While Jim Brickman’s legion of fans may be his bread and butter, he never forgets the venues that set the table.
During this hopefully once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, a lot of those tables are going down in flames. Brickman, however, wasn’t going to sit idly by, gleefully tickling the ivories at home in Cleveland while theaters collected dust or permanently closed.
So came the creation of “Comfort & Joy from Home” — a virtual tour of live-streamed performances where the acclaimed performer would not only connect with viewers, but raise much-needed money to help keep venues opened.
On Dec. 10, Brickman plays from his studio, with part of the proceeds benefitting the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre.
“It’s such a difficult time for so many of the theaters, for everybody, but in my scope and my world, that’s what we do. So many of these theaters have been so kind to me in the past, welcoming and supporting me,” said Brickman, squeezing a 20-minute phone chat in Tuesday afternoon.
“I felt we should do something in turn to try and support the theaters,” Brickman said.
The 59-year-old entertainer, though, didn’t want it to be just another recorded show or a live-stream, with no visible communication between artist and fan. Brickman is looking to put on a show about “more community and more specific to Vacaville and surrounding areas.”
Aside from the $40 live virtual concert ticket, fans can opt for a $75 ticket that includes concert, “Zoom Room” interaction with Brickman, and a “stocking full of Christmas gifts delivered to your doorstep” or a $125 ticket that includes all of the above plus an after-show party with the star.
“I wanted it to be unique and replicate as close to possible what the (real concert) experience is like from start to finish,” said Brickman, who, not unlike basically every musician in America, saw 2020 tours evaporate with the pandemic.
Yet, he takes comfort in the thought of possibly reaching millions by performing live in a studio two miles from home.
“It’s really a wonderful, creative environment,” Brickman said. “It’s a beautiful set. I wanted to replicate what it’s like to go to the theater.”
The status quo has been a guy in his living room delivering a COVID-19 concert, Brickman noted.
“So much of it right now is, ‘Hey, I’m just in my house playing the guitar from my couch,’” he said. “I thought that was OK at the beginning because it was novel. To me, watching an artist at home just further amplified what’s going on in the world and further reminds you what’s happening. To me, if you can get lost in a beautiful set and me talking directly to you makes it less apologetic and more on purpose. The tone is never, ‘I’m so sorry it has to be this way.’ I think we all know that. I wanted to feel it’s on purpose we’re doing this. Here’s a chance to see my hands close up. You’re never this close to my face talking to you. I can see you. I never get to see you live with your snacks and your sweat pants.”
Brickman has said in a previous interview that he wants the tone of his concerts “to be light-hearted and joyful. I don’t want anybody to think about anything.”
Perhaps more so during the chaos of COVID-19, Brickman says people are looking for an escape, even if it’s just for one night.
“The thing about my music — pandemic or not — the purpose is to calm and relax and inspire and escape,” he said. “That happens to be something that people are looking for now, but that’s what I do anyway. There’s more of a desire for it because of the anxiety level.”
Brickman said he never sits down and plays merely to try and help himself relax.
“Essentially, as a songwriter, when I sit at the piano, my first thought is to create, not to just play. To me, playing ends up being creative. I never sit down and play something I’ve written unless it’s for a rehearsal or show itself.”
In preparing for this “virtual tour,” Brickman said he did ask “Alexa” to play Jim Brickman Christmas music.
“I wanted to know if there were any songs I forgot to play,” he said. “And I did forget my version of Jingle Bells.”
Wherever one is watching and listening during December, it’s mostly about Christmas or winter nostalgia, Brickman says.
“I grew up in Cleveland where it was snowing quite often,” he said. “Whenever it snows, it takes you to that place. I think a lot about my dad taking me sledding and a lot of the feeling outdoors. I think we all look at Christmas from the point of view of the way we grew up. If you grew up in California, the point of view is a different feeling. It doesn’t mean it’s not familiar and sacred.”
Even with an extensive virtual tour — Brickman’s performances benefit roughly 70 venues — he maintains The Jim Brickman Show on radio and, starting this year, his Wednesday night podcast, the inspiring story-based Brickman Bedtime Story.
A tranquil Brickman greets listeners on Bedtime Story, interviews everyone from Christina Aguilera to Train’s Pat Monahan, Meghan Trainor and The Amazing Kreskin.
A common consideration among many of the stars? What happens after stardom.
“We talk about mid-career. It’s ‘Now what do I do?’ They all think that,” Brickman said.
It was once said that one knows he or she made it by not having to look at the price of an item on the menu.
“People are successful because they look at the price on the menu,” he said, believing success “doesn’t change who you are at the core. You’re always the same.”
To check out Jim Brickman’s “Comfort & Joy from Home” tour schedule — including the Dec. 10 show benefitting the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre — visit jimbrickman.com/tour/