Kerry Christensen - Master Yodeler
What is this show all about?
1. It is a happy show that your concert and festival goers will remember well after it is over.
2. I start with a little alpine yodeling just to get them warmed up. The first thing out of my mouth I start yodeling away. A swiss dairy yodeling song supposed to get cows to give more milk.
3. Next comes perhaps the Ku Ku Yodeling song. Folks get to participate with this one. I tell the story of the life of the Ku Ku birds.
4. You now get hijacked. It's time for the mouth trumpet. My lips get buzzing and out comes a cross between a trumpet and a flugelhorn. Most folks think I have something extra in my mouth making the sounds. Nope just me and my buzzing lips.
5. Now for something really strange. Yodeling and mouth trumpet at the same time. I call it the yodelumpet. I tell the people I am the only one in the world doing this. And aren't they glad.
I did invent this vocal technique. I sometimes encourage the crowd to try it. You can hear a bit of this on the Vocal Styles in the green section to the right. click twice to activate because they are flash files.
6. Now perhaps we jump to something cowboy. Perhaps Cattle Call or Chime Bells. I demonstrate a little about the difference between the american cowboy and the alpine yodeling styles.
7. Cajun yodeling anyone. No the cajuns don't yodel much but I have created a style of cajun yodeling that is starting to stick. One of the most difficult yodeling patterns I have ever created sung along with some well known cajun sing along songs.
8. Time to quit yodeling for a moment. Time for Country Roads by John Denver, or perhaps Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash. Sometimes I just start whaling away on the Auctioneer Song. In my shows the songs are ones that everyone knows and remembers.
9. Any Norwegians in the house I ask. Hands go up. How many speaka de Norwegian I ask in my English Norwegian accent. Very rarely do people with Norwegian heritage speak Norwegian. I tell them it does not matter because I'm going to sing them a Norwegian yodeling song and it's in German. They all laugh.
10. Now it's time for a very clean story or two. I make fun of me growing up on a potato farm in Idaho. I tell some buffalo jokes. Just what I feel like to keep the crowd wide awake.
11. Bluegrass time. I sing my created version of Rocky Top, that I call the Tennessee Banjo yodel. I figured out how to yodel a neat banjo cadence that follows the melody line of the southern states favorite of Rocky Top.
12. Next when I have it with me I pull out my Swiss alphorn and play two songs beginning with Amazing Grace. I play the Midi accordion where it sounds like I am playing along with a church organ. The alphorn is 13 feet long. Quite impressive if I say so myself. Next a fast number called the soccer fight song medley. I play Hold that Tiger and Bonanza for a little shock factor.
13. Jewish yodeling? Yup there is such a thing. Not much of it, but I sing the Yidisher Yodel in my best yidish accent. No shortage of off the wall things with my show.
14. This can go on for two hours but usually we take a break here for about 15 minutes to let the folks catch their breath.
Here is a review of one of Kerry's live shows by a blogger who just happened to attend one of his shows at a community concert in New Mexico.
When we woke up on Sunday, we finally knew that we were feeling better. I spent some time posting to the blog, then we took a look through the myriad papers we seem to collect in every location we visit.
Lo and behold, we saw that we were just in time for a free concert we had hoped to attend. The Deming Arts Council was sponsoring a concert by "International Virtuoso Performer Kerry Christensen, Vocalist, Instrumentalist and MASTER YODELER"!!!
Well, I LOVE yodeling and couldn't believe that we had almost missed this treat!
Since this was a free event, the flyer advised that we arrive early for a good seat. Excited to once again be feeling fine and off on an adventure, we left over an hour early, arriving to find the venue locked. We decided to take the hour and go get an ice cream (pretty silly what gets you happy after a couple of days in bed). We returned in plenty of time to get great seats.
I have to tell you, this was quite a show.
This gentleman is exceptionally talented, a true professional. In show business today, it seems that actual entertainers are in pretty short supply, but Kerry Christensen certainly fills the bill. I've seen so many show people who may be able to do one thing well, but I sometimes feel that the era of the all around performer is over.
But there is hope!
This talented fellow sings, plays the accordion, the zither and the Alpine Horn, also known as the Alphorn (yes, one of THOSE horns, the ones you see in the Ricola ads). He also yodels in every imaginable style including western, alpine, Hawaiian, Cajun, jazz, classical. Jewish and even Latin! And to top it all off, he also performs on what he calls the mouth trumpet. With this, he uses his mouth in some kind of buzzing motion and you would swear that there is a trumpet on stage (he does a mean Louis Armstrong).
I hate to sound gushy but this was just such a great show! Kerry has a wonderful voice and is a fine instrumentalist; however for me, his most impressive skill is blending the various elements of his talent into an engaging stage show.
I have never heard anyone actually attempt to play the alphorn before, but I can tell you that when he plays Amazing Grace on this astounding instrument, it is a deeply moving experience. In addition to playing the horn, he accompanies himself on his accordion, which in this song took on the guise of a massive pipe organ. It was a lovely experience.
He related a wonderful story about how he acquired his horn.
Kerry had just given a concert and an elderly gentleman came up to him and told him he wished to sell Kerry his own personal alphorn. Since these are expensive instruments, Kerry politely declined. The man then told him that his horn was worth much more but he wanted to sell it to Kerry for $1,200. Kerry took a look at the instrument and realized that this horn had been carved (apparently all alphorns are handmade) by a trio of fellows who are the acknowledged Masters of this craft. The elderly gent went on to explain that he had hoped to pass his horn on to his children, but he had finally understood that they had no interest.
Then he heard Kerry Christensen play, and the old man knew who he wanted to have his horn. He had only one stipulation, and that was that he wished Kerry to pass it on to his own children. Please, he requested, never sell it.
And as Kerry tells it, he purchased it on the spot and only told his wife about the purchase after he returned from his trip! Isn't that a great story?
He also plays the zither, an lovely instrument we rarely hear these days. My favorite of this part of the show was when he played the theme from the 1949 classic film, the Third Man. It was this haunting tune that first brought the zither to national attention here in America. I tell you, this show just got better and better.
The afternoon literally sped by, I just couldn't believe how lucky we felt to have happened upon this event. And while I have always loved western yodeling, who would have thought I loved other kinds as well? Not only was the afternoon a grand time but it was educational as well.
After the show, there was a reception and everyone got the chance to talk with Kerry. Up close and personal, he is every bit as engaging as on stage. I told him how much I had enjoyed the show and that I would be writing it up on this blog. He kindly pointed me to his website, which I recommend to everyone.
Unfortunately, the lighting was a bit dim during the concert and my pictures didn't come out.
If you ever need an entertainer, this man seems to tour tirelessly and is certainly an engaging stage presence. After the show, they were selling Kerry's CDs and I bought TEN of them, including one titled U2 can Yodel.
Watch out folks, when next you see me, I may be a yodeling fool!.
Please, take a look at his website, and check his schedule. If he is ever performing near you, make sure to attend, you will not be disappointed.
Posted by Kate & Terry at 7:36 PM 1 comments Links to this post
Labels: Deming, Entertainment on the Road
To Whom It May Concern:
I’m pleased to write this letter of support on behalf of Kerry Christensen. Mr. Christensen performed in our community recently and did an outstanding job. First, a brief note about the Ripon Arts League. Run by a 16 member volunteer board, the RAL as it is known, is in it’s 15th season offering the greater Ripon area which includes Ripon, Manteca, and Modesto area of California with quality performances in a variety of musical genres. Each year we present 5-6 concerts to our some 650 subscribing members. Every 5 yeasrs , our members vote for the top groups who have performed and they are invited back for an encore performance. Kerry Christensen, was selected in our Top 5 performers out of more than 25 groups in the last 5 years. He was surpassed by only the Sons of the San Joaquin, and, The Duttons of Bransom, Missouri.
Originally, when we booked Kerry Christensen, he came highly recommended but some of our selection committee members were concerned that the “master yodeler” might be too restrictive of a show. What was initially a concern was quickly erased when Kerry began his show. His experience as an entertainer at Disney World in Florida became readily apparent. We found Mr. Christensen to be an outstanding musician, performer and entertainer.
Here are some of our reasons: (1) Mr. Christensen is very talented as a singer and musician. His skill on the accordian is excellent. His mouth trumpet songs a la Louis Armstrong were superb, (2) unlike our initial concern that we were in for an evening strictly of yodeling, Kerry has considerable diversity in his performance. Concert attendees came away saying to members of our board that this was one of the best concerts they had ever attended. Kerry performed traditional Swiss, Bavarian, Scandinavian tunes. He performed cowboy, Hawaiian, jazz—truly a gifted talent. (3) Mr. Christensen is a great entertainer. He related well to our audience and that rapport turned in to a super enjoyable evening. As a small indicator, during intermission and after the show a large number of CD’s were sold as evidence of the audience’s enjoyment of Kerry. (4) Kerry is easy to work with and that makes it very helpful to the sponsoring community concert group. It was a breeze working with Kerry and it provided a proper closure for our 2007-08 concert series .
I highly recommend Kerry Christensen for your consideration. He will be returning to Ripon on March 13, 2009 as part of our 15th anniversary “encore performance” series along with the Sons of the San Joaquin, the Limeliters and others.
If I can be of help, please feel free to contact me.
Dr. Christopher L. Oase, President and Program Chair