Today I’m highlighting on of my favorite bands of all time: Waterdeep. Waterdeep is a band whose lineup has changed over the years and is currently comprised of Don and Lori Chaffer with contributions from Brandon Graves and other friends along the way.
Don Chaffer began his music career in the early 90’s in Kansas City, MO. He played regularly at The New Earth coffeehouse. He recorded a solo album in those early days that was a fantastic melancholy folk disc. In 1995, Don formed Waterdeep with a few friends and released To Chase Away the Birds, an album that was half classic rock and half folk. This album also featured contributions from Lori, Don’s future wife. Their second album was their career definer: Sink or Swim. Released in 1997, this disc cemented Waterdeep as one of the most talent rich bands in the Christian folk arena. Their tight sound was supplemented by incredibly poignant lyrics that were more honest than anything else on the Christian bookstore shelves. Though still an underground band of sorts, Waterdeep gained legions of devoted fans.
They dug out of the underground scene in a very unlikely way: through an independant collaboration with another underground band called 100 Portraits. Enter the Worship Circle became one of the highest selling worship discs of all time and Waterdeep was soon signed to a major record label owned by Steve Taylor. Two albums later, the label died a painful death and Waterdeep was indie again.
At this point, Don and Lori realized that the constant touring was a thing of the past and they wanted a family and roots. After a farewell tour, they settled down in KC and had two kids. Don built a studio and began producing records (including some of his own material). This year, Don and Lori released a Waterdeep album recorded mostly in their basement featuring wonderful songs and a myriad of instrumentation. Don also released a side project concept album under the name The Khrusty Brothers. This album delves into Don’s fascination with rap music, but also has the trademark folky sound he’s become known for (the fusion works much better than I can describe).
Throughout it all, Don’s songwriting has remained honest, relevant and often shocking. Not many Christian songwriters today have released songs about feeling lonely or about grieving over the death of a parent in solitude and anger. Don also speaks about Christ in terms that would make more sense to a barfly than to a church member.
As a case in point, here are the lyrics to a song from The Khrusty Brothers release. This song has been in heavy rotation since the album was released last summer. The picture of Jesus painted in this song is so great!
The Khrusty Brothers (Don Chaffer) – Sympathy for Jesus
Here are a couple more great tracks featuring the amazing Don Chaffer!
Waterdeep – Get Me Clear
Waterdeep – If You Want to Get Free
Waterdeep – Lonely Sometimes