We at Red House Records, based in the nation’s icebox of Minnesota, have a lot of experience with below-zero temperatures and dark, snowy nights. Oddly enough, we’ve never put out a collection to mark the holidays. A request for wintry songs brought out the best from Red House veterans and newcomers alike, with new recordings by Jorma Kaukonen, Davina & the Vagabonds, Charlie Parr, Dale Watson, The Pines, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams and Bill Kirchen nestled against chestnuts by the Wailin’ Jennys, Suzzy Roche, John Gorka and Robin & Linda Williams.
Bluesy vamp and jazz pianist Davina and her Vagabonds give Elvis a Dixieland twist on Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me. “Titan of the Telecaster” Bill Kirchen finds St. Nick hoping to get lucky on the good and greasy Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’.
A Prairie Home Companion favorite Heather Masse of the Wailin’ Jennys gets warm and sexy herself with Mittens, while folk great John Gorka gets out of the cold with the ghost of Buddy Holly in Holed Up in Mason City.
Ethereal indie folk trio The Pines deliver a haunting rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s classic, Song for a Winter’s Night, while New York City’s Suzzy Roche goes bluegrass with Cold Hard Wind. The unrivaled king of Texas honky tonk Dale Watson takes us home for the holidays with Christmas to Me” and the first couple of Americana, Grammy-winner Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, give us their own turn on Elvis with their heartbreaking version of Blue Christmas.
We find veteran folk and bluegrass artists Robin & Linda Williams snowed in and loving it on Together All Alone, while raucous blues legend Charlie Parr gives us a picture from life’s dark side with Slim Tall’s Christmas on the Lam. Appropriately, Christmas on the Lam closes with two spirituals: Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer Jorma Kaukonen contributes a gentle finger-picking acoustic guitar and vocal rendition of the West Indian carol, The Baby Boy, and The Wailin’ Jennys close with the uplifting, banjo-driven Glory Bound.
No clichéd holiday standards here, but rather a carefully curated group of songs that, like the holidays themselves, deal with love, loneliness, lust, spiritual gratitude, long wintry evenings and one of those untranslatable Scandinavian words used to describe the coziness concept that gets us through the long winter. Cheese-free and heartfelt, Christmas on the Lam… is a folksy, offbeat collection of tales about the winter and the season that aims to add a little shot of somethin’ somethin' to your nog of choice.