Mikeschair will headline a Christmas concert at Victorious Life Christian Church in Conyers on Dec. 21. Band members include, from left, Seth Penn, Mike Grayson, Kyle Schonewill, Nate Onstott and Dustin Wise. (Special Photo)
The popular contemporary Christian group Mikeschair has been together for more than a decade, and even after all these years, Mike Grayson continues to be quizzed about the history and symbolism of the band’s unusual name.
The good-natured Grayson (a founding member who sings, plays guitar and is the group’s principal songwriter) rarely tires of telling the story, which involves a chair with his name on it and a dorm room at Belmont University in Nashville, where the group first came together.
When asked if band members ever gave any thought to changing the name, Grayson assented that there was a brief time when it was considered.
“Right around the time we signed our record deal we had that conversation and it was one of those things where we had been building this for five years and people knew our name and it was a name you really don’t forget,” Grayson said.
“So we decided to keep it and it’s kind of the foundation of this whole thing — a reminder of where we started. So no matter where we go, we’re always reminded of being in a dorm room around one chair.”
To celebrate the holiday season and promote the release of its EP “It’s Christmas,” Mikeschair will host a concert at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21 at Victorious Life Church in Conyers as part of the “It’s Christmas Tour” with opening acts City Harbor and Finding Favor.
For Grayson and his colleagues, who spend virtually the entire year on the road, the “It’s Christmas” concerts are a bit off the well-worn path of the group, which has been nominated for close to a dozen GMA Dove Award for their albums and singles.
“This is a really fun show because we’re going to play the Mikeschair favorites that people hear on the radio and know and love, but I think some of the best music ever written is Christmas music, so this is a fun time for Mikeschair to (play) some of the Christmas classics everybody knows,” Grayson, an Orlando native, said. “It will be a fun night with a lot of singing and a lot of songs that people recognize and love.
“We’ve got two other acts with us, City Harbor and Finding Favour, and from the beginning of the night until the end, it’s just a really good time. We’re excited because it’s unlike any other show we do throughout the year. This is a unique experience for fans to come and celebrate the holiday season.”
As is often the case with artists touring during the Christmas season, Mikeschair (under the auspices of its charitable arm, Mikestable) is teaming up with a notable charitable organization, in this case, Florida-based Food for the Poor, the largest international relief agency in the United States, which provides food and other services to the needy.
“Mikestable is an umbrella (organization) for all the things we feel passionate about,” Grayson said. “On this tour, we’re partnering with Food for the Hungry, a worldwide organization that is involved in community development. They go into communities throughout the world and help them become self-sustained and make sure there’s education and medicine and the essentials we take for granted.
“On this tour, we’re going to be encouraging people to come alongside that organization. We’ve seen Mikestable as an avenue for us to kind of lay everything out on the table and say, ‘This is where our heart is and this is where we feel the Lord is calling us to step out right now.’ This particular season, it’s with Food for the Hungry.”
Although they spent much of 2013 en route to the next concert, Mikeschair did find time to record a new album, entitled “All or Nothing,” which has an early 2014 release date.
“We’re so excited to get new music out there, and because of that we’ll be hitting the road in support of that album,” Grayson said. “You kind of (record) as you can — there were a lot of late nights and weekends just squeezing in any free time we had. We recorded in Nashville, which makes it a little bit easier.”
While Mikeschair spends a good deal of time away from home, the Christmas tour won’t be quite as emotionally taxing for Grayson because his wife, Molly Reed, will be along for the ride as a member of City Harbor (along with her musical partner Robby Earle).
“This time I get to bring my family with me, which makes it a whole lot easier because I’m traveling with my wife as opposed to being gone,” Grayson said. “City Harbor is an amazing duo. They write great songs and I’m obviously a big fan.”
Grayson is also pleased to have Found Favour, which hails from Vidalia, along on the tour.
“They’re from Georgia, which is cool,” he said. “They are so talented. They’ve got a really cool, Southern rock vibe to what they do. They’ve got some great songs. We’re honored to have both of these groups out on this tour. It makes for a really good night because all three groups bring different flavor. You’re not getting the same thing for two hours. It’s a good mix of styles.”
For more information on Mikeschair, visit www.mikeschair.com.