Looking back at Mountain Snow & Mistletoe, 12/10/2009

Editor’s Note: Mountain Snow and Mistletoe was a yearly concert that Chris Shaw and Bridget Ball did to celebrate the holidays here in the Capital Region. Nearly every year Don Wilcock would interview his friend Chris about the upcoming show and some sweet moments were captured in print. Nippertown is proud to share six of these over the few days before Christmas and post a new interview between Don and Chris on Christmas Day… Merry Christmas!!!

Mountain Snow moves to The Egg: Touched by Angels

On November 2, Bridget Ball got an e-mail from a woman named Trish who described the emotions she and her boyfriend Jim felt the second time they went to Chris Shaw and Bridget Ball’s annual Mountain Snow and Mistletoe Christmas show. “We sat together holding hands, tears streaming down our cheeks as your beautiful voice filled the hall with those words.”

The song was “Light A Light” about putting a candle in the window as a beacon for travelers, and Bridget’s heartfelt delivery of the message touched Trisha and Jim in a way that literally changed their lives. “The day after the show in 2007 I had to return to western New York,” wrote Trish. “Jim (who lives in the Capital Region) went out and bought a candle and put it in the window, the light for the traveler. Every day at dusk it turned on and stayed on until dawn even when we weren’t traveling to see one another. I traveled a lot for work and knew that light was there for me.”

chris bridget4
Christopher Shaw (guitar and vocals) and Bridget Ball (vocals and guitar)

This Saturday Jim and Trish will be married, and after the ceremony, they plan to attend the first of two Mountain Snow and Mistletoe performances at The Egg. The other is Sunday afternoon. A simple song helped this couple “Light The Light” in their relationship. “We were far apart more than together for a long time. There was a great deal of cold and dark for both of us for those many years, but always and long before “Light A Light” was familiar to us, Jim would tell me that I was his light and that our love was light, and it was warmth. It’s taken us a long time, but we’ve finally navigated the obstacles that prevented us from being together. Now, we live together every single day. The good and light and warmth outweigh everything else now. We live in happiness and joy.”

            How many others have been touched this deeply by the music of Chris and Bridget? My wife Michele and I are blessed to have been so taken under their shade tree. In 1994, Michele’s work as a Vista volunteer failed to evolve into the job she was hoping for, and she moved to Tennessee. We weren’t married, and I thought I’d lost her. Chris wrote a song “Northern Breeze” for us. It appears on his Been To Town and Back Again album. It put into words feelings I was too devastated to articulate. Speaking for me, Chris stated that even though Michele had moved away to start her life over, I would always be there as an alternative if she decided to return. I played the song on my WXLE “Roadhouse” program and sent her a tape. When she returned, Chris and Bridget sang “Northern Breeze” at our wedding.

            In a world overflowing with hype and unfulfilled promises, I will not attempt to define how profound this couple’s music and this show now in its fifteenth year is to the thousands of people who are touched by their warmth, Christian goodwill and an ability to turn those qualities into three-minute verses THAT HAVE changed lives. I can only give testimony, as has Trish, to what they did for my life with my beloved Michele. But then that’s what Christmas is about, isn’t it?

            A heads up is in order about the venue for this year’s show that also features John Kirk, Brian Mellick and Kevin McKrell. After 13 years at the Troy Music Hall, this Americana tradition has moved to The Egg in Albany. Six months ago, Bridget Ball, along with six other Board members resigned from the board of directors for the Troy Music Hall. This fall, the Music Hall has produced shows that have included a Beatles cover band, and their (replacement?) Christmas show is a Scrooge musical. The Egg, on the other hand, has welcomed the show to its family and presented a calendar that bests the Music Hall’s, and I’m being kind at saying that.

            After interviewing Chris, Bridget, and former Troy Music Hall Board President Ted Potrikus at length, I am convinced that the decision to move the show was not a simple one and involved many considerations over and above the politics of a single venue. Potrikus compares the venerated Music Hall to Woody in the Disney cartoon film Toy Story. Woody was not happy being a collectible to be worshipped. He existed to bring joy to the children who played with him. The Troy Music Hall is not the Sistine Chapel. It’s a community resource, and ultimately the hall will prove bigger than the politics that threaten it now.

  • What: Mountain Snow and Mistletoe
  • Where: The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany
  • When: Saturday 8:00 p.m. and Sunday 2:00 p.m.
  • Tickets: $24.00, www.theegg.com, 473-1845

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