Abbi and DavidThere’s something about the holidays I don’t care for. There’s too much food, too much traffic and too many busy-bodies, but you can never have enough Christmas parties.

There were three Christmas parties in a row at Allandale Mansion this year and I played my usual holiday jazz at all of them – I wore a tux, drank plenty of red wine and although at times I welcome the ‘Grinch’ persona, I still had fun dragging out my holiday tunes for the business cocktail parties I get to play each season.

The Allandale Mansion is a great place for parties from 50 to 500. Over the past several years my job has been on the Yamaha grand and this year that included Tuesday night with Town and Country Realty, Friday with Bank of Tennessee and Saturday – The GoTriCities Holiday Ball.

For a while, I thought this might be a record, but Andy Brooks and Missy saw me every night and it’s good to know I wasn’t alone, but it sure was a crazy week to follow up a trip to Utah and leave another week to prepare for family and friends.

Andy Brooks is a native son to Allandale. His grandfather, Harvey Brooks built Kingsport’s stately manor back in the sixties as a dairy farm and at one time was home to a million dollar black Angus bull.

The City of Kingsport took over the mansion some time ago and during the holidays, they decorate every room and rent the place out for some of the cities best holiday parties. Andy is the owner of Town and Country Realty and it’s only natural their agency would have the annual Christmas Party at Allandale Mansion. There was a room full of Realtors and bankers and I had a good time with them playing my dose of Vince Guaraldi classics and enjoyed plenty of shiraz among this group of local businessmen and women.

It was a busy week as a musician, but Saturday night was on my mind as our own holiday party – The GoTriCities Holiday Ball was fresh on my mind. This was our holiday party to celebrate a successful year and to appreciate our friends. The festivities of the other parties were quite hectic, but by Friday, I had already gotten my tuxedo and was ready to play another party for Bank of Tennessee.

This was the first time I had performed for this group and there were lots of attractive women at this shin-dig. The best part was the bar – the bar was right next to the piano and that’s a first, but it made for some interesting challenges as I wrestled my music between the reverie of the cocktail party.

Bank of Tennessee spared no expense tonight (except the plastic wine cups) to put on a great Christmas party. They had terrific food, plenty to drink and a DJ was there to followup my holiday serenade which was over about 8.30. It started to get loud and there was a handful of ladies that were ripe for a party, but when the ‘Electric Slide’ started, I had to leave before I got dizzy from the choreography.

I didn’t go straight home though. Hell. I had on the tuxedo, so I stopped by Rush Street and waited for my friends Danny and Tracy to show up. We had fun talking to Jan Leblanc who is one of the managers at Rush Street. I went to Central High School with her husband Charlie who came down later as we talked about our holiday.

Mirage was playing a set in the Rush Street Bar and there have been lots of stories about this band on the streets for several months now. Mirage is made of many local musicians who have floated in and out of this project which is the compliment to the talent of musician Henry Linguard.

Linguard is a terrific performer whom according to his story, sort of got stranded here when he was touring with The Drifters. His wife left him with his son and he’s working out the details here in the Tri-Cities. He stays busy on the music scene too and had a small trio tonight accompanying himself on drums and vocals. Troy and Nigel from the Johnson City original metal band ‘Pilot’ were performing a set of traditional dance tunes. Henry would leave the drum track on auto-pilot occasionally and worked his way around the room of 60 or so people who were hanging out at Rush Street – a local neighborhood legacy now in its 27th year in Kingsport.

Saturday morning started early and although the day was spent driving around the Tri-Cities gathering drinks from One Stop, rentals from Action Rental and negotiating final details with BJ’s catering it didn’t take long to have everything ready for our own party at Allandale – then the rain came.

At first, it didn’t bother me. After all, we really need the rain, but then it came down in a torrent. It was one of those showers where it was hard to drive and see the pavement which looked like a mirror – on top of that, it was cold.

Angie Rowland met me at Allandale as I was unloading the Jeep in the pouring rain. She brightened up the night though in her red bow tie. She’s a delightful bartender and we’ve run into each other many times around the region and it was great to have her help tonight.

The caterers were almost finished and there was no doubt our guests were welcome to second helpings. The table was packed with food and it was good to see everything fall into place.

We didn’t have the turnout we expected for our first ‘Holiday Ball.’ Keith Wilson later commented it’s more important to invite people sometimes as opposed to seeing them actually showing up and he’s right. There was plenty of other parties in town and the weather wasn’t a help either.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed welcoming all of our clients who came out for the ‘semi-formal’ gathering. My friends never looked better too and we enjoyed several hours of food, conversation, wine and memorable moments. The highlight of my night was playing music around the piano. Jared, Tom, Bill Robinson and myself turned up the mood as our friends gathering around for familiar holiday carols.

Here are some great pictures from that night at the party.

It was close to midnight when we started began the cleanup. There was a ton of food left over and every guest had a ‘doggie-bag’ and it wasn’t long before it was just me and Angie. That was all for the week of parties and it was good to finally have the social parties taken care of for the year because my vacation started the following week.

There’s nothing like a holiday party at Allandale though and I look forward to more moments from this stately, graceful mansion which continues to be host to some of Kingsport’s most memorable events.