As the holiday season and 2o14 wrap up, we all become reflective of the experiences we did or did not have throughout the year. Did we fulfill any or all of our resolutions we swore we would do this year? Did we take the time to stop and smell the roses in our hectic fast paced lives? Personally I always feel like I’m going at warped speed spinning my wheels trying to accomplish daily tasks, let alone that long list of resolutions I swore I would get to this year. As December engulfs us, that warped speed becomes even faster, and before you know it, the year is over and we are left thinking…where did the time go? Like most individuals, we all have great intentions to do that one thing or that one project on our “To Do” list for ourselves. For some reason it never is accomplished as we are so busy doing for everyone else. After all, when prioritizing things in life, we often forget to prioritize ourselves. I’m sure this applies to all individuals, even musicians. For today’s musicians, you see them touring the majority of the year, making it difficult to fit in a personal life with family and friends, let alone getting to the studio to record new music or that project they’ve been wanting to work on.
This was the case for Trace Adkins. For years he had wanted to record a Christmas album, but for him it couldn’t just be any album. He had a vision for what he wanted to share with his fans. Last year, his long awaited project, The King’s Gift, was released and Trace began to tour to share his vision of what Christmas is all about. I had the opportunity to see his show last year, and when I heard he was returning to the Central NY area again I couldn’t wait to return to see it once again.
Trace’s show is unique and a personal insight in Trace’s love of this holiday. His stage is set to make you feel like you were in his living room sharing the holiday with him.
He surrounds himself with some of the finest musicians and professionals in their field, giving you a top class production. You have Michael Stribling on Uilleann Pipes, Steve Mackey the Bassist, Emily Kohavi on Violin, Mark Gillespie who is a multi instrumentalist, Brian Wooten veteran guitar extraordinare who has played guitar with Trace for years, Megan Mullins on violin, Jon Coleman who is musical director, Erin Slaver on vocals, Johnny Richardson on drums/percussion, Emily Nelson the cellist, Michael Spriggs who is legendary in the business, has been inducted in the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, and is a premier guitarist as well as the Celtic specialist on tour (he co-produced The Kings Gift and played all the guitar on the album), and the legendary Alyth McCormack vocalist and veteran of the grammy winning band The Chieftains. Together, this amazing production delivers a spectacular family show that kicked off my holiday in style.
As Trace begins the show, he comes through the door as though he’s returning home for the holidays. As he enters, he immediately greets the audience as though they were old friends waiting for his return.
Throughout the evening, in a setting that is equipped with a decorated tree, stockings on the mantle of the fireplace, gifts to give, and the comfiest looking chair I ever did see, he shares how the project came to be, what the songs mean to him, how the songs were created and passed down through time, and then he shares his rendition of the music. For some time now, I’ve been sitting here trying to think up a cute analogy of his deliverance, a description of sorts of how I was impressed on his musical abilities, but heck folks, all I keep thinking is how darn sexy that deep voice of his was. That voice of his is just so strong and powerful that all the women in the audience melt, myself included. But yet, he’s still a man’s man, and those men in attendance loved him just as much. Like so many greats before him, his renditions make a lasting impression on you as he signs favorites such as “O Come Emmanuel”, “The Little Drummer Boy”, or the most beautiful versions of “I Saw Three Ships” and “Tannenbaum” I have ever heard. He jokes that in one hundred years his song “Badonkadonk” will not be remembered. Perhaps not. I do know though, that his recording of The King’s Gift, will be remembered and played as a family favorite each holiday when the cd’s come out during the holiday season.
Trace not only gave a stellar performance of The Kings Gift, Trace also gave gifts of his own. At each show throughout the Christmas tour, he donated the tree used each night up on stage during the performance, to a local charity. At the show in Verona, NY, he donated the spectacular tree to the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program at Fort Drum, NY. The BOSS program focuses on those men and women stationed throughout the world, fostering a feeling of, and becoming a part of, their communities through organized activities. Especially during the holidays, it is so important to have that sense of community as these men and women are so far from their homes and families. For other lucky audience members that won the lottery drawing, they received autographed posters and a grand prize of a signed guitar by Trace.[FinalTilesGallery id=’60’]
I had the opportunity last year to meet the tall dark and handsome country superstar as he met with a group of fans during a question and answer session before the show. What I took away from the experience is what a down to earth person he was, how grateful he is to those fans that love him, and most importantly how much he loves sharing his talent with those that will listen. Trace Adkins’ TheKing’s Gift is definitely a show to see should it come to a town by you next year. Put that down as a resolution you must keep for yourself. You won’t be sorry.