Ol’ Christmas Time

Two self-proclaimed ‘old geezers’ join forces with two members of Rum Ragged they helped inspire to celebrate the season in fine musical style 


Fergus O’Byrne and Jim Payne are legends in the traditional music world. O’Byrne even claims that he and Payne enjoy “bringing young people over to the dark-side of music: the folk side,” as often as they can. 

Rum Ragged young guns

Aaron Collis and Mark Manning, two members of the highly popular band Rum Ragged, were two “young guns” influenced by the two “old geezers” and the four have now joined (dark folk-side?) forces to bring traditional Christmas music to areas of the province. With tunes taken from two Christmas CDs – Jim Payne & Fergus O’Byrne’s A Lovely Time of Year and Rum Ragged’s At Christmas, the foursome will travel to George’s Brook, North River, Bonavista, Corner Brook, Mount Pearl and St. John’s between Dec. 9-21st.  

We ask O’Byrne where the motivation for the musical merging came from. 

“The b’ys with Rum Ragged had recorded several of Jim’s songs so we suggested to the two of them last year, would they like to collaborate,” he said. They joined forces for several successful shows at the Arts and Culture Centres back in June, he added, sharing there’s an interesting history. 

“The first time I met Mark he was only a teenager and I visited his school to perform. He remarked that the first time he ever came on stage, I backed him up. I’m not sure what he sang but that was his introduction to being a folk musician.” 

As for Collis?  “I first met him when he was 10 or 11. Aaron’s parents used to drive him to St. John’s to attend Young Folk at the Hall events and from there he obviously developed into what he has become,” O’Byrne shared.

Hitting the road

The connection Rum Ragged has with Payne is that they have recorded many of his songs. “When they first met with Jim,  four hours later they were coming out with a fistful of music. So it’s interesting to work with Aaron and Mark because they keep Jim and I fresh and working with younger musicians who are coming up with different ideas on what we’re doing is a good combination.”

Plus, all four are fabulous singers, so the acapella Christmas carols are “strong,” he added. O’Byrne says their shows include music that “hasn’t been played to death.” 

“It’s a great mix for the audience, for sure. People say, ‘Oh gosh, I never heard that before,’ but it’s been around for a couple of hundred years, but we’re bringing it to light.”  

Another great thing about this tour? “We’re very much interested in providing live performances for people in places where they don’t have to drive far. So we bring music into the communities and provide good entertainment and a safe night out in their own hometown.” 

O’Byrne says he’s excited to hit the road, and from the ticket sales so far, it seems fans are eager as well. 

“We hope folks come out for a great night of live music.” 

 For more visit www.singsonginc.ca 

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