Archive | Film and Sound

Switchfoot comes to IWU for second time

switchfoot_img01_hiresFive California surfers turned musicians will travel to Marion, Ind. April 4 to share songs about experiencing the world.

Switchfoot last came to Indiana Wesleyan University in spring 2010 when the Chapel-Auditorium opened for the first time. Now four years later, they’ve released their ninth studio album, “Fading West.”

The band will headline the 8 p.m. concert for Fusion, a youth event hosted by IWU, alongside music by the Brandon Grissom Band, Jordan Brown (alumna ‘12) and a dance performance by Momentum.

This concert is in the midst of Switchfoot’s Fading West tour that began in September 2013. Chad Butler, Switchfoot’s drummer, says some of the band’s best shows have happened in small towns on the tour.

“In those big cities, they get concerts every night,” Butler says. “And then sometimes in the smaller towns, the music is more appreciated.”

Butler is one of the original three Switchfoot members, alongside brothers Jon and Tim Foreman. Even after spending 17 years together and the additions of Jerome Fontamillis and Drew Shirley, Butler says it’s still fun.

“It’s such a gift,” Butler says. “Every morning I wake up and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play music that I believe in with people I love.”

And now, the band has done something completely different than ever before — starred in a documentary.

“We picked our favorite places around the planet that had good surfing and went to look for new musical inspiration and chase waves around the world,” Butler says.

The documentary is called “Fading West,” just like the album, and follows the band through their 2012 World Tour. Butler says this it’s the biggest project Switchfoot has ever done in their almost two decades of music. All of the songs on their newest album are based off places they visited.

“It’s a documentary about music and surfing, but it’s also a look behind the scenes to the humanity and the brotherhood that we have in the band,” Butler says. “It has a real heart beat and I think it’s a human story that anybody can relate to.”

Since the documentary focused on one year of the band’s life, they were able to travel throughout the world and wherever they wanted. Butler says Indonesia and South Africa were his two favorite places.

In Capetown, South Africa, the band visited a children’s choir called the Kuyasa Kids. These children became orphans because of AIDS. It was Switchfoot’s second time visiting them and on the “Fading West” album, they’re featured in the song “The World You Want.”

“So these kids, they have a really difficult circumstance, and yet they have so much hope in their eyes,” Butler says. “And we were really inspired working with them … We have a lot to learn from them.”

According to Butler, the band has always had a heart for kids. For the past 10 years, Switchfoot has hosted a concert and surf contest called Switchfoot Bro-Am during the summer. All funds raised at the event through vendors, sponsorships and an auction benefit San Diego children’s charities.

“Kids are really important to us,” Butler says. “I feel like we’ve been given so much and music has given us such an opportunity. We look for opportunities to give back to shine the spotlight on kids who need help, who need a hand.”

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Colton Nelson: New Crema Director

Colton Nelson (jr) is definitely not what comes to mind when you think of an event “director.” Perhaps what comes to mind is a person with a suit, tie and maybe a briefcase—someone prestigious, authoritative or intimidating.

Nelson breaks the stereotype, sporting black-rimmed glasses, a plaid button-down shirt and a meticulously groomed mustache. As he settled down onto a couch in the Commons to discuss his new position as Crema director, he was anything but formal. Nelson exuded an atmosphere of friendship like you’ve known him for years.

Nelson said Crema is a weekly music show that is put on by McConn every Wednesday at 9p.m. There are two artists every week and they are “usually coffee shop music.”
In the past, Crema has had a more “sit-down-and-pay-attention” atmosphere, but Nelson hopes to change that. His vision is to create a perfect excuse to grab coffee with a friend, a time to de-stress from that long three-hour night class or get a temporary respite from the insanity of college.

“It’s just a super-cool break from everything else,” Nelson said.

Nelson’s plan for Crema is to feature two different musical artists each night. There will be performances from students and non-students alike, and sometimes Nelson will play as well. One artist that he is highlighting, John Davey, will perform Oct. 10.

“[Davey’s] definitely a ‘do-not-miss’ performance,” Nelson said.

Aside from featuring music, Nelson predicted that Crema will run smoothly this year due to his previous experience managing such events. Even though he’s a media design major, Nelson said his position directing Crema “just fit.”

Nelson has experience in booking, doing sound checks and performing at other shows as well as Crema.

There is no price of admission for Crema, but Nelson said he needs more than money to make the show continue. He needs the support of the student body.

In the words of Devin Hopwood (alumnus ‘12), the previous Crema director, “Crema’s main job is to increase business for McConn.”

Nelson said the best way to help Crema is to “just show up.” He is an employee of McConn, and the coffee shop funds Crema. In turn, Crema draws business for McConn.

As a fellow IWU student, Nelson implored the student body to set aside the urge to do three straight hours of physics homework and come out for Crema.

Dallas Davis and Rudy Valdez, two musicians from Marion, will perform at Crema Sept. 19 at 9 p.m.

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Blue Like Jazz tour

Fans of Donald Miller’s book, “Blue Like Jazz” will be able to see the story come to life on the big screen when a film based on the bestseller comes to theaters April 13.

The book and movie are both based off Miller’s time at Reed College. Throughout the story, Miller questions and test the bounds of spirituality, religion and God. Miller has called the both the book and movie “nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality.”

Though the movie has a religious undertone, the writers and directors of the film did not want the movie categorized as a “Christian movie.” The Christian community has had a mixed reaction to the film’s label.

“That may be one of the challenges is the church has to face,” said Tim Esh, assistant professor of English at Indiana Wesleyan University. “We want everything to be a family film and the irony of that is there is a point where their children need to learn to grow up and be mature and not to live in a Disney film. Great literature and art forces us to live in nuance and to find the good and the bad in it.”

The premiere was at a non-Christian film festival. Director Steve Taylor said he wanted the movie to transcend genres and not stay solely in the Christian movie genre.

Fans of “Blue Like Jazz” such as Connor Pennington (fr) wanted this as well. “Automatically, any time one of those Christian movies make something, if you aren’t a Christian, you’re not going to see it,” Pennington said. “It automatically excludes anyone outside of the community. It doesn’t teach anything they want to learn. I think this is going to appeal to way more people, which is what I think of Donald Miller as an author.”

The film opens Friday in select cities. Theaters near IWU that will be showing the film are in Bloomington, Greenwood and Indianapolis.

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Rudy Valdez Profile

Rudy Valdez does not look like the normal Crema artist. With dark curly hair and a full beard, Valdez looks like he should be a member of a motorcycle gang instead of playing music on a college campus. But he is nothing but calm and polite as he sits down and discusses his first EP, “Stories,” and his unreleased album, “Black Eye.”

Sitting at a seedy diner in Marion, Ind., Rudy Valdez fixes a cup of coffee to his liking. Holding the sugar dispenser over his cup for a full five seconds,Valdez adds more sugar after the first taste.

“A big part of ‘Stories’ and big part of ‘Black Eye’ all revolves around this little story I had written down on paper about a guy who just lost his wife, and he made a deal to go to a certain place to kill someone just to see his wife one more time,” said Valdez. “He finds out that it’s a lot bigger than that. He’s not just going to hurt one person. He’s going to hurt a whole town of people. So in the end he gives up and says, ‘The only way I’m going to see my wife again is if I join her,’ so he shoots himself, and that kind of echoes through all of the songs.”

“Black Eye” specifically focuses on the community affected by the man’s suicide. Valdez wrote many of the songs by putting himself in place of the town citizens.
Valdez emits an aged, reflective quality in everything he says like he’s lived a full life already. And in some ways he has – Valdez moved a lot as a child, his dad was in prison for a portion of his childhood, and his family was so poor that his parents had to buy food stamps from their relatives.

Although he’s only 20 years old, Valdez has been through numerous bands and band breakups accumulating an impressive catalogue of EPs and albums.

His most notable musical endeavor aside from his solo work is the band Mazatlan, which played radio-friendly power pop with a twinge of folk in 2009. Devin Hopwood (sr) was Valdez’s band-mate and songwriting partner in Mazatlan.

“Writing with Rudy was very sporadic. It was very fast,” recalled Hopwood, explaining that he and Valdez would sit on Valdez’s porch writing music for hours. Hopwood said they were much more focused on writing catchy hooks than cohesive, challenging music.

The band dispersed and Hopwood joined a new band called Desert Neighbor in 2010. He still admires Valdez’s creativity and the fact that he is never at a loss for what to write in a song.

“I think [music] flows pretty naturally from Rudy. I can rarely think of times when Rudy’s like, ‘Aw man, what am I going to put here?’ He’s always got something to say,” said Hopwood. “That kid’s got a lot going on in his head. All he does is think of these crazy ideas, and you’ve got to get those things out.”

What makes Valdez’s songs seem so strange is because, unlike most singer-songwriters, he doesn’t draw inspiration from personal experiences or relationships. He writes of depressing hypotheticals that he sees in other people. If he sees a stranger in a bad situation, he’ll put himself in the person’s shoes and put his imagination to work.

Due to the dark and admittedly twisted tones Valdez incorporates, he gets a wide variety of reactions from his audiences. He recalls after one show a woman approached him to ask how he could live with himself ripping off other folk greats like Bob Dylan.

At the same show, in the middle of a song Valdez wrote from the stance of a heroin addict, a man walked out exclaiming, “This is horse s–t!” to which Valdez responded by offering tongue-in-cheek humor to the crowd, saying, “That man is really mad about the song I just played and I’m sorry.”

On the opposite end of the reaction spectrum, Valdez has had senior citizens thank him for playing classic music, received tips for gas while playing at a rest area and had one woman admit to melting her ice cream with tears spurred by one of his songs.

Currently, Valdez is waiting for the right time to release “Black Eye.”  He’s also working with a backing band called “The Howling Bastards,” reworking songs from “Black Eye” to fit a full band’s performance. Valdez hints that, as opposed to his established acoustic sound, there will be a more electric tone with the new band.
Valdez will play Créma on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University on Feb. 22, 2012.

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