New ‘Christmas in the Mountains’ CD benefits hunger initiative
The holiday season in the High Country means the release of the annual “Christmas in the Mountains” album, which benefits the local Hunger & Health Coalition.
All of the proceeds from the project will go to the organization’s End Childhood Hunger Initiative. Last year’s take totaled nearly $30,000.
While the cause surrounding the “Christmas in the Mountains Volume 6” album is worth the price of admission by itself, the added treat is that you get locally based musicians putting together fun and beautiful versions of Christmas music.
Opening the set is a rollicking “Winter Wonderland” performed by the Dashboard Hula Boys, with some fun harmony singing and a harmonica solo to boot.
Next up is the heartfelt “Christ Was Born In Bethlehem” sung by the bluegrass gospel group Southern Accent, based in Elk Park.
Brass ensembles have always been a part of the Christmas music tradition going back centuries. The New River Brass Ensemble is a product of the Hayes School of Music at ASU. Their take on “Angels We Have Heard on High,” written somewhere in France by an unknown author in the 1800s, features clear-as-a-bell trumpet-driven melodies and a cascading arrangement that gives the song depth and beauty.
Musicians from the Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church bring two cuts to the table on “Christmas in the Mountains Volume 6.” David Rogers and Rhett Huffman offer an atmospheric piano and vocal performance of “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” a song written by Ramsey MacGimsey in the 1930s.
Later on the album, the Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Sanctuary Choir combine their sweet collective voices to sing the “Canticle of Peace.” The church celebrated its 125th year of existence in 2012.
From the Blowing Rock-area group, Diana and Sarvis Ridge, comes a performance by Diana Wilcox, who brings an earthy and folky approach to “Light of the Stable,” a song written by Steve Rhymer and Elizabeth Rhymer that was first recorded by Emmylou Harris in1975.
Perennial High Country bluegrass favorites The Kruger Brothers add a Christmas song from a different perspective with “Christmas for Cowboys.” Sung and recorded years ago by the late John Denver, the song was written by one of his band mates, Steve Weisberg.
The Kruger Brothers buy into the story and paint a beautiful picture, while singing lyrics, such as, “A campfire for warmth as we stop for the night, the stars overhead, our Christmas tree lights, one sings a hymn as we bow down to pray, it’s Christmas for cowboys; Tall in the saddle, we spend Christmas Day, driving the cattle over snow-covered plains, so many gifts have been given today, ours is the sky and the wide-open range.”
This album also features performances by The Kingston Trio, Sharon Mitchell, Sound Traveler and a cool and jazzy piano and sax version of “Christmastime is Here” by the Todd Wright Duo, a song written by the late Vince Guaraldi that first appeared on the original “Charlie Brown Christmas” TV show in 1965.
To get more information about “Christmas in the Mountains Volume 6,” and to learn about the End Childhood Hunger Initiative, visit http://www.hungerandhealthcoalition.com. And, at the website, you can find the names and locations of the stores carrying this album right now in Boone, Blowing Rock, Ashe and Avery Counties and other places.