Sidewalk Prophets

The Christian band The Sidewalk Prophets are scheduled to play Central Washington University’s McConnell Auditorium Feb. 27.

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They’ve come along way from a couple of college kids sitting around the dorm, mapping out the future along the road less traveled.

They won a Gospel Music Association Dove Award for the New Artist of the Year in 2010 and Billboard Music Award for Top Christian song in 2014.

The Sidewalk Prophets spent 250 days on the road last year, and they’re ramping up to go out again and their current Smile Tour will include a stop in Ellensburg Feb. 27 at the Central Washington University McConnell Auditorium. The band will be supporting its fourth major-studio album, the release of a new video and their current single, “Smile.”

“When we sat down to define who we were as a band in the hallway of our college dorm, I remember saying are we a Christian band or Christians in a band?” said co-founder and lead singer Dave Frey in a telephone interview from Nashville.

“God shows up in every song that we write, whether it’s a love song or a song about life. It’s hard to define, especially in Christian music, but we have to ask ourselves are we writing to make ourselves look better. If that’s the case, then it’s probably not a Christian song. But it’s a matter of what’s in your heart that comes out when you play.”

Their prior albums “Live Like That” (2012) and “These Simple Truths” (2009) saw great success with singles like “Live Like That” and “You Love Me Anyway” topping Christian charts. Having figured some things out with their fourth major-studio release, Frey said he really likes the approach to the new release, “Things That Got Us Here,” and the single “Smile.”

“There is always reason to smile,” he said. “In the tough times, we can either wither away in fear and doubt, or we can go confidently into each new challenge knowing that when we hold on to Christ and his promises.

“For us as a band, the most important thing is to be able to play live what we write. Truth be told, there’s a lot of bands out there that can’t. They rely heavily on tracks. There isn’t anything wrong with that, it’s just that we want to be able to pick up instruments and play what we’ve written.”

Whether it’s Christian music, rock ‘n’ roll or country, life experience is the driving force behind the music. Frey and co-founder Ben McDonald find a way to bring that out through a unique delivery.

“My dad liked James Taylor and Jim Croce. My mom was a Monkees and Led Zeppelin fan. I just really liked Michael Jackson, so growing up I had many influences,” Frey said. “Ben and I still write everything. Sometimes we bring another writer into the room with us.

“Ben and I have that partnership. We come in with this blank slate and pitch around ideas. He’s very succinct and to the point and I’m definitely the word and melody guy. Ben comes up with the musical ideas and I do the lyrics.”

In 2016, McDonald stepped away from the stage, but continues to be a driving force behind the band’s songwriting, creativity and success.

The band the Ellensburg audience can expect includes Cal Joslin (bass), Dan Macal (lead guitar). Blake Bratton (keyboards), Rains Wall (drums) with Frey on lead vocals.

“A lot of times we’ll put out a call on our website, something like, “We’re heading out west do you want us to come to your church or your venue? We had somebody from Ellensburg call into our booking agency and put it a request,” said Frey. “It’s a cool way to do it, having our fans take ownership in our tour schedule.”

The new album, “The Things That Got Us Here,” is expected to be out in May, but Central Washington just might be privy to something new when the Sidewalk Prophets come to town.

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