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Tesh's warmup act feeling giddy

CLEARWATER

Tonight, Ruth Eckerd decks its hall with music and merriment from new age instrumentalist John Tesh.

His opening act?

Clearwater's official adult singing group, the Clearwater Chorus.

"We were thrilled to be asked to open for John Tesh," said the choral group's artistic director, Roseann Sheppard. "Of course, just performing on the stage at Ruth Eckerd Hall is a 'wow' for us."

Tesh agrees.

This is the fourth time the former host of Entertainment Tonight has played at the venue.

"It's a great place to play," he said during a phone interview. "And this will give me a chance to catch up with my brother-in-law, Vinny, from the Bronx."

Vinny Sellecchia is the brother of Connie Sellecca, Tesh's wife, who altered the spelling of her maiden name.

"Vinny" has recently moved to the Tampa Bay area and will be sitting in the front row — he'll be the one with the "super mullet," according to Tesh. (For the uninitiated, a mullet is a hairstyle — short on the sides, long in the back — that was popular in the 1980s.)

Tesh, 56, said he plans to bring his six-piece band and play classic and gospel music, as well as some "holiday hip-hop" inspired by his musical production Alive: Music and Dance. The show, now out on DVD, fuses contemporary dancers, ballerinas, musicians and singers.

Tesh said he was inspired to incorporate young dancers into his act as he watched his daughter, Prima, 14, take ballet lessons one day.

He'll also share some selections from his new CD, The Best of Christmas.

"I'll do a little singing, no dancing, and a lot of piano and keyboard playing," he said.

Music has been a lifelong passion of the towering Tesh, who is 6-6.

He began piano and trumpet lessons at age 6 and has studied with teachers from the Juilliard School in New York City.

Some were shocked when Tesh dropped his gig with ET to pursue a career as a musician and composer.

Today, though, the honors from his 25-year career read like the Twelve Days of Christmas, with six Emmys, two Grammy nominations, six hit PBS specials and three gold albums.

He currently hosts the syndicated John Tesh Radio Show: Music and Intelligence for Your Life, which airs locally on WMTX-FM Mix 100.7.

The all-volunteer Clearwater Chorus, a community staple since 1969, has appeared in Christmases past with Andy Williams and Linda Eder.

This year, the chorus is happy to share the spotlight with Tesh.

"We have 90 members of all ages," Sheppard said. "We're very excited and hope people will come see us and want to join the Clearwater Chorus."

if you go

The concert

What: John Tesh performs with the Clearwater Chorus.

When: 7:30 tonight.

Where: Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater.

Tickets: $39 and $65 at the Ruth Eckerd ticket office, open today from 10 a.m. until showtime.

Information: Call (727) 791-7400 or visit www.rutheckerdhall.com or www.ticketmaster.com. Group rates are also available; call (727) 712-2717.

Tesh's warmup act feeling giddy 12/04/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 10:52am]
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