Separately, they are award-winning Sussex County-based singers, songwriters and producers. But together, they are members of a heralded gospel music group who have performed throughout the country.
The Reminders will bring their Christmas tour to Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts Thursday at 7:30 p.m. They will be joined by Dove award-winning gospel great Lynda Randle.
Formed in 2009, The Reminders are comprised of John W. Thompson, who co-wrote the gospel standards, “El Shaddai” and “Sanctuary”; Ed Shockley known to local music fans as part of bands such as Jack of Diamonds and Vinyl Shockley; and Kevin Short, who has produced recordings for various record companies and is an acclaimed gospel singer in his own right.
As Mr. Shockley tells it, the trio started with a “phone call from a stranger.”
“I was playing a singer-songwriter event where (Mr. Thompson) said he had seen me. He had recently moved to the area and said he liked to co-write with people,” he said.
“We met for lunch and in talking to him, I realized he had written one of my favorite Christian songs ‘Sanctuary,’ which has always had deep meaning for me. It was amazing that he had just shown up out of nowhere.”
They started writing soon thereafter and a short time later, Mr. Short, who sings with Mr. Shockley in the band Big Hat, No Cattle, joined the group.
“We started singing together and we had such a nice blend without even having to talk about who would sing what part,” said Mr. Shockley who lives in Lewes.
“The harmony fell into place and we knew we had something with the band. And it’s grown from there.”
The group started to perform at local events and popularity came quickly.
“It was born running. People responded immediately. That’s the best way for something like that to happen. A lot of time you’ll put a band together and work at it and think it’s a really good band and people will be indifferent to it. It’s been quite a blessing.”
The Reminders have built a devoted following, who constantly remind them what their music, which is tinged with country, Americana and folk, means to them.
“When, for instance, someone is going through a tragedy and you become a lifeline to them, that’s a pretty powerful thing to know about,” Mr. Shockley said.
“That can happen with rock and pop people as well. But in our regular concerts, we really have an attentive audience whose heart is in the right place.”
Their Christmas tour kicked off Wednesday night in Manhattan and will visit Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Connecticut along with many dates in Delaware, including the Schwartz next week.
This will be the first tour The Reminders have been on in over a year. On Labor Day of 2015, Mr. Thompson had quadruple bypass surgery and then Mr. Short developed health issues as well.
“Our Christmas album (‘The Reminders’ Christmas’) came out in 2014 about two weeks before Christmas. So there really wasn’t a lot of time to promote it,” Georgetown resident Mr. Short said.
“We were all amped up and ready to go on tour last year but then we had to have it wiped out.”
They have a played a few shows to get ready for this year’s tour and feel like they are back in tune.
“That’s one of the things that’s amazing when you are in a band this long. When you get over the initial hump and you get all the chords and different things together, you sound like a real band again,” Mr. Shockley said.
“You don’t have to go searching for that sound. After one song, I thought ‘This really sounds like us.’”
The Schwartz show will draw heavily from material in their Christmas album.
“We actually started this a few years ago where we recorded two songs a year that were written by Ed and John or John by himself. We then went back and re-recorded the songs and added two brand new songs,” Mr. Short said.
Ms. Randle will join them in Dover and at a show at the Crossroad Community Church in Georgetown Dec. 9.
“We’re really excited that she’s joining us. A lot of people know her from her affiliation with Gaither Music and TV performances,” Mr. Short said.“She’s a very talented singer.”
They are also excited to perform at the Schwartz.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Mr. Shockley said. “I’ve performed there once before. I’m looking forward to it.”
Tickets are $12 to $25 and can be purchased by visiting schwartzcenter.com, calling 678-5152 or stopping by the box office at 226 S. State St.
Pair of Nutcrackers
Two different performances of “The Nutcracker Ballet” will be performed this weekend in Kent County.
The Ballet Theatre of Dover will present one version Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at The Schwartz Center.
Tickets are $12 to $25 and available at schwartzcenter.com, calling 678-5152 or the box office.
Seventeen-year-old Ana Pavon will dance the dual role of Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Other primary roles will be danced by Samantha Ponsell, Madeline Stevenosky, Tyler Wright, Naya Gonzalez and Phoenix Riehl.
Before the Saturday show, a Nutcracker Tea Party will be held. Children and adults are invited to dress up as any character. Pastries, sweets, tea and fruit will be served. An ornament and a signed picture are also included.
Tickets are $12 for children and $18 for adults and can be obtained by calling 734-9717.
The Centre Ice Rink at Delaware State Fair in Harrington will present a skating adaptation of “The Nutcracker on Ice,” at 6 p.m. today and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday.
Approximately 80 local skaters of all ages and levels including Bay County Figure Skating Club members as well as students and coaches from the rink’s skating programs will perform to Tchaikovsky’s famous music with a few twists and variations.
The show will also feature previews of 1st State Ice Theatre’s competitive programs for the 2016-2017 season, which will culminate in competing at Theatre on Ice Nationals in Indiana in June. Coached by Jerry Santoferrara and Tom Harrison, 1st State Ice Theatre has an adult team and an open team.
Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for children, with free admission for children under 2. Tickets will be available at the door. To purchase advance tickets, or for more information, call 398-5900.
‘A Farmer’s Christmas’
The Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village will present “A Farmer’s Christmas” Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Saturday will mark the second year for the Avenue of Trees with 40 decorated trees.
In addition, there will be a wood worker, a blacksmith, a person making a rug on a large loom, carolers in the facility’s St. Thomas Church, a live nativity with real animals, a woodstove cooking demonstration and ghost stories in the Lookerman Landing Train Station.
There will also be crafts, music and Santa and Mrs. Claus.
The event is free for members and regular museum admission for nonmembers.
“This year we have grown our Avenue of Trees to 40 trees and the ultimate goal is to have 100 on display throughout the museum,” said museum director Di Rafter.
“This event has been going on for 20-plus years and this has become a family tradition for many families here in Kent County.”
The event will be held indoors and outdoors and is rain or shine. The museum is at 866 N. DuPont Highway opposite Home Depot and adjacent to Delaware State University.
Salute to Dover
Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen recently announced the appointment of City Councilman Fred Neil to serve as producer of the show honoring the 300th anniversary of the city of Dover. The production will be May 7 at the Schwartz Center.
Mr. Neil has an extensive background in theatrical productions. He has appeared in more than 30 musicals and plays. He has been featured as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” Horace Vandergelder, in “Hello, Dolly!,” Mayor Shinn in “The Music Man,” Clem Rogers in “The Will Rogers Follies” and President Roosevelt in six different productions of “Annie.” His last stage appearance was in “Jest a Second” at The Kent County Theatre Guild in 2004.
Invitations are extended to area high schools, colleges and universities and theatrical organizations to participate.
An initial meeting was held in the City Hall Conference Room on Wednesday but another meeting is slated for this Wednesday at 5 p.m., also in the City Hall Conference Room.
RSVP to Dover300thAnniversary@gmail.com.
New this weekend in theaters is the horror-thriller “Incarnate” and the faith-based film “Believe.”
On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the animated film “The Secret Life of Pets,” Matt Damon in “Jason Bourne” and the comedy “Don’t Think Twice.”
Reach features editor Craig Horleman at email@example.com