LET’S GET RIGHTEOUS
By Dan MacIntosh
When David Crowder, the longtime leader of the David Crowder Band, arrives at Winter Jam in Ontario on November 8, he will be billed simply as Crowder: solo artist. Therefore, one just has to wonder how this concert will be different from the history of the David Crowder Band sounds from the past.
“It’s about 180, as far as the sonic quality,” Crowder explains. “The instrumentation is just miles apart. It’s all porch music. There’s nothing on stage that you can’t have on a porch and sing along with after a good meal, or something to that effect. No computers or any of that stuff we used to be doing in the Crowder Band. This is just all traditional instrumentation—banjos and dobros and fiddles and upright basses—that kind of thing. For one, that’s a drastic departure from where we were. Although we dabbled in acoustic arrangements, we couldn’t leave the computer alone. I’m just trying to do that for a few years and see what happens.”
Nevertheless, fans of the David Crowder Band will still have a chance to hear some group favorites. “It’s kind of split,” Crowder elaborates. “We’ll be reinterpreting much of the things that lived with us as the Crowder Band in this new outfit, and also there’s new stuff I’m kind of hackling through while making the new record. We already have a number of those new songs on the road with us at this point. And definitely as important as being in the studio by yourself, is getting those songs out amongst the people who are letting you know what’s supposed to go. So it’ll be a little old and a little new all mixed in one place.”
Although this combination of new songs, and older songs packaged in new wineskins, may be a stretch for audiences expecting a typical David Crowder Band show, the man that wrote the majority of them is overjoyed to mix it all up.
“It’s fun for me because all those songs that I lived with for years, in their previous form, have taken on a new life, just for my own self and my own enjoyment,” Crowder admits. “Given my outlook on life, there’s a different layer of spirituality they’ve brought to me that just feeds or expands on what they’ve already meant to me as a person. So, that part’s been really, really fun. It’s like rediscovering a song as it turns brand new again.”
For his new Crowder Band-less music, Crowder has both a sonic and a visual vision already formed in his head for it. This vision was initially inspired by a small church Crowder once visited in West Virginia, which is set in the middle of town with its steeple pointed up toward the heavens.
“That’s the metaphor for understanding faith,” Crowder says. “Here we have our feet stuck on the ground and there’s this edifice, this piece of architecture in the center and the heart of our city, or village or town, whatever you want to call it, that’s pointing to something that’s more transcendent. That lifts your eyes above the fray, so to speak. So there’s that visual metaphor that exists in our communal life, whether you’re buying in or not, there’s that hope that is present in the here and now. So that’s kind of formed what I want to do with this music and even the instrumentation. I want it to be really rootsy and grounded, and at the same time future-oriented.”
Winter Jam is not just another festival for Crowder, however. It’s also a time for sincere fellowship among the artists.
“The thing I loved about the last Winter Jam was we had these church services every Sunday where all the artists are in the room—all the crew folks and everybody that’s making this thing happen—there all together once a week, and one of the artists is leading the music and one of the pastors is speaking,” says Crowder. “And I look forward to that all week long. And it’s called ‘Jam Church,’ and I could not wait for Jam Church to happen. That was my highlight of the week.”
David Crowder at Winter Jam, Citizens Business Bank Arena, 4000 E. Ontario Center Pkwy., Ontario, (909) 244-5500; www.cbbankarena.com. Sat, Nov. 8. 7pm.