“By the Fire” comes out on top again in “Battle of the Bands” competition for Praise in the Park | Events
The following is a press release from Jones County Junior College:
For the second consecutive year, Laurel’s Christian band, “By the Fire” beat out eleven local Christian bands to win the “Battle of the Bands” competition. Their prize will be to appear center stage, prior to national Christian acts, Newsboys, Building 429, Ashes Remain, Luminate, and local favorites, Centertree and second place winners, Hanover Drive from the Gulf Coast, at the 9th annual Praise in the Park in Lucedale, Oct. 20. By the Fire sold the most tickets to the event winning the spotlight, thanks to their sponsors, said lead singer Van Long.
“First of all, we would like to thank Jesus and all or our loyal fans who have supported us throughout the years,” said Long. “As always, it is an awesome opportunity to get to tell 15,000 people all at the same time about Jesus, plus, you never know, in a crowd that large who is going to hear you. Our hope is that with this opportunity, we will be heard by the right person, which will in turn lead to a record deal for us so our message of hope in Jesus can be shared on a national level.”
By The Fire has played on stage with nationally known groups like, Jeremy Camp, Building 429, Leeland, Royal Taylor, 33 Miles, Todd Agnew, MIKESCHAIR, and GodSpeed3. The group has been playing in the area for five years and is currently working on their first album at Bray Productions in Laurel, and Huff Recording Studios in Atlanta, GA. Their first album is scheduled for release next spring. Winning the contest means a lot to the band, said Long.
“We would like to thank our sponsors and friends that helped us sell tickets for this event: Baptist Bible & Book House, X-Treme Hair Salon in Laurel, and Mississippi Music in Hattiesburg. Impact Printing & Design printed our promotional posters and flyers for us to get the word out about this event and all of the locations where people could purchase their tickets for Praise in the Park. We rely on our fans and these sponsors to help our band spread the love of Jesus through music.”
The gates to the main stage of Praise in the Park will open at 3 p.m. with the first band, Hanover Drive, taking the stage at 3:30 p.m. “By the Fire” is scheduled to take the stage at 4 p.m. Festivities on the main stage should end around 9 p.m. The “free” entertainment on the stage downtown begins at 11 a.m. featuring battle-of-the-bands competitors, Mercy Ministeries, Rumplestrip, P-150, and Citizen, with the dance and drama team, “STOMP” from Mobile, AL, rounding out the downtown show. Long said he really appreciates everyone who has helped the band reach this pinnacle in their careers.
“We hope to show our fans how much we have improved since last year and with humble gratitude, we still have the same heart for Jesus. This year we will be playing three of our new songs. The first will be “I Am,” which is about God's help in the storms of life; “Crankin’ for Christ” is a fun song that we are always able to connect with the crowd on; and the title track to our new album,“Revolution” which is about the second coming of Christ.”
Long is encouraged by the band’s continued success despite a couple of changes in personnel. His wife Corey is on maternity leave with the couple’s newborn, Jaxon. As a result, Long now plays rhythm guitar, electric guitar and is lead singer while Stephen Windham takes the lead on guitar and backs Long on vocals. Nick McCullin is bass guitarist, keyboardist, and joins in on vocals. Levi Burnham keeps the beat as the bands’ drummer and the newest band member, Jason Casey is “By the Fire’s” production manager.
Praise in the Park coordinators expect a crowd of 12-15 thousand people in the Lucedale City Park. The main event begins at 4 p.m. with the gates opening at 3 p.m.
Jay and Kim Davis, organizers of the event invite the public to visit the booths and hear the bands on the stage set up in downtown Lucedale beginning at noon. Numerous churches will have food and beverages available as fundraisers. The former youth leaders explain why they began “Praise in the Park.”
“We felt like this was an opportunity for Christian fellowship and fun. It also allows the bands to be recognized for their efforts and it spreads the message that once you listen to Christian music, you’ll like it better than the main stream music available for our teens. We also think they will realize it sounds good and even similar to mainstream pop music, but the message in the song is better”
For more information about Praise in the Park check out their web page at www.praiseinthepark.org or call 601-508-0587 and for more information about By the Fire visit their website at: www.bythefireband.com.
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