Abraham New Growth Arts Festival Aug 9 2005
Introducing .. Abraham By J. JOHN JACKSON Gazette Student Intern Most successful musical groups wouldn't need much introduction in their own home towns after releasing 18 albums and touring the world. Abraham does. Then again, most successful musical musical groups wouldn't change their names after 17 years of steadily building a following under their original name. Abraham did. Furthermore, most successful musical groups aren't part of a non-profit organization. Abraham is. Most successful music groups wouldn't want to be accused of promoting promoting Christianity through their music. Abraham has built a reputation reputation upon it. Still, Abraham is like a lot of successful successful musical groups in.a lot of ways. It plays pop rock-n-roll-style music with electric guitars, keyboards, keyboards, bass and drums. It performs performs original material. It plays to crowds of young people in auditoriums, auditoriums, civic centers and outdoor festivals. festivals. Most successful musical groups wouldn't play a free concert in Indiana. Indiana. Abraham will. Sunday, • June 20, at 5 p.m., Abraham will , perform at the New Growth Arts - .Festival in downtown Indiana. " - "It's exciting," group founder John Abraham, an Indiana resident, resident, said. "We'll get a chance to . support the community and put something back into it." His group has been part of the local community since 1968, but it is better known by its original name. "A lot of people in the area would probably know us as the Watchmen," he said. "We have a more contemporary sound now ... We discovered that often times the name Watchmen conjured up in a kid's mind the image of four old men gathered around a piano sing- ing'Rock of Ages.' "There's nothing wrong with that kind of music, if that's what you're doing," he said. "We just don't happen to do it. So we found the name to be working against us on two counts. Moreover, he explained, "we've encountered at least six other music music goups in this country and in Canada, all varying in styles of music and commmilment to Christ, who all use the name Watchmen somehow. Frankly, on more than a few occasions, we have received negative publicity from some of these groups... We'd rather switch than fight." Abraham said the group chose its new name for "obvious reasons." reasons." There are three people with the last name Abraham 'in the band on stage — five on the road. It just seemed natural to do that. The name seemed both youthful and biblical, and it has given a positive positive image, Abraham said. When he founded the group in 1968, Abraham said, it was just "a hobby — something to do on weekends. weekends. At that time, ours was basi- ally a church-oriented program, which was difficult to market. "We played at churches and caught on through word of mouth," he said. "People from other churches would hear us and say, 'That was great! When can you come play at our church?' It caught on like that." Abraham said the group now plays "mostly at neutral venues — Watchmen ' Will 9've a free concert Sunday during the New Growth Arts auditoriums, civic centers and outside outside festivals." Part of the reason, he explained, was the group's use of "a wall of sound, lights and fog machines." He added that many churches aren't ready for the sound of the group's music. "We play power-pop rock in a Mr. Mister or Loverboy style of playing and singing if you want to equate it with something in the secular market," Abraham said. "We play 'ballads, hard-driving Survivor-type music and even a- capella songs. "There's been a change in the group musically, but message- wise we haven't changed," he said. "We still sing the Gospel. We figure churches have a lot going for older folks. We say, 'Give us your young people for 30 minutes during the day, and we'll have a concert in the evening.' "We're still giving the same message churches and evangelists have been giving for 2,000 years. We're the same as we were when we were singing the gospel hymns." He reminded, "At one time it was taboo to take a guitar in the sanctuary." Abraham believes being a member member of the group is a full-time job. The group travels "literally worldwide," worldwide," he said. "The world is our mission field. We've been to Europe, the Holy Land, Jamaica, all over the states ... In two weeks we're going to Hawaii." Hawaii." When the group isn't touring, Abraham said, it likes to perform "three days a week: Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The other four days we like to spend with our family. "Sometimes we'll play 20-30 days straight down south, but we like to get home," Abraham said. "We know bands that are doing great but are on the road all the time, and their families are falling apart at home." He said the group age ranges from its newest singer, Skip, 22, to himself, 38. All members of the band are particularly excited about their next album. The group has its first release on a major religions label due out at the end of this year. The album will be the band's 18th. As the group sang on a recent album, they "can't stop talking about Jesus." "For so long, if you were a Christian, Christian, it seemed like you had to drop out of life," Abraham said. "Our message is you can be a Christian and still enjoy life."