For the first time in my more than three decades of reviewing live performances, last Thursday evening's concert was the first live-streamed show I have done. It was fun and refreshing after the year we have had battling COVID.
We are all accustomed to seeing a Christmas show performed by Dave Rowley and Ryan Sather. They are usually joined by Damon Dotson but, of course, this year that was impossible.
I trekked down to the Roof Garden Ballroom Thursday night as one of only 10 people in that large ballroom space. Four were entertainers and some where technical crew. I felt honored to be included in the small but enthusiastic "crowd."
The dynamic musical duo brought Sather's children, Lauren and Matthew, onto the stage with them. They are both very talented young adults and added greatly to the entertainment value of the show.
I want to say thank you to Arnolds Park Amusement Park and Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association for joining forces to bring this seasonal concert to everyone via live-stream. Many, many people tuned in to hear some classic soothing and some very upbeat Yuletide favorites.
All four musicians on stage harmonized vocally beautifully. Lauren is an outstanding sax player, Ryan is a keyboard genius, Matthew's tenor voice is so soothing and Dave can play guitar, ukele and harmonica with the best of them.
I missed the ugly Christmas sweaters I am used to seeing, but Dave did bring his ridiculous Santa hats; thank goodness! Unfortunately, I have not been able to get Ryan to put away his bazillion black shirts and wear something more colorful, but I am not giving up.
The show began with the John Lennon song "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and the harmony of the three men was incredibly soothing. Lauren's sax skill added much to this number.
I enjoyed the great country-style beat used on "A Willie Nice Christmas." It was a fun tune to hear.
During this pandemic-ridden holiday season, it was appropriate to listen to "Celebrate Me Home" performed very well with deep emotion by the four of them.
A fast-beat rendition of "Jingle Bells" with Dave's harmonica was delightful.
Matthew treated the virtual audience to a beautiful rendition of "Hallelujah."
Kudos on the performance of "What A Wonderful World." The delivery of the lyrics really brought back to us the fact that even though these are extremely tough times, we still do have a wonderful world that we can help make better. The quartet on stage was trying to tell us something, and hopefully we all got the message.
"Santa's Back In Town" had us tapping our toes and smiling behind our masks.
Dave wrote a song about three years ago that he performed at the concert. "Christmas and Fond Memories" was a really neat song, written from his heart, and I enjoyed it very much.
The finale was appropriately named "It's Christmas All Over Again." All four added their unique skills to this upbeat and fun song.
Thank you to Dave, Ryan, Matthew and Lauren for dragging, pushing and shoving us into the Christmas spirit during a very trying year. It was an evening to remember for a long time to come and we desperately needed that!