Saturday, November 24, 2018

A Jolly Guaraldi Holiday 2018

Thanksgiving arrived early this year, so I'm a few days later than usual, with this annual round-up of the many Guaraldi-themed concerts taking place during the next month, most of which (of course!) are tied in to his music from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

It has become quite obvious that numerous bands and individuals across the country —- and elsewhere! -- have turned this into a popular tradition. Goodness, some of them even have expanded into Halloween- and Thanksgiving-themed concerts, featuring music from those Peanuts TV specials. High-fives to all of them, for keeping Guaraldi's musical torch aloft! I traced the history and growth of this delightful tradition back in 2012, with a modest schedule that now seems quaint. This new post will serve as a clearinghouse for any and all late 2018 concerts that come to my attention. As always, I'll add to this schedule as new information becomes available, so you'll want to check back frequently.

Our Canadian neighbors once again can enjoy the return of the season's most historic booking. Drummer Jerry Granelli, who worked as a member of Guaraldi's trio in the 1960s, will headline Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas with his own trio: Simon Fisk (bass) and Chris Gestrin (piano). He began this annual celebration with a few shows in 2013, and the results were quite popular (no surprise there). His appearances were modest last year, but he has bounced back with six gigs this season, starting Saturday, December 1, at Calgary's Central United Church; and concluding Saturday, December 15, at St. Alberg's Arden Theater. Check his web site for details.

As has become a biannual tradition, the most ambitious tour news comes from Concord recording artist David Benoit, who once again is taking his on the road. (He tends to tour with saxman Dave Koz every other year.) Benoit once again will be accompanied by special guest Sara Gazarek. Their schedule kicks off November 27 in Phoenix, Arizona; and concludes December 23 in San Juan Capistrano, California, with stops along the way in Oregon, Illinois, New Jersey and Colorado. We caught Benoit's performance in 2011 and 2015, and I can report that it's a great show. It's also tremendously sweet, since he and his team work with a children's choir that is local to each stop. Check his web site for details.

The Heather Pierson Trio — Pierson on piano; Shawn Nadeau on bass; Craig Bryan on drums — has scheduled a tour of (thus far) 10 shows devoted to A Charlie Brown Christmas. All the shows are in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts: They kick off December 1 in Conway, New Hampshire; and conclude December 21 in Framingham, Massachusetts. Check her web site for details.

The Cartoon Christmas Trio — Jeff Knoettner, piano; Rob Swanson, bass; Jimmy Coleman, drums — doesn't concentrate solely on music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; they also pepper their performances with tunes from other animated holiday shows, such as Frosty the Snowman and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. (Their album is a kick; give it a listen.) They have several shows scheduled thus far, starting Sunday, December 2, in Milton, Delaware; and concluding Sunday, December 23, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Check their web site for details.