Feb. 26, 2004

Jars of Clay To Share its Positive Music with Vic Show

By Randy J. Klodz

Jars of Clay is not tiny take-home portions of “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken. With that aside, Jars of Clay, one of the most acclaimed Christian pop-rock bands to date, will make its lone Chicago stop on Feb. 26 at Vic Theatre.

Jars of Clay—which features Dan Haseltine (vocals, percussion), Stephen Mason (guitar, lap and pedal steel, mandolin), Matthew Odmark (acoustic guitar, banjo) and Charlie Lowell (piano, organ, keyboards)—released its highly anticipated release “Who We Are Instead” last November.

Much has been made of the band’s Christian roots, of which each of the band’s members take pride in, but often, as Jars of Clay’s vocalist said, the term “Christian” may give potential listeners an improper first impression. “There are so many things that attach themselves to that label,” he said. “Even when you just use the word ‘Christian,’ it means so many things to so many different people. To a lot of people it’s things that are very negative. It means music that is not relevant to what they are dealing with; it’s music that is for a specific purpose and not them.

“We wrestle with that a great deal and know that because we have that label, there are people that won’t listen to our music, that won’t even put on our CD. And that’s troubling to us, because we are trying to make music that is us describing our world—and it’s the same world that everybody lives in.”

With that said, it’s no wonder that Jars of Clay enjoys each stop it makes within the city of Chicago. Haseltine said that the strong support of both the Christian fans, as well as the pop-rock fans of Chicago help the band “blur some of the lines between the Christian market and mainstream music.”

“Who We Are Instead” fully displays Jars of Clay’s often acoustic pop-rock sound, with the positive, uplifting vocals of Haseltine—a sound that would thrill any Christian fan, as well as any fan of light rock. Songs such as “Show Your Love,” “Sunny Days” and “Trouble Is” are bound to put a hop in the step of any listener.

Aside from spreading its talents in the form of musicianship, Jars of Clay also helps within the community. The band has founded “Blood: Water Mission,” a non-profit organization that strives to educate others on the perils of the HIV/AIDS pandemic taking place in Third World countries. Haseltine and his bandmates saw the horror that the virus can create while visiting various countries throughout Africa. While on one of the tours of the continent, Haseline said that one of the tour guides said, “I want to play a game. I’m just going to drive around, and see if you can find someone that looks older than 15.”

“We drove around,” Haseltine said, “and we didn’t find a single person that looked older than 15; they were all dead.” First-hand visions such as these have pushed the band’s members to spread the word throughout college campuses, or through any other means necessary. More information on the organization can be found at www.bloodwatermission.org.

Vic Theatre is at 3145 N. Sheffield Ave. Tickets for this all-ages show are listed for $20 each in advance or $25 each at the door, with a show time slated for 7:30 p.m. For more info on the band log on to www.jarsofclay.com.

Jars of Clay Photo: Martyn Atkins