Christmas is a time where tradition seems to permeate every activity, and each family has their own distinctive bent. These traditions have a way of connecting communally, even to the point where they eventually become representative of a region. Ian Mairs, the creator of A Swamp Radio Christmas puts a more folksy twist on it: “Ask anyone ‘So what are ya’ll doin’ for the Holidays,‘ and they will answer, ‘Oh, we do the same thing every year.’”
The show was conceived as a way to deliver a live radio show experience that celebrates the culture, art, and history of Northeast Florida by employing storytelling, live music, and interviews. Ian’s inspiration was found in the programs he grew up listening to on public radio, but he noticed that there was a general lack of stories from the south, despite the celebrated talent that southerners have garnered for the art of storytelling. “Swamp Radio is a way to bring the front porch of many homes onto the radio and digital landscapes,” Ian says. Like most of us, Ian feels strongly connected to the past and has blended that with his love for the North Florida area. He put it eloquently, saying, “The rituals of the holidays provide a framework for the scrapbook which is our everyday lives. I have specific holiday memories from my childhood which have ended up being the foundation for my love of the area.”
There is a cynical penchant to think that we merely apply a glossy veneer to our past, especially in the form of tradition, but for Ian and A Swamp Radio Christmas, celebrating the good ol’ days doesn’t mean discounting how things have changed over time. “What we think of as a traditional holiday has been changed, and for the better. Swamp Radio sets a place at the table for the community which allows us to celebrate those things which we all agree are great, like a salted caramel from Sweet Pete’s or the fog which rolls up on Atlantic Beach on many a Christmas Eve.”
And what can you expect when you attend the show? Ian likens it to a buffet table where you can “pile your plate high with all sorts of things: laughs, songs, stories, and interviews.” Keeping on the culinary metaphor, Ian explains that the show is “home cookin’” that “explores and celebrates what makes Christmas in the North Florida area so unique.” The show will include local writer Dorothy Ketchum Fletcher and Florida Times-Union columnist Jennifer Greenhill Taylor delivering anecdotes about the Jacksonville of yesteryear, Peter Behringer of Sweet Pete’s discussing his unique brand of confectionary bliss, and the music of Four Families and Sam Pacetti.
Entertaining, sentimental, and uniquely local, A Swamp Radio Christmas is the perfect way to embrace tradition this holiday season. Tickets for the Jacksonville show, December 21st are $25.50 and can be purchased at floridatheatre.com or by calling 904-355-2787. Tickets for St. Augustine on December 23rd are $25 for adults and $20 for students, seniors and military. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit swampradiojax.com.