It's officially Christmastime. I saw Mannheim Steamroller in concert tonight.
We are very blessed here in Greenville to have a fabulous concert hall - The Peace Center. And, because it is so good, they are able to pull in excellent folks to perform. MS performed their Spring show here earlier this year and liked the venue so much that they wanted to come back for The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller! Can you believe it?! Mannheim Steamroller in the same town TWICE in one year!!!
I have been a Chip Davis fanatic ever since my stint in Omaha in the mid-80's. When I graduated college, I moved there for my first "real" job. A company from Omaha came to interview on my college campus. I remember very distinctly asking everyone "Omaha - who the hell would move to Omaha?" Well, I was the one person from the class who did. And, I loved almost every minute of it. (The car crash and resulting ambulance ride to the hospital and losing a job for the very first time in my life were two things I could have lived without!)
There are two things you learn within the first half hour of living in Omaha - that food there is AWESOME (I mean, some of the best restaurants in the country!) and that Chip Davis and Warren Buffett are heroes in town. By the end of the first week, I was up five pounds, learned more about the stock market than I'd ever known up to that point in my life, and was absolutely in love with Mannheim Steamroller and Chip Davis.
Tonight's show was phenomenal. The music was, of course, top-notch. It included the MS classics that you'd expect - Carol of the Bells, Deck the Halls, We Three Kings, Away in a Manger, I Saw Three Ships, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, and Silent Night - all the classics from "Mannheim Steamroller Christmas". But they also did several songs from their "Christmas Song" album and some of the Fresh Aire Christmas albums. The band's use of three small screens and one large screen was amazing. The screens never distracted but rather enhanced the music. Perhaps the most intriguing use of the screens was when the band was behind the large screen but fully lit - as in "seeable", not soused. The movie images were playing over and around the band and they melded into the scene so that they and the music and the images were all one. There was no delineation in the experience, they were all pieces of a whole and necessary to each other. Absolutely beautiful! And exquisitely clever.
The only thing missing tonight was Chip Davis. He is in Omaha recovering from neck surgery. I hope that Chuck Penington, Jeff Yang, Glen Smith, Tom Sharpe, and Joey Galizia and the supporting musicians remind him that he missed a really great show in a really great venue in an even better town. And, I hope he has a complete and speedy recovery - and that he rolls back into Greenville again in the near future.
If you get a chance, go see Mannheim Steamroller no matter the time of year. And if they're not coming to a venue near you, check out their CD's. My Christmas favorites are "Mannheim Steamroller Christmas", "Christmas Song", 'Christmas Extraordinaire" and "A Fresh Aire Christmas".