| Dec 17, 2009

Back to HomeChristmas Edition - December 17, 2009Christmas 2009

Art Contest

A Christmas Messageby Debbie Pelley-Hudson

Christmas Traditions in Ireland

Country Christmasby Kelly Calthorpe

Early Literacy: Opening More than Presents

Local Music to Stuff Your Stockings with


The Brightest Star

The Christmas Quiltby Kelly Calthorpe

The Christmas Giftby Pastor Ken Walton

New local music to stuff your Christmas stockings with by Julie Druker

Chris Murphy of Crooked Wood fame just released a new solo CD titled “Follow The Star”, a compilation of Christmas songs sung by Chris and his family members, including Jon McLurg also of Crooked Wood, and who also happens to be Chris’s brother-in-law.

Chris and Jon recently performed songs from the new CD at the Portland Community Church on December 4 and the entire ensemble of family singers, which includes Chris’s wife, his parents, sister, brother, aunt, in-laws, and his best friend, Steve, third band member of Crooked Wood, joined in on Dec. 5 at their official CD release party at the United Church in Inverary.


Chris describes his latest musical project as a collection of “acoustic harmony driven” Christmas songs, which he told me was a long time coming. “It’s a CD I promised my Mom I would make years ago.” Chris and his family have been harmonizing together for years as members of the choir at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Railton and have sung dozens of Christmas songs as part of the church’s Christmas Eve masses. He continued, “I’m a great lover of harmony and am blessed to have a family that can sing it really well.”

The songs are a mix of traditional and modern classics that include Gordon Lightfoot’s Song for A Winter Night, John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War is Over), Little Drummer Boy, Silent Night and Chris’ personal favorite, O Holy Night, which represents his first attempt at arranging in four-part harmony.

Each song sounds fresh and new partly due to Chris’s choice of instrumentation, which includes the banjo, mandolin, Irish bouzouki, accordion, dulcimer concertina, glockenspiel, concertina whistles and more. The freshness also stems from his original mandate for the project. “I wanted to record the Christmas songs that I grew up with and love I but didn’t want to sound like all of the other Christmas music recordings out there. I wanted to treat each song in a fresh and interesting way while remaining faithful to its tradition”.

Did I mention that Chris also plays all of the instruments on the CD?

The title track “Follow the Star” is the only original composition on the CD and is one that Chris wrote originally roughly 10 years ago but put aside. He recalled, “ I came across it a couple of years ago and started playing it and got a very positive response and have been playing it at Christmas time ever since.”

Another new and notable release that has received some live local play recently is Wildlife (in and out of the city), the first full-length release by singing duo Kyra and Tully of Kingston. They recently performed at the Mill Street Café on Dec.4 and were accompanied by Sydenham musicians Adam Dawson, who played electric guitar, and his sister Lia Dawson (formerly of The Ladyracers). Lia opened the evening with a solo set and sings back vocals on the CD.

The CD had its official release at the Sydenham Street United Church a few weeks earlier, where Bruce Coburn made an appearance, playing with the band and singing a few of his classics.

After their recent performance at the Mill Street Café, Kyra spoke about the type of sound she and Tully were aiming for. “It’s more band-oriented, with more players and a bigger sound. That being said, the songs are typical of the sound that we are known for: simple, mellow lyrical-based music.”

Kyra and Tully have played at the Elphin Roots Festival for the last three years and have also appeared at the Skeleton Park Music Festival in Kingston and the NXNE Festival in Toronto.

They currently have plans to play Montreal in January with a possible European Tour in 2010.

Post Christmas is a great time to relax and what better way than to get into your comfiest lounge clothes, and sprawl out on the couch or your coziest arm chair and relax while listening to some interesting new local music.

Interested buyers can purchase Kyra and Tully’s Wildlife at the Mill Street Café in Sydenham or through their website at www.kyraand tully.com.

Chris Murphy’s “Follow the Star” can be purchased at Trousdale’s in Sydenham, and the Tiffany Gift Shoppe in Harrowsmith.

Local Bluegrass fans know all about Bill White and White Pine, featuring champion fiddler Joe white on fiddle and vocals. This year White Pine participated in a recording project for Campbell’s Corner Music of Owen Sound. The resulting CD, North to Ontario, features original music by 20 Ontario artists. The White Pine entry on the recording is called “A Church by the side of the Bed”.

It was one of the songs that helped North to Ontario win recording of the year honours at the Central Canadian Bluegrass Awards. It is available online at campbellscornermusicsales.com or through Bill White in downtown Harrowsmith who can be reached at 613-372-2400. White Pine also has three full length recordings for sale.

White Pine will be playing winter shows this year at Christ Anglican Church on Sydenham road in Kingston.

The monthly shows benefit the Learning Disability Association of Kingston. They take place on the last Wednesday of the month from February through April. On February 24, White Pine will be joined by the James King Band from Virginia, on March 24 they will open for Lorraine Jordan and the Carolina Road, and on April 24 the youthful band Monroe Crossing from the American Midwest will follow Bill White and White Pine onto the stage.

Tickets to all three concerts are available from Bill White, as well as Renaissance Music and World of Rentals in Kingston

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