Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Most Funnest Christmas Concert E-V-E-R!

I was awakened in my hotel room Friday morning by a phone call from Neal Steele...the morning deejay on XTRA 99.1.  That's the station that sponsored the concert.
A little background.....back in 2008 I got an email from a woman named Mona Smith, who said she loved "The House on Christmas Street" and had taken the CD to her favorite deejay, Neal Steele.  She said he liked the song and was going to play it on the station.  One thing led to another and I ended up doing a phone interview with Neal. It was very nice and proper and all went well, and that was that.
The station played the song again during the 2009 Christmas season, and in 2010 I offered to come down to VA to do a concert for their Christmas in July event.  That was a really fun time, and when I first got to know Neal a little bit and also his co-host Karl and some of the other folks he regularly has on the air, including a fun and talented guy named Nate Sparks.  Since that concert I have had many on-air phone interviews with Neal and they have become progressively more insane.  It brings back my time in radio, especially the jobs where I was with a co-host.  We have a lot of fun on the air and I really enjoy it! 
The station does an annual Driveway Party at the home of an extreme decorator named Danny Joyce, and last year on my tour I did a concert at that event.  It was during Grammy season and everybody was really excited and I had a wonderful time.
So this year, when William Bottomley insisted that I return to NC, I told Neal I was coming down this way and we planned another concert.  Only this time the station secured a large church, several other acts and billed it as "The Most Funnest Christmas Concert E-V-E-R!"

And it was!  I got to meet Neal's new co-host, a lovely young lady named Reese, and both of them were dressed like elves and it was quite hilarious!
The show was opened by a young man named Kyle, who came from the Children's Hospital in Richmond.  Nate Sparks is the Director of Education at the hospital, and he arranged for Kyle to come and sing the National Anthem for us.  He did a beautiful job, and later he also sang "Frosty the Snowman" with me.  It was a true honor to meet this lively boy and his brave parents. 

The first act was Timothy Seaman, a wonderful hammered dulcimer player who was very impressive and played interesting and beautiful arrangements of his original songs and well-known Christmas music.  I love the sound of the hammered dulcimer.  Timothy has several CDs available which you can find on his website.  He was followed by Juniper Green, two young and talented singer-songwriters who have developed quite a following here in VA. Plus they are really nice kids! Check them out!
The third act was Ralph Motley and his bluegrass band.  They were just terrific and reminded me of the cowboy songs my father used to sing with me back when I was very young.  In fact, I went searching for "Mother, the Queen of My Heart" on the internet and actually found it!!  YAY!

Then, there was an intermission before Nate Sparks, his band and his lovely daughter Damara took the stage.  I have to say that my favorite song in their set was "I'm Gettin' Nothin' for Christmas".  I love that song and Demi did a great job!

Then it was my turn.  I had a blast...the audience was great....there were three couples who came onstage with me and danced to "Santa Whatcha Got"...and it was great fun to perform in such a beautiful venue.

But my portion of the concert was not really the big thing that happened to me that night. Before my portion of the show I was sitting in the audience listening to the other performers , and my heart was filled with anxiety.  It seems that lately I am so obsessed and consumed with making "The House on Christmas Street" a hit that I have begun to lose my ability to have fun.  Several things have happened in the past couple of weeks that were not fun.....the haters on the internet having a party smashing my CDs....the towing of my van.....the fact that the video views have slowed down....that's all started to overshadow all the good things in my mind.  I was sitting there in a church, and so I tried to shut everything else out and just connect with God.  I asked Him to take this worry out of my heart, and to help me get back to the true meaning of the season.  Now, I am not the type of person to say "God spoke to me" or "The Lord told me" because that's not literally what happens.  When I "hear" the voice of God it is usually just a thought that comes into my head, to be honest.  Some people might say that's just me brainwashing myself, but I can tell the difference between a thought that comes from me and an idea or thought that comes from somewhere else, because when I try to calm myself down without reaching out to God I am usually not very successful.  I know when He is "speaking" to me.
Anyway, almost immediately a feeling of calm and peacefulness came over me, and I was reminded of another time, not too long ago, when I visited my church at home in the middle of the day to connect with God when no one else was there. Something happened to me that day that I can't write out loud or you would think I was insane, but it was something that really changed my whole vision of the future.  So I was reminded of that day, and I knew that everything would be okay.  It's all gonna be okay.  God is gonna take my life where He wants it to go, and I just have to trust that, whether it's my vision or not.
I feel much better now, having been reminded of that.
So thank you to everyone who participated in the concert, and especially to Neal Steele and everyone at XTRA 99.1 for putting it all together...thanks to Linda Grow for the beautiful bag of goodies, and Katherine who supplies me with Goo Goos, and Pastor Mike who inspired me, and Danny, and (Oh Lord his name escapes me) the hunter guy....and the chocolate cake lady, and "hot" Linda (that's not my name for her...that's Neal's name) who bid $100 for my Big Red Coat, which went to the local Humane Society.  And here's a picture of her modeling it!

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