Fish Fest features Christian rockers

Third Day, Peter Furler, Above the Golden State on stage
by: Contributed photo Third Day has garnered 25 No. 1 singles, and Billboard calls the quartet “not only one of the best Christian bands of the ‘90s but one of the best rock bands, period.”

If you like the best in contemporary Christian music, Fish Fest 2011 is the place to be from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at Mt. Hood Community College, 26000 S.E. Stark St.

Doors open at 11 a.m., and the festival - which takes its name from radio station Fish 104.1 FM - features multi-platinum-selling rock band Third Day and Christian music veteran Peter Furler, former frontman of the Newsboys.

Sponsored by Gresham Ford, the event also features Above The Golden State, Sixteen Cities, Jaime Jamgochian, Ryan Stevenson, Braille and Lybecker. There will also be a kids zone and food court.

Here's a look at a few of the acts.

Third Day

Hailing from Marietta, Ga., this multi-platinum-selling rock band has garnered 25 No. 1 singles as well as truckloads of Grammy and Dove awards.

Named for the gospel account of Jesus Christ rising from the dead three days after his crucifixion, Third Day's members are clearly all about singing for the Lord, but they don't sacrifice musical quality in the process, something not every Christian rock or pop act can claim. They've even earned the respect of their more worldly peers, with Billboard calling Third Day 'not only one of the best Christian bands of the '90s but one of the best rock bands, period.'

For the uninitiated, the band sounds sort of like a Southern rock version of Creed, though with better vocals, courtesy of Mac Powell. The band likes its rock to sound just a bit raw, and if you didn't know they were singing for God, you might just think they were singing for a bunch of bar brawlers in such songs as 2010's 'Make Your Move' or at a country chicken barbecue on 'Surrender.'

Peter Furler

Anyone familiar with contemporary Christian music knows this guy, former frontman for Australia's the Newsboys, who may have come up with the best title ever for an album in their genre, 1990's 'Hell Is For Wimps.' Furler has written or co-written such songs as 'He Reigns' and has struck out on his own, releasing a solo album titled 'On Fire' in June of this year.

Like Third Day, Furler has a long history in Christian music and has sung for African Muslims, a Catholic pope, a New Age gathering and even the occasional pub crowd in his homeland. With the Newsboys, he's shown he was willing to take some chances, including releasing a Christian disco album, of all things, complete with choreographed videos, white shoes and saving beats.

Above the Golden State

A Portland pop rock trio, this up-and-coming band would fit in quite nicely at a post-punk festival like the Vans Warped Tour with their catchy hooks, sing-along choruses and classic-rock-meets-New-Wave harmonies. Their singles 'The Golden Rule' and the finely crafted 'I'll Love You So' would appeal to fans of Weezer, among other pop rock groups.

The band's frontman, Michael Watson, chuckles as he notes 'I'll Love You So' has been featured on TV shows and Old Navy's store sound systems. That's probably because it's such a catchy song that could fit easily on your iPod's indie rock playlist. However, he makes it clear that Above the Golden State is not looking to worship the golden calf of celebrity rock stardom.

'I think our overall desire isn't for fame and money,' he says. 'We all want to pay our bills and be recognized for making good music. But we just want to share the reality of God's love with everybody.'

If you go

WHAT: Fish Fest 2011

WHEN: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20

WHERE: Mt. Hood Community College, 26000 S.E. Stark St.

COST: Advance tickets range from $20 to $104, and can be purchased at Gresham Ford, 1940 E. Powell Blvd.; at Tree of Life Christian Outlet, Suite 344, 450 N.W. 257th Ave., Troutdale; or at