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Hot Take: Christmas Comes Early For PA with Jeffery Straker's "A Very Prairie Christmas"

Updated: May 20, 2023

by Scott Roos

This past Saturday Dec. 5th, the EA Rawlinson Centre for the Arts decided to adopt the classic "the show must go on" mantra. As previously reported, with government COVID restrictions in place limiting audiences to 30 people in an indoor concert setting, the EARC decided to move their final concert of the season, Jeffery Straker's lovely "A Very Prairie" Christmas, online. My family and I decided to take in the show from the comfort of our own home and we were definitely not dissappointed.

First, a word about my gear, we ran our laptop through an HDMI Cable and into our Sony Surround System. It's a standard speaker setup for a system of that kind with two speakers in the front, a woofer, and two speakers in the back plus a center speaker. The TV is a 55 inch Heier Television set - sort of a no name knock-off style brand purchased from The Brick a few years back.

The picture quality on the screen seemed to look the best on a smaller laptop. On the TV, it had a sort of "community access television" type quality too it. The Rawlinson was working four separate cameras for this show as they do for all of their streaming shows. Kudos to whoever was working those cameras as they were able to switch effortlessly between them at the best, and most timely moments.

*it's hard to capture the how the TV actually looked in the moment. I tried my best!

In general, the sound quality was excellent as they were able to patch into the Rawlinson's board, helmed by the ever capable Joel Rohs. If I was going to be picky, the mix did seem a little heavy on the piano but that just comes down to personal preference. At the end of the day, Rohs's mix was the next best thing to being there in person and, when working in concert with the cameras, it was actually almost better as the cameras gave you a nice view of all the action.

Straker's show itself was as magical as you would expect it to be. As I have stated in the past, Straker is a consummate professional and Christmas shows are in his proverbial wheelhouse. He has a positive and inspiring energy when he performs, especially when in the face of the soul crushing reality that many of us are in during COVID. He sang all three of the new songs of his recently released This Christmas EP plus all of his classic medleys that he does and a pile of traditional favourites. Supported by sister Jill on backing vocals, Scott Perry on guitars and Danny Jones on bass, collectively the quartet put us through all the holiday paces with Straker's extensive talent the primary focus. Straker, as always, was in fine form and demonstrated amazing musicianship and proved to be an equally adept storyteller.

In summary, alleged tech glitches aside with the streaming service (which from what I have read on Straker's social media, are being resolved with patrons), I would definitely highly recommend streaming Rawlinson shows as an affordable, safe and highly entertaining alternative to being inside the theatre itself. It was nice to just escape from reality for the 75-80 minutes that Straker was on stage; his show was a very proven and worthy start to this holiday season.

*another pic of my TV screen so that you can see an example of one of the camera angles. Full disclosure that I did try to touch it up a bit because my phone takes crappy pictures. The picture quality that the Rawlinson cameras were portraying were excellent!

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