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Christian rock concert goes on with a hitch

August 11, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

The audience didn't come in the hoped-for numbers for a two-day Christian rock concert at Whitetail Ski Resort this weekend, but it did come through in another way that helped ensure the show went on.

With the concert - called The Awakening 2002 - on the verge of being cut short by several hours due to low attendance, audience members contributed nearly $5,000 to help defray the expenses and keep the show going until the scheduled conclusion, promoter Nick Hodges said.

Around mid-afternoon Hodges, 28, of Mercersburg, took to the stage to tell the crowd that attendance had fallen far below expectations and there would not be enough money to cover expenses. Hodges was going to cut his losses, and promised to make refunds to the audience.

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In response to the announcement, Hodges said many in the audience indicated they wanted the music to continue and began to make donations. Altogether, he said, about $5,000 was donated by a crowd he estimated at approximately 600 people.

Nine bands were lined up for Saturday's show, which started at 10 a.m. and was scheduled to end after 11 p.m. following a performance by the main act, the OC Supertones of Nashville, Tenn. The event began around 5 p.m. Friday and resumed Saturday morning.

Hodges said he needed about 1,300 walk-in patrons to pay at the gate both Friday and Saturday in addition to those who had bought advance tickets if he was to break even.

He said it became obvious around 3 p.m. Saturday that he wasn't going to make it. That's when he made his reimbursement offer, he said.

The owner of the elaborate staging that was set up for the concert threatened to take down his equipment unless he was paid in full, Hodges said.

"He softened later and said if we covered his costs he would leave it up. The bands agreed to take a down payment," he said.

Hodges said he called the members of the Supertones, who were en route from Nashville, and told them to turn around because he wouldn't have the $9,000 to pay them.

"They decided to keep driving to see what happened," he said.

They also agreed to take payments later. They were expected to arrive by 10 p.m. and take their turn on the stage for the concert finale.

This was the second year for the Awakening concert. The first one, held last year at the Washington County Family Recreation Park, also lost money, Hodges said.

That event was also marred by neighbors' complaints about the noise.

"The police came by four times and told us to keep the noise down," he said.

Hodges thinks moving the concert to Whitetail to eliminate such complaints may have cost him some patrons.

"Some people may think it's too far from Hagerstown," he said.

Hodges, who owns a homebuilding company with his father, was raised in a religious family, he said. He founded the Faith Awareness Network in Hagerstown, sponsor of the Awakening concerts, to encourage churches "to come together in a Christian community to spread God's talents and gifts."

He's been involved in youth ministry work since he was 12. Most of the patrons at Whitetail Saturday appeared to be in their late teens to early 20s.

The Christian bands that played at the concert - Vroom, Earthsuit, Eavesfall, 13th Tribe, Phat Chance and 38th Parallel - have names that could identify them as hard rock and rap groups.

"They have the same sounds, but their message is different," Hodges said.

Delila Walker and her friend, Katie Fike, both 16 and both from Greencastle, Pa., said they came Saturday to take in the mix of music and evangelism.

Jeanie Blevens, 22, and her friend, Angela Busick, 25, both of Baltimore, said they try to get to as many Christian rock concerts as they can. Like others interviewed Saturday, they attended a major concert called Creation in Mount Union, Pa., in June.

"We don't go to rock concerts, just Christian concerts," Blevens said. "They have better people and a different message."

Gayle Maas of Big Pool and her friend, Chris King of Hagerstown, were there with their 16-year-old daughters.

"We go whenever they have them," Maas said of Christian rock concerts. "It's good entertainment and it's wonderful to see the kids coming together to worship the Lord and to get encouragement from the band members and speakers."

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