The smooth jazz saxophonist and Seattle native, aka Kenneth Gorelick, was into Starbucks before much of the country knew what it was.
He said this area has special meaning for him because of the Starbucks roasting plant in East Manchester Township.
"When (the plant) opened, I came to York and performed inside of it," he said during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. That concert was in September 1995. Proceeds from the show -- about $30,000 -- went to pay for an addition of a pre-school playroom at Bell Family Shelter in York.
Since then, Kenny G's been back to the area several times. In recent years, his holiday show at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center has become a tradition. Tonight, he'll take the stage at 7:30.
The show won't be all holiday tunes. Kenny G said he saves those songs for the middle of the show.
If pressed to pick a favorite seasonal selection, he added that it would be an arrangement of "Deck the Halls" melded with "The 12 Days of Christmas."
"It puts me in a great mood," he said.
Any time of year is great to be on stage with his band, which he calls "his boys." Most have been with him for 25 years. One musician even went to high school with him.
"Whenever we play, we're so comfortable," he said, adding that his bandmates can pick up on subtle nuances in his performance and roll with it. The camaraderie keeps the travel from becoming a grind.
He also tries to visit friends and family while on the road. He said he planned to visit his brother in
Winston-Salem, N.C., before his Tuesday concert.
Music, of course, is his constant companion. He started playing saxophone as a kid and was performing with bands by the time he was a teen. He signed with Arista Records as a solo artist in the early 1980s. His main instrument is the soprano sax, but he also plays tenor and alto saxes as well as flute.
More than a dozen albums, which sold millions of copies, followed. Kenny G scored his 14th
No. 1 hit on the US Contemporary Jazz album chart in 2010 with "Heart & Soul." That's a world record for No. 1 hits, according to Guinness.
But instead of being pigeonholed by the adult contemporary genre, Kenny G has fun with it. His tongue-in-cheek cameo in an Audi commercial during the 2011 Super Bowl comes to mind.
He also experiments with his sound. His latest studio album, "Namaste," released in June, is a collaboration with India native Rahul Sharma, an expert of the country's folk string instrument -- the santoor.
He's played with Michael Bolton in the past and recently had Chris Botti sit in with him during a club show. This fall, Kenny G accompanied pop group Foster the People during its "Saturday Night Live" performance.
"I'm kind of open," he said of future collaborations.
While Kenny G said he's not working on anything specific at the moment, he said he'll likely start the writing process for a new album in the new year. But his non-stop schedule means that he has to sneak a few minutes for interviews between gigs and dinner engagements.
No wonder coffee comes in pretty handy in his world.
-- ERIN McCRACKEN,
If you go
Kenny G performs 7:30 tonight at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York. Tickets cost $42, $51 and $58. For details and tickets, call 717-846-1111 or visit mystrandcapitol.org.
More holiday music this weekend
The Gathering: A Holiday Show: The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Carlisle Performing Arts Center, 44 W. High St., Carlisle. It will feature traditional Christmas music and fresh new songs from Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Laurelyn Dossett (Polecat Creek), Mike Compton (Nashville Bluegrass Band), Joe Newberry (Big Medicine) and Jason Sypher. The singers will be backed by an all-star string band. Tickets are $35, $30, $25 and $10 with student ID. For details and tickets, call 717-258-0666 or visit www.carlisle
Jingle Bell Jam: The York Expo Center and WGTY-FM Great Country 107.7 present the holiday show Friday featuring Thompson Square with special guest Jana Kramer. Read more on
New Hope School of the Arts presents a holiday variety show 7 p.m. Friday in the Studio at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York. Tickets are $1 for students and $2 for adults. There will be a social art
project presentation at 6 p.m.
River City Brass and Honors Choir concert: The 28-piece ensemble from Pittsburgh and the York County Senior Honors Choir will perform favorite seasonal music. The performance begins at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center. Tickets range from $16 to $38. Call 717-846-1111 or visit mystrandcapitol.org for details.
Handle Choir of Baltimore's 78th Annual "Messiah": Hear the holiday classic 8 p.m. Saturday at St. Ignatius Church, 740 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md., and 3 p.m. Sunday at Towson Presbyterian Church, 400 W. Chesapeake Ave., Towson, Md. Tickets to each show are $45 and $35. Student tickets are $10. For details, call 410-366-6544 and or visit
A Classical Christmas: A holiday
recital by classically trained sopranos Emma Vawter and Elizabeth Zito will be
7 p.m. Sunday at Zion United Methodist Church, 1030 Carlisle Ave., West Manchester Township. The recital will include art songs, sacred works and Christmas carols by Ravel, Mahler, Mozart, Schubert and others. In lieu of admission fees, the church is asking for monetary donations. All proceeds will go to the Catholic
Harvest Food Pantry, 628 E. Market St., York.
The Manhattan Transfer Swings Christmas: Twelve-time Grammy award winner The Manhattan Transfer will celebrate the holiday season at Penn State York's Pullo Family Performing Arts Center, 1031 Edgecomb Ave., York, with "Cool Yule -- The Manhattan Transfer Swings Christmas," a collection of familiar and best loved holiday classics at
7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $55 and $75. Call 717-505-8900 or visit thepullo
center.com for details.
Lyric Band of Hanover Holiday Concert: Hear the Holiday Concert 3 p.m. Sunday in the Nicarry Meeting House in the Brethren Home Village at Cross Keys, at routes 30 and 94 in New Oxford. The concert will be conducted by James Paxton and will feature music of the season and will honor the memory of three of its members. The event is free and open to the public. For details, visit www.lyricband.org.
Big Holiday Show: The Hagerstown Municipal Band performs its holiday show 3 p.m. Sunday at the Capitol Theatre, 159 S. Main St., Chambersburg. Tickets are $18 for adults, $8 for children 11 to 18 and $3 for children 10 and younger. For details, call 717-263-0202 or visit capitoltheatre.org.
Kenny G Discography
1982 "Kenny G"
1984 "G Force"
1996 "The Moment"
1999 "Classics in the Key of G"
2004 "At Last...The Duets Album"
2006 "I'm in the Mood for Love...The Most Romantic Melodies of All Time"
2008 "Rhythm & Romance"
2010 "Heart & Soul"
2012 "Namaste (with Rahul Sharma)"
1994 "Miracles: The Holiday Album"
1999 "Faith: A Holiday Album"
2002 "Wishes: A Holiday Album"
2005 "The Greatest Holiday
2006 "The Holiday Collection"
2012 "The Christmas Classic Album"
Kenny G: www.kennyg.com
More holiday concerts and events: www.yorkblog.com/flipside/holidays