Hometown Kickoff – 9th Annual Home for The Holidays Tour (2023)

Our 9th Annual Home For The Holidays Tour just about charged forward into the season without a hometown stop. We loved being at the Oak Ridge Playhouse for eight years. We always liked to keep things easy and low-maintenance for them as we know it takes a lot to successfully turn out an exciting show season each year. Fun fact, the Oak Ridge Playhouse was where I saw my first musical – Sweeney Todd. This made it all the more romantic for me.  Grateful to be a part of their season, I’m proud of my time with them and our reputation as one of the easiest and most professional artist experiences a venue or booker could dream of having. When we were told that things were changing and there would no longer be a place for us in their season, my first thought was all of you. I had grown so proud of the Christmas tradition we had cultivated and shared together that the thought of it ending made me sad.

Not to sit in the challenge too long, we finally found a new venue and started working on a new show, a new time, and hopefully a new tradition. Hometown friends pitched in to help spread the word of the big change: Stacey, Elliott at My Good Shirt, Stephanie, local businesses like Eckert Chiropractic Center and CBD American Shaman in Oak Ridge – hell, even my parents took posters around town!

A perfect segue to some local recommendations.

Clark with Eckert Chiropractic Center has a lot of complicated issues to resolve with me when it comes to how I twist at the piano. Not only has he come to the show to analyze why I have the complaints I have, he tailors our visits to address the core issues. No visit is exactly the same unless it needs to be. He’s great at providing exercises as well so that I’m strengthening to maintain a several week stretch of performing. I’m genuinely grateful he’s local for me.

Working right along side of that, I’ve been able to nearly eliminate my use of ibuprofen by discovering CBD American Shaman in Oak Ridge. I had tried CBD before and I unfortunately got a batch that caused me to feel slightly altered. Since then, I’ve stayed far away from it. When I heard that American Shaman’s manufacturing of their CBD is regulated in ways other companies may not be, they gave me the confidence to try again. And I’m so glad I did. I stocked up on the watermelon flavored Cloud (900 mg- dropper) before going on to my next cities. That’s my go-to. And I’ve been using a dropper in the morning and a dropper at night. I think that’s on the heavier end, but considering the aches and pains of my trade, it gets me through successfully without making me feel lethargic.

We pulled it off.

But it was not without the love and support of those closest to me. Old friends brought their entire families this year. Audience members from previous years saw the email I sent them or noticed the info on my facebook page. And while we did lose a lot of previous attendees, we gained just as many new ones.  The moral of this story is this – Ya’ll, you gotta sign up for an artist’s email list – you can’t rely on the venue to tell you. For good reason I’m sure, Oak Ridge Playhouse wasn’t able to inform callers of my new venue – this is totally fine – we managed, but this reinforces my ask – please sign up for my email list so I can let you know directly when I’m back in your town- you’re literally saving me hundreds of dollars in marketing trying to find you year after year!

A hearty thank you! 

Thank you to the Princess Theatre in Harriman, TN. They were so lovely to work with. Not only does the stage allow for the show to expand, but I believe they really desire to help their client succeed. Please check out their schedule of shows and support them! This theatre is amazing and you need to become more aware of what they have going on. They have a fantastic children’s theatre program/outreach that I plan on learning more about and getting involved with in 2024. And for those of you who were questioning the parking situation in downtown Harriman? There is literally more parking there than what you’re used to at OR Playhouse. Tons. In the church lot next to the theatre.

So here we are.  Mark your calendar every year now. The Friday (evening) and Sunday (matinee) after Thanksgiving will be the official kickoff of the tour from now on – right here in my back yard.

In the video below, you will see the feature that aired on WBIR TV‘s 10 About Town. (The link will take you to ALL my interviews with WBIR over the years.) You’ll see the Elvis number Santa Claus Is Back In Town, which proved to be a favorite with every audience on the tour. I’ll take you to Thanksgiving at my dad’s house and walk you through my show day routine.

Also, a few photos from the weekend.

And here’s your artist tip: Artists! Your TOP marketing priority should be developing your email list. Direct connection is the ONLY thing you own. Music business resources will tell you that 70% of your email list will purchase. This is the easiest way to stretch your budget out and save hundreds of dollars in marketing. Practice great list hygiene. (Did you know that having a good unsubscribe automation will unsubscribe inactive email recipients and in turn help keep Gmail from throwing you in everyone’s spam folder?) Build a genuine email rapport with your customer – get to know them! Let me tell you. I have a nearly 100% track record on responding to every email that customers write back to me. Why? Because you never know when you’re making a difference in someone’s day. And besides, they are the reason you get to do what you do. Stop thinking there is any value in creating some mystique around your “artist persona”. No one care! Get personal! Reply! Learn about your customers! You are in the SERVICE INDUSTRY. Let that sink in.

I’ll tell you something I did in each city after my hometown that worked like a charm. Before my next to last song, I asked the audience if they wanted to do this again next year. When they said yes, I simply said “we have a problem though – I don’t know how to reach you.” I asked everyone right then and there to open their phone, go to my home page where the first thing you see is a sign up form, and sign up for my email list indicating their city. I’ve now increased my chances of seeing a full house again next year and did it in a way that saves money and builds genuine connection. Find your way of doing this and watch real relationships develop between you and your customers.

(Top L to R) – O Holy Night performance. Connie Lee taking advantage of the Ask Levi Anything segment to float a solo performance of her own next year. Zach on the bass during sound check. Me playing with my little cousin Kimber during the show’s intermission. 

(Bottom L to R) – Hometown friends Gale and Donna meet up for a quick catch-up lunch. Connie Lee and Jason on Thanksgiving. Me and dad. Me and Jason.