East Tennessee knows how to put on a music festival. With three top name CCM acts, more than 40 of the best local and regional bands, sunshine, food, and games, the 4th Annual CMC Music Festival went off without a hitch. Highlight of this year's festival was the free artist booths and mini-concerts set up throughout the Knoxville World's Fair Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The hard part was deciding which act to catch.
A young band from Knoxville was a local favorite, so we caught the last songs of their set. Led by vocalist Shawn Edgell, the band was reminis-cent of Third Day with more of a jazz/alternative groove. It wasn't hard to see why this band was a crowd favorite. Another local band on the Court of Flags stage drawing a large crowd was Rugged label artist Nailed, produced by hard rocker Dale Thompson of Bride.
Nashville's Gary Chapman kicked off the night's headlining acts. Surroun-ded by a crowd anxiously awaiting alternative groups Plankeye and the Newsboys, Chapman appeased his young audience with some hard-driving rock-n-roll, some classics, and a few songs off his current album. Plankeye was up next and continued to warm up a rather rowdy crowd, ready to see the Newsboys kick off their Take Me to Your Leader tour.
Lowered atop three horizontal, saucer-shaped platforms, wearing goggles that lit up like glowing eyes, the "boys" invaded a pitch-black stage and led off with "Not Ashamed." They did several of their older hits interspersed with singles from their latest release. Once the platforms were turned upright into three screens, the crowd was treated to clips from the Newsboys' new Under the Big Top movie. Noticeably absent from this concert were the solos from drummer Peter Furler. However, Furler came down from the drum risers, taking front stage to sing "Breathe" and to play electric guitar. Playing for an hour, the Newsboys left their audience wanting more but not without ending their first tour date with a late-night "Breakfast" encore.