#forgecon10 - Part 4

So I've written for the last few days about the first-ever Forge Conference.  I've talked about the location, the classes, the speakers, my trip there, and some of the instructors.

OK, Mike, what about the worship at this worship conference?   Well, let me tell you...

For the first two days of ForgeCon we were blessed to have Brenton Brown and his his band with us.  Brenton is one of the worlds great worship songwriters, penning classics like "All Who Are Thirsty" and "Everlasting God."  (Yes, Brenton wrote that, not Lincoln Brewster.)  As an artist, the South African hasn't  been very well known in the U.S. until recently.  (Check the Joint Review of Introducing Brenton Brown). 
Brenton, Daniel, Scotty and Ben treated us well over the two days.

I really enjoyed the semi-acoustic worship set they did to open Friday.  While Daniel played his bass and Scotty played a very understated electric guitar, Ben came off the kit to play a cajon, and Brenton led from acoustic.  And he didn't limit it to his song; he did  great covers of Tim Huges' "Beautiful One" and Tomlin's "Holy is the Lord."  Brenton is truly gifted as a worship leader as well as a songwriter - he is authentic and joyful in leading congregational singing.  In fact, he constantly has a big grin on his face when leading, which I found very engaging.

Thursday night brought my favorite part of the conference: late night worship.   This had been on the schedule since ForgeCon was conceived, but no one was really sure what it would look like.   But at 10pm, a bunch of us showed up in one of the chapels, ready to figure it out.  We had guys like Joel Auge, Shannon Lewis, Fred McKinnon, McKendree Augustus, Dan Wilt, Mike Kim, Joel Klampert, Mark Siegel and yours truly.  Seven or eight acoustic guitars, a cajon, a piano and a hammer dulcimer, plus about a dozen people just there to sing and worship.

We sat in a circle and kind of looked at each other for a few seconds, and Fred just started playing.  "All Who Are Thirsty" I think.  It took off from there, each person taking turns leading a song or two, whatever they wanted.  We did hymns, we did modern songs. Sometimes we just sang, sometimes we just played.  For two hours we sat in that little chapel and worshiped openly and honestly and together. 

Friday night, on the other hand, was simply epic.  ForgeCon hosted a worship concert that was simply amazing.  Now, I've been to plenty of concerts.  But there was something special here. The Youth Temple was packed out - about 350 people.  They were greeted by a set from a band called Pnuma, who is a travel team from Valley Forge Christian College.  No one really knew who they were before the show, but we all knew after.  They kicked it off with a rendition of "We Cry Out" that made some people think Jesus Culture was in the house.

Jonathan Lee is a great young songwriter who writes authentic, beautiful songs.  His stuff is really suited for congregational worship.  He played with Brenton's band (plus McKendree Augustus) and really blew everyone's socks off.   We were then treated to McKendree Augustus, who is a simply brilliant young artist.  McKendree does great things with loops and tracks, and is totally creative when it comes to his music. He even brought his brother-in-law Shannon Lewis (from Saint Lewis) up to sing with him.

Joel Auge is another great up-and-coming songwriter.  I think he gets the "Most Entertaining" awards, because I was totally captivated by his set.  Joel is very laid-back when you hang out with him, but he leaves it all on the stage.  I really liked his cover of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain," which he dedicated to Paul Baloche, and sang "because I like it and it mentions Jesus."

The highlight, of course, was the final set - Brenton Brown and Paul Baloche.  Brenton and Paul have written a bunch of great songs together (Hosanna, Our God Saves to name a couple) but have, oddly, never been on stage together before ForgeCon.  But Paul grew up in the area, had friends in the area, heard Brenton was playing, and the rest is history.  They did a great set, which included their co-writes, some of Brenton's songs, "Open the Eyes of My Heart" (of course) and a ridiculously cool cover of Hank Williams' "I Saw the Light."

I unfortunately had to leave after the concert, but I know there was a second late-night worship circle, plus a worship set the next morning led by Jonathan Lee, and an afternoon set led by Matt Boswell.  Plenty for everyone!

You can check out a short compilation video of the various worship events in this video.

This video is Paul and Brenton doing "Hosanna (Praise is Rising)"  The audio stinks - I was right next to a subwoofer - but it's cleaned up as much as I could, and it gives you an idea of the energy and fun of the evening.


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