Band to perform Sunday, March 29 at First Baptist Church
By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN - Using Christian inspiration and musical influences like Coldplay, Elim Mission Church Music Director Ben Brandt brings those elements together in his band The Keep.
Brandt started out with a band in high school, only to have the members go their separate ways in college.
Since then, Brandt has been doing some solo work, even recording an acoustic demo last spring; yet his dreams of having a band were still alive.
Then last summer, The Keep was born, playing its first show in August.
Brandt, who sings and plays guitar for the band, calls the music “alternative rock with gospel-centered content.”
Another member of the bandis ark Morris, son of Tom and Kim Morris of Cokato.
Morris graduated from DC in 2007. Prior to graduating, Morris played drums locally with Carpenter’s Tools, a Christian band through Youth For Christ.
In his senior year, while dealing with some personal issues, Morris was asked to leave the band.
With Brandt’s mentorship, parents’ guidance, and basic training through the Army National Guard, Morris pulled his life back together and felt his life had been “redeemed,” Morris said.
He attended Crown College in St. Bonifacius and married his wife, Brenda, this past summer. They are expecting their first child in August.
Morris currently plays the drums for The Keep, but is scheduled for deployment to Kuwait April 16, where he will be doing convoy missions in and out of Iraq.
Through his story, Morris became Brandt’s influence behind the song “Runaway,” which can be found on the demo CD.
In Morris’ absence, Steve Hanson of Bloomington, cousin of Brandon Densmore, who is the band’s manager, will be the drummer.
The other band members include Jordan Dietsche of New Hope on guitar, and Karl Thompson of Red Wing on bass.
Both Thompson and Dietsche were introduced to Brandt by Matt Nelson, youth director at Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church in Cokato.
“It’s worked out amazingly,” Brandt said.
The band’s biggest musical influence is Coldplay, but also the sounds of U2, Radiohead, and Zoo Animal.
Songs written by Brandt and performed by The Keep, like “Runaway,” “Cure,” “Seams,” and “Little Boy,” can all be heard on the band’s MySpace page, www.myspace.com/thekeepsound.
Brandt explains the song “Cure” as one that defends his faith and speaks to the skeptics.
“It’s basically making a case, focusing on a guy who said he was God and was raised from the dead,” Brandt said.
“To me [the resurrection] is one of the biggest proofs that Christianity is true and Christ is God,” he added.
“[The “Cure” tells the listener] that we’re all in need of a savior and He is the cure from sin and death,” Brandt said.
The band’s name is due, in part, to Brandt’s wife, Jenni, who was the children’s director at Elim Mission Church.
While looking up medieval terms to call the different rooms throughout the church for the children in the Kids’ Kingdom program, she continually came across “the keep.”
This only confirmed the name for Brandt since he already had been thinking about that particular name for his band.
The keep is a noun meaning a strong, central tower which was often used during the medieval period as a dungeon or fortress.
Brandt liked the meaning because to him, it was a metaphor for God being his strong tower.
Local musician Holly Hansen of Zoo Animal wrote the following comments about the band on its MySpace site:
“There is a sort of positive brooding that comes with the music of Ben Brandt’s, The Keep. As I watched them perform, something about the way they simultaneously bobbed their heads looked as though they were in constant agreement. The team of musicians played through the material on their new eight-song demo and did it with confidence and skill . . While all the musicians are skilled, what really impresses me is the maturity of song writing heard in songs like “Questions.”
“Brandt understands that musical stories can’t be rushed, and seems relaxed enough to allow the music to build a place for the lyrics to sit comfortably and do their job.
“In a time when music is based on introspection, it is a breath of fresh air to hear something that is so outwardly thoughtful, both lyrically and musically.”
The community can make their own critique of the band when it takes the stage at 7 p.m., Sunday, March 29 at First Baptist Church in Cokato.
The concert is free and open to the public.
Following the concert will be a small farewell reception for Morris.
Demos are on sale locally at The Grounds coffee shop in Cokato for $5, and can also be purchased at any of the shows.
The band has been offered to have a professional recording done through Minnesota-based solo artist Joel Hanson, who was the lead singer for the Grammy-nominated and Dove Award-winning Christian rock band PFR.
Money raised from the band’s demo will go toward making the recording.
To learn more about the band, hear their music, and see a schedule of upcoming concerts, visit www.myspace.com/thekeepsound.