Sanctus Real Performs Feel Good Friday Finale

by Tafi Stober

From the Niswonger stage in 2018 to Fountain Park this Friday evening, Sanctus Real returns to Van Wert with a FREE Feel Good Friday season-ending performance that will keep the music and message playing in hearts long after the last note is played. Food trucks will also make a return to Fountain Park this Friday. Egbert's Concessions will be providing funnel cakes, french fries, lemon shake-ups, corn dogs, and tenderloin sandwiches beginning at 3P. CJ's Shaved Ice will be selling their loved refreshing beverages as well as water.  

Another opportunity also exists at Fountain Park on Friday for anyone enjoying downtown Van Wert. The Van Wert County Foundation’s latest initiative - Van Wert Forward, is gathering valuable information for the downtown redevelopment master plan. Van Wert Forward is vision-driven by The Van Wert County Foundation to preserve and restore our historic assets. In doing so, energy will be infused into our community; spur downtown revitalization and investment; create new, welcoming, multi-use spaces; and positively impact the quality of life for generations.

The community input session will be onsite in Fountain Park from 6:30 pm - 8 pm in front of the concession stand. Van Wert County Foundation representatives will be available to answer any questions and explain the interactive poster boards where your opinions will be expressed. Safety protocols will be in place for all participants. Concert attendees are encouraged to arrive at Fountain Park in advance of the 7P start time or take a bit of time during the concert until 8P to provide your opinions for Van Wert Forward. When complete, return to your fan pod and Sanctus Real will be ready to entertain you from the Fountain Park stage!

The following bio defines the meaning behind Sanctus Real's musical message. After 20 years of touring, 24 radio hits and full album sales exceeding 750,000, Sanctus Real cemented itself as a trusted brand in Christian music. But in 2016, original members Mark Graalman and Chris Rohman experienced a windfall of change that shook the foundation of everything they had built. They parted ways with their longtime label partner, their booking agent, and close friend and lead singer, Matt Hammitt, left the band to spend more time with his family.

“We started this band in our parents’ basement and never knew we’d get this far,” shares Rohman. “When Matt left, Mark and I just started praying and waiting to see what God had planned for us.”

Enter Dustin Lolli, Sanctus Real’s new lead singer and creative influence. When Lolli met Graalman and Rohman, he was working as a full-time worship leader in Michigan and performing in a folk duo with his wife.

“We immediately loved Dustin’s approach to songwriting and lyric structure,” says Graalman, “and knew he could be a refreshing addition to the band.”

For Lolli, the decision to join Sanctus Real seemed like an easy one, but getting to know the heart of the band tipped the scales. “I saw in these guys a real focus to write songs that move people toward an understanding of their identity in Christ. They’ve built an amazing platform to be able to share God’s love and I knew I wanted to be a part of that.”

With a new lead singer in place, the trio began writing songs for Changed, their first album together. Lolli’s soulful vocals are noticeably different from the band’s original sound, but the focus of the music remains - hope found in an unchanging savior. While the new songs are certainly influenced by the outward changes the band has experienced, the message is centered on how change can bring about personal redemption. Life is, whether good or bad, a series of unexpected moments. With Changed, the band communicates that nothing’s ever a lost cause in the kingdom of heaven. Stripping away what was and getting down to the one thing that matters has given the band a new voice and solidified the purpose behind it.

“We’re a group of guys making music together as opposed to a group of guys getting behind a song. We’re focusing back on the simple message of the gospel,” says Graalman. “It’s the simple message of God’s love.”

With a shift in focus and a new lead singer, the next season for the band is a clean slate, a transition, a rebirth of the original vision for making music together. In the midst of that rebirth, Sanctus Real is discovering when you focus on what matters, you open yourself up to even more possibility.

The Feel Good Friday Series in Fountain Park has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Van Wert County Foundation. Safety is made possible by our responsible audience who is adhering to the safety guidelines as approved by the Van Wert Health Department. Facemasks are mandatory until seated in a socially distanced Fan Pod. Hand Sanitizing Stations will be set up throughout the park for use. The restrooms are routinely cleaned. Food Vendor lines will be marked for social distancing. This Feel Good Friday concert finale is certain to demonstrate that we can safely enjoy entertainment and maintain our hope for a future filled with live music in Van Wert.