Salyers' annual holiday concert set
ASHLAND -- This time of year you could just call him Stephen "Santa" Salyers.
And like the big man himself, the curly-locked Nashville singer/songwriter is getting by with a little Christmasing help from his friends, like the not-so-elfish linebacker-built fellow country singer, James Otto, who stands about 6-foot-5.
Armed with Otto, and his slew of cool radio hits like "Groovy Little Summer Song," "Just Got Started Loving You" and "No Hurry," a tune he co-wrote with Zac Brown, Salyers and friends are celebrating the 10th annual Stephen Salyers Charities Foundation Sounds of Christmas concert and dinner Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Bellefonte Country Club in Ashland.
Through the years the Foundation has awarded more than $250,000 to such Tri-State-based charities as Ebenezer Medical Outreach, For Jamie's Sake, Toys for Tots, CASA, Ronald-McDonald House, Russell Shop-With-A-Cop, The Ironton City Mission, the Huntington City Mission, The Daily Independent's Newspaper In Education, The Golden Girls and many more.
Admission to the charity event, which includes a sit-down gourmet dinner, a silent auction (including a signed Chad Pennington jersey) and live entertainment is $75.
The event begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception, silent auction, seated meal and music by Salyers and Otto.
Special guests for the event include: "The Voice" of the Cincinnati Reds, Marty Brennaman and his wife Amanda. Brennaman has been the voice of the Reds since 1974.
Salyers, who was in the Tri-State last weekend for the Jingle Bell Ball and the Sounds of Christmas 5K run, said the event, co-chaired by Chris and Amy Fannin, of Fannin Automotive, is going to get rocked by two-time Grammy nominated, CMA and ACM winner, James Otto. Otto played the Lawrence County Fair in 2008 and headlined the Dawg Dazzle July 4th fireworks show in 2010.
Salyers and Otto played The Code Blue Season Kick-Off Pep Rally back in September for the Tennessee Titans (Nashville's NFL team) and not too long after that Salyers asked Otto if he'd consider coming up to help the Tri-State.
"James and I did the pep rally, and he was showing me the pics of his little baby girl and he's so proud of her and that was part of the reason I thought he would like to be involved," Salyers said. "Whoever comes up I want to make sure they have a heart for kids because that is what it is all about."
Salyers, who has already previewed the Sounds of Christmas show in Nashville, said that thanks to the hard work of the Foundation board and such long-time board members as Gaylord Keen, who sifts through the many requests, they've been able to help lots of nonprofits in the Tri-State.
"It's been over a quarter of a million dollars that the Foundation has been able to give out through Sounds of Christmas, the CMA Festival, the Musicians on Call and the collective of events," Salyers said. "It becomes a frustrating business but the fact that we've been able to raise that kind of money without being national is rewarding. I'm not afraid to pick up the phone and ask and just say 'can you give me a guitar?' So many people are only a phone call away."
The event started out with the board members bringing pot-luck dishes and the concert taking place in the Paramount Arts Center annex with a $10 cover and a small auction.
Salyers said as part of the 10th anniversary they are giving away The Honorary Troubadour Recipient Award to Kathy Setterman, long-time executive director of the Paramount for her outstanding support to the children of the Tri-State and support of the Foundation.
"She has done so much from helping save the Paramount to all of the Education programs at the Paramount to the Festival of Trees," Salyers said. "When you think of Christmas in Ashland you think of the Paramount."
Salyers has had a great year in 2012, including getting to produce his first music video, "On the Outskirts of Town," for Vince Gill and his 11-member super swing group The Time Jumpers who were just nominated for two Grammys including one for Best Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group - Country for "On The Outskirts Of Town."
He said he's super excited to get to again bring in another national Nashville act to play the show.
Salyers said that trend began when two of his good buddies in Music City, Joshua Scott Jones and Meghan Linsey joined him for the 7th Annual "Sounds of Christmas" benefit concert. That was in 2009 right on the heels of the couple winning the CMT "So You Can Duet," and signing with Big Machine Records, the power house label in Nashville.
"It happened because I have two friends that are Steel Magnolia and they sort of started the monster, " Salyers said of getting a national act for the show. "Once you do it once then people expect you are going to have a national coming in with you. It's something we didn't start out doing but it has added a nice touch."
Not unlike people from here, back home, Salyers said the people along the Cumberland River are too always willing to give of time to help others.
"The nice thing about Nashville is that a lot of times an artist can't pull out a checkbook and give you $10,000 but they are always willing to show up if it works with their schedule," he said. "Down here there are benefits every day and they are everywhere and they're used to people calling them up and saying, 'hey dude can you come over and play a few songs.'"
Salyers, who has put on hordes of charity events in Nashville, said he's had many wonderful moments when he has reached out to help others.
This St. Patrick's Day Larry Stewart, of the band Restless Heart, called and said he heard Salyers needed help with a show and came over to play, getting Salyers to sing with him on the Restless Heart hit, "The Bluest Eyes in Texas."
"That's the kind of generosity that comes around in Nashville, and that is a lot of why I have such faith in the Foundation," Salyers said. "It is a fickle business and this is the greatest thing about being in it."
More sounds of Christmas
Joy to the World with Bob Thompson: Mountain Stage band member and renowned solo jazz pianist Bob Thompson hosts his annual Joy to the World concert at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Clay Center. Cost: $25 plus service charge, $30 day of show if available. Tickets, visit www.wvpubcast.org or www.mountainstage.org, or by calling 800-594-8499.
Huntington Symphony Orchestra: The Huntington Symphony Orchestra's Christmas concert featuring the legendary vocal group, The Lettermen at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) Saturday, Dec. 15. Tickets are $25 for second level reserved, $37.50 for first level reserved and $520 for VIP tables seating 10. Go online: www.huntingtonsymphony.org, or www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000 or the HSO office at 304-781-8343.
Christmas with John Berry: National act country singer John Berry at the Paramount Arts Center, 1300 Winchester Ave., Ashland, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. Tickets are $30 to $45. Call 606-324-3175.
Holiday Cabaret: The Thundertones present a Holiday Cabaret, a buffet-style dinner and holiday music by the chorus, three local quartets and several other musicians. There will also be an appearance by "Bobnak the Magnificent" and a "dramatic" recitation of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Fellowship Baptist Church 3661 Rt. 60 E. in Barboursville. Tickets are $20 and may be reserved or purchased by calling 304-302-NOTE.
Tri-State Youth Orchestra's Annual Christmas Concert: Set for 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Renaissance Ballroom, 900 8th St., Huntington. Cost is $5 or free for children ages 12 and under. For more information, call Ron Caviani at 304-743-7425 or email email@example.com.
Holiday Music at the Library: The Boyd County Public Library will celebrate the holiday season with a series of free musical performances. The series runs Monday, Dec. 17 through Saturday, Dec. 22, at the Main Branch, 1740 Central Ave., Ashland. Most performances are at noon or 6 p.m. Each lasts 30-45 minutes. Cookies and drinks will be served. For more information, or if you would like to perform, call Amanda Clark at 606-329-0518, extension 1140. For more about the BCPL, go online at www.thebookplace.org.