John Driskell Hopkins, solo recording artist and founding member of the Zac Brown Band has a deep love for the holiday season. Usually this time of year, he would be rehearsing with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra or the Joe Gransden Big Band as well as other Atlanta recording artists like Michelle Malone and Katie Deal for the annual Christmas at Callanwolde holiday concert. However, this year, John, like many of us, has been working from home. He has been tucked away in his attic recording studio where he can just about record anything. John has finished a new album and has been recording remotely with the Zac Brown Band. With Christmas around the corner, John and his family are very much looking forward to a little holiday fun!
SOK: How was 2020? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
JDH: Recording and performing music changed this year and we have certainly learned a lot about streaming. The interesting thing about streaming concerts is that the performer has no choice but to be more introspective. Without an audience, there is no way to really know if you’re doing a good job as an entertainer. We are forced to be more focused on the performance that we witnessed, and less focused on the reaction from the crowd. Zoom applause is a very strange thing to get used to. Even the two Zac Brown Band singles that were released this summer were all recorded remotely. In 2021, I am looking forward to large concerts. It has been very difficult for large musical acts to bring shows to the public this year. As of now we are hoping to be active again in the summer. Stay Tuned!
SOK: Do you have a favorite holiday movie or Christmas song?
JDH: I saw “A Christmas Story” in the theater in 1983 when it was released. I wore glasses and had the same blonde hair as Ralphie. My friends that were with me were rolling in the floor laughing the entire movie because Peter Billingsley looked so much like me. It’s such an incredible movie! I’m basically Ralphie! I think my favorite line was delivered by Darren McGavin when his leg lamp was destroyed. Exasperated and incredibly angry, he yelled “Not a finger!”
All of the Andy Williams Christmas songs are amazing and his voice is like none other. I think my favorite track of his has to be “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”. The groove and the swing on that tune is so incredible! If I could, I would invite Andy Williams, Burl Ives and Jimmy Stewart to a holiday party. I’m a sucker for the classics!
SOK: What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions?
JDH: Christmas at Callanwolde! Callanwolde is so good at decorating for the holidays. They have a giant tree in the center of the house that is immaculate. My favorite memory of that experience is of my girls seeing me sing “The Grinch” with The Atlanta Pops Orchestra for the first time. Great memories! It has traditionally been a great way to start the Christmas Season, and I will miss it this year. We are frantically looking for a place to perform safely this year. We need to be outdoors and you really never know what the temperature will be in December in Georgia: could be 30 degrees, could be 70 degrees. Whether we are able to find a live venue or not, we will very likely do a virtual concert from Brighter Shade Studios. Hopefully, we can get back to Callanwolde next year.