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Rock & Worship Roadshow rolls into Charlottesville

Nine bands bring faith-based music to U.Va. March 12

Nine bands will offer a faith-based show March 12 at John Paul Jones Arena as part of “Christian music’s most entertaining tour for the whole family.” Arts and Entertainment had the opportunity to speak to two of the touring artists — Adam Agee, lead vocalist of Audio Adrenaline, and Duncan Phillips, drummer for Newsboys. Both Christian rock groups are excited to bring their newest hits to the vibrant, youthful crowd.

Known to fans as Audio A, the band is made up of four guys who have played in various groups over the years, and came together in 2015 to spread faith and hope through encouraging lyrics and motivational beats. The group’s newest album — “Sound of the Saints” — offers upbeat, Coldplay-esque songs that fans can listen to when in need of a musical pep talk.

“A lot of the Audio A tunes of the past have talked about the same thing, whether it’s championing the underdog or those who are thought of as not as important in society, and I think we’ve definitely got some themes like that,” Agee said. “That’s what ‘Sound of the Saints’ is about — all different people — all coming and joining together in the same song.”

In addition to sharing optimistic messages through their music, Audio A sponsors the Hands and Feet Project — a nonprofit the band founded in 2004 to provide shelter, food and support to impoverished children in Haiti. Haitian orphans can live in Hands and Feet campuses until they are 18, when they can transition to an adult living center or begin living on their own.

“The life expectancy on the street for a kid is only a couple days, so we try to do everything we can to take care of as many as we can,” Agee said. “The band’s going to go down to Haiti for two separate trips in August, and we want people to come down and experience what it’s like, to see the difference, you know, between some of the kids who are growing up on the streets and then the kids who are in our project.”

After the end of the Rock and Worship Roadshow, Audio A will then go on a smaller tour with Newsboys before embarking on their trip to various Hands and Feet campuses in Haiti. Agee spoke highly of Newsboys, and the ability of all the bands on the Roadshow to learn from each other’s style and collaborate to create new works.

Founded in 1985 — a year before Audio A — Newsboys brought together Christian artists Jody Davis, Duncan Phillips, Jeff Frankenstein and Michael Tait. Drummer Duncan Phillips echoed Agee’s sentiments, maintaining that the Roadshow brings clean, positive messages to communities while allowing artists to work with like-minded players.

“We’ve got this kind of similar focus, so there’s no one trying to outdo each other, it turns into this thing where we’re all speaking about the same thing,” Phillips said. “There’s this common thread that runs through when you come see the Roadshow, and it’s a family thing.”

Philips expressed excitement for the March 4 debut of “Love Riot,” the band’s newest record. Phillips also spoke of the fine balance between maintaining fan familiarity and keeping up with the changing times in the music world. He compared the process of debuting a new record to the moment a parent introduces their newborn infant to the world, full of pride and nervous anticipation of its reception.

“[As a band] we’ll take you on a journey, but we’re not gonna go so far that people just don’t connect anymore because [then] you’ve gone too far musically,” Phillips said. “This right now, I think it’s the sound’s perfect, it’s a great record.”

While proud of the faith-based music Newsboys and others on the Roadshow are currently producing, Phillips hopes for change in the Christian Church as a whole. He wants the development of a more accepting, positive community, he said, as described in the songs on “Love Riot.”

“We want to riot for love because that is what our faith is built on. The Bible talks about love so many times through the scriptures,” Phillips said. “We’ve separated ourselves from the culture, we haven't been good at loving people, we’ve stood on our soapbox, pointed the finger, tell everyone they’re going to hell. … The thing that I’ve learned — that doesn’t work.”

More than anything, Phillips, as well the other members of Newsboys and Audio A want to provide loving lyrics that show their acceptance of fans from all walks of life.

“Music connects. It’s the international language of love,” Phillips said.