“If you’re feeling blue, then you’re in the wrong place.”
That’s what Brett Eldredge said as he worked the room during “Blue Christmas” at his holiday concert at Nashville’s City Winery on Tuesday (Dec. 13). If anyone in the room had the blues in that moment, it was because the night was coming to an end.
The annual invitation-only event has become a hot ticket in Nashville’s Music Row community. In its third year, Eldredge’s show of live standards has graduated from local small clubs with up to 125 invited guests to City Winery’s main hall to accommodate 2016’s 350 invitees.
Everyone showed up in their finest black-tie attires and hung on Eldredge’s every note as he sang under strings of glowing Italian lights. John Oates and rising band the Last Bandoleros were among those in the audience.
Dressed to the nines in a tux and bowtie, the country crooner led a 12-piece jazz ensemble through a powerful hour-long set of live selections from his first holiday album Glow. He performed holiday classics “Let It Snow,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” “White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “The First Noel” and the original title track, which he co-wrote with one of his main collaborators, Ross Copperman.
Refreshed by sips from a glass of Jack Daniel’s, Eldredge’s voice was perfection throughout all of his songs, but it quivered a little during an emotional rendition of “Silent Night.”
“I get emotional every time I sing that song,” he admitted. “I was trying to hit that high note, and then the tears came, and it’s some kind of science thing. I don’t know what it’s called, but I’m going to call it ‘crying in my throat.’ Can we call it that? Are there any doctors in here?”
He nearly got choked up again when he spotted his mother Robin sitting in the audience with his family. She was the one who got him into singing big band music when he was a child and she also was his first audio engineer when he played his first gigs back home in Illinois.
“I know that I went out and I recorded a record like this — big band and swing — and I’m a country singer,” he told the crowd. “That’s always what I’ve been, but I just love music. I don’t want to not just be able to love music. And this is a big part of me — this kind of music. I have to sing this kind of music.”
“There are people in this crowd,” he added, “that I knocked on their doors when my mom took my cover pictures under train tracks and I had a covers CD. In this room right now are people that have listened to that CD and people who have been on the ride with me. And to see how this year has gone, it’s just amazing. God bless you guys. Thank you guys so much for supporting me and this music.”
That’s when he ended his final show of the year with “O Holy Night.” As guests made their way home, they were given gift boxes with copies of Glow, commemorative cookie cutters and autographed Christmas cards.