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Tuesday, December 21,2010

'Backstage' Christmas

WKAR series includes holiday music from The Verve Pipe, Thom Jayne and more

by Chris Galford

WKAR
is ringing out the holiday season with its second edition of a “Backstage Pass
Christmas,” airing at 10 p.m. Thursday on channel 23 and online at the "Backstage Pass" website. This year's show offers a variety of music straight from the heart of
Michigan, including jazz, R&B, folk,
vocal and rock.


Some of the highlights include Michigan rock band The Verve Pipe, performing
“Merrily Caroling,” as well as eclectic musician Thom Jayne’s “Silent Night,”
and first-looks at artists such as The Delta Rhythm Kings, The Mickeys and Michigan
State University College of Music faculty, such as Melanie Helton and Rod
Nelman.


According
to Tim Zeko, the program’s executive producer, the performers recorded as far
back as spring. To assemble the show, WKAR then spent the next six months
whittling down a list of 120-130 bands down to the mere 10 that will appear in
this year’s show. But it’s no cake-walk for the artists, either.


“Some
artists say that’s the most difficult show they have to rehearse,” Zeko said.
“In some cases they haven’t played it for months, or are even running brand new
numbers — for Christmas. In spring.”


The
show has grown considerably since last year. Whereas the first year drew
largely on WKAR’s connections with the MSU College of Music and produced a
number of performances from students and teachers, this year WKAR has reached
out to groups from mid-Michigan and across the state, and musicians are
spreading the word.


“Our
only criteria: it’s Michigan made music,” Zeko said. “They must live here, play
music here.”


The new season of "Backstage Pass," consisting of 12 shows, begins at 10 p.m. Jan. 20.

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