Newberry & Verch
Through their strong musical traditions of the Ozarks and Canada’s Ottawa Valley, Joe Newberry and April Verch take a little bit of home with them wherever they go.
Verch, best known for two decades of international touring with The April Verch Band and a 2020 JUNO Award Nominee, and Newberry, well-known for his work with mandolin icon Mike Compton, as well as The Transatlantic Sessions and A Prairie Home Companion, say that this collaboration holds a special place in their hearts. They have enjoyed developing it alongside their other projects, which will continue.
“Joe and I had known of each other’s music for years, but had never met,” Verch said. “We had talked on the phone a few times and felt so confident that we would love playing together, that when some time opened up in each of our schedules, we decided to go ahead and book some shows. In our first face to face meeting, and that first rehearsal in August, 2016, we knew that we were right. This was going to be special!”
In October, 2016, the pair performed their first concerts, among which were multiple appearances at the Celtic Colours International Festival across Cape Breton, NS. “By the end of that run, we knew that we wanted to record an album,” Newberry said. “The music that we make inspires us and we wanted to capture some of that feeling that we were sharing on stage in the studio.”
The result was their debut album Going Home released in 2017. It's an album that sounds like two old friends who have been playing together for years. In the words of Barry Poss, founder of Sugar Hill Records “Oh, but this is a good one! Going Home is a simply gorgeous and intimate expression of musical multiculturalism. Joe and April each bring superb musicianship from their respective Ozark/Appalachian and Canadian Ottawa Valley roots and while they never lose sight of their own unique traditions, their work together also serves to craft an entirely new musical aesthetic, one with its own melting pot integrity.”
Since those first encounters in 2016, Newberry & Verch have carved out time in their schedules for regular tours together, resulting in not only North American appearances but also in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales. In December 2021 they'll release their second album, a collection of holiday songs and tunes titled On This Christmas Day.
Americana/Roots | Holiday | World Music/Traditional
- 'Going Home' - Full Album Soundcloud Stream
- Newberry & Verch Online
- Joe Newberry Official Site
- April Verch Official Site
Newberry & Verch to Release New Holiday Album: On This Christmas Day
Please note: our official public announce date is Novemember 3, 2021.
Growing up, Joe Newberry and April Verch absorbed traditions of home and hearth - in his Missouri Ozarks and her Ottawa Valley of Canada. The holidays have always been a special time of year for both, with family and friends, festive decorations, gifts under the tree, and always, music. The duo’s new release, “On This Christmas Day,” on Slab Town Records, underscores that warmth, and will make a fine addition to any stocking, gathering, or celebration.
The holiday album, which will be available for pre-orders on November 3, 2021 and released digitally on December 3, 2021 was inspired by Newberry & Verch’s annual “Holiday Cheer” tour. Each year, the duo heads out in a modern day sleigh (with four-wheel drive) to perform for delighted audiences. Original songs join timeless hymns. Stories warm the heart and give a twinkle to the eye. Lively fiddle and banjo numbers inspire dance steps to illustrate happy times when people made their own fun at the holidays, and all year long.
“From our very first ‘Holiday Cheer’ tour in 2016, Joe and I heard this question from audience members…. ‘Where is the recording?’,” Verch said.
Verch continues, “We had a week between online shows and camps this summer, and we got together to record at Joe’s house in Raleigh, N.C.” The project was recorded by Verch, produced by the duo, and mixed and mastered by Chris Rosser at Hollow Reed Studio, in Asheville, N.C.
Newberry said that, like many things over the past couple of years, this project involved some thinking outside the box to be born. “April and I made the decision, for right now, to not create a physical CD, but instead worked with Memphis artist Martha Kelly (marthakellyart.com) to create a beautiful, frameable winter scene, with information about the project and a download code on the back. April continues, “We will even have frames available for sale, so our fans can have a framed piece of art for the wall, or to give as a present.”
On This Christmas Day
Joe Newberry: Banjo, guitar, lead & harmony vocals
April Verch: Fiddle, lead & harmony vocals
Produced By: Joe Newberry & April Verch
Recorded By: April Verch, June 2021
Mixed & Mastered By Chris Rosser at Hollow Reed Studio, Asheville, N.C., July 2021
Original Artwork By: Martha Kelly, marthakellyart.com
Project Design By: April Verch
Track Notes for “On This Christmas Day”
Della and Jim - O. Henry’s timeless short story, “The Gift of the Magi,” was the inspiration for this Joe Newberry original. Joe and April love to sing this one all year long because they feel that the message is too big for just one season. “Oh all who love and who believe, they are the wisest ones. Those who give, and who receive, the Magi they become.”
Round the Christmas Tree - April and her friend Lynda Dawson drew upon memories of holidays with their families to write this evergreen tribute to hearth and home. “Get out the star, get out the lights. We’re going to trim the tree tonight. Deck her out in memories… Come gather round the Christmas tree.”
On This Christmas Day - Joe wrote “On This Christmas Day” on a snowy December day, after sound check in a beautiful restored church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It passed muster with his late sister Amy Newberry Fauquet, a Lutheran pastor, which definitely made him breathe a sigh of relief!
Christmas Eve - Oklahoma fiddler Dick Hutchison (1897-1986) is the source for this lively fiddle and banjo duet. Known to everyone as “Uncle Dick,” his playing influenced fiddlers all around the area where Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas come together, and far beyond.
Uncle John and the Christmas Miracle - The old tale of animals in the barn kneeling down at midnight and welcoming the Christ Child always made Joe curious to see for himself. He never could stay awake for it. Not even once. But, he was able to write a poem about it, set here to a beautiful fiddle tune composed by April.
Little Baby in a Manger - Joe wrote this song in the car driving back to his home in Raleigh, N.C., from a show in Charlotte, N.C. He always says that one of his favorite things to do is to try and tell an old story in a new way, and this acapella duet does just that.
A Yodel for Christmas - What do you get a man who has everything for Christmas? This bit of silliness from Joe’s pen attempts to answer that very question.
Breaking Up Christmas - In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia, the tradition of Breaking Up Christmas was observed with parties and music gatherings from December 25 all the way to Old Christmas, or the Epiphany, 12 days later. This good old tune is a joy to play on the fiddle and the banjo. “Hooray Jake, and Hooray John. Breaking Up Christmas all night long.”
Martin Luther’s Tree - This song by April and Lynda Dawson was inspired by various accounts of Martin Luther bringing in the first Christmas tree for his children, and is a lovely reminder of the importance of holiday traditions to parents and children. The chorus is a direct link to Martin Luther, and is almost word for word to what the Great Reformer wrote nearly 500 years ago in 1531.
Christmas in the Trenches - John McCutcheon’s classic ballad, “Christmas in the Trenches,” tells of the Christmas Truce of 1914 between British and German troops on the Western Front in World War I. Although the song’s narrator, Francis Tolliver, is fictional, the story is true. Joe and April are honored to share this story, and are grateful to John for his gracious permission to record it.
First Day of the Year - While Joe has written lots of Christmas songs over the years, he had never attempted a New Year’s song. With the help of traditions like music on the first day, and eating black-eyed peas for luck and collards for wealth in the new year, this song was born. The melody is Stephen Foster’s “Nelly Bly.” Joe explains that he set the song to that melody temporarily until he could come up with a better melody. Joe goes on to explain that he kept it, because, as he says, “there is no better melody.”
|Distributor:||Free Dirt Records & Service Co.|
|Record Label:||Slab Town Records|
|Release Title:||On This Christmas Day|