Bryan White first signed on to a label back in 1994 at the age of 20. He’s endured the success that most artists dream about and also the heartache. He’s reached the number one position on the Billboard Charts, has achieved platinum status with his albums, won ACM and CMA awards, and let’s not forget his duet with Shania Twain back in 1998. Dr. Brian Sager, the major of Woodstock, would not let Bryan forget those accomplishments as he presented Bryan with a proclamation of his success. He also made Bryan an honorary citizen of Woodstock or as Bryan likes to call it being a “Woodstockian.”
Bryan’s show on December 30th marked his second time playing in Woodstock, IL. He brought his White Christmas tour to the small city in the suburbs of Chicago. It was also the last night of tour and last performance date for the year. The night was a mix of Christmas music, music from his back catalog, as well as new tracks off of his new album Dustbowl Dreams.
During the set Bryan spent time talking about life and quoting movie lines. It never got old to the audience. He also spent time tuning his guitars right onstage and getting his monitors just right. At one point while engaging with Wes, the sound engineer, Bryan said, “It’s good enough for the girls I date.” The audience erupted in laughter knowing full well that Bryan is a happily married man.
Bryan dedicated “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” to the troops. “I never failed to walk up to those troops and say thank you. I am blown away by their courage and passion for the country.” He also points out that he always makes it home for Christmas.
Bryan has strong ties to Woodstock. Erik Borman and his wife Tami made the evening possible. Erik joined Bryan onstage with his guitar and not to be upstaged; Tami added a special touch to the evening with the Woodstock Children’s Choir. The choir joined Bryan onstage for several songs including “Christmas Time is Here,” “Finding Christmas,” and “Our Savior is Born.”
As previously noted, Bryan achieved many accomplishments in his career, but he also endured the dark side of the business. When album sales decline, so does one’s career and that means being kicked off labels and experiencing big changes in one’s lifestyle. Bryan speaks of an interview he watched with Gloria Estefan who sat at the top of Latin Pop music charts and took in many accolades. Bryan took away that even when the light doesn’t shine the brightest, artists still make music because love doing it. An artist shouldn’t be controlled by a label and told when and how to record an album. During Bryan’s darkest times he learned to break free of that and take the reins on his career.
The title track from the new album, Dustbowl Dreams, took the cake for the most touching moment of the night. Bryan preludes the song with a story about his hero. This man was the “salt of the earth” and “a true American.” He didn’t tell the audience who he was speaking of at first. The audience figured it out at the end of the song as old audio recordings played of Wilford White, Bryan’s grandfather. The song also yells Oklahoma when Bryan mentions all the names that played on that song. It was a family affair and includes Vince Gill on mandolin and Wayne Hayes, who is currently battling Colon Cancer.
Bryan does have a new Christmas album out titled A Bryan White Christmas, and he performed another track of the album, “Finding Christmas.” For the live performance, The Woodstock Children’s Choir joined him onstage again as well as audio recordings from his boys Justin and Jackson. For the last song of the night Bryan saved “one of the coolest Christmas songs ever!” for last. It’s a reminder of what the season is really about. He invited Julia Johnson, the opener for the night, with her violin alongside the Choir. It was a great way to end the magical night. He even made it snow, something Illinois has been lacking this holiday season.
The set list for the night:
Do it Together
Run, Run Rudolph
Let It Snow
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Charlie Brown’s Christmas Time is Here with Woodstock Children’s Choir
Charlie Brown Theme
Someone Else’s Star – Steve Richard joins Bryan onstage
So Much for Pretending
Finding Christmas – Woodstock Children’s Choir
Our Savior is Born – Woodstock Children’s Choir and Julia Johnson
Photos from Bryan’s set: