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Bands like NeedToBreathe offer new venue for believers

Sep. 16, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- With a variety of new venues, Huntington's music scene has flourished in the past few years.

Occasionally, we're even treated to tour stops from national acts like Kid Rock or Travis Tritt. But for local fans of Christian rock, the pickings remain rather slim. That's one reason Pastor Bryan Hagley of River Cities Community Church is looking forward to today's NeedToBreathe concert at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.

"Personally music is a powerful tool in my life," Hagley said. "It's one of the ways in my relationship with Christ when I have an opportunity to worship. Through the music itself, and obviously the lyrics, I can worship God and have fun doing so."

The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $22 and $27 and are available at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena box office, Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.

Hagley, who left the bustling community of Christians surrounding Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., five months ago to join the congregation of River Cities, said he is always glad to see bands who explore Christian themes in their music come through town.

"I believe one, when you are in an environment where the point or purpose of that concert is not just to have fun but to honor and glorify God at the same time, for Christian young people those experiences are the most exciting and enjoyable to be around," Hagley said.

He thinks these opportunities are so valuable, in fact, that he plans to take his group of young people to Lynchburg this winter for their annual WinterFest concert, featuring big-name Christian artists like Toby Mac. A little closer to home, Winter Jam in Charleston is another favorite, offering young people a chance to rub elbows with fellow music fans who share their faith.

NeedToBreathe is not, in their own words, a Christian band. But their music explores themes of faith and Christian values in slightly abstract terms. Hagley cited the lyrics to their hit song "Something Beautiful" -- "Hey now this is my desire/consume me like a fire/'cause I want something beautiful."

"That something beautiful, they're speaking of God," Hagley said. He sees lyrics like this as an opening for his students to practice evangelism, an important tenet of their faith.

"That might not be a bold, direct evangelistic lyrical content, but I think there are those times where it is a good tool to open the door to somebody," he said. "It gives you a chance to open the discussion -- these words that discuss the beauty of Christ, what does that mean to you?"

NeedToBreathe is just the sort of band that presents such opportunities. Having both topped the Christian charts and toured with Taylor Swift, they long ago established cross-over appeal between mainstream and Christian audiences. Their reputation as a vigorous, exciting live act precedes them, and their music blends the Southern rock styling of groups like Kings of Leon with the widespread appeal of adult contemporary Christian-friendly heavyhitters Creed. It doesn't hurt that many find them to be good looking.

The band, led by brothers Bear and Bo Rinehart, is touring in support of its new album "The Reckoning." The band's last album, "The Outsiders" hit number 9 on Billboard's Rock Albums chart and went Top 20 on the Top 200.

For believers and non-believers alike, tonight's show promises to be a well-attended romp filled with fans singing along and loving the music together. Even if their Christian undertones don't speak to everyone in the crowd, fellowship in music is a good thing -- no matter what you believe.

If you go

WHAT: National Christian rockers NeedToBreathe, the South Carolina-based band which placed its last CD, "The Outsiders" into the Top 10 on the Billboard Rock Albums chart. That concert also features Parachute and Drew Holcomb.

WHERE: Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16

HOW MUCH: $22 and $27

GET TICKETS: Keith-Albee box office opens at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16

INCOMING SHOWS AT THE KEITH-ALBEE:

Marshall Artists Series: The Marshall Artists Series accepts all major credit cards. For tickets call the Marshall Artists Series box office at 304-696-6656. Order tickets online at Ticketmaster.com.

An Evening with John Legend: At 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20. presented in cooperation with the Marshall University Campus Activity Board. Tickets are $45/$40.

"Titanic: The Broadway Musical" 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1. Tickets are $58/$50/$45.

"Skateistan" (documentary film). This astonishing documentary kicks off the Marshall Artists Series Fall International Film Festival, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 in the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10.

Fall International Film Festival: Oct. 12-17 at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Featured films include: "A Separation" (Iran), "The Kid With A Bike" (Belgium), "Applause" (Denmark), "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (USA), "Footnote" (Israel), and "Headhunters" (Norway). Tickets are $7.50 per film.

Mountain Stage: Join Larry Groce, host and artistic director of the iconic WV radio program. Artists performing include Dr. Dog, Spirit Family Reunion and The Mountain Goats. More artists are to be announced at the historic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

The Irish Tenors Holiday Celebration: with Tynan - Wright - Kearns, with 30 Piece Orchestra - Enjoy the boisterous charm of The Irish Tenors- Ronan Tynan, Finbar Wright, Anthony Kearns, with a full orchestra at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3. Tickets are $62.50/$50/$45.

SMG/Big Sandy Arena Presents: Tickets at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena box office, Ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.

The Fresh Beat Band, Nickelodeon's popular preschool music group and stars of the hit TV series on Oct. 10. Tickets are $32, $38 and $118.

Travis Tritt's First Christmas Tour: 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2. Tickets are $39.50, $49.50 and went on sale Friday, Sept. 14.

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