John Tesh does Christmas, big band-style
By Randall G. Mielke December 5, 2012 6:48PM
FRANKLIN SQUARE, NY - JULY 07: Musician/radio and TV personality John Tesh attends a ceremony honoring John Tesh for his achievements and charitable contributions on July 7, 2011 at 639 Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square, New York. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\118437343.jpg
Big Band Christmas Show
♦ 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12
♦ Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $25-$59
♦ (815) 726-6600
Instrumentalist and composer John Tesh, who fronts a big band orchestra in the “John Tesh Big Band Christmas Show,” is a person who likes to be well prepared.
“I’m a little crazy about the sound checks,” said pianist Tesh about checking the sound system in a venue before a show. “I want to be sure that everyone has a good seat and that they can hear everything.
“I do a long sound check,” he continued. “I get there at noon on the day of a show and sit behind the piano and then walk around with the microphone. Then I feel like I have done my homework.”
Part of Tesh’s desire to be well-prepared stems from his decade-long stint from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s as co-host and reporter on TV’s “Entertainment Tonight.”
“ ‘Entertainment Tonight’ would send me out to do interviews with musicians like Sting and Coldplay and I was able to watch how they plan their shows,” Tesh said. “The late Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead always had a game plan, but he also was flexible if he had to change something at the last minute.”
For the Rialto Square Theatre show on Dec. 12, a dozen performers will play favorite holiday tunes — big band-style.
“The arrangements are true to the 1930s and 1940s songs,” Tesh said. “We do ‘Let It Snow’ and other holiday songs, and some original songs. All of them are performed as big band versions. I’m regarded primarily as an instrumentalist, so we do some of the songs as instrumentals.”
Tesh’s successful and varied career includes the aforementioned 10-year run as anchor on “ET,” nine public television specials, including his landmark “Live At Red Rocks” in 1994, a string of radio hits and his nationally syndicated radio show “Intelligence For Your Life,” which is heard by more than 14.5 million listeners and broadcast on nearly 400 stations. Tesh also is the author of the best-selling book, “Intelligence for Your Life: Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth.”
The inspirational message is one that Tesh carries over on stage.
“We never want to go into a tour and play 15 songs and say ‘Enjoy,’ ” he said. “We have messages: Number 1: Follow your dreams. If I can do it, you can do it. Number 2: Give your life to something. We say, ‘Volunteer and add seven years to your life.’ You can have your own personal ministry. The message we have is, ‘What do you stand for?’ ”
For Tesh, part of what he stands for is pursuing his dream.
“In a way, I’ve become the poster boy for quitting your job and following your dream,” he said about leaving his TV anchor job at “Entertainment Tonight.”
“When I left ‘Entertainment Tonight,’ people thought, ‘Oh, he quit his job and is starting to do music,’” Tesh said, “but I was actually doing both at the same time.”
“There are so many miserable people out there who have not fulfilled their dreams. I believe you should do something that you love.”
Randall G. Mielke is a local free-lance writer.