Free Christian Rock concert in Charles City Saturday

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

It’s been billed as an event that “promises to be a night of great Christian family fun with heart-pumping music that will reach your soul.”

Even if it doesn’t do all that, you’ll still get a chance to hear some award-winning rock music right here in town — for free.

Encouragement Corp is hosting their 12th Annual Christian Concert in Charles City on Saturday, starting at 7 p.m. Featured entertainment for the night includes the bands The Afters and Bread of Stone.

Encouragement Corp is a non-profit organization that brings a free to the public Christian Rock concert to the community of Charles City annually. In a release, the organization said the audience can “look forward to a concert full of energy, great music and the message of God’s word.”

Gary Quint of Encouragement Corp said that the concert was initially the brainchild of Charles City resident and businessman Dave Holschlag several years ago.

“Dave wanted to expose his kids and other high school kids to a different genre of music,” Quint said. “He heard some good, upbeat music and wanted to bring that to town. Now, this is the 12th year we are having it.”

The concert is free to the public. Money raised for the show has come from different local businesses and local individuals, and Quint said the show has received financial support from the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa. Previous concerts have drawn an audience between 1200-1500 people.

Each year, youth groups are invited to run the food stands, and the money they make from that is used for various youth functions. This year, the food stand will be run by Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd. Promotional material for the show said to “bring your lawn chair, but expect the music to bring you to your feet.”

The featured group, The Afters, are an established touring band and are no strangers to the Christian Rock scene.

“They’ve been around a while,” Quint said. “That’s a little bit different than what we’ve had in the past, usually what we try to do is get up-and-coming groups.”

The Afters were founded by Joshua Havens and Matt Fuqua, from Mesquite, Texas. Their song “Never Going Back to OK” was one of the most-played songs on the Christian music charts in 2008.

The band has released five studio albums on the Epic and Columbia labels, one independent album and one live album. The band has also had 12 singles hit the U.S. Christian music charts, including “Light Up the Sky,” which was No. 1 on the Christian chart in 2010. The group has also been nominated for eight GMA Dove Awards, winning for best new artist in 2006, best album in 2009 and best video (short form) in 2016.

Bread of Stone, from Sioux City, will open the show. The group has been to Charles City at least six times, according to Quint.

“The kids identify with them and look forward to seeing them every year,” he said. “They’ve developed quite a following here.”

The group is also a production company that does all the set-up and runs the sound system for the show.

The concert is traditionally put on once a year, the weekend before Labor Day Weekend, and brings in a large crowd and a circus-like atmosphere, with the balloon artist and face-painting being done in the center of Central Park.

Last year, the concert featured three acts, including Skylar Kaylyn, Bread of Stone and 7eventh Time Down.

Quint said at least 50-60 local volunteers help with the show every year.

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