Many people have annual musical traditions to get them in the mood for the holidays. For many in Middle Georgia, that tradition has been John Berrys Christmas concert at the Grand Opera House.
Berry will return to Macon for his 17th annual show at 7:30 p.m. Friday night. Tickets are $35.
Its just a great night for me, Berry said of his Macon show. I dont know if its great for the audience or not, I hope so. I really hope they love it, but I love it ... from the minute we pull in and say hello to the crew guys -- some of them weve seen every year.
The concert usually sells out, said Cindy Hill, marketing coordinator for the Grand. She described the show as being something like a family reunion and said about half of the tickets for the next years concert are sold during intermission.
Often times, because it is so close to Christmas, a lot of (Berrys) family will come, Hill said. Were the last concert before he goes home for the holidays so its a very special event.
Berry usually performs some of his Grammy-nominated songs.
You dont have to be a fan of country music to come to this, Hill said. I think that if you go youll probably get a little more spiritual nourishment from it than you might expect.
Berry, 54, grew up in Atlanta and lives in Watkinsville. His youngest child is a senior in high school, and his oldest just graduated from Valdosta State University.
His wife, Robin, joins him on tour, which lasts anywhere from 85 to 100 days a year.
Berry said concerts at the Grand are like a homecoming. He remembers a concert that a mother, father and daughter, who brought her boyfriend, attended. He said the daughter and boyfriend are now husband and wife who attend the show with their children.
He also remembers a couple of girls who came with their parents when they were 5 years old. He said they have been back every year since.
Thats just crazy. Thats so cool I cant even stand it, said Berry, who sits in the lobby after the show, signing autographs, hugging necks, taking pictures and talking to people.
This year, Berry said he has added some hit songs to the first portion of the night that people have been asking him to do for years. He also mixed up the Christmas set a little bit.
We added a song at the end of the night that is ... just beautiful, Berry said. (For) all the people whove come to see us for years it will be a new thing and theyll be like, Oh my gosh.
He said he plans to start working on an album early next year that will probably include some songs that have been big hits for others. Though he plans to put out another album, Berry noted that he will be 60 in just four years.
I dont know how many more years Ill do this, but its gonna wind down soon, Im guessing, and Im thinking that Macon will be the last show when it happens, he said.
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20
Where: The Grand Opera House, 651 Mulberry St.
Information: www.thegrandmacon.com; 478-301-5470