Austins Bridge, Southern Gospel Music Trio That SpansThe Gap

Austins Bridge is the new all male trio from Daywind records that is making a big splash in Southern Gospel Music. Their sound spans generations and is pleasing both young and old.This new Southern Gospel group is made up of three young men with a desire to minister the word of God in song. Austins Bridge is Mike Kofahl, Justin Rivers (formerly with the Crabb Family), and Jason Baird.

Austins Bridge was formed in early 2006. The name refers to Austin, Texas, where Mike and Jason were living when the group formed. Justin comments that “the bridge part comes from our desire to bridge generational gaps between the young and the old and the new. To spread this message to a vast audience and not just stick it in a box. So we are just trying to do some things outside the box”.

When asked to describe the type of music that Austins Bridge plays the group laughs. “It’s kind of a pop, Christian Country, rock, Bluegrass, Blues sort of thing”, Mike smiles as Jason breaks in, “Its pretty eclectic. I don’t know if you can sum it Picture of Austins Bridge, Southern Gospel Music's Hottest New Group up in a specific genre or category. We’d like to maybe have it be a kind of pioneering point to branch off into a new genre of Christian music altogether.”

When asked how a basically new, unknown group goes from obscurity to being signed to a big record label and placed in a place of high visibility in less than a year they laughed in unison and Jason said, “God does it for you.” “It’s kind of funny”, Mike joins in, “We don’t attribute anything that’s happened to anything that we’ve done. It’s kind of amazing when you look at us three as individuals. We are so different in our styles, so different in what we like, you have Jason who is more of a ‘rocker’ guy, you’ve got Justin who is more soulful- bluesy guy, and me, who’s a country guy, come together and make music and find something that is going to affect people.”

One of the first times that Austins Bridge ever performed together was at their showcase. Justin recalls, “At this showcase we had all of these major record labels together to hear us sing and we didn’t even know what we sounded like.” “It was the most, the craziest, dumbest thing we could have done,” breaks in Mike, “but it just worked out. God, He saw fit to bless it and we were fortunate enough to team up with Daywind. It’s totally a God thing, it has nothing to do with Austins Bridge, God just decided to bless us and we are going to ride it out.”

Mike remembers whom the first single for the Austins Bridge album came about. “I remember how Justin just walked into my house one day and said, ‘ Dude, I’ve got this crazy, crazy tune’ and I said ‘alright’ and he started playing and I started writing. This is us, this is Austins Bridge, we’re giving the reins to God and saying ‘You’ve got control over what we are doing. He is in control.”

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Another interesting track on the Austins Bridge project is “Native American Prayer” which features Bill Miller and a short Mohican Chant and prayer. “Bill Miller is ‘the guy’”, chimes in Justin excitedly, “I remember growing up watching the movie ‘Pocahontas’…Bill Miller is the guy that played the flute on Pocahontas. That’s really big”.

Justin continues, “My dad is Native American so I grew up around Studentsit (Native American music). My grandmother still wore the native dress and had the long black hair down to her knees. So I had grown up around this and it was kind of neat to have a part of that on our record.”

This song, followed up by the Gerald Crabb penned, “History Turned The Page” may be my personal favorite on the whole project. It’s very good, a unique sound with a great message.

Austin Bridge’s Justin Rivers writes many of the songs for the group. The album opens up with, “He Will Carry You” which Justin wrote with Aaron Crabb. When asked about this song he smiles and explains, “I was just sitting in the aisle of the bus (the Crabb Family bus whom he was touring with as a band member), probably driving people crazy because they were trying to sleep.”

“So I’m sitting there just humming this melody and singing these words under my breath and Aaron (Crabb) peeks his head out from behind the curtain of the bunk where he was trying to sleep and said, ‘That’s a catchy tune. Let me help you write it.’ So he hops down there on the floor. It’s one in the morning and we sit and finish the song in about 15 – 20 minutes. It just came together.”

Justin continues, “The next day I wrote three more songs and Mike Bowling heard them and put them on his project. That was kind of neat for my first time writing to have people want to cut them on their records.”

Austins Bridge, with a fresh sound, is bound to become a force in Southern Gospel music. Their sound combined with their youthful look and playfulness is sure to help draw new listeners to Southern Gospel music. I look for big things from this group in the years to come.

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