Tony Trischka, like most other professional musicians, has felt the impact of COVID-19 in their lives, with increased show cancellations and uncertainty about the future. But as he said, fortunately, “My online banjo school has kept my family fed.”
As Tony was driving recently to his son’s home, the opportunity arose for us to have a quick telephone conversation about the debut of his Christmas video, Christmas Cheer (This Weary Year). It’s a single from his upcoming album, Shall We Hope, an epic project of original songs written as a story cycle about the American Civil War.
Now Tony would not refer to himself as an historian, but he does affirm a deep love of the topic. He composed the music and wrote the lyrics for Shall We Hope himself, telling me, “Pamm, believe it or not, banjo players can write lyrics, too!” It took many hours and some 12 years of research before Tony was prepared to put the album into production.
Speaking of the video, he says…
“Though the song has a few sobering moments, I wrote it to add some levity to a project whose setting is the Civil War — games played, the arrival of Santa, and so forth. It also gave me a chance to provide more presence to the son of two of the main characters, ‘Young Colin, our drummer boy, opens up his gift.’ I wrote Christmas Cheer (This Weary Year) five or six years ago, but the chorus seems to have a particular resonance this holiday season.”
This song resonates in a true bluegrass style, with the picking of the banjo, the vocals, and the instrumentalists all being top notch. The following played an integral part in this production:
- Tony Trischka – Deering Golden Clipper banjo
- Kristin Andreassen – harmony vocals
- Stephanie Coleman – harmony vocals
- Michael Daves – lead vocal, guitar
- Brittany Haas – fiddle
- Dominick Leslie – mandolin
- Skip Ward – bass
The release of this holiday video is just another hint of what is to come when Shall We Hope becomes available on January 29, 2021.
This weary year
Not like the last, you know
by the next we’ll be
United with our families back home