The Best Ten Bucks You'll Ever Spend: WinterJam 2012

By Andy Argyrakis | senior editor,
Posted: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 10:15

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When it comes to Christian concert tours, none is larger or more loved than the annual WinterJam. Though faith-based audiences have been swooping up tickets since its inception in 1995, last year found the seasonal spectacular breaking an astounding mainstream record as well. According to Pollstar’s 2011 list for “Worldwide First Quarter Ticket Sales,” WinterJam landed at #1 on the “Top 100 Tours” chart, beating out the likes of U2, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi and Justin Bieber. And if 2012’s opening weekend is any indication (which played before 32,000 fans and yielded the tour’s largest three-day opening to date), chances are this year’s outing is also on the fast track to topping that staggering statistic.
“WinterJam started many years ago out of our desire to do a show at a major venue in Greenville, South Carolina,” recalls Eddie Carswell, patriarch of WinterJam’s founding band NewSong. “We had played a lot of churches in the area, so we were looking for a different kind of place – more neutral – to host a concert. God put it on our hearts to do a non-ticketed show in January, when people were ready to get out and about again after Christmas. We tried it, and we ended up turning 200 people away in Greenville. We thought, ‘what in the world was that?’ We started bringing some of our friends along, and we called it January Jam. After a while the dates were continuing in February and March and we changed the name to WinterJam. We never dreamed it would become what it has today. Simply put, this is God’s tour. It was His idea and He’s the one who has brought it this far. We’re just thrilled to be a part of it and we appreciate all the artists and folks behind the scenes who work so hard on behalf of the tour each year.”

Some of those alumni include Steven Curtis Chapman, TobyMac, Third Day, Newsboys, and Jeremy Camp, though this year’s line-up is also stacked with both established favorites and newcomers alike. As has been the annual tradition, NewSong hosts the marathon that’s led by the GRAMMY-nominated, multi-platinum selling Skillet. Others on the main bill include Sanctus Real, former Newsboys front man Peter Furler, Kari Jobe, Building 429, Group 1 Crew, illusionist Brock Gill and speaker Nick Hall, plus OneVerse Pre-Jam Party performers Dara Maclean, For King & Country and We As Human.

“WinterJam is such an amazing tour in that not only is the production always top-notch, but the artists they select to be a part of the tour are nothing less than the best and most diverse the Christian music industry has to offer,” notices Sanctus Real drummer Mark Graalman. “Many of the artists on the tour have even had crossover success in the mainstream marketplace and have won or been nominated for Grammy Awards and such. I can honestly say the standard in terms of the quality of this show are just as high if not higher than anything the mainstream concert industry is putting out.”

Continues Group 1 Crew’s Manwell Reyes: “If you want to come and see the best this industry has to offer, then come to WinterJam. If you want to hear from God in so many new ways, then come to WinterJam. If you want to see fire and things that go ‘boom,’ come to WinterJam! The quality of the production rivals any mainstream production and the talent that’s on the stage will impress anyone, believer or not.”

Considering WinterJam plays primarily to arena audiences, chances are they’ll be a mixture of believers and non-believers alike, but as the artists can point out from firsthand experience, the show is just as uplifting for believers as it is sensitive towards seekers.

“I believe WinterJam is on the cutting edge of bands that cross genres, have the freshest sounds and appeal to everyone,” suggests fellow NewSong member Matt Butler. “We’re also playing in some of the biggest arenas around the country. It’s a non-threatening place to bring someone to who might not go to a church for a concert. Plus, 10 bands for $10 is a great incentive.”  
Indeed, the price is part of WinterJam’s tremendous appeal, which is clearly affordable for families, church groups, students and pretty much everyone in between. And all concertgoers have to do is show up at the door and pay the cover at the door, which cuts down on having to buy tickets in advance, the sky high handling fees that are often times tacked on and remembering to bring them to the show. “You will never get so much for so little,” assures newcomer Dara Maclean. “For $10 you get three hours worth of your favorite – or soon-to be-favorite – bands performing. The night is unexplainable and one not to be missed.”

Adds Graalman: “In this country we blow $10 on some really silly stuff, whether it be a couple of coffee drinks or a trip through a fast food drive-thru. I have full confidence that even if tickets to WinterJam were $100 a piece, you would leave the event feeling like you got your money’s worth. For $10 you can’t go wrong!”

Perhaps the veteran Furler succulently sums up the whole experience best: “WinterJam is a first class event for the whole family at a price the whole family can afford. This was the biggest [Christian] tour in the U.S.A. last year. Don’t miss it. If you are only going to go to one rock show this year, it should be WinterJam 2012.”

Copyright 2012, For permission to repost or reprint, click here.


About the Writer

Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, and He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).

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