Phil Vassar & Kellie Pickler bring Christmas tour to Frederick
FREDERICK, Md. — Phil Vassar loves Christmas.
“It’s always been my favorite time of year. I mean everyone’s so nice and cheery and you get presents. How could that not be good, right?” Vassar said with a laugh during a telephone interview.
The date was Nov. 17, and Vassar was in the midst of a magazine photo shoot at his Nashville, Tenn., home, and getting ready to hit the road with fellow country music artist Kellie Pickler for their Christmas tour.
“We’re doing like 18 or 19 shows in 24 days. We leave after dinner on Thanksgiving and get home on Christmas Eve. So it’s yeah, it’s a whole month,” he said, adding that the schedule would be intense.
“But it’s gonna be fun. We’re gonna sing Christmas songs and bring cheer to the universe. I think that’s a wonderful thing.”
The show, aptly titled “A Christmas Tour,” comes Friday, Dec. 22, to the Weinberg Center for the Arts in downtown Frederick. Limited tickets are available.
Vassar and Pickler, who stars on the CMT reality series “I Love Kellie Pickler,” released a new song and video for the tour, “The Naughty List.” Vassar said early indications were that the duet was a success.
“Well, you know, I personally haven’t heard anything negative,” he said with a laugh. “It was a lot of fun. Of course, somebody’s always gonna hate something, but I could care less.”
“But I liked it, so it made me happy and Kellie likes it a lot, so what do you say? We’re just going for sort of a ’40s USO wartime dance vibe and I thought it was really, really fun ... and it just came out really good. And of course, she’s adorable in it, and I’m just trying not to screw it up,” Vassar said.
Vassar is known for songs including “Carlene,” “Six-Pack Summer” and the No. 1 single “Just Another Day in Paradise.”
Pickler, a one-time “American Idol” contestant, had hits with “Red High Heels,” “Best Days of Your Life,” and “Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind.”
Vassar said the idea of partnering with Pickler for A Christmas Tour seemed like a natural fit.
“I’ve known Kellie a long, long time, and we’ve done numerous shows together. But we just always said, “You know, we ought to do some shows together,’ or ‘Do a little tour or something.’ And then the Christmas idea came up this summer, and I said, ‘Well, what do you think?’ And she goes, ‘That’d be awesome.’”
The idea gained momentum as the show was shopped to venues around the country.
“It just sort of came together and a bunch of folks said, ‘Hey, that’s great. Come play here,’ so that’s great. When that happens, that’s a good thing,” Vassar said.
With more than a month to go until the duo’s appearance in Frederick, few seats remained available at the downtown venue, and Vassar said that seemed to be par for the course. As of press time Wednesday, there were still seats remaining.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “They should all just about sell out by the time we go on stage, so that’s a good thing. That means that people want to come and are happy, so that’s good.”
While Vassar and Pickler’s show will be heavy on Christmas music, they’ve left some room for a few surprises, as well.
“We kinda come out together and then she does a little acoustic thing, I do a little acoustic thing and then the bands come out and the last half of the show is just all of us together doing stuff. We’ll do ‘The Naughty List’ and ... some of the classics. We even throw a Kenny and Dolly song in there. There’s a song we do by ourselves and me and her and a piano and so it’s really good,” Vassar, who’s known for his piano playing skills, added.
Once the tour winds down, Vassar, a Lynchburg, Va., native, plans to spend the holidays at home with his family.
“It’s a time to reflect and for me, it’s always a time for me to be with my family. You know, when you’re touring all the time like we do ... that’s the time we all get together and my family comes here to Nashville. And my daughters, everybody’s together. It’s really great,” he said.
But in the meantime, Vassar, who also released a Christmas album, “Noel,” in 2011, was looking forward to spreading preholiday cheer in Maryland.
“That theater in Frederick is so much fun, too, it’s a great venue. We’re playing in Annapolis, too, which I love Annapolis. These are just my stomping grounds so I’m gonna see a lot of my family and friends. I’m excited,” he said.