For the multi-talented Dave Villano, presenting his “Christmas Magic” concert at Word of Life Christian Center in Lone Tree on Dec. 19 is a particular pleasure. It’s in home territory.
The 1996 Highlands Ranch High School graduate, who had started his first band at 13 and won a high school talent contest before he graduated, spent a few years away in Nashville, playing with a Christian band called Shaded Red and with others; underwent heart surgery; recovered; toured; wrote and recorded.
In 2000, he moved back to Denver and continued his career as a successful, national, independent recording artist and performer at churches, arts and music festivals nationwide — selling his CDs as he travels and performs. He now lives in unincorporated Arapahoe County.
When in town, he enjoys time with nearby family members — his parents still live in Highlands Ranch and siblings are close also. His brother Ed, an engineer by profession — and a percussionist with the band — helps out as assistant producer when it’s holiday concert time.
Both said that next year the band will transition to year round scheduling, with a series of outdoor summer concerts and expanded venues for Christmas concerts — hopefully in Fort Collins and maybe Boulder. This year, they performed Dec. 12 at Stargazers Theatre in Colorado Springs.
The band’s special sound could be related to inclusion of some unusual instruments: Tina Gugler, for example, is a U.S. National hammered dulcimer champion and Eric Olson is well known for his performances on Uillean pipes, a smaller Irish form of bagpipe where the bellows are pumped with the elbow. Dave Villano plays an Irish pennywhistle, electric violin, guitar, Uillean pipes and more. Ed Villano plays a stumpf fiddle.
Dave is proud that band member Dave Beegle, who was once Villano’s guitar teacher, was named “Best Independent Guitarist of the Year” by Guitar Player magazine. “Through Dave, I met other players,” he said.
The band leader was enthused about new vocalist Devan Jones, an “American Idol” contestant, as “filled with charisma, energy, soul …” He said he tries to find the best possible local talent and found James by googling “American Idol, Denver,” which brought up a YouTube video. (Vocalist Taylor Jordan was also an “American Idol” contestant.)
The band’s music is described as “traditional, Celtic, and contemporary holiday music … running the full gamut of musical experience … from classical to folk, rock and everything in between.”