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Rock your x-mas Stocking off

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The Rock ‘n’ Roll Xmas Spectacular is hitting the John Chalberg stage at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Central Lakes College for the third year in a row.

The performance is part of the CLC Cultural Arts Series.

Patrick Spradlin, Cultural Arts Series producer, said “It’s become a bit of a mainstay for our holiday season as well.

“I first met Ted and Paul when they were here a few years back for the Billy Joel/Elton John tribute show they had put together. They mentioned the RRXS, and I thought I’d give it a try.”

Spradlin said audiences have come to love the annual Yuletide tradition of the Rock ‘n Roll Xmas Spectacular held in Brainerd.

“This show is incredibly fun, musically solid,” Spradlin said. “The fact they have sold out here for three years running tells you about all you need to know. They’re good!”

Front man and keyboardist Ted Manderfeld, “This is our seventh year producing RRXS. It always seemed like as soon as the radio stations started playing Christmas music, it was always the same arrangements of the same songs for a month straight.”

Collaborating with RRXS guitarist Paul “Stretch Rocker” Diethelm, the two saw the potential in marrying Christmas songs with great rock ‘n roll songs. The duo put together a team of musicians from St. Cloud and the Twin Cities to perform their unique arrangements.

“We do a show that has songs like a Led Zeppelin version of ‘Jingle Bells’ and a Jethro Tull version of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’,” said Manderfeld.

Over the years the show has evolved into a true spectacle, billed as a Las Vegas caliber, multi-media, full production show that mixes an eight-piece band with music, comedy, parodies and even a game show. RRXS has become a mainstay at the Pioneer Place in St. Cloud, selling out multiple shows each holiday season.

Besides Manderfeld and Diethelm, RRXS features vocalists Pamela McNeill, Stacy Bauer and Tim Haussner, and backed by bassist Mike Zeleny, saxophonist and flutist Mike Kreitzer, and drummer Billy Thommes. All members of the band have impressive credits. Manderfeld is half of Deuces Wild Dueling Pianos, which has performed all around the Midwest for more than 10 years. Diethelm toured the world playing with Jonny Lang, opening and playing with everyone from the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith to BB King and Sting. Pamela McNeill was a member of Rick Astley’s world tour in the 1980’s and has enjoyed a very successful solo career. Stacy Bauer has headed Janis Joplin’s band Big Brother and the Holding Company in a series of sold out shows.

Manderfeld wants audiences to know that this year’s version of RRXS is going to be different than past shows.

“If for any reason you have missed this show in the past, this is the year to come!” Manderfeld said. “The Rock ‘n Roll Xmas Spectacular is going to be bigger and better than ever.”

In a reference to Spinal Tap, Diethelm tells audiences “Get ready to crank your holiday spirit all the way to 11.”

Spradlin encourages people to get tickets soon to make sure they get a seat at the performance. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the CLC Theatre Box Office at 855-8199, or can be purchased online at

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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