December 22, 2014
Over the past thirty years, among the sounds that have become synonymous with Christmas have been the musical treatment of classics by Chip Davis’s Mannheim Steamroller.
One of two touring troupes graced the stage of Knoxville’s historic Tennessee Theater to present a sold out crowd their “30/40 Christmas 2014.” The title represents the thirty year anniversary of the release Mannheim Steamroller’s first Christmas album and the fortieth anniversary of their first release in their “Fresh Aire” series.
Under the direction of Chuck Pennington (who also played keyboards), fellow musical cast members included Christy Crowl (also on keys); violin and recorders virtuoso, Jeff Yang; Glen Smith on guitars; Joey Gulizia on percussion and recorders; and the absolutely amazing Tom Sharpe on drums (who, in my opinion, was worth the price of admission to watch).
Against a backdrop of vintage video, the group served up a treasure chest full of Christmas classics during the first half of the show. Those classics included “Deck The Halls,” “We Three Kings,” “Catching Snowflakes On Your Tongue,” and closing out the set with very moving performances of “O Tannenbaum” and “O Holy Night.”
After the intermission, Mannheim Steamroller a few more Christmas songs, (“Above The Northern Lights,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “Carol of the Bells,” and “Aud Lange Syne”) as well as several songs for the group’s Fresh Aire series, including “Greensleeves” (featuring on Chip Davis’ daughter, Elyse, singing on video) that is on their new CD, “Mannheim Steamroller 30/40” offering.
If you’ve never had a chance to catch a Mannheim Steamroller performance, you must. It will thrill your ears and give you musical memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.