Wishing You a Merry Little Christmas
The Backroom Bluegrass Band is based in Lexington, KY, where all the members attend Crestwood Christian Church. For it's Christmas album, the band has drawn on it's wide ranging musical interests. Acoustic instruments and three-part harmony bring a folk tonal quality to holiday music not commonly heard. These songs express the band's religious faith and love of the Christmas season. Christmas Is Our Favorite Time of Year is on loan from it's composer and our friend Tommy Edwards of Pittsboro, NC. This tune's light tempo and lyrics talk about all the traditions found in an American Christmas. Tommy is a master bluegrass guitarist, singer and prolific songwriter. He also composed The Christmas Letter, which is a poignant Christmas story set in modern circumstances. We appreciate Tommy's generosity in allowing us to include these two songs. Bethlehem Wind was brought to the Band by Bill and Jane Johnson, who learned it from their former choir director the late Leah Davis. Bill and Jane taught it to us and we enjoyed converting it into a folk carol. It calls for the wind to blow through Bethlehem and spread the news of Jesus' birth and His healing powers throughout the world. That's a beautiful and powerful thought. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen is a galloping instrumental arranged by our "music director" and banjo player Bill Johnson. Bill does the guitar thumb-pickin' on the song and Pat Soister plays an equally sterling mandolin break as well. Bassist Jane Johnson holds it all together while Dan Pence and Walt Johnson hang on for dear life. Scarlet Ribbons is one of our lead singer Walt Johnson's favorite tunes. He adapted it from a really smooth rendition by the late Jim Reeves, one of his heroes. The tune will touch the hearts of parents wanting their children to have a special Christmas. Swingin' Home for Christmas allows the Band's tenor, Dan Pence, to reach into his Texas swing roots for a frolicking good tune that shows how important it is to get home during the holidays. Jingle Bells borrows a unique prelude and postlude used by several artists including Frank Sinatra. It's fun to hear the traditional song played acoustically, led by Bill's banjo and Pat's mandolin. Silent Night originally was written for the guitar and it shows. The acoustic instruments shine in another of Bill's arrangements that features some not-so-usual chord structures. Bill, Walt, and Dan sing a worshipful vocal arrangement and Jane plays handbells to make it sound like a Christmas Eve church service. Christmas Time's A-Comin' by Tex Logan is a fun, traditional bluegrass tune that reflects the beauty and friendship of Christmas in Appalachia. Christmas Cookies is a happy song recorded by George Strait about the lighthearted camaraderie of a family baking cookies at Christmas. Keeping dad out of the cookies is not easy. Go Tell It on the Mountain is a traditional folk song that shouts for Christians to go up on a mountaintop and tell the whole world that God has sent His Son to save the world from it's sins. The lyrics to Christmas Memories were written by Homer Ledford, our late friend and former band member. Homer was legendary as an instrument maker and bluegrass musician, and was a loving husband and father. Alone at home one evening shortly before Christmas, Homer wrote about Christmas activities from his childhood in the North Central Tennessee mountains. Ann Haynes, Julie McDonald, and Katherine Steckler, outstanding vocalists from another Crestwood Christian Church band, Cane Ridge Revival, join us on this one. We appreciate them sharing their talents. You almost can hear Homer's church celebrating the season. A Merry Noel for Homer is a dulcimer duet by Bill and Pat and offered in memory of Homer Ledford, who made over 6,000 dulcimers. Beautiful Star of Bethlehem is a traditional Appalachian folk tune that draws on harmonic vocal responses found in gospel music to produce a strong praise sound that tells of God's love being shared with everyone. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, is at the end of the album so that, like the end of a busy Christmas season, we can quietly bring it to a close. Merry Christmas everyone!