It’s the Melissa Reaves Holiday Show!
Whenever a female singer comes on the scene with a blue-eyed
soul groove and a rock edge injected into her blues music, you can count down the seconds to when
the inevitable Janis Joplin reference enters the conversation in interviews with the press.
While High Country singer Melissa Reaves has a love for the music of Joplin, those comparisons can be tiresome and predictable.
“It’s not that I don’t like Janis, but I didn’t study her or try to be her,” Reaves said. “But I’ve talked about her a lot because when she was around, particularly when it came to women, she represented a lot for women in that era, and for people. For women in particular, she gave a sense of empowerment. For everybody else, it was her reckless abandon in her approach to singing. She gave it her all.
“But as for the (constant) comparison to her, I am amazed by it. I’m like, ‘Well, what about this singer? What about Chaka Khan? What about Sarah Vaughan? What about Nancy Wilson (of Heart) and what about Nancy Wilson the jazz singer?’ All of these people are instrumental in influencing my singing. I mean, Robert Plant, for crying out loud, and AC/DC. It’s not just the chicks.”
On Friday evening, Dec. 14, Reaves will host her 11th annual Holiday Show. The musical guests will include Ritmo De La ApoCalypso, the Mennonite Brethren Choir and others. The yearly get-together will begin at 8 p.m. at Char, located at 179 Howard St. in Boone. Tickets are $9, and more information can be found by calling (828) 266-2179. Dinner reservations and early arrival is suggested.
There are rare and magical times when an artist reaches a level of playing music where they rise above themselves, when everything is going right and the music lifts them up to a special place. Musicians, such as Jerry Douglas, Derek Trucks and others, have discussed this phenomenon in interviews (Trucks, Warren Haynes and Carlos Santana talk about it at the 12-minute mark in this recent video - tinyurl.com/cpk34tx), and it is something that Reaves has experienced, as well.
“I don’t really know what happens, I don’t really know where I go; I just float off,” Reaves said. “I guess if I had to describe it, I go above my head and a little bit forward, and I am always focused on the audience. I am singing and connecting with the audience from my higher self. I don’t try and go there; that is just what happens when the spirit moves me.
“And, it might get sparked by what the musicians around me are playing, but sometimes I have to spark it, initially. Sometimes I have to say to the band, ‘Hey, we’re doing something different here. We’re not just going to get up here and schlep through these songs. Quit thinking. Don’t be thinking up here. You all need to be feeling.’
"And, anyone that plays with me long enough, that is what they do as they are reaching for that, too. Then, we get up into our higher self and start talking together in a special music language. Music from the heart.”
Reaves has been spending a lot of time in a small, artsy Arizona border town called Bisbee in recent years, so this show will be a homecoming, as much as a celebration of the season.
“The Holiday Show is a big deal, man,” Reaves said. “It’s like a community hug. We all get together, and we have a good time, and we dance, and it really has a great energy to it. I’m looking forward to getting some of that, plugging in, so to speak. I’m real excited to get back home."