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January 18, 2020

12/3/2019 7:29:00 AM
Violinist Randy Sabien in concert at Nicolet Dec. 10

Acclaimed violinist Randy Sabien loves the holiday season - especially the holiday music tradition.

Sabien and his band of extraordinarily talented musicians will continue that tradition in the Nicolet College Theatre with the rich and entertaining concert "Meet Me Under the Mistletoe: A Holiday Concert with Randy Sabien" at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 10.

The mix will include traditional fare with exciting twists and many of his original holiday tunes in the wide range of styles he's mastered that include blues, rock, jazz, swing, and classical, the college announced in a press release.

"I absolutely will be playing some songs people will recognize, but not the overdone ones that everyone can sing in their sleep," said Sabien. "I'll also be doing some parodies - my way of honoring the joy of the season. People who attend can be assured that there will none of the same old same old. It will be festive, it will be fun, and in its own kind and gentle way will defy all expectations."

Take for instance the song "Meet Me Under the Mistletoe Tonight," from Sabien's CD "Meet Me Under the Mistletoe," for which the concert is named. It starts off like a sweetly romantic jazz standard, and step by step, verse by verse, ends up in a distinctly bawdier place, the release states.

"We're not irreverent but let's just say, like the woman singing the song, we're looking for a real good time," Sabien laughed.

He's excited about the skilled musicians he's recruited to support him for this event.

"I need really good musicians with me and that's what I have," he said. "Drummer Joe Lindzius is from Chicago. People may know him from Molly and the Heymakers (a regional country act that performed from 1987-1995). Ed Willett, our cellist, is one of the musical directors of Big Top Chautauqua near Lake Superior and formerly toured as part of Ricki Lee Jones' group. Our keyboardist and vocalist, Yasmin Bowers, is an expert in Latin music and has a beautiful voice."

Sabien is no stranger to the Nicolet stage, but it's been a while.

"Randy was last on the Nicolet stage in the '90s and I've been wanting to bring him back ever since," said Nicolet College Theatre Director Jim Nuttall. "I love the way there's always a richly creative and surprising quality to the music he composes and plays.

Sabien is a graduate of the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston, whose alumni include Bruce Cockburn, Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, Gillian Welch, Quincy Jones, and a huge list of notable jazz musicians. He also founded and chaired the school's string department at the age of 21.

He wrote his first Christmas song, "Boogie Woogie Christmas," in 1996. The song was performed by award-winning acoustic guitarist Pat Donahue on "A Prairie Home Companion" the following year, and by the PBS children's cartoon character Arthur Read on his first PBS holiday special.

"Here's the best way to think about the repertoire we'll be playing at the concert: I'm creating a Christmas album on stage that I would actually listen to," Sabien explained. "And I know from my more than three decades in music that if it works for me, it's likely to work for the folks who come to listen, too."

The Sabien concert is part of the Nicolet Live! 2019-2020 Performing Art Series and will take place in the Nicolet College Theatre.

Tickets are $15 and can be ordered online at or by calling (715) 365-4646.

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