Don Eves never expected what started as a project of a nine-song Christmas music CD five years ago to blossom into what it is today.
Returning for a fifth year and titled “Hometown Kansas Christmas,” Don Eves’ Christmas CD has grown into a two-disc set that now features a 28-artist lineup of singers, all of whom are either from Garden City, southwest Kansas or have ties to the area.
“It was really just a fun idea that first year, but now It’s really taken on a life of it’s own,” Don Eves said. “I’d never thought we’d be where we are now.”
It all started In 2013, when Don and his wife, Mary, asked friends to sing their favorite Christmas songs on their first CD, "Hometown Joy." They followed up with "Christmas Cheer from Garden City," "Happy Hometown Christmas," and "Kozy Kansas Christmas." The annual CD came about after Don Eves got a bunch of Garden City friends and family together to make a video featuring a song he wrote called, “Crazy Christmas Tango.”
Mary Eves said the video, which was first published in 2012, is composed of several funny Christmas stories and has nearly 6,000 views online.
“Every year, there’s always new artists, but something new this year is it’s a two-disc set with 28 songs,” Don Eves said. “Our first CD was only eight songs, so that shows you how much growth there is.”
Music on the CD is of all genres, from pop and country to jazz and music that couldn’t be put in a specific category, Don Eves said, adding that there is a wide age range of artists as well, from 10-year olds to artists in their 60s.
The two-disc set also features classic Christmas songs, as well as tunes written by some of the artists.
Artists on the fifth anniversary CD set include the Fulton Street Band, the first band to be part of the CD, as well as Darby Reimer, Scott Davis, Hannah Richmeier, Logan Walker, Lisa Taylor, Don Eves, Kathy White, Brayley Frazier, Polly Catanese Elpers, Beverly Catanese, Rebeckah Williams, Grace Schmidt, Debbie Wharton, Stephanie Heger, Rich Taylor, Cindy Smith Dial, Neely Wasinger, Kaylee Keller, Melissa Gallegos, Tim White, Jose Luis Hinojosa, Symone Simmons, Pat Veesart, Michael Gonzalez and Katie Wharton.
Artists on the CD include several returners, as well as a mix of newcomers.
“The main thing is to have southwest Kansas people featured on the CD,” Don Eves said. “Every artist has proven to be above and beyond what you could ever imagine. That’s kind of been the fun part is watching them unfold after doing this.”
Meet the artists
Darby Reimer, 11, is on the CD for the third year. She was having difficulty choosing a song to perform this year. Her father, Matt, then texted her about the idea of writing her own song.
“That’s how the idea kind of came,” Darby said.
The song she wrote is titled, “The True Meaning of Christmas” and the title speaks for itself.
Darby said it didn’t take her long to write the song after she came up with the verses and melodies.
She said she was pleased with the final product — both her song and the CD as a whole.
“I don’t know if it’s going to the studio and recording, or listening to all the songs on the CD. That’s usually really exciting when you listen to all the songs for the first time,” Darby said when asked what her favorite part of being a part of the CD is.
Darby’s song on the Hometown Kansas Christmas CD isn’t the first time she’s written a song. She previously wrote a song called “Here comes Spud,” which is about her Corgi dog.
Kris Reimer, Darby’s mother, said on Thursday that Darby has been singing since she was little, but has been singing at her church for the last four years or so.
“She does a great job,” Kris Reimer said. “It’s great that they ask her to be a part of the CD.”
Grace Schmidt was one of the newcomers on this year’s CD and sang the Mariah Carey version of “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing”.
“It’s like a traditional song, with more of a modern feel, and that’s what I wanted,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt, 17, said she was previously in Garden City High School’s Modern Show Choir and sings at her church. In fact, someone at her church asked her to be a part of the CD.
“I thought the CD was really good, especially for only being in it’s fifth year. It’s amazing that we have so many talented people in Garden City and southwest Kansas that we’re able to make two CDs,” Schmidt said. “There is definitely some people you wouldn’t expect (on the CD). They kind of hide their talents, but they’re able to bring them out with this CD.”
Lisa Taylor, who co-produced the CD with the Eves, said she has helped with the CD for the last four years, but has sang on it for the last three.
Taylor sings a duet with Don Eves titled “2-Steppin’ Christmas,” which was written by Don.
Mary Eves said Don wrote the song after seeing Lisa Taylor and her husband, Scott, two-step dancing.
“It’s just a thought, and then it just takes off and goes,” Don Eves said of writing the song.
Lisa Taylor also sings a song titled “Merry Christmas Everyone” on the CD.
“It’s double disc CD, and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to go back to a single CD because we have so many artists wanting to join us,” Lisa Taylor said. “We say the more the merrier.”
Taylor said being a part of the CD is special to her because it brought music and singing back into her life.
Mary Eves said something interesting about the artists is that they always find ways to challenge themselves.
“Every year, they’re on here, they pick a more difficult song or pick a song that has meaning to them and their family,” she said. “I think that’s been wonderful.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of the CD is discover the talent of each artist, Don Eves said.
“I love to hear people in the community say, ‘I had no idea they could do that,’” he said. “It’s brought a lot of fun to everybody.”
Behind the scenes
Both Taylor and the Eves said work is put into the CD nearly year round.
The music is generated by Randy Wills at Exception Studio in Topeka. He creates all the instrumental music to accompany local singers. His coaching and expertise also are utilized by the musicians. Artists on the CD record during the summer.
Don Eves said it would not be possible to make the CD without Wills.
“I couldn’t see us putting the CD together with anyone other than Randy. Without him, I couldn’t see us doing the project. He does such a phenomenal job,” Don Eves said.
Schmidt said it was her first time being in a professional studio while recording her song.
“I didn’t expect to have to put on the headphones and use one of those special microphones, but when you’re recording, it makes you sound so angelic. It kind of takes you awhile to get used to it,” she said. “It’s a special experience.”
She noted that it took nearly four hours to record her song because she had to record various layers and pieces.
“I had to like layer myself. I had to sing different parts of my song in different parts of the room so I would sound like a choir, so that was really cool,” Schmidt said.
The artwork for the CD is created by Deb Huber and features the painted image of snow-covered pine trees with a buck poking its head out of them with a red ribbon on its neck.
Mary Eves, Lisa Taylor, Linda Taylor, Sandy Hawley and Beverly Schmitz Glass serve on a committee for the CD and help promote and market it, among other things.
Where to find it
The CD, which costs $15, is available for sale at these Garden City locations: Davis Designs Home Decor Boutique, 426 N. Main St.; The Corner on Main, 324 N. Main St.; Ward’s Garden Center, 2703 U.S. Highway 83; Legend’s Salon, 109 Grant Ave.; Little Britches-Moodz Fashions, 320 N. Main St.; Knights of Columbus Hall, 205 N. Eighth St.; Wharton’s for Every Bloomin’ Thing Inc., 906 N. 10th St.; High Plains Urology, 311 E Spruce St.; High Maintenance, 1502 E Harding Ave #3; and the Finney County Historical Museum, 403 S. Fourth St.
The CD is also available in Hugoton at Yardmaster Gift, Greenhouse and Nursery, 225 S. Main St.; Janet’s Bridal and Boutique, 1010 S. Van Buren St.; and at Hugoton Drug Store, 531 S. Main St.
Hometown Christmas CD is also available at Blush Boutique in Cimarron, 103 S. Main St., and in Scott City, at Gifts Etc., 424 Main St.
It can also be purchased through the Hometown Christmas Facebook page.
For the first time since the CDs inception in 2013, it is available for digital download and listening at CDbaby.com and will soon be available on iTunes.
“Now with the download, you’re able to get it everywhere, even other countries, so we’re excited to see how it takes off,” Lisa Taylor said.
Mary Eves said a portion of the CD sales will be donated to St. Catherine Hospital’s Benincasa House, 908 N. Sixth St.
Benincasa, which means “Good home,” is a nonprofit ministry that assists people who come to Garden City for healthcare. Like a Ronald McDonald House, Benincasa provides accommodations for St. Catherine Hospital patients' families and caretakers.
According to Shawna Deal, community relations coordinator for St. Catherine Hospital, the Benincasa house by patients and their families from all over the U.S. and abroad. It is also used for medical students from the University of Kansas when they rotate at the hospital.
“It takes about $50,000 per year to operate Benincasa, and we couldn’t do it without volunteers and donations of food and money,” said Shawna Deal, St. Catherine Hospital community relations coordinator.
The Hometown Christmas CD also will be for sale Dec. 15 at St. Catherine’s 13th Annual Tree and Wreath auction. For every CD sold during the auction, an additional matching contribution will be made by donors, Mary Eves said.
A number of radio stations are playing music from this year’s CD set. Stations include: High Plains Public Radio Station, 97.3 FM, Q97 Continuous Country, KSKZ Z98 98.1 FM; KIUL 1240 AM, 100.9 FM The Bull, KULY in Ulysses, KGNO 1370 AM, KZRD 93.9 FM, and KAHE 95.5 FM.
Lisa Taylor said some radio stations in Texas and New Mexico are also playing it.
For more information about the CD, contact Mary Eves at (620) 272-4331 or Lisa Taylor at (620) 640-8902.
Contact Josh Harbour at firstname.lastname@example.org.