PLAYING AROUND

Freedom Fest

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Michael W. Smith, Mathew West, Sanctus Real, Luminate and Jason Castro performed at Freedom Fest 2013 — a two-day Christian music festival held June 29-30 at Christ’s Church.

The big day came June 30 with thousands attending and more than 700 volunteers, Cullum said.

Francesca Battistelli, Peter Furler with Phil Joel, Jason Castro and Luminate led a singing-and-worship event on Saturday night.

Later in the afternoon, one of the anticipated acts, Luminate, had a meet and greet after their set.

“It’s awesome,” Sam Hancock of Luminate said. “Just what Freedom Fest represents is not only American freedom, but the freedom we find through Christ.”

Sam added that making the event free to the public was something special and gave even more meaning to the name.

Plum took the stage next and sang their praises, getting the crowd involved as the evening approached.

Sanctus Real came out after Plum and brought the upbeat sounds to get the crowd moving as anticipation for the headliners drew closer.

With the sun setting behind the overcast sky, comedian MC Bone Hampton came on between Sanctus Real and Matthew West to keep the crowd entertained with jokes. Hampton has played a prison guard in "My Name Is Earl" and a prisoner in "Medium."

Hampton brought out Matthew West to an eruption from the crowd as they began playing their upbeat set.

“Playing in Jacksonville, where they love their Gators and like to eat their ‘mashpotaters,” West sung, drawing laughs from around the crowd.

West played two videos from fans who sent in stories, inspiring him to write songs in their honor. He followed each video with the song that was inspired by the stories.

All the build-up led to Michael W. Smith, a legend in the Christian music industry who has been playing for more than 30 years.

With time an issue due to the delay, the fireworks extravaganza was rescheduled to be during Smith’s set.

“I’m going to do something that I’ve never done before in any of my concerts,” Smith said. “I’m going to play a couple of songs, then we’re going to see some fireworks.”

After the fireworks show, people began filing out as Smith prepared to play his last few songs. “Well, there’s only one way to follow that,” Smith said, “with a little worship.”

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