It’s Day 3 of our 12 Days of ChristKindlFest Countdown with 12 reasons to come out to this year’s 4-day fest which opens in Barrington next Thursday, December 4th. Reason number three? You do not want to miss The Johnny Wagner Band, performing their signature authentic German tunes plus festive holiday favorites from 3 to 6 p.m. on opening day. The FREE concert will on stage inside ChristKindlFest’s giant heated tent and all are welcome!
The Johnny Wagner Band is a five-piece ensemble specializing in traditional Bavarian, Austrian, and Slovenian styles of Polka Music. The band features Johnny Wagner on vocals, saxophone, clarinet, accordion, cowbells and the alphorn from Switzerland. “I also do some yodeling,” Johnny says, and I can’t wait for a little of that! In addition to Johnny, the band features a trumpet player, guitarist, keyboardist and drummer. You can count on them wearing traditional Bavarian lederhosen and – who knows – they might even be there with bells on!
Johnny audiences love The Johnny Wagner Band because they absolutely love what they do, and it shows. He says they especially enjoy performing during the holiday season. “Christmastime only comes once a year. It’s the only time we get to play tunes with such beautiful melodies, like Winter Wonderland, White Christmas and traditional German and Austrian tunes like Silent Night, which we sing in German and English and play on the cowbells. Plus, everybody is happy at Christmastime and making people happy is what I’m in the business for.”
Born in Nuremberg, Germany, Johnny Wagner came to America with his parents in the 1950’s. His father was a well-loved musician in Hyde Park and used to bring Johnny to Chicago’s German Clubs when he was young.
“I started playing traditional German music when I was very small.
When I was a teenager, my father took me to see a 15-piece brass band at a German Club and I played along with my clarinet and that’s really where my music career began.
Whenever my father used to sing, he’d get a lot of applause and I liked that.
I think it rubbed off on me.
The money is good but I found out that, if you get the applause, that’s your bread and butter right there.”
In addition to traditional Bavarian, Austrian and Slovenian styles of music, The Johnny Wagner Band also plays authentic rock & roll, country, jazz, and swing.
Occasionally, one of Johnny’s two sons fills in on the drums, as seen in this YouTube video from one of their performances in Chicago.
Johnny says the band looks forward to opening Barrington’s ChristKindlFest and promises to kick off the festival with a high-energy holiday performance. “A lot of bands play the same tunes, but I play from my heart and people see that. It’s going to be a great show!”
Hosted by the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club and the Barrington Village Association, ChristKindlFest runs from December 4th to 7th: Thursday 10 am to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday 10:00 am to midnight, and Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The fest will feature shopping at 20 Germanic chalets, kiddie rides, visits with Santa & reindeer PLUS international food, drink and non-stop live music & dancing inside a massive heated tent. (CLICK HERE for our Guide to ChristKindlFest, 2014)
You’ll find ChristKindlFest in the BMO Harris Bank parking lot at the corner of Cook and Station Streets in the heart of downtown Barrington. Walking distance to the Metra Train station, visitors can take the train or park in the station lot near Spring and Station Street. A free trolley will be running between Barrington retailers and ChristKindlFest on Saturday.