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Built Upon a Rock Fest coming to Duluth

A new event is coming to the Diocese of Duluth, and everyone is hoping it will rock — the Built Upon a Rock Fest, a free concert featuring two well-known Catholic rock bands, one national and one local, will be held on the grounds of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary Sept. 17.

Led by a team of four lay people — Marie Mullen, Kevin Pilon, David Walsh, and Ben Foster — and with sponsors including parishes across the diocese, the show will feature as its national headliner The Thirsting, a live touring band based out of Portland and known for high energy shows with a powerful Catholic message.

The Aly Aleigha Band
The Aly Aleigha Band

“They have put out two full albums, and last year, they performed on the main stage of World Youth Day in Poland,” said Foster, who is doing marketing for the event. “They have a great rock sound coupled with authentic Catholic lyrics. They sing songs about the Eucharist, Mary, the sacraments, and other truths proclaimed by the church. This is a refreshing contrast to mainstream Christian music and is encouraging and inspiring to hear as Catholics.”

Foster said that Mullen hearing The Thirsting last year is what inspired her to begin the project to bring them to Duluth.

Kicking off the show will be a local artist, The Aly Aleigha Band. She released a full album in September 2016 and received the 2016 “Emerging Artist Award” from Relevant Radio and Abbeyfest in Paoli, Pennsylvania. She works at the University of Minnesota Duluth Newman Center and at the Cathedral in Duluth.

“The Aly Aleigha Band is our opening act, and they are a local band from here in Duluth,” Foster said. “Their music has an Indie-Americana sound that is unique and beautiful. Aly’s lyrics are deep and rooted in Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Foster said the event’s name is a triple pun, playing off the promise of Jesus to build his church on the “rock” of Peter, the rocky hillside on which the event will take place, and the rock music.

The event’s logo also prominently features imagery representing the Eucharist, and throughout the concert, there will be Eucharistic Adoration taking place, open to anyone who wants to drop in.

“We have enlisted volunteers to be adoring and praying throughout the event for the musicians, volunteers, and all those in attendance at the concert,” Foster said. “We believe this to be powerful and necessary.”

There will also be confession available in the Cathedral after the concert.

Foster said it’s been “a bit of work” to raise the needed funds but that the support from parishes, businesses and other organizations and the enthusiasm generated has been “truly a reflection of the unity and solidarity within the church.”

They estimate an attendance of 1,000 but are hoping for more.

“I would love to see folks from all over the diocese at Built Upon A Rock Fest.”

Foster said the organizers are also hoping Built Upon a Rock will not be just a one-time thing, but they will let God lead.

“Our hope is that Built Upon A Rock Fest can be an annual event that has the potential to grow into a larger festival, if that what God’s will is,” he said.

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— By Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross