’Tis the season to hear holiday music throughout the state of Utah.
During the month of December, several musical groups with local ties, including Gentri, the Nashville Tribute Band, the Lower Lights and Joshua Creek, will be performing Christmas concerts. Although these groups each have very different styles, for the holiday season their performances will all focus on one thing: the Christmas spirit.
The Nashville Tribute Band
“We go out there and do '(Little) Drummer Boy,' 'Feliz Navidad,' and all these up-tempo, fun, yee-haw Christmas songs, then somewhere it turns to the birth of Christ,” said Jason Deere, songwriter, producer and member of the Nashville Tribute Band. “We want people to have fun, and we want them to walk away with something that brings them back to what it’s really all about.”
The Nashville Tribute Band, which is produced by Deseret Book, states on its website that its purpose is to “bring souls unto Christ,” and the group’s passion is “to help create events that bring multiple Christian denominations together; uniting their various ecclesiastical leaders for the purpose of forgetting any differences, standing together and finding common ground in the one thing that so many share love for Jesus Christ."
With concerts in Utah, Arizona and Idaho, the Nashville Tribute Band will be performing arrangements of classic Christmas songs in addition to four original songs, Deere said.
The Lower Lights
The Lower Lights, a Salt Lake group comprised of nearly 20 members, has performed a religious, folk and bluegrass genre of music since 2009, according to a previous Deseret News article. The group will be performing six shows at Kingsbury Hall, which marks its seventh year of Christmas performances.
“I hope people go home and feel uplifted, a sense of belonging, a sense of hopeful community and maybe even a desire to go do good — high hopes, I know. But I think you have to shoot high and maybe sometimes you get there,” said Paul Jacobsen, a vocalist, guitar player and songwriter for the group.
Jacobsen said the group has received emails after performances with “heart-wrenching stories of tragedies and trials in (audience members') lives, telling how the show provided comfort or peace or even just commiseration.”
“Stories like these make me grateful for the way people have made our music part of their holidays and part of their lives,” he said. “The associations (between music and the holidays) are so warm and nostalgic. The songs come on and I remember the warmth of my sweet grandmothers or the smell of the tree my mom was decorating or the anticipation of Christmas morning. I can't really unbind the songs from the DNA of the rest of Christmas. They are one and the same to me.”
Joshua Creek, a folk-rock group from Utah, will be performing its eighth annual Joshua Creek Christmas concerts, with four shows in Midvale and Lehi. The group, which released its first album in 2005, has performed at large venues throughout Utah such as the Tabernacle at Temple Square and Abravanel Hall, according to a press release.
However, the press release states that the members of Joshua Creek prefer more intimate settings for performances, which makes for smaller audiences and quickly sold-out shows. According to an email from the band’s media contact, the Lehi performances are sold out.
“We’ve chosen to keep the venues small, adding more nights instead of expanding in size, so it’s like we are welcoming you into our living room, sharing what really matters most during the Christmas season,” said the band’s lead guitarist and producer Ron Saltmarsh. “An intimate setting really fits our performance style and makes it a more meaningful holiday experience for us and our audiences.”
“There’s a certain amount of nostalgia associated with Christmas music,” said Casey Elliott, a member of the group Gentri. “There are lots of good memories that come from these songs.”
Gentri, which is short for “gentlemen trio,” is a Utah-based group comprised of three tenors: Elliott, Brad Robins and Bradley Quinn Lever. Established in 2014, Gentri performs a unique style of music described on the group’s website as “cinematic pop,” and will perform a total of 15 times this holiday season, Robins said in an interview with the Deseret News.
“Not only is it a wonderful opportunity to release a Christmas album with moving and emotional content, it’s special to travel and give that experience to other people live,” Robins said.
For Lever, Christmas has always been about music. He remembers listening to Christmas music nonstop starting Thanksgiving Day and throughout the rest of the holiday season.
“I think music is the score of life, and there’s no better way to score the season of Christmas than with music,” Lever said.
This year, Gentri will be performing with a variety of guests, including singer Lexi Walker, the American Heritage Lyceum Philharmonic and Craig Jessop’s choir and orchestra.
Elliott said their aim is to help their audiences “feel the majesty of the season.”
“It’s going to be magical, just like Christmas should be,” he said.
If you go
What: A Nashville Tribute Band Christmas
When, where and how much: Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m., Kingsbury Hall, Salt Lake City, $22-$32; Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m., Clearfield High School, Clearfield, $17.50-$25.50; Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m., Cox Auditorium, St. George, $27-$33; Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m., Heritage Theater, Cedar City, $22-$27; Dec. 17, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Mountain View High School, Orem, $17.50-$25.50
What: The Lower Lights Christmas
When: Dec. 5, 6, 8 and 9, 7 p.m. and Dec. 10, 2 and 7 p.m.
Where: Kingsbury Hall, 1395 Presidents Circle
How much: $15, $22 and $27
What: Joshua Creek Christmas
When: Dec. 16-17, 7 p.m.
Where: Midvale Performing Arts Center, 695 W. Center, Midvale
How much: $7.95
What: Gentri: Finding Christmas
When: Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple
How much: $24.50-$150
Check out some more events in Salt Lake City here: