We wanted to share the word that in a proverbial “one fell swoop,” saint ben’s member Robert Burton has just released what – with a bit of clarification – he’s calling his first CD, first solo recording and first Christmas album.
“By first CD I mean I have recorded and/or performed on many CD’s (as well as records and tapes) but this CD is mine in almost all ways including using only my own money. No arts grants, no fundraisers. By first solo recording I mean I played all the instruments, wrote all the arrangements and engineered the whole recording and mastering process (as well as the cover art). By Christmas album I mean songs that are themed around that time of year Advent AND Christmas.”
Rob chose to move a bit off the beaten track in his selections for this one. Probably the most familiar song is the opening track, Veni Veni Emmanuel, the well-known Advent carol. Also included are the 17th century hymn “Angels of the Realm of Glory,” the 14th century song “Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella”, and the 20th century song by Johnny Marks, “A Caroling We Go”.
Rob freely admits that “the settings for each song are very different and a reflection of my musical life playing every style imaginable on a variety of instruments.” With his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, Rob comments that, “if you are looking for a local artist, performing songs you may never have heard of in styles you may not like than this is album for you.”
I love Christmas. I always have and hopefully always will. One thing that is not surprising is that I love most of the music. Sure the well known ones are great but I also love the lesser known ones as well. Nat Cole’s version of ‘A Cradle in Bethlehem’ sends a chill up my spine and Mary Kay Beall’s ‘Who Would Send a Baby’ chokes me up. The opening line of “Who would send a baby, to heal a world in pain?” sums up what I love about the Christmas story.
Every year I hope to get gigs where it is feasible and appropriate for me to play Christmas music. I like the Santa/Reindeer/Winter Weather/Snowman songs fine, but I really feel my way through songs about the birth of the Christ child. That child was born with stigma, being born into poverty and out of wed lock. That child grew to be a man and died with stigma, being nailed to a cross. In the short time in-between he became the most influential person on the planet. Over 2,000 years later and we are still trying to get a full grasp of what he said and did.
Here’s the deal, we were all once that baby. Weak, helpless and, hopefully, loved intensely by a few people. Full of love, mystery, talent and potential we all were and still are.
So I’ll admit I get a little worked up winding my way through “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem”. Sometimes I forget the importance of emotion in playing music. I still think intonation, time and technique are cornerstones of music performance and ‘feel’ alone doesn’t cut it but a chill in my spine or a tear in my eye goes a long way.
For more information on the CD, which is currently available in Winnipeg at both McNally’s and at River Heights Music, simply click here.