Sonfest brings Christian rock with an edge

California alternative rock band to play high-energy music with Christian message on July 4 weekend

Posted: Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Shadowbox Puppets singer Brian Seewald loves the way a lot of today's popular bands sound. He's just not happy with what they're saying.

"I hear this great music, but I don't want to listen to somebody's anger issues," he said.

Shadowbox Puppets is an alternative rock band with lyrics that reflect the Christian values of the four musicians. The players are serious about being Christians, but Seewald said he has mixed feelings about being labeled as a Christian band. He said Christian music often is so sweet and sappy and watered down that although the message is positive, the music is boring.

"I don't think people will hear the words if they re not attracted to the music," he said. "They have to like the sound. If you've captured them musically, then lyrically you can tell them whatever you want."

Shadowbox Puppets will perform five concerts in Juneau between Wednesday, July 3, and Sunday, July 7. John and Linda Wahl of Calvary Fellowship are bringing the Southern California- based group to Juneau, as well as Seattle singer, songwriter and guitarist Sherri Youngward.

The Wahls started working with the Douglas Fourth of July Committee four years ago to have music at Sandy Beach, and they are calling the series of performances Sonfest.

"This is the fourth year Sherri's come up. She's been here every year," Linda Wahl said.

"We want to provide good concerts around the Fourth of July," John said. "Basically it's two-fold, ministry for our church and a chance to bring up bands from down south."

This is the second year for the rock band.

"Shadowbox - last year they were really good, but it rained and we wanted to give them a chance to come up when its sunny," John said.

The musicians will perform from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday in Marine Park, and from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday at Sandy Beach during the Fourth of July activities. They'll also play concerts in the Lemon Creek Correctional Center and at the Johnson Youth Center, a state detention center for juveniles.

Shadowbox Puppets and Youngward will be part of services at Auke Bay Bible Church on Sunday afternoon, and Youngward will perform a solo concert from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at the Back Room at the Silverbow Inn. All events are free.

Former Juneau sound technician Frank Gwin, who relocated to the Anchorage area last year, is returning for the week and will be doing sound for the shows.

Linda Wahl said Youngwald will feature music from her new CD, "Six inches of Sky."

"It's kind of a folky rock Christian worship album," she said. "Her stuff is kind of folk-rock. Her lyrics tend to tell stories about her experiences; each song is like a story about something she's done or a person in her life."

Shadowbox Puppets includes Seewald and his brother, guitarist Mike Seewald, drummer Michael Matus and bassist Steve Hartz. The brothers were part of a worship team at their church, and the band grew out of their desire to play original Christian music.

"We wanted to create music that was a little edgier than the usual Christian music," Brian Seewald said. "I'm not saying hard-core punk, but it seemed like Christian music was always behind in style. We wanted to be on the forefront. Hopefully our style would be accepted just as music that's out there and driving and flourishing."

The band released a six-song CD, "Glimpse," in 2000, a recording that Seewald said offered a glimpse of who they are. They've recently recorded a full-length CD they hope to release this year.

"This one is more in your face, more than a glimpse," he said. "It's more excitable and higher energy."

The name Shadowbox Puppets refers to the idea that God is in control of their lives. Seewald said the band members are very upfront about their Christianity, but their performances are not always overt.

"We might let the music alone be a testimony, with no preaching, just play the music," he said. "It depends. I love to share and challenge."

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