An Encounter with Brilliance

Casting Crowns
Molson Amphitheatre
August 20, 2005
With an event such as Encounter Ontario 2005 it is difficult to properly provide an overview of all the day's activities and performances. This particular event boasted 23 live performances covering three stages with more genres of music, comedy and drama than you probably knew existed. Here's my look at the events of Saturday August 20th.

One of the biggest highlights of the day for me will come as a surprise to many fans. I was particularly impressed with how much progress has been made by the rock band Hello Kelly fronted by Francois Goudreault. I last hooked up with Hello Kelly last March when they opened for Superchic[k] and Paul Wright. At that time there really wasn't much to distinguish them from other young and very green bands. They had lots of energy, could whip the crowd into a frenzy and seemed to subscribe to the notion more decibels means better music. Saturday was a completely different scenario. This is a group that has matured in a very short time. They have learned that they can still have those jarring guitar riffs and strong drum beats but do it in a cohesive manner that communicates to the audience that they are a collection of artists dialed in to the same channel. On a rock music stage that will often chew you up and spit you out by the time you are in your mid twenties Hello Kelly is young enough and managed well enough (Chris Vacher) that you can look for good things to come from this Orangeville based band.

The all women trio Carried Away had a new look this time outóat least it was new for me because it was the first time I had seen the ladies perform with a live band. Backed by a drummer and two guitars joined by Christine Prankard on her acoustic guitar Carried Away rocked the Tyndale stage with a cover of Sierra's Story of Life. Following their performance I spoke with Pam, Colleen and Christine and they literally gushed about the opportunity to perform with a live band versus tracks. For all you Carried Away fans out there this is the look you will be seeing as the ladies slam through several states in support of their U.S. release of the album Closer to You released late last year in Canada.

I realize the majority of Soul Shine's readers are not tuned into Southern Gospel music but this is my overview so take those earplugs out and listen to me for a bit. The Parker Trio who often simply goes by the acronym P3 demonstrated clearly that a polished Southern Gospel sound with great vocals can come out of Canadaóplus one. Warren Parker (Pickering, Ontario) and his wife Shannan--the plus one (Canton, Ohio) along with Angie White (Middle Arm, Newfoundland) proved once again why over a nine year career the Parker Trio has been a huge hit in the United States.

Singing to tracks the trio provided splendid harmonies on songs such as Tearin' Down the Walls and I'll Just Stand. I can hardly wait to catch them when they are in concert with a band backing them. P3 sang many of the tunes from their Live in Havana. The threesome gets my vote as the best vocal act to perform on the smaller stages.

Greg Sczebelówhat do you say about a guy who has stardom written all over him? I must admit that it is difficult to be objective when writing about Sczebel because over the past year he and his family have become personal friends and perhaps that is why he is buried so far down in this article. If you missed out on the two R&B performances from this 21 year old then you missed one of the most talented musicians and singers to come out of Canada in the past decade or perhaps more. He demonstrated once again why he has been the overwhelming pick of Canada's music industry for virtually every award for which he has been eligible in the past couple of years. Catch this humble Juno Award winner while you can because he soon will be so busy that we may not see him in these parts again for a very long time.

Starfield who first performed on the Tyndale stage and later on the main stage in the Molson Amphitheatre is a band that is probably under appreciated by most Canadians. Hailing originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Starfield is fronted by Tim Neufeld (acoustic and vocals) and Jon Neufeld (guitar). As Tim acknowledged from the Molson stage the band doesn't get a lot of opportunities to play in Canada anymore due to their touring south of the border. When we do see them it is often in a star studded setting so we only hear short sets. Nevertheless as always it was a treat to hear them perform their classics Filled With Your Glory and Revolution.

I only got the opportunity to take in one half of the act by XpiritMental a music / drama / dance troupe that used funky videos, scintillating dance moves and outstanding vocals to communicate the love of God in a manner that was captivating, entertaining, and knew no age or cultural barriers. If you weren't exited about these young performers who hail from Toronto then you better check for a pulse.

They came to hear Casting Crowns the headline act (with all due respect to Kurt Carr) and they weren't disappointed. Fronted by Mark Hall, a youth pastor from Atlanta, Georgia via Daytona Beach this is a group that leaves it all on stage. Casting Crowns is one of the few bands in the history of music to debut with a platinum selling album and if you were at the Molson Amphitheatre on Saturday night you now know why.

Hall was backed on vocals by Melodee Devevo (violin) and Megan Garrett (keys). Bassist Chris Huffman, drummer Andy Williams and guitarists Juan Devevo with Hector Cervantes provided outstanding instrumentals for songs like the brand new Lifesong from the album (releasing August 30th) with the same name. Performing the worship anthem Glory and the beautiful hallelujah tune Praise You With the Dance you were reminded that all the great musicians enjoyed on this day by the lake are gifts from God to lead us into adoration.

Writer: Joe Monague

Photo:Joe Montague

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