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Lettermen hit Honeywell with holiday style

BY CHELSEA BOULRISSE - cboulrisse@wabashplaindealer.com

The Lettermen are making a comeback for Christmas as they return to the Honeywell stage as part of their Christmas tour.

The pop group has been crooning about Christmas since 1966, according to Lettermen member Tony Butala, who explained that was the year the group recorded its first Christmas album.

“The type of music we sing lent itself to Christmas songs,” Butala said. “A lot of bands with harsh rock and roll songs weren’t that conducive to also do Christmas music. But the Lettermen, with their soft melodic ballads lends itself to beautiful Christmas ballads and carols.”

Over the course of their career, the Lettermen have recorded 76 albums, several of which were focused solely on tunes for the holiday season, becoming a traditional favorite for many families this time of year.

“The Lettermen are synonymous with Christmas in a lot of people’s households,” Butala said. “I’ve had thousands of letters that say the family can’t trim the tree without listening to us. When you become a part of Americana like that it’s a big responsibility and pleasure.”

Now on their Christmas tour, the Lettermen are mixing yuletide cheer with some of their other stand-by songs that their fans know and love in a two hour-plus show. The group even likes to bring fans in on the fun, according to Butala, who highlighted that one of the big moments of the show is when the Lettermen invite fans onstage to perform “The 12 Days of Christmas” with them.

“It’s hilarious,” Butala said. “We pick people who look like they’re enthusiastic. We get the funniest people and the best personalities and it’s hilarious to see how they take off on us.”

In fact, Butala shared that the Lettermen credit much of their success and longevity to the fans who come to see them live. Their commitment to the fan base is no more evident than after their performances. Despite having been onstage singing for more than two hours, the group makes sure that everyone who comes onstage gets a hello and a picture before they leave.

“The audience keeps it fresh,” Butala said. “We appreciate their fandom-ship. They’ve done their work, so we feel it’s our job after that to give them the best darn show they’ve ever seen so they walk out of the auditorium with an intangible substance called being entertained.”

The Lettermen have seen singers come and go during their decades-long career, but one thing that has never changed is their love for music and performing. While many musicians their age have long since hung up their sport coats and turned off the mic, the Lettermen are still finding reasons to go out on tour year after year.

“We don’t believe in being negative. We’d rather talk about positive things,” Butala said. “This is our 56th year of touring and there’s so many positives. There’s so much reward in the positive. It’s not a chore whatsoever.”