Saturday, Mannheim Steamroller performed at Bethesda’s Music Center at Strathmore. The soldout crowd was enraptured at the matinee and Mannheim Steamroller received a standing ovation at the end. For this concert, Mannheim Steamroller celebrates 30 years since its first Christmas album and 40th anniversary of the first release of their Fresh Aire series.
Mannheim Steamroller did a great job getting the audience into the Christmas spirit.
Mannheim Steamroller was founded in 1974. The show started with a video compilation of their success with clips from The Today Show to clips with Presidents Bush and Clinton to clips showing them at top of the charts. The video is inspiring as it talks about how the creator and founder Chip Davis, who was told it was career suicide to perform Christmas music and Mannheim Steamroller has sold over 40 million records.
Currently there are two touring Mannheim Steamroller bands, one for the east coast and one for the west coast. Strathmore got the Red Tour cast which consists of: Chuck Penington (conductor, keys); Tom Sharpe (drums); Glen Smith (guitar, bass); Jeff Yang (violin, recorders); Joey Gulizia (percussion, recorders); and Christy Crowl (keys).
The show blew me away. The drummer Tom Sharpe reminds me of the Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins with his long blonde hair. His enthusiasm and skills on the drums was enchanting to watch. He almost stole the show with his high energy and constant smile on his face. On “Joy to the World,” Sharpe drummed expertly. For “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem” the piano solos were gorgeous.
Pianist Christy Crowl is from nearby Frederick and she constantly smiled at the audience. I enjoyed the “Christmas Lullaby” as it is military themed and seemed to be a salute to our military. On “Faeries” I enjoyed violinist/recorder player Jeff Yang, with his cool black pony tail, twirling around while playing the violin and also enjoyed the bass line. “Toccata” also had some beautiful violin work. The crowd really loved “Carol of the Bells” and there was much whooping and hollering. I also enjoyed “Greensleeves” which featured Elyse Davis, the Mannheim Steamroller’s founder’s daughter. Mannheim Steamroller brings a unique feel to the Christmas songs with warmth and extra pizzazz.
The only minor critique is the video production behind the musicians distracted from the music.
Mannheim Steamrollers always delivers and their Christmas Show is always joyful! They are a national treasure!
Running Time: Two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davise played on Saturday, Decemberber 13, 2014 at 4:00 PM at The Music Center at Strathmore -5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For future events, check their events calendar.
The First Set
-Deck the Halls
-We Three Kings
-God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
-Traditions of Christmas
-O’Little Town of Bethlehelm
-Joy to the World
-Pat a Pan
-Catching Snowflakes on Your Tongue
-O Holy Night
The Second Set
-Above the Northern Lights
-Greensleeves (featuring Elyse Davis, daughter of Chip Davis)
-Pass the Keg (Lia)
-Four Rows of Jacks
-Come Home to the Sea
-Good King Wenceslas
-Carol of the Bells
-Auld Lange Syne