The Lower Lights, a large group of local musicians of varying fame and fortune, have hosted a Christmas music concert each year for the last 6 years, and each year it has grown—primarily through word of mouth. It has grown so much, in fact, that the Lower Lights moved this year from the Salt Lake Masonic Temple to new digs at Kingsbury Hall, while still selling out all of their shows. The move was a detail that did not go unmentioned by the band.
“How’s everyone feel about the padded seats?” one member of the twenty-something-member group asked early in the show. Another mentioned how relieved he was that he didn’t have to put rows of metal folding chairs like in years past at their former Christmas show home. Another said, “We had many apprehensions, as I’m sure you do, about us moving here.” But still, all who spoke from the stage on the subject mentioned that it was a dream come true to be playing the venue.
And so the band played. Sometimes all at once, sometimes in shifts, and often making sure everyone got their moment to shine. But they seemed to have trouble connecting with the crowd. Maybe it was because it was the first night, or maybe the room was a little too big for them. But, often they paused for audience reaction, and got none.
Songs varied from traditional Christmas tunes (“I Saw Three Ships”, “Silver Bells”, “Away In The Manger”), to gospel standards with a folksy bluegrass touch (“When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder”, “God’s Gonna Trouble The Water”, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee”). The crowd seemed to liven up a bit at the more upbeat tunes, clapping as if they were at an actual revival.
At the introduction of a song by the great Louvin Brothers the crowd fell silent (gasp!), but made noise again as soon as the song, “River of Jordan”, started.
The band shined more during the gospel songs than the Christmas standards, led in part by an outstanding fiddler. A detail that makes this reviewer wonder why The Lower Lights tradition seems to be only a Christmastime one.