Guaraldi’s 1965 soundtrack to the beloved Christmas special is something Bützer reminisced about. He said the holiday special was his favorite growing up, but “I didn’t connect with the music until my teens.”
He and Mahony, whom he regards as family, began performing tribute shows nearly seven years ago. Creative Loafing magazine in 2010 called the show “A new Christmas Tradition.”
“I wanted to do a holiday show,” Bützer said, and lauded Mahony’s piano skills. He said they performed in places such as The Earl in east Atlanta, but said the location of the performances were not conducive to the entire family because of the “rock club atmosphere.” With people having to stand the entire time, he said he wanted to feel as if he was participating in an interactive show instead of just playing to an audience.
Although the pair was offered to play at other venues, Bützer said the feeling was the same. That is, until The Strand Theatre came into play.
“The Strand is really warm,” Bützer said. “It’s nice in there.”
Cassi Costoulas, the Strand’s director of business development and marketing, said the Marietta landmark has an intimate feel but is capable of handling a large, full sound. “The Strand is the perfect venue for this type of an event,” she said.
She participated in last year’s show, singing with others in the “kids” choir parts. “Since the show used to only be in an 18+ venue, we couldn’t use kids for the songs like ‘Christmastime is Here,’” she said.
This year, a choir of local children will perform and provide the voices of Charlie Brown’s friends. Costoulas will also return to the stage for a few songs.
She said, “As much as I’m looking forward to the music, I’m almost more excited to hear the Bützer-Mahony banter that comes between the songs. These guys have been playing together for a long time and do a really great job at keeping a mostly instrumental show entertaining.”
Bützer said edited footage of the cartoon will play with accompaniment by the musicians, who will play the entire original score. Bützer plays drums, and Mahony plays piano and sings. More special guests include bass player Robby Handley and singers from metro Atlanta bands. They are Grace Belurry (of Lille), Carrie Hodge (of What Happened To Your Fire, Tiger?) and Andi Rogers (of Night Driving In Small Towns).
Chad Shivers and Friends will perform The Ventures’ “Christmas Album,” which features secular Christmas songs. The Ventures is an American instrumental rock band formed in 1958.
Costoulas said the kid-friendly atmosphere will allow for a good time to be had by all. “This is our first show that we’ve had that is really family-focused,” she said. “The fun surf feel of The Ventures’ ‘Christmas Album’ and the instantly recognizable music of Charlie Brown makes for a show that is a different way of celebrating Christmas, but still feels like holiday tradition.”
Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 the day of the event. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.
This will be the last performance of The Earl Smith Strand Theatre’s annual music series. The series will make its return in March of 2012.
The Strand Theatre is located at 117 N, Park Square. The box office is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 4 p.m., and two hours before the show. For more information or tickets, visit www.EarlSmithStrand.org or or call (770) 293-0080.