March 14, 2014

Winter Jam aims to thaw your heart

Jam-packed Christian rock and hip-hop show comes to the Colonial Life Arena Friday

While the snow and ice has melted away, the season isn’t over for the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular, hitting Columbia Friday with some of Christian music’s coolest acts.

The tour, which has traveled the country for 19 years, features 10 artists, including the Newsboys, a Grammy-nominated Christian pop rock band that is taking their fifth trip on the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular and their second time as the headlining act.

The group, originally founded in 1985 in Australia, has been going strong for nearly 30 years, and isn’t slowing down.

“Like any kind of band, you have to keep it as fresh as you can. Music is music, and people are going to resonate with it or they’re not,” said drummer Duncan Phillips. “You can’t keep making the same record over and over. You don’t want to become that passing fad because once that fad dies, you die with it.”

The Newsboys released their 16th studio album in 2013 and still play between 120 and 150 dates each year. While they spend almost half the year on the road, playing shows doesn’t get stale, according to Phillips.

“Who doesn’t love playing in front of 20,000 people every night, rocking their socks off and being told how great you are?” Philips said. “A lot of what we do is work, and it’s hard work, but because we love it, I don’t consider it work. Playing drums in a world-famous rock band is not work.”

Phillips and the Newsboys have been on tour with Winter Jam since shortly after the beginning of 2014, hitting cities largely in the South and Midwest. They are joined by performers like hip-hop artist Lecrae, who won a Grammy for Best Gospel Album in 2013 for his album “Gravity.” While not all those on tour have worked together before, the group of widely ranging musical styles has bonded while on the road, Phillips said.

“Everyone on tour is so cool and so chill. Everyone is so different, so there’s been no competition,” Phillips said. “There’s a really cool family atmosphere to this group.”

And the family atmosphere extends to the crowd. With tickets priced at only $10, the show is a perfect outing for all ages, according to Phillips. With a wide range of genres and artists, “everyone from a 3-year-old boy, to a teenage girl, to your parents” will enjoy the show, Phillips said.

“There are not many things you can do as a family to enjoy a night out, especially one that covers such a wide spectrum of music,” Phillips said.

Organizers recommend concert-goers arrive early. It’s first come, first seated and fans are turned away from many shows.

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