A grand piano, backup singers and candles — that’s all the fanfare Johnny Reid will have when he performs in St. John’s next month, and it’s all he’ll need.
Earlier this week, Reid announced he would be bringing his “A Christmas Gift to You” tour to town, and unlike every previous time he’s played in this province, the show will see less screaming fans and more reverence.
Reid will be hosting an intimate, stripped-down version of his current tour performance at Cochrane Street United Church Dec. 19.
The idea came about out of necessity, Reid told The Telegram in a phone interview. Earlier this fall, when he was given the dates for his Christmas tour, the first thing he noticed was Newfoundland and Labrador wasn’t on it.
“My first question was, ‘where’s Newfoundland?’ The response to that was, ‘Well, you were just in Newfoundland with The Eagles (for the Salmon Festival last July), and we’re not sure because of the weather, and there’s not anywhere for you to play. The arena and everything is booked,” Reid said.
“I said, ‘Guys, we need to figure something out.’ It went on for a few weeks … and I called my managers and said ‘Why don’t you start looking for an alternate location? I’ll play an outdoor concert if I need to.’”
Eventually, one of Reid’s managers suggested they start looking for a church, and decided on Cochrane Street United — its dome-roof sanctuary is known for its acoustics and is a popular concert space.
Reid says he has a special connection with people in this province, because of his upbringing. Born in Scotland, he moved to Canada with his family at age 13, though he has retained a thick Scottish brogue.
“I grew up in a very blue-collar, coastal kind of city, so I have a lot of connection with the people of Newfoundland. This thing is called ‘A Christmas Gift to You,’ but every time I come to Newfoundland it feels like it’s a Christmas gift to me. I enjoy getting down to the pub and having a pint and sitting down and having a cup of tea. I enjoy the people.”
The “A Christmas Gift to You” CD — which Reid describes as “Braveheart meets Christmas” — was released at the beginning of October, has reached the No. 1 spot on Canadian seasonal chart.
Tickets for Reid’s performance at Cochrane Street United are $25 plus a $4 service charge, and go on sale at the church this morning at 9 a.m., with a limit of two per person.
Admission to the show will require a ticket and a non-perishable food item, to be donated to Bridges to Hope.