Embers bring holiday spirit to Paramount
By Dennis Hill
Published in News on December 21, 2010 1:46 PM
Christmas swung into Goldsboro Monday night as The Embers returned to the Paramount Theatre with their holiday show.
The band, led by Goldsboro's own Bobby Tomlinson on drums, reprised its Christmas appearance of a year ago and did not disappoint. Band members said they felt they had an even better show prepared for the crowd of nearly 500 people.
"The show has gotten even better than last year," saxophonist Matt Kosma said just before the band took the stage. "We're tighter. We've chosen better material. We kept the best from last year and added something new."
"This is the best Christmas show by far," guitarist David Dixon said. "We've had another year together and the level of comfort with one another ... it's seamless."
"This was the best show ... a packed house, a great sounding room," said keyboardist and singer Rick Sanders after the show, as members of the famed beach music band signed autographs and posed for photos with fans.
"I enjoy this more than anything we do," Kosma said.
"We came back because we had such an overwhelming response last year," Tomlinson said. "It was like a homecoming."
The show was sponsored by The News-Argus. A portion of the proceeds go to The Empty Stocking Fund, a nearly century-old charity that helps needy local children at Christmas.
Monday night's performance was a true homecoming for several members of the band. Dixon's parents and girlfriend arrived from Greenville just in time for the show. He said a friend in law school in New Orleans was home for the holidays and was in the audience. Tomlinson greeted many old friends, some in Goldsboro for the holidays.
Much of the show was taken from the group's new Christmas CD, which is a compilation of their last three years of Christmas concerts, with a few special songs thrown in. The CD also includes video of the band's history. The Embers were founded in 1958 and have been one of the mainstays of the beach music scene for decades. Tomlinson is the lone remaining member of the original band. Most of the rest weren't even born when Tomlinson started playing music.
The band, dressed in white suits and red ties, opened with "I Love Christmas Music," a holiday version of one of their signature hits, and ran through a set of their holiday favorites that included "Christmas Comes But Once A Year," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."
At one point, Tomlinson dressed as Santa Claus and made his rounds through the crowd. Kosma and bassist John Ray collaborated on a duet that started with "I'll Be Home for Christmas," and ended with "Frosty the Snowman." Tomlinson sang an original arrangement of "White Christmas," and lead singer Wayne Free ended the show by dedicating "Please, Celebrate Me Home," to troops serving overseas.
Dixon said fans can follow the band through YouTube by visiting jdaviddixon1. He and bass player John Ray have collected videos of the band in concert, along with behind-the-scenes footage.
Despite his age, Tomlinson said he is looking forward to another year of traveling and performing. The band plays about 250 shows a year, he said.
"We just want to keep going, keep playing, keep entertaining people," Tomlinson said. "Maybe get even bigger."
What are the chances The Embers will come back again next year?
"If they'll have us," Tomlinson said.