For more than 15 years now, Tannis Slimmon, Katherine Wheatley, and Angie Nussey — previously Jude Vadala — have been putting on a holiday show like no other.
Their sophisticated blend of winter-themed songs runs the gamut from holiday carols to jazz and gospel-tinged homages to ice and snow. Their mature and complex harmonies tower above the “let’s try to sound like a chorus of angels” treatment you hear in a lot of covers of, say, “Angels We Have Heard On High.”
And this December, they’re back at it. In fact, they’ve been out on the road for a week or so already.
You can see them at the following locations:
- Dec. 10 – Innisfil Live Music Concert, Innisfil, ON
- Dec. 13 – Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, Parry Sound, ON
- Dec. 15 – St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Beeton, ON
- Dec. 17 – River Run Cetre, Guelph, ON.
When I saw Boreal back in 2018 in Thunder Bay, they opened the show with an a cappella rendition of the hymn “O Welcome Dear and Lovely May” before launching into a first set that included elegant covers of “In the Bleak Mid Winter” and “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and signature originals from the trio’s sole recording, Winter’s Welcome, including the title track and the gospel-tinged “Gotta Go.”
Throughout the show, the women deftly swapped instruments, taking turns on guitar, bass, mandolin and percussion, while Jude occasionally sat down at the piano for a number. She also added atmospheric strains of wind chime and bells to “Carol of the Bells” and joined Tannis on glockenspiel for a sprightly rendition of “Suzy Snowflake.”
For many artists, a holiday show is, above all, a business decision — a way to lengthen the touring season or earn a bit of money between album launch tours, while simultaneously enjoying some holiday cheer with one’s fans.
Boreal, on the other hand, got together for the sole purpose of doing an annual winter tour.
It’s only in recent years that they’ve started to appear at other times of the year.
All the same, their holiday show is their signature, and if you only see one holiday show this year, this is the one to watch.