Better last than never.
That could be the feeling of Rochester-area Lorie Line fans, who have waited all Christmas season to see their favorite pianist perform.
Line’s 25th Anniversary Christmas Special tour, which has visited 40 cities since early November, finally makes it to Rochester for a concert Tuesday at Mayo Civic Center’s Presentation Hall. It is the final pre-Christmas stop on Line’s tour, which will continue after the holiday with two concerts next week in Granite Falls.
Since it’s her 25th anniversary of Christmas concerts, Line said she has been celebrating in a big way this season as she has crossed the Midwest, from Colorado to Wisconsin, North Dakota to Nebraska. She has also released a new CD (her 46th) and published a new music book (her 43rd).
By now, Line’s story is well-known. Born in Phoenix and reared in Reno, Nev., she started taking piano lessons at the age of 5. She was classically trained, and earned a degree in piano performance from the University of Nevada-Reno. After marrying Tim, the couple moved to the Twin Cities where, in 1988, Line got her break playing the piano for shoppers at the downtown Minneapolis Dayton’s store during the holiday season.
Soon, customers were asking for recordings and Line was happy to oblige. She started her own recording label, wrote her own arrangements, started booking concerts and before long was a one-woman music industry.
Line’s Christmas concerts became known for their extravagant costumes and staging. They included guest artists, Line’s own Pop Chamber Orchestra, including some of the finest musicians in the Twin Cities, and sellout crowds at major venues.
Then, for whatever reason, the air started exiting the party balloons. Their were reports of financial difficulties in the Line empire. The tour productions and venues were downsized, the costumes were not as numerous and flamboyant, and the Pop Chamber Orchestra was reduced to the Fab Five. Audiences noticed, and there were some complaints on concert review message boards.
Line, though, has never stopped playing, and with the dedication of a young piano student in love with the music, performs about 80 concerts a year — half of them during the Christmas season. And voila! audience reviews for this year’s Christmas tour, judging by comments on message boards, have been glowing.
Line’s guest performer this year is baritone vocalist Cody Schuebel, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student she discovered when he was singing last summer at a wedding. Schuebel, 6-feet, 7-inches tall, and weighing 325 pounds, is a former college football lineman who is majoring in vocal performance.
His audition confirmed Line’s initial impression, and got him a spot on the Christmas tour. Schuebel took the semester off from school to rehearse and then spent two months traveling with Line’s Christmas tour.
As for Line’s portion of the concert, she promises to feature “the best of the best” of her holiday music from the past 25 years.
If you go
What: Lorie Line’s 25th Anniversary Christmas Special
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Mayo Civic Center Presentation Hall, 30 Civic Center Drive S.E., Rochester
Tickets: $49 at the civic center box office, and through Ticketmaster either online, by phone at 800-745-3000 or at Rochester Walmart stores.