BEMIDJI -- A century’s worth of holiday music performed Broadway style. That’s what the audience can expect when the Nashville-based band Tenth Avenue North brings its “Decade the Halls” tour to the Sanford Center on Saturday, Dec. 14.
“It’s a Broadway musical, taking your whole family time traveling through the ages, through pageantry, song and a hilarious good time,” said band leader Mike Donehey. “We just travel through holiday songs and Christmas carols in the styles of different genres through the decades.”
The concert will include songs from the band’s 2017 album “Decade the Halls.” Donehey said he came up with that name on a whim as they were creating the album, and it has since turned into a tour that this year will include eight stops nationwide.
“We had a song called ‘Deck the Halls’ that sounded like 1960s Motown,” he said, “and we were kind of debating about when we did a Christmas record if it would all be in that style. Some of our guys like the 1970s, some of our guys like the 1980s. I was just messing around with ‘Deck the Halls’ and I was like, ‘Guys … Decade the Halls. Now we can do all the decades.’”
The concert starts with music from the 1920s. Here’s how Donehey describes the subsequent decades:
“The ’30s is like a big band swing number, in the ’40s we do more of like a Bing Crosby crooner thing, the ’50s is more like rockabilly, Elvis meets Chuck Berry. In certain decades we do multiple songs, because for the ’60s we have a Simon and Garfunkel thing, a Motown thing, Joe Cocker sort of vibe song. In the ’70s we go into the disco era. The ’80s has more of a George McDonald meets Wham sort of thing happening. The ’90s is a Boyz II Men thing. The 2000s has a bit of a Weezer-esque take on an original song called ‘Mistletoe’ about unsuccessful wooing of the opposite sex. The 2010s gets into EDM (electronic dance music).”
The audience is ushered through the decades by a muppet named Kenneth, the Christmas Yeti. It was another brainchild of Donehey as the group put their holiday tour together.
“He provides the bumper in between the decades,” Donehey said. “He explains at the beginning that Christmas yetis are different from normal yetis, because Christmas yetis hibernate for 11 months of the year which allows them to live much longer than the other yetis. So he says, ‘I’m 437 (years old) and I’m still a spring chicken.’ Kenneth kind of walks you through the decades when needed.”
Tenth Avenue North started in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 2003. The band has been one of Christian music's most successful acts with inspirational songs like “Hold My Heart,” “Love is Here” and “By Your Side.”
The group’s name comes from the street where Donehey lived during his college days at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
“We were arguing over names for weeks,” he said, “and I looked up in desperation after we got off the interstate for band practice, and I said, ‘Guys, what about Tenth Avenue North?’ The name stuck.”
Joining Donehey in the band are Jeff Owen on guitar, Ruben Juarez on bass, Jeremy Gifford on keyboard and Spencer Ford on drums. Also performing in the 7 p.m. concert are two other bands, Plumb and Land of Color.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the Sanford Center or online at ticketmaster.com. All seats are $22.
If you go:
What: “Decade the Halls”
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14
Where: Sanford Center