October 27th world-renowned Bluegrass quintet BALSAM RANGE delivers an orchestrated holiday album of contemporary and traditional tunes. Balsam Ridge brings a new and exciting spin on timeless Christmas classics.
BALSAM RANGE, formed in 2007, has become one of the genre’s most award-winning acts in recent years, garnering 10 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards on the heels of six critically-acclaimed albums. This year, they are nominated in eight IBMA categories. The group has left audiences spellbound while headlining major festivals from coast to coast, selling out venues across the nation, and in multiple appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. Their previous out-ing, MOUNTAIN VOODOO, debuted at #4 on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums Charts and remained on that chart for 45 weeks. Three singles from the album reached #1 on the Bluegrass Today Chart, including “Blue Collar Dreams,” which spent three consecutive months at the top.
Balsam Range is; Buddy Melton (fiddle, lead and tenor vocals), Darren Nicholson (mandolin, octave mandolin, lead vocals, baritone and low tenor vocals), Dr. Marc Pruett (banjo), Tim Surrett (bass, dobro, baritone and lead vocals), and Caleb Smith (guitar, lead & baritone vocals). The five original members are all acoustic musicians and singers from western North Carolina. They thoughtfully and respectfully adopted the name of a majestic range of mountains that surround part of their home county of Haywood, NC where the Great Smoky Mountains meet the Blue Ridge, the Balsam Range.
The First Noel
Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
I’m Going Home, It’s Christmas Time
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Doc Watson’s “Christmas Lullaby” is brought to life in new form with the bands harmonic vocals mixed with their outstanding string orchestra. Tim Surrett reflects, “We wanted the orchestra to become a true part of us for this outing – and not be just a backdrop. We had to take a bit of a different approach to make it work, but I think the result was worth the effort.”
“The First Noel” is a tune displaying a profound orchestra and guitar intro matched with the three part harmonies that have become a trademark of Balsam Range.
“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” which was a huge hit for Brenda Lee when she was a child. This tune features a brassy saxophone solo by Sam Levine in great respect to the late Boots Randolph. This number helps set the tone for the entire album with Buddy Melton’s feel good sound.
“I’m Going Home, It’s Christmas Time” is a track brought to life via Darren Nicholson’s outstanding vocals. This is a time honored bluegrass song by The Stanley Brothers. The only song on the track without orchestra, it is supported with a mid-tempo paired with a banjo zing.
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is a timeless classic giving it’s strong spotlight on its perfection of Vocals put together making it truly an extraordinary cover of this hymn.
“Jingle Bells” (Instrumental), a tune that is as Christmas as stocking on the fireplace or a sparkling lit tree decorated for the season, Jingle Bells isn’t just a cover, it’s a birthing of a unexpected but yet vibrant instrumental take on this beloved classic.
Overall, “It’s Christmas Time” is a illustration of deep traditional bluegrass and refined love for the holidays. It is a soon to be hit just in time for Christmas right around the corner. One that can bring out the joy and happiness as well as the passion for music and beautiful orchastra and banjos pickin’.