The Alex Tjoland Band Announces CD Release 'Silent Revelry'
With the holidays right around the corner, the Alex Tjoland Band is keeping the spirit of Christmas alive with their new holiday CD release 'Silent Revelry'. Produced by Macon music legend Joey Stuckey, 'Silent Revelry' features songs devised to evoke familiar Christmas images or sounds, like Christmas trees glowing in darkened living rooms, or the beautiful peel of Christmas bells...
Says guitarist Bo Sammons, "If there is any concept or theme to this record, I would say that it is this: You should not take the people in your life for granted. You should love them and appreciate them, and you should open your eyes and appreciate the world around you, and try to enjoy each day."
The origins of 'Silent Revelry' came when the band were asked to record a Christmas album. Says Bo, "My church wanted a song that incorporated as many names of God as we could. That's where 'God In Us, Emmanuel' came from. I also wanted to try and write new Christmas music because it doesn't seem like there is any out there. 'An Angel Said To Mary' is the Christmas story, and I guess I was thinking about the Linus soliloquy in 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' when I wrote it. Of course, I hope that some of the music means something to people, and they pull it out at Christmas and remember to slow down and hug their loved ones and enjoy the season."
Writing the record was a collaborative process. With all of the original music, typically, Bo would come up with a riff or chord progression on guitar, and play it repeatedly. He would either have a couple of lines of lyric, or something would come to him, and would then build off the first lines and try to maintain a theme through each song. With 'Silent Revelry', Bo tried to concentrate on Christmas images or themes.
Says Bo, "After I have the song written, I play it for Delisa and Rachel. Delisa is a tremendous composer, and she takes the simple progressions or hooks I've come up with and composes a piece of music to accompany what I've done. Sometimes, like with 'Silent Revelry' or 'An Angel Said to Mary', or 'This Picture Of You', Delisa will compose the opening of the song. I sing the melody to Rachel, and she composes a better melody, with nuances and phrasing that I would not come up with on my own. Then Alex comes up with a drum part."
The band then took the songs to famed Macon producer Joey Stuckey, who helped with music and background vocal arrangements. He really is just tremendous at that. Bruce Whitten played amazing lead guitar on some of the songs. He also worked with Bo in the early stages of writing the songs, changing up progressions to make the songs more interesting to the ear.
The Alex Tjoland Band are:
Rachel Elkins - lead vocals (all songs except "Magazine", where she sings BG vocals)
Delisa Kyser - piano/keyboards (plays all keyboard instruments, including strings on "An Angel Said To Mary")
Alex Tjoland - drums
Erik Tjoland - bass
Bo Sammons - guitar (vocals on "Magazine")
Bruce Whitten - guitar (studio only - plays lead on "Mercy" and "Magazine")
Joey Stuckey - producer (sings BG vocals on "Mercy" and lead guitar on "Surf's Up" and "Santa Claus")
With many cherished Holiday songs out there, many artists would be more than apprehensive about recording a Christmas album. Says Bo, "It was not intimidating to make the record, because I didn't feel like I was competing with any great Christmas standard. We did our own version of 'Silent Night', with an original arrangement and new chorus, to establish the record as a Christmas record. We were very pleased with the original songs on the record. I wanted the songs to evoke familiar Christmas images or sounds, like Christmas trees glowing in darkened living rooms, or the beautiful peel of Christmas bells, and I think we accomplished that."
Bo adds, "I also wanted the songs to have an interesting Christmas message, and I think they do. 'This Picture of You' is a song I really like. Musically, it is a nod to The Felice Brothers - the greatest band in America - and their use of accordion and simple guitar. The lyrics were inspired by an article I read in Rolling Stone several years ago. The article was made up of about five vignettes about young American soldiers killed in the desert in Iraq. Two of the stories were about young women soldiers. One had been a high school cheerleader, and the other a flag girl in her high school band, about a year or two before being killed. The magazine juxtaposed pictures of the women in combat gear in the desert, with pictures of them in their high school uniforms. I think Christmas is a sad time for many people, and Christmas is celebrated quietly with a picture of a lost loved one. I think the song powerfully evokes that image. We weren't going to re-write 'White Christmas', or 'Sleigh Bells', or 'Silver Bells'. We wrote TATB songs, and I think they stand up pretty well."