Music Builds on a Faith-Based,
Solid Rock Foundation!
A SoundPress.net Archive Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Music Builds tour featuring Third Day, Switchfoot, Robert Randolph & The Family Band and Jars of Clay started on August 21, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan and will finish in Denver, Colorado on October 12, 2008. A percentage of the proceeds from these concerts will go to local affiliates of Habitat For Humanity. The schedule included a stop at the PNC Arts Center in Homdel, New Jersey on September 13, 2008.

The 2008 Music Builds Tour!
Jars of Clay - Dan Haseltine

Habitat for Humanity's mission is to end poverty by providing affordable housing worldwide and making poverty housing a matter of conscience and action. Participants support the cause through donations, volunteer hours and advocacy.

Jars of Clay are a Grammy award winning Christian rock band. Their sound melds acoustic, alternative rock, faith, folk and R&B in songs that range in speeds and styles. They formed in the early 90's and were discovered by prog-rocker Adrian Belew who heard and liked the band and offered to help with production on their self-titled debut. Adrian worked on "Liquid" and "Flood" - the latter did well on mainstream radio - and helped establish Jars of Clay. The band has enjoyed Christian and cross-over success with the release of over a dozen records.

The 2008 Music Builds Tour!
Jars of Clay - Stephen Mason

Jars of Clay's quick, concise set was up-beat, mixing familiar favorites and fresh material including "Closer", which is currently available on a new EP in advance of a full length album. The new song included creative chord changes. It started with slower sections, enhanced by subtle keys that floated to the top of the mix, then built momentum to the harmonizing hook.

The band -all clad in white - asked the crowd to stand up and clap for the classic "I Want To Fall In Love" - which was lovely with two acoustic guitars, the drummer standing and playing a single bass drum and sweet harmonies. The audience sang along and remained on their feet for a new song that featured keyboard wizardry with a vocal effect at the front end of the song reminiscent of U2. Jars kept their set up-tempo choosing rockers, connecting with the crowd with sing-alongs and banter. They executed their songs with animation and ability but the overall sound was a bit loud and muddy. Yet, they still set a strong foundation for the show.

The 2008 Music Builds Tour!
Jars of Clay - Matthew Odmark

Robert Randolph and The Family Band are a multicultural group mixing faith, funk, R&B, rock and soul in jams and songs that cross musical and spiritual boundaries. Robert learned the pedal steel in the House of God Church. The instrument, often part of their worship service, is referred to as "Sacred Steel". Robert and his band - some of whom are actual family members - grew up in New Jersey on religious music, yet would be discovered by the secular world in early 2000.

The band is well-known and respected for lively concerts and the trading of instruments demonstrating the proficiencies of each player. Robert Randolph and The Family Band lived up to their reputation playing a passionate, precise set. The first tune included an extended instrumental introduction that blended a funky bass line with bold rhythms and gushing guitars and steel. Lyrics talked about "a good time" thus setting the tone for their up-tempo set.

The 2008 Music Builds Tour!
Robert Randolph on pedal steel.

The music progressed through pieces that were lively and lush melding varied textures and tempos. At one point Robert was rigorously rocking behind his instrument, got up and danced, and then returned to sizzle on the steel. Randolph's approach to the PSG is unique - he gets interesting and innovative tones from an instrument often associated with country music. Randolph is the Hendrix of the steel. Robert's signature style is just one of the highlights but the other Family members also add spark and substance to the songs.

Randolph's "little sister" sang backing and lead vocals - added soul to the already spirited songs and contributing to the harmonizing of the group. The music was potent. Robert encouraged people to sway to the songs as he danced on stage. Tracks had lots of colorful changes with a foray into "When The Saints Come Marching In" that was righteous and rocking. The song meandered into a southern styled close with more smoking slide.

The 2008 Music Builds Tour!
Robert Randolph on guitar.

Towards the end of their set - the band did the switch - which was a seamless display of musical proficiency. One player would solo as the others took on another instrument and continued playing through the jam. Each Family member took a turn at another instrument before returning to his main tool of the trade - thus completing the joyful jam with a shout out to New Jersey and the other bands before ending with the prayerful words - "God Bless Everybody".

The name Switchfoot is a surfing term that refers to change in movement and is the band's approach to their music which mixes alternative rock, industrial, poetry and pop. Their sound is hard driving with three guitars and forays into electronic experimentation. Switchfoot's songs blend secular with spiritual with the majority featuring hard rocking riffs with softer moments.

All the bands made ample use of the state of the art video displays behind and on the sides of the PNC stage. Switchfoot flashed their name across the screens getting the audience to shout before they even took the stage. The crowd was on their feet and clapping along by the opening note. The first song featured a catchy chorus and crunchy guitars. It was fast and furious melding into another segment that had urgent riffs and rhythms. Audience members were swaying their arms and the connection lasted the entire set.

The 2008 Music Builds Tour!
From San Diego, California - Switchfoot.

More potent playing, chord changes, creative keys and some harmonizing followed. Switchfoot was energetic and engaging. At one point lead singer Jon Foreman was standing on the drum kit and jumped off with an impressive leap of faith . Other times, he talked to the crowd, mentioning the war and how proud they are of people who have gone overseas - including his grandparents and friends. This intro was a moving start for "My American Dream" with its bold guitars and beguiling beats. The track also included a dramatic pause - the back screen turned red as the band members stood still for moments before returning to the pulsing power packed song.

Someone in the audience had a pink sign stating We Are One" and Switchfoot aptly handled their anthem which was followed by the beautiful "On Fire" that started off with a heavenly harmonica . Foreman encouraged folks to hold up their cell phones as the song progressed into a slower segment that featured a pretty piano part. Next, Jon added a bit a Springsteen to the New Jersey concert by heading out into the audience - singing, high-five-ing, and holding hands with some lucky fans as he led a sing-along from the pack - all dramatically propelled by the band onstage who added power chords and pulsing rhythms.

The last song featured a starry backdrop with Jon on acoustic starting subtly but soon the song soared as the other members of Switchfoot joined in. The drums were pulsing and the guitars were powerful, thus closing their potent set on a high note.

Third Day, which is a biblical reference, is a CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) band that formed in the 1990's. Their music is a blend of faith, pop and southern rock traversing a range of melodies and moods. Third Day has won Grammy and Dove awards with the release of over a dozen records and EPs.

The 2008 Music Builds Tour!
Switchfoot's frontman - Jonathan Mark Foreman.

Third Day like - the proceeding bands - played an up-beat set. They performed a rousing version of "Rock Star" encouraging fans to pump their fists in the air. This was followed by a bold ballad about believing, mentioning Jesus, and containing passionate proclamations of faith. The piece was moody - starting reflectively - and becoming more rocking. "Slow Down" was new song that was ironically rather fast with a fervent call to God for help.

Third Day's set list included new tracks from the upcoming Revelation CD and standards including "Love Song", which was requested by Kelly and John in the audience. They were holding up a sign stating they were getting married soon and they would like to hear the song. Mac Powell (vocals) led the crowd through the pretty piece as the guitarist strummed an acoustic. Powell mentioned that long-time Third Day supporter Ed Williams was in the audience. He had helped the band get their start in the New York/New Jersey region and they dedicated a subtle yet soaring song to Ed and his family.

Third Day blended the best of rock with songs that were spiritual yet succulent. They crafted compositions that were colorful with varied chord changes and stylistic structures. It is clear why this band is popular in mainstream and ministry.

The 2008 Music Builds Tour!
From Marietta, Georgia - Third Day.

Third Day was passionate and they too mentioned the war sharing that they had played for the USO. "The troops want people to pray for them and for people to know that they are doing a great job", stated bassist Tai Anderson. This was a strong lead into "Always Be True" - a new track that had a down-home flavor melding with hearty grooves.

Third Day thanked the other bands for participating including the recent add-on Red, a metal influenced hard rocking band. Third Day delivered a solid set of spirit filled songs that were timeless and tuneful.

Music Builds was an incredible collaboration of talent coming together to support a worthy cause while proclaiming the message of Christ through soulful song. All four bands walked the talk by supporting Habitat For Humanity who helps those in poverty rebuild their lives.

The 2008 Music Builds Tour!
Third Day - Johnny Mac Powell.

Related Links: For more information on the MUSIC BUILDS TOUR and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- MusicBuildsTour.com | jarsofclay.com | robertrandolph.net | switchfoot.com | thirdday.com | habitatla.org

(Originally Published on September 15, 2008)

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