It’s Christmas Time for Balsam Range

It’s officially November, and you know what that means… Christmas music!

Some folks still get hot under the collar when they see Christmas displays in the stores before Thanksgiving, but for artists wanting to share new holiday music, the process always starts well outside the season. To have a new album ready for sale during Christmas time, it has to be recorded during the summer, and to ensure that radio hosts and consumers know about it in advance, that work needs to be done during October and November.

For bluegrass band Balsam Range, their latest record, It’s Christmas Time, was released in October on the Mountain Home label. It’s a specially-priced EP with six tracks mixing timeless holiday favorites with a pair of Christmas songs from Appalachian roots. Several were recorded with a full string section while others get the bluegrass treatment.

To help get the word out, the band has agreed to share a listen with our readers, along with some commentary about the album. Bass and reso-guitar man Tim Surrett says that it was something they dedicated a lot of time on earlier this year.

“We are very proud of this collection. We wanted to make an honest-to-goodness Christmas recording, and not a novelty bluegrass record. The arrangements and orchestrations are something that we worked super hard on. Mostly, we hope to give folks something new this Christmas, with a hint of sentimentality for the for the great Christmas music of the past. I hope we’ve succeeded!

It’s something we’ve wanted to do for some time, and we finally just jumped in. We wanted to do something special and different for the people that keep coming to hear us, and buying our records.”

Tim also mentioned that they did have decorated Christmas tree with them in the studio to help get everyone in the spirit, since they were tracking during warm summer weather. It was helpful for the band and the string players that were there as well.

“I have worked before with Cody McVey, our arranger, and he actually assembles the orchestra to fit different sessions. Cody orchestrates many projects every year. He and I are both former members of the Kingsmen, a popular Gospel group. Cody also plays guitar, and understands bluegrass, so the marriage of two styles was seamless.”

Audiences in western North Carolina will have the opportunity to see the band perform this music, and other Balsam Range material, with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra during the Balsam Range Art Of Music Festival in Lake Junaluska, December 1 and 2. Ticket information can be found online.

Have a listen below and see if It’s Christmas Time is something you’d like to have playing in your home when guests arrive for holiday celebration.

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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.

  • Martin Luther

    I just received a copy of this CD and have to say that it’s very good! They beautifully utilize the strings of the Nashville Recording Orchestra, which was a nice touch. The entire CD is great, but I have to say that the harmony on “The First Noel” sent a shiver down my spine. Absolutely incredible! Brother Marc Pruett plays a tasty version of “Jingle Bells” that includes the use of harmonic chimes.