For some, the return of Christmas and holiday music is something to look forward to every year, while, for others, many of the much-loved holiday classics have lost their magic.
Shawnigan Lake guitarist TL Douglas is looking to bring some sparkle back to songs like Jingle Bells and Silent Night with his Dec. 15 performance in Parksville, where he’ll be playing tunes from his Guitarras Navidenas where he injects some Latin energy into time-honoured holiday melodies.
Coming from a rock background, Douglas said he got turned onto Latin music after being asked by a chain of coffee stores to put together an album for them, for which they wanted a Latin style.
“When I finished the album and wanted to deliver it, I found out that the coffee chain had gone completely out of business,” said Douglas with a chuckle.
“So I had an album’s worth of music that I really liked and just decided that I was going to press it myself and put a band together and start doing shows.”
His performances had a Salsa, Flamenco and World Beat influence ever since, he said.
Douglas said that Latin style of music seemed to fit with how he liked to play.
“Rhythmically it’s a really exciting style of music. It moves really quick. It’s very up-tempo, a lot of it, and the best part about it for me is that so much of it is improvised. I get to improvise all night long.”
The Christmas album, which Douglas finished in 2014, was his wife’s idea, he said with another chuckle.
“She really wanted me to do a Christmas album, and I went, ‘OK, I’ll try, but I don’t want to do a typical Christmas album.’”
Looking for a different take on music that everyone has heard played in various ways, Douglas went about nailing down songs like We Three Kings, Away in a Manger and The First Noel to their simplest form, and then experimenting until he found something new and interesting, but which didn’t make the song unrecognizable.
“What I found, once I started working on them is (these classic songs) are just really good tunes. They are just really well-written songs… (and) a good song, you can play with. You can put it in any style, and it will work.”
One of the songs Douglas worked on that still held a special place for him was Little Drummer Boy thanks to the version by David Bowie. He hoped to bring that same interest with his own versions, and felt he succeeded particularly with What Child Is This — now one of his Christmas favourites.
Over the years, reaction to his Christmas album has been positive, with Douglas taking care to respect the original songs while bringing some energy and flair, he said.
“Hopefully it’s a fresh take for people — to re-introduce them to some songs that they haven’t really paid attention to in a long time,” said Douglas.
He’ll be performing a mostly solo show at Ground Zero Acoustic Lounge (8-464 Island highway East, Parksville) on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m., though he said he plans on having a special guest for a few songs.
Tickets are $15. For more info, go to www.gzalounge.com/de-la-terra1.html.