In “Honky Tonk Holidays,” Petty joins Carolyn Martin and a five-piece band in performing and telling the stories behind such songs as Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper,” Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December,” Ricky Skaggs’ “Christmas Time’s A-Comin’;” Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and Roger Miller’s “Old Toy Train.”
“There are some spiritual songs and some classics,” Petty said. “We’re going to get [the new show] up on its feet. It’s kind of a world premiere event.”
He said he chose the 550-seat Dallas Theater to premiere the show because of its intimate feel – which he experienced when performing there earlier this year.
“It had that feel of a home away from home,” Petty said.
The country music genre has a long history with Christmas songs, he noted. The most famous version of the Christmas song, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” was recorded by country and western star Gene Autry in 1949 and went on to sell 25 million copies.
“Honky Tonk Holidays” will feature some upbeat songs such as “Rudolph” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” However, country music also is known for its willingness to confront serious subjects, such as the story of a father wanting to provide his family a proper Christmas despite an impending layoff from a factory job in “If We Make it Through December.”
“It’s a fact of life,” Petty said. “It’s the toughest time financially for a lot of folks.”
Petty won the 2003 Obie Award — given for off-Broadway shows in New York City — for his portrayal of doomed country legend Hank Williams Sr. in “Hank Williams: Lost Highway.”
He now performs nationwide in any of four shows.
In “Hank and My Honky Tonk Heroes,” he pays tribute to country music legends like Lefty Frizzell and Ernest Tubb.
In the show “Country Royalty,” which included a stop at the Dallas Theater earlier this year, he and “Honky Tonk Holidays” co-star Carolyn Martin perform as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, respectively.
Then, in “Jason Petty’s Swingin’ Cowboys,” he and Martin pay tribute to the music of the American West.
The band includes David Martin, Eric Lewis, Mark Baczynski, Roy Hoffman and Walter Hartman.
Carolyn Martin, as a member of The Time Jumpers, was nominated for two Grammy awards in 2007. She is considered one of contemporary Western swing’s stars and fronts the Carolyn Martin Swing Band, which mixes Western and big band swing.
Petty said he wanted to include her in “Honky Tonk Holidays” after working with her in “Country Royalty.”
“I love her singing so much,” he said. “Every show needs a woman’s touch.”
The show is set for 7:30 p.m. at the theater at 208 Main St., between Spring and Griffin streets, in downtown Dallas.
Tickets are $25 and $20. Discounts are given to seniors, children, students, military personnel with identification and groups of 10 or more.