If you go
› What: Heartland presents Christmas Songs and Stories with John Berry
› When: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15
› Where: Walker Theatre inside Memorial Auditorium 709 McCallie Ave.
› Admission: $25, $35, $55 plus fees
› For more information: 423-757-5580
For 21 years, John Berry has presented a Christmas concert and for 21 years, it has never been presented here. He's done concerts here, just never the Christmas show.
That changes Friday night, Dec. 15, when he will not only perform the show at Walker Theatre inside Memorial Auditorium, but tape it for later airing on the Heartland television network.
"We've driven through Chattanooga on the way to other shows, but never done one there," Berry said.
Berry said he has done the Christmas show every year since its inception in Macon, Ga., for the last 14 years in Jeffersonville, Ind., and additional cities every other year or so.
"We take it where we are asked to come," he said.
He said the shows in Macon and Jeffersonville are like old-home week, especially the Indiana gig, which he said "is the oddest show of the year. It's like a private show."
It's held inside a place called Jeff's Bingo Hall and is hosted by several ladies in their 70s and 80s, he said. The owner, a woman named Anna, handles everything including ticket sales.
"The ad on the radio says, 'Call Anna for tickets and then it gives her cell number.'"
The hall seats about 400 and the women also provide dinner. Berry said he asked a few years ago, if they wanted to take a break from hosting.
"Anna looked at me and said, 'As long as you are singing, the first Thursday in December you are here.'
The show features Berry and a full band playing some of his most popular radio hits during the first half and then the Christmas music, including his popular version of "O Holy Night."
"The Christmas music is pretty traditional," he said. "I don't mess with it."
Berry said he believes fans love hearing Christmas music because it reminds them of great memories growing up. It also reminds them of their faith.
"It is a very faith-based show. I have kids and Santa was a huge hit in our house, but my kids knew what Christmas was really all about," the singer says.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.