When I was asked to gather some media content from Greensboro folk band, The Collection, I wasn’t sure.
I confess I come with an immediate bias and learned distaste toward Christian music, but hear me out. I think we can agree some of the most profound music ever created since the beginning of time has been religiously inspired. But then the 80’s happened. And something awful happened to Christian music–Christian rock was introduced. There were some gems, and everyone meant well. But it became painful. There was this idea of wanting to sound like the music of the day, but have a different message. It’s imitation was the CheeseWhiz of a bland hunk of molding cheddar. It was enough to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.
“You should really listen,” I was encouraged from so-far reliable sources, “The Collection is quite good.”
So finally, I heard recordings of the band one fine afternoon. My jaw dropped. What can I say? They were good. Really good. Their sound was unique, their lyrics intelligent, and their arrangements…well, very refreshingly composed. I sensed a deep authenticity. I was impressed!
The first interesting thing about The Collection is that there are a lot of them. Members, who are mostly in their 20’s, rotate in or out as life happens. Currently they have 15 musicians who employ as many as 20 instruments per song.
The band formed shortly after David Wimbish–who refreshingly looks nothing like this–moved to Greensboro from a small town South of Charlotte. He had been recording tracks by himself at home and steadily began inviting others to join in.
He says the band doesn’t seek to be known as a ‘Christian band’ per se, but rather a group of musicians who love Jesus.
The lyrics of each song from their self-titled release tend to focus on a personal spiritual relationship, ranging from confessional to ecstatic, sometimes drawing from Bible stories.
I joined The Collection while they practiced in a small windowless, second-story, fluorescent lit room inside Florida Street Baptist Church in “the bad part” of Greensboro. There were people and instruments everywhere–so much so that it was hard to find a place to stand. The band was arranged in a scalloped circle around keyboards, drum kits, guitars, violins and a clutter of other instruments. Still, each player positioned themselves so they could clearly see the others. For the portion I sat in on, Wimbish would direct, pausing to make announcements, asking about particular arrangements, while the others contributed on suggestions to which the group would experiment with the particular combinations that seemed most likely to work.
What communicates in being in the presence of these talented musicians is a certain depth and joyfulness. It’s like they take the music seriously, but also have fun, and wish to be friendly. That’s nice. It’s an attitude and sound that has been missing in music–especially spiritual music, for quite some time.
Musical influences are many but draw from the indie, melodic folk sounds of acts such as Sufjan Stevens, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Fleet Foxes.
I have called it before, and I say this band is going places. In fact, literally, they are planning an east coast tour this summer. To find out tour dates when they are announced, sign up for their e-mail list at: http://eepurl.com/ihMYE
In the meantime, we are blessed to enjoy a free concert by The Collection, April 15th at 7:30 pm at Mullin Life Center of First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro, 617 N. Elm Street
Preview their music here: http://thecollection.bandcamp.com/
Contributor Betsy Blake, a lifelong music lover, managed her college radio station while it was #2 in the country. Like a beauty queen who never gets over being runner-up, Betsy still passionately seeks out the best in new music and continues to turn out mixes for friends, family and the occasional fan.