Now, they're doing their own thing, without drugs, without vulgarity and without evil disorder. Their message is Christian and one Orange County Rock group has had 3500 commitments for Christ since its first concert in March of this year.
This group promotes, "The Everlastin' Living Water Rock Festivals" and is sponsored by a committee of businessmen of Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, incorporated under the name Maranatha (The Lord cometh). Headed by Dick Va Verka, graduated as an accountant from the University of California at Los Angeles and holder of a law degree, Maranatha claims Scriptural authority for spreading the Gospel through rock music from the 150th Psalm.
"Praise Him with the sound of trumpet!
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrels and dance!
Praise Him upon the strings and pipes!
Praise Him upon the loud cymbals."
The Everlastin' Living Waters Rock Festivals are always headed by the "Love Song," a group of five Christian men, all in their twenties. Directed by Chuck Girard, piano and acoustical guitar player, "Love Song" includes Jay Truax on the bass guitar; Tom Coomes, electrical and acoustical guitar; Fred Field, guitar and violin; and John Mehler, drums.
All members of the group were at one time involved in the "hippie movement" and played in various professional combinations.
SERIES OF CRISES
After a series of crises in their individual lives, they dedicated their talents to Jesus Christ and began playing together under the name "Love Song."
The name "Love Song" was chosen by Chuck Girard for a secular combo he once headed. Two of the present members, Jay Truax and John Mehler, also played in this band. Like himself, "Love Song" has had a new birth, Chuck says. Now it is devoted to Christian ideals.
The "Love Song" combo is always assisted by four or five other groups at each concert. Some of the Christian rock groups who have appeared to date at the festivals include "Blessed Hope," "Country Faith," "The Way," "Selah," and "The Children of the Day." The Christian rock festivals were a little late in hitting Southern California although students from John Brown University known as the "Sound Generation" gave rock concerts at Disneyland and Knott's berry Farm during the past two summers.
The first rock festival to gain attention in the Southland was held last January in the Hollywood Palladium where 15 musical groups played rock, folk and soul for five hours.
There's a difference in rock music, according to Dick Va Verka. There's the hard acid rock of Jimi Hendrix. "The kids say you have to be stoned to enjoy this type of rock," he disclosed. There is soft rock (late Beatles style), folk, soul, and country styles. Chuck Girard of the Love Song says he prefers contemporary gospel music. "It covers the field without raising the bad specter of acid rock which often has psychedelic overtones with the suggestions of sex," he believes.
Several name performers have come out for Christian rock music - Tiny Tim, Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary, Johnny Cash and Pat Boone.
Not all songs which employ the name of Christ are religious, Mr. Va Verka says. he believes the popular "Jesus Christ, Superstar" is actually Satanic because it implies an illicit relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene and because of other allusions not sustained by the Bible.
Christian ideals are the product Maranatha was organized to sell, Dick declared. "our purpose is to spread the word of God, not to build up an individual, a group or a church. "Some people give sermons, some people write books, some people author poems, some people paint pictures - all to the glory of God. Our aim is to spread the gospel through songs which the kids compose and sing."