The annual Rob Mathes Holiday Concert is going virtual and a special concert taped in December will be available for viewing December 23 through January 1 on Rob Mathes’ YouTube channel @RobMathesMusic.
“I’m happy to say the Rob Mathes Holiday Concert is not entirely undone by the Coronavirus this year,” Mathes said. “In 2018, we celebrated our 25th anniversary concert with three sold out shows in the Connecticut and New York City area featuring an illustrious group of New York all-stars in the band and Sting, David Sanborn and Vanessa Williams as special guests. That concert was such a landmark that I took a gap year in 2019 while helping Sting prepare for another UK version of his musical The Last Ship. That production, scheduled to run in LA, DC, San Francisco and several other cities, was also sadly undone by COVID-19 after an abbreviated LA run at the Ahmanson Theater. The thought of yet another gap year for our annual Holiday concert in 2020 was depressing, but seemingly unavoidable. Then a few angels in the form of Deborah and Chuck Royce and Jane and Mike Peak arrived just in time. They agreed to put up some small honorariums for the musicians and crew so we could perform and film a concert with no audience and then stream it for free.”
“I am incredibly honored and humbled by this generosity and happy to bring some of the magic of the holiday season to everyone who made the Rob Mathes Holiday Concert a holiday tradition all of these years,” noted Mathes.
Reverend Patrick Collins and Minister of Music Craig Scott Symons at the First Congregational Church of Old Greenwich agreed to host the taping of a socially-distanced concert and Rob and his all-star band and small choir of Saints & Friends, performed about an hour of music as a gift to the astonishing audience who have supported the concerts for two and half plus decades.
Joining Rob Mathes are Shawn Pelton on Percussion, Zev Katz on Acoustic Bass, Andy Snitzer on Tenor Sax and the remarkable Vaneese Thomas and James “D-Train” Williams on vocals. In an empty church and socially distanced, these musicians and singers will perform 10-12 of the songs Mathes’ fans come to hear every year — an hour long holiday offering in the wake of an challenging year.
“With great political unrest and a national health crisis, with it being very difficult, if not downright dangerous, to get in a room with family and friends this season, a love offering of music is being made possible!” said Rob Mathes.
The plan is to air the concert for on Rob Mathes’ YouTube page starting Wednesday evening December 23, at 8:00pm, and then make it available through New Year’s Day.
The concert is being offered for FREE, but Rob is also encouraging fans to donate to one of his favorite charities, Through the Eyes of Children, which has been the beneficiary of his concerts since 2003. The concert will be filmed by the Emmy-winning Bob Conover and recorded and mixed by Grammy Winner Rory Young. Updates will be posted on Rob Mathes’ Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and the link for the event will be provided on those accounts.
While the year has been a wash for so many struggling musicians, Rob has had a few adventures of some note.
He just finished producing and arranging five songs for the David Lynch Foundation’s Meditate America benefit featuring Graham Nash, Sting, Jim James, Kesha, Angelique Kidjo, Larkin Poe and Elvis Costello.
Recording tracks with a Gospel Choir, String and Horn sections and Rhythm Section featuring Steve Jordan on Drums (Keith Richards, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Neville Brothers) and Larry Campbell on Guitars (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm), all socially distanced, the video and audio recordings can be heard on YouTube through the Meditate America-David Lynch Foundation link.
He also musically directed the first live show streamed at the Kennedy Center after the pandemic, with star Soprano Renee Fleming and Vanessa Williams.
He completed work with producer Jake Sinclair on a record to be released in the new year by the band Weezer.
He collaborated with Sting and Italian pop superstar Zucchero on a song called “September” for a Duets record, to be released by Sting in 2021.
He is also in pre-production on another record with singer-songwriter Pete Muller. He produced Pete’s Dissolve record in 2019.
Rounding out the year was conducting and orchestrating the songs for the Warner Brothers film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In The Heights” directed by Jon M. Chu, in collaboration with original orchestrators and music producers Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman.
The final piece of interest in 2020 is the Supreme Court’s denial to hear the case against Robert Plant and Jimmy Page over the copyright of “Stairway to Heaven.”
Because of Rob’s arrangement of that song for Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012, Led Zeppelin and its lawyers asked Rob to serve as a music expert on their side of the case. The case was won and Stairway to Heaven is fully credited to Plant and Page for good now.
Rob is comforted and thrilled to be able to offer something up for the Holiday this year in hopes that a vaccine will allow a 27th Annual concert live next year.