Through the words of eight of those who attended, we tell some of what happened during 1991's CROSS RHYTHMS ROCK GOSPEL FESTIVAL.
Continued from page 2
After insinuating our large, yellow van into an obscure fold on Dartmoor's edge, we exchanged pleasantries with the gatekeeper and bumped and slid our way onto a camping field. We stepped out, stiff after five hours on the motorway, to the prospect of tent erection in the rain. Our ears, still buzzing from the diesel's clatter, heard a different sound.
Shifting layers of diaphanous sound, a sonic filigree stuck through with a clarion-clear, rasping saxophone. An enormous drum sound thundered into our chests. Only one band here combined these elements of ethereal melody and thudding rhythm and they were a large part of why I'd come. lona.
Named after a rocky lump in the Hebrides, their music seeks to celebrate the glory and majesty of the Creator expressed through His Creation. They don't celebrate the Creation as God, these are no pontheists; but who cannot recognise His hand in the crystal sea and the grey Dartmoor rain?
Hurrying to mainstage, the tents left in their bags, we saw a setting that was spectacular. The moor rose steeply across the valley; the occasional light only heightened the blackness between. A strong wind swirled rain onto the stage. Bursts of primary colour wove among billowing clouds of smoke, alternately obscuring the band completely and clearing the stage in seconds. The flukish wind created a show you could only dream about.
The clarity of Joanne Hogg's voice on "Here I Stand" pierced the darkness and left us all on white sand in the Hebrides, enchanting. Dave Fitzgerald's aching flute and proclamatory sax spoke of love, hope, purpose, wisdom, the beauty of the good in a world of difficulty.
Dale Bryant moved between drums and percussion, playing a row of car spanners and then pounding a gong bass drum. Dave Bain-bridge's accomplished guitar provided a foil to the woodwind and his synths underscored the performance, microchips creating music for an ancient landscape.
After a joyous, full band bash the encore was "Coluneille" a whistle
melody over a subtle keyboard. I love Celtic music and I've heard a
fair slice of the repertoire but this Dave Fitzgerald tune is among
the best. A haunting cry.
I was sad that Nick Beggs was unable to make the gig but a new father has many duties!
A gig beyond price, and only the first hour of Cross Rhythms '91. Anything else would be a bonus. It was worth coming just for this.
A Young Person's Cross Rhythms
By Paul Northmoor
My name's Paul Northmoor and I'm fourteen. Until this year's Cross Rhythms, I only went to church to laugh at the people there. If you'd told me at last year's festival I'd be a Christian, I'd have laughed in your face. I came this year with friend who works with kids in our area; and I was already half won round to the faith he and others had.
I thought I'd become a Christian after the festival. On Saturday we went to a meeting in the tent. At least we were out of the rain. A chap called Bruce was talking about the Holy Spirit. He got onto divorce. My mom's been divorced twice and was really angry towards my father and my stepfather. Bruce invited anyone who wanted it to come for prayer. I went forward though my legs were like jelly. I started crying, I don't know why. He prayed "In Jesus name" I started swaying. I thought: 'I'm not going to fall', but it was as though someone behind knocked my legs away. I collapsed. While I was on the floor, I was unaware of anyone around me. I remembered my parents' divorce. While I was down I knew God was calling me. I said I was sorry for the wrong things I'd done. I said I wanted to follow him. I was out for about forty-five minutes. When I came round I was confused. Someone who'd been sitting with me asked if I knew I'd committed myself to God. It was like I'd walked all my life with a heavy rucksack on and now I'd thrown it off. Amazing.
That night, approaching twelve, after a day of rain, mist, rain and
more rain, we stood in a sodden, muddied tent and sang praises to the
God who made the sky and midnight stars (which we couldn't see). Bruce
was praying for the Holy Spirit to fill people's lives and give us His
gifts. I started to speak in a language I didn't understand, praising
God in a tongue he'd given me. Only a few words at first, but later in
the cramped van, I was more fluent.
Since coming home I want more and more to serve God, for Him to use my life to follow Him. My only criticism of Cross Rhythms? The weather!
A Manager's Cross Rhythms
By Tony Cummings
The writing was on the wall. My brief venture into music management and record production, called Full Circle, was stillborn through a mess of misunderstandings and I'd spent half the weekend trying to sort out the detail with Word Records. Now I stood in a field, in the mud and drizzle, gazing at Britain's only rap and scratch gospel group, House Of God; not pumping up the jams but standing awkwardly by as some whiz with a soldering iron endeavoured to make up a missing lead. They looked depressed. I felt depressed: soon I'd have to tell H.O.G. my brief spell of management was at an end. No money, no deals to help the group up the next step of the ladder. It was a shame as these kids were good. Maybe not quite as hot as Caveman. But Lee Jackson could scratch up a mean rhythm and Nick and Justin, young and honkie as they were, knew how to make with the rhyme time. But the rain was heavy now. That lead was taking forever. And my trainers were sinking deeper and deeper into the mud. At last they start. At first the sound was bad, why wasn't there enough volume coming from the plates Lee was spinning? Then it got better. The rhythms started to kick. The backing tapes, synchronised with the scratch master, drummed up an increasingly turbulent brew of popping snare and booming bass. As the raps came fast and furious, the throng at the front, unsure at first, began to dance. Only the oldsters at the back seem bemused by the Sound Of The 90's. The beat box number with Lee popping into the mike like a frenzied coffee percolator draws gasps of admiration. Nick and Justin rapped on "I'm MC JT I'm going to drive you hyper/Shakespeare of rap I'm the literary sniper/Come today to tell you my story/About the Prince of Peace, you the Master of Glory". They tell it good. This is getting serious. Justin and Nick are into their stride now, strutting around the stage throwing down the warnings. "Judgement Day" is announced. The conditions are absurd. Rain collected on the canvas awnings is pouring onto Lee's decks. He has to stop to try and wipe his records on his already-sodden shirt. But he keeps the rhythm coming. Justin and Nick rap it straight down the line 'Ya! I got a tale to tell/straight choice Heaven or Hell/Kick it, I preach the Word/Paul, don't pretend you never heard/It ain't no joke, time to pay/Up against the wall Judgement Day". The 14-and-15-year-olds, are dancing... or listening. "Word of God night in your face" comes the final memorable bomb blast. House Of God depart to a storm of cheering and yet another rain shower. I feel good now. Relief that "my boys" delivered? Naa, they don't need me. What then? Because I feel good, and even young again, dancing with teenagers, mums, dads and my five-year-old son (who really got down!) in a field? Maybe that's it. OR maybe it's because I'm thinking of the words of Nick's "Mellow Rap". 'Black, white and yellow we're all brothers/In Lord Christ 'cos there is no other/He died for everyone both you and me/His I've as deep as the bottomless sea".