For 10 years Damon Dotson, Dave Rowley and Ryan Sather have gotten together to help bring Christmas cheer to the Lakes Area. Each year those of us lucky enough to be in the audience have enjoyed the music and friendship.
The 2019 event was the best ever! The trio of outstanding musicians/singers were joined on stage by Joe Cuttell on guitar/vocals, Carley Wells on drums, Brian Moore on horns and Matthew Sather on backup vocals.
When you have that many multi-talented musicians on stage, it often turns into a competition to see which one can outshine the others. I am delighted to say that never happens with these musicians. They take special effort to highlight each other all night long.
All of them, except the drummer, harmonized vocally and it was beautiful to hear. Ryan Sather is the genius who created the arrangements they played of songs we love to hear each Yuletide season. Some are very upbeat and others slow and thought-provoking.
Dotson does his version of "Hallelujah" each year. He is now a father (expecting child #2) so his performance comes from deeper within himself each year. A standing ovation was the reward for his performance this year.
The stage was colorfully set, and the players equally so; with the exception of Ryan who wore his festive holiday black again. He did, however adorn his keyboard with metallic green roping.
"Run, Run Rudolph" was lively. "What a Wonderful World" was nostalgic and beautiful. Cuttell treated us to "Ain't Misbehavin" in an attempt to placate Santa. Moore's sax backing on this number was awesome too.
We sang along enthusiastically to "Frosty the Snowman." Their rendition of "The Christmas Song," (often called "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,") would have put even Scrooge into the holiday spirit.
They incorporated a round into "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that was upbeat and impressive. With all the changes in beat between numbers and during some of them, Wells (a high school senior) kept right up with them. She is an outstanding drummer.
We in the audience chuckled many times as the guys bantered and teased each other between songs. It was very evident that they loved and respected each other as well as wanted to entertain us with their best.
A lengthy standing ovation brought the troupe back for an encore as the sold-out crowd was not ready for the music to end.
They promised us they will return next year. We intend to hold them to that promise. Merry Christmas to everyone!