To provide his fans a fun escape from the hectic pace of the holiday season, pianist and pop songwriter Jim Brickman is embarking on his “A Christmas Celebration” tour. Named after his recent Christmas album of the same name, the tour kicks off with a performance at the Lobero Theatre on November 29, which will feature Mr. Brickman’s renditions of holiday standards as well as original Christmas songs he has written throughout his 25-year recording career. As Santa Barbara is a relatively rare touring destination for the pianist, he’s looking forward to kicking off his latest round of shows here.
“We don’t play there that often, so it’s nice to be coming back,” he told the News-Press.
At the Lobero, the pianist and singer will be joined by musicians from the Santa Barbara Symphony as well as guest singer John Trones, who appears on the track “Sending You A Little Christmas” from Mr. Brickman’s new album.
Released this year, “A Christmas Celebration” is the latest of many Christmas albums Mr. Brickman has recorded throughout his career. In the 2010s alone, he has released the holiday records “All is Calm: Peaceful Christmas Hymns” in 2011, “The Magic of Christmas” in 2013, and “Comfort & Joy: The Sweet Sounds of Christmas” in 2015, and “A Joyful Christmas” in 2017. While his Christmas albums do contain the traditional standards, sometimes repeated album to album with different musical takes, Mr. Brickman keeps his track listings fresh by including original songs. Of the self-penned tunes on “A Christmas Celebration,” his favorite is “Christmas Where You Are,” a tribute to the men and women serving in the armed forces.
“It’s saying ‘thank you’ for the gifts they give us,” Mr. Brickman said.
Describing the “A Christmas Celebration” album as “a good representation of the tour” striking a balance between Christmas standards and hits, Mr. Brickman said the album’s re-recording of his hit song “The Gift” will be performed at the Lobero. Whereas the original recording features Mr. Brickman on piano and a duet vocal between Collin Raye and Susan Ashton, the new album’s version features Mr. Brickman on vocals.
Because so many artists record traditional Christmas songs, Mr. Brickman sets out to make his versions different from the majority. Primarily a pianist, his instrumental renditions of old classics that people are used to hearing sung automatically differentiate them. Citing the instrumental version of “Feliz Navidad” on “A Christmas Celebration,” Mr. Brickman told the News-Press its piano-based arrangement invites less comparison with the original recording.
“If I did a vocal version, I’d get compared to Jose Feliciano, which is the definitive version,” he said.
When it comes to writing his own Christmas numbers, Mr. Brickman maintains the theme that runs throughout most of his non-holiday music, romance. He finds that this keeps him from avoiding lyrical clichés as it drives him to keep his writing focused on people and their relationships rather than on the scenery often associated with Christmas.
“The environment these people are in is Christmas, but it’s not about Christmas,” he said.Tickets for Jim Brickman’s November 29 concert can be purchased online at www.lobero.org. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre, located at 33 E. Canon Perdido St.