Since 1995, Winter Jam has become an annual tradition in Christian music, allowing fans to hear a wide variety of music for a cheap price.
At this year's March 2 event at the UNO Lakefront Arena, stand-up comedy is joining the lineup with social media personality John Crist.
“As a comedian, I was a little apprehensive about coming on Winter Jam, a music tour. I had never been on Winter Jam before, and Winter Jam has never had a comedian before,” Crist said. “We were both, ‘Well, let’s give it a shot.' They found me a good spot in the show, right before Kari Jobe, right before intermission.”
Crist said he has been thrilled with the reception and thinks the audience has enjoyed it.
“When the comedian comes out, it gives the crowd a little bit of a break from the music," he said. "They can sit down for a little bit, laugh and enjoy the show. And they're ready for the music once I finish.”
He also points out the price advantage of Winter Jam. If you saw all 10 acts individually, it could cost upward of $200. To see them all for $15 at Winter Jam "is an unbelievable deal,” Crist said.
The comedian has become a staple on social media, poking fun with short pieces that include “Church Parking Lot Road Rage,” “Church Hunters” and “Lady Who has a Bible Verse for Every Situation."
And that’s because it’s familiar ground for Crist.
“I grew up in church; my dad’s a pastor. I’m from the South; I’m from Atlanta, Georgia. And I was homeschooled,” Crist said. “I’m talking about all the same things that every comedian is talking about, whether it’s dating or having roommates or traffic, eating fast food. I’m just talking about it from maybe a more family friendly perspective. The comedy you can enjoy with the kids, the grandparents, the whole family.”
While the comedian grew up in Atlanta, he lives in Los Angeles now and says it does affect his comedy.
“Different crowds like different things. Geographically, you’ll find that to be the case, and venue wise you’ll find that to be the case,” he said.
While he may be a bit more politically correct on the West Coast, Crist said he's performed before in New Orleans and always gets a "pretty warm crowd.”
“I’ve found no matter where you go, people just want to laugh. So we’ve done colleges, cruise ships. We did a military tour in the Middle East," Crist said. "We’ve done crisis pregnancy centers. We’ve done AA meetings. Anywhere you go, you’re going to find people who like to laugh.”
To get a taste of his comedy, look on You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or johncrist.com.
Jordan Feliz likes the jam energy
One of the newer musical names on the Winter Jam is Jordan Feliz, perhaps best-known for his bluesy piece “The River.”
Feliz said being part of the show has been awesome, incredible and “a ton of energy.”
“We have every kind of energy musically you could probably ever listen to," he said. "It feels like so a diverse show. There’s something for everyone.”
The lineup runs from the sounds of worship leader Kari Jobe to headliner Skillet.
“I think that’s what makes it so cool," Feliz said. "All these artists you wouldn’t really expect on a bill for a concert. It’s such an eclectic group of artists, and I think it makes for a really cool night.”
Feliz describes his own sound as “pop soul.”
“I’m very influenced by a lot of the older stuff, what I grew up listening to, like Sam Cooke and Al Green and Earth Wind and Fire,” he said, adding that his songwriting comes from life. “I take the lyrics really seriously because, for me, everything I sing I want it to be genuine and authentic.”
Seemingly small words can change a lyric, so he is very intentional when writing.
“It’s just about truth, which is Jesus, and pointing people to that," Feliz said. "And just being real."
He has a new record, “Future,” coming out March 23. Preorders are available on iTunes or it can be preordered at Winter Jam for $5. “And when you do preorder, you get two new songs for free,” Feliz said.
The tour to support the new album starts a week after Winter Jam on the West Coast.
“Then the summer is going to be pretty relaxed because not only are my wife and I having a baby, but my road manager is having a baby, and so is my guitar player,” Feliz said. He added that all the babies are due within about three months of each other.
Winter Jam 2018
Concert featuring Skillet, Kari Jobe, Building 429, John Crist, KB, Newsong, Jordan Feliz and Nick Hall, and Pre-Jam Party with Dan Bremnes, Mallary Hope and Westover
WHEN: March 2. Pre-Jam Party starts at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m.
WHERE: UNO Lakefront Arena, 6801 Franklin Ave, New Orleans
TICKETS/INFO: $15 cash or check at the door. Credit/debit cards can be used inside the arena. Early admission and premium seating are available. 2018.jamtour.com