Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman inspires at Sam’s Burger Joint


By Shannon Sweet


On break from the massively successful alternative rock band Switchfoot, principal singer-songwriter and guitarist Jon Foreman, 38, is on a mission to spread the word of love and survival through music.

With two released and two yet-to-be-released extended plays from a collection of four called “The Wonderlands,” Foreman’s critically acclaimed approach to folk music is humane, touching and insightful with poignant, uplifting lyrics.

A recent laidback and intimate performance at Sam’s Burger Joint was a night of enlightenment. Stripped down and unplugged, backed only by drums (Aaron Redfield), cello (Keith Tutt) and his own guitar, Foreman’s lyrics took center stage, amplified by his brutally honest, consistently melodic songbird voice. Tones of happiness, fear, optimism and struggle made an appearance that evening, with Foreman’s wit and warmth tying it all together.

“Death seems to find a way to most my songs,” Foreman said in-between songs, “but I’m not a morbid person.”

As a well-rounded lyricist, his sentiment rings true, although the majority of his work deals with themes celebrating life, salvation, redemption, and his relationship with God.

“Heaven knows I tried to find a cure for the pain,” sings Foreman in “The Cure for Pain,” a tender crowd favorite ballad, “to suffer like you do it would be a lie to run away.”

Along with his Switchfoot material, covers of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley and “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys, Foreman excited and surprised the audience with every aspect of his illustrious career. (His “The Wonderlands: Darkness” installment will premiere Sept. 4, and “The “Wonderlands: Dawn” will be out Oct, 23.)

But even though Foreman is a man of faith, he’s not preachy with his beliefs. The subtleness of his lyrics transcends the concepts of traditional Christian rock into music that all faiths can understand, vibe to, and, most of all, enjoy.

“I don’t know some of these songs,” Foreman said to the audience, “I’m going to need your help.”

With song names and personal messages written on pieces of napkins, devoted fans passed them onto the stage, forming a large pile at Foreman’s feet. Weaving in and out of both request and personal song choices throughout the two-hour show, Foreman treated the audience like family, even meeting and getting to know them individually after the concert was long over.


E-mail Sweet at ssweet@student.uiwtx.edu