Author Archives: lisa

Posted:
Sep 17, 2014
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The Story Behind “That’s What I Love About Christmas”

Posted: September 17, 2014

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It has been twelve years since the release of “The Season Of My Heart,” my first Christmas album. Every winter since then I have continued to write new Christmas and Seasonal material.

In the spring of 2013 I sent work tapes of a couple of the tunes to my good friend & producer Stephen Mougin with the idea of demo-ing the songs. At that point I thought it would be a few years before I attempted recording another Christmas album.

Upon listening to the songs, Stephen suggested they might sound nice with a jazz treatment. That approach was new to me…. as most of my songwriting to that point had been pretty much acoustic bluegrass & gospel oriented.

We agreed to give it a shot. Stephen then assembled a jazz trio featuring Todd Parks on Bass, Chris Brown on drums, Pat Bergeson on guitar and recorded “Christmas Every Day Of The Year” and “Looks Like Snow,” with Stephen singing on both. What happened next changed everything.

The new approach sounded very natural for both numbers. I had never envisioned the songs sounding liked that ….but absolutely loved it. That’s when the ideas of recording a full Christmas album came to light.

 

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Stephen went ahead and selected songs from my Christmas/Seasonal catalog to record, some of which would need to be re-written and/or re-arranged with more of a jazz feel. During that time period Stephen and I got together and wrote “That’s What I Love About Christmas” which turned out to be the title cut.

There were four recording sessions in all, that took place from March to May of 2013. The performances were really incredible especially considering it was all recorded live. Later we would add some harmony and background vocal parts on a few of the tunes. The making of this album was a joy from beginning to end. It was a fresh new sound, a contrast to any album I had recorded in the past. In the process we were able to capture the feel of some of the classic Christmas standards of the ’30s and ’40s.

- Rick Lang

Posted:
Sep 17, 2014
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Christmas Album Sound Bites

Posted: September 17, 2014

“Home Made Christmas”

This song is based on real life experience. When I was growing up we went through some pretty lean years when we didn’t have enough money to buy each other presents for Christmas. Not to be deterred, we would make homemade gifts with whatever we could find. I remember one year when I went into the woods and cut a small white birch tree to make candleholders for my mom and dad, grandparents, aunts & uncles. Thinking back on those times was the inspiration for writing “Home Made Christmas.”

“That’s What I Love About Christmas”

I had been doing some co-writing with my producer Stephen Mougin for a couple of years or so. I was over his house one afternoon before we started recording the Christmas album for a songwriting session. Out of the blue he said let’s write a Christmas song and started playing this very cool jazz chord progress on his guitar. Only took a few hours and we finished writing “That’s What I Love About Christmas.” This is the first “real deal” jazz song I’d ever written, and became the title cut of the new album. Stephen is an incredible guitarist, and to this day I have no idea what chords he was playing when we wrote that song….just that there were lots of them!

Background Singers

One very unique thing about this record is that we used background singers on three of the numbers. It is a throwback to the old days, reminiscent of how they were used on artists’ recordings like Ray Charles among others. We were fortunate to get three phenomenal vocalists for the project: Andrea Merritt, Scat Springs, and Vicki Hampton. They have all performed and recorded with some of the top names in the music industry and are “crazy good.” They added so much to this album…. I can’t thank them enough!

Recorded Live

Still hard for me to grasp, but this Christmas album was recorded pretty much live in three sessions with very few “fixes.” All the musicians on this album are truly incredible… some of the most outstanding in their field. We would just record two or three takes of each song and pick the best one. I was able to attend one of the sessions and was totally blown away with what I heard. It was a treat to the ear!

Jazz Trio

One thing that amazed me that most of these songs were recorded with a jazz trio…. just three musicians. One consisted of Electric guitar, bass and drums, the other piano bass and drums. With only three instruments, they succeeded in creating a full and complete sound. That was completely new to me. I have so much respect and admiration for all the musicians on the album…. it cannot be measured.

Demos

Hard as it is to believe, two of the songs on the album are actually demos. Both “Looks Like Snow” and “Christmas Every Day Of The Year” were recorded as demos so I could pitch them to other bands/performers. When I first heard them I fell off my chair they sounded so good. That’s when the idea of recording a full Christmas album came to be. We kept both songs exactly as they were originally recorded, just adding background vocals to one of them.

“Snowfall”

“Snowfall” was one of the only instrumentals I’d ever written. It was originally titled “Inspiration” and written for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Years later I was listening to the tune in my studio when it started snowing outside and I re-named it “Snowfall”. I never thought we’d actually ever record the song…. but I guess you just never know.

“Christmas Every Day Of The Year”

This song was written as an up-tempo swing number and appeared on my first Christmas release “The Season Of My Heart.” When we were considering songs for the new album, Stephen thought it work well slowed way down with a jazz feel. Turned out to be a great idea!

“Looks Like Snow”

This is actually the first Seasonal song I ever wrote where I was able to capture the that feel of some of the Christmas classics from the ’30s and 40′s. It came about when I was thinking back to my childhood and remembering what it was like just before a big snowstorm. All we had in our home was a small transistor radio to listen to listen for the weather. When our dad heard snow was coming he’d rush outside to made sure everything was put away, get the snow shovels out, and bring in some more firewood. Sometimes we did’t get much notice.
My brothers, sister and I all all got very excited as we love the snow and there was always the chance school would be called off the next day. Those were truly wonderful times in my life and glad I was able to capture it in song.

Performers

One of the most interesting aspects of this recording project is that I was not familiar with or had never met most of the musicians and singers who performed. Conversely most did not know me as well. It was the songs and music that brought us together, and we will forever be connected.

Piano

I had never recorded an album featuring piano before, but was very excited about the idea. Stephen brought in Joe Davidian, one of the hottest young jazz pianists in Nashville for the sessions. He is amazing! We recorded four songs in one afternoon and every take was breathtaking. Joe, thank you so much!

On Writing Christmas Songs

As a songwriter one of my greatest passions is writing Christmas and Seasonal songs. I draw inspiration from listening to my vast collection of Christmas albums and re-visiting old family Christmas photos. When winter rolls around I usually spend most of December and January working on new material. My Christmas song catalog is substantial (over 60 songs) and I am adding to it every year. I’ve recorded two Christmas albums to date, and am planning yet another somewhere down the line. Someday I’d like to host a songwriting workshop on writing Christmas and Seasonal material. As my mom would say “if it was meant to be, it will happen”

Christmas Concert Tour

Since the release of “The Season Of My Heart” in 2003, I have been part of an annual Christmas Concert Tour in the New England area.
Starting out as one show a year in Northbridge MA, it has grown to a six concert tour in three states (NH, MA, CT)….. Usually the first two weekends in December. The show consists of three acts: Blackstone Valley Bluegrass, Amy Gallatin & Roger Williams, and Rick Lang & Friends. All the concerts take place in churches, and we continue to draw a large audience wherever we play. In my part of the show we perform my original Christmas numbers. As I am always coming up with tunes, it is a great way test them out in front of a live audience.

Posted:
Apr 2, 2014
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Out Where the Wildflowers Grow

Posted: April 2, 2014

“Out Where The Wildflowers Grow” was my first attempt at recording a collection of my original compositions. It pretty much represents a sampling of my early songwriting days. I had been playing some of the tunes at area music venues, and thought it would be good to have something  to sell at the shows. The album was recorded in two consecutive days in the summer of 1991 at Fishtracks in Portsmouth, NH.

The band consisted of Dave Dick in banjo, mandolin and guitar, Bob Dick on bass, Roger Williams on dobro and me on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. It was recorded pretty much live. Initially released on cassette only, “Out Where The Wildflowers Grow” is now available on CD.

Posted:
Apr 2, 2014
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Little Did They Know

Posted: April 2, 2014

Writing Christmas material has been a passion of mine for a very long time. There have been many great songs written about the birth of Jesus that we all long to hear at this time of the year. That being said, there still needs to be new songs written and recorded that hopefully will appeal to future generations as well. I want to be one of the writers that helps keeps the Nativity Story alive…in people’s minds…and hearts. “Little Did They Know” is one of those songs.

“Little Did They Know” focuses on the real life drama that took place just before and after Jesus was born… on that very first Christmas day. Joseph and Mary had made the long and difficult journey form Nazareth to Bethlehem. When they arrived, the couple searched desperately for a suitable place to deliver their child, but were turned away time and again…forced to take refuge in a cold dark stable. Little did anyone know what was to take place would become “the greatest story ever told.” This is the first single I’d ever released. Produced by Stephen Mougin, “Little Did They Know” features the sparkling vocals of Jana Mougin…who offers a heartfelt rendition of the story. We are all very proud of this recording!

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Posted:
Apr 2, 2014
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Look to the Light

Posted: April 2, 2014

“Look to the Light” is the story of my journey along a spiritual pathway… that started several years ago. I have always loved Bluegrass Gospel music, which eventually became an important element of my songwriting. My catalog of original gospel compositions has become considerable, over the course of the last twenty five years.

After my mom passed away in 2001, I immersed myself deeper into my spirituality…causing a resurgence in writing Gospel Songs. It was then I knew I had to somehow, someday record a collection of my Gospel tunes to celebrate my renewed faith & thank God for all the blessings in my life. It was something I was meant to do.

Under the supervision of Jesse Brock and John Miller, we created “Look to the Light”. The end result was far greater than any expectation Jesse, John or myself had when we first started the project. It took 3 ½ years from start to finish, but it was well worth the wait. Together, we were able to assemble a cast some of the most talented musicians and singers in the Bluegrass world…that really elevated the recording.

This is truly an album of destiny. It was destiny that led me to John & Jesse…and then to Rural Rhythm Records released the album on their newly founded Rural Rhythm Christian label.
We all feel truly blessed to have played a part in the making of an album that turned out to be so very special….that really moved and uplifted all who listened to it.

RickLang

Posted:
Apr 2, 2014
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The Season of My Heart

Posted: April 2, 2014

Going back to the earliest days of my childhood, Christmas and the winter season was perhaps my very favorite time of the year. My mind is still filled with many fond memories from those days; the fragrance of a fresh cut Christmas tree, images of frost on the windows, snow drifting up to the front door, icicles glistening in the sun, the glow of candles and colored Christmas lights, the wonderful sound of some of the old Christmas “classics” from the 1940’s and 50’s like “Let It Snow”.

Eventually I started writing Christmas/Seasonal songs of my own to try and re-capture the spirit of the winter season. In 2002 I asked my dear friend Bob Dick if he would produce a Christmas album for me. Thought I had about enough material at the time, but kept on writing, editing and re-writing until we were both comfortable going forward with the project. Along with Bob, Dave Dick, Roger Williams, Karen Lincoln and a few other friends, we created “The Season Of My Heart”, released in the winter of 2003. We were all pretty happy with the way it turned out…and still get a lot of wonderful feedback from folks to this day!

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