The 7 Best Canadian Christian Rock Bands
I remember the frantic call I received in the spring of 2005 from the coordinator of Spring Folly Youth Retreat. “Help me,” he said. “I don’t know how to book a band. Could you book the band?” I had never booked a band either, but I’d always wanted to, so on short notice and a small budget, we booked a great group of young guys from Ottawa called Midday Blackout.1
It’s now a yearly exercise to look for good, Canadian Christian rock bands to play at Spring Folly. We haven’t always booked a Canadian band – we’ve had a few American bands like Rae, This Beautiful Republic, and Stellar Kart – but I’m partial to giving Canadian Christian bands the publicity. There’s some great, Canadian musical talent!
With Spring Folly right around the corner again, I’m in the midst of last minute details with Manafest (who will be live in concert on Sat. April 29th at 8:00 p.m at Central Algoma Secondary School – Tickets are $20 at the door for the public…shameless plug, I know). I also start my annual preliminary search for bands to play next year (although I usually don’t book them until the late summer/early fall).
All of this has given me the idea for this blog: “The 7 Best Canadian Christian Rock Bands.”
I concede that this is highly subjective. For the purpose of this blog, here are my criteria:
-The band must still be making music and/or touring (sorry fans of the Daniel Band, you’ll have to wait for a future blog entitled, “The 7 Best Canadian Christian Rock Bands Of All Time.”)
-The band must have some music that could be classified in the rock music genre (despite the fact I know many bands don’t like to be pigeon-holed or labeled), as opposed to a more top-40 CCM sound you often hear on the Christian radio
-The band must be overtly Christian with many of their songs and/or making their living predominately in the Christian market
So with those criteria, here are the bands I would consider to currently be the best Canadian Christian rock bands. I’ll give you a little information about each, and then include a tasty musical morsel for you to sample. (Note: These will be in no particular order.)
Thousand Foot Krutch – TFK is arguably the biggest and best Canadian Christian rock band out there. And they’re decent guys too. Once on an airplane home from British Columbia, I ended up sitting beside someone who looked a lot like Trevor, the lead singer. When I asked him if he was from TFK he said, “Yeah man, I’m Trevor, the lead singer.” He graciously signed their new cd (that I had just bought) and signed my son’s travel journal (a school project). He was down-to-earth guy who didn’t mind a fan striking up a conversation with him. I’ve seen TFK live a couple of times and they rock! Over the years they’ve won 7 Covenant Awards2, and been nominated 8 times for Dove Awards3 and 5 times for JUNO Awards4. Check them out at: https://thousandfootkrutch.com/
Hawk Nelson – Another one of the “Senior” Canadian Christian Rockers! Like TFK, it seems Hawk Nelson has been around forever! They formed in Peterborough, ON back in 2000, and over the years their sound has morphed from punk to the pop/rock sound they have today. They’ve released seven albums to date, won 6 Covenant Awards and been nominated for 7 Doves, 2 JUNOs, and a Grammy. Check them out at: http://hawknelson.com/
Manic Drive – Shawn and Michel Cavallo and Anthony Moreino have rocked Spring Folly a record three times. They are great guys to work with and just keep getting better each time I see them in concert. A few years back I sent an email to Shawn to see if they were available to play at Spring Folly. Within several minutes my phone rang. It was Shawn calling to tell me they weren’t able to come because of tour commitments but, because we’d worked together before, he wanted to suggest some other bands we might consider. He didn’t have to call, but that’s the kind of guy he is. If you’re looking to book a show, give Manic Drive a call! All said, they’ve released five albums, and won four Covenant Awards and a JUNO. You can check them out here: http://manicdrive.com/
Manafest – Our experience with Chis Greenwod, aka Manafest, was so good the first time we had him play at Spring Folly (2013), I knew we’d have him back. He’s got the shortest, easiest rider (concert specifics that promoters have to agree to) of any band we’ve dealt with. Back in 2013, we had booked him to do a one-hour show beginning at 8:00 p.m. sharp. However, when the start time rolled around, there were still teens praying and talking to the speaker. I went to see him to let him know we’d be a little late starting. “Hey, no problem,” he said. “Let them take all the time they need with God.” Great heart…great talent too. He works the crowd with expertise…even those who don’t usually listen to rap/rock had a great time! He’s Check out his work here: http://manafest.com/
The City Harmonic – They formed in 2009 as a worship band, and went on to release three albums and an EP. Along the way they won nine Covenant Awards and a JUNO Award. They’re currently on a farewell tour having announced that they’ll part ways in the summer of 2017. Great tight sound! Check them out at: http://thecityharmonic.com
Tim Neufeld and the Glory Boys – After a successful life as co-founder and lead singer of Starfield, Tim Neufeld has fused rock and bluegrass into a toe-tapping-make-you-want-to-move musical gumbo that at times even has shades of Needtobreathe. So far in 2017, Tim and the Glory Boys have won a JUNO award and two Covenant Awards. Check Tim and the Glory Boys out here: http://timneufeldmusic.com/
The Color – The Color consists of lead singer Jordan Janzen, guitarists James Shiels and Larry Abrams and drummer Tyson Unrau. They released their debut self-titled album in 2012 and have gone on to be 5- time Covenant award winners. You can check out their material here: http://thecoloronline.com/
So there you have it…my votes for the 7 best Canadian Christian rock bands. Who would be on your list?
1 Interesting side note: a few years ago I spoke at a Sr. Youth retreat hosted by the Met Bible Church and the guitarist in the worship band was the guitarist from Midday Blackout. It was great to reconnect with him.
2 Covenant Awards are handed out by the Canadian Gospel Music Association. They are the Canadian equivalent of the Dove Awards
3 Dove Awards are given out by Gospel Music Association in the good old USofA. They are the Christian version of the Grammy Awards
4 Juno Awards recognize outstanding Canadian music achievement, as chosen by either members of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. They are the Canadian version of the Grammy Awards.