By Rich Place
Members of the band Sidewalk Prophets have a mission to make their fans and those in the audience feel like a family, and they’ll show exactly what they mean when the band visits Springville on May 12.
The contemporary Christian music group from Nashville, Tenn., will make a stop at the SGI High School as part of its Something Different Tour in 3D, a whirlwind trip that takes them all across the country.
“Our core base of fans — and you’ll see this at the show — are what we call the Great Big Family,” said Ben McDonald, one of the bands founding members, in a recent conversation with the Springville Times. “Essentially, our goal is to remove the line between stage and audience and … we really want to truly provide an outlet where people feel needed, accepted and part of something.”
McDonald and fellow founding member David Frey started the band in college when the two were attending Anderson University in Indiana more than 15 years ago.
Much has changed since they were mixing their lyrics together, singing into a microphone that hung from their dorm room ceiling and having their songs spread across campus on Napster under the band’s original name, 4 Floors II Heaven. The group — now Sidewalk Prophets, based partially on the Jars of Clay song, “Art in Me” — has since produced six albums including the first, self-titled album in 2003 with an independent label and a Christmas album in 2013. They also won the Dove Award for New Artist of the Year in 2010.
The band’s most well known singles include “The Words I Would Say,” “Love Me Anyway,” “Prodigal” and one of their latest, “Come to the Table.”
While most of their songs have Christian themes to them, McDonald said the designation of a “Christian band” can be misleading. After all, the bands members are Christians so they are just singing about everyday life just like any other songwriter would.
“If we write a song that specifically talks about God or Jesus … it’s just as powerful as if I write a song about my wife and I write about my job, because He is in all things,” he said.
“Our goal is to live real and honest lives and create art that reflects that truths of our lives,” McDonald continued. “I think really what comes out of the heart and why we have been able to stay successful — we’ve been a band for 16 years — is that honesty and truthfulness of what comes out in the songwriting.”
As McDonald talked about the sense of community the band tries to develop with fans while touring the country, Sidewalk Prophets witnessed an example of their dedicated fan base only days into this year’s tour when a fire destroyed one of their trailers with about $100,000 worth of equipment in it.
Within two weeks, about 1,400 people had donated about $100,000 to help the band out, McDonald said.
“For us, that just motivated us a whole lot more,” he said. “People believed in what we do and we are definitely humbled by that.”
Sidewalk Prophets began its tour this year in early February in Arkansas and has toured down to Texas, over to California and throughout parts of the midwest and east coast. By the time they arrive in Springville on May 12, they’ll have completed about three dozen stops with more than 20 remaining stops through September.
“It’s been going really good,” McDonald said about the tour. “We are a touring band … it’s all about perspective. If you are not intentional, if you are not working with the right people, the road will eat you alive.”
The band’s shows feature a handful of special 3D effects — thus the “in 3D” part of their tour title — with the old school red and blue glasses, McDonald said. And he invites everyone to come and be a part of the band’s Great Big Family.
“In the broader scheme of Christian life and the church and Christianity as a whole, we view the Great Big Family and our responsibility or our little blip on the map where we can foster that environment,” he said. “Music is part of that — it opens up the doors of people’s souls and lives to say ‘this some spoke to me in a way, at a time in my life, no other conversation or anything else could speak to it.’”
Few tickets remain for the band’s performance at the SGI High School at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 12. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased online by visiting the tour schedule at sidewalkprophets.com or by searching for the event on Facebook.