There are certainly things to expect this time of the yearand one is the Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour, which is marking its 15th year.
Out saxophonist Koz talked with Windy City Times recently about touring, wine and activism, among other topics.
Windy City Times: You're in Atlanta right now, correct?
Dave Koz: Yes. We start this tour in Florida, which is a nice place to start. You spend a week in Florida and you're like, "This doesn't feel like Christmas. It's too hot." So I'm looking forward to getting a nice dose of Christmas chill when we make it up to Chicago. [Laughs] It makes me very happy.
WCT: It seems like you definitely include Chicago whenever you tour. What is it about the city that you like so much?
Dave Koz: Well, it's been a great city for me [regarding] touring since the beginning of my career. I remember playing the Park West on my very first tour; I think we played it twice in one year because there were so many great fans and great radio stations. Unfortunately, the stations are not on the air anymorebut the fans are still there.
Every time we come through town it seems that we have a great show and a great group of people. And even for this show at the Chicago Theatre I think we've outpaced ticket sales from last year. Plus, it's such a great city; there's no shortage of fantastic food, restaurants and nightcluband there are so many things to do, like shopping. There are a lot of reasons to want to come and, fortunately, people want to see us. [Laughs]
I've spent a little bit of time in Chicagotypically, we're in and outbut I've thought about living there for a short period of time. It's a city I've felt very comfortable in.
WCT: So, regarding your show, what can people expect?
Dave Koz: Well, this year [marks] our 15th annual show, and there aren't many things in life that lasts for 15 years. I'm pretty excited about that, and I feel very fortunate to have a touring show that becomes a tradition for some people. I love seeing young people to great-grandparents; people even bring their offices out for this.
It's become a holiday tradition and I think one of the key secrets to it being so successful is that every year it's different. People know that they'll see some things they've seen before, [but] they'll also see new talent.
This show, particularly, has a whole bunch of energy to it because we have Sheila E., and she brings this whole Latin fire. Also, we have Javier Colon, who won The Voice the first year. This is his first Christmas tour as well as Sheila's [with Koz]. David Benoit, who is the co-creator of this tour, will be there. There will also be Margo Rey, a singer who's new on the scene, and she has a new holiday hit. So they'll be a lot of nice people and the show will be high-energy, and there will be lots of hits from our respective catalogs.
WCT: How early do you start putting this all together?
Dave Koz: We start pretty quicklyI would say that conversations between me and the production manager happen six months ahead of time. From that point, we start to look at the artists; their songs; what they want to do, musically. Then the video side starts to come together. We then have about a week of rehearsals, and then we start [touring].
WCT: Of course, this isn't the only thing you have going; there's the [Dave Koz & Friends at Sea] Mediterranean cruise you have planned for next year. When is that?
Dave Koz: It's Sept. 22-29. It starts in Rome and then it cruises the Mediterranean to Sicily and the Greek islands and then back up the [Italian] coast to Rome again. We've got a full line-up: Michael McDonald, Larry Graham of Graham Central Station, Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright, Peter White, Brian Culbertson; it's about 40 musicians and artists, and it's pretty artistic.
Our 2012 one was also in Europe; it started and ended in Barcelona. ... The people are very good-looking, and Barcelona is very vibrant and very gay. Have you been?
WCT: I haven'tbut if I went I'm not sure I'd come back.
Dave Koz: [Laughs] It's amazingthe eating, the drinking, the views, the architecture. It's a very beautiful city.
WCT: And you also have your own wine, correct?
Dave Koz: Yeah. There's a winery in central California that makes this vintage, and we have wine that's sold on the West Coast in Whole Foodsbut the big news is that it's now available nationwide at California Pizza Kitchen. You can go any CPKand I understand there's one in Chicagoand order a glass of Koz wine; the proceeds go to the Starlight Children's Foundation, which has been a big charity of mine for many years.
WCT: With all of these going on, how difficult is it to have a personal life?
Dave Koz: It's difficult, but I haven't been a relationship-oriented person for many years. My primary relationship is with the saxophone, although I leave the window open for that change. I've always been a late bloomer with most things in my personal life, so I think a proper relationship will probably come into my life a little later than it does in other people's lives. I've got so much love around me and I have so much fun, so you shouldn't worry about me. [Laughs] I don't feel like anything's missing.
WCT: Would you consider yourself an activist?
Dave Koz: No, not really. Obviously, I have principles I believe strongly in and I've been pretty outspoken in my beliefs, but I'm not a soapbox person. It's not my personality to stir up [things]; I'm more of a quiet unifier. I hope to lead by my words and how I try to live my life.
WCT: Lastly, if you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Dave Koz: [Laughs] Wow. I would make it so that our world leaders would have to play a musical instrument. Part of being elected would mean you'd have to learn an instrument and you'd have to play with other world leaders in a band. [Sings] "It's a small world after all..."
The Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour will stop locally Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., at 8 p.m. Tickets are $43-$88; see www.thechicagotheatre.com or www.ticketmaster.com .