Urbana to host national Christmas tour

By Kathy Fox - kfox@aimmediamidwest.com

In conjunction with Messiah Lutheran Church’s annual No Room at the Inn fundraiser for the Caring Kitchen on Dec. 8 (see accompanying article), the church on Sunday, Dec. 15, will host the seven-piece band Peter Mayer Group band as part of the band’s 20th anniversary Christmas Tour.

Online tickets (https://bit.ly/2CzB1xa) for the 7:30 p.m. show (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) are going fast, according to Mayer fan and Messiah music director Jeni Wiant, who said fans from Kentucky already have purchased tickets. The church sanctuary can accommodate 235 music lovers.

The church, local businesses and individuals are sponsoring the concert, which means the entire amount of each $25 ticket goes to the Caring Kitchen.

“This is a pretty big deal to get him to come to Urbana,” Wiant said of the guitarist-singer-songwriter. “We got to him early enough before they set their dates.”

Still the lead guitarist of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, which he joined 30 years ago, Mayer also tours with his own band, the Peter Mayer Group, which is traveling to 12 cities as part of this year’s “Christmas Tour: Echoes of the Seasons.”

The son of a Lutheran pastor, Mayer’s resume includes 14 albums of his own, including four Christmas albums.

The Peter Mayer Group, which includes a violin, woodwinds, pipes, keyboard, guitar, bass and percussion, will entertain with a Christmas program of traditional and original holiday tunes.

“A Christmas show like no other” is how publicity and fans describe the entertainment coming to Urbana. It’s the description given by Wiant, who has attended five of the Peter Mayer Group’s Christmas shows.

“Mr. Mayer typically plays his Christmas show in Columbus, Cleveland or Cincinnati, so the opportunity to host him as a benefit to the local homeless shelter is a one of a kind experience for our community,” Wiant said.

Mayer’s way to Urbana started when Wiant shared his latest faith-based release, “Passages,” with Ray Branstiter, pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church, in the spring.

“He took that leap of faith to make that phone call,” she said of Branstiter’s decision to try to book the Mayer group for the Christmas season.

“We’re thrilled for him to be here,” she said. “It’s an amazing show they’re bringing in.” She describes the show as a “fusion of sounds from world music to classical overtones to jazz to traditional favorites.

“He’ll do ‘Silent Night,’ but he’ll put a twist on it,” she said, adding, “there will be traditional carols and songs from his life. He puts his heart and soul into everything he writes and plays.”

Wiant said all ticket sales will go to the Caring Kitchen thanks to several sponsors, including primary sponsors The Peoples Savings Bank, Perpetual Federal Savings Bank of Urbana, the Champaign County Memorial Foundation, Bradley E. Wears II, Urbana Self Storage, Bundy Manufacturing and East Lawn and Garden.

Kirby’s ‘Monument Square’ to be raffled

Raffle tickets for the Scott Kirby painting “Monument Square,” donated to Messiah Lutheran Church, can be purchased at the church’s Dec. 8 No Room at the Inn fundraiser and at the Dec. 15 concert. The winning ticket will be drawn at the end of the concert. All funds from the raffle will go to the Caring Kitchen.

Messiah Lutheran Church is located at 1013 East Lawn Ave., Urbana.

By Kathy Fox


Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.

Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.