The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Jun3Filed under: Ichthus Festival, Music, rc talk - Christian pop culture, Religion; Tagged as: Anberlin, Britt Nicole, Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Community Day, Hillsong United, Ichthus Festival, Mark Vermilion, Matthew West, Night of Worship, Phil Keaggy, Quest Community Church, Questapalooza, Rupp Arena, Switchfoot, The Almost, the Newsboys, TobyMac, wilmore, Winter Jam
The Ichthus Festival is focusing on a new market: Central Kentucky.
During the past four decades, the Wilmore Christian pop music festival has drawn fans from all over the Eastern United States and even farther away.
Ichthus CEO Mark Vermilion points to the festival’s heyday 10 years ago, when entire sections of the camping area would be made up of people from Michigan. Now, just a handful of the event’s more than 10,000 patrons are from the Great Lake State.
And the same is true of Georgia, Illinois, Virginia and other areas more than half a day’s drive from Wilmore.
“Our market has shrunk to a 200-, maximum 250-mile radius of Wilmore,” Vermilion said.
Two big factors contribute to that.
First, there’s everyone’s favorite headline: gas prices. If you think your SUV can drink up the fuel, wait until you try filling up a church van.
Also, the number of festivals and similar opportunities to see Christian bands has increased, so audiences are finding they don’t have to travel as far to see favorite bands. Even in Central Kentucky, where Ichthus used to be the sole annual Christian music event, other attractions such as two one-day festivals in Lexington — September’s Questapalooza at Quest Community Church and March’s Winter Jam at Rupp Arena — have given music fans other opportunities to see many of the same acts.
And in some ways, while there is still free camping on site and four straight days of rock at Ichthus Farm, the event is marketing itself to locals as an attraction similar to those one-nighters.
It started last year with a festival-opening “Community Night” featuring chart-topping artists TobyMac and the Newsboys. This year, Ichthus is offering two days geared toward locals. The festival will open June 15 with a Night of Worship featuring praise superstars Hillsong United. Three days later, it will close with Community Day, letting single-day attendees access the festival for a discounted price.
Both days are $25 each, if tickets are purchased by June 10, or a Night of Worship/Community Day package is $40.
“There will always be people who want to come for the full three- and four-day experience, and we believe that’s where real community happens,” Vermilion said. “But we also want the people from Central Kentucky to look at Community Day and say, ‘That’s my day.’”
Dec31Filed under: Music, rc talk - Christian pop culture, Religion; Tagged as: Aaron Gillespie, Anberlin, Britt Nicole, Chris August, Disciple, Family Force 5, Fireflight, For Today, Francesca Battistelli, Ichthus Festival, Jason Castro, Josh Garrels, Josh Wilson, KJ-52, Kutless, LeCrae, Living Sacrifice, MikesChair, Newsboys, NewSong, Project 86, Red, Remedy Drive, Rupp Arena, Sidewalk Prophets, Skillet, Sleeping Giant, Superchick, The Almost, the David Crowder Band, The Letter Black, Trip Lee, Winter Jam, Underoath
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.
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 Castro, Fireflight, 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.
Dec18Filed under: Ichthus Festival, Music, rc talk - Christian pop culture, Religion; Tagged as: 2010, Bluetree, Britt Nicole, Calvary in Savannah, Casting Crowns, Devil Wears Prada, Echoing Angels, Extreme, Gatlinburg, Ichthus Festival, Immanuel Baptist Church, Jeremy Camp, Josh Hawk, MikesChair, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Year's Eve, Newsboys, Rebecca St. James, Red, Say It, Skillet, The Lost Get Found, tickets
Immanuel Baptist Church might have made the question “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?” easier to answer for some Christian music fans.
Chart-topping Christian pop artist Britt Nicole will be on stage at the church to help ring in the new year and say goodbye to the aughts.
The New Year’s Eve bash was the brainstorm of Josh Hawk, Immanuel’s pastor of students and families. He says working with an organization called Student Life, starting when he was attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, oriented him to presenting big events. When he was the student pastor at Calvary in Savannah, Ga., he brought in artists such as Jeremy Camp and Rebecca St. James.
So, when he came to Immanuel, he wanted to do the same sorts of things.”We wanted to do a big ‘New Year’s Eve rocks’ kind of thing,” Hawk says. “So we said, let’s do it right the first time.”
Hawk says he actually had Nicole in mind when he called a booking agent he had gotten to know but thought he wouldn’t be able to get her. He quickly found out the price was right.
“I was looking for someone who’s a rising star, and I saw her a few years ago at a New Year’s event called ‘Extreme’ in Gatlinburg, and I knew she was a great performer,” Hawk says.
Nicole released her second album, “The Lost Get Found,” this fall and had a No. 1 hit with the title track.
She debuted in 2007 with “Say It,” which introduced her as a hip, 21st-century young woman who could easily navigate a dance track. The new album continues in the same vein, softening the edges a bit.
Hawk thinks Nicole is poised to follow in the footsteps of Christian pop star Rebecca St. James.
Now, New Year’s Eve is not a typical concert night. Midnight is the focal point for the evening.
Hawk says that openers MikesChair will play at 8:30 p.m., take a break and come back to lead worship before Hawk delivers a talk.
“We do want a message to be part of the evening,” Hawk says. Then Nicole will take the stage about 10:30 and play until it’s time to ring in the new year.
“We’ll be tuned into Times Square and the ball dropping,” Hawk says. Then Nicole will play a few more tunes to start 2010.
2010 will include more marquee artists coming to Immanuel, including Echoing Angels on Jan. 11 and worship leaders Bluetree, which will play at morning worship Feb. 21 and return to perform later that day.
Go ahead and mark your calendars for Dec. 31, 2010, as Hawk says the New Year’s Eve bash “is something we envision as becoming a much bigger thing over the next couple of years.”
Ichthus price drop
While you’re looking ahead to 2010, you might want to start thinking about Ichthus tickets. The prices, down 20 percent, will take you back to the middle-aughts. Through Jan. 31, full-weekend tickets will be $69 for adults and $34 for ages 7 to 10.Acts already announced for Ichthus 2010, June 16 to 19, include Casting Crowns, Red, Skillet, Devil Wears Prada and Newsboys. For tickets, visit www.ichthusfestival.org or call (859) 858-3001, Ext.110.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich