crowns. The ridiculously popular Atlanta-based band will be here on March 8 at Freedom Hall. They are bringing along Leeland and John Waller. Tickets are available at all the Ticketmaster outlets.