October 27, 2018
Consequently, past and present and as long as there remains a future, prodigals roam the landscape. Cast afar, some return to repent, and some do not.
Enter contemporary Christian’s Sidewalk Prophets. Presented by Bristol’s Sunnybrook Church of the Brethren, spy Sidewalk Prophets as they step from the sidewalk onto the stage of the Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol, Tennessee, on Saturday, Nov. 3. On tour in support of their latest album, “Something Different,” they offer exactly that — something different.
“They’re going to feel welcomed,” said Dave Frey, lead singer and co-founder of Sidewalk Prophets. “We’ve got 3D glasses for 3D content in the show. Put them on, and it feels like the 1980s with 3D things coming right at you. Plus, we’ve got video games in the lobby.”
Think Donkey Kong in the lobby and God’s word on the stage.
“Our mission, we want to make people feel like family,” Frey said of the band he co-founded in 2003. “We want to entertain. Of course, we hope people leave our concert feeling they are prepared to go out and change the world.”
If You Go:
- Who:Sidewalk Prophets with guests Bonray and Carmen Justice
- When:Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.
- Where:Paramount Center for the Arts, 518 State St., Bristol, Tenn.
- Web, audio and video: www.sidewalkprophets.com
Oh, and then there’s the common enemy of Christians.
“I like to kick Satan in the face every day,” Frey said by phone from his home in Nashville.
If so, then “Something Different” comes attired in Dr. Marten boots pointed directly in the direction of the devil’s façade. It’s young, loud, and passionate. The album dips a boot into styles so diverse that simple classification beyond its Christian foundation seems pointless.
Track one, “Prodigal,” embodies layers of sound and meaning. Pop and rock in a dazzling swirl of propulsive rhythms, lyrics lift the song to anthem status.
“Wherever you are, whatever you did,” Frey sings in the song, “it’s a page in your book but it isn’t the end. Your father will meet you with arms open wide.”
To the lost and to the found, they dedicate the song.
Sidewalk Prophets’ latest album, “Something Different,” tells the story of the search for and acquisition of redemption.
Contributed courtesy Sidewalk Prophets
“Our number one prayer request, when we hang out and sign autographs, is to pray for a son or daughter,” Frey said. “They’re gone, maybe figuratively or religiously, they up and left. The prayer request for the prodigal was the number one thing we heard. We wrote a song about that.”
Written and recorded during three weeks in a cabin in rural Pennsylvania loaned to them by a fan, “Something Different” resulted. A concept sharpened and shaped with “Prodigal” as its starting point.
“In the beginning, with ‘Prodigal,’ you’re lost,” Frey said. “The second song, ‘If You Only Knew,’ it’s a conversation between the prodigal, a doubter, and God. One song leads to another in a continuous conversation. In the middle, we’re trying to find our way. It’s leading you back. By the end, it’s me begging to God to bring me closer to him.”
Sacrifice and trust bound with faith in the Lord cemented the formative years of Frey’s Sidewalk Prophets. They started small. He and Ben McDonald were students at Indiana’s Anderson University.
Frey met a girl he thought he was going to marry. Alas, they broke up. With an English degree in hand, he worked at a Red Lobster restaurant. By then, his calling to lead a contemporary Christian band had taken root.
“Then we moved to Nashville, put in an ad on Craigslist for a bass player,” Frey said. “We found our band on Craigslist. It was little steps at a time. God was tuning us up to play for him. My dream was to just hear one of our songs on the radio.”Fast forward to 2009. Sidewalk Prophets’ debut album, “These Simple Truths,” released to the public. On the road in Michigan, they experienced the first of many milestones when they heard themselves on the radio for the first time.
“It was the day Michael Jackson died,” Frey said. “At 2 years old, I was singing the ‘Thriller’ album in my diapers. Anyway, we were driving in Michigan on a summer day out in the middle of nowhere. Then in the middle of a cornfield, Ben pulled over.”
Frey’s voice singing the words “be strong in the Lord and never give up hope” from the song “The Words I Would Say,” cast through their van’s speakers.
“Everybody was screaming,” Frey said. “We called our parents on our flip phones, put them up to the speakers.”
Dream realized. Only thing, far more missions lay ahead in a horizon through which they still journey.
“Whatever your dreams are, God has a bigger dream for you,” Frey said. “He wants you to do immeasurably more just to move the kingdom. God knows what he’s up to.”
Before, since, and as far as he can imagine, Frey said that God maintains the driver’s seat for Sidewalk Prophets. To deliver his message in songs inspires them to do God’s work.
“We love songs that make us want to go out and change the world,” Frey said., “one life at a time.”
If they’re on a tour bus, God’s in the driver’s seat. When writing songs, it’s God’s hands on the pen. When singing from the stage, God’s beside them, cheering them on and encouraging audiences to come aboard.
“God, this is you,” Frey said. “He showed me that he’s driving the ship really well. He took the wheel.”