“We loved playing at Festival last year,” said Steve Bacinski, guitarist with the Christian modern rock band Thirsty Ground.
Thirsty Ground is back again in 2015, performing at 3:45 p.m. Fri. June 5 on the City Stage on Monroe Center at Ottawa Ave.
Thousands of persons milling around the Festival grounds grow into hundreds of thousands over the three-day event. A music performer trying to attract passers-by and then holding an audience isn’t easily accomplished.
“So many people passing through are willing to stop and listen even if they’ve never heard you before,” Bacinski said. “At the same time, it’s tough when people get up and leave – sometimes because the song lyrics have Christian themes.”
IT’S FREE FOR ALL…
All Festival performances, exhibits and activities are free on a first-come first-serve basis. Each of the more than half dozen musical stages has some seating provided, but many spectators simply stand and watch before moving on.
The music mix of artists on any given stage is also challenging. Last year Thirsty Grounds played just after a solo acoustic-vocal act and right ahead of a punk band.
This year their 45 minutes of stage time comes between a Beatles tribute group and the mainstream indie-rockers hi-ker.
Another challenge is the quick set up time required between musical acts. Getting sound equipment and instruments close enough to the stage for loading in and out is difficult. Adequate time for effective “sound checks” is rare – especially when the start times are squeezed because of weather delays (although some of the stages are indoors).
“It is a great opportunity to get some new fans,” Bacinski added .
CHOICES AND CHANCES
Preparation time is one reason that the Christian classic rock and blues band Carpenter’s Cross likes its slot at 10 a.m. Sat. June 6, also on the City Stage.
Despite the early starting hour, Nelson said turnout and response were very good last year. He said the band has discovered some new fans along the way.
Band members don’t “preach and teach” between songs as they might at a normal concert. But all of Carpenter’s Cross songs are either scriptural narratives (stories from the Bible) or quote actual Bible verses.
“We let the music do the talking,” said Nelson, who noted the band will be performing all original tunes.
THIS YEAR’S POSSIBILITIES
Also returning for Festival 2015 are The Jordan Koller Band (12:30 p.m. Friday at the Rosa Parks Circle Stage) and Rick Hopkins (12:45 p.m. Calder Stage). Koller is worship leader at Ridgepoint Community Church in Holland. Hopkins formerly was a worship leader at Ada Bible Church.
Jubal Brass, an ensemble that performs arrangements of various gospel and contemporary Christian music, is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. Sun. June 7 at the Clock Tower Stage (corner of Pearl St. and Ottawa).
If you’d like to hear an excellent church-based gospel choir, check out the Lighthouse Full Life Center Church Choir at 4:30 p.m. Sat. on the Calder Stage. That’s the choir from the church of pastor/music artist Marvin Sapp, who may be making an appearance with the ensemble.
A few others to highlight:
*West Michigan Lutheran Chorale – choral music, 5:30 p.m. Fri. Art Museum indoor stage
*Vertical Bridge – Christian rock, 8:45 p.m. Fri. Clock Tower Stage
*Alive – Christian contemporary/gospel, 12:15 p.m. Sat. Clock Tower Stage
*Edge From Falling – Christian rock, 2 p.m. Sat. Clock Tower Stage
*Imani – vocal gospel and jazz, 5:30 p.m. Sat. Rosa Parks Circle Stage
*Perfect Shelter – worship leader band, 12:45 p.m. Sun. Rosa Parks Circle Stage
There’s also at least one faith-based dance ensemble: Xpressions of Praise Christian Dance Arts Academy presents a program titled “All Around the World Through the Eyes of a Dancer” at 3:45 p.m. Sun. at the Calder Stage.
The entire schedule and other information is available at www.festivalgr.org.
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