"We were actually playing a show that day, and we even taught some Irish dancing," said lead singer Chris Llewellyn during a late March phone interview. "We had to bring the party for St. Paddy...it's up to the Irish."
Celebration has always been high on the Rend Collective priority list. And a joyous thread winds throughout the faith-based group's latest album, "Good News."
"The world right now is in need of good news, and the beautiful thing about the gospel is that it's not a complicated word – the message of Jesus is good news for absolutely everybody," said the singer.
The band brings its "Good News" tour to Central Wesleyan Church in Holland on April 13 (details below).
GOOD NEWS IN THE MUSIC
The album's upbeat lead song "Rescuer: Good News" celebrates Jesus as the one who through the cross, resurrection and his return, makes things right. It charted in the top 20 on Christian radio earlier this year. Watch a concept video online.
The next new song up is "Counting Every Blessing." "Something we've learned on this journey is that joy and gratitude go hand in hand," explained Llewellyn, 32. "When we are grateful people, we find joy. And when we lose that sense of gratitude everything can fall apart rather quickly."
The new songs lean into the "soul side" of the band's traditional Irish music influences. The artist points to veteran Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, who has recorded some religious songs during his long career. "We grew up listening to that alongside the traditional."
Rend Collective continues to carry a host of roots instruments on stage, including pennywhistle, bodhran (drum) and hurdy-gurdy. "And for the first time we've brought a fiddler out on tour which has added a lot," he noted. Their spirited live performances include elements such as confetti, bubbles and..."Well, I really can't explain it all without you seeing it," he hinted.
A SPIRITUAL AND MUSICAL INGATHERING
The band developed out of a Bible study and prayer group (called Rend) of mostly college-age young adults in Bangor, Ireland who met as a part of Bangor Elim Church. Gareth Gilkeson and his wife Ali were already there when Llewellyn joined them and became their worship leader.
After five years of Bible study and doing evangelistic missions, they decided they would write and perform music about their experience in their faith-led community which came to be called the "collective."
Their first studio album (in 2010) was titled "Organic Family Hymnal."
The singer-songwriter said their best known songs came several years ago and continue to bring responses: "My Lighthouse"(which uses the coastal Ireland lighthouse as a metaphor for God's light in the darkness) and the noted "Build Your Kingdom Here."
Llewellyn estimates the band spends 70 percent of their time here in the states, with Nashville serving as their central location. He is married to a US citizen so has a green card for employment. The other artists work on renewable visas. "We go back to our home area in Ireland once a year to play our hometown shows and still have a relationship with the church there. But for our tours here we have a pastor along and have church together."
Llewellyn offers some reflection for worship leaders in local churches: tailor the music to your congregation...the people you know and with whom you have relationships.
"I think sometimes the worship pastor can lean to the music side and let the pastor side of it go," he said. "When you know people and their struggles and walk with them a bit, I think it helps to feel like you're in the same boat and moving together. It really helps to be able to sing better."
Rend Collective, with special guest Mack Brock
7pm Fri. April 13
Central Wesleyan Church, 446 W. 40th St. Holland.
Tickets: General admission $22, (group rate for 10 or more $18). At press time, fast pass and deluxe tickets were sold out. Purchase online at https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1585503
For more info: www.echoconcerts.com