Jars of Clay mixes music and message

October 01, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

FREDERICK, Md. - On its latest album, "The Long Fall Back to Earth," Christian pop-rockers Jars of Clay continues a conversation that the band started with fans more than a decade ago, guitarist Stephen Mason explained.

It's all about duality, Mason said.

"I think that's the essence of the human heart, you know, the continual reconciliation of the darkness in our hearts with the light," Mason said in a recent phone interview with The Herald-Mail for the band's upcoming show in Frederick.

Three-time Grammy Award-winning Jars of Clay performs Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Weinberg Center for the Arts. Jars headlines the Creation Festival tour, along with Thousand Foot Krutch and FM Static. B. Reith, This Beautiful Republic and Audio Unplugged round out the lineup.

Formed in Illinois at the height of the 1990s alternative contemporary Christian music movement, Jars of Clay has been promoting "The Long Fall Back to Earth" and spreading the word about its nonprofit Blood:Water Mission, which aims to provide clean water and sanitation to communities in Africa.


Mason, who's one of the band's original members, said "Long Fall" challenged bandmates to meet fan expectations while meeting their own expectations as musicians and Christians. And for the band, it's not necessarily about getting airplay, Mason said.

"It really is a further engagement in how to experience the beauty and sorrow of life, and see our own stories redeemed in that conversation," Mason said.

"Long Fall" in many ways is a relationship album, examining interpersonal relationships and people's spiritual relationships. While the melodies are poppier than prior Americana-tinged Jars records and have a sound that Mason described as 1980s "now-tro," lyrically, it's not happy-go-lucky.

"I think a lot of our story and the band's - and I'd say the story of many in our community here - is that we only put forward the good bits," Mason said, "because we're convinced that other people, and I would even say God, should only want to see that."

But "Long Fall," he said, has more to do with authenticity - being yourself, for better or worse. Authenticity is the reason Mason likes artists like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. They tell it like it is, he said. The main takeaway from "Long Fall" could easily be about acknowledging that we're all works in progress.

"When we reconcile our hearts, we bring the full weight of who we are into our lives, into our relationships, into our love," Mason said. "It makes the sorrow sadder, but it also makes the beauty more beautiful. We're feeling and we're acting, we're praying - we're doing all these things with a more complete heart. I don't know that it will ever be fully reconciled."

About Jars of Clay

Genre: Contemporary Christian, rock

Vocals: Dan Haseltine

Keyboard: Charlie Lowell

Guitar: Stephen Mason

Bass: Matt Odmark


If you go ...

WHAT: Jars of Clay concert, part of Creation Festival tour

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8,

WHERE: Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., downtown Frederick, Md.

COST: Tickets cost $25, $40 and $50. Call 301-600-2828 for ticket information.

MORE: Jars of Clay performs with Thousand Foot Krutch, Audio Unplugged, B. Reith, FM Static and This Beautiful Republic.


The Herald-Mail Articles