If you are like me, it is hard to gear up your mind and soul for Christmas until after celebrating Thanksgiving. Dave Rowley, Damon Dotson and Ryan Sather efficiently and thoroughly shoved me right past the turkey and stuffing, into the Christmas mood.
Their show at the Pearson Lakes Art Center last Thursday night was a celebration of humor, anticipation of the season to come and love for family and friends. I send out a hearty bravo to Sather for arranging many of the songs to fit the unique, immense talents of each individual involved. He turned ordinary Christmas songs we all love to hear, into upbeat musical numbers that we embraced immediately.
Starting with "So This Is Christmas," and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" to "Star of Wonder," we were instantaneously in the yuletide mood.
As if the trio wasn't talented enough, they invited premiere guitarist Joe Cuttell and the best sax player in this part of the county, Bryan Moore, to join them for several numbers. Cuttell's guitar solo on "King of the Road" brought loud applause during the middle of the song; and we all sang along with enthusiasm.
The three vocalists harmonized extremely well. I thought the duo of Dotson and Sather on "Three Wooden Crosses" was a 10 on a 1-10 scale. There were tears in the eyes of many audience members when Dotson sang a song he wrote called "33." Sather's keyboard performance added to the poignancy of the song. I hope to hear him sing that one again and again.
Their bluesy rendition of "Frosty the Snowman" was a real toe tapper that everyone in the audience seemed to enjoy immensely. During the second half of the show, all five musicians did Ray Charles' classic "Winter Wonderland," with solos by Cuttell and Moore. It was a true "crowd pleaser."
A much deserved standing ovation was earned by Dotson for his solo of "Hallelujah." It seared your soul.
The group added variety to their performance. Rowley played his ukulele while singing "Hawaiian Christmas Day." It was delightful. Sather and Rowley teamed up to sing to us "If my nose was running I'd blow it all on you." They had all of us in the seats laughing and Dotson looking extremely embarrassed. It was great!
Dotson then treated us to "What a Wonderful World" complete with Satchmo's voice. It made my throat hurt to listen to him even though he did it very well.
With three well-deserved standing ovations, the group treated us to a very upbeat version of "Jingle Bells" and we just couldn't help singing along. The encore "Go Tell It On The Mountain" led to closing out the evening with "All You Need Is Love." I believe that is a true statement. They already had us in the Christmas spirit and now we can all go out and spread the love this holiday season.
Thank you to Dave, Damon, Ryan, Joe and Bryan for infecting us with your holiday spirit. I join them in wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!