“The music we take dead seriously, but we don’t take ourselves that seriously, we have a lot of fun,” said Matthew Nelson describing the Christmas with the Nelsons shows he will be performing in eight cities across America with his brother Gunnar.
Recently I sat down with Matthew to discuss the upcoming tour and new NELSON Christmas single, featuring Carnie and Wendy Wilson. (And by sat down with, I mean I sat down in my living room in Los Angeles and he sat down in his living room in Nashville and we had a lovely conversation on the phone.)
We talked about living in Nashville vs. living in Los Angeles (Nashville: full of world class musicians and a great place to raise your family. LA: The awesome food and weather not worth the traffic and hustle-and-bustle-affected lifestyle.), the dreaded “B” word – branding (it sucks, but you’ve got to do it), and mostly Christmas.
Last year Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, along with a singer-songwriter named Alyssa Bonagura co-wrote and recorded This Christmas, an original song to include on the Nelson brother’s album of Christmas standards sharing the same name.
A second Christmas album, This Christmas Too will be coming out December 9th and they’ve re-recorded the title track with Carnie and Wendy Wilson.
“The first recording was great, it was our first hit song in twenty years, but we have been wanting to do something with the Wilson sisters for a long time and this just made sense. It is literally like the new The Mamas and The Papas. The blend is unbelievable and we had so much fun,” Matthew said, talking excitedly about re-recording last year’s hit holiday song.
In fact the two sibling groups had so much fun working together they are already talking about future projects. “We all kind of grew up as kids of the 70’s and we’re talking about possibly taking some of that music like (Dan Fogelberg’s) Leader of the Band and (The Doobie Brothers’) Listen to the Music and putting a new spin on it.”
I told him I hoped that would happen. “Oh, it will happen,” he assured me.
When I asked him how the Christmas shows came about he said, “It came together very organically. About three years ago, somebody called us up and said, ‘Hey we’re from a tiny place in Nebraska called Red Cloud and an author named Willa Cather was from here. That’s what we’re famous for. She left money behind for an opera house and we’d like you to come and do a Christmas show.’
“And I said, ‘What do you mean, you want us to come and do one of our normal shows?’ and he said, ‘No, I’m talking only Christmas music.’
“And Gunnar and I got together and we thought about it because we love Christmas, we always have. It’s been our favorite time of year for forever. Our dad too. No matter what he was doing he came off the road to celebrate Christmas together.”
Taking what they learned from their popular Ricky Nelson Remembered tour, a unique multi media entertainment event featuring the live music of their late father Ricky Nelson’s hit songs, they put together a live music and video program that tells the story of three eras of Nelson family Christmases, starting with Ozzie and Harriet’s era, through their dad’s era in the 70’s as a country rocker and bringing through to Christmas with their families today.
“We always say, our show at best is a combination between the Everly brothers and the Smothers brothers. The usual Christmas shows people put on have two or three Christmas songs thrown in. We flip it. We do all Christmas music except for one segment with Hello Mary Lou-Travelin’ Man-Garden Party in a medley with one or two of ours, but that takes maybe 10 minutes in a show that goes two to two-and-a-half hours. This year we’re touring with a violinist/fiddle player named Molly Cherryholmes who’s Grammy nominated 5 times for her bluegrass band. She’s only twenty-four and is like a freak of nature, as far as musicians are concerned,” Matthew said describing the show.
So if you’re looking for something a little different to do with the family this Christmas (or on a date night) check out their tour schedule below. (Don’t worry, I won’t tell your husband that Matthew and Gunnar were your secret 90’s crush.) And don’t forget to add This Christmas and This Christmas Too (available on pre-order) to your Christmas music library.
Nov 28 Modesto, CA Tickets
Dec 04 Lakeland, FL Tickets
Dec 06 Milwaukee, WI Tickets (two shows)
Dec 07 Milwaukee, WI Tickets (two shows)
Dec 08 Milwaukee, WI Tickets (two shows)
Dec 09 Milwaukee, WI Tickets (two shows)
Dec 10 Larchwood, IA Tickets
Dec 11 Davenport, IA Tickets
Dec 12 Mount Pleasant, TX Tickets
Dec 16 Goodyear, AZ Tickets (two shows)
Dec 17 Tiffin, OH Tickets