When Cod Gone Wild released its Christmas album entitled The Neighbourhood Rounds last December, a tradition was born based around the Newfoundland custom of the Neighbourhood Rounds, where neighbours go from house to house to celebrate the season.
The Okanagan-based band is spreading Christmas cheer the best way it knows how — through music — and is about to embark on a 16-stop British Columbia tour to connect and celebrate with their own extended neighbours across the province.
The Cods, as the band is also known, will be making a stop in Smithers, performing Saturday, Nov. 30 at The Glenwood Hall.
“The idea behind The Neighbourhood Rounds is a tradition my parents started with their neighbours back 30 years ago, and they go around house to house to each place and have a drink and something to eat, and they go on to the next place, and so on and so on,” said lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Mercer, who grew up in Bay Roberts, N.L.
“That’s the whole idea of doing the tour and keeping it within British Columbia is that this is where we’re from, this is our neighbourhood, so we’re able to go around to all the different places around the province and do these shows, and at the same time, bring people out to something that’s not on Netflix or on their television, so they can come out and enjoy a night and visit with their neighbours and enjoy some downhome music.”
The tradition of the neighbourhood rounds continues today, and Mercer has written the title track of the album to not only keep the tradition alive, but also to remind people to come together this holiday season.
“It is my hope that in the spirit of the season, despite this tumultuous world that we live in, people can come together,” he said. “Visit your neighbours, check in on a friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while, and most importantly, make time for family.”
The Cods’ album features a mix of original songs and Christmas songs that Mercer grew up listening to on the east coast.
“Growing up in Newfoundland and being exposed to traditional music at a young age, there will always be a strong Newfoundland influence in Cod Gone Wild’s music,” said Mercer. “Having musicians from various musical backgrounds allows us to create something a little more modern and edgy that will have a broader appeal to audiences across the country and around the world.”
To get The Neighbourhood Rounds album out in time for Christmas, the band recorded it last July.
“That was kind of strange recording Christmas music in the middle of the summer, especially when it was 35 degrees out most days and we’re inside singing Christmas songs,” Mercer said with a laugh. “But it was great. I feel it’s not your typical Christmas album. We do some classic, traditional Christmas tunes on there, but I feel the way we are presenting them is quite different and unique. I think the goal was — well I don’t know if it was necessarily the goal from the outset, but what ended up being the goal and the result was we wanted to create a Christmas album that wasn’t traditionally the way all Christmas albums sound, and I think that really comes through in the album.”
Based out of the Okanagan Valley since 2009 when Mercer transplanted from Newfoundland, the Cods are recognized as one of Canada’s top Celtic acts.
When Mercer moved to B.C., he brought with him his passion for Newfoundland, the rich culture and the deeply rooted music he grew up with. Joining Mercer are musicians Susan Aylard (fiddle), Sean Bray (electric guitar), Dan Fogarty (bass) and David Mihal (drums).
The Celtic-inspired band is focused on giving traditional music a modern edge.
“They blend the varied talents of musicians whose classical, folk, rock and jazz backgrounds fuse together to create a dynamic and unique sound that instantly connects and resonates with audiences,” according to a press release from the band. “Through their uplifting energy, tight vocal harmonies and remarkable stage presence, they weave together a tapestry of tales that evoke a nostalgic experience of days gone by.”
Mercer says they are looking forward to sharing music from the album and to getting back to places where they have played in the past during this tour.
“I don’t think there are any places on this tour that we haven’t played before, but it’s going to be interesting bringing this album there,” he said. “Of course, we’ll still be performing non-Christmas music — we’ll still be performing material from our other albums — but we certainly will be doing all the Christmas songs as well from The Neighbourhood Rounds album. We’re looking forward to sharing that different kind of music with everybody that we’ve seen in the past and hopefully opening up the door for new audiences for people who may not have seen us before.”
Cod Gone Wild is bringing The Neighbourhood Rounds Christmas Tour to Smithers Saturday, Nov. 30 at The Glenwood Hall at 13804 Telkwa High Rd. Doors open at 7 p.m. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Mountain Eagle Books at 3775 Third Ave. or online at codgonewild.com/shows.
The Neighbourhood Rounds is available now, wherever you download or stream your music and can also be purchased or downloaded directly from the band’s website at codgonewild.com.