By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
Don your favorite get-up Friday and head to the 15th annual Holiday Show with Melissa Reaves at The Local, where costumes are encouraged, good times are guaranteed and audiences can expect the unexpected. This year’s performance, a Juke Joint Christmas, promises to keep you on the dance floor with blues music from an impressive lineup of featured players.
Known across the country and in Europe for her spontaneity on stage and her unique approach to jazz, blues and rock and roll, this South Carolina native turned mountain girl brings an energy that’s all her own to the High Country. For the past 15 years, she’s also made it her mission to bring one heck of a holiday party to folks in the community.
“I wanted to do a show at the holidays where people could have a nice dinner, some wine and a nice evening,” said Reaves. “It started out being more jazz and formal, but it’s kind of grown into its own thing. We definitely raise a lot more hell at this point.”
The tradition began with Reaves on stage joined by a jazz trio at at Coffey’s. which occupied the same space on Howard Street as The Local at the time.
“It was one of the nicest places in Boone. It had a nice big area and it was just yearning for some music, in my opinion,” she said. “We did a nice little show and, for some reason, I decided to do it again the next year.”
As the annual show evolved, it played to locations including Louisiana Purchase in Banner Elk before finding its way back home to downtown Boone. For the past several years, it’s been held at Coffey’s successors on Howard Street, including Char and now The Local.
Over time, Reaves has been deliberate in bringing new and interesting twists to the performance, pulling in interesting combinations of artists and instrumentation for memorable concerts year after year.
“As the years have gone by, it has become apparent to me that there was a certain energy and excitement I have to match,” she explained. “I just keep trying to step it up. I had a funk band last year and a country band one year, which was really fun. One year I had a Cosmic Christmas, with star ship troopers and a Christmas queen from outer space. I always try to trump the year before, so it’s kind of getting tough to do that without some extreme antics.”
So, what’s her solution? Keep the antics coming, of course. There’s no telling what sort of excitement we’re in for at this year’s show, but Reaves tells us one thing is for sure — the Juke Joint Christmas concert will be one for the books.
“I’ve got some great blues musicians coming from upstate South Carolina. Two of the players tour all year long with and old blues man named Mac Arnold — harmonica player Max Hightower and guitar player Austin Brashier. I try to keep it real and bring in players who are keeping the genre of music alive, and these guys are certainly doing it,” said Reaves. “I am excited to bring them to Boone, quite frankly. They’re from Greenville, South Carolina, where I grew up and lived for the complete early part of my life until I moved away at 17 or 18. It’s really neat to have somebody from my other hometown coming to meet everybody and all of my friends here in the High Country.”
The lineup will also feature Chicago native and jazz guitarist Scott Sawyer and local bass player Brandon Holder, as well as BIG Tez Sherard, drummer for platinum artist Edwin McCain, and guest appearances from local folks like Dave Brewer.
“BIG Tez is such an animated drummer and an incredible spirit and presence on stage,” said Reaves. “He’s a really awesome guy, very musical, and just doesn’t approach it the same as other drummers. He is just fun to watch, and he can groove.”
It’s not unusual to find Reaves decked out elaborate costume at the holiday show, and this year will be no exception. In fact, she hopes to see more folks in the audience in costume than ever, too.
“I am ready for other people to dress up with me. More than ever, in the recent happenings in our country and continual craziness, we all need to let our freak flags fly. I would love it if other people would join me,” she said. “I know it’s going to be cold, but what the heck? I think people should just wear whatever makes them feel fun. Certainly it is the holidays, but it just seems like it is appropriate to dress up this year more than ever. Why let me have all the fun?”
Whatever you wear, come ready for fun and let the good times roll at The Local.
“Come and put your troubles aside for awhile. Be with your friends in fellowship,” said Reaves. “Oh, and you may want to bring your dancing shoes. It’s a good night for us to have fun, see each other and give everybody a hug.”
Go online for tickets ($13 in advance, $15 at the door). Call The Local on Howard Street at 828-266-2179 for more information or to reserve your seats. The show will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16.