Just in time for the season, the GRAMMY winning Okee Dokee Brothers have a new album out that highlights all things Winter-themed. At a time where everyone gets swept up in end-of-year business, Winterland invites listeners of all ages to pause and enjoy the natural introspection the season provides. As homespun sounding as ever, The Okee Dokee Brothers’ nostalgic bluegrass Americana folk music envelopes listeners like a giant down-filled duvet and it sets a special place at the hearth just for you. The album kicks off with Blankets of Snow, a song that presents itself in the stylings of a Grateful Dead tune and dares the winter to do its worst! In life according to the Okees, warmth is cultivated from within– so Mother Nature can do as she pleases.
In several songs peppered throughout the album, the old traditions of winter are reborn and set aloft in listeners’ imaginations such as in the Jug-Band song Ice Fishin’ Shack, the Zydeco-inspired Keep Me Warm, and the bluegrass track North Country Dance Band. Other songs dedicate themselves to hunkering down into a good winter’s sleep (Slumberjack), or even extending that sleep into an all important Lazy Day. While all these songs are speaking to seasonal themes such as appreciation, self-care, inclusivity, and togetherness, some of the most potent messages on Winterland are presented in the tracks The Abominable Yeti, Snowpeople, Candles, and New Year. Musically anchored in a long, rich, traditional sound, these songs lyrically buck their conventional set up. The Adominable Yeti speaks to the dangers of making assumptions and giving in to fear of the unknown. The Okee Dokee Brothers sing, “I actually met me a Yeti…the Yeti says it’s just been misunderstood / it pays taxes and always votes / it’s actually a strict vegetarian / it adopts all the mistreated goats.” Once you get to know the Yeti, what is there to actually fear? In Snowpeople, there is an equal amount of questioning assumptions, but in this track, it is centered around gender stereotypes. Using the metaphor of building snowpeople, the lyrics aptly ask, “Why do we roll up circles, just to put them inside of squares, maybe boys and girls are words we don’t have to wear.” Candles builds on the children’s gospel song This Little Light of Mine (which later became an anthem during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s). Candles reminds us of being true to oneself, “a little touch of fire can see through the dark.”
This ultimately is the heart of the album, contemporary values packaged and presented in a familiar, traditional sound. By respecting the spirit of the season, we can actually redefine our perspective and perhaps be less myopic moving forward. “In a world where people are all too often pursuing their own individual journeys, Winterland humbly reminds us that we are all human beings living within the uncontrollable motions of Mother Nature.”
Check out the music video for Snowpeople with animation by Justin Lansing:
And here is a link for an article written by Joe Mailander of The Okee Dokee Brothers, How Fatherhood Changed the Way a Songwriter Looked at Gender, featured on Fatherly, 11/9/2018
If you are finding yourself dreaming of a quiet, cozy Christmas all nestled in your red onesie (you know you have one) sipping cocoa with mini-marshmallows– forget about it. The Kids Imagine Nation is back with a holiday album that will compel you to put down that cup o’ cocoa, drop that beat and kick it into high gear. The dance party is on. With a collection of re-imagined holiday standards and Christmas-themed originals, this album is the high-energy antidote those short winter days and long dark nights. Still have to trim your tree? Use this album as your soundtrack, you will be grooving at double speed– your job will be done in no time, and you will be filled good vibes and merriment. Fair warning, if you have some sensitive older relatives visiting, your impromptu dance party may ruffle the senior set’s feathers– because playing this record at full volume is a must. But, you never know, they too might be overtaken by the spirit of a Ska/ Reggae/ Rock loving Santa.
The album kicks off modestly enough with a sweet pop song, Christmas Time is Here. Soon though, less than a minute into the first track, the dance beat drops and the party is on. So it will be no surprise to you that by the time you arrive at the second track, The Kids Imagine Nation’s version of Jingle Bell Rock, things are in full rock mode! Luckily for those older family members, the pace of the album doesn’t continue at full tilt through all the tracks. Let It Snow, Santa’s Workshop, Deck the Halls, Frosty the Snowman, Gift of Giving and Snow Snow Snow slow the pace down (slightly), and let you catch your breath while still partaking in the festive cheer. The epic track on the album is Up on the Housetop, which brings all the ska/ punk energy this band is known for to a full boil.However, the track that holds the album’s central message is the reggae song Gift of Giving which reminds us to be kind, value community, and to be generous to others. The record closes with a classic, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, which starts off in a classic caroling style. You settle in to the mellow groove and overlook the moment where the amps plug in and the song transforms into a veritable mosh pit of holiday spirit. Rock on in the spirit of this old chestnut:
Mtv Promo, circa 1993, Santa Claus: The Man, The Myth, The Slamdancer