Uncle Wiggly’s brings the Christmas blues

Christmas blues come to the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre Dec. 18

Uncle Wiggly's Hot Shoes Blues Band celebrates the Music of Christmas

Uncle Wiggly’s Hot Shoes Blues Band brings its unique brand of Christmas blues to Oak Bay’s Dave Dunnet Community Theatre Sunday, Dec. 18.

Playing to sold-out houses in Alberta and B.C., this marks their first time at the Dave Dunnet theatre. Featuring a collection of traditional blues Christmas tunes from the 1920s through ‘60s, the line-up includes tunes from the likes of Louis Jordan, Big Joe Turner, BB King, Eric Clapton, Charles Brown, Etta James and many more.

“I wanted to put together a tribute to the blues songs of Christmas,” says Hank “Uncle Wiggly” Lionhart. “Everybody who comes to see it, they all say, ‘What a refreshing take on a Christmas show.”

“Blues” seems misnomer in some ways, as the band’s enthusiasm for the music is infectious.

“We love doing the show. Last year out of eight shows, we got standing ovations at every show,” he says.

Uncle Wiggly’s has been a familiar name on local stages since 1978. Members of the Victoria Music Hall of Fame, the band toured extensively in the 1980s, opening for such legends as Muddy Waters, Joe Cocker, James Cotton, Koko Taylor and Paul Butterfield, before representing B.C. last year in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge.

Joining Lionhart on stage are Mark “Westcoast” Comerford on guitar, Andy Graffiti on drums, “Lightnin” Lonnie Glass on bass, Wynn Gogol on keyboards, Deb Rhymer on vocals and Dave “The Duck” Rowse and Wayne Kozak on saxophone, with Bryn Badel on trumpet.

“We have a real killer horn section,” Lionhart says.

The show provides listeners a deeper look into the blues legends, alongside a few of Uncle Wiggly’s original Christmas tunes.

“A lot of it is the stories,” Lionhart says of his love of the blues.

He points to performers like Blind Blake Turner, an artist originally from the South who moved to Chicago in 1926. “You start talking about all these artists and the stories and it all gives you a different perspective on Christmas,” he says.

“I’d been to see different Christmas shows and it’s basically different people doing the same songs over and over.”

With Uncle Wiggly’s show, other than Mel Torme’s classic Christmas Song and Booker T’s version of Silver Bells, “the rest are all new discoveries for everybody,” Lionhart says. “There’s a really great variety of blues.”

The band hits the stage at the Oak Bay High theatre at 7 p.m. Dec. 18. In the spirit of the season, look for CFAX Santas Anonymous donation boxes at the show to help local families in need.

Joining Uncle Wiggly’s is special guest David Vest.

Tickets are $25 for the general public, and $20 for Victoria Jazz Society members, seniors and students, and are available from the McPherson ticket office at www.rmts.bc.ca.

Did you know?

Uncle Wiggly’s new Christmas CD, Christmas in Jail, recorded during last season’s visit to Blue Frog Studios, will be for sale at the show.