The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Virginia Man performs at UMW, spreads Christian themes

4 min read

The Virginia Man performing in the Underground. (Grace Howie | The Blue & Gray Press)


Contributing Writer

Last Wednesday, Virginia Man, a UMW alumni christian band performed in the Underground. The event was hosted by Campus Programming Board.

Junior Nabeel Mirza, said that she overheard the five guys huddled together in a circle discussing the setlist for the gig just before the show started. They eventually decided just to “wing it” and shortly after, Virginia Man jumped onto the stage. The music started immediately and, despite the lack of planning, they put on a impressive show.

I found myself bobbing my head to the feel-good indie rock, which featured a seamless transition between the first and second song. There weren’t any introductions, however, each song featured powerful vocals from frontman Kristian Lietzan and they seem to have found the perfect balance between all the instruments. They had Jacob Keller on the keyboard, guitarist Andrew Burlingame, percussionist Jack Rutherford and Jason Ross, playing bass. They were energetic and very visibly dedicated to the music, they all had their own way of getting lost in the music whether it was dancing or Burlingame’s passionate facial expressions.

As the set went on I quickly realized a theme between most of the songs. Lietzan had commentary between some of the songs that also pointed directly to Christian beliefs. The lyrics in the second song they played said, “Take me, Take me, take me to the land with streets of gold… Take me, take me, let me kneel before your mighty throne,” were some examples of the importance of Christian values in their songs.

This continued with an anecdote about how even when you take the road less traveled in life, such as being a musician, the only thing that matters, that is left at the end of the day is “The King and I,” which led into a song with that title. During the set they also played a cover of the song Difference Maker by the Christian rock band, Needtobreathe, who they said was one of their biggest musical inspirations.

Sophomore Vivi Cole, who attended the event, said she is a friend of the band and everyone she was standing with were members of Young Life, a Christian student organization who were here to support them, two of the members in the band are also Young Life Leaders. Despite knowing them personally, she really enjoys their music. She said that if somebody gave her a CD randomly, she would like them.

As someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy or listen to Christian rock, I wasn’t necessarily put off by the content. I was more surprised at how prominent these themes were throughout the set even though the band adamantly claimed they’re not a Christian rock band. Rutherford said, “[they] thought it was important to write honest music.”

The music they are writing is honest to them but they say that it was never intended to be a strain of the Contemporary Christian music genre. However, they said writing music purposefully to be outside of this genre wouldn’t be truthful to themselves either. They consider themselves, “not a Christian band but Christians in a band.”

Junior Jason Elms said he, “saw them last year and thought they were pretty cool.” He heard about the show because of the promotion around campus through posters. Junior Maddie Murphy-Neilson, who also attended their performance last year, said she thought they have “good energy and good sound” and that “they’re fun to listen to.” She found out about this show because she follows them on social media.

The Virginia Man performing

Senior Martha Keegan, said she thought they were an “interactive” group which I agreed with as the show ended with Lietzan jumping off the drums making the ending very ‘Rock & Roll.’

During my interview with the band it was obvious they were having a great time being a band together, which was nice to see, as they have unique personalities and a positive dynamic.

The group started as a seven-member folk group which seemed to have formed out of their connection to Young Life. This eventually dwindled down to a more serious musical group with the five members it has today. They made the switch from folk to rock because “rock and roll is alive and well and living in Fredericksburg.”

They also talked about how they transitioned to a rock band, getting rid of banjos and switching to electric guitars.

Many of the students were helping put together the show were grumbling about working with the band, Sound crew member and junior, McKinley Groves, said he “wish[ed] they were better to work with and more professional,” however, “[He] respects them as musicians [even though] they’re frustrating to work with.” UMW’s Campus Programming Board works hard to put on these shows, and, as I saw from the turnout, this one was a great success.

The latest release from Virginia Man is the EP, Let Us Be. You can find them on all social media, and their website is Their next show is on Sept. 22 at Tomtoberfest in Charlottesville, VA.

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