The traditional holiday concert by the terrific trio, Damon, Dave and Ryan, is looked forward to each year. Proof of that is at the Pearson Lakes Center Box Office where Saturday night’s show sold out over two weeks in advance.
Lakes Region native Damon Dotson lives in Des Moines. Each year he comes home to perform in a holiday show with fellow local musicians Dave Rowley and Ryan Sather. All three are extremely talented musicians and singers. Damon and Dave also write music. Ryan is the best song arranger in this part of the United States. So everyone knows the music will be top notch.
Not only is this trio of entertainers talented but they are smart, too. They asked the premiere lead guitar player in the Midwest and beyond to join them. Joe Cuttell grew up in this area and spent summers living on West Lake Okoboji. After residing in California for decades, he moved back to the Lakes Region, much to everyone's delight.
Carley Wells is a junior at Okoboji High School and an award-winning percussionist. She may be only 17 years old, but she kept up with the "old guys" all night long, not missing a beat. Wells looked like she was really having fun up on that stage too.
We were treated to their renditions of songs we all love by such noted artists and Lyle Lovett, Will Musgrave and Vince Gill.
Dotson became a father for the first time this past year. He sang for us a song he wrote before his son Arlo was born. It is called "Unborn Wish" and I loved it. I hope every parent and prospective parent gets to hear it at some point.
Rowley's original composition of "Merry Christmas and Sweet Memories" was particularly poignant.
All five combined to give us a bluesy version of "Frosty the Snowman" that was a definite crowd pleaser.
Sather played and sang a song to us from the new movie "A Star Is Born" and it was so beautiful that I want to see the movie.
A very lively version of "Jingle Bells" cemented us into the holiday spirit. Dotson sang the Chris Stapleton song "Broken Halos," bringing tears to our eyes as he dedicated it to all the grandparents no longer with us.
We sang along with Dotson and Sather as they performed for their fathers "What a Wonderful World." A jazzy version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" was very upbeat and had us dancing in our seats.
Each year Dotson sings "Hallelujah" to us. With Sather and Cuttell adding their musicianship, it was outstanding, once again.
While I paid homage to the wonderful music, the show was also entertaining. The trio bantered back and forth and the humor soon turned to laughter. They may be from two different generations but the love and respect they have for each other's talent and abilities was very evident. Rowley is a very good front man, keeping the show going with humor and sincerity. The holidays are about family and they pointed that out to us all night long through their music.
The audience did not want the show to end and gave them a loud standing ovation. All five returned to the stage and treated us to more music. We began calling for Carley Wells to do a drum solo. The young lady was shy and reluctant but Cuttell saved the day by daring her into doing "Wipe Out" and she was magnificent! Wells was given a well-deserved standing ovation.
The evening was brought to a reluctant end by Beatles music. We all joined with great gusto in singing "All You Need Is Love" and we meant every note of it.
It never gets old, the Damon, Dave and Ryan Holiday Concert, it just keeps getting better.
The stage was decked out for Christmas and four of the five looked festive. Sather always wants to wear a plain black shirt so he blends in with the backdrop. I am issuing a challenge. Ryan, I dare you to find a festive shirt for next year!
The 2018 D, D and R Holiday Concert is now history. It was delightful, fabulous and highly entertaining. Until next year, Happy Holidays!