Last week Erin and I had the privilege to attend Lifest, one of the country's largest Christian music festivals in Oshkosh, WI. Here's a brief recap of the concerts we saw.
JJ Heller - What a great voice! It's a joy to watch someone sing who makes it appear so easy and without effort. She opens her mouth and beautiful sounds come forth. You can tell that she and her husband/guitarist Dave haven't had a huge amount of stage time as their transitions were a bit awkward at times, but when playing and singing they make a great music.
Best songs performed: "What Love Really Means" / "Fly Away" / "Your Hands"
FFH - I have to admit that I wasn't too excited to see this band who has been around since 1991. I first saw them about 12 years ago and wasn't entirely impressed as they sang with tracks and no band. Some bands have great radio songs, but they don't always translate to great live shows which was the case then. However, at Lifest they showed up with band in tow and they did what bands with old hits should do...they played their old hits. They also have new music coming out which should be good news for FFH fans.
Best song performed: "One Of These Days"
Josh Wilson - I first saw Josh Wilson at the Willow Creek Arts Conference back in 2009 and was instantly impressed with his musical skill and stage presence. It's not easy to take the stage as a solo artist and keep the audience in the palm of your hand for 60+ minutes. Through his music and storytelling he displayed talents that should place him on the main stage should he return next year.
Best songs performed: "Amazing Grace (guitar solo)" / "I Refuse" / "Before The Morning"
Photoside Cafe - I had heard these guys from Greenville College (where Jars of Clay formed) reminded some of the Dave Matthews Band. Being a fan of the DMB I made it point to catch these guys live and in action. While they do have a DMB flavor it wouldn't be fair to place them in that category quite yet. They had a good sound and worked well together as a band during some extended jams which included some amazing violin solos. I see good things ahead for this band.
Best song performed: "Bittersweet Symphony" (as made famous by The Verve)
Matthew West - I didn't realize until he played hit after hit that I knew so many of his songs. However, just as good as his music was his stage presence and interaction with the crowd. He really entertained as he parodied Justin Beiber, taught a 9 year old boy that he could sing, and then closed with a touching video segment that highlights his latest project, "The Story of Your Life."
Best songs performed: "I Love You More" / "The Motions" / "Next Thing You Know"