Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., pictured above, along with special guest Larry Groce, will be visiting Bluefield on his annual Home for the Holidays tour, Saturday, Dec. 14.

BLUEFIELD —  Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. will visit Bluefield on his annual Home for the Holidays Tour. This year he is joined by special guest, Larry Groce, the host and co-creator of the long-running Mountain Stage National Public Radio show produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. 

“Landau and Larry’s Home for the Holidays Tour” will perform at the Bluefield High School Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.

Murphy, originally from Logan County, W.Va., won season six of NBC’s America’s Got Talent and is now a Columbia recording artist.

“I really do love to come home for the holidays and visit my friends each year on the Christmas tour,” Murphy said. “I’m really kind of an old-fashioned guy, and there’s nothing like Christmas time to me…it really is my favorite time of the year and getting to tour with a real legend like Larry Groce is going to be amazing.”

The performance will feature Landau and his Classic Christmas Band performing never before released music from his upcoming, “Live in Las Vegas” album, along with holiday favorites from Landau’s Christmas album, “Christmas Made For Two” album and his debut record, “That’s Life.”

Murphy said he is most excited to spread Christmas joy during his and Groce’s performance in Bluefield, W.Va.

“This is my ninth annual home the for holidays tour it was something that was asked for by the fans and something I agreed to do as long as God is letting me and fans want to see a Christmas show,” Murphy said. “It is a blessing to be able to share the stage with someone of this caliber (Groce). He has an amazing voice and plays instruments very well.”

Murphy said that some of his favorite parts of “Landau and Larry’s Home for the Holidays Tour” is switching things around for a good laugh with Groce and the audience.

“I love messing with Larry because it shocks him every time. Anything is possible, I am very free on stage, I might switch it up at any time and Larry has to be ready for it and it makes him laugh and we are all having fun, not just us on stage but the crowd,” Murphy said. “In between songs, we might joke around and it is just really depending on the mood in the audience. It is a fun time but at the same time, you are on the edge of your seat as an entertainer and get them into that feeling of the holidays.”

Murphy said that during his portion of the performance, he performs a few original songs, some Christmas carols and classics, but he loves to sing the songs that he loved as a child during the holiday season.

“I love performing all the songs that I love during my childhood during the Christmas season and paint a beautiful picture on stage for my audience so they can feel what I am feeling,” Murphy said. “Larry has his versions of songs too and it is beautiful to have both genres on stage at the same time.”

Murphy is a big fan of Christmas. He compared the holiday season to the feeling of riding a roller coaster and said he still gets butterflies in his stomach during this special time of the year. Christmas has become especially heart-warming for him since he started touring with his music.

“I am just like for any 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. person who misses home,” Murphy said. “I enjoy the road and getting out and playing and the train rides and the limousine rides but a lot of that time is spent my manager, band in and out of suitcases it is not always easy but it is the joy of being on the road.”

Murphy said that he is always thinking of home when he is on the road. He said when he is singing to unfamiliar faces in the crowd, he starts imagining them as his favorite people from back home in Logan County.

“Home makes me humble and balanced,” Murphy said. “If I did not have that, I would probably lose my mind. All these people are a part of me and I take them with me in my heart when I go on the road. I love being home and telling everyone about the good and bad times I have had.”

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. is very excited for his annual “Home for the Holidays” tour, but he is also looking forward to a good, old-fashioned Christmas with his two-year-old son. “He is very smart and he knows what Christmas is, his birthday is December the 20th and he gets a lot of gifts,” Murphy said. “I am looking forward to everyone coming out to the shows; grandparents to great-grandchildren and have a great time and then to go home and enjoy our families for the holiday.”

Groce plans to perform holiday classics from his beloved Christmas albums, including his now-classic version of “Frosty The Snowman”, written by West Virginia native and fellow W.Va. Music Hall of Famer, Jack Rollins. 

The show has become a kind of family affair for the Groce family. Larry was asked by Murphy’s manager to participate in the show. Groce spoke to his wife about participating, but she was unable to due to her previous commitments with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. His daughter, 17-year-old, Virginia Groce volunteered.

“She is a good viola player, once she said she could do it, it seemed like an omen. It was great getting to rehearse with her,” Groce said. “She is a natural, she has been around music her whole life, so she is used to the whole atmosphere, it is different from classical music. She has been performing classical music and she plays in quartets, she gets gigs around with the classical quartet, but she has never played the full concerto before. She fell right into it and does a great job.”

Groce performs as part of a quartet. He plays the lap dulcimer and sings, Virginia Groce sings and plays the viola, Michael Lipton plays guitar and Ted Harrison plays bass.

Murphy opens the show with his band, then introduces Groce. After the quartet performs, Murphy and Groce perform together.

“We hope to bring a lot of Christmas spirit and goodwill,” Groce said. “You know, the feelings you want to have around Christmas and people are ready for some peace on earth. We want people to be entertained, perhaps touched and that is what we ask them to get ready for this season.”

“Landau and Larry’s Home for the Holidays Tour” is not the first time the two are working together. Murphy has performed on Mountain Stage before. Groce said that the blending of their two styles makes for a unique performance.

“I love Christmas music, and I love the stories that go with these songs,” Groce said. “It will be a real blast to tour with Landau and his band. I love that classic Vegas big band sound, and with our two completely different styles of music together on one stage each night, there really will be something for everyone.”

Groce said that he has performed at the Bluefield High School Performing Arts Center before and he is excited to return. “I am looking forward to performing there again, it is a nice venue,” he said.

The event is presented by Bluefield High School Foundation and sponsored in part by Robert Noone Adoptions. Tickets can be purchased for $20 for general admission or a family 4 pack of tickets for $10. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4442984 or calling Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias at 304-327-7184.

— Contact Emily Rice at erice@bdtonline.com

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