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Ginny Owens
Cindy Morgan
Chris Rice
Michael W. Smith

A Night in Rocketown - Click to view! A NIGHT IN ROCKETOWN (1999)
As a newcomer's introduction to this label family, or as a complement to longtime fans' collections, A Night in Rocketown presents the greatest hits of the Rocketown label in a laid-back, personal style at Orlando's Hard Rock Live venue. Though still fair music, Watermark was the wrong choice for opening act, musically trite and lyrically cliched compared to other artists featured. Following emcee Michael W. Smith's "I love Florida!" mantra, Ginny Owens treats the audience to "I Want to Be Moved," a blues-laced, upbeat cut crying for God's glory, passing as the Night's loudest moment. Animated, fresh and melodic, Wilshire takes the stage charged with "Closer Still," harmonizing excellently as the song challenges comfortable Christianity: "It's time to take a risk." Micah and Lori Wilshire complement each other really well, his up tempo guitar paired well with her fragile voice; "In This Moment" closes their too-short set. The only non-Rocketown artist performing, Cindy Morgan runs through her Exodus ballad "Make Us One," before Chris Rice enters, asking "Having fun yet?" This quirky, insightful guitarist absolutely steals the show with his knack for lyrical creativity, clearly the most exciting, bold songwriting on the Rocketown roster. Dreaming of Heaven on a lazy summer's afternoon, "Deep Enough to Dream" defers to the crowd join-in "Sometimes Love," revealing the agony of caring, and delivered with ease as Michael W. contributes counterharmony. Morgan returns for "Praise the King," her piano-backed declaration of Jesus' worthiness; also reappearing is Watermark, whose song "Gloria" uses nature's beauty in it's lyrical comparison of praising God. Inadvertently jabbing host Smitty's talkativeness, the story of rejection experienced by Ginny Owens as a blind girl looking for a job is related firsthand, expressing wonder at the peace Christ led her to, and the provision for her in getting a record contract. In the context of her blindness, the swaying, affecting tune "If You Want Me To" is given all the more clarity, a message of abandoning ourselves to Christ's will. An interjection is necessary, concerning the crowd noise: after about six times through, the cheering and introductions will annoy even the most patient people—but the transparent, open attitude makes A Night in Rocketown very much worth it. Rice's "Big Enough" surprises with it's perspective on doubt, and sudden, catchy acoustic backdrop. No one but no one buys this CD to hear Smitty talk, to hear Ginny Owens' premiere performance, or even just to get a live album—"Cartoons" is the foremost reason for everybody who gets it. The humor of the premise—what if cartoons DID get saved?—doesn't lose it's charm even after 50 listens, and Chris Rice's dead-on imitations of Yogi Bear, Kermit the Frog, the Smurfs and particularly the Jetsons' dog Astro are genuinely hilarious. Ever the youth camp keyboardist, Michael W. Smith finishes the remaining seven minutes with a sadly old medley of "Sanctuary," "Step by Step" and "Awesome God," the last two a nod to Rich Mullins. If you're looking to sample some new pop songs, or simply want to laugh along with Chris Rice, spend A Night in Rocketown getting to know these warm, musically-inclined personalities.
- Josh M. Shepherd

A well-done label site, with Shockwave interactivity, has info about all their projects and sound clips.

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