What’s a Jim Brickman concert like? “I’ll start with what it’s not,” answered Brickman, the king of adult contemporary music. “It’s not boring, it’s not a piano recital, it is extremely entertaining – at least that’s what they say about me – there’s a lot more laughter than people expect.” Brickman sees his shows as offering high energy moments as well as tender ones during an evening that he hopes has the intimacy of visiting with him in his living room. “It’s an escape, it’s forgetting about everything for two-and-a-half hours and having fun.”
The Cleveland-born performer brings his twentieth holiday show, dubbed “Comfort and Joy,” to Lexington’s Cary Hall on November 27, leading some to ask Brickman how, as a Jew, he integrates Christmas music into his career. “Because so much of my music is original – at least half the show consists of my own compositions.” But when it comes to covering Christmas classics, Brickman portrays himself as making careful choices. “I tend to stay with the instrumental versions of classic melodies, many of which were turned into hymns or carols rather than having been written as inspirational songs. So, for example, I wouldn’t play a song that was overtly Christian, but I would play something like Greensleeves, which is not inherently a Christmas song, it’s an old English folk song that was appropriated for Christmas.”
Brickman released an album called Faith in 2008, but he argues that people get his meaning wrong. “The word has an umbrella context that suggests Christianity. But to me, Faith is about inspiring and about hope and promise, beauty and romance – all the things that my music stands for. I think of dreams and positive messages.” Even so, Brickman hasn’t been bashful about grabbing a position in the Christian music market with album titles that include “Christmas Romance,” “Grace” and “The Hymns and Carols of Christmas.” And his latest single, “A Little Bit of Christmas,” was released just last week.
Because of his focus on spiritual music – at least for part of the year – this is a busy season for Brickman. The holiday bookings reach their peak in December with 27 dates over the course of the month. Often, he’ll play on consecutive nights in locations that are many hours apart. Despite the exhausting schedule, Brickman denies that being on tour is tedious. “That word never entered my mind. I don’t actually get tired of it all. If I got tired of it I wouldn’t do it, because I don’t think it’s right to be on stage entertaining people and not want to be there.”
He’s a part of the singer-songwriter movement of the 1970s, says Brickman. “Absolutely, absolutely yes. I’m a product of the 1970s influenced pop singer-songwriter period – I’m a songwriter at heart.” Which of his own songs does he like the most? “Of the songs with vocals, the song ‘The Gift’ is still one of my favorites because it is so highly charged with romance.”
His goal is to help make your world a quieter, happier place, according to Brickman. “Having rapport with the audience and being able to share the experience rather than playing at them is my stock in trade. I want people to leave the theater calmer and happier, with a smile on their faces.”