Being in an independent band is one of the hardest and most rewarding things you can do as an artist. You are on your own for pretty much everything and in order to “make it” you have to play all the time, anywhere and everywhere people will have you. One of the most important things I have done in my life was being a part of the band Driven from 2004-2009. This blog is about the guys and experiences that made me into the person I am today.
I graduated high school in 2003 and immediately after that, Josh Jordan and I went to work for a summer mission camp in Florida for 10 weeks. Josh (Yoda if you know him by that nickname) and I had been friends for years and played in a couple of different bands throughout middle school and high school. We traveled to Florida in my green Ford Contour, packed to the brim with guitars, luggage, and snacks. I learned a lot that summer about ministry, people and definitely music. After that, we both decided that we weren’t going to stop until music was our jobs.
Josh Henderson and I went to middle school and high school together. We played little league baseball together too. I wasn’t a very good athlete. I was normally in left field kicking dirt and writing songs in my head. Josh (Bobby if you know him by that nickname) was always one of the best players on the team. Not only was he great at sports but he had character, and I always wanted to be just like him.
After Yoda and I returned from Florida, I called Bobby and asked him if he had ever played an instrument. He said no but sounded interested. So we went to a pawn shop, bought a bass, and he played his first show a week later. He was a natural and became one of the best bass players I know. He was in choir in high school so he knew music. Jensen Cornelius was also in choir and had been a friend of ours for a long time. He joined the band, playing percussion and some keys. Once again, never played an instrument. I was also giving guitar lessons at the time to a 15 year old wiz kid named Anthony Chapman. He joined the band too but was only around for a little while. He was very young and needed to finish school. Still one of the most talented guys I know.
Dylan Martin has always been the guy behind the scenes making things happen. Even in high school, he was the guy that could fix anything or had knowledge about anything and everything sound/tech. He was also the guy behind the scenes giving me relationship advice, often being the middle man between me and my girlfriend at the time. He was always there to fix it. We became best friends really quickly. When we started traveling, he had an interest in speaking so he came on the road as sound tech/speaker/road manager/everything else. We couldn’t have done what we did without him. He was always right there, encouraging us and getting things done.
We met Kirk Wynn through a church in Corryton where he was playing drums. I saw him play in high school and thought he was one of the best drummers I had ever heard. When the position became available in Driven, I started calling around to get his number. When I got it, I called and asked him if he might be interested in trying out for the band. We were leaving for a mission trip to the Bahamas the next week so I asked him if he wanted to go on that too. He said no. I think I freaked him out. But he did join the band. We did a photo shoot with him before we ever played together.
From 2004-2009, we did more than most independent bands our age could do. We played almost 75 shows a year across the United States, were house bands at 4 different churches weekly, did a 10 week camp together as staff/band, did several crusades and retreats, recorded 2 studio albums and a live DVD, and started Consumed Ministries, organizing mission projects throughout the South.
We didn’t have a van or bus. Every weekend, we were calling around borrowing our parents car, friend’s SUV, or a van from one of our churches. My church let us use their trailer and we overloaded it with our gear. There were many trips where I didn’t know if we would make it. Whether it be travel arrangements or money, God always provided. There were many nights where we would all be on our faces, praying that we would always keep our focus and perspective. We loved music, but the ministry is what kept us going. We got to see God do some amazing things during those years, and I will never be the same.
I just wanted to write this blog to say thanks to anybody and everybody that was involved in helping Driven/Consumed Ministries do what we did. We were young and naive but I think that’s what made it great. We didn’t know any better so we went after it with everything we had. I still talk about the experiences we shared and the people we met. It was a special thing to be a part of.
We spent a lot of time in the mountains at Wa-Floy retreat in Cosby, TN. We did several church retreats and songwriting retreats there. During a band devotion at one of those retreats, we tore a dollar bill into equal pieces and passed them out to every member of the band. We wrote a date on it, 10 years from that day. On October 1, 2014, we are going to go back to that little chapel in the woods with our families to reflect on these years and spend time together again. I look forward to this day more than anything and wouldn’t miss it for the world.