Two local venues, First Assembly of God Church and Station 3:16, are opening their doors and embracing young people's desire to enjoy the music. It's considered "rock-n'-roll," but you won't hear explicit lyrics in Christian rock. And these days, its popularity is growing, especially with young people right here in Bakersfield. Those who once worshipped secular music say Christian rock made believers out of them when they discovered they could rock and worship at once.
Sprinklerhead is just one of several local bands who've signed the "Wall of Fame" at Station 3:16, a Christian club located in downtown Bakersfield. They said they've decided they could rock out while staying in tune with their beliefs.
"We look at this as a ministry," said Ronnie Martinez, drummer of the band Sprinklehead. "We're 'musician-aries.' What a sprinkler does, is it distributes water, and in biblical terms, water is the Word of God," he said. Martinez began playing as a teen, pounding out the beat for bad-boy bands who continued playing the role offstage as well.
Martinez' mother, Stella, said she was thankful to see her son start playing a different tune. "I was worried about the drugs, not that he was doing it, but people he used to play with," she said. "He started doing Christian rock, and it's such good music, because you know that he's praising God."
Station 3:16 has played host to several bands venturing up from Los Angeles, including Crimson Stained Nails and Up in Arms. Local band Ashes has also played at the venue named after a biblical reference to the Gospel of John. ¡°Disney's popular group Jump-5 has been here," said Station 3:16 Executive Director Jim Crews. "New artists by the name of Nate Sallie just came and shot a video here called "Everyday Sunday."
According to some fans, Christian rock rebukes cliches like sex, drugs, and rebellion, turning harmonies into hard-rock hymns for the huddled masses. ¡°Our positive message that we have is that we came out of that and we have a higher power to live for," said Ashes bass player Bradley Newton. "The purpose of living is to seek Christ, and the kids, they do it through their music," said parent Randy Rankin. Members of Sprinklerhead said they've been approached by disc jockeys in New York City, wanting to play their music on the radio, while band members with Ashes said an independent label is considering signing their band.
"We're seeing a trend of teenagers that are beginning to want to hear more positive music, have a more positive spin," said Pastor Tony Young. "Especially the way things are going in our world." And as more young people seek sanctuary in the music, more Christian rockers gain acceptance into the music mainstream.