The Don Campbell Band, fronted by the man himself at center, performs at the Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath Saturday, Dec. 21. Contributed photo

BATH — Don Campbell grew up with music flowing through his veins.

“I grew up in a really musical family,” the renowned singer-songwriter said Dec. 13. “My dad played the fiddle, and my mom the piano. And all my aunts and uncles, every weekend we’d play Celtic music.”

“Somebody would put a guitar down to go use the restroom, and I’d pick (it) up for the three or four minutes they were gone, and then hand it back to them,” said the 55-year-old, who grew up in Scarborough. “That was the school I went to.”

Campbell, who has brought that joy of music to stages all over the world and voted Maine’s best singer-songwriter in a by Maine Sunday Telegram readers poll for six consecutive years, plays a Christmas concert at the Chocolate Church Arts Center Saturday, Dec. 21. The 804 Washington St. show starts at 7:30 p.m.

As a teenager, Campbell attended shows by Devonsquare and Schooner Fare, Maine folk groups he idolized. Early on, they would take Campbell around the country and have him open their shows, “and basically let me borrow their audience, which was really fun,” he recalled. “We all are very good friends to this day.”

“I think what’s so cool about Don Campbell is that he spent his early years idolizing these quintessentially Maine artists … and now he’s carrying on that torch,” William Lederer, executive director of the Chocolate Church’s executive ditrector, said Dec. 11. “To me, he’s a songwriter’s songwriter. He has a beautiful voice, and embodies that thoughtful, passionate style of songwriting that might make you think of someone like James Taylor or Jonathan Edwards.”

Campbell has opened for acclaimed musicians that include Edwards and Carrie Underwood, offering folk, pop and crossover country tunes from among the roughly 600-song catalog he’s built, along with cover songs. He played at venues as large as Gillette Stadium (opening for Keith Urban and Toby Keith), and the Grand Ole Opry, where he band won $50,000 in 1999. Upcoming shows are posted at doncampbellmusic.com.

Campbell spent 14 years in Nashville, before returning to Maine following his father’s death, to look out for his mother. He has enjoyed being on the Maine coast, where “there’s no more enjoyable place to go boating,” he said, “unless you’re in the British Virgin Islands.”

And of course, there’s the music.

“Maine’s got a great music scene,” Campbell said. “There are a lot of talented people here, and there are a lot of venues in New England that are really fun to play. There are lots of reasons to be a musician in New England.”

The Don Campbell Band – which includes him on acoustic guitar and vocals, Thom Dyhrbeg on bass and vocals, Gino Grassi on drums, John DeQuattro on electric guitar, and Tom Yoder on fiddle, mandolin, and vocals – travels outside of New England regularly, from down to Florida and over to the Midwest.

Campbell, once named Male Artist of the Year by the Just Plain Folks Independent Music Awards, has released 14 albums. Two of those are Christmas CDs – from which he will pull material at this weekend’s show – and one is a double-album tribute to Dan Fogelberg, the Illinois-born singer-songwriter who spent his final years on Deer Isle before dying from cancer in 2007.

“It always felt like he was singing directly to me,” Campbell said. “… Because of that, I’ve taken on an attitude that you should always perform for the audience, not at the audience, and try to involve the audience as much as you can with why you wrote the songs.”

Campbell, who often performs shows in tribute to Maine’s veterans, wrote “The Snow at Arlington” for Wreaths Across America, which coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and 1,600 other sites across the country.

“They’re down there in Arlington right now laying handmade Maine wreaths on every tombstone,” he said, noting his pride that “The Snow at Arlington” is the organization’s theme song.

“Christmas Lights” is another song by which Campbell hopes to be remembered.

“Christmas lights are my favorite thing about the season,” he said. “When you decorate your home, or a tree outside your home, and passersby see that, that’s like a free gift you’re giving to someone you don’t even know.”

It’s a tune he plans to share at the Chocolate Church, where he’s played Christmas shows, and in 2017 performed a Veterans Day gig.

“That’s a beautiful venue, Campbell said. “You can hear a pin drop in there; it’s great.”

Tickets for “A Don Campbell Christmas,” which cost $21 in advance or $25 at the door, are available at chocolatechurcharts.org, or by calling 442-8455. The Chocolate Church Arts Center will also offer a childcare and arts education program that night, costing $10 per child, allowing parents to leave their children while they take in the show.

Campbell hopes that people “feel a sense of togetherness, community and goodwill” from his show. “And I hope that it gets carried beyond the holidays, into the new year.”

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