A pair of Christmas songs from Tony Trischka

Banjo maestro Tony Trischka has a special gift for everyone this Christmas, a pair of new recordings in the holiday spirit which he is sharing at no charge ahead of his annual tour, Of A Winter’s Night – A Holiday Celebration.

Known for decades for both his masterful banjo playing and his ongoing creation of clever instrumental music, Tony has in recent years broadened his creative efforts to include lyrics and long form composition. His latest release, Shall We Hope, was an epic project centered on the history and the people of the US Civil War era.

He had also displayed his affinity for Christmas music in two previous projects, Of a Winter’s Night in 2014 and Glory Shone Around in 1995. The tour, which begins its 15th yearly run this week, is drawn largely from the material on these recordings, as well as music from the 1844 Sacred Harp book, the Revolutionary War era, old-time fiddle music, plus Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, traditional carols, and hard-driving bluegrass.

The new Christmas pieces for 2021 were recored with Tony on banjo, supported by Phoebe Hunt on vocals and fiddle, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Dominick Leslie on mandolin, Todd Philips on bass, and Tony’s son, Sean Trischka, on drums.

The first is a new song Trischka has written, Christmas Night, which he says, “brought me right back to my childhood, and how our Christmas tree was unique in the neighborhood.”

“I wrote Christmas Night around ten years ago. The process of creating the lyric was inspired by a John Hartford song (can’t remember which one now) wherein he stream-of-consciousnessed a descriptive story. By taking this approach with Christmas Night the words just flowed out, rather than my painstakingly having to think of what lyric should come next. While doing this, an image popped into my head that brought me right back to my childhood. The wonderful thing about our tree, as opposed to those of other folks in our neighborhood, was that we had blue lights rather than white, or multi-colored. It created a beautifully peaceful atmosphere in the house that resonates with me to this day. It kind of symbolized the way I always knew my parents weren’t exactly in the Eisenhower mold.”

It’s a fun grassy sort of song full of memories of Christmas from days gone by.

Tony’s second offering is a medley of Christmas favorites – We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Joy To The World, and O Come All Your Faithful – played in a bluegrass banjo style, using Keith tuners.

Many thanks to Tony Trischka for sharing this new music with everyone during the holidays.

His Of A Winter’s Night tour runs through this weekend in New York and Massachusetts. Ticket details can be found online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.