Members of Hedgerow share their reasons for bringing their popular holiday show back this season
Allan Rankin is passionate about Christmas.
“Christmas for me is a time of family unity and coming together with my own children, grown and far flung across the country. It is this coming together, even when it is only a wish, that fires my heart at this time of the year,” says the P.E.I. singer songwriter.
Brad Fremlin agrees.
After spending many a Christmas in camps in Alberta, driving a water truck as part of an ice road construction crew, he’s happy to be back home this year to devote his attention to family and friends.
“My favourite Christmas memories? Sharing Christmas with my daughter, Keelin. When we get together, we sing Christmas carols at the piano, drink eggnog and go walking in the snow,” says the P.E.I. keyboard player/accordionist.
These are two of the four members of Hedgerow who have been actively sharing their love for the season in A Hedgerow Christmas, which has been playing at Beaconsfield’s Carriage House in Charlottetown over the past two weeks.
And now that the run is over, they are sharing their reasons that they brought back the show this year after it last played at The Mack in Charlottetown in 2007.
“All of us share the same Christmas values and traditions, for the most part, the music and the stories, and want to help illuminate those values and traditions for others. Our show is about the Island past but also the continuity of Christmas in our families and communities,” says Rankin, singer-songwriter for the group that also includes Alan Buchanan, storyteller, and Perry Williams, guitar.
Buchanan is equally passionate about sharing stories about Island communities.
“These all focus on Christmas traditions like getting the tree and getting Christmas cards in the mail and getting the parcel that comes from the rich relatives from Boston or elsewhere, the Christmas concert at school and the arrival of Santa Claus,” says the Belfast native, adding one of his favourite stories comes from attending St. John’s Presbyterian Church.
“When I was a kid, my mom sang in the choir, and one Christmas Eve, fresh from having cooked for a houseful (of people) she arrived at church with her apron on. She whipped off her coat to put on the choir gown and there it was,” says Buchanan, breaking into laughter.
Sometimes, he gleans his material from his immediate family.
“For example, when my kids were growing up we never wrapped the gifts from Santa. We just put them under the tree in individual areas for each of the children, with no tags or indicators as to whose was whose.
“So I always found it amazing that there was never any confusion about who Santa had in mind for each individual gift. Even though the four of them were not too far apart in age and interests, they always went straight to their own little treasure cache,” says Buchanan.
In telling his stories, he hopes to connect with and fuel people’s own holiday memories.
“We’re hoping that the show helped put everyone in the Christmas spirit,” he says.
Williams, who plays lead guitar, also has a warm spot in his heart for the holiday season.
“Christmas has always seemed like a special day for me, not only for the obvious reason, but also because it is my birthday.
“When we were kids, my sister, Lily, would always have a special birthday breakfast for Christmas morning: hot dogs in real hot dog buns, not wrapped in the usual slice of homemade bread.
“Now that I’m middle-aged and with a family of my own, that is one Williams family Christmas tradition that is continued in our household. There’s nothing like sitting around the tree with the kids on Christmas morning, unwrapping gifts and enjoying the perfect hand-held breakfast,” he says.
Because music is such an important part of his household’s tradition, Fremlin was thrilled to add his voice and instruments to the show.
“Now that I’m home for Christmas what better way to celebrate than a Christmas show with my friends in Hedgerow. We’ve had a great time.”
AT A GLANCE
A Hedgerow Christmas
- To celebrate the return of their seasonal show, band members have just released a A Hedgerow Christmas, a 19-track CD that contains songs from the show (including four originals by Alan Rankin), as well as stories by Alan Buchanan.
- Rankin's songs include The Gift, Raise the Dead of Wintertime, The Blanket and Great Uncle Heb.
- Copies of the CD are available at Beaconsfield in Charlottetown or from individual band members.