Sharing the music

Sally
Sally Cole
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Members of The Rock are excited about their next gig at Trinity United Church in Charlottetown on June 14 at 7:30 p.m. From left are Karen Burhoe, Rev. Keith Gale, Kody MacKay, Tristan Ohl and Nate VanIderstine. In the front is Alec Higginbotham. Missing from photo are Shelby MacLeod and Andraia Gregory. Other young people who have performed in the band, over the years, include Curtis Dicks, Abby MacLeod, Molly Gillis-Robertson, Andrew MacFarlane, Chaucer Fraser, Brandon Cann, Ethan MacKay and Hailey Ferguson.

The Rock, which has just released a new CD, Anarchy in the Narthex, plays at Trinity United Church in Charlottetown on June 14

After playing guitar in rock bands during his college days, Rev. Keith Gale wanted to pass the musical torch onto others.

“Music has always been a part of my spiritual development and I wanted to take my experience and provide it to other youth,” says the newly-ordained United Church minister.

“I wanted to teach them to set up. I wanted to teach them how to play,”

So, two years ago, Gale and the choir director of Murray River United Church formed The Rock, a Christian rock band.

Karen Burhoe laughs as she remembers the early days.

“At first Keith needed someone to play the drums. Then he needed someone to play the bass guitar. Then the young people started to come,” she says.

After learning the various instruments, they started jamming together at practices.

Since then, the band has been leading contemporary worship services every month at Memorial United Church in Murray River.

“At first they called it OMG Rock! They would learn the songs and I would structure them into the liturgical format, so it would become part of the service,” says Gale, who was a student minister at the church at the time.

Fast forwarding to 2014 has the band has just releasing its first CD, Anarchy in the Narthex. To celebrate, the band will be performing selections from it during a concert at Trinity United Church in Charlottetown on June 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Filled with rock beat tempos, guitar riffs and tight vocals, the album contains six original compositions, including It’s Alright, Oh Woe, Fool For You, Take Your Time and Fallen and Life.

When asked about the title of the album, Gale says the young people came up with the name. Anarchy was inspired by Anarchy in the U.K., a song by the Sex Pistols. As for narthex, the youth thought it was a good hard rock word. It’s also  the entry way of a church — and the location of the  group’s next concert.

“On June 14 we’re going to play in the narthex of Trinity United Church. It’s an open door show, so we’ll be playing outside.”

Besides originals, the band has been creating Christian parodies — assigning Christian lyrics to popular songs. Not a new tactic, it’s one that can be traced back to Reformation theologians.

“Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther wrote an essay saying that the music of the church did not connect with the common people. He felt that the music was so integral to the spiritual experience that he decided to change the lyrics of some popular songs, to reflect a spiritual message,” says Gale.

Similarly, the band took rock songs and turned the words into Christian lyrics.

“We used songs by bands like AC/DC, Black Sabbath, The Who and Pink Floyd. We tried to change the words as little as possible. And in the process, it gave band members the opportunity to learn music that they wanted to play.”

Nate VanIderstine enjoys being part of the band.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” says the guitar player, adding that besides playing on the Island, the band has toured, performing in Moncton, Campbellton, Dalhousie, St. Andrews and Halifax.

What’s next?

With Gale and his family leaving P.E.I. to take up a charge in Brookfield, N.S., later this month, Burhoe is determined not to let the band die.

“It’s been a great experience. I absolutely love it. We’ve got to keep it going.”

Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at scole@theguardian.pe.ca or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.

Organizations: Trinity United Church, Murray River United Church, Memorial United Church Sex Pistols AC/DC Black Sabbath Pink Floyd The Guardian

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Murray River, Moncton Campbellton Brookfield

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