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Published: Thursday, 4/10/2008

Lima to get breath of 'Fresh Aire' with Mannheim Steamroller

The Fresh Aire Music of Mannheim Steamroller is rolling into Lima, Ohio, this weekend for a concert at the civic center's Crouse Performance Hall.

The show will include multimedia images, synchronized lighting, special effects, and 21 of the group's distinctive songs performed by a 15-person band conducted by Chuck Pennington.

Chip Davis, the Sylvania native who created Mannheim Steamroller in the mid-1970s, designed and produced the touring show but is not performing on the tour, which will hit a total of 49 cities in two months.

Mannheim Steamroller's unique blend of classical, jazz, rock, and folk music didn't fit into any musical category when Davis first tried to pitch it to record companies, so he started his own label, American Gramaphone, its name a play on the prestigious German label Deutsche Grammophon.

The music that Davis describes as "18th century rock and roll" has sold more than 27 million records, and Mannheim Steamroller has become a dominant force in the Christmas music genre, with eight Christmas discs selling a total of more than 20 million copies.

Saturday's show will feature selections from Mannheim Steamroller's eight Fresh Aire albums, nonholiday songs that include seven of the "Door" compositions from "Fresh Aire II," and more recent songs from "Fresh Aire 8," including "Leonardo," "The Circle of Love," and "Return," exploring man's curiosity about the world around him.

Davis, 60, began taking classical piano lessons at age 4, studied music at the University of Michigan, and taught music at McCord Junior High in Sylvania before moving to Omaha, where he lives with his wife, Trisha, and three children.

Mannheim Steamroller, conducted by Chuck Pennington, will perform "Fresh Aire Music" at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Crouse Performance Hall in the Veterans' Memorial Civic and Convention Center of Lima/Allen County, 7 Town Square, Lima, Ohio. Tickets are $51 from the box office, 419-224-1552 or toll-free at 1-888-377-0641.

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