Veteran country band Restless Heart is celebrating the holidays in a very unique way this year, through their partnership with Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center for the holiday-themed dinner show A Season of Harmony -- part of the Nashville hotel's annual "Country Christmas" schedule.
According to lead singer Larry Stewart, the band has loved being there. "It's really been a great experience," he tells Billboard. "Everyone there has been amazing to us, and they have given us what we wanted and needed, even going as far to build us a really cool set. The crowds have also been great."
With an extensive performance schedule, Stewart does admit that the band has had to re-learn the art of pacing themselves. "We've never really worked this hard before -- doing this many shows in a row. The only real challenge for us has been keeping all of us healthy and singing every night, but it's been an enjoyable experience."
Stewart said that while the band has done Christmas tours before, there is a little bit of uncharted territory that goes with producing the show. "I think we are doing 29 shows in 35 days, which is something we've never done before. But we're having fun doing it. It seems like it has gone well on both sides of the fence, with the hotel and the fans."
With the band being based in Music City, Stewart says they don't take their participation with Hotel Opryland lightly. To quote Minnie Pearl, they are proud to be there. "It was cool to be a part of the lighting when they flipped the switch of the Christmas lights. Seeing all those lights when you come in off Briley Parkway is really magnificent. It's a spectacular place, and the Christmas spirit is all through it. To be a part of something that grand is special for us, and we're proud to be the musical act there. The food has been great. A lot of people have given high marks to the food, so it makes for a good evening."
Being so close to home has its perks as well, says Stewart. "I think that's one of the reasons that we are able to stay so rested, as opposed to getting on and off of a bus. Getting a hotel lobby call to catch a plane at 4 a.m. We can stay rested at night, because the show is early. The dinner starts at 5, and the show is at 6. We can be home at a decent hour and relax."
The show is a little different than past productions featuring Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis, which had a little bit more of a theatrical lean, with Stewart saying their show is a bit more musical-oriented. One of the other past performers of "Country Christmas" gave her stamp of approval to the band during a recent performance. "Louise Mandrell came to the show the other night, and she came backstage gleaming," said Stewart proudly. "She said she was so proud of us, and she was the one who got things rolling there. She was really complimentary, and it made us feel good that she was proud, and that we were carrying on the legacy of that nice evening."
A Season of Harmony runs through Dec. 25.