Artist Of The Week - Anchor & Braille

It's been about three years since we've gotten an album from Anchor & Braille, the indie side project of Anberlin's Stephen Christian, but this week, on July 31st, the band's sophomore album will be released. The Quiet Life is a collection of haunting melodies and catchy percussion, certainly a maturation of sound since 2009's Felt. The Quiet Life is available now in stores and online through Tooth & Nail Records.


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SoulFest 2011, August 3-6, Gunstock Mountain Resort
Gilford, New Hampshire

SoulFest is one of the Northeast's biggest Christian music festivals, and is located at the Gunstock Mountain Resort, a very nice area for a music festival. This year was my first year attending SoulFest, and the four and a half hour drive was certainly well worth it, even if I missed the festival's first day, Wednesday.


I personally arrived at the festival on Thursday afternoon, a little before 3:00 PM, unfortunately missing Wednesday, and helped set up camp on the festival campgrounds I was staying on. After that was taken care of, I headed up to the festival itself, getting there right after Abel finished up their second set of SoulFest, on the Inside Out Stage. I caught a bit of Divinity Theory, who were playing some hardcore punk inside the Inside Out Stage tent, before heading up the mountain top with Abel for an interview. On our way to the ski lift however, I did get to watch some Ascend The Hill, who were playing the Revival Stage, the festival's main stage, to a pretty large crowd. They played "Take The World, But Give Me Jesus," among some other hymns from their new album. After talking with Abel, and hearing some of Lainey Wright on the Mountain Top Stage, I headed back down, for yet another interview with Dave Swanson of The Frozen Ocean and Life In Your Way.

Shortly after, I had some dinner, missing Exiting The Fall, an up and coming post-hardcore band with plenty of potential, but made it just in time for the recently reunited Life In Your Way. Playing their second show back as a band, they played some songs from Waking Giants, such as "Reach The End," and several new ones as well from the upcoming Kingdoms. Project 86 hit the Inside Out Stage next, opening with live staple and fan favorite, "The Spy Hunter." They also played "Evil (Chorus of Resistance)" and "Sincerely, Ichabod." John Reuben was playing the Deeper Well Stage in the meantime, headlining the stage's hip hop night, leading the crowd in a yelling of "dance party!" for a few minutes, and eventually playing "Doin'," to name one that I recognized. I then walked to the packed out Revival Stage, to a candlelight service of a few thousand, before Chris Tomlin and band took the stage with "Our God." The last band of the night I would see was Red, who headlined the Inside Out Stage, playing some new songs like "Feed The Machine" and "Faceless," and the recent radio hit, "Never Alone," while also playing older songs such as "Shadows," "Death of Me," and "Breathe Into Me." After the band were done, and mostly everyone was gone from the festival, Paul Colman had a time of recollection for the day at the Deeper Well Stage, bringing up some guests to play with him, and I ended my night watching him for a bit, before heading to camp to get some rest for the next day.


Friday was the third day of SoulFest, and started out a bit slow. The first band I got to catch in the morning was Tenth Avenue North, playing an early morning acoustic set on the Mountain Top Stage. After the relaxing 15 minute ski lift ride up (including a few sudden stops), I could hear the band playing their current radio single, "Strong Enough To Save." After listening to the band introduce themselves, I left the set, to avoid the long lines for the ski lift. I then headed back to camp for a bit for some lunch and to spend time at our campgrounds. Soon after, I headed back up to the Inside Out Stage to catch The City Harmonic. The band put on a surprisingly great show, playing not only their hit "Manifesto," but some other songs off their current EP, and three new songs, titled "Yours," "Spark," and the title track off their upcoming album, releasing October 18th, named "I Have A Dream (It's Called Home)." The band also then preceded to switch it up a bit, and Elias, the band's vocalist, picked up an acoustic guitar, and a few other members played harmonica and possibly a bongo drum for a fun rendition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." The band also switched instruments for another part of their set as well, their drummer playing piano, their bassist playing drums, and Elias continuing to play acoustic guitar. I was very impressed, and look forward to hearing the band's new album this fall.

Next up on the Inside Out Stage were Tooth & Nail's talented pop rock band, Hyland. The band played only from Weights & Measures, their new album, and announced that their song "Desperate Man" would be the next radio single from the album. They put on a solid show for sure, although the crowd was fairly small. Write This Down followed up Hyland, with a very energetic set, of their post-hardcore infused with some pop punk. They opened with the heavy "Renegade," and moved onto songs such as "Redemption" and "We Shot The Moon." After some dinner, I took a festival bus back to the grounds, and relaxed at a picnic table next to the Mercy St. Cafe for a bit, before the rain. It started off as a small drizzle, but by the time I headed back to camp to make sure all the tents were okay, the rain turned to a torrential downpour. I decided to just go back to the festival, and take refuge under the Inside Out Stage tent. Brian "Head Welch and band were just finishing up their last song, and they had a huge crowd. It was still surprisingly very muddy in the tent, but it was worth the wait to see Flatfoot 56, who always put on a great show. The band's Celtic punk rock is always great to hear (and watch in this case), playing "Smoke Blower" and a bunch of other songs spanning their discography, and of course ending with "Amazing Grace." The Inside Out Stage headliners for the night, and a longtime favorite band of mine, Emery, soon after took the stage. They opened with "So Cold I Could See My Breath," and then "The Cheval Glass." They also played "Scissors" and "The Curse of Perfect Days" from their latest album, We Do What We Want, and then went on to play an acoustic set, made up of "I Never Got To See The West Coast" and "The Ponytail Parades," the latter to the delight of the crowd. They also played "The Smile, The Face" and "Butcher's Mouth," and closed with fan favorite, "Walls," before coming back out for one more song to end with, "Studying Politics." I must say that fill-in bassist, Andy Nichols (of Queens Club), did a great job, and provided some quality backing vocals.

After Emery were over, I thought I would check out the Mercy St. Cafe for some late night music. As I walked in, I was impressed with the band who were playing, Big Kettledrum, a Southern rock band, who were putting on a fun show. Next up, after a long soundcheck, were The Wrecking. They played "Sound of The Resistance," "Fire," a few new songs, and "About To Fall" from what I heard, before leaving halfway through the set. Paul Colman was doing his late night set/recollection of the day at the Deeper Well Stage, and I got to see him playing "The One Thing," with some guests, who added some fun to the song. After that, I headed back to camp to rest up for Saturday, the festival's last day.


Saturday was the last day of SoulFest, and it started off interesting for me. I made it to the festival at 10 that morning, to check interview times for the day, and I was planning on watching Chad Johnson, founder of Come&Live!, at 10:30. I walked over to the Inside Out Stage where he was set to be speaking, and walked into something I was not expecting: a mass. Now when I saw on the schedule "Mass Celebration," I figured it would just be a large gathering of early morning worshipers, and not literally a Catholic mass, which caught me off guard. I waited for it to end, before actually heading back into the tent with the Inside Out Stage. Chad opened up his slotted speaking time with prayer, and then went into talking about his life and daily walk with God, and the beginnings of Come&Live!, a non-profit ministry that works as a community of musicians (musicianaries), all who give their music away for free. It was great to hear him speak, as CRR have been huge supporters of C&L! since their beginnings. I left a few minutes before he ended speaking, to catch up with The Ember Days for an interview with them on the mountain top. Starting off his acoustic worship set when we arrived at the top was Aaron Gillespie, who played both "We Were Made For You" and "Earnestly I Seek Thee" from his new album, Anthem Song, and some Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, and Matt Maher covers as well.

I then had some lunch and spent some more time at the campgrounds, taking a two hour break, before heading back to the festival at around 2:30. I watched Paul Colman's songwriting workshop at the Deeper Well Stage, which had a good sized crowd. He chose some people from the crowd to play some originals, and would work with the individual (after they performed) on how to make the song sound better. There was some real talent in the few artists that I saw, including a guy who had written a song about cliche Christian t-shirts he had seen throughout the week, and a friend of mine as well, named Troy Cole, who played a newly written song named "My Surrender." Right after, I got to interview Aaron Gillespie, and could hear Thousand Foot Krutch loud and clear from the press tent, performing the classic "Rawkfist."

Unfortunately due to dinner, I missed nearly all of The Ember Days 5:10 set on the Inside Out Stage, except for the last few minutes of it. Soon after, I headed over to the Revival Stage for one of the night's headlining acts, The Almost. They broke open their set with the high energy "Monster Monster," and played a few songs off the album of the same title as well, including "Hands" and "Lonely Wheel." They also played "Say This Sooner," which Aaron Gillespie stated was written about Johnny Cash, and "Southern Weather." The band also surprisingly played their Tom Petty cover, "Free Fallin'," which was great in the live setting. They then slowed things down a bit when they played "Dirty and Left Out," and "Amazing Because It Is," mixed with a cover of Hillsong's "With Everything," which Aaron performed last year with Canadian worship band Nine O Five, to close their set. After The Almost were finished, there was a half hour break, and a speaker for the organization Show Hope, which was followed by Caleb Chapman, Stephen Curtis Chapman's son and vocalist of the band Caleb, playing a few songs acoustic. He did "We Will Wait" and "Kingdom of Me," both of which I was very impressed with. After seeing his small set, I do wish that I had the opportunity to watch his band Caleb on Thursday, instead of just walking by a few of their sets.

After years of being a fan, this year was my first time seeing Switchfoot. Jon Foreman ran out onto the stage, with the rest of the band, and they started into "Mess of Me." "Stars" and "Oh, Gravity" followed up. The thousands of people at SoulFest watching the band were all singing along to every song, and when the band performed "We Are One Tonight," it was no exception; an amazing sight to see. The stage lights then dimmed down, and Jon Foreman walked out with a harmonica, and played it for a bit, before the opening sounds of "Your Love Is A Song" were heard. The band also played "The Sound," and "Gone," before debuting some new songs from their upcoming album, Vice Verses. The songs included the band's current radio single, "Restless," as well as the album's edgy opener, "Afterlife." I also heard the band do "Free" (from Hello Hurricane) and "This Is Your Life" as well, but left right after they later played another new single, "Dark Horses." My last set of the SoulFest that I would catch, and the festival's closing one, was The Ember Days. They got to play a new song from Emergency, and "Rest," from Finger Painting, before they switched to an acoustic set, due to later night sound limits. They played a new version of "Yeshua," another new song, and "It Is Well," to end their set. The presence of God during their set was amazing, and everyone there, myself included, was worshiping in some way, shape, or form. An amazing way to end SoulFest 2011.

Looking back, SoulFest was certainly an amazing time of music, friendship, and inspiration. The times of worship were amazing, from the upbeat style of The City Harmonic, to the intimate setting of The Ember Days, God's presence was certainly there. This year's SoulFest was definitely a highlight of all the big summer festivals and shows, and I am definitely looking forward to next year already!

Recap by Brooks Ginnan

SoulFest 2011 Photo Gallery (© 2011

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Ali Bajwa
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