Have a 'Rock & Roll Christmas' at CLC
"Rock & Roll Christmas" is an annual high-energy show of fun, laughter and terrific rock and roll music with a holiday theme.
What do Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Janis Joplin and Santa Claus have in common? They’re all part of the "Rock & Roll Christmas Show" coming to Brainerd.
For the 13th consecutive year, the holiday season will be raucously kicked off when the perennial favorite hits the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, in the Gichi-Ziibi Center for the Arts.
As part of the Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center’s Cultural Arts Series, it’s a show that series producer Patrick Spradlin calls “something you have to see to believe.”
"I think there’s a pent-up demand to see this show live and in all its glory."
— Patrick Spradlin
“When I was first approached about presenting this show, I was skeptical,” Spradlin said in a news release. “I mean, ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ played in the style of the surfer song ‘Wipeout’? I couldn’t imagine it.”
Skepticism was quickly replaced by awe, according to Spradlin, when he saw the show at the Pioneer Place in St. Cloud.
“I’d never been to a show where two things that were so familiar to me — Christmas songs and the stylings of particular rock bands — were blended to create something so incredible,” Spradlin said. “I was sold after the third song.”
The show’s creators convinced Spradlin to give the show a try in Brainerd, with immediate success.
“It’s one of the shows I will present every year it’s available,” Spradlin said. “I think there’d be a revolt in the streets if I left them off the schedule.”
Spradlin said more than 750 seats for the show have already been sold and expected close to selling out, with the first time the holiday favorite will be performed at the new Gichi-Ziibi Center for the Arts on the Brainerd High School campus.
“We’ve always sold out the Tornstrom Auditorium and Cragun’s Centre when we’ve presented the show there. … I spoke with the band and was told audiences could expect a lot of new material, a new opening sequence, a new closer,” Spradlin said.
Last year’s show was virtual, streamed to a paying audience; that show was available for on-demand streaming beginning 7 p.m. Dec. 18 through midnight New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, because of health concerns and coronavirus protocols during the pandemic.
“I think there’s a pent-up demand to see this show live and in all its glory,” Spradlin said.
"I think there’d be a revolt in the streets if I left them off the schedule."
— Patrick Spradlin
Rock & Roll Christmas is the creation of Ted Manderfeld and Paul Diethelm, two musicians from the St. Cloud area who arrived at the idea of the show and set out to find the perfect musicians and singers to make their vision a reality.
Manderfeld is half of Deuces Wild Dueling Pianos, which performs over 120 times a year across the country and Mexico.
“We’ve played for corporate clients, casinos, country clubs and some pretty exclusive nightclubs all over the country,” Manderfeld said.
Manderfeld has also spent time in the studio as a jingle writer, recording artist and producer. He has performed as an actor and even a game show host, and brings “high-energy showmanship” to the Rock & Roll Christmas, according to the news release.
Diethelm has 30 years of live performance, studio recording and songwriting. Born and raised in Watertown, Diethelm moved to St Cloud and, in 1989, formed the band Slip Twister. They quickly grew to become a midwestern perennial favorite.
As an eight-year member of the Jonny Lang Band, Diethelm has toured the world and shared the stage with rock and blues legends including Aerosmith, B.B. King, Sting and the Rolling Stones. And Diethelm is a founding member of The Fabulous Armadillos.
Diethelm is a “magnetic performer and a world-class guitarist,” according to the news release, and has played on two Grammy-nominated recordings, including the platinum-selling Jonny Lang album "Wander This World," for which he also co-wrote the hit single title track.
Audience members will be required to wear face masks while in the Gichi-Ziibi Center for the Arts on the Brainerd High School campus.
“This is a protocol we’ve followed with all of our live events,” Spradlin said. “It’s been widely known the entire season, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Those without masks will be provided one at the door.”
The entire CLC Performing Arts Center season is made possible in part by an operating grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
For those who haven’t seen the show but want to learn more about it, the website for Rock & Roll Christmas is www.rrxxrocks.com .
Tickets for Rock & Roll Christmas are available from the CLC Theatre Box Office. Orders can be placed by phone at 218-855-8199 or can be purchased online at www.clcperformingarts.com .