Rock & Worship Roadshow: Gospel-related, gospel-focused show is about faith, not money

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

The Rock & Worship Roadshow is "all gospel-related, gospel-focused," says Bart Millard of MercyMe. "That's what we're there to share, and that's what the audience is there to hear."

Courtesy MercyMe

For Bart Millard, lead singer of the award-winning Christian rock band MercyMe, the current Rock & Worship Roadshow is all about the money.

That is, making as little of it as possible.

The fifth annual Roadshow, which will make a stop at Salt Lake City’s Energy Solutions Arena on Feb. 22, features a group of Christian music all-stars, including MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Tedashii, Kutless, Family Force 5, Luminate, Adam Cappa, the Rhett Walker Band and Tim Timmons.

“It’s definitely an entertaining show,” Millard said during a break in the Roadshow’s 20-city tour. “Every one of the performers has a distinct focus that is very Christ-centered. The artists all talk about their relationship to Christ. It is reiterated from the very beginning to the last of the show that the reason we’re there is Jesus Christ.”

It’s a great message that is much needed in the world today, Millard said. But it doesn’t do anyone any good if they can’t afford the price of a ticket to see it.

That’s been a thorny issue to Millard ever since he and fellow MercyMe band members James Bryson, Robby Shaffer, Nathan Cochran, Michael Scheuchzer and Barry Graul were jogging around an arena in which they were performing.

“We saw a poster for our concert and we noticed that our tickets were 75 or 80 bucks each,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘We’re offering this free gospel for an awfully expensive price.’”

Since then, he said, MercyMe members have worked to get the prices for their concerts down. On the Rock & Worship Roadshow tour, “we wanted to find a way to cut corners without hurting the product.”

The result is a full evening of powerful Christian music for just $10 per seat. There are no tickets for the show and no reserved seating. Just show up at ESA with $10 (cash or check only) in hand and you’ll get a seat — first come, first served — until the last seat is taken. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7:30 show.

VIP passes are also available for $50 each. The VIP pass includes a T-shirt, a discount on Roadshow merchandise and early entry to the concert venue. For more information go to therockandworshiproadshow.com.

“We’d do this for free if we could,” Millard said. “But we figured $10 a seat is the next best thing to free.”

In fact, there have been times when some people associated with the Roadshow worried it was too close to free.

“The first weekend we did this, we were in Billings, Mont., and we needed seven or eight thousand people to come in order to break even,” Millard said. “We got about four thousand. We thought, ‘Oh no — what have we done?’

“The next show was in Seattle, and we lost money again that night,” Millard continued. “So we went on for the next show in Portland and we said, ‘Let’s muscle through this weekend and then we’ll shut it down.’ Only we had 14,000 people come to the show that night. We were blown away — it was very emotional for us. We had invested so much prayer and effort into this. We thought we were done. But ever since then we’ve filled the house at every stop.”

That is gratifying to Millard because “the people who are coming to the Roadshow aren’t just standing in line not knowing what they are getting into.

“The gospel is there — they know that’s what they’re going to hear,” he said. “You know what every artist stands for. It’s all gospel-related, gospel-focused. That’s what we’re there to share, and that’s what the audience is there to hear. It’s great.”

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