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JFH Indie Review

JFH Indie Inspection Review


Mike Westendorf

Street Date: November 1, 2010
Style: Pop / Pop Rock
Artist Website: Mike Westendorf
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Along with his title of Music Director for a college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mike Westendorf is also a Christian musician with four albums to his name. With his band of friends and fellow musicians, Westendorf has been releasing music since his 2004 album, Another Day. Six years later, he presented album number five, Undefined. Westendorf's overall style is pop rock, but it has a definite southern flair mixed in, with vocals that at times resemble Bart Millard (in fact, "Open The Door" sounds sort of like a MercyMe song, except it has a strange combination of Spanish and Celtic influence). Earlier tracks on the album sound like a watered-down Third Day, but there's also a lot of Chris Tomlin influence in songs like "You Are Amazing." In the following song, "The Child Remains," Westendorf's vocals take a detour, sounding like a less-raspy Chad Kroeger of Nickelback. Unfortunately, Undefined is one of those albums that nearly every aspect of it can be described by comparing it someone else's work. While the style is pretty cohesive from start to finish, it just sounds like many other artists, with nothing that really stands out and makes you think "Mike Westendorf." Westendorf may be fine with the lack of self-definition through his sound, but I'd like to see what he can do if he experimented with a sound other than what most bands on the radio are playing.

- Review date: 7/28/11, written by Scott Fryberger of

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  1. Blessed Is The One (2:57)
  2. Undefined (4:40)
  3. Four To Go (Radio Edit) (3:46)
  4. Eyes On You (4:31)
  5. Open The Door (4:30)
  6. You Are Amazing (4:12)
  7. The Child Remains (4:53)
  8. Coming Soon (4:43)
  9. Four To Go (Album Edit) (4:41)
  10. You Are Amazing (Performance Track) (4:13)
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  • Jesus freak Hideout (Scott Fryberger): How long had you been playing music before your first release in 2004?

    Mike Westendorf: I've been involved in music, generally in choirs and as a soloist, since I was in high school. I actually learned guitar in college by taking guitar classes as a way to burn up my arts credits that I needed to take. I've always had a good ear for music, but those were the first formal lessons. Most of the rest was self taught with occasional lessons. Technically I've been playing since 1994, recorded my first CD in 2002, which was a Christmas CD for my family and then really pursued it harder from about 2004 on.

  • JFH (Scott): Were you a music director before you started putting out albums, or vice versa?

    Mike: I was involved in music as an artist well before I was involved as a music director. My education and full-time work is actually in the field of meteorology at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee running "Innovative Weather." But that job has given me enormous experience in organizing and working with college aged students. Combined with my experiences as an artist, the opportunity to be a music director at The Point of Grace, which is a college campus ministry and church, was a "risk" worth taking. God just keeps making it move forward and what I learn in my job in weather helps me in my job as an artist and worship leader.

  • JFH (Scott): Do you have any desire to sign to a national record label?

    Mike: That's always an interesting question to answer. I'm on the record label "Creative Soul Records" out of Nashville right now. I believe that in my experiences, God has equipped me to connect with audiences of many different ages and flexible enough to work in a lot of different spaces. Serving God by taking my music across the country is always an artist's dream. The tension for me is of course that I love my family and want to grow up WITH my kids and I know that can be tough for the full time touring artists out there. They have my prayers and my respect; it's not easy doing what they do. I would love to see the record and radio industry embrace the idea of a regional artist model and to see what a partnership can really look like. I'm a small business operator so I understand the business of this, but if we could see an artist with a regional base with occasional national push and the support to take care of the family, then I'd be interested. All of that to say, yes, if I could do it in a way that kept priorities straight - God, Family, Job/Ministry.

  • JFH (Scott): What bands do you enjoy listening to?

    Mike: I'm pretty eclectic, but lately it's been Phil Keaggy and Jason Gray, David Crowder, TobyMac and LeCrae. Steven Curtis Chapman's new song is awesome, so is Matt Maher's and I've enjoyed Chris Tomlin. I'm also an Alice in Chains and Dave Matthews fan and enjoy Classical music, lately Beethoven's 9th along with Holst's "the planets." Every artist has that artist or two that nobody has ever heard of and I've come to enjoy Mela Kamin, Nathan Clark George and a band called Gungor, although a lot of folks are waking up to them.

  • JFH (Scott): Have you ever toured in support of your music?

    Mike: Oh yeah, we're out quite a bit, if you include worship engagements, I probably do around 100 events/year. My passion is helping our sponsors reach out and effectively serve their local communities while also encouraging the ministry of the people within their churches so we've developed a concert offering called "Share the Hope." The information is on my website, but it's been a real joy to do those concerts. I once heard a retiring artist remark to their fans "thank you for letting us be part of the soundtrack of your lives" and in touring, that's one of the hopes I have for the music, whether it's a house concert or on a main stage, we hope it connects and lets people experience and sing to God in a new way.

  • JFH (Scott): What are your favorite books of the Bible?

    Mike: 1 Peter is probably one of my favorite books, just seeing the wisdom from a man's journey with Jesus, to finish off with his words from 1 Peter 4:7-11, they are just such a treasure for me: 7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

    It's long been my ministry passage, keeping me humble, keeping my courage, checking my focus. To know Peter's story and his walk with Jesus is just a great encouragement to me. I love the book of John and the humanity that he presents us about Jesus, especially the story of Lazarus and about the restoration of Peter. One other book is Ecclesiastes. In a world that seems to be in extreme turmoil, it's so comforting to hear the wisdom of Solomon... that it's all been done before, nothing new even though all the advertising screams that it's never happened before. His remarks to love your wife, enjoy your work, honor God - there's no better life. Simple and powerful!

  • JFH (Scott): What has God been showing you lately?

    Mike: A LOT! Probably the biggest came in the mission statement at the campus ministry that I work with. The idea that Life is a Journey, not a destination, is probably one of the biggest things for me as of late. We tend to see life in a series of destinations... Graduate from High School, Go to College, Get a Job, Get Married, Have a family etc... Even in our daily schedules, we see these things we HAVE to do and they become destinations and we lose sight of the journey. Well, the same thing happens in our walk as a Christian and I feel that even church becomes a destination, all too often something that we go and do for an hour, then move on to the next destination.

    But I don't believe that's what real life is about, especially a Christian life. At The Point, we're fond of saying that our desire is to "Love Jesus More" in everything we do and when people ask us how that happens, our line is "In Him, Love Him, For Him", because that's what the journey of real life really is. You can translate it this way "In Him - our personal relationship with him - our time in God's word, our quiet time in prayer, our praise and worship, corporately and privately... Love Him - Jesus said if you love me, you'll obey my commands, summarized nicely into Love God, Love others, so Loving God often has the component of serving people... For Him - For Jesus name, for his glory, not my own, not my church's, not my ministry - but for the name above all names.

    When we wake up to balancing these things - In Him, Love Him, For Him - I believe God has been showing me that THIS is really the JOURNEY of life when we're in this place on a daily basis. We start to see the world around us differently. Are we spending time with Jesus, really with him? Are we seeing him in the conversations and situations of our day? Are we quiet enough to hear the Holy Spirit recall to us the scriptures bound on our hearts? We start to see life differently... in fact we start to see LIFE the way it was intended. Even Church no longer is a destination, it's one of the highpoints in the journey of our life that week.

  • JFH (Scott): Any final comments?

    Mike: Let Go, Let God. Our life proves our need for forgiveness and our need for our Savior. Not one of us is perfect and our lives show that on a daily basis. The bible shows us who we are compared to a holy God, but it didn't stop there, going on to show us what real love looks like. Because of Jesus we have Hope and Peace, even in the midst of the times when life hurts most. Like a child running to mom and dad for security, love, peace - Jesus says "I've told you these things so that in Me, you may have peace... in this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world." No matter how old I get, I realize that there's still a kid inside me, wanting that security and peace, but also wanting to just laugh, play and to find JOY in the world and what I've been given. So much of life is really out of our illusion of control, which makes me so grateful that God calls me a "child of God." In his arms alone can we find a peace that lasts in every season of life.



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