Growing up in Newfoundland, Andrew Mercer and his family would do “the neighbourhood rounds” at Christmas time. Neighbours would go from house to house to visit and celebrate the season.
Now, Mercer is bringing that tradition to B.C.
Mercer and his band Cod Gone Wild released a Christmas album called The Neighbourhood Rounds last December and toured through B.C. neighbourhoods around Christmas time. This year, Cod Gone Wild will be embarking on a 16-stop British Columbia tour connecting and celebrating with their own extended neighbours across the province.
The Cods, as the band is also known, will kick of their Neighbourhood Rounds Christmas Tour Thursday, Nov. 28 at The Occidental.
“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 Mercer, who grew up in Bay Roberts, N.L., and is the Cods’ lead singer and multi-instrumentalist. “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, bringing 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.”
Mercer says they are looking forward to getting back to places where they have played in the past.
“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 did a similar Neighbourhood Rounds tour last Christmas, mostly around the southern Interior and the Okanagan, and Mercer says it was all very well received.
“Many of the shows were sold out, and we sold a ton of albums — we don’t sell a ton of albums these days, but people were buying them for stocking stuffers — it was great,” he said.
“People liked the album, and one of the comments we received a lot is it’s not your typical Christmas album, and people really enjoyed that.”
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.”
To get The Neighbourhood Rounds out in time for Christmas, Cod Gone Wild recorded the album 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. “That was kind of weird, but you have to start early in order to get it out in time. But it was great. We’ve got some original Christmas songs on the album, as well as some East Coast Newfoundland favourites that I grew up listening to.
“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.”
Cod Gone Wild brings its Neighbourhood Rounds Christmas Tour to Quesnel Thursday, Nov. 28 for a 7:30 p.m. performance at The Occidental.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and advance tickets are available at The Occidental 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.