The Happy Holidays

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Track Listing

O Come All Ye Faithful
Christmas Time''s A-Comin
The Happy Holidays
Christ Was Born In Bethlehem
Heed His Father's Call
Holly Jolly Christmas
Angels We Have Heard On High
Christmas Time Back Home
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/Jerusalem Ridge
Silver Bells
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem
Up On The Housetop
What Child Is This?
Auld Lang Syne

Released in November of 2005, The Happy Holidays features fifteen holiday tunes done bluegrass style. Includes two new songs; "The Happy Holidays" and "Heed His Fathers Call". With Art, Matt, Lisa, Mark and Jeff Whitson on banjo.


Critical Acclaim for The Happy Holidays

Bluegrass Unlimited: "A very well thought out and well-crafted effort ... as good as any I have heard."
May, 2006
Just to be clear up front, the "Happy Holiday" we're talking about here is Christmas - not July 4th, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, or the Daytona 500. These are Christmas songs and fairly standard ones: "O Come All Ye Faithful," Christmas Time's A Coming'," "Christmas Time Back Home," and so forth. Monroe Crossing (Art Blackburn, Lisa Fuglie, Matt Thompson, Jeff Whitson, and Mark Anderson) have done a very nice job here, bringing a serious arranging effort to songs that everyone has, for the most part, heard any number of times, if only in the supermarket aisles.

One can only speculate at the interest the bluegrass community might or might not have in yet another recording of most of these songs ("Angels We Have Heard On High," "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear," "Up On The Housetop," "Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem," "Holly Jolly Christmas," etc.), but this seems not to be just a knock-off cash-in-on Christmas effort recorded in those last two hours of studio time the band had already paid for. If you have a yearning for the sounds of Christmas with a bluegrass tinge this year, this is a very well thought out and well-crafted effort. Lisa Fuglie, who handles most of the band's leads, has a wonderful pure vocal delivery that complements these songs nicely. The instrumental support is also creative and tasteful. One nice touch is tagging "Jerusalem Ridge" onto a fairly jazzy version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." It fits very well. The band members also contribute two originals, "Heed His Father's Call" by Anderson and "The Happy Holidays" by Anderson and Fuglie.

There are a fair number of bluegrass Christmas releases out there already, and the seem to be available on a regular basis, but this release by Monroe Crossing, while not long on new material, is about as good as any I have heard.

California Bluegrass Association
Joe Ross, December 2005
... A delightful album which celebrates the spirit of sharing seasonal music and joy.... an eclectic mixture of traditional, contemporary, and original material. Every holiday album should have some Christmas carols with new, fresh arrangements. Monroe Crossing certainly doesn’t disappoint us in this regard, and an exceptional instrumental take is given to “Angels We Have Heard On High.” The twin mandolins exquisitely breathe new life into this standard carol.

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is given an upbeat jazz-like treatment that undergoes a genesis into “Jerusalem Ridge.” When Monroe Crossing takes off on a snappy 4/4 arrangement of “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear,” it reminded me of the energy one might find in Reno and Smiley’s bluegrass repertoire. ...