I left work early on Friday so that I could attend the BLOOD:WATER symposium that was meeting in Screening Room A at the new Regent University Communications building. On my way there, I was listening to Furthermore: From the Stage and had to pump up the volume during Crazy Times (I love what Jars did with this song for their concerts).
Anyway, I finally made it to the communications building with a few minutes to spare. On the way to the screening room I met some guy that wanted to know how to get to the auditorium for the concert that evening, and he also asked if the band was already there. Right then, Dan and Matt walked through the passageway door and I said, “Actually, they’re right there… hey guys”, (being as nonchalant as I could). Dan answered back, “Hey”, and walked to the screening room.
I did all I could to compose myself as I walked into the screening room. It was a really small room, so I knew it wasn’t going to be a big crowd. Dan, Matt, Charlie and Aaron were in the room getting things together for their presentation. I don’t know where Steve was, but he eventually came in. Aaron greeted me with enthusiasm as I shook his hand and introduced myself. The place began crawling with Regent Communication students and their video cameras. Several students were interviewing the Jars for their class projects and what not.
They were finally ready to start the discussion about their mission, so Dan got up behind the podium and spoke from his heart about BLOOD:WATER and how students can get involved to help the cause. A couple other Regent University Staff spoke about their involvement with the AIDS crisis in Africa and their intentions of working along the same guidelines as the Jars. One of these speakers talked about how they are using entertainment and celebrities in Africa (soccer stars, etc) to educate them about HIV/AIDS.
Once the presentations were finished, it was time for questions and answers (my quotes here are not entirely accurate, but are given to sum up what was said and the feeling I got from this symposium). I asked them a question related to entertainment missions:
Other questions were asked such as, “Why should we care?” to which they took no offence and answered graciously, “Because we’re seeing children die that don’t have a chance to live – all their hopes and dreams are being stripped away from them and it’s just sad to watch a nation fall apart like that.” One student asked how she could be involved outside of financial commitments and they talked about holding discussions on campus and using their talents and abilities to get the word out to sponsors and what not.
The discussion ended soon thereafter and they said they would be sticking around to speak individually with people and meet those who came out to the symposium. I took the opportunity to just hang out and listen to other people’s concerns or expressions of gratitude for the band. When things were coming to a close, I asked Matt if he would sign my guitar. So I laid it on the table (in an almost sacrificial way, it seemed – since it’s a Taylor “Big Baby”) and let Matt have it with his Sharpie. Charlie was next to sign and I asked him to draw his trademark “Jar of Clay” logo – he also scribed, “Jars of Clay” across the logo, too. Then I got Aaron to sign it because I figured he’s a big part of the band, too.
While I was waiting for Dan and Steve to sign, I got to talk at length with Charlie about stuff in general. I told him that my first Jars concert was on the day his twin sons were born back in August 2000 in Harrisonburg, VA – which meant that he was not there to play… there was a backup keyboardist from Burlap to Cashmere. I said I felt gypped because I didn’t get to experience the “real” thing with the whole band. But it was OK, because I saw them several other times thereafter. I mentioned how I really liked the song Hymn, and he told me that they are already working on a new album that will be mostly old hymns put to a new sound. He said it would definitely be more acoustic sounding, which has become their newest goal since they started recording on their own.
Then I told them that I was supposed to ask if they would play Art in Me, at which Charlie remarked that they haven’t played that song live in a long time. I told them that I knew some guy who recently offered Dan $100 dollars if he would do the song. Charlie nodded, “…Geeves [made the offer]… but we didn’t cash the check.” Hey Geeves, Charlie remembers you!
Finally, Dan got around to signing my guitar while they were heading out to the sound check, but Steve Mason was nowhere to be found! I didn’t freak out because Charlie was still there and he knew it was important to me that I get all their signatures. He asked if I wanted to bring it into the concert with me but I really didn’t want to… so he suggested that he take it backstage with him, get Steve to sign it and that I could get it after the concert from security. I said sure… and with that, I left my guitar in Jars of Clay’s trust! (Now I can say that my guitar was onstage with the Jars in concert – haha!)
The concert wouldn’t start for a couple hours so I went home and had dinner with my wife, Beth. 'Long about 6:45 PM, I was getting anxious to head over to the concert, so she graciously finished getting ready and stood in line with me for 45 minutes. It paid off because we got really good seats (there was no designated seating).
The concert started at 8:00 PM with Steve Delopoulos (lead singer from Burlap to Cashmere). I thought his playing was terrific, but wasn’t very impressed with him as a performer. He tried to be funny at times, but seemed to lack a certain charisma from the stage. Once he finished his piece, there was a short intermission and Jars took the stage about 9:00 PM.