Originally created 07/24/99

On solid rock



Ashley Beasley needed more than determination to circumvent security guards at last month's Atlanta Fest, a showcase for Christian bands.

She gave up going backstage, but not her hope of meeting author and youth commentator Josh McDowell. "God, if this is your will, you will work it out," she prayed.

Mr. McDowell walked by and stopped to talk.

His message earlier to the 16,000 present in Atlanta -- trust God to "break the chain" of the past -- was identical to a song her husband, Doug Beasley, had penned, she said.

After Mr. McDowell heard some of the lyrics, he grabbed her and said, "You are giving me goose bumps," recalled Ms. Beasley, lead vocalist with the North Augusta band Carpenter's Bride.

As he requested, the Christian rock group will send Mr. McDowell a cassette from a demo it is cutting, said Brad Wasden, a drummer who joined Ms. Beasley and other performers in the original Carpenter's Bride last year.

That group eventually dissolved, said Mr. Wasden. Band members "separated as friends, but Ashley and I stuck together."

They ran ads for musicians and prayed that God would surround them with others with the same vision, said Mr. Wasden, a volunteer youth pastor at Grace Fellowship in North Augusta.

Besides Mr. Wasden and Ms. Beasley, Carpenter's Bride includes lead guitarist Tim Freeman, bassist Mike Green, rhythm guitarist Phil Laird, and vocalist Robin Lyons. Mr. Wasden's wife, Penny, is manager.

"All of us want to spread the Word. Salvation is the heart and soul of what we do. We like to play music and concerts, but we try to focus on the ministry time," Mr. Wasden said.

Growing up, Mr. Wasden's first love was drums, though he started playing trombone when he was 7 or 8 years old. "My daddy felt drums weren't a real instrument," he said.

So he taught himself. He would spread his schoolbooks out in front of him and use modified numb-chux sticks to play along with Kiss 8-tracks.

After he graduated from high school, Windsor Springs Baptist Church needed a drummer and asked him to audition, he said. "It was the first time I ever sat down behind a set of drums." He got the job, and his father followed up by buying him a set of drums.

At 19, he started traveling with a rock 'n' roll band, Ice-Nyne, which "took me out of church for years," he said. Eventually life on the road got the best of him.

He lost a bet -- and his drums -- at 25 and was kicked out of the band. Once off the road, he quit marijuana, then alcohol.

When his musical interest revived about 10 years later it came back in a major way. "I was thinking about playing the drums constantly," he said. He told his wife about his desire and the next day learned of an opening in Grace Fellowship's band.

God had given him another chance, he said. "I made up my mind if there is anything I can do to help people avoid the chaos, confusion and heartache that goes along with (drug and alcohol use), I'm going to do it," he said.

Carpenter's Bride was one of 40 bands at Atlanta Fest, said Mr. Wasden.

The band plays two or three times a month at churches and venues such as the Youth Detention Center and Riverwalk Augusta, where Carpenter's Bride appeared the Fourth of July weekend.

The band performs original music and likes secular songs with Christian words. During shows, Mr. Wasden sandwiches a gospel message in between the musical sets, he said.

Today's youth will be the future leaders, said Ms. Beasley, but "I feel like we are losing them to today's society."

Christian music, however, can be just as good as other music youths listen to, she said. "I want to give them an alternative on the radio and let them know that Christians can have fun, too."

Virginia Norton covers religion for The Augusta Chronicle. She can be reached at (706) 823-3336 or vanorton@augustachronicle.com.