"I've learned from the Reach Records guys down here in Atlanta...like Lecrae and Andy Mineo...they're able to run through like 20 of their songs in 15 minutes," said the Crowder of the faith-based hip-hop artists.
"It's all about how to truncate songs and hit spots that feel the moment, get the high points and move onto the next one.
It's a technique he said he'll use in this year's tour which opened Jan. 10 and comes to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Jan. 19.
Crowder, 48, is three albums into a solo career following the 2012 end of his former group (David Crowder Band). But he has numerous song favorites such as "All My Hope" and "Come As You Are" that fans expect to hear on any given night – even on the chuck full Winter Jam lineup which includes nine artists (including Andy Mineo) and two speakers.
"We have spaces where we can let a song breathe in its entirety," he added. "But there's a mid-section that we're gonna keep fluid depending on the night," he noted of the 40-plus city tour.
A GHOSTLY PRESENCE
His most recent collection carries the title "I Know A Ghost" – an album which is nominated for a Grammy Award (winners will be announced Jan. 26).
"I love that opening track – the title which helped me organize how the rest of the album would go," he explained. "It starts with an acoustic guitar and me singing. And then all of a sudden the beat drops and you think you're down in the ATL (Atlanta), with a little trap music," he said of the tune's hip-hop elements.
There are two vocal duets on the release, "Let It Rain," with Mandisa and "Child of God" with Taya-Smith Gaukroger of Hillsong United.
"That (latter) one goes into this 'Happy Day' song, and a porch romp is what it is with a little twist to it."
There's also a ballad called "Red Letters" which draws from his own past as a kid growing up in a Texarkana, Tex. Baptist church.
"I was sittin' in the pew next to my Grandma who had an open Bible as big as she is," he recalled. "I asked her why some of the letters were red. And she looked at me and said – I can still hear it plain as day – "David, when Jesus is talking, you need to pay attention.' I think it was a double meaning thing. She meant for me to stop talking and listen."
The song was nominated for two Dove Awards last year.
HIS PATH TO THE ATL
It was in Waco, TX, where he led music at University Baptist Church near his alma mater (Baylor University) that he musically discovered himself and his music ministry. After his first band ended he eventually landed in Atlanta, home of Passion City Church led by Louie Giglio. Giglio founded the church with worship music artists Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman, although Tomlin has since moved to Nashville.
Although often out on the road, Crowder participates in the church's music leadership on a spot basis. "I'm not on staff there so I'm not obligated," he explained. "Sometimes I'm leading the kids' time or I'm there midweek for the junior high-high school stuff."
Crowder was one of the main stage performers at the recent Passion Conference, which filled Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with more than 60 thousand college-aged youth.
The traveling Winter Jam entourage numbers into the hundreds when the many artists are added to technicians, stage hands, road crew and others. Crowder has been on the tour before and knows the individuals became a family.
"You get to know each other in a rich and deep way. And the guys who produce the tour (the band NewSong) have a great sense of not forcing community but fostering it by creating an environment for it to happen."
There's even an on-the-road worship experience called "Jam Church" which includes the artists. Crowder explains it in this video clip https://www.facebook.com/crowdermusicofficial/videos/890850311385046/
"Every time on the tour I've learned how to balance life better," he added.
Crowder's band features a bunch of members who play multiple instruments. "We just don't have any more room in the truck," he said of their large musical assortment.
Winter Jam 2020 – featuring Crowder, Building 429, Red, Andy Mineo, Passion, NewSong, Austin French, Riley Clemons, Zauntee, with speakers Zane Black and Billy Ballenger.
Sunday January 19 at Van Andel Arena, W. Fulton St. in downtown Grand Rapids
Doors open at 5pm. No tickets are sold, general admission is $15 at the door; a free-will offering will be taken during the event. Early admission and other perk packages are available for sale in advance, via www.jamtour.com.