“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was dead as a door-nail.”
Imagine a dark stage. The light hits only one person. He is dressed in a black cloak which reminds you of old times. On his head he wears a bowler, on his nose he wears tiny round glasses. He is reading Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol to you. There is a good chance that you are familiar with that story. After all it has been around since 1843. Plenty of movies have been made, theatres and operas love to bring it on stage around Christmas. You know exactly what is going to happen. You know better than to expect random surprises.
But then: an acoustic guitar is playing, a flute somewhere, drums, even a Chapman stick. Ebenezer Scrooge (Bill Bourne) is singing with a deep smoky voice: ‘Well if you think I care/ You don’t know me very well/ If you think I have a heart/ You don’t know me, I can tell.’ Looking at the lyrics, they are something you can relate to Scrooge. The song itself is folksy, bluesy. Definitely not very Christmassy. It drives you away from the Christmas spirit and puts thoughts of calm summer nights in your head. The narrator (Dave Clarke) continues to read and immediately you are back with your thoughts at the TransAlta Art Barn and Dickens’ Christmas Carol.
The Christmas Carol Project is a unique way of telling Charles Dickens’ story: it reinvigorates a classic tale with an instrumentation that blends rootsy blues, funky folk, and Celtic shanty. Like the best of concept albums, each of the songs can stand alone, and yet altogether function towards a cohesive masterpiece. Tradition and new interpretation put together: that left room for random surprises, smiles and time for dreams and ice cream.
Before it was time for the Christmas Carol we got to know each musician in a singer-songwriter circle. They took the audience on a journey through their soul, their style, their way of expressing themselves. Occasionally contributing to each others songs, they collaborated like a free jam amongst old friends, like a colorful patchwork blanket: their individuality was clear, but put together a one of a kind was created, called The Christmas Carol Project.