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20 Dec 09 Holidays a Great Time to Entertain Audiences

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Consider this a shameless self promotion.

As I may have mentioned in earlier posts, I am a member of the Black Prairie Band. We are a group of “older” first time performers, who really enjoy performing a combination of original songs and popular covers.  Saturday night, we had an opportunity to perform a Christmas show at the Heard Nature Museum in McKinney.

We have performed at the Heard many times during the past three years. In fact, they refer to us there as the “Heard house band.” When we played there in the past, it was for special events that were ongoing for six or eight hours during the daylight time.  As a result, we would have quite a few people hear us, but never a big crowd at one time.

 But last night was different. They moved their Christmas exhibit to nighttime – 6:30pm to 9:30pm, to be specific. They pre-sold 600 tickets, so we knew we would have a bigger audience than normal. But the crowd far exceeded our expectations.  More than 1,000 people came for the three hours of holiday lights, crafts and entertainment. That meant that at any given time, we had at least 200 people enjoying our music.

The performance was not easy. We played in the outdoor ampitheater. The temperatures were in the 30s. And we found out that the group scheduled to follow us had decided to back out at the last minute. But we were able to extend our hour set to almost two hours. And the audience enjoyed every song.

The children danced along as we sang such classics as Jingle Bell Rock, Silver Bells and Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. And they all sang along with Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.  And it was very exciting to see them dance to a Black Prairie original, Prairie Christmas.

We took a break from the holiday songs to add in some of our cover play set, including Johnny Be Good (dedicated to the Saints fans), Swingtown, Long Train Running and Taking Care of Business.  The parents on hand joined their children in dancing to these tunes.

After these songs, we returned to Christmas.  Run Rudolph Run and Please Come Home for Christmas led into our final song, the Springsteen version of Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. This was especially fun, as a young girl named Delilah joined us in the chorus. She was eating her candy cane and came to the stage to offer me a taste. I got her to sing, instead.

One of the most interesting moments came when a father made a request for Santa Baby. As our entire band is male, this is not a song we had ever practiced. So I did a little of it, using my best Bob Dylan impression.

I tell everyone this story not to make the shameless self promotion as mentioned in the lead. Rather, performers should look for opportunities when they can to perform in these special fundraisers. It not only helps the organizations, but also exposes you and your music to large numbers of people who may not otherwise ever hear you. In other words, this can be a win-win situation.

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season.

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