ROXBURY, NJ – (Editor's Note: This is an updated version of a prior article) Thanks to kickball and brothers, Christopher Westfall - a singer/songwriter performing Nov. 30 in Roxbury - came pretty close to never having a music career.
He was a little kid from Pennsylvania who knew, early on, that he liked music. So Westfall started taking piano and music lessons. “I learned how to read music and absolutely hated it,” he said.
The lessons were tough, but it was the urge to be outside that really did it in for Westfall's early attempts at music studies. There he was, inside at the piano and struggling to learn. Meanwhile, he could hear his brothers outside playing kickball and having fun horsing around.
“I quit after about a year and a half,” said the 48-year-old Berlin, NJ resident.
Couldn't Stop Singing
However, the call of music eventually overpowered the call of child’s play. Westfall rebooted his musical education with guitar lessons in middle school. He tended to play songs he liked to sing - songs that were on the radio - and people told Westfall he had a good voice.
Believing they were onto something, Westfall took voice lessons and ended up back where he began: At a piano. “When I sat with my voice teacher, and he started playing songs on the piano, I said, `I gotta learn how to do that,’ so I went back and taught myself to play piano,” he said.
Westfall is also a dentist, something he doesn’t think of as being all that unusual. He points out that many musicians have other, non-music careers and that many dentists have passions other than dentistry.
“A lot of dentists are golfers,” he said. “My day job is being a dentist (his office is in Voorhees). Music is kind of my emotional release if you will. I usually keep them distinct.”
He plays all over the country, usually for audiences of less than 1,000 and usually by himself. At his upcoming 7:30 p.m. performance at the Investor’s Bank Theater in Succasunna, Westfall will play digital piano, several types of guitars and, of course, sing.
Old Songs; New Songs
He plans to play songs from his fourth CD, "The Wonder of it All," a Christmas-focused disk he recorded in Nashville last year.
"It's a mix of religious and secular Christmas songs and I have two original songs on there as well," he said "It is representative of the season, with many angles, and I think there will be something for everybody."
The appearance will be Westfall's second Christmas show in Roxbury.
He said one of the most difficult parts of making the recording was doing it in mid-summer in Nashville; the weather made it a bit tricky to get into the Christmas spirit.
"It was so hot in Nashville," he said. "Here you are singing Winter Wonderland and it was 99 degrees outside. I was in a T-shirt and shorts."
In an effort to instill at least some winter holiday spirit, Westfall strung some Christmas lights in the studio.
He's pleased with the recording. "I think this is my best one yet," he said. "I've been singing these songs for years and years. It's nice to finally put it down on disk."
Tickets for the show - which will also feature an Ugly Sweater Contest - can be purchased at
www.roxburyartsalliance.org. Admission is $20 for Arts Alliance members and $25 for non-members.