Kansas State Fair

Meeting Jars of Clay

Steve Mason, Kristen Roderick, Charlie Lowell and Dan Haseltine stand at the Kansas State Fair grandstand before the Jars of Clay Concert. (Travis Morisse/The Hutchinson News)

Steve Mason, Kristen Roderick, Charlie Lowell and Dan Haseltine stand at the Kansas State Fair grandstand before the Jars of Clay Concert. (Travis Morisse/The Hutchinson News)

I’ve followed Jars of Clay for a long time.

I remember “borrowing” my older brother’s copy of their self-titled debut album shortly after it was released. Come to think of it, I still haven’t given it back.

On Thursday, I was blessed with the opportunity to interview them. Yeah, I had questions. But really, I wanted to see what these guys I’ve listened to and followed a majority of my life are really about.

After all of these years, I knew there was still something special when the cover of their new CD, “Inland,” has a squirrel with an oar. Pure genius!

Moreso, I couldn’t be more impressed with the camaraderie of the band and the crew. When I got to the grandstands, the band was setting up. They don’t just enlist stage hands to get the stage ready. Each member has an active role in making the stage look as good as it can. Whether it’s putting up the decorative trees or setting up instruments, it’s truely a team effort.

Then came the sound check. If you didn’t know it, the guys are jokesters. Steve Mason was working on something for a bit, so Matt Odmark took over, mimicking Mason’s harmonies over the microphone. When they started to play a few bars of songs they planned to play during the show, it was perfection. I knew the crowd was in for a great show.

Then it was my turn to say hi. Adding another feather in the cap of praises from me, Charlie Lowell told me the band does NOT have anyone to do their social media. They take turns responding to fans and chatting on Twitter. They make sure to check during the day for fans who may have mentioned them. They try to respond as much as they can. In fact, Dan Haseltine and Steve Mason greeted me by joking that I stepped down from the moon. My Twitter photo is from The News’ “Over the Moon” photo booth at the fair.

The entire band is super sweet. They were very gracious and couldn’t wait to check out the fair before the show. Steve Mason wanted to see the prize steer. I think the rest wanted to check out sideshow and all food on a stick.

Those who went to the show were able to check out information from the band’s project Blood:Water Mission. It’s to raise money for clean water and adequate medical care for those in Africa. It’s a mission they started in 2002.

It’s a mission that has been dear to my heart. I sponsor a boy in Uganda through World Vision, and through his letters, I know of the struggles he goes through. I’ve never been there, but videos and photos show Africa is a beautiful country. Everyone deserves the basic necessities to live. Amazingly, Blood:Water Mission has provided clean water to more than 900,000 people and medical treatment to more than 40,000. It only takes $1 to give a person in Africa water for a year.

That’s not much, but anything will help.

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