Mike Hogan performed with the David Crowder Band Saturday night at the Ichthus Festival. Copyrighted photo by Rich Copley | LexGo. Below: Jonathan Chu performing with Todd Agnew in Mitchell, Neb. Photo from Chu's Myspace page. Bottom: John Porter of Mile7. Photo from Mile7's website.
The numerous Guitar Hero controllers slung at the Ichthus Festival reinforce the six-string's dominance in rock and at Ichthus. But there was a little four-string instrument that also had a subtle, but noteworthy presence in Wilmore this weekend: the violin.
It started with John Porter of Battle of the Bands champion Mile7 pulling out his violin for a few numbers and ended with Casting Crowns' Melodee DeVevo showing her well documented skills with the instrument during Casting Crowns' festival-closing set. In between, we were treated to moments such as the opening of the set by Skillet, one of the hardest rocking bands on the main stage lineup. The band's intro, a countdown of sorts, was teasing the crowd with anticipation of one of Skillet's trademark explosive openings. Instead, we got some virtuoso violin from Jonathan Chu, who has also toured with Todd Agnew. Throughout Skillet's set, he continued to remind us what an important instrument it is in the band's music, esepcially in powerhouses such as Savior.
The David Crowder Band's Mike Hogan was also responsible for key moments in the band's music, such as the searing bridge in You Are My Joy. And then there was DeVevo, coloring most of Casting Crown's hits with her box.
This is not foreign to rock. Boyd Tinsley has been an exciting rock violinist for the Dave Matthews band for years, contributing moments such as an honest-to-goodness violin hero moment to their tune Jimi Things and playing a key role in the intro to Ants Marching. Lisa Germano has been an exciting violinist for numerous rockers, most notably John Mellencamp.
It's great to see this happen more and more in Christian rock. We can get real comfortable with guitar, bass, drums and keyboard and forget a broad palette of sounds available out there. And it gives the audience a chance to hear a really fine instrument that has been around for centuries and takes genuine skill to play. That's not to take anything away from the guitar slingers out there. There was certainly some guitar virtuosity out there. Mile7's mainstage set concluded with a guitar-violin duo that showed both Porter and lead guitarist John Cloninger as masters of their instruments.
But I do daresay there probably aren't many violinists out there playing professionally in classical music, rock or other genres who haven't put in years of study with teachers and in ensembles honing their craft so that even in an non-traditional setting they can blow you away. I always say people innately recognize something genuinely exceptional when they hear it, like the opera singer who astounds you with the national anthem before a baseball game. And we heard quite a bit of it from one little four string box at Ichthus this year.
Here's to hearing more, and even more diversity of sound in years to come.
New video: The foul weather Friday kind of derailed some of our video plans out of Ichthus, but Emily Spence has a new one documenting Day 2 of Ichthus. Watch it here.
Our 2008 Ichthus photo album will post on Wednesday including shots you've seen here and in the Herald-Leader, and many you haven't.
More music: If you didn't get enough music out of Ichthus, or if you didn't get to go and are in the mood for some live Christian rock, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom has an attractive trio Saturday: Rebecca St. James, Superchick and Sanctus Real. BTW, for what it's worth, RSt.J hasn't been to Ichthus in a looooong time.