Andy Kim Christmas Show Celebrates 10th Anniversary – An Inside Look

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Submitted by Mark Smith

It is that wonderful time of the year, when the shopping lights go up in stores and friends start teasing and poking fun at my apparent “Andy Kim Obsession”.

Is it an “Obsession”?

When asked to write this article, I was forced to have a serious think about my annual, unbridled excitement over the Andy Kim Christmas Show. I started to draft outlines, and draft outlines, and draft outlines, finding it very difficult to define this obsession. How do I start?

Draft 1
Andy Kim has penned more then 19 charting singles, including my personal favourite “Sugar Sugar”. As a kid, I would watch the Archies, delaying going to my swimming lessons until the shows final credits started. My weekend would be ruined if the episode did not feature the song. This may be a cute anecdote, but it is not a story.

Draft 2
Make a list of the songs and talk about him being one of Canada’s all time most successful songwriters: ‘Shoot ‘Em Baby”, “How’d We Ever Get This Way?”, “Sugar, Sugar”, “Rainbow Ride”, “Baby, I Love You”, “Rock Me Gently”.  No, been done.

Draft 3
Wrote his first hit at the age of 16? There is so much more.

Draft 4
Growing upin Montreal when it was the coolest, the age difference between his mother and father. Leaving Canada in his early teens to end up in the Brill Building? No, not that,

Draft 5
How did I meet Andy? In the 90’s, I owned a catering company, and at the Annual EMI Publishing BBQ, he came by the serving table, so I introduced myself. Next day, Andy had tracked me down and said, “I had to call and tell you that was one of the best burgers I have ever eaten.” Getting an unscripted, spontaneous compliment from someone in the music industry is like expecting a tip at an open bar. I was pleasantly shocked.

Around that same time, I was producing the Kumbaya Festival for Molly Johnson. I suggested we invite Andy Kim. Great. Call Andy; he tells me he does not have a band available. “Do you like the Barenaked Ladies?”, I ask. "Yes". Call Ed Robertson, “want to play with Andy Kim?”. The answer came in the form of a telephone medley of AK hits starting with  “Rock Me Gently”. The performance was stellar, and a highlight of Kumbaya that year. Great but this is only about 35 words and I need a minimum of a 1000.

Draft 6
Call Andy? Try to draft some new, unasked and interesting questions; I am not that smart, so no.

Draft 7
Go back to the song list, listen to them over and over, read the lyrics… what is he saying? How is he saying it? Damn it; go for a bike ride; that always clears my head. Think, think, think.

Draft 8
In 2005 Nanci Malek called to ask if I could help stage manage the Andy Kim Christmas Show. What the hell I thought, it would be nice to get reacquainted with him. I arrived for sound check and found Andy a tiny bit flustered; wanting to have everything just right; decor, guest list, back stage, and set list. We had a short chat between his interviews and passing on instructions to the decorators, the energy level changed. I understood what he needed, and I believe he had the confidence to let me do what I do. Few unspoken words needed, and a working relationship was born.

And so here it is – my take on Andy Kim, entertainer and friend.

For 10 years I have been given a unique vantage point to observe Andy; his quiet nervousness, his worry about small details, his wanting everyone around him to be comfortable, his grace, elegance and confidence when hitting the stage. He knows when to step back and let the collection of Canadian stars shine as they take the stage. He is a fan of their music as well as a fan of their interpretations of his songs.

Draft 9

Get back on the bike, singing songs to myself. They are not complex, but very clever in their simplicity. Like that moment after you walk away from a situation and suddenly thinkof something you could have said.  That kind of clever.

“Sugar Sugar”:
Sugar, oh, honey, honey

You are my candy girl

And you got me wanting you

Honey, oh, sugar, sugar

You are my candy girl

And you got me wanting you”

“Baby I Love You”:
Have I ever told you
How good it feels to hold you
It isn’t easy to explain
And though I’m really tryin’
I think I may start cryin’
My heart can’t wait another day

“Rock Me Gently”:
Ain't it good
Ain't it right

That you are with me here tonight

The music playing

Our bodies swayin' in time
In time, in time, in time

Touching you so warm and tender
Lord, I feel such a sweet surrender

Beautiful is the dream that makes you mine.

Those simple thoughts, the words we really want to say, but cannot. Like falling in love, looking across the room at the object of your desire, thinking these wonderful words but when you open your mouth all that comes out is “ack, ack, ack”. These are those words and sentiments that translate effortlessly in his songs.

Andy has captured an inner voice in a simple, straightforward and uncompromising fashion, putting together the words we cannot speak aloud. These are not words spoken AT someone, but FOR someone. Genuine and from the heart.

Back stage at events like the AK Christmas Show it can be a bit of clusterfudge. Not so with this one, where everyone has a calm coolness about them. Could it be the fact that there is no need to rehearse, and that everybody knows the songs?

Everybody works together, it is like the energy of the moment is paused, we take a breath and with clear heads, step up and deliver our best. It is a barely perceptible comfort zone that he puts us in.

This event is Andy. Like his songs he exudes an inner calmness. Like all of us he may have his “ack, ack” moments, but living deep inside Andy’s heart are his songs. Instinctively finding the right words in the right moment, quiet, assured and direct. The Annual Andy Kim Christmas Show is an embodiment of the man himself.

For 10 years Andy has presented this event, but not to be the front man, the hero, or the centre of attention. It is simply giving back, reaching out, sharing, doing and saying what is required.

There is absolutely no ego involved.This is purely and simply Andy, and it is infectious and genuine.

Obsession? Hardly.

Respect? Totally.

Editor’s Note: The Andy Kim Christmas Show is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in Toronto on December 11 at The Mod Club and in celebration he will be adding a second show in Montreal, Andy’s hometown on December 13 at The Bell Centre, Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre. For tickets and further information visit www.andykimmusic.com