Larry Mercey has been performing his annual Christmas show as part of the Larry Mercey Trio for seven years, and the Maryhill Commercial Tavern will be one of three stops on his current Christmas tour. Given that the holiday season has become such a big part of the veteran country singer’s annual calendar, one wonders: What does Christmas mean to Larry Mercey?
“Well, it means a lot of hard work putting the show together,” laughed Mercey. “I think it’s harder. But anything that’s hard, if you do it good, it gives you a little more pleasure.
“Christmas songs, you do them maybe for just a few weeks and that’s all, and as you get a little older your memory isn’t as good. So, it’s almost like you have to re-learn them every year. But I enjoy doing them. They’re different songs and different material than normal.”
Mercey became a Canadian country legend when he worked with his siblings as The Mercey Brothers, garnering a Juno nomination and a charting single (“If I’m Only Good for One Thing”) in the progress. Since 2004, Mercey has collaborated with George Lonsbury and Al Alderson as The Larry Mercey Trio, and have fine-tuned a Christmas set sure to bring the holiday spirit to any Ebenezer Scrooge.
Original Mercey compositions like “The Day of Love” and “Lone Star Christmas” will alternate with seasonal standards like “Blue Christmas,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” plus highlights like “Pretty Paper” (a Willie Nelson number), “Santa Looks Like Daddy,” and Dolly Parton’s “I’ll Be Home With Bells On.”
The show will conclude with another much-loved perennial. At the risk of spoiling the surprise, it’s about a red-nosed reindeer that saved the day one foggy Christmas Eve.
“I think people have just heard it so much, it’s been around so long, everybody knows it,” said Mercey. “They sing it to their little kids, and then they get older and they sing it to theirs. It’s one of those songs.”
It won’t just be Mercey and his compadres at the Commercial Tavern. The trio will be joined by Naomi Bristow, a 16-year-old resident of Beeton, Ontario who happens to be the two-time winner of the Western Music Association’s Youth Yodeler of the Year award. She has already recorded six CDs, and won Best Traditional Yodel Album from the National Traditional Country Music Association in 2010.
Bristow will be on hand to perform “The Christmas Letter,” in which Santa Claus himself writes a letter describing everything he wants for Christmas.
“She started to yodel when she was eight years old – she taught herself,” said Mercey. “She’s a great little entertainer, and she goes to work in the States quite a bit. … I’m very fortunate to have her.”
Also on the bill is Randy Satchell, who Mercey describes as one of his favourite country singers. Satchell has performed traditional country music on two CDs, Memories and This is My Life, and has opened for such performers as David Lee Murphy, John Landry, and Blackhawk.
That’s plenty of Yuletide cheer for one show, but surely the holiday season must mean more for Larry Mercey than just a long list of songs to memorize?
“I think it’s being together with the people you love,” said Mercey. “My brothers, and our wives, we try to get together around Christmas. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it’s usually with my immediate family. That’s really it.”
He paused. “And for people who work, it’s a holiday.”
Now that’s something worth raising a glass of eggnog to.
The Larry Mercey Show will hit the Maryhill Commercial Tavern (1303 Maryhill Rd.) on Sunday, December 1 at 3 p.m. For more information, contact 519-648-3644.