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Christmas on Highway 101

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The Advocate



Christmas on Highway 101

Reviewed by Dale Lewis

"Whether you have heard of them or not, this DVD will stir the memories of childhood days and family Christmases."

One of the most popular country bands of the late '80s, Highway 101, came together in a holiday performance of seasonal favorites in the new DVD Christmas on Highway 101. The group boasted an influential country-rock sound that helped pave the way for the blockbuster superstars of the '90s. With a 22-year history, this ever-changing group originally started by singer/guitarist Paulette Carlson. Curtis Stone (bass, guitar, mandolin), and drummer Cactus Moser, are the remaining original members. Andy Gurley, lead guitar and Nikki Nelson, lead vocals, round out this year’s edition of Highway 101.

Nikki Nelson’s smooth, soulful vocals pull the listener into each song especially in “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” and “O, Holy Night.” The group stepped outside the lodge and rendered a fun-filled, vocally solid, albeit short, arrangement of “Let It Snow” around the piano.

True to their roots, a country jazz fusion feel comes through the seasonal arrangements. The inclusion of the mesmerizing steel guitar was a successful addition. Although on occasion, the instrumentation overpowered the vocals.

In between songs, the group took time to share Christmas memories including:

· Curtis’ exclamation that Santa’s was wearing Daddy’s shoes
· The alligator farm on Christmas day
· Taking in the community’s Christmas light displays
· Andy taking his daughter to the Enchanted Forest in Memphis, TN.

The wintery Great White Lodge where the DVD was filmed was decorated with Christmas trees sprinkled with lights. I was disappointed there was no audience around to respond to their music. The human interaction would have added more than it would have detracted. At times, the facial expressions of the group seemed forced and overplayed to the camera.
As a former Salvation Army pastor’s kid, I appreciated the original video tribute to The Salvation Army in “Six Gold Coins in Denver” It brought fond memories of days working beside Mom and Dad bell-ringing in front of a red kettle.

A special appearance by Wynonna Judd was short-lived and odd because she did not sing with the group.
Overall, I enjoyed the Christmas sounds of Highway 101. Whether you have heard of them or not, this DVD will stir the memories of childhood days and family Christmases.

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Dale Lewis now mans the front desk at the EFCA (The Evangelical Free Church of America) National Office in Minneapolis, MN. He was the graphic designer/pre-press production artist for over twelve years before being asked to step into this new role. Prior to that, he was the publications manager at his alma mater, Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in the public relations office as well as the adviser to the college’s yearbook. He's a director/actor/writer for the Hope Church (Oakdale, MN) adult drama worship team and was the senior editor of the church newsletter. He's also written two collections of poetry, “Whispers of Assurance” and “On Life: Constant Communion Without Ceasing” as well as a devotional entitled “Eternal Education.” He and his family live in Oakdale, Minnesota.