The Donovan Johnson Band

The Donovan Johnson Band performs. Photo submitted

by Dan Mundt

Vince Guaraldi never became as famous as some of the other jazz artists of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, but anyone who is a fan of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” knows his work.

Guaraldi provided the music for many other classic Peanuts specials until his death in 1976.

His tune called “Linus and Lucy” is instantly recognizable as “The Charlie Brown Theme.”

On December 9, the Donovan Johnson Band, of Omaha, will bring The Music of Vince Guaraldi and Peanuts to the Donna Reed Theater in Denison.

“A lot of people listen to Vince Guaraldi’s music around the holidays and don’t even realize it,” Johnson said. “It’s seasonal and familiar and a lot of fun.”

Johnson was drawn to Guaraldi’s music in his youth.

“I’m a piano player, so he was one of my biggest influences,” he said. “Being somebody who watched the specials growing up, I always loved the music in the background.”

His family watched A Charlie Brown Christmas every year.

“Growing older, it was something I wanted to learn to play and eventually I did,” Johnson said, “and I started doing this show 10 years ago.”

Guaraldi’s music gets a full production from the Donovan Johnson Band.

“It is a full band and concert experience that everybody is going to take something away from,” he said.

The band will play most of the Christmas Special tunes, along with the Great Pumpkin Waltz and the Thanksgiving Theme.

Not very many groups around the country continue to play Guaraldi’s music; Donovan’s is the only band in the Midwest to do so, he said.

The concert is for all ages and will include door prizes and raffles.

“It’s not just a recital,” Johnson said.

The Music of Vince Guaraldi and Peanuts begins at 3 p.m. on December 9 at the Donna Reed Theater. Tickets are $10 each. For more information, contact the Donna Reed Foundation office at 712-263-3334.

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