Christmas with ‘The Once’

Group bringing popular seasonal show on the road to singer’s hometown this week

Published on December 5, 2011
‘The Once’, featuring Geraldine Hollett, Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale, will play a special Christmas show at Zion United Church in Burin – Ms. Hollett’s hometown – this Thursday. Renita Fillatre Photo

Geraldine Hollett’s voice fills with excitement when asked about Christmas memories growing up in Burin.


The Southern Gazette

Geraldine Hollett’s voice fills with excitement when asked about Christmas memories growing up in Burin.

The first thought that jumped in her mind was a year when she was young, and there was a particularly large amount of snow piled up around Path End.

Laughing hard over the phone, she recalled taking the plunge and pulling a ‘Houdini’.

“I jumped in the snow and it went over my head and people had to dig me out!”

Then there was the angelic view of the sea from the window Christmas morning, all the more dazzling if there was a light snow falling.

“I mean it was just like a little piece of heaven. Me and my sister actually bought land out there so we can have that feeling again some day.”

These days the lead singer of St. John’s-based ‘The Once’ has been extremely busy travelling the land to promote the group’s second album, ‘Row Upon Row of the People They Know’, which was released in October.

Ms. Hollett indicated she and her band-mates – Corner Brook’s Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale from Coley’s Point in Conception Bay – have spent all of three weeks total in the province’s capital city since July.

Before catching a flight to Australia Christmas Day, the trio has made plans to take a bit of a breather and again celebrate the season with song.

What began as a Christmas special for CBC four years ago has now turned into a tradition all its own for The Once, who have hosted a holiday concert at Gower Street United Church every year since.

This year, in addition to expanding the St. John’s shows from two to three, which were held this past weekend, the group has Christmas shows lined up at Zion United Church in Burin this Thursday, Dec. 8, and the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre Dec. 16.

The concert series will also serve as the official Newfoundland release of the group’s new album.

As for Christmas selections, Ms. Hollett said concertgoers can expect “some old favourites and some new stuff and some stuff from the 80s, like when we were growing up.”

There will also be a few familiar songs from the first album mixed in.

In the last year and a half, Ms. Hollett said if the band wasn’t touring, they was busy recording.

“What Christmas does is make us just relax and feel like were home.”

Last week, she said she already had some decorations up in her St. John’s apartment – nothing too overboard but enough to give it a Christmassy feel.

“I’m hardly home so when I’m here now I want to make the best of it. It’s almost like I have a newfound appreciation. I have a tiny little tree that, if I put my rubber boot up to, it probably is an inch taller because I have a little star on top.

“We have a little fireplace – it doesn’t work – but there’s a wreath around it and that’s enough.”

The Burin show will mark the third time the group has played in this area.

Ms. Hollett said she’s looking forward to the gig, but acknowledged she’ll probably be a little nervous playing for family and friends.

“I don’t know what it is about people you know. Singing in front of them is a lot harder and I don’t know why, because they’re the ones who got all the love in the world for you. So it doesn’t make sense!”

Tickets for The Once’s Christmas show in Burin are available at Salt Pond Esso, Burin Pharmacy, Central Video or at the door on the evening of the show. For more information, call Ethel at 891- 2275.