Last year's GMA Music Week got off to a unique start for us as we attended one of the first ceremonies for Nashville's
"Music City Walk Of Fame." During the ceremony we attended, legendary artist Michael W. Smith was inducted into the "Walk Of Fame,"
as he was presented with a star on the sidewalk in Hall of Fame Park in downtown Nashville. While it was sort of an add-on
GMA Music Week experience for us, I didn't think it'd be something we'd repeat the following year. However, upon hearing news of
Steven Curtis Chapman getting that latest honor this year while we were in town, it only made perfect sense
to attend again and support another Gospel music legend and friend.
This particular April, on Sunday, the 20th, 2008, Steven Curtis Chapman was joining the likes of Gospel / jazz artist
Kirk Whalum, Steve Wariner, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Merle Kilgore, and Hank Williams Sr. Last year, Smitty
wasn't inducted until close to the end of the ceremony, so we stuck around for the entire event. However, this year, Chapman
was only second in line (with luckily Whalum's induction happening right before his), so we decided to cut out after Steven
to make the best of our afternoon time at GMA.
Last April's ceremony - which seemed to take place on the hottest day naturally possible - got off to a sluggish start with
a children's choir (complete with one poor singer passing out due to the heat) and dragged on in what just seemed like a rather drawn out program
(though I'm sure the heat had a lot to do with that feeling).
But this year, when we arrived at just about the 3pm start time, things were already underway and Kirk Whalum was already
being announced. It seemed as though the induction ceremony this year was a bit more organized and broken-in, so things moved
much smoother. To introduce Steven Curtis, fellow artist and somewhat of a mentor to Steven, Dallas Holm shared with the audience
a few words about the singer, giving an inspiring reflection on Chapman and his career. Holm's intro was brief, and before
long, Master of Ceremonies Bill Cody was reading a laundry list of accolades of SCC's, which was followed by a round of
applause. An overwhelmed Chapman stepped up to speak on his receiving the honor, stating, among other things:
"Thank you! What an honor. What a blessing...
I'm really grateful. What a privilege to sit on the stage with you guys and just to be honored with you. Thank you, Nashville,
Tennessee for being an amazing, amazing place for music, for creativity, and not the place, but the people - all of you
that represent that in a lot of different ways, and for giving us a home and a place to make this music... [I'm] so thankful,
so grateful to get to do this, to make music - to get to make a living making music, that's just crazy! But then,
to be able to do all of that in a way to say 'wow, now I have something I can actually give back to the God who's entrusted
this amazing gift of music to me' - an incredible privilege to share it with you. So, thank you so much again for this honor
and God bless you!"
Following Steven's acceptance speech, they unveiled his star in the sidewalk and he posed with family and friends for photos.
We then took the opportunity to jet and head back to the Renaissance Hotel to work on prepping for the busy GMA Music Week days
Sometime after 7:30pm, we arrived at The Rutledge a few blocks from the downtown city where our first
ever JFH-sponsored event was taking place.
"Hideout At The Rutledge" marked the first time Jesusfreakhideout.com has sponsored a show in its
almost twelve-year existence, and the first time we sponsored an (unofficial) GMA showcase. It's an experience that was a bit surreal, but hopefully
something we can make a regular event.
It was the first time any of us had ever been to The Rutledge, which is a venue in Nashville that had been renovated not
too long ago to be a much nicer setup. The doors opened around 8:30pm for the GMA Music Week crowd to start trickling in.
The attendance was a bit thin at first, but apparently word about this show had traveled around enough that by the time
the show began, we had a pretty packed house. Our very own Josh Taylor was in attendance and took the reigns as MC for the night
(and he did a pretty good job I must say!). And after his little intro for the night, the music began...
Tooth & Nail Records sibling punk rockers Children 18:3 kicked off the night with their infectious
"All My Balloons," becoming a sort of three-piece whirlwind on the stage. While the actual members themselves are rather
introverted and quiet, their stage presence is the complete opposite (perhaps they just bottle up any energy to pull some kind
of Tazmanian Devil routine when the spotlights hit them and their instruments are in hand). It's funny cause if you meet these
kids in person, you'd never assume their live show would be what it is, but the Hostetter siblings have great chemistry and
incredible energy. For what they lack in words to their audience or personal connection, they make up for in stage presence.
As on their album, "All My Balloons" flowed perfectly into "LCM," which then went right into the anti-abortion anthem,
"You Know We're All So Fond of Dying." From back bends to braving guitar solos from atop sizable speaker stands,
the Children kept the audience's attention before they wrapped the set up with "Mock The Music" and closed with a delicious
Josh did his thing and Word Records newcomers Remedy Drive were soon up to bat. The Lincoln, Nebraska
pop/rock band opened with "Hope," before moving into their Daylight Is Coming album opener, "Stand Up." The four-piece,
all brother band put on an impressive live show - offering what could probably be best described as a sort of pop/rock version
of MuteMath. By the time the set closers "All Along" and "Daylight" rolled around, front man David Zach was conquering his
keyboard like few know how to and the dynamic between the Zach brothers was just fantastic. It was one of those live sets that
you watch and realize that something special is happening before you - this band is certainly going places. It was also an honor
for us to hear David tell The Rutledge audience that this was the band's first ever official Nashville show - and these guys aren't
new to the touring circuit either.
It's huge to me to have Sarah Kelly performing at our very first show (of any kind). Two years ago, we'd
talked about the idea of having some kind of JFH event and she said she'd love to be a part of it. So it meant a lot to have
Sarah there. And considering how she's just this fantastic personality, it was truly an honor. Sarah's been
through an incredible season in her life, having undergone an abusive relationship in her marriage (which she talked about
openly at the show). So to hear her open with just her amazing vocals and a piano on "Out Of Reach," it set the stage for
her four-song set to tell a story of pain and redemption. She introduced her new song "Brand New Day" as being a reflection
of the joy and freedom she's experiencing after overcoming that relationship, as well as feelings of self-hate, for so long.
The two new songs she played in her set were performed to a backup track along with players who weren't part of her usual band,
but Kelly made the best of it. The new tracks were a stark contrast from the melancholy, emotional piano songs, but a great
way to raise the mood back up. She performed the gorgeous "At About Midnight" as just her and her piano once again, before
closing with the pop-worship anthem "Born To Worship." She proved a great addition to our roster of artists for the night.
Former Word Records band Jackson Waters was the evening's closer. The five piece rock band performed
mostly new tracks they've been working on - some still in development. Surprisingly, the only song out of the seven that
was on their debut Come Undone was the song that made it on One Tree Hill, "Center Of Attention" - a delectable
moody piano-driven rock ballad. And among the other new songs, the guys offered up a soulful cover of
"No Sunshine When She's Gone" to serve as another set highlight. It was great to get a taste of what's next for the guys,
although it was harder to get fully into new songs fans have never heard before (but it wouldn't be much of a GMA showcase if
the songs weren't new now would it?). Regardless, they were a fantastic end to
an incredible night of music, and we couldn't have been happier with the outcome.
"Hideout At The Rutledge" was a success. Hopefully it's something that we can do regularly now, God-willing. You'll most
certainly be hearing about it on here if it happens again in 2009. Also, keep an ear out for all of these stellar acts --
Jackson Waters, Sarah Kelly, Remedy Drive, and Children 18:3. We could hardly ask for a better lineup and encourage you to
check out their recordings as well as their live sets. And here, again, is to hoping you'll be hearing about this again next year...