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Youth Rally to feature well known Christian rock band

Date: 10/23/2014

CHICOPEE – The 16th annual Youth Rally features the up and coming Andy Needham Band, a Christian group that originally hails from the greater Boston area.

Pioneer Valley Baptist Chapel presents the rally, which will take place on Oct. 25 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Chicopee Comprehensive High School, 617 Montgomery St. The event is free. Registration starts at 5:30 p.m. on the night of the rally.

The IBBB Worship Teen Band of Holyoke will also perform. Pizza will be served and prizes will be awarded. A canned food drive in support of Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen is another feature of the event. Students from junior high to college from the Commonwealth and surrounding states are invited to attend.

 “Thirty-five years ago, my life was involved with drugs and alcohol,” Deacon Mike Boober, the organizer of the event and former Pioneer Valley Baptist Youth director, said. “I wanted to do something for today’s teens. I’ve been forgiven for so much. Shame on me [if I don’t reach out to others and give back to the community].”

He described the rally as an opportunity for teens to come together, enjoy praise, worship and God’s word, all while having a fun time.

“It gets the kids away from traditional Halloween parties. It’s a time for them to enjoy themselves and forget about the cares of the world,” Boober said.

When asked what a first-time rally guest could expect, Boober responded, “No pressure. I’m not a big fan of altar calls. I think God can touch your heart right where you sit.”

He added, “We are hoping for a big crowd. I’d like to encourage all the youth to come out and enjoy themselves.”

The Andy Needham Band began as a summer camp and worship ensemble. Its members are Andy Needham on lead vocals, Jonathan Mason on bass, Joel Rousseau on lead guitar and Andrew Picha on percussion. All grew up in the church and attending Christian summer camps such as Camp Monadnock in southern New Hampshire. Both Rousseau and Picha attended Berklee College of Music in Boston.

“We try to model a life of worship, in a sense of, showing Christianity isn’t just a once a week thing, but it’s an all life thing. We try to be real. Being real means that we don’t try to show ourselves as perfect. Repentance is a huge part of the Christian life. If we hide our repentance, so to speak, then we’re creating a fake Christianity,” Mason said.

“Those [youth camps] are a big part of our individual stories, so we really get what that feels like. We get to be a part of that now,” Rousseau said.

Rousseau described the band’s music as “Bob Seger meets Steely Dan in a church.”

“I think the thing people should know about our band is that we strive to be very musical. It’s artistic, but we try to do songs that people can sing along with,” Needham said.

He added, “We get to do what we love.”

One aspect that separates Christian music from secular music is the fact that concertgoers get direct access to the musicians without paying for the privilege or meandering through a wall of bodyguards.

After their rally performance, the band will be available to speak with the youth in attendance. They encouraged everyone to stop by and say hello.

“That’s one of the more enjoyable parts of what we do. We meet a lot of great people. I get energized when I hear moms talk about how their kids get impacted by what we do,” Needham said.

“We get to see a lot of different churches and we get a really, really unique view of the church as a whole, through different denominations, through different regions, through different economies – a cross-section. I constantly forget that most other people only see their own churches. We really get to see what the body of Christ looks likes,” Rousseau commented.

“Us being accessible and being able to connect with people, goes hand-in-hand with what a Christian is in the sense of I don’t think Jesus desires for there to be Christian superstars. People that are well known in the church, they should be well-known for loving and for serving. We as a band, the very nature of worship music, we want to serve the church. That’s the reason we write and sing. We want to build the people up and help them have a deeper connection with God and grow and connect with the community around them,” Mason said.

Mason added that not interacting with the people is “to set ourselves up like divas,” which would make the band members “hypocrites” because that is not the purpose of worship music.

The band also discussed how they remain grounded in their faith while away from their family, friends and home churches.

“I think routine is just as good as much a bad thing. As much as I miss the routine – our lives are very much open, free form right now as far as our schedules go – even though routine is nice and being with the same people every week is nice. But, when you are on the road and interacting with these other people in these different churches, it really solidifies what you believe because you’re constantly running into people who you have no idea what they believe, if they are with you on certain issues, if you are on the same page, Rousseau said.

He continued, “You talk about grounding, in that way it’s pretty strengthening, actually, it makes you think about what you really do believe because you’re constantly in situations where you’re not around people where you’re just in your small group [and feel] you can say anything.”

Needham encouraged local youth to attend the rally and to stop by the band’s table after the performance to chat.

To learn more about the Andy Needham Band, go to Follow the band on Facebook at and on Twitter @andyneedhamband.

For info about the rally, go to