Aug. 14, 2006

Higher Ground Christian Music Festival Aug. 18-19

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

The second annual Higher Ground is set to take place this weekend, with organizers once again bringing some top-notch Christian music talent to Winsted.

Long-time powerhouse band Jars of Clay is set to co-headline the two-day event with MercyMe.

After two days of music Friday and Saturday, a Sunday morning praise and worship service is scheduled to take place at 8:30 a.m. at the Higher Ground site, located just south of Winsted at the festival grounds off McLeod County Road 5.

Along with the music, attendees also have a variety of vendors to check out, as well as participate in a sports pavilion and other ongoing weekend activities.

A second stage has been added to the mix this year, which will feature emerging local and national acts, similar to the Emerging Artists stage at Higher Ground’s sister festival, the Winstock Country Music Festival.

“We’ve added the second stage to keep people involved during the downtime between acts on the main stage,” commented festival chairman Terry Fasching.

Fasching also said that at last year’s event, a suggestion box was set up, and this year, more youth-oriented bands, as well as a motivational speaker have been added to the line-up as a result.

“I think we have a real quality line-up,” Fasching said, adding that the committee is hoping for good weather and a crowd of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 people.

Campgrounds will be open for admission Thursday evening, beginning at 3 p.m., until 9 p.m.


The campgrounds open for admission at 8 a.m., with the gates and general admission area opening two hours later, at 10 a.m.

The first band, The Wannabe Hasbeens, kicks off the music Friday at noon on the main stage. The weekend will feature an alternating schedule, similar to Winstock, to eliminate long breaks between the music.

The band LightSwitch is the first band to play on the second stage, beginning at 1 p.m. Krystal Meyers will take the main stage at 2 p.m., When I Wake hits the second stage at 3 p.m., Joy Williams performs on the main stage at 4 p.m., and Moxie Bliss gets ready to rock the second stage at 5 p.m.

The heart of the schedule Friday will feature Denver and the Mile High Orchestra at 6 p.m. on the main stage, the Minnesota Teen Challenge Choir on the second stage at 7 p.m., and Bebo Norman on the main stage at 8 p.m.

Norman has consistently headlined his own nationwide tours throughout his six-year career as a singer/songwriter, and will offer Higher Ground fans a great performance.

After Norman, Minnesota native Elizabeth Hunnicutt closes down the entertainment on the second stage, with a set beginning at 9 p.m. Hunnicutt returns to Higher Ground after an inspirational performance at last year’s Sunday worship service.

The music comes to a close Friday night with headliner Jars of Clay, which will perform its hit songs like “Flood,” “Liquid,” and “I Need You,” among many others.

The band began making pop music history, first by skyrocketing to notoriety with its double-platinum self-titled debut, then building on its popular and critical acclaim with Grammy Award-winning projects “Much Afraid” and “If I Left the Zoo.” Simultaneously, the Dove Award-winning band’s collective faith also reached new heights.


Following a performance from the Jump 4 Joy dance team of Lester Prairie Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. on the second stage, the group Silent Substitute, which is four Mahoney siblings from Hamburg, is set to kick off the music on the second stage. The band’s grandmother, Dianne Mahoney, is a long-time Winsted resident.

The main stage entertainment kicks off Saturday at noon with a performance by Andre Rodriguez, followed by Amy Monaghan hitting the second stage at 1 p.m., and Caitlyn Smith on the main stage at 2 p.m.

Throughout the afternoon, other artists include Andrew Phillip on the second stage at 3 p.m., Monk and Neagle on the main stage at 4 p.m., and returning favorite Olivia the Band on the second stage at 5 p.m.

The evening will feature Natalie Grant on the main stage at 6 p.m., followed by Joe Rogness on the second stage at 7 p.m.

Hitmaker Mark Schultz will hit the main stage at 8 p.m. Schultz has had a half-dozen number one hits, and more than three times that number of awards and nominations for his musical abilities.

Closing the show Saturday on the second stage is motivational speaker Rob Rozeboom, who will speak about a journey through loneliness, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal despair, which has led him to the other side of the spectrum, and he now feels he has something to share.

MercyMe takes the stage Saturday at 10 p.m. to conclude the weekend’s music. The band has been together 12 years, and has produced many hit songs, and has fans nationwide.

The group’s hits include “Here With Me,” “Homesick,” and “I Can Only Imagine.”

Tickets are available at the gate for $35 for a single-day pass, and $60 for a weekend pass. Camping passes are also available. Children 10 and under are free for the weekend.

For more information, visit www.hgmusicfest.com

Local band Silent Substitute to perform

By Samantha Schommer
Staff Intern

A love of God, a love for music, and a loving family are the three key ingredients to this family from Hamburg’s successes.

The Mahoney family, consisting of Meghan, 20, (keyboard/acoustic guitar/vocals) Ryan, 17, (drums/vocals) Becca, 14, (guitar/vocals), and William, 12, (bass guitar) make up the up-and-coming Christian rock quartet, Silent Substitute.

The band uses a blend of rock, pop, and harder styles to give them a unique sound, which keeps the audience interested and involved.

The name, “Silent Substitute,” is derived from Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.”

Silent Substitute began playing together in the summer of 2004, and ever since, they have had a mission with their music: combine powerful Christian lyrics with edgy styles to preach the gospel.

“We grew up around Christian music and it was a big part of our lives,” big brother Ryan said.

After playing with the Shaw Brothers at age 12, he brought up the idea of forming a band to his instrument-playing siblings, who loved the idea.

“Working as a family works well because we’re together all the time and it helps when scheduling practices,” Meghan stated.

The group has been spreading the word about the band and their upcoming performances on myspace.com, which Becca claims has definitely helped their careers out.

Silent Substitute claims that God is their muse, and the sole reason for their music.

“God gives us the songs . . . We don’t come up with them on our own. They’re a gift from Him,” Meghan stated.

“We wouldn’t do music if it wasn’t for God. He’s our purpose,” Ryan said about God’s influence towards their music.

Not only is the Mahoney family in touch with God, they are in touch with their sense of humor.

The good-natured humor of the group allows them to laugh off a time when a police officer approached them at one of their shows, saying that the music was too loud, causing the residents at the nursing home to be unable to sleep.

The siblings’ good humor is probably one of the reasons they get along so well, better than you would expect, according to 14-year-old Becca.

They do have the occasional yelling-into-microphone matches, but overall, these siblings are in harmony together.

The group is backed by the love and support of their parents.

“Our parents do all of the work,” Becca said.

Their grandmother, Dianne Mahoney of Winsted, also gives her full support to the groups’ success.

“We get our fans excited about God by writing songs that relate to life and what God has done in our lives,” Ryan, who writes a majority of the music, said.

They plan on getting their fans excited at Higher Ground music festival this weekend.

The whole group agrees that they want to be performing together for a long time in the future.

This close-knit family has a lot going for them, and with a CD release date anticipated for this fall, they are well on their way to a successful career.

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