It may well be the most unique concert tour ever undertaken by an individual performer. “The House on Christmas Street International Tour 2010” is entirely supported by fans of one song.
Singer, songwriter and 2010 Grammy nominee Judy Pancoast wrote “The House on Christmas Street” in 1998 as a tribute to those mega-decorated houses she’s loved all her life; the ones that can almost be seen from outer space and make the passerby wonder how the homeowner is managing to pay the electric bill.
“There seems to be one of those houses in every town,” says Pancoast, “but to my knowledge nobody had ever written a song about it.”
Little did Pancoast know that just a few years after she wrote and recorded her song a phenomenon known as computer synchronized Christmas lighting would begin changing the way decorating enthusiasts created their displays, and her song would become their anthem. She doesn’t know when the first decorator discovered “The House on Christmas Street” and synchronized lights to it, but the trend has grown worldwide and the Internet now features numerous videos of houses as far away as Australia that are playing her song. Thousands of people visiting those displays hear her song each season, but it still isn’t played much on the radio, except of course, on PlanetChristmas radio.
This Christmas season, in an effort to bring the song to the mainstream public, Pancoast has mounted a unique tour of outdoor house concerts where her song is featured. The concerts feature Pancoast singing “The House on Christmas Street” along with other original tunes and favorites of the season while the brightly decorated houses provide a colorful and festive background.
Each homeowner on the tour has invited her to perform at their house because they love the song, and all of the expenses of the tour have been covered by donations from fans. She’s driving over 9,000 miles around the country in her 2004 Toyota van, a vehicle which already has 322,000 miles on its odometer.
She’s even being flown to England to sing at the home of decorator Paul Toole. “We’re so pleased and excited to have Judy Pancoast come across the pond to us,” says Toole. “Having Judy with us on the switch on night, is a DREAM come true. I’ve used Judy’s music in my display for the past four years; her songs tell a story about Christmas with which we are all so familiar.”
What’s it like on the tour from Judy’s perspective? We snagged one of her emails from December 7, 2010.
Just a little update as I have some time before I have to leave for Idaho this morning. First of all, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all of you I’ve met so far. It’s been an AMAZING adventure so far with more to come! I will carry happy memories of each and every one of you for the rest of my life. Thank you for welcoming me into your homes and making me feel like a part of your families.
We’ve had some problems trying to get my music started with the synchronizations, but last night at Richard’s he just played the instrumental version through his speakers and I sang with it through my speakers and it all went well.
I want to give a special shout-out to Paul in the UK with his partner Chris who had the unusual circumstance of having to hang around me for three days and listen to me scream my head off for 20 minutes when I found out about my Grammy nomination. If you haven’t seen the piece from the BBC on facebook you should check it out.
We worked until late last night on the video at Richard’s. The last thing they had me do was spin around and I got so dizzy I pretty much landed flat on the ground by the end of it. But it was FUN!!! See the finished video at http://vimeo.com/17653999
In Elgin I was blown away when the Mayor came out and presented me with an engraved brick fashioned from local clay. It is very special and will take a spot up there on the mantel. Thank you Forest and Cheryll for your hospitality and a chance to try barbecued sausage wraps…yum!
Thank you Chuck Smith for a wonderful hot shower and a great lunch with you and your lovely wife. It was really fun to have a chance to get to know you a little better and Emma really enjoyed it too. I can never thank you enough for everything on PlanetChristmas, which pretty much got all this going for me!
The barbecue was also delicious at Linda Brown’s house in Lubbock, where her handsome hubby cooked up enough food for an army, including his specialty, bacon-wrapped peppers with cream cheese. Linda invited me to do an afternoon concert at the nursing home where she works and that was a very special experience. I cheered when I saw her display…which had Santa Claus up on the roof….along with all the reindeer! In fact, Linda had every element of the song in her beautiful display, plus a great video she made to go with the song. She and her whole family were a hoot and I felt right at home there, as I did with the Dennis family in Elgin.
For those who were wondering how I made it from the Browns in Lubbock to the Holdmans in Pleasant Grove, I drove about five hours after the show in Lubbock and spent the night right outside of Albuquerque. By the way, I did see EVERYBODY’s lights from there! (editors note: this is in the lyrics of the House on Christmas Street song.) Then I drove the rest of the way yesterday.
Thanks for everybody I’ve met so far and to the ones I haven’t yet met…….batten down the hatches, I’m on my way!!!
Where’s Judy now?
November 27, 2010: Claremont, NH
December 1: Wells, England, UK
December 3: Franklin, TN
December 4: Elgin, TX
December 5: Lubbock, TX
December 6: Pleasant Grove, UT
December 7: Fruitland, ID
December 8: Woodinville, WA
December 11: Fairmont, MN
December 12: Blue Springs, MO
December 13: Fishers, IN
December 14: Nazareth, PA
December 15: Cleona, PA
December 16: Fredericksburg, VA
December 17: Gloucester, VA
December 18: Ennice, NC
December 19: Indian Trail, NC
December 20: Pilot Mountain, NC
December 21: Conway, SC
December 22: Cumming, GA
December 23: Winter Park, FL
December 24: Orlando, FL
Judy’s tour blog: http://houseonchristmasstreet.blogspot.com/
This article was included in the December 2010 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.
By Fred Garvin