Just in time for the Holiday season, award-winning trad group Rum Ragged get in on the festive spirit with their debut holiday LP, At Christmas.
How do you like your holiday tunes? A touch of Bing Crosby? Maybe The Boss breakin’ down Santa Claus is Coming to Town? If you’re more accustomed to the stylings of Simani around the Christmas season, and love your merry nights steeped in good-time trad, then you’re gonna’ die for Rum Ragged’s new Christmas album.
The can’t miss ECMA nominees and MusicNL winners have followed up their acclaimed self-titled studio debut with At Christmas, a mix of traditional favourites and some soon to be classic originals.
New Christmas Music
The lively four-piece of Mark Manning, Aaron Collis, Anthony Chafe and Michael Boone sat down with The Herald, where they explain that the spark for the album had been lit for quite some time, despite the relatively quick turnaround in production.
“We all got together last Christmas season, getting our Christmas songs together for some shows, and we realized we had some different material that could make for a fun album making experience,” Collis shared. “All four of us are all about Christmas and have so many memories of listening to Simani, Shanneyganock, Ennis Sisters and all the other great NL Christmas albums and we really wanted to make some new memories with some new Christmas music. We are over the top thankful to be able to have this album in people’s stockings this year. Being the music that people will pair with their holidays is just great.”
As is custom for anything with the Rum Ragged brand attached, the album is a recipe for a rip-roarin’ time. That goes two-fold for the bandmembers themselves, who enthusiastically express that the creation of At Christmas was among the most enjoyable periods of their careers thus far.
“It’s all really fun stuff,” says Manning. “There’s not much serious songs. It’s a fun Christmas record. Even when it comes to making records it’s something that is normally stressful, but everyday was getting up and even at 9 am you’re having a laugh at how ridiculous it sounds.”
“It’s a little ridiculous when you think of secluding ourselves in a cabin in September and pretending it’s Christmas,” Chafe adds with a laugh. “I’ve never laughed so much. Tie off the wood stove, close the doors, skis up on the walls.”
When holing themselves away to piece-together some original holiday content, the b’ys had no set-in-stone blueprint on making rip-roarin’ fun tunes. It wasn’t a prerequisite, but it sure turned out to be the finished product.
“We wanted to keep it light and fun,” says Collis. “We weren’t too deliberate in the song choice. What worked best is what we chose.”
“I don’t think we set out and said let’s make this a fun record,” adds Manning. “We realized how fun certain ones were, so it kind of just guided us towards the other ones we wrote. They became just fun, light. There’s going to be people just sitting back and having a laugh in the middle of them. The music quality is still there and the thought and arrangement. It has our idea of traditional sounding music as well as some Christmas classics. It’s definitely the most fun I’ve ever had making records. It’s difficult to plot that out right now – so many years left of making records.”
Like many of their fellow artists, the countdown to Christmas and the subsequent week will be filled to the brim with live performances – many of which, to the delight of the band, will be spent touring smaller areas of the island.
“I think the big part of this for us is the fact that we’re going to get a chance to go around the province and play for people,” Manning says. “We’ve got a ton of shows so far, and are actually booking more. Getting to go into the small towns and actually filling a hall or legion. The big shows in town will be a lot of fun, but I think our thing is to be able to go to Ferryland, Eastport, Norris Point and different places like that and getting to see them during Christmastime. We get to see them in the summer when it’s full of tourists, but in Christmastime it’s locals and people coming home.”
Asked what Christmas means to the band, what the defining traits are, all hands unanimously settle on the music of the season, those kitchen parties that have defined our culture, those stereotypes that we proudly perpetuate.
“For me it’s the music around the house,” Manning says. “There was always music around the house anyways, but it amplifies during Christmastime. From after supper until everyone goes to bed out of it.”
Visit rumragged.com for more information on live performances, At Christmas and much more!