First dates on 2011 Christian concert calendar

Newsboys frontman Michael Tait played to the Rupp Arena crowd at Winter Jam 2010 in March, his first Central Kentucky appearance as frontman for the iconic band. Copyrighted photo by Rich Copley | LexGo.

Newsboys frontman Michael Tait played to the Rupp Arena crowd at Winter Jam 2010 in March, his first Central Kentucky appearance as frontman for the iconic band. Copyrighted photos by Rich Copley | LexGo.

The new year hasn’t started, but we already can tell Christian music fans about a few things to look forward to in Central Kentucky in 2011.

Chief among them is, of course, the Ichthus Festival, which already has started releasing the lineup for the event, which will be June 15 to 18 in Wilmore.

Some of the new names coming to the main stage include longtime fan favorites Anberlin and newcomers The Letter Black, along with mainstage returns by Family Force 5 and Disciple, who weren’t there last year. There are a number of returns from last year, including Skillet, Superchick, Red and LeCrae, who brought some highly credible hip-hop to the main stage last year.

LeCrae on stage at the 2010 Ichthus Festival, June 18, 2010.

LeCrae on stage at the 2010 Ichthus Festival, June 18, 2010.

Christian music has had trouble embracing hip-hop over the years, but this year’s festival will be further evidence that hard rock is having no trouble finding its way in the genre, with heavier acts on the main stage and the growing prominence of the Deep End stage, which will feature acts including Project 86 and The Almost, Aaron Gillespie’s ­Underoath side project, which has grown into a substantial act in its own right.

Ichthus 2011 will again open on Wednesday night, with a community concert like last year’s Tobymac, Newsboys lineup, and it will include the acoustic Galleria stage. In years past, Ichthus had a grand lineup announcement, but now organizers trickle it out primarily on their Facebook page (Facebook.com/ichthus).

In addition to the acts mentioned above, the lineup thus far includes Jason CastroFireflight, Remedy Drive, Mikeschair, Chris August, Sleeping Giant, For Today, Josh Wilson, Josh Garrels, Living Sacrifice, Trip Lee and Britt Nicole.

Tickets for Ichthus 2011 are on sale at Ichthusfestival.org. (If you are reading this Dec. 31, you can still get in on bargain basement rates if you buy before the new year.)

Long before that, when the weather will be more like it is now, Winter Jam will hit Rupp Arena for the fourth straight year. And for the third straight year, it will be a Saturday night. On March 12, the set will feature Newsboys, the David Crowder Band, Red, Kutless, Francesca Battistelli, NewSong, KJ-52, Sidewalk Prophets and Chris August. Newsboys were here last year in their reconstituted lineup featuring Michael Tait, and event hosts NewSong and Francesca Battistelli have been at the Rupp event before. But the rest of the lineup is new to the event, including the Crowder Band, a onetime Ichthus staple whose last big local date was a fall 2009 show at Southland Christian Church.

As in previous years, admission for Winter Jam is $10 and only at the door. For more information, go to Hearitfirst.com/winterjam.

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