Editor’s note: Listen Up is a Q&A featuring locals in the arts and culture community.
This week: Ken Rodgers, a performer with Krismas Kookies. The local holiday band has three upcoming area shows, including a CD release party on Friday at Volume One, 205 N. Dewey St.
Who are the Krismas Kookies?
Krismas Kookies is a group of experienced musicians who perform some wonderful, original holiday music.
All of the members are professional musicians in their own right. Most members are retired educators from the area.
Warren Hermondson wrote all the words and music and plays guitar. Pat McGinnis plays guitar, Bill Simon plays bass and trumpet; I play guitar, keyboard and balalaika; Scott Benson plays drums, banjo and bass.
How and when did this group form?
The group has been together for about five years, playing mostly around the holiday season. Members were friends and had performed together in various combinations in the past so (we) got together to have some good fun playing original music.
Why did you want, or see a need, to form this group?
As all musicians, we play because we love to share the magic of music and in this case the magic of the season. As former educators, we were involved with filling young lives with music and all the things we learn through music. I guess you can take the educator out of education but you can’t keep us from sharing the love of music and learning. There is always a need for live music and we hope there will always be performances of live music.
How would you describe the band’s music?
Krismas Kookies features original music in four-part harmony with a light-hearted and humorous look at the holiday season and winter in Wisconsin.
The group plays quite a bit of styles from song to song. There are a couple of traditional Christmas songs that all will remember. Musical styles will focus mostly on folk music but also include jazz, mariachi, blues and even Eastern European folk music.
However, the main point of the performances are the lyrics and the stories they tell. Hermodson has captured many perspectives of the season.
Themes range from Santa’s experimenting with GPS, reindeer that cause more problems than they solve, dysfunctional family gatherings, “unique” presents from grandma, to a possible union strike at the north pole.
There is something for everyone who loves the holiday season and those that have other mixed feelings about Santa, elves and holiday “traditions.”
What can people expect from your new CD?
“A Second Helping of Krismas Kookies” is the second album from the group. It is a CD produced in a studio near Willard — a state of the art digital studio, run by a fantastic musician that even sat in on accordion for a couple songs.
Titles on the Second Helping CD include: “Deckin’ the Halls in Old Mexico,” “Grandma’s Presents,” “Have a Cookie,” “Lovely Christmas Sweater,” “North Pole Blues,” “Trimmin’ the Tree” and others.
(At our shows), the five-piece group will perform several songs from our new CD, several songs from our first CD and a few new songs as well.
How has the group grown and/or changed since it originated?
The original members were Warren and Bill along with a couple other professional musicians, Steve Wells and George Utphall.
Although the basic premise has not changed — playing light-hearted holiday music — we continue to enjoy playing new material and getting better at the old material.
We all grow when playing with such talented and accomplished musicians.
Would you like to add anything else?
Please join Warren Hermondson, Pat McGinnis, Bill Simon, Scott Benson and me as we laugh, sing and play our way through all original tunes about family get-togethers, shopping, Santa and more.
Greet your holiday season with a smile.
CDs will be available at each performance. They are also available from Volume One or from one of the members. The entire album can be downloaded from Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and most music download sites.
— Katy Macek