Johnny Reid's A Christmas Gift To You, a fan's review

By Lydia Jackson, December 14 2013

I sit here with my Tim Horton's coffee poured into my Johnny Reid mug, listening to A Christmas Gift To You.  It was with great anticipation that Johnny Reid fans awaited the release of this brand new disc. The CD features 12 tracks including traditional favourites such as 'Oh Holy Night', and 'Mary Did You Know' as well as a beautiful original tune, 'Winter Star' co-written with Mark Selby. We were not disappointed!
Dubbed by many as 'Scotland's gift to Canada', Johnny has an incredibly loyal fan base. The messages in his songs touch hearts and deeply affect anyone who listens to his music. His philanthropic projects have endeared him to the masses, especially his Tartan Army members, who passionately support his causes.
Johnny began his Canadian tour in British Columbia, taking it across the country all the way to St. John's, Newfoundland, where he will be concluding the tour at the Cochrane Street United Church for two sold out performances.
I had the pleasure of attending two shows, one of which was at the beautiful Massey Hall in Toronto. The opening act was the trio Pear, featuring the husband-and-wife duo of Denis and Lynae Dufresne and the extremely talented yet unassuming percussionist/guitarist Craig Bignell. The group entertained the Hall with their beautiful harmonies and incredible violin playing. Denis plays a Paulus Caftello Italian Violin built in 1779! Whether or not that was the violin he performed with that evening, I do not know but at one point during their set, my eyes wandered to the instrument on a stand in front of him and I thought it looked 'old'. What a treat if it was the one and the same and what better place to listen to the strings of such a violin played with such reverence than at Massey Hall! In any case, Pear's lively set created a festive mood which only made the crowd in attendance impatient for Johnny to grace the stage.
Curtain up, stage backlit, and a deep, resonating note that seemed to start at the back of the stage and travel forward right through everyone in the Hall announced the beginning of what was to be an amazing celebration of the Christmas season. With the curtain finally pulled down, the crowd cheered as Johnny appeared and sang an emotional 'Do You Hear What I Hear'. From that point on, we were captivated! 
Not only was he accompanied by his band which included a grand piano, saxophone, fiddle, guitar, drums and background vocalists, he also had a gospel choir whose lush voices only made the Christmas selections more glorious to listen to. From the more mellow tunes to the high spirited 'Run Run Rudolf', Johnny entertained us!
Johnny regaled us with not only his favourite Christmas songs, but with a couple of his hits like 'Dance With Me' (my personal favourite), 'Darlin', and 'Fire It Up'. His new tune for Tim Horton's, 'A Little Taste of Home' certainly pleased the crowd. And 'Lady in Red' must have given shivers to more than just me.
Johnny Reid connects with his captive audience. The sharing of his personal experiences, and the stories about his 'gran' are always a crowd favourite. I am certain that he feels the love that surrounds him at all of his shows. What I have learned from being a Johnny Reid fan for many years is that one needs to 'experience' his music, to let it get deep down into the soul, to feel, to appreciate it. His message is there: hope, love, peace, and happiness.
I hope you have the opportunity to experience Johnny Reid's music and attend a concert. I have had the pleasure of meeting him and I can tell you that he is as warm and as personable as the stage presence he portrays.
Lydia Jackson, December 2013

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