Winter Jam Tour brings 'incredible family feeling'
CHAMPAIGN — Ten acts, ten dollars. Hours of music, sketches and inspirational talks. Winter Jam is here again Saturday at the State Farm Center.
Most of the acts keep it to less than a half an hour, but headliners the Newsboys will be on stage 45 minutes near the close of the show.
Duncan Phillips is the drummer (and former keyboard player) for the Aussie band, which has had big hits with "God's Not Dead," "Miracles" and "Born Again."
He said that mixing with other Christian bands makes this a favorite time of year.
"We fill up arenas, and then come back to our rooms to just hang together. Between the fans and the friends, it's a really good time."
Phillips said the band is also having a good time filming a movie based on "God's Not Dead" starring Dean Cain, who played Superman on TV, and Kevin Sorbo, who played Hercules. That's a whole lot of superhero. The story is about how an atheist professor loses a classroom debate to a Christian student; you might have read a version on Facebook.
"It should be in the theaters in the spring," Phillips said.
The mega-show include Lecrae, Tenth Avenue North and other top names in Christian music.
Singer Trevor McNevan of Canada's Thousand Foot Krutch said life on the road with the band — and all the other bands — has been pretty sweet.
"There's a real sense of togetherness and supportiveness on the buses," he said. "There is a whole different dynamic than some of the smaller tours.
"We've done arenas before, but this is different — there is an incredible family feeling."
He enjoys meeting musicians from other genres.
"It's refreshing. There's something for everybody, everything from hip-hop to hard rock to pop to adult contemporary," McNevan said.
Thousand Foot Krutch is promoting "Made In Canada: The 1998-2010 Collection," a 14-track collection featuring two new songs, "Searchlight" and "Complicate You."
The Winter Jam Tour is the highest-ranked first quarter tour in America based on attendance for the third consecutive year, according to a news release. This year's tour will hit 47 cities before it is done March 30.
FAST FACTS: Some things you ought to know about Winter Jam
The tour features 10 acts for $10, including illusionists, Bible speakers and Veggie Tales. "This is more like Woodstock for the ADHD generation, constant information, all the time, and constant bombardment of your senses," John Cooper of Skillet told us last year.
Started in 1995 as January Jam by the band Newsong, Winter Jam has run annually ever since.
Pollstar named the Winter Jam 2011 Tour Spectacular the top-earning act for the first quarter of the year, with a record total audience of 524,239 — in 46 markets.
If you go
What: Winter Jam Tour Spectacular
When: Special Jam Nation door time 3:30 p.m. Saturday; regular door time 5; show time 6
Where: State Farm Center, 1800 S. First St., C
General admission tickets: $10 at the door
More information: jamtour.com/shows/champaign-il