The Louisiana Hayride Show is bringing its Christmas special to Penticton.
The old time variety show pays tributes to the timeless music of artists including Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. While they’re known for performing the staples, the hayriding musicians will be sharing many of their Christmas-themed songs with audiences as part of their special holiday programming.
While the original Louisiana Hayride Show ended its run on the radio in 1960, the creator of the live show, Lori Risling, wanted to prolong the magic.
“Deep down it’s from a love of music I had when I grew up listening to it. Knowing that there really wasn’t too much of it out there anymore, we thought it might be something that would have an audience, and it certainly has.”
The show was originally produced in front of an audience of 3,000, and broadcasted around the country on the AM dial. The name of the program “didn’t have anything to do with an actual hayride with hay and horses, it was just a name they picked. Every Saturday night it went for about three hours out of the municipal auditorium in Shreveport.”
Risling said everybody that sang received great exposure.
“Not only from the guests in attendance, but the broadcast. It was really great for the artists that sang on there. It helped boost a lot of careers,” she said. “Hank Williams for example, even Elvis performed there at age 19 before his major breakthrough.”
While listening to popular radio during the 1940s, “it was typical to have groups of entertainers to perform one after another. We wanted to do something a little bit different and make a Christmas show out of it.”
The show has been active for five years, and while the Christmas special is a variation that wasn’t part of the tradition, Risling said many former fans wish more Christmas music was part of the program.
“We kept the same format and still have several of our characters in costume. They sing some regular songs, but a good 80 per cent is Christmas music.”
She said the performers always play a big hit each artist well-known for, like Hey Good Lookin’ by Hank Williams or Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison.
Risling’s noticed the crowd favourites are most most often Roy Orbison and Patsy Cline.
Even younger audience members are entertained by the show, she said.
“They really enjoy it because they recognize the songs from when their parents or grandparents play them. ‘Yeah I heard it at my grandma’s, or mom and dad like to play it,’ they’ll say.”
Some songs will be basic Christmas standards, she said, including Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland and Away in a Manger.
“Some songs people seem to know no matter what,” she said, adding that churchgoers may recognize some hymns.
“We give the audience a feel of what it might have been like to have been in the audience in the old days watching the show.”
The Hayride is rolling into Penticton on Dec. 5 to perform at the Cleland Theatre. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $35, which can be bought at the Penticton Visitor Centre or by calling 250-276-2170.