Vernon has a lot of Christmas traditions. There’s the red tree that lights up the sky atop Vernon Jubilee Hospital; the downtown light-up that brings 30th Avenue to life; the Vernon Rotary Carol Festival, which just celebrated its 64th season at the Performing Arts Centre last weekend.
Another Christmas event is becoming a tradition, and it involves Vernon-raised recording artist, singer-songwriter Andrew Allen, who brings his All Hearts Come Home Christmas concert back to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.
“When we first did it, I remember thinking it was crazy to be able to host a show like this in my hometown, and now, four years later, the fact that people still get excited about it and have built it into their Christmas traditions warms my heart,” said Allen. “It’s such a fun show to put together, and having such a supportive community makes every minute worth it. I will definitely keep putting it on as long as people keep showing up.”
This year, Allen is not only home to celebrate the season with his musical family, but his actual family, including his wife Julia and their one-year-old daughter London, whom Allen says is just starting to walk.
“Having London in our world makes Christmas super exciting again; not that it hasn’t been exciting as of late, but it’s so fun experiencing the excitement and the magic through her eyes,” he said. “And while she’s too young to get all of it, she definitely loves the lights, and the reindeer, and the snow and all the decorations, which is really fun to watch.”
As in past years, Allen shares the stage with different school and dance groups along with fellow up-and-coming artists who also call the Okanagan home.
This year students from Kidston elementary school, under the direction of Melissa Jacobs, and dancers from Accentz Dance Studio will join Allen.
“Having grown up in Vernon, All Hearts Come Home is my way of saying, ‘I’m coming home for Christmas and I’m putting on a show,’ and it’s not just gonna be me, it’s gonna be friends that are doing the same thing I’m doing, and the next generation that’s coming up, whether it be dancers, or singers, or actors,” he said. “I just want to provide an opportunity to perform in one of the most beautiful theatres in the area in front of one of the greatest audiences ever.”
Opening the show will be Vernon’s own pop songstress Olivia Penalva, whose 2015 hit Christmas for Two just won best holiday song at the Independent Music Awards and hit #17 on the Canadian radio charts last season. Penalva also broke the top 100 of the Canadian music pop charts with her single Outshine the Stars off her new album Weightless, which has been receiving rave reviews from international media outlets and music bloggers.
Also on stage will be West Kelowna country artist Ben Klick, winner of the 2015 Global Country Star Search, whose three 2016 radio releases have been played nationally across Canada and in countries throughout Europe.
Allen, of course, will also perform along with his band, including fellow Vernonite Dan Oldfield on drums and Vancouver artists Cole Friesen and Jon Burgundy, on guitar and bass respectively.
Allen has been busy writing new hits to go along with his 2009 single I Wanna Be Your Christmas, as well as 2010’s Loving You Tonight, and 2011’s I Want You, which all made the top 10 of the Canadian music charts.
On the international front, Allen’s song Ad Occhi Chiusi was just certified triple platinum in Italy by Italian superstar Marco Mengoni.
“The English version that we originally wrote is called Light In You and my co-writer Matt Simons has released that version,” said Allen, who has also seen his song Time, co-written with Cole Friesen, used on the newest Folgers Coffee commercial.
Allen also had a top 10 single this year with What You Wanted, which saw more than 18,000 spins across Canadian radio stations.
“I’ll definitely be performing that one, as well I released a song that I co-wrote with Carly Rae Jepsen called Where Did You Go that I’ll for sure be performing during the show and a brand new Christmas tune called Favorite Christmas Song, which just came out this year.”
The latter song, Allen explains, was inspired by the idea that Christmas sometimes brings out “those memories of the people that aren’t with us anymore, but if there was a way that we could play their favourite Christmas song, then maybe it would still feel like they were with us.”
As in past years, a portion of ticket sales from All Hearts Come Home will go to support Canadian Humanitarian and the work they do in Ethiopia (visit CanadianHumanitarian.com for more info.)
As of press time, some tickets ($30/adult, $25/student) were still available at the Ticket Seller box office, ticketseller.ca, 250-549-7469.