Mannheim Steamroller is bringing their Christmas show to Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater on Sunday.
Mannheim Steamroller is a wonderfully creative band that specializes in holiday music, and they are my go-to band for all things Christmas. They have sold 28 million albums in the U.S alone, so it is not just my opinion you have to trust.
Mannheim Steamroller, founded by Chip Davis, a musical genius, is a band like no other. Their unique name comes from an 18th-century German musical technique called Mannheim Roller, a crescendo passage having a rising melody over an ostinato bass line. Along with having a cool name, the band also have a bunch of cool instruments they use!
Working in a genre entirely of their own making, called “eighteenth century classic rock,” the band plays trumpets, recorders, harps and flutes, oboes, toy pianos, gongs and finger cymbals, to name a small few. But the really interesting part of their sound is the Renaissance-era instruments they use as well. When you have a whole orchestra playing behind you, along with hundreds of quirky instruments, followed by the strange but sweet melody of the Renaissance instruments, you get a sound like no other.
Now, you may be thinking, that’s cool, but what do old instruments have to do with Christmas? After Mannheim Steamroller self-produced their Fresh Aire albums under their own producing label, American Gramaphone, they made their holiday albums. These albums have become international bestsellers, far outselling any other Christmas album. The amazing way they take songs like “Carol of the Bells” into funky rock mixes, or make “Silent Night” into a chilling melody is truly distinctive.
While Mannheim Steamroller is truly a matchless and fascinating band, the main reason I listen to them is because of how they flip the music. They take the good but worn out holiday classics, add all sorts of instruments, and then completely change the style of them. They take some of your childhood favorites and remake them into brand new songs you’ll fall in love with all over again.
If you want more than just your regular Christmas songs, I strongly encourage you to look into Mannheim Steamroller’s Fresh Aire Christmas album, and their Christmas Celebration album. Want to hear “Deck the Halls” with a guitar, synthesizer, trumpets and Renaissance instruments all compiled into one singular sound? Then go check out Mannheim Steamroller!
Sunday’s performance is at 7:30 p.m., at the Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave. Tickets are still available.
Tuned In is a regular music column written by Michele Haeberlin, Current Staff.