Divine Inspiration: S.P. Christian Rockers Celebrate National Release
Four friends, drawn together by faith and their love of music, will commemorate the release of their new CD with a live performance at Potter's Caf in Aberdeen on Saturday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. They made it on a song and a prayer -- and a bird named Charlie.
Southern Pines residents Wayne Haiduven, Kenn Florell, Hoyt Kennedy and Matt Meyer formed a Christian rock group, Meshach (pronounced
me-shack) six years ago.
The name refers to a story in the Book of Daniel about three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who refused to worship a false god as commanded by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. As punishment, the king ordered the men to be thrown into a fiery furnace. When onlookers peered into the fire, they saw four figures, not three, walking through the flames. The king realized the fourth figure was an angel sent to protect the men. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego emerged from the fire unscathed.
The group, including former member Lynn Bailey, released its own self-titled album in 2004. The members paid for the studio time and 1,000 copies of the 10-song album out of their own pockets.
After Bailey departed, the group was faced with the loss of a songwriter and vocalist. The foursome stepped up to the challenge, though, and emerged with a record contract on a national label and nine new songs, including a new rendition of an old rock tune.
The new album, "For You," came about through a new-found friend. Haiduven, who plays guitar and does vocals, and his wife, Delette, raise Gouldian finches. The couple bought one of the finches (later dubbed Charlie) from a man named Chris Ervin.
When Haiduven and Ervin began talking, Haiduven mentioned he was in a band and gave Ervin one of the group's CDs. Later, Ervin asked for a second copy of the CD and then a third. Haiduven soon discovered that not only was Ervin a bird enthusiast, but he was also best friends with Dave Moody, the head of a national record company called Lamon Records.
Lamon's acts run the gamut of Christian music from gospel to bluegrass, but "they've never signed a rock band," says Haiduven.
Lamon was impressed with what the foursome brought to the label.
"It was a pleasure to work with Meshach in the studio," says Nelson McSwain, Lamon's artists and repertoire director, and co-producer of the CD. "For people like myself that grew up in the '70s listening to Styx, Kansas, Foreigner, etc., you know, the rock bands of that era, I can appreciate what this group of guys are doing. They all have great attitudes. It's obvious that their hearts are in the music and that they love what they do."
Meshach's members mainly cite influences from '70s and '80s hard rock bands like AC/DC, KISS, Def Leppard and Motrhead. Florell, the keyboard player, especially feels influenced by Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, so much so that he thanks Wakeman on the CD sleeve and sent him a copy of the album.
The members' musical backgrounds show through in their finished product. Meshach's songs range from power ballads to metal anthems fit for arenas, but they are all most definitely rock, and every song is unmistakably faith-based.
As Kennedy, the bass player points out, "That message is in it. It's not underlined. It's not hidden back. It's not a lot of metaphors in there. It's right out in front."
Meshach recorded its first national release in Lamon's Charlotte studios. It took the band only four days to lay down 10 songs, which include a revamped version of one track from the first album and a beefed-up version of Norman Greenbaum's 1970 hit, "Spirit in the Sky." The band had to alter the original lyrics slightly because it couldn't, in good conscience, claim it was totally devoid of sin.
"'Never been a sinner/I've never sinned.' That doesn't work for us. Love the sinner, hate the sin -- that just seemed to work out great," says Kennedy.
Meshach's "Spirit in the Sky" has been distributed to more than 1,000 Christian stations across the country for airplay. Never mind that Greenbaum was actually Jewish, and the band members themselves belong to different Christian congregations. Meshach's members don't let distinctions like that stop them from doing and playing what they like.
"There's no such thing as Christian music. It's all just music," Florell maintains.
While the guys wouldn't mind quitting their day jobs and becoming full-time musicians, they are perfectly content plugging along as they are, practicing once a week and playing a weekend here and there.
"If all we ever did was touch one person, it's worth it," says drummer Matt Meyer.
Meshach will appear at the Potter's Caf, 201 W. South St. in Aberdeen, at 7 on Saturday night. Admission is free.
For more information about the band, the CD and other shows, visit www.meshachband.com.
Megan Capehart is a local freelance writer.
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