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John Lamb, Published December 10 2010

Concert Review: Blenders still smooth after 20 years together

The holiday season is a time for traditions but also a time when a few surprises really make the moment.

After 20 years together, the Blenders have become pretty predictable in their annual holiday shows, but Thursday’s concert, the first of five at the Fargo Theatre, shined with a few unexpected bonuses.

With two decades together, the quartet is quite a professional outfit. Yes, some of the stage theatrics and choreography seem a bit canned, and the shticks are just that, but when it comes to the music, the foursome from Fargo-Moorhead is purely polished.

The quartet, backed by a four-piece band, opened with “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” followed by “This Christmas,” which got some in the nearly sold-out crowd of around 830 clapping and singing along.

Though the band added needed depth on soul classics like “Love Train” and “I’ll be There,” it’s when the Blenders go back to their a cappella roots that they shine the brightest. “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” showcased their harmonies and particularly Darren Rust’s bass. Likewise, the doo-wop “Tiny Little Christmas” packed as much punch, or at least plenty of finger snaps.

Even if you find the song presentations a bit trite (I’d be fine without “Do You See What I See”), the Blenders do put on a good show. They even had a light show better than many touring acts.

Close as friends, they are able to nimbly play off each other and the crowd. When Ryan Lance’s microphone stopped working, Tim Kasper suggested he start miming. And he did, much to the audience’s delight, almost as much as when Lance balanced a stool on his chin while technicians fixed the mic.

They still pulled out some old gimmicks, like their alter egos, the Folkers, on a re-telling of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and the lounge act Bobby El Camino, much to the crowd’s amusement. (Though the biggest laugh of the night was for newsman Mike Morken’s early-1990s mustache or “pornstache” as Kasper called it, seen in an intro clip documenting the band’s tenure.)

If you were ever even curious about seeing the group perform, get a ticket for Sunday night’s show – the only one that isn’t, as of this writing, sold out. These 20th-anniversary shows pull from both seasonal songs and soul standards, showing off the strengths of the group.

Or wait until next year, knowing full well they’ll be back for Christmas.

If you go


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533