Festive Canadian roots music — part 2

After we posted our first roundup of holiday songs, we realized we’d just begun to scratch the surface of Canadian folk and roots music made specially for this time of year. Here’s part two:

After a year of wins at the East Coast Music Awards and the Canadian Folk Music Awards for his Tribute to John Allan Cameron, Pictou County, Nova Scotia’s Dave Gunning has also released his second Christmas album, titled, appropriately enough, “Christmas Too.” There are a few originals on the album, but we went with a mellow, folky version of the choral classic “Angels, We Have Heard on High.”


Kurt Swinghammer‘s wry, political take on “All I Want for Christmas” rings as true today as when it was first recorded live, at a Queen West folk club called Holy Joes, back in 2003.


Undoubtedly the newest kids on this list are Halifax’s the Modern Grass, a talented string band who joined forces earlier this year. In 2011, they managed to release a debut record, and get nominated for Best Country/Bluegrass Album by Music Nova Scotia and their summer festival schedule for 2012 is already filling up. These guys obviously have a generous streak — they’ve just released their second Christmas album — “Swing Around the Christmas Tree…Again” is available online as a free download. Beautiful instrumentation and quality recording make these songs sound like instant classics:


BC singer-songwriter Ryan McAllister takes the holiday song in a different, yet decidedly Canadian direction with his single “Whiteout Christmas.” The song is based on a true family story, inherited from a great aunt who grew up on the Prairies. He tells the story of a Christmas day blizzard with a haunting and cinematic feel, but the repeating, growing refrain keeps things from getting too dark.


Next up, another British Columbian: Reid Jamieson, he of authentic pompadour and sugary sweet vocals, has released a uked-out version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” a song which, according to his site, was written in 1962 “by a married songwriting couple…in response to the Cuban missile crisis as a plea for peace.” Interesting stuff, no? Reid’s version is a keeper, and it’s a fundraiser for the Vancouver Food Bank.
Do You Hear What I Hear by reidjamieson


It’s been a busy year for Newfoundland’s Jon Janes, better known as one-man band the Mountains and the Trees. Though he’s become something of a jet-setter, touring Europe & the UK this year, as well as coast to coast in Canada, along with Billy Bragg, Woodpigeon, Horse Feathers, Dan Mangan, and The Wilderness of Manitoba, he’s known for his simple, lyrical songs and this seasonal song is no different. Recorded live at CHUO, it’s a song with a strong sense of place and time — a cold and dark Canadian winter, where love’s the only saving grace.
The Mountains and the Trees – Winter Blues – Live at CHUO 89.1 FM by nowplayingchuo

If you are enjoying this content, please take a second to support Roots Music Canada on Patreon!

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Ted Passmore 19 December, 2011 at 16:49

    The Good Lovelies’ album…Under the Mistletoe (pre-dates Bieber’s by 2 years!)…..pretty much any track on it. It includes three originals.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *