Volume 90, Issue 72

Friday, January 31, 1997

big stick


Giving the church a taste of the blues

Gazette file photo
THE PLUMBING CREW WAITING FOR THE COFFEE TRUCK. Red Rain puts the day jobs on precarious hold to play The Grad Club tonight.

By Paul Fruitman
Gazette Staff

Rock 'n' roll has traditionally been deemed the 'devil's music.' But in 1996, groups of Christian artists like Jars of Clay and D.C. Talk did their best to baptize rock and make it acceptable to the church – and not Jimi Hendrix's electric church but the more traditional variety.

Toronto's Red Rain plays Christian rock of a rootsier variety, an old-school hybrid of blues, R & B and soul.

"All of us describe ourselves as Christians," says keyboardist/ vocalist Greg Paul. "It sort of gives us a different perspective."

Red Rain, now in its 12th season together, has gained a new spiritual perspective through its work with Sanctuary, a street outreach in Toronto which will receive all proceeds from the sale of Red Rain's latest CD, Eye of the Hurricane.

"Sanctuary came about five years ago," Paul explains. "It grew out of some stuff that had happened with the band. We're not on a mission and we're not a soup line but there is a focus on community."

Paul also sees a resurgence of spiritual values flowing through more mainstream pop, including Joan Osborne's 1995 hit "One of Us" and the seemingly unreligious Alanis Morissette.

"Alanis ain't no Christian," Paul says, sounding like a cross between a southern preacher and a midwestern truck driver. "But there is a certain spirituality and openness to her music."

Red Rain has been forced to be more open about its own approach to live performance as the number of venues for live music in Toronto has been shrinking. So Red Rain has been taking its bluesy act on the road to college campuses across Ontario, a tour which brings the band to The Grad Club Friday.

"So far the response has been good, that's why we're pursuing it," Paul says. "It's not what students are listening to on the radio, or buying in record stores, but most of what we play is really danceable stuff."

If you are looking for an idea of what you might hear at Red Rain's show tonight, think of a mix of upbeat blues and the gospel which flowed through the University Community Centre's atrium halls last week.

Hallelujah, baby. Hallelujah.

To Contact The Popped Culture Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997