Culbertson recruits veterans and one newcomer for his second
annual Soulful Christmas tour while preparing for a new funk
CD featuring original songs and some surprising covers.
By Brian Soergel
Last year, Brian Culbertson released his first holiday CD, A
Soulful Christmas, to coincide with the debut
of a 21-city tour of the same name. Later this month, he'll
embark on the second edition of the popular tour. So does
Culbertson remember how he caught the holiday bug while growing
up in Decatur, Illinois? Why yes, he does, and it naturally
involves his father, Jim Culbertson, a teacher who doubles
as a trumpeter and often joins Brian on his tours.
"You know, you wake up Christmas morning as early as possible.
Run into your parents' bedroom and wake 'em up. Come on, hurry
up. Although, check this out. My dad, before he would let us
go downstairs, he would have to take a shower and get ready.
No just throwing on a robe and slippers and running downstairs.
No. We'd have to sit at the top of the stairs and wait for him
to take a shower, shave, brush his hair. Meanwhile, we're sitting
there at the top of the staircase and just can't stand it. But
I guess he wanted to build the excitement,” Culbertson
Culbertson laughs a lot when recalling the indelible moment,
but it's a good bet that plenty of fans nationwide are just as
anxious to relive their holiday memories while waiting for the
second edition of Brian Culbertson's A Soulful Christmas show.
And Culbertson is just as anxious to help create some memories
with his lineup of saxophonist Gerald Albright and guitarist
Nick Colionne, along with vocalists Howard Hewett and Victoria
Fans are no doubt familiar with smooth jazz stars Albright
and Colionne, along with veteran vocalist Hewitt, a co-founder
of the R&B group Shalimar who sang vocals on Culbertson's
version of “The Secret Garden” from his 1999 CD Something'
is a newcomer, however, and bills herself as an alternative-folk-R&B
vocalist and guitarist. Culbertson was introduced to her through
Sheldon Reynolds, guitarist for the holiday show who is also
producing White's upcoming CD.
“He came to me and said he wanted me to play piano on
one of her songs,” Culbertson said. “OK, well let
me hear it. A lot of times you hear new artists and it's like,
this is nice. But this one was like wow, this is really good.
So I thought it might be cool to bring out a whole new face for
our audience for something different.”
Although White should fit seamlessly into the tour that begins
Nov. 23 in Indianapolis, Culbertson says it's preparation that
spells success for any package tour.
“I spend a lot of time working on the show's flow, what
song goes into the next and what we're going to talk about at
a particular moment. We've learned what works and what doesn't.
And, of course, we'll try new things and see if they work. They'll
no doubt be a point in the show where Santa hats make it to the
stage, and there be will lots of Christmas trees, wrapped presents
Culbertson put together a set list in early September so he
could get them to the band, which features Reynolds on guitar
and vocals, Chris Miskel on drums, Eddie Miller on keyboards
and vocals and Maurice Fitzgerald on bass.
“They have to nail it when we go into rehearsals in mid-November,” explained
Culbertson, “So when we start a week of rehearsals in L.A.
most of the prep is done beforehand. Of course, there are always
new things that happen that we don't plan for. That's the exciting
thing about music.”
As for the finished show itself, Culbertson says the format
is really a collaboration, with each artist on stage at the same
time for the majority of the show...
**The complete story can be found in the November edition
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