Minnesota’s High 48s have joined the ranks of bluegrass groups releasing Christmas music during the 2015 season. Their 10-track offering is entitled Holidays With The High 48s and represents a lighter look at Christmas classics from this popular Upper Midwest quintet.
The selections they’ve chosen for this CD are taken primarily from the pop side of the holiday catalog, though versions of Children Go, sung in the traditional a cappella style, and a medley of Silent Night, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, and Deck The Halls as a reso-guitar instrumental are also included.
Things get started with a super-bluesy Santa Claus Is Back In Town, with a decidedly Elvis vibe, followed by Vince Guaraldi’s Skating theme from the Charlie Brown Christmas TV special which debuted 50 years ago this year. You can just about see the little Peanuts figures gliding across the ice when this track comes on.
Christmas Every Day, from Becky Schlegel and Craig Market, adds a more mournful note to the proceedings with a dour story of heartbreak at the holidays, followed by the cheeriest bluegrass song ever, the perennial Christmas Time’s A Coming, which Bill Monroe recorded in 1951 after hearing fiddler Tex Logan sing it at a session.
All the kids and grandkids will enjoy the 48s’ super-animated treatment of You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch, complete with deep canyon reverb and a driving bluegrass beat, and a simple arrangement of Friendly Beasts, perfect for singing along in the car.
Also included is a grassy treatment of the old time favorite, Breaking Up Christmas, with fiddle and banjo blaring, and to close out the project, a raucous running of Auld Lang Syne, very much in the style of David Grisman’s classic recording on his Acoustic Christmas album in 1990.
Featured are all the High 48s: Rich Casey on bass, Eric Christopher on fiddle, Mike Hedding on mandolin, Anthony Ihrig on banjo and reso, and Marty Marrone on guitar.
Holidays With The High 48s is available for CD or download purchase from the band’s web site, and from popular digital resellers.
Radio programmers can download several of the tracks from Airplay Direct.