Pillar Heads into Creation Fest Tour Minus 2 Bandmates

The first-ever Creation Festival Tour kicked off Thursday and will make its way across more than 30 cities with performances from some of the top names in Christian music.

Patterned after the Creation Festivals, the nation's largest Christian music festival and the premier name in Christian music events, the "mini Creation on wheels" is being headlined by BEC Recordings band Kutless with special guests Thousand Foot Krutch and Pillar.

Noticeably missing from Christian rock band Pillar, however, are two of their band members, who recently left the Grammy nominated and Dove Award winning group to pursue other opportunities.

While former Pillar drummer Lester Estelle had already announced that the group's "For the Love of the Fan" tour, which ended Sept. 26, would be his last with the group, it was only recently that bassist Kalel, whose real name is Michael Wittig, announced his decision to leave the group.

"As of a few days ago I have officially stepped out of Pillar," Kalel wrote in his MySpace page last Thursday.

"There are many reasons why, but it is just the right time," he added.

Among the reasons were the departure of Estelle, "one of my closest friends," from the group and his family, who he "wasn't looking forward to leaving" for the 30+ city Creation Festival Tour.

"Shows here and there are fine, but leaving for weeks on end was getting too hard," he stated. "Not to mention my old back and knees starting to give me trouble. I am just old lol."

Kalel said he's going to miss remaining members Rob Beckley and Noah Henson but is really excited to give back to newly developing groups and helping them to "be their best."

Among his new ventures are managing and consulting Christian artists through JMA Music that he developed with partner Joey Avalos, and jamming with new group Stars Go Dim, a band he created with former Pillar drummer Estelle.

"I know this is sad news for some of you," he wrote to his fans. "Though I have a peace it is still very hard. Change is hard."

But Kalel assured fans that "God is in control and sees the bigger picture."

"Please keep Pillar, Rob, Noah, Lester, myself, and all our families in your prayers," he urged. "Don't forget I won't be disappearing. I will be right here for you all."

Stars Go Dim is set to release their debut EP on Oct. 21 in advance of a full-length project, Love Gone Mad, produced by Estelle, next year. Currently Stars Go Dim is booking dates throughout the Midwest. A tour itinerary will soon be posted at the group's MySpace page, myspace.com/starsgodim.