Christmas is only six weeks away, so it's time to celebrate the holiday with Mannheim Steamroller.
The progressive rock outfit started out with non-seasonal recordings that blended classical and contemporary styles, but over the past 30 years they've become more and more a Christmas-only attraction.
Their modern takes on traditional Christmas music have made them as much as holiday staple as "The Nutcracker."
They'll be in Sarasota on Wednesday for a concert at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Mannheim Steamroller started off as a solo project by musician Chip Davis. Davis was a producer and songwriter whose biggest previous hit had been the '70s novelty country song "Convoy," which he and Bill Fries recorded under the name C.W. McCall.
Mannheim Steamroller was an instant success from the release of its first album in the mid-'70s. Davis turned to Christmas music in 1984 and that has been the band's trademark sound ever since. Davis has recorded 17 more Christmas albums under the Mannheim Steamroller banner, and has sold more Christmas albums that any other act ever.
Davis may not be on stage with Mannheim Steamroller. Some years, there have been two different Mannheim Steamroller bands touring simultaneously.
The Van Wezel show is billed as "Mannheim Steamroller by Chip Davis," not "with Chip Davis." So it will be the Mannheim Steamroller music you know, even if Davis himself isn't among the people performing it.
Details: 8 p.m. Nov. 19, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $65-$90. Information: 941-953-3368, vanwezel.org.
-- Marty Clear