‘Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis’ at the Music Center at Strathmore


Saturday, Mannheim Steamroller performed at Bethesda’s Music Center at Strathmore. The soldout crowd was enraptured at the matinee and Mannheim Steamroller received a standing ovation at the end. For this concert, Mannheim Steamroller celebrates 30 years since its first Christmas album and 40th anniversary of the first release of their Fresh Aire series.

'Mannheim Steamroller Christmas.' Photo by Nikki Artale.
‘Mannheim Steamroller Christmas.’ Photo by Nikki Artale.

Mannheim Steamroller did a great job getting the audience into the Christmas spirit.

Mannheim Steamroller was founded in 1974. The show started with a video compilation of their success with clips from The Today Show to clips with Presidents Bush and Clinton to clips showing them at top of the charts. The video is inspiring as it talks about how the creator and founder Chip Davis, who was told it was career suicide to perform Christmas music and Mannheim Steamroller has sold over 40 million records.

The songs from the shows came from several of Mannheim Steamroller’s albums, including  Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, A Fresh Aire Christmasand Christmas in the Aire.

Currently there are two touring Mannheim Steamroller bands, one for the east coast and one for the west coast. Strathmore got the Red Tour cast which consists of:  Chuck Penington (conductor, keys); Tom Sharpe (drums); Glen Smith (guitar, bass); Jeff Yang (violin, recorders); Joey Gulizia (percussion, recorders); and Christy Crowl (keys).

The show blew me away. The drummer Tom Sharpe reminds me of the Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins with his long blonde hair. His enthusiasm and skills on the drums was enchanting to watch. He almost stole the show with his high energy and constant smile on his face. On “Joy to the World,” Sharpe drummed expertly. For “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem” the piano solos were gorgeous.

Pianist Christy Crowl is from nearby Frederick and she constantly smiled at the audience. I enjoyed the “Christmas Lullaby” as it is military themed and seemed to be a salute to our military. On “Faeries” I enjoyed violinist/recorder player Jeff Yang, with his cool black pony tail, twirling around while playing the violin and also enjoyed the bass line. “Toccata” also had some beautiful violin work. The crowd really loved “Carol of the Bells” and there was much whooping and hollering. I also enjoyed “Greensleeves” which featured Elyse Davis, the Mannheim Steamroller’s founder’s daughter. Mannheim Steamroller brings a unique feel to the Christmas songs with warmth and extra pizzazz.

The only minor critique is the video production behind the musicians distracted from the music.

'Mannheim Steamroller Christmas.' Photo by Nikki Artale.
‘Mannheim Steamroller Christmas.’ Photo by Nikki Artale.

Mannheim Steamrollers always delivers and their Christmas Show is always joyful! They are a national treasure!

Running Time: Two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davise played on Saturday, Decemberber 13, 2014 at 4:00 PM at The Music Center at Strathmore -5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For future events, check their events calendar.

 The First Set 

-Deck the Halls

-We Three Kings

-God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

-Traditions of Christmas

-O’Little Town of Bethlehelm

-Joy to the World

-Pat a Pan

-Christmas Lullaby

-Catching Snowflakes on Your Tongue


-O Tannenbaum

-O Holy Night


The Second Set 

-Above the Northern Lights

-Greensleeves (featuring Elyse Davis, daughter of Chip Davis)

-Chocolate Fudge


-Pass the Keg (Lia)


-Four Rows of Jacks

-Come Home to the Sea


-The Steamroller

-Good King Wenceslas

-Carol of the Bells

-Auld Lange Syne



-Holy Night


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Marlene Hall
Marlene Hall grew up an army brat and has lived all over the world and in Washington, DC where she was constantly exposed to theater and music. Marlene graduated from the University of Virginia where she wrote for the Cavalier Daily interviewing musicians. Commissioned as an Air Force officer, she served 8 years. She now works as a realtor with eXp Realty. In addition, Marlene dabbles in improvisational comedy and has taken classes at the famed iO Theater in Chicago and the DC Improv. She is very active in the DC charity and social scene and contributes her time to veterans’ organizations Team Rubicon and Team Red, White, and Blue. She also was a supernumerary in the Washington National Opera’s Carmen with opera singer Denyce Graves. She loves the music and theater scene in DC and goes to as many concerts and shows as possible.


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