Review: David Myles It’s Christmas at The Arden

To say that the Christmas season is a time of year that David Myles really gets into is probably a bit of an understatement — his website for the month of December features an Advent Calendar, with different videos, songs and even some colouring pages! And while Santa might not have brought him a banjo, with a guitar Myles packed St. Albert’s Arden Theatre for his It’s Christmas show.dsc_0602

In his signature suit, flanked by Kyle Cunjak and Alan Jeffries, Myles spun stories of Christmases past in between classics such as “White Christmas” and “Sleigh Ride”. Myles’ family, including a rather precocious four year old, featured heavily in the stories. Last week Myles’ daughter’s playschool class was the test audience before he played two shows with the Halifax Symphony. The kids, so the story goes, didn’t want to hear any “sleepy songs” like “Star of Hope” and instead demanded repeats of “Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo” … which is decidedly NOT a sleepy song.

It was one of those rare shows that you left with a sore face because you spent two plus hours with a massive grin on your face. Myles kept us in stitches, reliving in great detail a Christmas morning when his brother Sean focused on his new GT Snow Racer missed (or rather didn’t miss) the present left behind by the family dog Ginger.

dsc_0603From cajoling to carolling, audience participation was natural. Beginning with level one participation: imagining ourselves on a beach for “Simple Pleasures” off of Myles 2011 album Into the Sun, to full involvement for an acoustic encore that brought Myles, along with Jeffries and Cunjak, in front of the microphones for what felt like a spontaneous collective version of “Silent Night” at the concert’s close.

Myles made a point of mentioning that Christmas albums can come back to haunt performers (yearly, in fact) and if they didn’t REALLY like a song, in the long run it would be not good for them. He spoke about selecting the songs for the album, apparently his daughter is a fan of Nat King Cole’s voice, his mother-in-law was able to point him to a French song to include (“Have you listened to Céline Dion?”), and how a bluegrass version of most any Christmas song but especially Meaghan Smith’s “It Snowed” (non-bluegrass original here) is his default.

Based on the reactions of those around me I doubt that I am alone in hoping that It’s Christmas haunts Myles for many years to come. Like the playschool friends of Myles’ daughter I’ve got “Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo” on repeat, and I will be heading back to Myles’ website every day from now until Christmas to see what fresh treat awaits me in the It’s Christmas Advent Calendar.

The Arden Theatre’s Professional Series musical offerings continue with The McDades on December 16 & 17, for more information please see their site.

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