A Summary of the Christmas UCC


The day started out so well. At 10 am I had a rehearsal with Chris Garmon’s jazz band, which included a couple of his high school students. They are so talented! Dennis Renfroe, our Music Minister, helped us on trumpet. So after that, I finished up a couple of small decoration preps, and then Nathan Hardin, David Stack and I went out to lunch at a local diner. (Nathan and David are my sound guys.) After a really good breakfast for lunch, I headed back to the church to find James Vernon, one of my artists, hanging out. He’s 21 and an incredible guitarist. We talked and laughed and jammed a bit for a couple of hours while we waited for everyone to arrive, and then the craziness began.

One of my youth brass players was sick. Nicole Rodriguez was 45 minutes late (but I LOVE YOU NICOLE!!!!)…and I became a little stressed. However, the youth rehearsed just fine, and onward rehearsals went throughout the afternoon. No frustrations!

At 7 pm, I wasn’t sure how many people we would have. We set up for about 90, but I kinda anticipated only half that since it was 5 days prior to Christmas. However, within 15 minutes almost all the seats were filled.

The youth band started with Carol of the Bells (an arrangement created using handbells, brass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, and vocalists). They nailed it! I conducted, much to my dismay. I abhore conducting…it is my weakest musical point. Despite my faulty waving, they were tremendous. Then the youth peformed something I “wrote”. I turned Jingle Bell Rock into a rap. Yes, a rap. There was a little bit of singing, but I wrote a guitar part and everything to go behind it…and it was AMAZING. The girls rapped it: Morgan and Nicole. They were so into it! Awesome.

Then Nicole and Joe did “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”…and it was so cute! Unfortunately the headset mics were a bit schizo, but they kept singing and dancing and acting as though there was no funky buzz in the background. After this, DCR, a combination of Dennis Renfroe (music minister), Maribeth Jennings (pianist/pastor’s wife) and ANAZAO (my brother’s band) did a couple of songs. They sounded fantastic!.

Next the Bethany trio and I did our set. We started out with O Holy Night. Then Bethany sang Mary, Sweet Mary that I accompanied them with on piano. After this Bethany stepped aside and I gave an intro:

“So if you are like me, you don’t pull out EVERY Christmas decoration each year…you pick and choose. Well, for a few years recently there is one decoration that I keep packed away. I’m kinda in mourning over it…so I decided to write a song about it. (cues jingle bellers to shake jingle bells) This song is called ‘Misletoe’.”

And I remembered all the chords (praise GOD!) and it was so fun! I got quite a few laughs. Then Bethany and I set up our mic stands and cued the CD track….and we sang the Point of Grace jazzed version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” complete with 40’s/50’s style garb, Charleston, and box step moves. 4 part harmony throughout the song. It was a booger to learn. As we sang, Santa Claus came through the back door, all cherry and merry, passing out candy canes to children. The kids squealed (LOUDLY) when they saw him, and flocked to his fuzzy side. It was a site to behold. Seriously…amazing.

Then James Vernon’s band CARICATURE set up and did several really great songs. Impressive! One dude was dressed as a monk. Earlier in the evening, he was out in the parking lot twirling around in the rain. (Just picture that…it’s funny.) Becca (from Bethany) did not know who he was and kinda got spooked. He’s a history teacher that has a bunch of outfits he uses to spice up lessons…and music gigs. I love it.

Finally, Chris Garmon’s Band (including me) stepped up to plate to complete the evening’s joy. We played about 6 jazzy Christmas numbers…including “Christmas Time is Here” and “O Tannenbaum” from A Charlie Brown Christmas. When I started playing “Christmas Time is Here” everyone started clapping…I love the song too. Glad we did it. 🙂 At the end, we threw together “I Pray on Christmas” Harry Connick, Jr style, in which Chris sang, I sang, and Bethany also sang along. That song was awful to learn on piano..it’s as crazy as it gets. However, God must have been playing for me. It was SO fun!!!!!

We ended the night with Bethany and I doing an encore of “Santa Claus is comin’ to Town.”

It was incredible. We made over and above our goal, so we can purchase everythign on our “Christmas Wish List” (goat, chickens, seed, wheelbarrel, tools), and everyone kept saying how much fun it was. I was so encouraged. Oh…and we had to add chairs and tables…by the middle of the evening it was standing room only!!!!!

I don’t think I could ever top that event…but they say they get better and better, so hopefully i can keep organizing something glorifying to God and enjoyable for the community. Praise Him! There’s no way any of this would have been accomplished without His hand.

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