February 9, 2006

Jars of Clay/Sara Groves/Derek Webb concert review

When we lived in the Philadelphia area, one of our youth girls bounced up to me one day and handed me a home recorded (ummmm, pirated?) cassette tape with the words “Jars of Clay” written on it. She continued bouncing while telling me this was a brand new Christian music group and they were sooooooooooooooo good. She told me that you couldn’t buy their album yet, it was still yet to come out, but she had gotten a hold of a copy of a copy of a first run type of CD. It turns out that there was only a limited number of that CD made, a preliminary recording of their popular Jars of Clay CD.

I brought it home, popped it in my kitchen tape player while fixing dinner the next night and listened intently as I could, while chopping and stirring, to the beginning of a new wave of Christian music…..really good music. We listened to that tattered little tape wherever we went for a while before I found it (finally) in a Christian bookstore and got the real tape (didn’t have a CD player yet). I soon passed on the copied copy to my niece, who listened to it all the way home from vacation that year. The Jars soon hit the top of the charts of Christian and secular music.

I think the last live concert I went to was before moving back to Arizona! It must have been Rich Mullins when Brother’s Keeper came out. I like concerts, but they don’t like my ears, so I don’t go often. So when I was driving around with my daughter and we heard the advertisement for Jars of Clay in concert on our Christian radio station, we squealed and made a vow to go.

Hannah bought our tickets, as a student she got a discount…..and when we got there, we looked at our tickets and realized we were in the 4th row….wheeeee! ……..right in front of a huge speaker. LOL It was a great concert! Opening for them was Derek Webb, who was one of the lead singers for Caedmon’s Call for 10 years. He was funny and played well, having arrived shortly before the concert began due to travel troubles….hope he has a good solo career. I knew who he was when he first came out and kept poking Hannah and saying, “Caedmon’s Call…I’m telling ya….” She insisted he was a new artist…I can’t help rubbing it in when I’m right. Then he mentioned it and the crowd applauded loudly, making a connection with him. His music was acoustic guitar and folk sounding…storytelling and word picturish…which I so relate to.

Then Sara Groves. Her two preschool aged blonde headed sons introduced her and her husband Troy. They are so cute!! Sara Groves is like a female Michael Card….LOTS of deep meaning in heart felt music and words. And she is so little! She sang very well for a live concert, wonderful, strong voice. I would describe her style as folk music. Steve Mason from Jars came out and sang a song with her…very nice. She had a lot to say between songs also. She told stories and jokes and was very easy to listen to. We ran to the bathrooms after she sang and found the ‘ladies in waiting’ politely smiling as they inched their way toward the goal.

We walked back into the sold out auditorium to see a light fog had descended upon all the jarheads. (not the military type) I hoped my hair would stay straight and not curl up in the humidity. (It’s not a good curl, it shrinks up into random swoops and waves. In humid conditions, I want to start talking like Rosanne Rosanna Danna.) The fog looked cool though and when the lights on stage came on, it was real dramatic and ethereal….the green and purple lights were my favorite. (in case you wonder) The lights blinked a few times, signaling lollygagging concert-goers to find a seat. Then, while people were still milling about, a tall guy in a flannel shirt and jeans came out to the middle of the stage and started fiddling with a little electronic thingie. I think it was one of those hand held mini tape recorders that straight-A students use in college classes. He finally turned it on and held it up to the microphone. It was playing staticky, highly white noise-ish music and he was keeping time with a bob of his shaggy head. (It was supposed to be shaggy, I’m not dissin’ the guy.) Gradually you heard people whispering, oh, that’s Dan! I knew it was him when he first came out and was laughing at the silly opening bit. Then in a low, loud voice he started singing to the recorded music, “We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord, We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord and I pray that our unity may one day be restored. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love…..our love….our love.” Then all the Jars came out, along with their drummer. (I didn’t catch his name)

The concert was really good….it wasn’t so loud that you felt a rumbling in your chest and the words were clear and discernable. They were fun to watch and were very skillful in their playing and singing, while still having fun with each other, dancing around and inviting the audience to sing along on most of the songs, which was fun! Matt and Steve were fun to watch, dancing with their guitars or banjoe. Matt kind of bounces and sways with his strings, while Steve does a sort of ballet, modern dance with his, it was great fun to watch! Dan sang great and danced around while singing, often playing the tambourine. During one of the last songs, he took out this very strange looking instrument which seemed to be a hybrid of smoking pipe and electric keyboard…..I dubbed it a piano-bong, which caused Hannah to give me a disapproving look. Charlie seemed to be very sheepishly hiding behind the keyboard and also played the accordian. (from behind the keyboard) Late in the program, Dan talked about the Blood Water Mission they founded as a group, which raises money to dig clean water wells in Africa, where villages stricken by the AIDS virus have been plagued further still by diseased water. It’s a good thing…and we should be all about doing good to one another. One US dollar will provide one African with clean water for a year! One way to touch the world with an act of extreme kindness. Go to their sight to donate or learn more about it.

I took a few pictures during the concert (I forgot to take any during Derek Webb or Sara Groves…sorry) but my camera decided to use a slow exposure due to the dark auditorium. So all of them came out in a kind of time exposed blur. I could just say they are artsy, but I have to admit I am ignorant of this new digital camera stuff…give me back my old manual SLR 35 mm any day! We didn’t stick around for the official ‘shake hands with the band and take a picture with an icon’ time. We actually were going to stay, but the crowd around the Icons of Clay was pressing in and claustrophobia took precedence over pose and smile time. =) 

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