Music News & Reviews

Winter Jam music tour comes to Tacoma Dome

The Christian rock band Skillet will headline Winter Jam Tour Spectacular when it comes to Tacoma Saturday. The band includes, from left, Seth Morrison, John Cooper, Jen Ledger and Korey Cooper.
The Christian rock band Skillet will headline Winter Jam Tour Spectacular when it comes to Tacoma Saturday. The band includes, from left, Seth Morrison, John Cooper, Jen Ledger and Korey Cooper. Courtesy

More than six acts, including Grammy-nominated Skillet, will headline the contemporary Christian music lineup for Winter Jam Tour Spectacular Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.

Also performing will be King & Country, Jamie Grace, Lincoln Brewster, Family Force 5, and Love & The Outcome. Also scheduled to appear are Sadie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” and “Dancing with the Stars,” and evangelist Tony Nolan.

The Tacoma show is one of the final shows of the tour’s swing through the West. It concludes Sunday in Spokane.

"We are so excited to bring Winter Jam out West again,” Russ Lee, of tour organizer NewSong, said in a prepared statement. “Every year God exceeds our expectations with the ministry that happens. With this year’s unbelievable artist roster, this is sure to be a night of worship and fun not to be missed.”

500,000 The number of tickets sold for the tour in 2013, making it one of the biggest tours in the world.

Founded in 1995, Winter Jam has become one of the top tours in the world for total attendance. In 2013, according to Fresno, California-based trade publication Pollstar, the tour sold 500,000 tickets.

ALL ABOUT FAMILY

For members of Skillet, family runs through almost every aspect of the band.

The band's lead vocalist and bassist, John Cooper, and its guitarist and keyboardist, Korey Cooper, are married. The Coopers take their two children with them on tour. John draws on his own difficult family life when writing songs, which have connected well with a family of fans known as Panheads.

The group also includes guitarist Seth Morrison and drummer Jen Ledger.

"It's been an amazing tour," John Cooper said in an interview earlier this year. "The turnouts have been amazing. The show's great. The bands have been great."

The Coopers have been married the entire time they've been in Skillet, he said. Their daughter, 12, and son, 9, have been on tour with them since they were born.

"We kind of have gotten used to it," he said. "But it is hard."

They make it work by scheduling their time, he said. He has a set time for songwriting and a set time for hanging out with the kids.

It's also a little easier now that the children are older. When they were younger, Korey spent a lot of her time caring for the kids. Now, she can devote more time to the band, including getting in more songwriting with John.

He and Korey now are writing for a new album, he said.

"I'm more inspired than I have been in years," he said.

Cooper draws much of his song material from his own life.

His mother died when he was age 14, he said. He went through a period of a lot of fighting and hopelessness at home.

"I sing a lot of songs about struggles," he said.

MAKING GOOD MUSIC

For Luke Smallbone, there are really just two genres of music.

“There’s either good music or bad music,” says Smallbone, who along with his brother Joel Smallbone make up the duo For King and Country.

Rising stars in contemporary Christian music, the brothers won three Dove Awards in October, including artist of the year, pop album of the year for “Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong,” and “TheOverflow Fans Favorite” award.

But Smallbone doesn’t think much about such classifications or which radio stations play his music; he just writes songs that are authentic and trusts that the audience will catch on. His lyrics reflect the things he loves, he says, whether that’s God or his family.

“Today’s fans, they want to feel like they know you,” says Smallbone, his accent slipping between a Southern drawl and an Australian twang. The brothers were born in Australia, but mostly raised in Nashville, Tennessee, where their father worked as a promoter.

“The public is great at figuring out if you are telling the truth or not,” he says.

The band had just finished its own headlining tour when it joined the West Coast leg of the tour.

This is the second year in a row the brothers have played the tour. They will headline the East Coast leg of the tour, which kicks off Jan 2.

“That kind of jump and change is exciting for us,” Smallbone says.

It was Winter Jam that first took a risk on the band back in 2012. On this, their first official tour, they played to 10,000 fans each night.

“It was a wonderful introduction to a big tour,” Smallbone says.

WINTER JAM

When: 6 p.m. Saturday (November 14). Doors open at 5 p.m.

Where: Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma.

Tickets: $10, at the door only.

Information: 253-272-3663, tacomadome.org or jamtour.com.

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