Share this story
A Louisiana musician will jazz up the Civic Centre on Monday as the second show in the 2012-13 Nicola Valley Community Arts Council’s concert series.
John Lee Sanders will bring his signature blend of blues, gospel, and jazz to the Centre for a cabaret-style Christmas-themed show.
Sanders, who’s toured with various musical greats over the years, including Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, and Chuck Berry, said the show will include a mixture of Christmas classics and original songs.
“We’re doing a lot of Christmas standards, familiar stuff, like ‘Silent Night,’” Sanders said over the phone from a family reunion in Jackson, Miss. “I’ve got one called Christmas with the King and it’s about a fantasy, imaginary meeting with Elvis Presley on Christmas Eve. A homeless is guy hitching across the south, a black limo picks him up, and he goes through the gates and realizes: this is Graceland. It’s a little mini-movie of a song.”
Sanders’ music is reflective of the places he spent his formative years. His style encompasses the Cajun-tinged gospel of Louisiana, the bluesy rock and roll of the Mississippi Delta, and the twang of Texas. Sanders went on to study music at the University of North Texas, but he attributes his success as a working musician more to instinct than to formal training.
“I got a degree in composition from a major university and all that kind of stuff, but I don’t think about the notes when I’m playing,” Sanders said. “I just think about the heart and soul.”
He also spent four years playing head organ in a Californian church.
“When I play gospel, it’s pretty authentic, coming from that place,” he said.
Sanders’ Merritt stop marks the halfway point on his five-city Gospel Blues Christmas tour that starts in Port Coquitlam on tomorrow (Friday) and ends on Dec. 20 in his current hometown, Vancouver.
His connections to Merritt go back to his father-in-law who settled in the Nicola Valley from Austria. Nicola Valley Community Arts Council member Kurt Christopherson said the group knew it wanted to host Sanders in the concert series when the good reviews poured in after his show at the 2012 Great Canadian Bike Rally.
“We try to get a fair variety into our concerts, and he plays New Orleans jazz, country and western, a blend of things,” Christopherson said. “He’s got quite a history, a New Orleans guy who moved up to here. We’re looking forward to a really good evening of music, with lots of toe-tapping.”
Sanders will play the show with a full band, including Vancouver-based jazz singer Sibel Thrasher and Nova Scotian multi-instrumentalist Gary Comeau.
“I come from Louisiana, and I wanted to add a bit of that flavour to the show. [Comeau] adds that whole country-Cajun part to the show,” Sanders said.
The show is cabaret-style with tables of eight set up to improve sight-lines and eliminate the rush seating. Tickets are $25 at Black’s Pharmacy, Baillie House, and at the Civic Centre doors. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.