Winter Jam Tour slimmed down to a handful of dates

Christian music band NewSong — and member Eddie Carswell in particular —  is a founding aspect of the Winter Jam tour, which will play a few shows in 2021.
Christian music band NewSong — and member Eddie Carswell in particular — is a founding aspect of the Winter Jam tour, which will play a few shows in 2021.

Credit: Courtesy

Credit: Courtesy

The annual Christian music tour plays Woodstock and Augusta

Since 1995, Winter Jam has dropped ministry and music on eager audiences.

What started as a one-night show developed over the decades into an annual outing of 60-plus dates headlined by some of the top names in contemporary Christian music.

Throughout the years, a stray concert might have been canceled for emergency reasons, but the tours persisted — even the 2020 incarnation until almost exactly a year ago, when its remaining shows were nixed due to the encroaching coronavirus.

While large-scale tours are still immobilized, tour co-founder Eddie Carswell of NewSong decided that Winter Jam wouldn’t “stop-stop” this year, but, rather, play a few shows in pandemic-friendly cities.

Christian music band NewSong — and member Eddie Carswell in particular — is a founding aspect of the Winter Jam tour, which will play a few shows in 2021.
Christian music band NewSong — and member Eddie Carswell in particular — is a founding aspect of the Winter Jam tour, which will play a few shows in 2021.

Credit: Courtesy

Credit: Courtesy

On Thursday, March 18, a slimmed-down Winter Jam will jumpstart its eight dates with a stop at James Brown Arena in Augusta. After a detour to Tampa, the show will return to Georgia with a performance at First Baptist Church in Woodstock on Saturday, March 20, before other performances in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Alabama.

This abbreviated tour lineup will feature — at Georgia’s dates — Atlanta’s Crowder as the headliner, along with We The Kingdom, KB, Colton Dixon, Riley Clemmons, JJ Weeks, Apollo LTD, NewSong and speaker Louie Giglio, pastor of Atlanta’s Passion City Church. (Participating artists may vary depending upon the city.)

When Carswell — the only remaining original member of NewSong along with Billy Goodwin — made the calls to gauge artist interest, he was greeted with fervor.

“All of those guys are our friends, and a lot of them were like, ‘Thank God you’re calling me; I’m dying to go out and do some things.’ Some artists had things planned and couldn’t do it, but we’re taking Crowder with us because he couldn’t finish (headlining) last year’s tour, and we love him,” Carswell said. “We can’t take but so many artists because we have to work with a budget, but everybody is really happy to get back out.”

ExploreCrowder talks Grammy Award nomination, headlining Winter Jam and his trademark beard

Last year, Crowder told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview to promote the 2020 Winter Jam that the outing, “is like no other tour I’ve been on,” he said. “The age and demographic is very broad, and you don’t have to have enough cash to throw down to see Jay-Z for 100 bucks. Your genres are spread out for the bill and all of the artists are very eclectic. That’s been incredible for me.”

Atlanta-based, Texas-transplant Contemporary Christian singer Crowder has escalated from the lead singer of the David Crowder band in the '90s into a major solo success with his first release in 2012. Crowder headlined the 2020 Winter Jam Fest, the largest Christian music tour every year. (Tyson Horne / tyson.horne@ajc.com)
Atlanta-based, Texas-transplant Contemporary Christian singer Crowder has escalated from the lead singer of the David Crowder band in the '90s into a major solo success with his first release in 2012. Crowder headlined the 2020 Winter Jam Fest, the largest Christian music tour every year. (Tyson Horne / tyson.horne@ajc.com)

Some of the unique aspects of Winter Jam — general admission seating and paying a donation at the door — have been eliminated this year to encourage COVID-19 safety precautions.

Seating will be reserved and in pods, and tickets, starting at $29.99, must be purchased in advance as membership into Jam Nation. Local ordinances will determine if fans must wear face masks when not in their seats, while all Winter Jam staff and crew will don face coverings.

Carswell, who along with his wife and manager caught COVID-19 after a dinner in Nashville, is cognizant of safety precautions.

“We thought we were bulletproof, but we weren’t,” he said. “I was being careful. I do wear my mask when I go out now, but thank the Lord we had it. The good news about having had it is, you feel a little bit good about life because you’ve been through it.”

NewSong participated in the Xtreme Winter “student experience” in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in December, playing four shows for 6,000 people with standards in place.

“You can work around some of the things to keep it safe,” he said.

While this reduced excursion might not be packing arenas as usual, fans of the Winter Jam construct will still experience the fundamentals of the tour.

“I think we’ll have a good production,” said Carswell, who relocated from Atlanta to Franklin, Tennessee a few years ago. “We won’t drop back on what we give the people just to save money. It will be very similar to what they’re used to seeing…We can’t wait, and we’re getting that feeling from the people, too.”

IF YOU GO

Winter Jam

4 p.m. (doors, platinum ticket holders) and 5 p.m. (basic doors) Saturday, March 20. $29.99-$49.99. First Baptist Church Woodstock, 11905 Highway 92, Woodstock. 2021.jamtour.com.

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