From gathering around the tree to partying it up with friends and reminiscing about the good ol’ days, Shanneyganock’s Chris Andrews, Mark Hiscock and Brad Tuck join Bud Davidge and Carole Bestvater to recreate the very best Christmas memories
Looking more a bayman headin’ into the woods than the professional fiddle player he is, the very talented Patrick Moran listens as the Christmas tune he helped produce with Shanneyganock and their many friends plays in the background on a crisp late November morn.
Moran, who has the honour of being able to say he’s performed at 25 consecutive Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festivals, can also brag he’s been part of the Shanney family for as many years as well.
Part of the family
Moran, a member of the Celtic rock band The Punters and Irish-Newfoundland band Tickle Harbour – just to name a few of his projects – shares he’s performed on “around 12 of the 14 or 15 Shanneyganock albums over the years.” He even took the stage recently for a few tunes when Shanneyganock performed at Holy Heart. “He’s part of the family,” Chris Andrews offers with a chuckle.
Moran offered to help produce the band’s new Christmas song, What Christmas Meant to Me, as soon as he heard it.
“I just heard it and it was really lovely. It was really, really good, and I wanted to see where it could go,” Moran says.
The song, an original penned by Andrews, was something he says was “bouncing around” for a bit, though he only sat down and made it official a few weeks back. The song visits the many different versions of Christmas most, if lucky, get to experience.
From the tree gathering as children, to partying it up with friends, to the busier years with a young family to fondly remembering Christmases past with the grandkids, the song touchingly visits each era.
“I had the idea for awhile about the different generations, from the little boy or child in us all, to looking back over the years once you have grandchildren. What does Christmas mean to everyone of us? It just worked well,” Andrews says.
‘It had great bones’
Mark Hiscock, who is joined on a verse by Carole Bestvater, a violinist with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, says the piece “just came together.”
“Everything great starts with an idea and it moves on from that. Bringing Carole and Bud (Davidge of Simani fame) into the mix gave a different voice to the song. And Brad (Tuck) singing adds something to it, and then when we brought Patrick in, it clicked,” Hiscock shares.
Andrews says he’s proud to release the song, which fans can hear starting December 1st on Jigs & Reels with Danielle Butt on OZFM. “I was really happy with the way it came out, it was something different. It’s not a sad Christmas song. Nothing mournful about it. It just reflects,” says Andrews.
Moran says the song was good the first time he heard Andrews play it on the guitar. “The rough version of the song was great, and what we added was just natural and it happened really swift. It had great bones and we just built on the foundation,” says Moran.
Andrews says one thing he’s learned over the years is that collaborating with others in the business is often a reward in and of itself. “You bring in Mark, bring in Brad, bring in Bud, you have Ian (Chipman) and you know they’re going to add something. They always will. And then, yeah! Right! That sounds better. And it’s great for the audience too.”
No end in sight
Hiscock says it’s an honour to perform with those he’s been blessed to work with, particularly calling out Davidge.
“You get to play with your heroes, and it takes you back to your childhood. You’re like a child again, when you’re seven, eight years old and you hear Mummers on the radio. And now you are recording with Bud Davidge? What an honour.”
With 25 years of Shanneyganock, and another Christmas song in the books, what’s next for the band?
“There’s no end in sight. It’s hard to stop when you’re still enjoying it. And the fans are still enjoying it,” Andrews says.
There’s a show they look forward to every year, held at The Delta in St. John’s on December 27th. Tickets were available as of press time, but it sells out, partly because of the combination of music and energy Shanneyganock brings to the stage at every show.
“Chris and the b’ys always bring a fresh approach. You would think after maybe 25 years they would rest on their laurels a little bit but they’ve got that same passion and drive they always had. And I think the band is better now than ever,” Moran says.
Keep the music going
Part of keeping things fresh for both Hiscock and Andrews is the fact that the music isn’t just brought out at parties or when they perform live, but each and every week on shows like OZFM’s Jigs & Reels.
“Danielle (Butt) is a very important part of keeping the music going. Jigs & Reels is listened to all across the province,” says Andrews.
“People like, on a weekend morning, to be able to turn on a radio and hear traditional music,” he adds.
Hiscock agrees. “We hear it all the time. People are cooking their jigs dinner and listening. And it keeps the music alive for everyone,” he says.
Andrews hopes the band’s new Christmas song, What Christmas Meant to Me, becomes one of the staples people tune in to hear each week leading up to, and over, the holidays.
Check out Shanneyganock Christmas on Dec 27, 2019 at Delta St. John’s Hotel and Conference Centre. For more, follow the band on Facebook and Twitter.