Harlem Shake (Winter Jam Edition)

The lovely folks over at Winter Jam recently shared the following video of the tour’s 2013 bands and staff doing the Harlem Shake.  Since I am currently obsessed with the Harlem Shake and thought this particular video was pretty hilarious (and I’ve watched A LOT of Harlem Shake videos on YouTube lately, which I probably shouldn’t admit but oh well…) I thought I would share here with you.

My only critique of the video is that it looks like the Winter Jammers are having so much fun on tour that it may in fact be illegal in some parts of the country; hence, the reason why they are selling out show after show all over the country.  Love it!  (And if you have the chance to go check out Winter Jam 2013, go and get there early so you don’t become a Winter Jam Reject 🙂 )

Winter Jam Tour: Sidewalk Prophets Review

So here on Spin: The Blog it is not a very well-kept secret that I am a mega-fan of the Sidewalk Prophets.  It is sort of a joke (but not seriously) that when the Sidewalk Prophets come to New Haven in June for Canal Days to play at our Faith & Family Night that the biggest threat to security will be me, and I’m the one who signed the contract for them to come and is in charge of the entire festival’s entertainment stage.  (I promise to be on my best, most professional behavior on June 8th, Girl Scout’s honor; and if not, I’m sure the police will have their tasers charged up and ready to go!)

Anyhow, my BFF Sarah and I were excited to see the Sidewalk Prophets at Winter Jam, and we were curious to see how they would adapt the longer show we are used to seeing to a shorter format.  (Sarah and I were guessing they would have maybe 15-20 minutes on stage.)  The Sidewalk Prophets pretty much stuck to a montage of crowd-pleasing favorites:  my all-time favorite song of favorite songs, You Love Me Anyway, The Words I Would Say, and Live Like That.  In a surprising twist, they bypassed completely their newest single, Help Me Find It, and instead closed out the show with the rollicking good Love Love Love that is accompanied by an appropriately awesome Lego-esque video.

Honestly, I thought that was a pretty sound move; I really like the song Help Me Find It and thought it was a good choice for the follow-up single to Live Like That.  In concert, however, Help Me Find It is one of the longer songs because of the way they work the intro to give lead singer Dave Frey the opportunity to showcase some of his vocal chops.  Winter Jam isn’t really the format for that kind of thing, though; it’s more like speed dating, where you’ve got the equivalent of 30 seconds to bring out your razzle dazzle before moving along to make room for the next big thing.  With that being said, you probably can’t go wrong with a song that features a Legos video and lyrics that incorporate Chuck Norris and Star Wars.  Everybody likes Legos, Chuck Norris, and Star Wars; plus, it’s decidedly unique for a video/song lyric combo.

Enough about that, though.  I’m going to tell you the most important point that I want to make in this review, and I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, even before Winter Jam when Sarah and I were discussing how we thought the Sidewalk Prophets would adjust their show to fit in the allotted time.  At some point last year, when I was in the midst of attending the 100+ concerts I saw in 2012, it occurred to me that only one group/band/artist/whatever you want to call it always made a point of always physically bringing the word of God out onto the stage in the middle of a concert.

Only one group.  Always.  Every time.

If you guessed that group was the Sidewalk Prophets, you would be correct.

I found that I really looked forward to that portion of a Sidewalk Prophets concert, and that it really added something special and meaningful to each and every show.

I can’t begin to tell you all how glad I was at Winter Jam when Dave brought the trusty old Bible out and started in with the words that are now almost familiar to me.  That part of the concert could have very easily been scrapped to squeeze in another song, but instead it almost felt like the whole show was revamped to be built around that moment with the Bible.

Really, isn’t the truths contained in the Bible what Winter Jam’s ultimately all about anyway?

I’m pretty sure it is, which is why I think this alone speaks very highly of the integrity and genuineness of the Sidewalk Prophets.

Of course, I should probably confess that as soon as I saw the Bible start to come out, I looked at Sarah and said, “Told you so!”  Perhaps that wasn’t one of my finer moments, but who doesn’t like to be proven right every once in a while?  Okay, so maybe just me.  My bad.

It certainly goes without saying that the quality of the Sidewalk Prophets musicianship at Winter Jam was stellar (as usual!), so I won’t drag this review on for any longer than necessary.  This is how I see it:  Royal Tailor may have more flair in the fashion department, TobyMac may well be kind of an icon, and Red quite literally set the stage on fire, but my favorite performance of the night by a considerable margin was the Sidewalk Prophets.  I think you’ll agree with me that once you’ve seen them in concert, there is something very special about this group of guys.  If you haven’t seen them in concert and don’t have either of their CD’s, then I have to ask…what are you waiting for?!  Christmas was last month!  (Preview their latest album, Live Like That, below on Spotify!)

Winter Jam Tour–Jamie Grace Review

 

I think Jamie Grace deserves major props for being the lone female artist representing at Winter Jam. For only being 21, she really went out there and killed it with the poise and grace of someone 10 years her senior. My BFF Sarah and I agreed that she really deserved something special for this review, and Sarah jokingly said (at least I’m pretty sure she was joking) that I should write an ‘ode’ to Jamie Grace. Traditionally, I think an ode was either a poem or a song, and believe me, Jamie Grace (along with the rest of the free world) does not want me writing or singing a song; a poem, however, I thought I could do.

So, for this review of Jamie Grace’s Winter Jam performance I have written the first ever (and only one I ever intend to write) acrostic poem for Spin: The Blog. It’s pretty bad, but that should in no way reflect poorly on Jamie Grace; I thought she was really great at Winter Jam! Maybe I should have tried writing a limerick instead…

J-is for Jazzy, so lively and bright
A-is for Artistic, with natural skill
M-is for Music, her gift to the world
I-is for Irresistible, her music, that is
E-is for Effervescent, so bubbly and sweet

G-is for God’s Girl, from the top of her head to the soles of her feet
R-is for Radiant, God’s light shining in her
A-is for Awesome; need I say more?
C-is for Christian, the heart of who she is
E-is for Eclectic, a fun mix of randomness

And there you have it: What is most likely the world’s worst acrostic poem ever! At least I took a few good pictures…enjoy them!

Jason Castro: Winter Jam 2013 Review

Jason Castro was the third and final act of the Winter Jam Pre-Jam Party.  I have to say that every critique that I had of Jason Castro after his performance at the Star 88.3 Music Stage last July is no longer applicable.  If it wasn’t for his trademark dreds, and him having the same name and singing the same songs, I wouldn’t have known it was the same person.  Jason Castro was in great voice, and seemed at ease on stage.  He put on a really nice performance, although in my opinion it could have been a tad longer 🙂

For real, I’m not sure what more I can really say about Jason Castro that I haven’t already said in the last month.  I think he’s come a long, long way as a musician and a performer, and in terms of big name recognition acts at Winter Jam, he’s definitely one that most people will recognize if only because of his participation on American Idol.

My two pieces of advice are this:  First, if you’re only going to buy one CD in January, it should be Castro’s recently released Only a Mountain. 

Second, you know if you are going to Winter Jam and not splurging on a Jam Nation Pass ($50 and available at the Winter Jam website), you need to get to the venue super early, right?  Like 4-6 hours before the pre-jam party, right?  I know that seems like a long wait, but trust me, you don’t want to end up a Winter Jam Reject; and, getting to the show 6 hours in advance means you won’t miss seeing Jason Castro in the Pre-Jam Party, so it’s a win/win situation!  (One more thing—even if you get a Jam Nation Pass, you still want to get to the venue early—at least 2 hours before the Jam Nation doors open if you want a good seat!)

(On a completely random side note—as I was editing my photos from Winter Jam today, I noticed something I didn’t notice when I was actually at Winter Jam…Jason Castro’s drummer was a familiar face:  Justin from the Sidewalk Prophets!  How I missed that considering I took at least a hundred pictures during Jason Castro’s set I’m not sure.  What I am sure of is that Justin is one of the hardest working drummer’s on tour; he played with City Harbor on the Hundred More Years Tour last fall in addition to his regular duties with the Sidewalk Prophets.  Now he’s playing with Jason Castro; maybe I should put up a poll as to who Justin should tour with next? 🙂 Besides the Sidewalk Prophets, of course!)

Winter Jam Pick #1–Sidewalk Prophet’s You Love Me Anyway

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Ok, so I felt compelled to save my very favorite song of all time as my #1 song pick for Winter Jam.

I had to.

The ironic thing about my favorite song is that it might very well have never become my favorite song if I hadn’t accidentally bought the Sidewalk Prophet’s first CD, These Simple Truths, on iTunes.  (I intended to buy Sanctus Real’s CD, Lead Me, but in one of the great unsolved mysteries of the world, I ended up purchasing These Simple Truths; this means that Lead Me actually led me to my favorite CD ever.  Strange, but true!)

   Here is an example of what I mean:

I am the thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway

See now, I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
 For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then, I turned away with this smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night, I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life

But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known
Yes, You love me anyway
Oh Lord, how You love me

You love me, yes You love me
How You love me
How You love me
How You love me 

See what I mean?  It’s beautiful and awful and true all at the same time.

I especially love to hear this song live, and I have an especially sweet memory of hearing it at the WFRN Friend Fest last summer at Amish Acres near Goshen, Indiana.  It was a miserably hot day.  If I didn’t have to be there to interview David Crowder, who was the headliner of the night, I would have been back at my hotel draped over the air conditioning vent.

Even though it was approaching 100 degrees out, the Sidewalk Prophets put on an especially fantastic show that night, and while they performed You Love Me Anyways there was this group of little girls, probably sisters, playing on the grass a short distance from where I was sitting.  The little girls had bubble soap and wands, and even though I didn’t feel a breeze, the bubbles seemed to gravitate towards me.

I ended up being surrounded by bubbles during my favorite song, and I’m not sure if it was the bubbles or the singing or the music or maybe I had the beginnings of heat stroke, but I started to get really emotional (and I’m not an overly emotional person!).  It was just a really sweet, beautiful moment watching those little girls laugh and play,  to be reminded that even though the cost that Jesus had to pay for us was steep, He willingly did it anyway because He loves us so.

Because of that love, I’ thinking we should  celebrate with laughter and bubbles and joy every day 🙂

Tonight at Winter Jam, I’m guessing there will not be bubbles during You Love Me Anyway, and I’m good with that.  I will just be super excited to hear my all time favorite song, and be reminded of  the true focus and purpose of Winter Jam; yes, it’s sort of about the music, but without the presence of the Love and Light of the world, it would just be another concert.

Winter Jam Pick #3–Matthew West’s Do Something

When we are talking about Matthew West and favorite song choices, the potential is there for an incredibly long discussion (or blog post!)  Personally, I’m not sure Matthew West could write and sing a bad song if he tried.  He’s that good of a singer/songwriter, and all I really need to prove that statement is his latest CD, Into the Light, which is chock-full of God-infused, heart moving tunes.

My friend Sarah and I saw Matthew West when he was out on his Into the Light tour last November with Mikeschair  and Lindsay McCaul, and we were both blown away with how great of a performer he is.  So, as for what songs he chooses to sing at Winter Jam, it will probably be along the same lines as Royal Tailor–even the Alphabet Song would totally rock.

Personally, one of my favorites from his new album is the song Do Something, so if he sneaks that one into the playlist, I’ll be good.  The opening lyrics to this song are some of my favorite lyrics ever, and so I will share them with you now:

I woke up this morning 
Saw a world full of trouble now 
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down 
How’s it ever gonna turn around 
So I turned my eyes to Heaven 
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of 
People living in poverty 
Children sold into slavery 
The thought disgusted me 
So, I shook my fist at Heaven 
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?” 
He said, “I did, I created you” 

So, if you see me going totally crazy at Winter Jam in Fort Wayne going nuts over the song Do Somthing, you’ll know why.  (And you can join me!)

Winter Jam Pick #5–Jason Castro

 

So, many of you probably read my review earlier this week of Jason Castro’s newest CD, ‘Only a Mountain.’ I liked it, in fact, I liked it a lot. Since the entire album is still so fresh in my head from listening to it umpteen times to write my review, I had a hard time deciding which songs I would most want to hear him sing at Winter Jam on Sunday night. Finally, I think I have it narrowed down to two songs: the title track, ‘Only a Mountain’ (because surely he will be singing that one, right?) and ‘Stay This Way’, simply because I like it.

Honestly, he could pretty much sing the whole CD and I’d be fine with it.  Come to think of it, everyone at Winter Jam could sing all of their songs and I’d be good with it (granted, it would be a very   l  o  n  g   concert, though!)

Winter Jam Pick #6–Red’s Not Alone

Here’s a fun tidbit about me & Winter Jam–of all the bands set to appear at Winter Jam 2013, the only ones I have yet to see live and in person are OBB, Capital Kings, and Red.

Here’s another fun tidbit–I actually had front row tickets to go see Red last spring when they played at IPFW, but I was still recovering from the series of strokes I had in February.  In a surprising moment of good judgement, I elected to follow my doctor’s sound advice and temporarily avoid all rock concerts featuring loud music, pyrotechnics and explosions.  (In my defense, I was also on a heart monitor at the time, which we had learned a few weeks earlier could not handle the Come to the Well Tour.  You can only imagine what Red would do to a heart monitor if Matthew West & the Casting Crowns were setting it off!)  

It is now a year later and I’m fully recovered and raring to go for Sunday night’s concert, but there is one thing I haven’t forgotten–Red’s song, Not Alone, was one of the songs that really spoke to my heart during that difficult time of my life when I was healing (and, especially during those times when I wasn’t even sure if I ever would heal completely.)

So, with much adieu I’m looking forward to hopefully hearing Red sing “Not Alone”… and perhaps set off a few faux explosions in remembrance of the heart monitor I no longer have to wear.  Good times ahead, for sure!