Copyright Michelle Durham
Pam Tillis has never had a Christmas CD until 2005. With her starring role in the Gaylord annual dinner show performance approaching, she rushed into the studio to complete the project "Just In Time For Christmas". Tillis and her seven-piece band have set up residence in the Gaylord Opryland Hotel from now through Christmas Day.
The ballroom is decorated with several dozen lit trees, large hanging ornaments, as well as two large video screens for projecting even more decorations. The stage is complete with it's own living room style setting complete with a fireplace and yet another tree. Dinner is served in a home-style setting where you and others at your table pass bowls of food so you're able to get more of what you prefer. Should you arrive with a group, of course you can expect to be with those that you already know, but it will be a chance for those in smaller numbers to meet some new friends.
Arriving on stage in a sparkling winter white ensemble, she looked stunning and got right down to the business at hand with "Walking In A Winter Wonderland". Thankfully, Tillis is never short on stories regarding her famous father, Mel Tillis. She utilizes his fondness for lights for an introduction to "Mr. Christmas". We first thought the large screens in the ballroom would be for Tillis' image to be projected for those in the back section of the room. It was for Tillis' image, but a different Tillis. Mel makes a special visit and duet via Elf Cam.
During the intro of the "Jingle Bell Rock", as well as during Pam's portion, her father is dancing on the screen and genuinely having a little party of his own. Mel chimes in with "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" and as each sing their own portions, eventually they meld into one perfectly. It's always nice to see the two of them together even if one is only present via video.
Tillis takes a short, and I do mean short, break for a wardrobe change about the mid-point of the show and emerged in a completely different outfit, right down to the boots! With a long red dress, black fur and knee-high black boots I was surprised that she was able to change quite that quickly. It may be longer than one realizes because the band performs a Christmas instrumental during that time.
Throughout the night, Tillis has little interruptions in the way of an elf, named Max, sent by Santa. He even prompts Tillis to change her ways for "Jingle Bells" and she shows a side that I've never seen before. Sorry Ben, but your Mom was rapping on stage here in Nashville. As whimsical as that moment was, Tillis turns it right around to serious when she pulls out a new song written by Tony Arata (best known for Garth Brooks' "The Dance") called "Something For My Brother". At that moment, you could've heard a pin drop in the room.
I recall first meeting Tillis in the early nineties when she was the opening act for Brooks & Dunn and Vern Gosdin. She approached with open arms, and that is the way she's remained. Given that, I was surprised that she didn't make her way through the audience. Logistically, she may not have been able to.
Tillis does greet fans in the lobby following the performance. Her road merchandise, as well as that new Christmas project, are available at the show as well. The disappointment…Christie Cookies is sponsoring the show, but none were on the table during the dessert portion of the dinner! Never fear a vendor isn't far away. A walk down to the Delta will satisfy your craving. Unless of course you're too full, as we were, after that huge meal! You won't find a better deal in town!
Pam Tillis Band:
· Weston Mays - Piano
· Tim Lusby - Steel Guitar, Dobro
· Darin Favorite - Guitar
· Kent Slucher - Drums
· David Spicher - Bass
· Mary Sue England - Fiddle, Guitar, Vocals
· Bethany Dick - Fiddle, Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals
Set List (11.22.05):
· Walking In A Winter Wonderland
· Christmas Time's A Comin'
· Magazine Angels
· Mr. Christmas
· Duet with Mel Tillis: Jingle Bell Rock (Pam) / Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree (Mel)
· Maybe It Was Memphis
· Hits Medley
· Don't Tell Me What To Do
· Queen of Denial
· Shake The Sugar Tree
· Mi Vida Loca
· Instrumental: Deck The Halls (wardrobe change)
· Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
· Beautiful Life
· Jingle Bells
· Something For My Brother
· Christmas Medley
· Do You Hear What I Hear?
· Hark The Herald Angels Sing
· Come All Ye Faithful
· Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Article Written & Submitted by Michelle Durham