About 15 years ago, a few young college men from the Christian college, Anderson University in Anderson, Ind., formed a Christian musical group. That group became Sidewalk Prophets, a very popular contemporary Christian band that will be performing this evening at 7 p.m. at the Heritage Memorial Church in Washington C.H.
I recently had the privilege to interview their lead vocalist, Dave Frey. Dave Frey grew up in Terre Haute, Ind. and fellow band member, Ben McDonald, was from Alba, Mich. They met at Anderson University and started their band, Sidewalk Prophets. Anderson University has always been very supportive of their group, and, at the end of their current “Prodigal” tour, Anderson University will be giving away a $25,000 scholarship in honor of Sidewalk Prophets. Anderson, Ind. is considered the group’s “hometown” as the members have their roots there.
When asked if he played any instruments or just did vocals, Frey admitted that he “plays several instruments very poorly.” His best instrument, however, is the guitar, with which he writes songs and admits he is often asked to play the ukulele on certain songs during the tour. He prefers to focus on the vocals.
Frey has been singing since about age 2 with his Fisher Price record player, and the first record he listened to was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album. He always thought everyone could sing, but while rehearsing with a high school buddy’s garage band, they were very impressed with his singing abilities. He recalls that this was the very first time anyone besides his parents and his church were excited about his vocals. He really believes that his wonderful voice and career are truly gifts from God and he uses them well!
As far as musical influences to his career, Frey admits to always loving the Disney tunes. He calls his vocal inspirations “The 3 M’s,” which stands for Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and Mickey Mouse. Bands that also influenced him are The Beatles and other 70’s music; from the 90s, Christian music started to be more popular, and DC Talk, Jars of Clay, Third Day and the Newsboys were some of his favorites.
Ben McDonald and Dave Frey primarily write the songs for Sidewalk Prophets, but sometimes there are one or two other songwriters that have input in the songwriting “season” also. Dave said there is a long, hard “touring” season, but then after the tour is over, they go into the “songwriting” season and he loves the whole process of it all.
When asked about a low or high time in the band’s history, he jumped at the question. He replied that there was a 48-hour span of time after they had been together awhile that served as both low and high.
Several years ago, Sidewalk Prophets were in the Florida Keys planning to play at a tiny school there and they stayed in a resident’s house and stayed in their basement, and had seafood for dinner. They were welcomed with open arms. The group was asked to have dinner with the resident’s husband and they said sure. They had a seafood dinner in the middle of the ocean on the husband’s yacht!
Fast forward to the next day, they drove to Sarasota, Fla. for another gig (they were together about 10 years before they were able to get a tour bus). However, the church had forgotten that they had asked the band to play. They went ahead and performed, but no one was listening, people were talking while they were performing and no one really cared that they were there. They ended up sleeping that night on the floor of the church’s nursery and Ben and his wife slept in the janitor’s closet!
Out of all that, Frey said it was a “beautiful thing that God was doing.” One day, He gives you everything, and the next day He takes it all away, but, during both times, we still need to love, believe in, and thank God for what He gives us, even during the down times.
This tour, Frey stated, is very unique, the “Prodigal Tour.” They have developed a short film showcasing some of their songs that they show during the concert.
The tour is on its last weekend of shows this week here in Ohio. The next weekend, Dave Frey and his fiancé will be getting married and going to their honeymoon. Sidewalk Prophets will have a little break during this time, but then it will be back making music for the summer.
Today Sidewalk Prophets will be in concert at the Heritage Memorial Church at 7 p.m. Don’t miss it, it will be a great time for all attending!