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Hoffman family's musical mix highlights Hills Christmas concerts
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Hoffman family's musical mix highlights Hills Christmas concerts

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Rory Hoffman

South Dakota native Rory Hoffman comes home for Christmas and a concert with his siblings on Dec. 19 in Rapid City. 

When musician Rory Hoffman and his family gather for Christmas this year, they’re inviting the community to spend a country-bluegrass-jazz holiday evening with them.

The Rapid City Concert Association will present Rory Hoffman & Family at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center theater. Tickets are $25 and available at the civic center box office, Ellsworth Air Force Base recreation ticket office and at the door.

Rory Hoffman is a 2012 inductee into the South Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame. He's a nationally acclaimed musician who lives in Nashville, where he’s played at the Grand Ole Opry many times as a soloist and performed with such stars as Ricky Skaggs, Kathy Mattea, Riders in the Sky and John Cowan.

Hoffman can be heard on records with Hank Williams III, Kacey Musgraves and Rodney Crowell. Locally, Rory produced singer-songwriter Tom Haggerty’s album “Honky Tonk Praise” and has worked with musicians including The Potter Family.

“I hope I see some people I know at the concert. That would be really cool,” he said.

Concertgoers can expect a fusion of Christmas tunes and more at the Dec. 19 show, Hoffman said.

“I’m going to play some of my own songs that I’ve written. They range from country music and jazz music and swing music,” he said. “I’m going to do a little series of songs and tell some stories about some of the artists I’ve worked with. … I thought it would be fun to relay some experiences I’ve had. It’s going to be a mix of everything from country to jazz to bluegrass. I’m probably going to throw a gospel tune in there.”

“I’m not planning to over-holiday it, but I’ll throw in some Christmas,” he said, chuckling.

He's a master of 12 different instruments, though he favors the guitar. To get in the Christmas spirit, audiences can watch Hoffman play the instruments in his distinctive interpretation of “The 12 Days of Christmas,”

Growing up on a ranch near Lemmon where his parents still live, Hoffman started playing the guitar at age 3. His sister, Konnie Ellis of Rapid City, said she and her twin sister, Kim Hoffman, were their younger brother’s first music teachers.

“We taught him everything he knows,” Konnie said, laughing. “He says I taught him everything I know.”

Rory, Konnie, Kim and youngest brother Reed Hoffman grew up performing with their family’s gospel band. For reasons doctors could not explain, all four siblings were born blind but that did not stop them from pursuing their love of music. Today, all are musicians who will join Rory in the Dec. 19 concert.

Konnie plays the piano and regularly performs at local nursing homes, she said, while Kim lives in Montana and plays classic country music with her band, Fully Cooked. Reed is a professional drummer with a '60s rock band, MorningStar, in Austin, Texas.

“We’ve gone our separate ways and we don’t get to (perform together) much anymore. It’s just like old times,” Konnie said.

The Hoffmans are rehearsing remotely and by YouTube videos until shortly before the concert, she said. The four siblings grew up playing everything from Norwegian waltzes and polkas to Elvis to hymns and more, Konnie said, so the upcoming concert promises to have something for everyone.

“You never know what you’re going to get,” said Konnie.

December has a full slate of holiday concerts, listed below, all featuring Black Hills area musicians. For a schedule of concerts and other Christmas events, see the Hills Happenings calendar on page B12.

Unique performers

Harpist Joelle Simpson, 15, will perform classical music and songs of the season at Rapid City Public Library downtown. Simpson knew from age 4 she wanted to be a harpist. She will be in concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 6, 13 and 20. Free.

Bells of the Hills will present This Winter Night at 2 p.m. Dec. 8 at First Presbyterian Church in Rapid City. Hear Christmas favorites performed by a handbell ensemble. Admission is free; freewill donations to support future performances are appreciated.

The Piano Duet Club presents Music for the Holidays at noon Dec. 11 at Matthews Opera House, Spearfish. This concert will feature Black Hills State University music students. Free; seating is limited.

Tuba Christmas showcases favorite Christmas carols played on tubas and euphoniums (baritone horns). This concert will be at 1 p.m. Dec. 14 in the Rushmore Mall food court in Rapid City. Free.

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Holiday jazz

Clarinet Quartattitude, the Quartet with Attitude, performs traditional holiday favorites in classical and jazz arrangements from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at Rapid City Public Library downtown. Clarinet Quartattitude features Nancy Williams, Deb Martin, Dan Mulally and Black Hills Symphony Orchestra’s principal clarinetist, Deb Knowles. Free.

Holiday Jazz with Sophia Beatty and a full jazz band will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at Matthews Opera House in Spearfish. Expect favorite Christmas songs, as well as popular jazz songs made famous by artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday. Tickets $20-$30; go to

Concerts with a cause

A Very Berry Christmas with the Lyle Berry Band and Dalyce Sellers will be at 2 p.m. Dec. 7 at the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish. $10 at the door; proceeds benefit Black Hills entertainer Gordy Pratt's medical expenses.

Holiday Jam with the Hegg Brothers will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City. This musical showcase features a multi-piece band playing holiday classics and contemporary new arrangements in the signature lush, rhythmic horn band sound of South Dakota musicians Jeremy and Jon Hegg. Tickets are $25; go to Proceeds benefit West River kids served by LifeScape’s therapy and psychological services.

Dakota Choral Union’s annual Christmas at the Cathedral concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15. Accompanied by members of the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra, the choral ensemble will sing new and familiar festive music. Free; the public is welcome. Donations of non-perishable foods for KOTA’s Care and Share Food Drive are appreciated.

The Davis Sisters will sing holiday favorites at their 19th Annual Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rapid City. Tickets $15; a freewill offering will be taken to benefit Love INC. For tickets and information, go to

A Christmas Collection: Songs & Stories to Celebrate the Season is a fundraiser for the future OneHeart campus in Rapid City. The lineup includes music by Boyd Bristow, Jami Lynn and Kenny Putnam and holiday tales read by local author Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve and actors Justin Speck, Jason Knox and Joyce Jefferson. Show times will be 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21, at the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City. Tickets are $15-$20 in advance, $20-$25 day of show. For tickets, go to The OneHeart campus is tentatively scheduled to open in 2021, providing services such as transitional housing, addiction and mental health counseling, life skills and job training.

A Christmas To Remember will be a night of holiday tunes at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 23 in the Studio Theatre of the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City. Musicians Alex Massa, Danny Thornburg, Chris Massa, Jack Taylor, Molly Larson, Sophia Beatty, Andrew Huot, Johnny Hastings, Jordan Seidel, Jimmy Reed and Kaleb Britton will be joined by guests Sequoia Crosswhite and Herb Cleveland. Tickets $20; go to A portion of proceeds will benefit the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City.

Christmas harmonies

Holiday at the Cathedral concert, featuring South Dakota School of Mines master chorale, university choir, men's choir, women's choir and honors brass quintet, will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral, Rapid City. Free. Donations will be accepted for scholarships. Attend in person or watch it streamed live at

Holiday in the Hills, a music and talent festival, will be at 2 p.m. Dec. 7 at Custer Senior Center. Featuring local quartets, plus piano, trumpet, harp and bells performances by musicians from Custer, Hot Springs and Pringle; Sandstone Singers at 3 p.m.; Pringle Players at 4 p.m.

Join the Potter family for two holiday performances. The Potter Ladies “Live” Christmas concert will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at First Assembly of God Church in Rapid City. The public is welcome; a freewill offering will be collected. On Dec. 15, Orion and Stacey Potter with Luke and Lizzie Anderson present A Very Potter Christmas at 3 p.m. at High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish. Tickets are $15 general seating, $20 reserved seating.

Rapid City Children's Chorus will be joined by Dynamix women’s a cappella chorus for Snowflakes and Hot Chocolate at 3 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City. Admission $8 adults, $7 students.

Joy of A Capella Christmas Show will be at 3 p.m. Dec. 8 at South Canyon Lutheran Church in Rapid City. Featuring Black Hills Showcase Chorus, Shrine of Democracy Chorus, Going for Baroque Recorder Quartet, flutist Ellen Shirley and Je Ne Sais Quad Quartet. Free. The public is welcome.

Take a musical lunch break on Dec. 11, when the Shrine of Democracy Chorus performs from noon-1 p.m. at Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City. Free.

10th annual Black Hills Cowboy Christmas: An Old-Fashioned Concert and Dance, Homestake Opera House, Lead. On Dec. 14, there's a 2 p.m. matinee and a 7:30 p.m. show and dance with music by the Wilt Brothers Band. On Dec. 15, there's a 2 p.m. matinee. The show is a lineup of award-winning musicians, singers, and storytellers from South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana: Paul Larson, Kenny Putnam, Boyd Bristow, Trinity Seely, Jami Lynn, Brent Morris, Chet Murray, Sarah Carlson, Robert Dennis, Shiloh Hewitt, Chuck Larsen and Yvonne Hollenbeck. For tickets, go to

The Rapid City Christian School Christmas Choir opens for Grammy-nominated Christian singer Brandon Heath’s Christmas concert on Dec. 15 at the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City. The choir sings at 6:30 p.m., followed by Brandon Heath at 7 p.m. Tickets $20 advance; $25 day of show; VIP tickets $35. Go to

A Christmas cantata, A Celebration of Carols, will be performed by the chancel choir and orchestra at 4 p.m. Dec. 22 at First Presbyterian Church in Rapid City. Free. The public is welcome.

High Plains Live! Campfire Concerto will feature Paul Larson, Kenny Putnam, Boyd Bristo and Chet Murray at 2 p.m. Dec. 22 at the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish. Tickets $30; reserved seating. For tickets, call 605-642-9378.

Black Hills Symphony Orchestra

The Black Hills Symphony Orchestra ushers in December with Happy Holidays, an evening of holiday classics, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City. Tickets are $32-$12.

The orchestra wraps up 2019 with its New Year’s Eve concert, Chocolat & Other Delights, at 8 p.m. Dec. 31 at the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City. Candy from Mostly Chocolates will be sold at the concert to correspond with one of the chocolate-themed pieces of music, Symphony Chocolates Suite. Tickets $32-$12. For tickets to either concert, go to

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