SWC-bound OC Supertones emerge from retirement—briefly

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DEL MAR, Calif. — An annual bastion of all the up-and-coming talent in the Christian music industry, Spirit West Coast-Del Mar, will take a walk down memory lane this year as one of a dozen or so venues to host the OC Supertones for their limited reunion tour.

"A lot of people loved the Supertones," said Jon Robberson, promoter of the family-friendly festival. They were very popular and a lot of people will love getting a chance to relive that."

The re-grouped Supertones—with Mojo Morginsky, Toneman Terusa, Jason Carson, Chief Mettler, Jesse Craig and Nathan Spencer—will appear May 29 the second of the three-day Spirit West Coast festival. The concert is the day after the opening reunion tour date in Bakersfield.

The group started in the early 1990s under a different name and with a mixed genre that include punk, funk, disco and some heavy metal sounds, but in 1995 they re-established themselves as the OC Supertones and adopted the music style described as ska, a Jamaican style that predates reggae and incorporates calypso, American jazz and R&B.

"They were riding the wave of that," Robberson said. "It's a fast beat, fun kind of music as opposed to a grinding hard rock type. That provided a broader audience for them because it was fun."

Robberson said their style, at times, caused some people to minimize their impact on the industry.

"Because they were such a fun band many people didn't take their ministry seriously," he said.

The concert promoter said, however, that such criticism was an unfair portrayal of the group's spiritual grounding. Their fast, intricate lyrics, he said, were steeped in deep spiritual meaning and, in 1999, the group was chosen to perform during Pope John Paul II's visit to St. Louis.

Over the years, the group experimented with different sounds before calling it quits in 2005. The group last played together on October 7, 2005 at Biola University. After leaving the stage, many of the band members jumped into full-time ministry.

"It's a testament of maybe their calling way back when," Robberson said.

Last fall, fans were treated to an unexpected surprise when members of the band announced a limited run this summer on a social networking site.

Grandstand and day acts

In addition to the OC Supertones, other bands appearing at the festival include Friday evening performances by The Afters, Tenth Avenue North, Skillet; Saturday headliners Matthew West, Jars of Clay and Steven Curtis Chapman, and Sunday's grandstand acts Kutless and Newboys.

Afternoon acts include Holland Davis, Jonny Diaz Phil Joel, Bread of Stone, Sleep for Sleepers, Sarah Kelly Band, Francesca Battistelli, Number One Gun, Spoken and BarlowGirl.

The Indie Artist Showcase is also slated between 2 and 5 p.m. on Friday.

The C28 Alternative stage includes B. Reith, Shachah, Stellar Kart, Manic Drive, Aaron Gillespie, Fireflight, Family Force 5, Flatfoot 56, Seventh Day Slumber and Hawk Nelson.

Special pricing for alternative bands

For fans who are primarily interested in the bands on the alternative stage, organizers have just launched a new pricing plan that allows limited access to the C28 venue for just $20 cash at the door. Tickets for the plan are available at 4 p.m. on concert days. The ticket also allows entire festival access after 10 p.m. nightly to allow guests to attend late-night concerts.

"This is a new program we just launched," Robberson said.

Featured speakers include Francis Chan, Matt Pitt, Reg Cox, Shaun Groves, Phil Joel and Matthew West.

Indie artists include Aaron De La Cruz, & The Worship Out Band, Abandon the Silence, Ballad the Memory, Down the Wire, Edge of Tomorrow, Hechos de La Fe, Heroes Are Forever, Ice4Christ, If A Tree Falls, Limit 88, Living Stone, Marty Martin, My Beautiful Surrender, Narwahl, Pyvotal, Rebirth, Sounds & Sciences,  Steven James, Surrendered and Sweet Chariot.        

In addition to the musical acts, the festival is launching its inaugural movie house, showing free Christian-themed movies, including "To Save a Life," "Fireproof," "End of the Spear," "Gifted Hands," "Like Dandelion Dust," "The Rally," "Amazing Grace," "Hearing Everett," "Faith Like Potatoes" and "Midrange."

Other activities include the child-centered VeggieLand, a skate park and sports club, inflatable bouncers and the Christian Examiner Exhibit Hall, where dozens of vendors and ministries will be showcasing their wares.

Single and full-event tickets are available online. The next price increase for tickets is May 1. Tickets after May 21 will only be available at the higher gate price.

For more information, visit www.spiritwestcoast.org.

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