A Peter White Christmas: Trio brings variety to Arts Center stage

Peter White returns Dec. 14 to the Mattie Kelly Arts Center in Niceville for the annual performance of A Peter White Christmas. He will be joined by saxophonist Mindi Abair and trumpeter Rick Braun.

The music performance is billed as A Peter White Christmas, but the annual holiday show at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center takes a trio and an enthusiastic audience.

Guitarist Peter White characterized the show, which has been hosted by WSBZ Seabreeze Radio since 2002, as a mix of music — holiday, pop, rock, jazz, R&B … you name it.

“We try to make a show that isn’t any one category,” White told The Log. “I like variety.”

And the native of Great Britain, now living in Los Angeles, likes the show to be interactive.

“We sing but what we really want is for the audience to sing,” said White.

Showgoers can expect classics such as “White Christmas” and “Silent Night” and some original scores, too.

Playing with White will be saxophonist Mindi Abair and Rick Braun on the trumpet. The trio has worked together for years, which means a sound that flows smoothly and offers room for improvisation.

Fans of the TV program “American Idol” may recognize Abair. She appeared on the popular show in 2011 and 2012. The versatile performer has 10 No. 1 radio singles to her credit and five major label releases that topped contemporary jazz charts. Abair has tested her acting acumen by appearing on the TV show “Happily Divorced” and authored a book titled, “How to Play Madison Square Garden – A Guide to Stage Performance.”

Braun, along with playing the trumpet and flugelhorn, is known for his singing. He has backed Rod Stewart and Sade, among others. White prefers the acoustic guitar with nylon strings, explaining that the combination produces a rich sound. And, if there’s need, he might even play the harmonica.

The guitarist has toured the Emerald Coast for years, and not only for the Christmas concert. He has performed at jazz concerts, noting that the live music scene in Northwest Florida is delightful.

Concertgoers who attended past Peter White Christmas shows heaped plenty of praise at the performances.

“The show was absolutely fantastic, incredible, awesome and I am so incredibly lucky to have had the experience. … Memorable experience,” blogged a fan.

Wrote another fan, “The show is really great — puts you in the Xmas mood — upbeat and gave that warm, cozy Christmas-ee feeling.”

Part of the show’s charisma is the seemingly effortless way White, Abair, and Braun play their instruments, though actually working very hard to make sure the performance entertains from beginning to end. Combine the trio’s gusto and skills with the joyous occasion of Christmas and A Peter White Christmas brims with holiday cheer.

Even when the show is over, there’s more to come. White, Abair, and Braun like to take the opportunity to thank showgoers personally for the pleasure of their company.

“I love to come out after the show to meet the people,” said White. “Until the last person leaves, I will wait.” The meet-and-greet will be in the Arts Center lobby.

Tickets are $40 for general seating and $80 for the front section. To purchase tickets, call 729-6000 and have a credit card handy or go to www.seabreeze.fm. Tickets also can be purchased at the Arts Center box office at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville or Fort Walton Beach’s Playground Music Center. Front section seats are available only by calling.