Phil Vassar, Deana Carter gift crowd with hits, holiday faves

Pair are currently touring in support of their new Christmas album

Phil Vassar and Deana Carter opened their show at Maryland Hall in Annapolis, MD Thursday (Dec 1st) with the title track off their recent duet album. “Coming Home for Christmas” is one of two songs the country music icons wrote together, it is also the name of their joint tour.

Annapolis was the fourth stop on Vassar’s annual Christmas tour, on which he brings a co-billed star. This year, Ms. Carter joins to support the new holiday record.

The stage was festooned in twinkling Christmas trees, and warm strands of lights adorned the instruments. Vassar’s upright piano looked like a Christmas present wrapped up with a bow.

Vocally, Vassar and Carter are a perfect match. Their decades-long friendship (before either was a major star) gave rise to this collaboration. Vassar’s wide-ranging, yet grounded and almost gravely voice paired exquisitely with Carter’s airy twang and wistful tone.

Their energy levels, too, balanced out. Vassar loves to jump around the stage, his black velvet jacket catching up from behind. So restless is he, that he must stand while tickling the ivories. Carter is more stoic, opting for a sparkling turquoise dress, mic stand, and guitar.

The pair opened with a few Christmas tunes before Vassar turned the show over to Carter for a 30 minute set of hits. She started with “How Do I Get There” before shifting to ballad “Count Me In” and the bluesy “ Did I Shave My Legs for This.” “We Danced Anyway” got the crowd to their feet. And of course, “Strawberry Wine” earned Carter a standing ovation.

Carter’s voice is pristine. Close your eyes and it’s the 90s. Her voice is as timeless as her music.

Vassar returned for a few more duets, including “Brand New Year,” a toast to the season that is sure to become a Christmas classic at both country and holiday radio.

Vassar brought the party with his solo set. Kicking off his set with bouncy numbers, “Carlene” and “Bye Bye.” An extended version of “Six-Pack Summer” brought the tropics to coastal Maryland on this first night of December. “I’m Alright” ended Vassar’s set.

His vocals were high-energy and on point. The suites each song so perfectly, it’s hard to imagine another artist recording them. But indeed, many of the numbers have been hits for other country mainstays. Vassar is a proud songwriter.

It is a Christmas gift that both Carter and Vassar perform mini sets of their classics mixed in with the holiday favorites. Many Christmas tours by popular artists omit hits and focus on the festive season. But fans can be assured that everything you could want from both hitmakers is present. Get it? Present? Like Christmas present?…never mind.

The show ends with a few more surprises that should be unwrapped for yourself. Tis the season, and you should spend some of it with these merrymakers.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.