One of the most famous names of our decades, thanks to ten years as host of the popular Entertainment Tonight magazine program, and a successful segue back into his first love, music, John Tesh is a highly talented, and highly tall musician.
On December 11 on the Eisenhower Hall stage at West Point, he shimmied and bopped, and ran about the theater, his blondish hair flying behind him. His remarkable energy and youthfulness contradicts his approaching 60th birthday.
Tesh’s Big Band Christmas show is celebrating just that: the big band sound that he was raised on, and the Christmas season. (Yes, folks, he said the “C” word). Joining Tesh was an orchestra that sounded bigger than it was—two guitarists and a drummer. Front and center was John and his piano. Though it was definitely John’s show, he wasn’t stingy with the limelight. Many times he went from player to player, holding the microphone so the individual instrument was more pronounced, and turning to the musicians, making jokes, creating a more ensemble production.
The tunes were traditional, like “Winter Wonderland,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town,” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” and the like. Nothing new, but he did throw in a few surprises, like the love song he wrote for his wife, actress Connie Sellecca, and another he wrote with James Ingram. Both were easy listening numbers and gave a nice pause to the holiday music, and let John’s songwriting talent take stage.
The show’s second half took a personal tone. John introduced his older sister, Bonnie, who was sitting in the orchestra. He praised her for being a great big sister, and told the audience that she had lost her husband recently, and then was diagnosed with lung cancer. He spoke about her strength, and then handed the microphone to her. With great confidence, she thanked God for her survival, and then thanked John for being a good brother. It was tender and real, and I believe it caught John off guard.
Another family member, brother Vinnie, has started a program to assist homeless vets. “The words homeless and vets should never be in the same sentence,” he said. He invited the audience to visit his website, Intelligent Kindness to find out more. It was heartfelt, and with the crowd ranging from the late 40’s up, the message was received with great support and enthusiasm.
It was nice to hear a favorite Christmas song, “Christmas Time is Here,” by Vince Guaraldi, made famous in the Charlie Brown classic, and a video of the cartoon played along with the tune. For his final number, John, still fresh-looking in his blue suit and burgundy tie (he hadn’t even unbuttoned the top button of his dress shirt), chose “We Wish You the Merriest of Merriest,” – another classic delivered fresh by a great performer. In closing, he thanked the audience for filling the theater, and in these difficult times, “for buying the ticket.” He really is a down-home guy and we left feeling very much in the holiday spirit.
For a video of John’s rehearsals of the concert, and more information about intelligentkindness.com, visit Tesh.com. Top photo, MJ Hanley-Goff with John Tesh.
Read MJ’s interview with Tesh on Hudson Valley Parent.
Upcoming shows at Eisenhower Hall – a state of the art performance space on the grounds of West Point, overlooking the Hudson—include The Color Purple, January 9, 2012, Women of Ireland, March 18, 2012, and The Cast of Beatlemania, March 26, 2012. For more information go to www.ikehall.com.