Monday, April 06, 2009

FFM Concert -- Over the Rhine

The end of the Festival of Faith and Music ended with Over the Rhine, Julie Lee and Aaron Strumpel. Strumpel's band was a great opener. Even though the vocals are kind of weird and there is a fair amount of yelling and chanting the music is great. They are kind of a rowdier Plug Spark Sanjay and incredibly talented musicians who even traded instruments during songs. Julie Lee is not my kind of thing, but put on a decent, though kind of awkward set.

OtR was amazing. The played a ton from The Trumpet Child, but played a lot of older classics as well. As usual, they were quite flexible beginning the set more jazzy, then quickly turning into a rock band with two electric guitars and the best drummer I have seen in a very long time. They were really on their game and quite energetic. A cool end to the Festival.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

FFM '09, Day 2

The Bifrost Arts project led a short service featuring the hymns and sacred music that they non-profit group has been attempting to preserve. Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making, was the first keynote speaker of the day and deftly broke down what he thinks makes excellent popular music. He used the Tom Wait song, Picture in a Frame, as his main reference and made some great points. I will be using his points in the way I look at music, especially to see if I agree with his evaluation. Crouch is a great teacher and later I went to his workshop about being consumers and creators. He defined what it means to be a pure consumer and how satisfying and Biblical it is to become more of a producer and kick the habit of consumerism. I Think that so far this has been the session that I will take the most away from.

The artist interview was Cornell West having a conversation with hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco. It was quite entertaining. The most poignant moment was when Lupe said he wanted to be remembered as one who, "did not lead them astray," or if he failed in that goal, he wished not to be remembered at all. West later delivered a powerful keynote, though I am still processing most of what he said.

My other workshop was a conversation between the great David Bazan (former Pedro the Lion) and journalist Jessica Hopper. I am a big fan of Bazan and it was fun to see him talk after hearing him play on Thursday. It was great to hear about the early Tooth and Nail days and great bands like Sal Paradise and Velour 100. Bazan's theological bent is interesting and he is becoming quite the skeptic, but is incredibly thoughtful and genuine.

Out of context phrase of the day: "...older than August..." David Bazan.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Festival of Faith and Music 2009

I am going to quickly blog from the opening day of the Festival yesterday, so that I don't get behind and never write about anything. The opening day was quite fun, beginning with a neat artist interview with the Hold Steady's Craig Finn. He talked a lot about his background and how it affects how he writes. The most interesting thing was how he likes writing with cinematic elements and about characters which allows him to write fuller songs rather than just writing songs in first-person style.

Mokoto Fujimura was incredibly interesting and deep, however, if I try to recap, I will never be able to re-capture what he said. He made a great case for art and things that might seem extravagant but make the world a better place, humanize our world and depending upon your theological bent, please our creator.

I chose to go see David Bazan instead of The Hold Steady and even though I have seen Bazan a few times, it was quite worth it. He began with a few classic Pedro the Lion songs and then played a ton from his new album coming out in August. I have always enjoyed Bazan by himself better than with a backing band (even though Pedro was great) and he was great, confident, relaxed and really on top of his game last night. I couldn't really get into his last EP, but I am now excited for the new album. Also, I have never been to the Ladies Literary Club and it is a really neat venue downtown.