Sultans of the Season

Sultans of Strings

Written by Joe Taylor

December 29, 2023

It’s the Christmas season and seeing a Christmas concert seemed in order to put me in the mood. This year I chose to see the Sultans of Strings who obviously will be playing songs from their 2017 CD Christmas Caravan. This year the concert was held in the beautiful Kingston Road United Church at 975 Kingston Rd. Walking into this beautiful institution, I noticed the happy sold out crowd finding their seats as The Minister and his wife introduced the program. They also added a bonus for the audience to view and buy artwork that was made from the old roof tiles from the church’s roof. The proceeds go to the artist as well as rebuilding a new roof for the church.

The concert started off on the right foot for me when I heard the opening notes to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Before I dig into the set list , The band and the special guests who came from all over deserve a mention. We had our joyous leader, Chris McKhool on Violin,

Kevin Laliberte on a very cool see through Guitar

Drew Birston on Bass and Backbone. His style held everyone together.

Rebecca Cambell whose vocals kept the spirit alive

Amanda Martinez who added a bit of spice to her vocals

Shannon Thunderbird, the Matriarch who brought the Aboriginal spirit to the entire room

Kristine St-Pierre whose gentle energy kept the peaceful feeling flowing

Alberto Suarez who kept the percussion savoury because it came from a Cuban destination

Ken Whiteley gave us a rich experience with the different stringed instruments he played

The overall experience of the program was the making of a very fine variety show. The set list was diverse enough to please everyone in the audience. There was a medley of classic Christmas songs that most people would recognize. There was an aboriginal moment of spiritual poetry to help us reflect. They played some original material we never heard before from their Christmas Caravan CD.

There were moments of laughter that made Dad jokes sound funny. I dare not repeat their tinsel joke. I really enjoyed moments like when Chris ,the joyous leader ,came out into the audience to rev up a solo and give the audience the Wow factor.  I also enjoyed the songs were we as an audience had to participate and sing along, to add the true holiday experience of feeling connected again.  There was a very elaborate song that we memorized quite quickly and we all sang about each month of the year.

Chris was a very good host because each member of his band had the opportunity to shine and do what they do best in front of all of us. He was gracious with his introductions and the stories behind each member as they had their moment in the spotlight.

As the evening was coming in for a conclusion, they did the classic Jingle bells, but I found the vocal done in almost an Andrew Styles version. If you don’t know who the Andrew Sister are, they were a vocal group back in the days of WW2 and they  charmed the troops with their unique style of harmonies. They finished the evening with one of my all time favourite songs, and if you are my age, you may love this song too. It was Happy X-Mas(War is Over) by John Lennon.

Chris also made time in between set and after the show to speak with audience member and share his music on a more personal level. If you missed out on this performance this year, make note of it, because I have a feeling you may get another chance to participate next year.

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