Blue Water Highway and Will Hearn’s ‘Grand Ol’ Christmas Show’ Celebrates 20 Years of Family-Friendly Music and Humor

By Nancy Flory Published on November 30, 2023

“This is a really special year for us, because not only [is it] the 10th anniversary of our band forming, but this is the 20th anniversary of the first Christmas show,” Greg Essington, one of the founding members of the band Blue Water Highway, told The Stream recently.

Blue Water Highway is an Americana folk rock-roots group that performs in the Christmas variety show in addition to all of their own band’s touring. For this year’s Christmas show, the band will perform alongside The Dirty River Jazz Band, and gospel singers Claire Kibodeaux, Kirsten Gatewood and Eric Witherspoon on their 14-stop tour around Texas and in Missouri and Arkansas from December 1 to December 23.

The Grand ‘Ol Christmas Show

It all started when Greg and his buddy Will Hearn were seniors in high school and decided on a whim to put on a Christmas show. “[We] put it on at the local theater and we had no idea what we were doing, so we charged $2 a ticket. Didn’t think too many people would come, but it ended up selling out.” Zack Kibodeaux, co-founder of Blue Water Highway, joined the following year, and they, along with fourth leading cast member Dalton Flake, have been performing the Christmas variety show ever since. And Will formed a company called The Grand ‘Ol Production Company, which puts on the performances. 

A portion of the Christmas show’s proceeds have always been donated to charity. This year, the portion will go to Actions Incorporated of Brazoria County, Brazosport Cares Food Pantry and The Boys and Girls Club of Brazoria County, “which is the county we grew up in,” said Zack. 

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The family-friendly production, called Will Hearn’s Grand ‘Ol Christmas Show, includes musical skits, comedy, opera and other styles of music. “It’s something that every kind of American who loves Christmas and knows all the famous Christmas movies and famous Christmas references and pop culture stuff can enjoy,” said Zack. “And it’s for the whole family. And it’s good music and funny skits you know?” 

“The whole cast is a bunch of old friends, and we get to travel around with our buds,” Zack said. “And that’s a real blessing. People we grew up with, been friends with 20 years.”

Something You Don’t Get Anywhere Else

Zack said the show hearkens back to a by-gone era of variety shows.

These are normal Americans doing a Christmas show that aren’t afraid to sing about the Reason for the Season, but also have comedy that you can relate with as if you’d have turned on the TV in the ’50s to the ’60s when Bishop Fulton Sheen was on there. And it was just kind of normal to see that. But it appeals to all denominations, all Christian denominations. It’s entertainment that hearkens back to an era where those kind of shows were more popular.

“It’s something that you don’t get anywhere these days. That’s what I would say. It’s absolutely fulfilling a need. I think that that’s why we made it, you know, ’cause we wanted to see it. We missed that nostalgia of those old-fashioned variety shows.”

Tickets may be purchased at

Watch the trailer: 

For a sample of Blue Water Highway’s other, original music check out this video of one of their new songs:


Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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