2019 Concert Show
First Time in the Gould Theater
Katie Dahl, Rich Higdon
& Eric Lewis
Between Christmas and New Years
9058 County Road A,
Fish Creek, WI
Celebrating the season, Home for the Holidays will have six performances between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Reunite with Northern Sky favorites Eric Lewis, Katie Dahl, and Rich Higdon for an uplifting evening of intimate seasonal songs, dazzling instrumental fireworks, and delightful holiday humor. These three musicians, each well known in Door County in their own right, also appear frequently together as a trio, most recently releasing “Solid Ground,” an album of songs written by Northern Sky co-founder Fred Alley. Eric, Katie, and Rich’s musical prowess, ease with one another, and love of holidaymusic will all be on full display at this year’s “Home for the Holidays.”
Running time: One hour (approximately)
“It all started as a opportunity to extend that holiday feeling beyond Christmas morning,” said Holly Feldman, Director of Public Relations, of the beginnings of Home for the Holidays. “So many people talk about the ‘let down’ that follows shortly after the ‘build up’ to the holiday season. Our Home for the Holidays concert has been very popular with folks who cherish the season of giving and don’t want to see it end on December 25th.”
Early evening performances of Home for the Holidays are scheduled for 4pm on December 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st plus 7pm on December 27th & 28th. Tickets are $29 for adults and $14 for students age 17 and under. Advance tickets are available by calling (920) 854-6117, online, or by stopping in the Northern Sky office, which is located at 9058 County Road A in Fish Creek. All seats are Reserved. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the Gould Theater beginning 60 minutes before each performance. As a special holiday treat, each show will also feature a drawing for gift certificates from local businesses.
“The concert is distinctive for how it touches familiar chords and yet explores the new and off-the-beaten track. Imagine buying a new pair of shoes that feel just right right away…There, you’ve got it.” – Warren Gerds, Critic at Large
One of Door County’s favorite musicians, Eric Lewis, is thrilled to be back on the stage with his Northern Sky family for the holiday season. He has been named “Best Male Musician” by Door County Magazine and received the Premier Player Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Memphis chapter). Eric has opened for Travis Tritt and Chuck Berry, and performed coast to coast with Jason Petty, Robin and Linda Williams (of Prairie Home Companion) and many others.
Singer-songwriter Katie Dahl has performed her original songs everywhere from the dusty cliffs of Mali, to the winding canals of southern France, to the cedar forests of the American northwoods. A year-round resident of Door County, Katie tours regularly and has earned accolades nationwide for the depth and power of her alto voice, the literate candor of her songs, and the easy humor of her live performances. In October, Katie’s song “Worry My Friend” hit #5 on the folk radio charts. Her musical “Victory Farm” (co-written with Emilie Coulson and James Valcq) premiered at Northern Sky in 2012; she is currently at work on two other musicals. Karen Impola of Iowa Public Radio says, “Katie Dahl’s music combines a love for her rural midwestern roots, a droll wit, and a clear-eyed appraisal of modern life, all served up in a voice as rich as cream.” Katie’s latest album, “Wildwood” (September 2019) was recorded in Nashville and features Birds of Chicago’s JT Nero (producer) and Allison Russell (harmony vocals).
Rich Higdon is a multi-instrumentalist who has shared the stage with his wife, Katie Dahl, all across the country, playing string bass, washboard, spoons, jug, and ukulele. As an actor, Rich worked extensively with Paul Sills, pioneer of story theatre. Rich is also a founding member of The Water Street Hot Shots, who were finalists in the 2010 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. The Old-Time Herald writes that “The Hot Shots are a talented bunch of fellows who bring a depth of musicality to the proceedings.”
2019 - Katie Dahl, Rich Higdon & Eric Lewis
2018 - Jeff Herbst, Ryan Cappleman & Tom Donoghue
2017 - Eric Lewis, Katie Dahl & Rich Higdon
2016 - Eric Lewis, Doc Heide & Holly Feldman
2015 - Doc Heide, Amy Chaffee & Craig Konowalski
2014 - Molly Rhode & Chase Stoeger, Katie Dahl & Rich Higdon
2013 - The Rhode Sisters
2012 - Doc Heide, Claudia Russell & Chris Irwin
2011 - Katie Dahl, James Valcq & Karen Mal
2010 - Eric Lewis, Doc Heide & Holly Feldman
2009 - Eric Lewis & Doc Heide (guest Holly Feldman)
2008 - Eric Lewis & Chris Irwin
2007 & 2006 - Scott Wakefield & Claudia Russell
‘Home for the Holidays' again engaging in Fish Creek
Warren Gerds - December 28, 2017
FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) - In the final week of each year, Northern Sky Theater puts on a performance titled “Home for the Holidays” in Old Gibraltar Town Hall. The title and the place stay the same. The cast changes from year to year. Songs change from year to year. The overall tone of warmth and camaraderie stays the same. Performances tend to feel homey and relaxed.
And so it is with the 2017 edition of “Home for the Holidays,” which opened Wednesday to a sold-out house and will close Sunday, Dec. 31, to a sold-out house – and has lots of folks coming in between.
Performing in this show are three skilled and sensitized musicians who this year presented an album-release concert of songs by Northern Sky Theater co-founder Fred Alley – Katie Dahl, Eric Lewis and Rich Higdon. Two of Alley’s song are in this concert. One, “Solid Ground,” contains the line, “I’ll leave my song for you to carry on.” Prescient? It sure seems that way with this threesome.
The concert has a certain spirit.
It also pushes the envelope. One sequence Wednesday held the audience breathless because of this: Eric Lewis is a string instrument whiz. He is playing mandolin. Also playing mandolins are Rich Higdon and Katie Dahl – though the instrument for them is a second or third language. Higdon and Dahl are trying to keep up with Eric Lewis’ lead on tunes everybody knows, starting with “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Little plinks in dinks pop up in their playing as Eric Lewis steams on, but a chorus emerges… the playing is intent (as in firm resolve)… the listening is intense… and the effort and result become golden/wonderful.
Katie Dahl, guitar, mandolin, vocals; Rich Higdon, bass, ukulele, percussion, mandolin, vocals; Eric Lewis, guitars, mandolin, vocals
“Listen to the Angels” – Katie Dahl
“There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” – Eric Lewis
“Angel Dream” – Eric Lewis
“Lombardi Avenue” (Katie Dahl) – Katie Dahl
“Jingle Bells” – Eric Lewis, mandolin, Rich Higdon, spoons
“Solid Ground” (Fred Alley) – Eric Lewis, Katie Dahl
“Christmas in the Trenches” (John McCutcheon) – Katie Dahl
“O Little Town of Bethlehem”/“Ode to Joy”/“Angels We Have Heard on High” – mandolin trio: Eric Lewis, Katie Dahl, Rich Higdon
“Don’t Go Down to Aurora” (Fred Alley) – Katie Dahl
Guitar solo (Eric Lewis) – Eric Lewis
“It Wasn’t His Child” (Skip Ewing) – Eric Lewis
“How’d You Like to Spend Christmas on Christmas Island” – Rich Higdon, ukulele, vocals, Eric Lewis, guitar
“Here Comes Santa Claus” – Katie Dahl; Eric Lewis, mandolin
“In the Dark” (Katie Dahl) – Katie Dahl
“Where is the Light”/“This Little Light of Mine” – Katie Dahl, Rich Higdon, Eric Lewis
‘Home for the Holidays' sifts, winnows
Warren Gerds - December 28, 2016
FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – Doc Heide is an inquisitive sort. He got to wondering how far the Three Wise Men of The Christmas Story traveled. Some scholars say Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar – “sounds like a Palestinian law firm,” Heide says – started in Persia. Some say they started in Yemen. To travel to Bethlehem, they would have traveled either 1,700 or 1,300 miles, respectively. Either way, by camel, “it was a really big deal,” Heide says. Their directions weren’t exactly pinpoint: Under a bright star.
This is part of the lead-in to “Follow That Star,” a song Heide wrote for Northern Sky Theater’s 2016 edition of “Home for the Holidays,” a five-performance concert running through Saturday, Dec. 31, in Old Gibraltar Town Hall.
Doc Heide being a creative sort, “Follow That Star” is not a toss-off ditty. Its words explore the perspective of the Three Wise Men. The music involves Heide in lead with colorings all the way through by colleague Holly Feldman, and at the very end added touches by Eric Lewis; to Heide’s guitar lead, Lewis comes in on mandolin to complete a musical illustration of care and reverence.
The stamp of Northern Sky Theater means something, and the first performance of “Home for the Holidays” attracted a sold-out house. The concert is distinctive for how it touches familiar chords and yet explores the new and off-the-beaten track. Imagine buying a new pair of shoes that feel just right right away…There, you’ve got it.
The concert comes with doses of reverence and irreverence.
Reverence: Songs from old spirituals (“Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain”) to those of new and/or different perspectives, including Heide’s “Follow That Star” (tale of Wise Men) and “Stranger Keep on Walking” (of stable owner) and Lewis' offering of “It Wasn’t His Child” (of Joseph).
Irreverence: A tease of clashing family opinions at holiday gatherings set to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and a lampoon of our next U.S. president with “Tweeting in a Donald Trumperland” set to “Winter Wonderland.” Advice in the latter: “When speaking your mind, it’s best to be kind.”
The performers’ personalities come out. Feldman ranges from light-hearted in tunes with her first name somewhere in them to motherly concern in Katie Dahl’s “In the Dark.” Lewis is a musician whiz with a flair for fun, as in the catchy “I Love the Packers,” told from the perspective of a fan from Tennessee, as he. Heide is a font of creativity, as one would expect of a co-founder of Northern Sky Theater who in his real life in teaching/research deals with matters of the mind. Performing is but a playroom in his house.
The show comes with giveaway prizes. Audience members have to answer multiple-choice questions on the same premise: Which one of these was not a Northern Sky Theater show? The answers are so easy that even I could get them.
Performers: Holly Feldman, vocals, percussion; Doc Heide, vocals, guitars; Eric Lewis, vocals, mandolin, guitar
“Mary Did You Know?” – mandolin-guitar instrumental
“Wasn’t That a Pity and a Shame” – Doc Heide, Holly Feldman
“Run, Run Rudolph” – Eric Lewis
Bob Gibson/Joan Baez’ “Virgin Mary Had One Son” – Holly Feldman, Doc Heide
Doc Heide’s “Follow That Star” – Doc Heide, Holly Feldman
Eric Lewis’ “Off to Lambeau”/“Jimmy Ryan’s” – Eric Lewis mandolin instrumental
Songs with “Holly” in lyrics – Holly Feldman
“Home for the Holidays” – Eric Lewis
“Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head” – Doc Heide, Holly Feldman
Doc Heide’s “The Girl with Winter in Her Eye” – Doc Heide
Skip Ewing’s “It Wasn’t His Child” – Eric Lewis voice-guitar solo
“Winter Wonderland” a spark for parody – All
Katie Dahl’s “In the Dark” – Holly Feldman
Eric Lewis’ “I Love the Packers” – Eric Lewis, then audience
Doc Heide’s “Love Our Enemies” from “Packer Fans from Outer Space” – Doc Heide
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” as spark for parody - All
Doc Heide’s “Stranger Keep on Walking” – Doc Heide
“Go Tell It on the Mountain” – All
Encore; “This Little Light of Mine” – All
‘Home for the Holidays’ is living history
Warren Gerds - December 27, 2014
FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – Music and history and memories and holidays and musicality and marital bonds and a Door County aura are rolled into one in “Home for the Holidays,” a year-ending and era-ending concert running through New Year’s Eve at Old Gibraltar Town Hall.
“We are so proud to be the last show under the moniker of American Folklore Theatre,” performer Molly Rhode told the opening night audience Friday. Throughout the performance, Rhode said (often), “American Folklore Theatre (or AFT), soon to be Northern Sky Theater,” in keeping with the name change that “most sincerely” takes place Thursday, Jan. 1. (One of my article/columns on the change is at http://www.wearegreenbay.com/story/d/story/critic-at-large/35030/-9lniqtYoUi9jwL55ysg0w. The “most sincerely is lifted from the Coroner in “The Wizard of Oz.”)
In its simplest form, “Home for the Holidays” is a folk music-driven show. Performing are four people who are well versed in the genre – Katie Dahl and Rich Higdon (who are married – “To each other,” Dahl noted) and Molly Rhode and Chase Stoeger (who are married). Performing this music to them is akin to water pouring off a roof in a healthy rain – very natural and flowing. Along with vocals, the four tap into a bunch of instruments necessary for their excursion – washboard, upright bass (sometimes two at once), spoons, bells (as in jingle bells), guitars, ukuleles (sometimes four at once!), concertina, shaker/rhythm-sound-making thingie, harmonica, kazoos, mouth harp, mandolin and banjo. My only wish is that Dahl wouldn’t stand so close to her microphone because it masks her mouth and makes some of the lyrics of songs (some of which she wrote) less clear.
The first performance started hot from the performers and the crowd; the hall, set up for 99 seats, was full. It was as if the audience was hungry – a turn-on for entertainers.
The 2014 edition of “Home for the Holidays” is easy to savor. Songs and sections segue to tantalizing cross references. A prime example: “I May Not Be a Football Hero” starts as a slightly risqué tune by the guys that evolves into a four-ukulele ditty/homage to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Packers heroes (even Brett Favre) with Dahl singing of Rodgers, “he helps me R-E-L-A-X.”
The show includes references to the late, great Fred Alley, co-founder of American Folklore Theatre and writer and performer with a supreme tenor voice. His songs in the show illustrate his range from sensitivity to all-out, fired-up rhythmic imagination. To me, it is no accident that the show draws to a close with the performance of his gentle “Beneath the Northern Sky” (source of the troupe’s new Northern Sky Theater name) followed by “Auld Lang Syne.”
VENUE: Old Gibraltar Town Hall, built around 1880, is dominated by white on its exterior and interior. The building near the shore of Fish Creek Harbor in Fish Creek was restored as a project of Gibraltar Historical Association. Among its functions, the rectangular hall is a performance space, with a raised stage that includes an optional stage curtain. The space is historical for American Folklore Theatre as the site of its first fall production, “And If Elected” in 1992, and now as the site for its final production under the name of American Folklore Theatre as the organization officially becomes Northern Sky Theater on Jan. 1, 2015. The fiber board ceiling and wood walls are plain save for historical photos on the walls and wainscoting rimming the lower walls. The floor is of narrow wood strips. The space works quite well for folky performances.