Music News & Reviews

$10 Winter Jam is back, with For King and Country, Skillet, Newsong and others

Joel and Luke Smallbone of For King and Country play this year’s Winter Jam tour, Tuesday Nov. 10, at Save Mart Center.
Joel and Luke Smallbone of For King and Country play this year’s Winter Jam tour, Tuesday Nov. 10, at Save Mart Center. Special to The Bee

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 constitute the Christian pop duo For King and Country.

The pair are in Fresno Tuesday, Nov. 10, as part of the Winter Jam tour, with headliners Skillet, tour founders Newsong, plus Jamie Grace, Lincoln Brewster, Family Force 5 and Love and The Outcome, Stars Go Dim, We Are Messengers and OBB. Tickets are $10 at the door.

For King and Country’s latest album hit No. 13 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart.

For King and Country are rising stars in the world of contemporary Christian music (CCM). The brothers won three Dove Awards last month, 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 the audience will catch on. His lyrics reflect the things he loves, he says, whether that’s God or his family.

I get to write about the loves of my life, whether it’s God or my wife or my kids.

Luke Smallbone, For King and Country

“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, where their father worked as a promoter.

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

“Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong,” continues to gain followers and fans, something that came as a surprise, Smallbone says.

The band’s goal was to put out an album, which they hoped would be successful enough to do another. Once an album got released, there is a level of excitement, but you never know what will happen once all the hoopla dies down, Smallbone says. With “Run Wild.” the “hoopla” never stopped.

“That growth has just continued,” he says.

The band just finished its own headlining tour and almost immediately left to join the West Coast leg of the Winter Jam tour, which kicked off Thursday, Nov. 5, in New Mexico.

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.

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

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

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

Winter Jam

Concert preview

  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10
  • Save Mart Center
  • Tickets: $10 at the door
  • 559-347-3401,