Hopkins and Balsam Range with Atlanta Pops

In The Spirit - John Driskell HopkinsJohn Driskell Hopkins, bassist with alt-country heroes the Zac Brown Band, has released a holiday album for the 2015 Christmas season. In The Spirit find Hopkins singing a dozen sacred and secular favorites, all backed by the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, and a number of noted harmony and duet vocalists.

Long time readers will recall that Hopkins’ prior album, Daylight, had a grassy flavor, assisted throughout by North Carolina’s Balsam Range. They join him again on the Christmas CD for a swingy version of What Child Is This.


In an interview last week, Hop told us that Balsam Range recorded their parts ahead of everyone else, with their own arrangement of the familiar hymn. Parts were then written for the Pops, who recorded them separately. All of the other tracks were arranged by Wes Funderburk, a dear friend of John’s.

Other guests include The Indigo Girls, and Broadway/country singer Laura Bell Bundy.

The album has the feel of an old-fashioned Perry Como or Andy Williams Christmas album, which Hopkins said was exactly his goal. What Child Is This is the only track with a bluegrass feel, but the entire album has a lush, sumptuous sound and should be a welcome addition to the holiday library of any fan of Hopkins’ rich, baritone voice.

Complete track listing follows…

  • Away in a Manger
  • Do You Hear What I Hear?
  • O, Holy Night
  • What Child Is This?
  • Silver Bells
  • Baby It’s Cold Outside
  • Blue Christmas
  • The Christmas Song
  • You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
  • Christmas Time Is Here
  • Silent Night
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Radio programmers can download the record from Airplay Direct, consumers can purchase the manufactured CD from Hopkins’ web site, and downloads are offered from iTunes.

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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.