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JFH Staff Blog | April 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Featured Fans - Mary and Courtney

Mary and Courtney with Anthem Lights

Favorite Band/Artist: Anthem Lights
Featured Fan: Mary and Courtney
Location: Nebraska
When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken:  February 3rd Sioux City, IA
What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You:   It speaks to us because they're one of those rare bands that don't water down their message and they're not afraid to speak the truth.
Favorite Album by This Artist:  Can't Shut Up
Favorite Song by This Artist: "Can't Get Over You"
Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 1
Favorite Live Show Experience:  Being able to get perfect, front row seats to see Anthem Lights on the Rock and Worship Roadshow tour.
Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: An autographed T-shirt from the guys!
Website: N/A

Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

LIVE 2011 Dove Awards Coverage!

On April 20, 2011,'s Ryan Barbee blogged live from the 42nd Annual GMA Dove Awards!! Feel free to comment on what you think about the results...

12:00- Well friends, it looks like we are all done with the Dove festivities. What an incredibly full night of music and excitement. Make sure to check out the Doves this Sunday on Gospel Music Channel. It's been a crazy day, and I think I need to go get some beauty sleep... haha. If sleep were to make me beautiful I'd need to sleep for the next 42 years.

11:53 - Kirk Franklin is such a showman! He might not be the craziest singer - he is definitely an artist and an excellent performer.

11:46 - Sherri Shepherd is wrapping up the night and closing it out right with Kirk Franklin. That's a good way to conclude a show!

11:41 - Song of the Year is up next!  It goes Jason Crabb's "Sometimes I Cry" Congrats Jason!

11:36 - Ruben Studdard just said while back stage that he'd love to collaborate with Michael W. Smith. That would be incredible!

11:34 - I think people are starting to leave. This show has gone on pretty long.

11:30 - Steven Curtis Chapman and Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams are presenting the award for Artist of the Year. I'm hoping it's someone good... not that they're not good... it's just... you know what I'm saying. The winner is - Francesca Battistelli. 

11:27 - Chris August just told us that he said, "When I was a kid I would say, 'If I ever win an award I'll thank the Fresh Prince.'" Awesome!

11:23 - Sherri Shepherd is now announcing the next performance by the much beloved Sanctus Real and Tenth Avenue Northl! "Lead Me" It's a good song, but at 11:23 at night I wish it was something a little more upbeat.

11:22 - Chonda is confessing about how she's recently got a tatoo and her daughter apparently called it a "Tramp Stamp." Wow.  And following that she's going to announce Group of the Year. The winner is: NEEDTOBREATHE! A good winner! And so... Chonda just walked off the stage. My gosh, that woman is crazy!

11:14 - Chonda just gave out the secret that the Dove Award that is given tonight is a fake. Oh my!

11:07 - David Crowder* Band is back stage now and has shared with us that they have honestly begun working on their new record. However they made enough material for a Christmas album and 12 bluegrass songs. BOTH would be awesome to hear. Oh and he literally explained his frustrations and joys with Light Bright Pegs - what a crazy man!! And we ALL love him!!

11:03 - They are now presenting an honorary video of choirs from across the nation!

11:00 - The singing Pastors are now back stage. Such humility just permeates from them! What an honor!

10:54 - Chonda is now hilariously announcing the next performance by Francesca Battistelli. Not a bad performance. I'm not sure if it's the best kind of performance for an award show but... nonetheless it was good.

10:51 - Chonda has returned! She just told the crowd about her time on the Wanda Sykes Show... apparently Wanda said, "You're the first Christian that's been nice to me." Chonda's response, "That's cause they weren't real Christians." Haha! A pinch of truth and a pinch of humor! And then she made a Rob Bell joke... he'd be so proud.

10:44 - Mandisa and Ruben Studdard are presenting the New Artist of the Year award.  It goes to... Chris August. He wracking it up!

10:42 - My GOODNESS! Marvin Sapp is such an incredible vocalist! All of the pastors are! Their song is so inspirational! It's all about the unity of the Church! I'm pretty sure, this just became a church service. Freakin' amazing!

10:38 - The next performance group is up. A collective group of pastors/artists. All of them are pastors and all of them are artists. That's pretty legit!

10:31 - Kevin Sorbo hinted at playing in a hopeful movie called The Resurrection of Christ... let's hope it happens. And then he had to rush off stage to fight a Hydra... Hercules has work to do!

10:29 - Kevin Sorbo said that "What If" really impacted him in Christian walk. Very cool!

10:27 - Kevin Sorbo is in back stage! Totally AWESOME! He didn't play Hercules... He IS Hercules. I just watched his movie called "What If"

10:26 - They keep doing this thing with having two groups perform each time because now Jason Crabb is performing. Watch... now they'll probably anounce another TIE.

10:24 - MIKESCHAIR is now performing, "Let the Waters Rise" which is actually up for Song of the Year.

10:23 - I don't think that the people in the audience understand Chonda Pierce's humor. But everyone in the Press Room does. She just explained why she can't say "Pot Luck" and "Hoedown" in Los Angeles. That's funny... I don't care who you are.

10:16 - David Crowder is super funny! He said that the time that it took them to record the music video they could have recorded three albums! Haha!

10:13 - Evett Nicole Brown and Kevin Sorbo are presenting the award for Short Form Music Video of the Year... I'd like to see David Crowder Band* win... and... HE DID IT!!!!! "SMS Shine" Wins!

10:09 - Wow what a blend of musical styles. But if this were a "Sing Off"... Committed would win again!

10:06 - Sherrie Shepherd is back to announce the next performers; winners of The Sing Off - Committed with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.

10:02 - Third Day, The Chapmans, and Mark Hall just walked into the Press Room. I might leave here floating. :) Mac Powell wants a photo... oh he'll get one! You will get one Mac! (I must say once again, Mac Powell still looks like Jesus.)

10:00 - Wow - probably one of the coolest performances I've ever seen. Didn't think that Natalie Grant and Lecrae would mix well, but I was totally wrong. It looks weird but it sounds great.

9:58 - Lecrae is performing now! My goodness, what an awesome performance. And now Natalie Grant is joining him on stage

9:56 - Marvin dedicated his win to his late wife. A very emotional moment for the Doves.

9:54 - The Touhy family are presenting the award for Contemporary Gospel Song of the Year. The winner is, "The Best In Me" by Marvin Sapp.

9:50 - Now they are playing a video of Chris August singing at the Georgia Aquarium... these are some weird videos. But that fish tank sure did look cool!

9:48 - The Chapman's Show Hope has helped 2700 families adopt children! How amazing! What an emotional moment.

9:47 - The Chapman family is absolutely wonderful! This is a very active family and my goodness their story is so inspiring!

9:42 - Tim Tebow might get himself boo'd off the stage if he keeps talking about football. He's announcing the first ever Uplift Award to the incredible Steven Curtis Chapman! He deserves it!

9:41 - Kirk Franklin is back stage now... He's rockin' the bowtie! He said something very profound, "God is good to me... even when I'm not so good to him." You've gotta love honesty in artists!!

9:40 - Chonda Pierce is back. This poor lady is probably getting worn out.

9:33 - Sandi Patty is talking about her "Bucket List" and on it is to do "Hello Dolly" on stage. Not a bad aspiration at all.

9:30 - Sandi Patty just said back stage, "Audrey Assad needs to cover 'Via Dolorosa' on her next album." Called it!

9:29 - Curve ball... Mark Hall and Steven Curtis Chapman have joined Third Day on stage!

9:27 - Sherri Shepherd is back on stage and introducing the next performers... THIRD DAY!!! Singing, "Children of God"

9:21 - Chonda is making a bunch of Denominational jokes. Don't worry, she's picking on all denominations equally. :)

9:17 - Kenny Rogers is joining us in the Press Room... this guy is an actor, artist, photographer, business man, producer... this guy is so flippin' talented.

9:14 - Sandi is actually the announcer for the nominees as well for Female Vocalist of the Year. I'm cheering for Assad! And it is... Francesca Battistelli. I think I should probably stop making guesses because they tend to be wrong.

9:12 - Oh wait! Here comes Sandi! I might not be the first person to buy a "I'm a Patty Fan" t-shirt. You gotta pay homage to those who paved the way! Get it, Sandi Patty!

9:05 - The Female Vocalists of the Year are singing a tribute song to Sandi Patty. Hope everyone brought their leg warmers. I haven't heard some of these songs since 1993. It's really great that they are honoring Sandi's music. She really is a major influence of Christian music. Audrey Assad's rendition is the best. I think Sandi Patty would agree.

9:03 - I wonder if Sherri Shepherd knew that we could all hear her say, "How do I pronounce Francesca's last name?" Fantastically funny!

8:59 - Chonda is back on the stage asking what churches everyone goes to. If her stand up is anything like she is on stage right now, then every person needs to buy her stuff. She basically is the comedic humor between each group of performers and presenters. She said, "God would much rather have my tithe than my ministry." Apparently she was just asked to do this today.

8:53 - I doubt they are going to let Chonda Pierce's stuff on TV. It's funny but oh my gosh!!! They just introduced Kenny Rogers singing with Point of Grace.

8:51 - Sherri Shepherd is back on the stage... and this time - she's dancing with Chonda Pierce! What in the worlds is going on??

8:48 - Throughout the night they are showing clips of the New Artists of the Year at Atlanta landmarks. Kristian Stanfill was just shown playing a guitar in Atlanta's World of Coke. It's kind of strange.

8:47 - Haha! Chris August just thanked Will Smith for all of his pick-up lines from Fresh Prince!

8:44 - Erica Gluck and Kim Fields are presenting the award for Male Vocalist of the Year. Who do you think's gonna win? Well... it's Chris August!!

8:40 - Mary Mary is pulling out some theatrics as they perform their song, "Never Wave My Flag."

8:37 - Sherri kept her word. She screamed out "I LOVE JESUS!" She wasn't playing!

8:33 - They just announced the performers... it sounded like waves of "Woohoo" and "Yay." And here comes Ms. Sherri Shepherd!

8:31 - Chonda can't stop talking about "spanks." My goodness gracious... that is one crazy woman!

8:28 - Chonda Pierce just said, "Don't you wish Jesus would come right now, just so you could see who would really be taken." HAHAHA! What a hilarious woman!!!

8:25 - I'm not sure I could handle just being a part of the audience. They have about as many cues as the performers. An announcer says "applause" and everyone does it.  However I'm not gonna lie, he's very intimidating, I'm clapping too. Every journalist is looking at me as if I'm crazy or something.

8:22 - Also have to say... Tomlin and his band are rocking it out on the stage.

8:20 - Chris Tomlin is opening the show with his latest hit song, "Our God." Have to say... worship music is a great way to start the night!

8:19 - Awkward silence... oh wait... NOW the official show has begun!!

8:11 - Alright folks the show has begun! Bishop Martin opened up the show with a word of prayer. What an amazing pastor. Many thanks, Bishop!

7:36 - Mandisa is making sure to stay as genuine as possible in regards to writing her music. Not fake it but taking off the masks.

7:35 - Mandisa is in the Press Room now and is taking questions... but I don't think anyone knows what to ask.

7:18 - Joel Houston is back stage right now... he just anounced that Hillsong will be releasing a new live album known as "God is Able" later this year. Didn't realize how tall he is!

7:09 - Sherri Shepherd just expressed how honored she is to be a part of the Dove Awards. She said that when she gets on stage she's going to yell, "I love Jesus!" because she is able to shout that she loves Jesus without getting the 3 second delay button that comes with television... looking forward to hearing her host. But I know that she wants to get off the Press Stage.

7:07 - Pandemonium apparently just filled the room because Sherri Shepherd has entered the building. Wow - that's intense.

7:05 - Gerald Crabb is backstage now. He just said that he didn't even know he was nominated for an award. That's hilarious.

7:01 - It's been craziness during the Pre-Show but I think it's starting to slow down. Regardless it's been going well so far. 

6:52 - I'm realizing more and more... I say "Awesome" a lot. I need to work on my adjectives. For all of the linguistic readers... forgive me.

6:48 - Tamela Mann and her husband David are back stage talking about their life and marriage in entertainment. If you don't know, they are the main actors of Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns. They are such a great example of a marriage that glorifies God in the entertainment business. They're starting to work on a book on marriage and a cooking show! Great couple! Great example!

6:44 - Jason Crabb literally just said that he couldn't read the Spanish Nominees... How awesome is that! Jason Crabb, you are awesome! For real, he is nuts! The winner for Spanish Language Album of the Year goes to Hillsong's Con Todo. Joel Houston is accepting the reward. That's one cool guy!

6:43 - Casting Crowns just mentioned that they are wrapping up recording their new album coming out soon.

6:42 - Ian Eskelin just won for Producer of the Year! He definitely deserves it!

6:41 - Songwriter of the Year... Jason Crabb just got to announce that his Dad won. The Crabb Family must be proud.

6:39 - "The Master Plan"  by Tamela Mann wins for Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year... Awesome!

6:37 - The Gaither Vocal Band's Greatly Blessed wins for Southern Gospel Album of the Year... who wouldn't have called that?!

6:35 - Best Musical... hmmm... As Sure As My Redeemer Lives... So Shall I wins. Interesting category. I thought that would've died out with Psalty the Singing Song Book.

6:31 - Now for Long Form Music Video of the Year, I would actually like to see Hillsong win this one. They're pretty creative with their videos. The winner is Casting Crowns' Until the Whole World Hears Live. I'm not surprised. I'm proud someone from Atlanta won, but... well...

6:28 - Rock Album of the Year... I'm pulling for Future of Forestry, but I'm guessing DecembeRadio will win. It goes to... Disciple's Horseshoes and Handgrenades. Not a bad win for the guys!

6:26 - Wow they're not wasting anytime. Back into the winners; The Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year goes to Group 1 Crew's Outta Space Love! 2 AWARDS Tonight!

6:25 - I'm pretty sure Jason Crabb is off his rocker.

6:19 - Brian Courtney Wilson is killing it in his performance. You've got to appreciate good Gospel music.

6:17 - Recorded Music Packaging... I'm hoping for Andy Barron's work to be appreciated for how awesome it is on Hello Hurricane's packaging. It goes to... the artwork for Third Day's Move. Not a bad win! 

6:15 - Country Recorded Song of the Year. Will Point of Grace get a third award? ... YEP! "There is Nothing Greater Than Grace" wins. Wow... you would think this thing is rigged or something.

6:14 - Inspirational Song of the Year... Jason Crabb's Joseph won! I'm sure he's not "crabby" about that... Yeah I know I'm really lame.

6:12 - Praise and Worship Album of the Year. Jars of Clay would be a great win. But no... it goes to Meredith Andrew's As Long As It Takes. Jason Ingram is accepting for her... that was a short acceptance speech.

6:08 - Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year... please Sanctus please Sanctus... it goes to "Beautiful, Beautiful" by Francesca Battistelli... Good song, so I'm not upset.

6:06 - Ben Glover and Laura Story are now up to present the next batch of winners. Rock/Contemporary Song of the Year is up. I'm hoping for "Tonight".... Nope it goes to "Something Beautiful" by NEEDTOBREATHE... Still a good win!

6:02 - GMC wins the Impact Award.

6:01 - The city of Atlanta is presenting an award of recognition to the GMA for bringing the Doves to Atlanta. They should have ended it with, "Can I get a woot woot?" That would've been so awesome. I would've done it.

5:51 - TobyMac is back stage telling us about how he loves being in Atlanta for the Doves. He's so funny! He just said that "The Fox Theatre" is his favorite place to perform. That's a big deal folks. And no joke dude... he's rocking a wallet chain.

5:48 - Alright, Worship Song of the Year... Ian Eskelin literally just said, "Christ is ridden..." I'm pretty sure that's not biblical. ;) The winner is "How Great is the Love" by Meredith Andrews oh wait... guess what... another tie. "Our God" by Chris Tomlin too. What in the world is up with these ties?!

5:46 - Special Event Album of the Year... I think we all know who's going to win. And it is - Yep... Passion's Awakening. Louie Giglio is awesome at giving acceptance speeches!

5:43 - Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year... everyone in the room is rooting for Lecrae. The winner is... Group 1 Crew's "Walking on the Stars" Awesome! Even though most of the people in the media room gave out an "awww, man," I am cheering. Go Group 1 Crew!!!

5:41 - Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year goes to.... TOBY MAC WINS!!! Congratufreakinlations! Can we get a woot woot from JFH!

5:37 - Best Christmas Album of the Year goes to Point of Grace's Home for the Holidays. Wow, 2 awards! And Carol Cymbala takes it for Choral Collection of the Year.

5:34 - The legendary Ian Eskelin is announcing the Rock Recorded Song of the Year; I'm hoping for Switchfoot's "The Sound"... it goes to... Red's "Start Again"... well that's not bad at all. Congratulations fellas!

5:30 - Chris August just performed his hit "Starry Night"...  an acoustic rendition. Wow - his voice is as good live as it is on a recording. And for that I applaud you Chris! Cool glasses too.

5:28 - Food for the Hungry just wrapped up their presentation at the Dove Awards. They are an incredible organization. Shameless plug: Everyone should join up with them!

5:23 - @John... me too. Jars definitely deserved it.

5:20 - Sandi Patty and Patty Griffin just both won for their albums for Inspirational Album of the Year... A tie? How does that happen?

5:17 - Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year... Jars of Clay and Tenth Avenue North have been nominated so either one of those would make me happy.  And it goes to... Chris August's No Far Away... Well, we love him too. Congrats Chris on your first Dove Award.

5:15 - Best Country Album of the Year... I'm guessing Point of Grace will win.             Oh... and they did! No Changin' Us wins! Congrats Point of Grace.

5:13 - They just announced the Bluegrass Album of the Year - Singing from the Heart by Dailey & Vincent. Congrats!!

5:05 - They are working on the Pre-Show feed so we can see what's going on during the whole show. I'm crossing my fingers, my toes, praying, and I might just start speaking in other languages...

5:02 - I'm pretty sure every journalist is trying to get their picture in front of the Dove backdrop. "I need my ten seconds of fame! Sort of."

4:48 - Blue Grass Recorded Song goes to Lizzy Long's "Mountaintop."

4:43 - "Better Day" by Gaither Vocal Band wins Southern Gospel Recorded Song... is anyone surprised? Southern Gospel and Bill Gaither are synonomous. We mourn your loss Oak Ridge Boys.

4:38 - Israel Houghton's Love God Love People wins Best Contemporary Gospel Album of the year. Sadly, he's not here to receive the award because he's on tour.

4:36 - They just announced that Urban Recorded Song of the Year is "Wait on the Lord" by Lola Godheld

4:35 - Well... just found out that the Pre-Show feed is broken... No Bueno! This might make things difficult.

4:27 - The pre-show is getting ready to begin. In the great words of a forgotten childhood movie star, "Don't get scared now."

4:00 - Some awesome guy just brought out a power strip for us! Can you say MVP?!

3:44 - There's a little bit of panic in the press room... let's all just pray for a place for people to plug in their laptops.

3:28 - Well we're here at the Doves and the media room is ablaze!

We Recommend - O.C. Supertones, 'Adventures Of...'

It’s been over a decade and a half since the height of the third wave ska movement.  The O.C. Supertones were able to help spread the movement into the Christian music industry because of the success of acts like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish.  Matt Morginsky and crew had several good albums throughout the course of their career, but none of them were ever quite as good as Adventures.

Adventures, a ska masterpiece, remains my favorite ska album of all time.  While their second, Supertones Strike Back, Five Iron Frenzy’s Our Newest Album Ever, and The Insyderz Fight of My Life are all superb 90s ska albums, I always come back to Adventures to get my ska fix.  The album is loaded with can’t miss, sing-a-long tracks.  There isn’t one bad apple on the 36 minute, 12-track debut.  Lyrics don’t get much better than “He Will Always Be There” as Morginsky proclaims, “I didn’t even know who God was, then He told me He’s my Dad.  And it’s because He loved and He’d rather die than live without me, He loved me and He’d rather go through Hell then go to Heaven without me.  And I’ll love Him and I’ll stay with Him until the end of time.  One thing I know: God gave his life for mine!

Though the Supertones started leaning towards a more unique hip-hop/ska approach, they never lost sight of the message.  I still remember Jason reading from the Bible on stage almost every time I saw them.  I just stood amazed that this crazy band was reading the Bible when other people like Steven Curtis Chapman weren’t doing anything similar.  If you were too young, or just sleeping through the mid-90s, this album is a must have.

Download it immediately!!!


- Michael Weaver

O.C. Supertones
Adventures of the O.C. Supertones (1996)

Click here for our review of the album.

Our synopsis: "The album and band that helped to usher in the third wave ska era into the Christian industry." (Recommended by JFH's Michael Weaver)
Perfect For: Faith, Hope, Redemption, and of course skanking
Song Highlights: "Adonai," "Who Can Be Against Me, ""Heaven," "He Will Always Be There," "Found"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Adventures of the O.C. Supertones? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Featured Fans - Jessica Woodward and Emily Coleman

Jessica Woodward and Emily Coleman with Write This Down

Favorite Band/Artist: Write This Down
Featured Fan: Jessica Woodward and Emily Coleman
Location: Port Huron, Michigan
When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken:  Hillside Family Life Center, February 17, 2011
What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You:  Write This Down has a great sound, but they have an even greater message! We love listening to them, they're very positive and help us stay on the right track.
Favorite Album by This Artist:  Write This Down or the Alarm the Alarm EP
Favorite Song by This Artist: "We Can't Retire Hell's On Fire"
Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 3
Favorite Live Show Experience:  Canton Michigan, before the show we were talking to Nate and we asked him why Johnny was growing his beard out. He said he'd tell Johnny to shave. During the show, between songs Nate told the crowd how we wanted to Johnny to shave his beard. Which by the way, Johnny did shave :) Also, during the concert, Johnny let us sing in the microphones. My dad said we sounded terrible, but we didn't care, we had fun:)
Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: Write This Down Tiger Shirts
Website: N/A

Submit your photo and reasons why YOU'RE a fan for a chance to be featured here!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

On Set! Filming Abandon, 'Feel It In Your Heart' Music Video

Have you ever wondered what happens while a music video is being made? Me too! Thanks to the awesome fellas in Abandon… my curious hunger has been fulfilled.

It was a cold February morning when I made my way to the small city just outside of Atlanta known as Maysville (trivia time! It's also where Sanctus Real's video for "Forgiven" was filmed!). Its GPS location is somewhere between “Oh my gosh, where are we?!” and “I’m pretty sure we’re lost!” Honestly, it was in the middle of nowhere. To even say it’s “just outside” of Atlanta would be a lie; if that fact were true then I’d be just outside the weight bracket of being able to wear an XL t-shirt.

Anywho, the day began with the joys of Atlantian traffic! Fists balled up and teeth a' gnashing! This day was not filled with anger but with anticipation… for the hunger that was about to be fulfilled and simply the fact that I was just super stoked to meet these awesome musicians. A few days before, I was given an advanced copy of Abandon’s sophomore album “Control” (which streets next week), and to say the least, it rocked my face off. Thus, I wanted to at least shake these guys’ hands and say, “Thanks for making some flippin’ awesome music!” As I made my way out of the city and further north into the wilderness of the metropolitan area, I was trying to find the appeal of shooting a music video in the middle of nowhere. I’m pretty sure I heard banjos a number of times. [Especially as I passed by homes decorated with Confederate flags. Give it up fellas, the North won and it made life better for all of us!]

As we rolled into the small town, I could see why someone might want to live in such a cute area. It has some adorable buildings, Victorian style homes, oh… and plenty of broken down shacks that scream, “Feature me on Paranormal State!” But in all honesty, it’s a very attractive town with lots of character and some incredible Mom & Pop restaurants.

As I arrived to the location of the shoot, I quickly had to put on my game face. The first person I got to meet was the video’s director, Nate “Dust” Correna. Yes, Dust from Mars Ill! Can you say “switch hitter”? I can. At first he looked like an intimidating guy, but then he ended up being so cool and welcoming. Not wanting to eat away at any of his time, I quickly said, “Hello,” and got a chance to say a short greeting to Abandon's lead singer Josh Engler. After meeting a few more of the crew, it was time to meet the rest of the band… but looking around, they were nowhere to be found. Suddenly, like a bunch of rock stars on the red carpet, they all got out of a limo and began to strut towards me. And by “limo” I mean an econoline van and by “strut” I mean shiver as they walked. People from Texas can’t handle the humid cold of Georgia, not like I can either but like I said before “game face”.

As we exchanged greetings, I could already tell that this was going to be a great time. Each one of the guys is so different but so relatable that it’s almost surreal. As we sat in the van, I was able to ask my planned interview questions and got to know the guys a little bit more. Watching how they interact with each other, whether poking fun or praising one another, it was obvious that these fellas are not just friends or band-mates… they’re brothers. And no doubt from the time I arrived to the time I left, these were some of the most genuine people I’ve ever met, and I don’t just mean people in a band. Even though I was there to see them in action, they weren’t trying to impress anybody and welcomed me with open arms. Listening to their hearts for ministry and their passion for doing what God has called them to do was absolutely inspiring.

While we were wrapping up the interview, a couple of the guys had to go assist in a new scene for the video. So for a brief moment, I got to talk with Justin, the rhythm guitarist, about the trials and tribulations of being on the road. With a raw and transparent attitude, Justin didn’t sugarcoat or glamorize anything. He was very real about how difficult it can be being away from his wife and family, and also about how shows have to really be strategically planned out. While some artists can put makeup on their situations, the guys in Abandon aren’t about that; they are all about being transparent before everyone! Which in reality is so refreshing! In addition to that, they are all ridiculously funny. From what I saw, I think this will be mildly captured by their video.

After Josh had finished his scenes, I got a chance to talk with him about his role in Abandon and about a pinch of what God’s been showing him in life recently. You can tell he’s a deep thinker and a very honest person, which is once again pretty awesome. He really has a heart for loving people, regardless of circumstance and situation. (Can anyone say “conviction”?) When all was said and done, I got to pray with him and we said our goodbyes. It was one of those moments where “the bond of peace” and “brothers in Christ” really made sense.

With all of the scene changes and set hopping it was time to say “adios” to the guys and the crew. In my humble opinion, I think the video fits the general theme of the song. Without giving away the plot of the video… let me just say the tennis rackets are my favorite. I will also say this; it does not look easy to film a music video. I’m not a hundred percent sure why, but the guys had to learn their song at twice the speed and perform it that way. Plus… they had to go to Middle-Of-Nowhere-Maysville, Georgia to film it! (However, let me state that Nate’s DustBrand Films is sure to make this an awesome video!)

You know, at first I thought I was going to go just meet up with the guys from Abandon and watch them shoot a music video, but instead I got to meet Josh, Justin, Bryan, Stevan, and Dave… five brothers in Christ. I think that beat out my original plan completely and for that, I am truly grateful.

-- Ryan Barbee

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

EXCLUSIVE Family Force 5 'Wobble' Song Debut!

Family Force 5, IIIWe're proud to bring you the debut of a brand new Family Force 5 song, titled "Wobble." Check out the track snippet that you can ONLY hear here and grab the EP when it goes on sale on their tour and online store this Friday! -- JFH

The EP is called "III" (pronounced 'three') and will be available only on the Tourantula tour and our online store starting Friday. Disc is limited to 3K. - Family Force 5

New full-length album out later this year!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Featured Fan - Olivia

Olivia and Stephen Keech

Favorite Band/Artist: Haste The Day
Featured Fan: Olivia
Location: California
When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken:  February 7th, 2011 at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, CA
What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You:  I love how they are real and want to spread love in the hardcore scene.
Favorite Album by This Artist:  Dreamer
Favorite Song by This Artist: I'll make the list short. "Blue 42," "Substance," "When Everything Falls," "All I Have," "68," "Babylon," "Walk With a Crooked Spine," "My Name is Darkness."
Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 1
Favorite Live Show Experience:  During "Blue 42" when everyone all started singing "BURNIG BRIDGES!"  at the same time.
Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: I don't have a favorite, but I have a hoodie, a "My Name is Darkness" t-shirt and a farewell tour poster.
Website: N/A

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Ask the Easter Bunny

Over the past couple years, as Easter begins to roll around, I've begun hearing something that I don't remember from my childhood.  I wasn't raised in the Church, so I was never actually taught the real meaning behind Easter.  I just knew that on Easter Sunday, I was gonna get a basket full of candy and find some unnaturally-colored eggs that some mystical bunny left in our yard for whatever reason.  It actually seems kinda rude when I think about it now.  How did that bunny even get ahold of pink and green eggs?

Tangents aside, I was never really taught that Easter was REALLY about Jesus's resurrection that ultimately meant eternal life for anybody who was willing to believe such an outrageous thing.  My main thing was hoping that the Easter Bunny didn't forget to leave us those eggs and candy.  Now, society seems to have turned the Easter Bunny into a second Santa Claus.  More than a couple times, I've literally heard parents that come into my place of business (aka Toys R Us) say this to their kids: "You want that [some random toy or whatever]?  Well, you can ask the Easter Bunny to bring it to you."

*raised eyebrow*

What?  Ask the Easter Bunny for a present?  It boggles my mind.  Is this a new thing, or have I just not really been paying attention to the commercialization of yet another holiday?

God help me not to raise my future children to be dependent on material things.  But first, help ME not to.

We Recommend - Rebecca St. James, 'If I Had One Chance...'

With her first studio album in almost six years releasing this week, it seems only fitting to look back at the previous recordings of Rebecca St. James. While listening to her new album I Will Praise You, I found that her previous 2005 record, If I Had One Chance To Tell You Something followed alphabetically in my iTunes and I'd often let it play after I Will Praise You would finish. I honestly had forgotten how much I'd enjoyed the ridiculously long-titled album from Rebecca. It seemed to be a mostly underrated release, but offered memorable songs like the heartfelt prayer of "Forgive Me," where RSJ sang with BarlowGirl, and  the anthemic rockers "God Help Me" and "Alive." Rebecca's passion for Jesus has always been infectious and her regular studio albums have often consisted of encouraging and easily relatable and transparent songs. Whether she's singing of brokenness or the love of Christ, If I Had One Chance To Tell You Something set out to encourage and bring hope to listeners, and it certainly did that. Maybe it's not RSJ's best, but it's an album that still sounds pretty good today. And the worshipful tracks "Take All Of Me" and "Lest I Forget" are still great ways to express our love to the Savior. - John DiBiase

Rebecca St. James
If I Had One Chance To Tell You Something (2005)

Click here for our review of the album.

Our synopsis: "Rebecca's last rock / pop record is a memorable one, and perfect for weary souls looking for some hopeful anthems to help them refocus their gaze and keep on." (Recommended by JFH's John DiBiase)
Perfect For: Encouragement, worship, hope
Song Highlights: "God Help Me," "Alive," "Forgive Me," "Shadowlands," "I Can Trust You," "Take All of Me"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album If I Had One Chance To Tell You Something? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Featured Fan - Joseph Tofilon

Joseph and KJ-52

Favorite Band/Artist: KJ-52
Featured Fan: Joseph Tofilon
Location: Columbia,SC
When/Where Was The Above Photo Taken:  March 11 at Winter Jam 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina
What About This Artist's Music Speaks To You:  He mixes funny lyrics and great beats with the word of God you just want to listen to it over and over again and it will speak to you every time!
Favorite Album by This Artist:  It's Pronounced Five Two
Favorite Song by This Artist: "Dear Slim"
Number of Times Seen This Artist Live: 1
Favorite Live Show Experience:  Getting to talk to KJ-52 and taking a picture with him at Winter Jam
Favorite Piece Of Merch/Item You Own From This Artist: Signed Poster
Website: N/A

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