Some of you will no doubt
be scratching your heads and asking why you recognize the name of one of
the newest bands on the music scene when I introduce you to Circleslide.
Circle Slide is the name of an album that was released in 1990 by
the group The Choir (Myrrh Records) and their fingerprints are all over
Uncommon Days, the debut CD for Circleslide the band.
Gabe Martinez, the frontman
for Circleslide, and the rest of the entourage teamed up with noted jazz
producer Tommy Collier as well as Marc Byrd and Derri Daugherty, current
members of the band The Choir, to create this spectacular album. Sonically,
there is a blend of the dreamy surreal made popular by The Choir and that
mystical “Harvest Moon” sound made fashionable in the eighties by Neil
Young. Several of the songs are punctuated with a harder folk rock beat.
The bad news is, the album originally scheduled for release on June 21
has been delayed until late summer or early fall.
Circleslide is back in the
studio recording and the project is shrouded in mystery. As I spoke to
lead vocalist Gabe Martinez, he teased me with different options they might
be presenting to their fans, but wouldn’t be pinned down. All that he would
say is they were going back to the studio and the band is also going to
take time to record some Christmas tunes in addition to that big dark secret.
Martinez points to several
key turning points in his life and musical career. This modern-day wandering
minstrel who has lived in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and now resides in
Nashville was busy listening to punk, alternative and new wave music when
a friend introduced him to the music of The Choir: “A friend of mine said
I want you to listen to this band and he played "Chase the Kangaroo.” (The
Choir) for me. It just changed my life because here was a band that melodically
was just amazing. It was a dreamy atmospheric music yet it was about being
a Christian and loving Christ.” He had the bug and was captured by early
songs like Consider and the aforementioned “Chase the Kangaroo”.
Martinez also credits bands
like The Seventy Sevens and the late Rich Mullins with shaping his desire
for a forthright honest lyrical style. He refers to it as music with integrity.
Uncommon Days is
loaded with great songs. You have the pop surreal sounds of the title
track “Uncommon Days” penned by Tim and Gabe Martinez with lyrical support:
Wake up, wake up slowly / To the sound of bad news every morning / Morning,
morning coffee if I could only get back…back to dreaming / Sweet, sweet
On the apocalyptic “Weatherboy”
Gabe Martinez’s raspy voice cries out a warning using imagery such as:
Ocean’s raging / planet dieing / Poison in the sky / Pistols blazing /
Missiles flying / Children wonder why / I can’t believe it’s over / ‘Cause
love can endure the weather/. Steve Hindalong formerly of The Choir co-wrote
The hooky song “Get Up”
also a collaborative effort by Tim and Gabe speaks to our human frailty,
our doubts and addresses the times when we falter in our faith.
Another turning point for
Circleslide occurred in 2003 when the band captured the top prize in the
Contemporary Christian Band competition at the GMA Music In the Rockies.
John Mays (Point of Grace, Nichole Nordeman) spotted them and convinced
them to record a demo with Centricity Records. Mays says, “I just
fell in love with their history, their work ethic and who they were personally.”
The band created the EP Connectology.
Since the GMA in the Rockies
experience Circleslide has averaged more than 200 gigs per year. They have
performed on the same bill with ZOEgirl, Rachel Lampa, TAIT and Petra.
When Martinez moved to Arkansas
he did so to become involved with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) an outreach
program that ministers to youth and young adults. His involvement
with short term mission trips like the one to El Salvador helped provide
a solid foundation for his desire to continue to minister through Circleslide’s
music. “I think that time in YWAM and then moving on to Missouri helped
us to connect with those who listened to us and helped us get tighter as
a musical unit,” says Martinez.
Brother Tim who plays bass
and drummer Fred Mandujano signed on to help form Circleslide in Arkansas.
When they got to Missouri Aaron Gillies joined the group on guitar.
When asked how he and the
rest of the band members are coping with their new found success Martinez
replied, “I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed. We started off as a ministry
and tried to have honesty and passion at the core of what we do.” That
“Beyond making cool expressive
statements, our bottom line goal is to inspire people and encourage them
no matter where they’re at in their relationship with God. We’re here to
meet them wherever they’re at and point them to our higher purpose,” says
Circleslide remember the
name and remember Phantom Tollbooth was the place where you read
about them first. To keep you from slipping into jealous fits because I
have the record and you don’t you can listen to samples of their music
at www.circleslide.net including their radio single “Walking on the Waves.”
By Joe Montague, exclusive
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.