For a special seasonal finale to our 2015 concert year Flying Cat Music presents Robinson and Rohe’s “The Longest Winter: A Christmas Concert and Singalong.” On Saturday, December 5, Liam Robinson and Jean Rohe will bring this uniquely personal and embracive event to the Empire State Railway Museum located at 70 Lower High Street. The doors open at 7:30 p.m. with the show beginning promptly at 8:00. Admission is $15 or $13 with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-688-9453.
For the past nine years, Robinson & Rohe have been performing “The Longest Winter: A Christmas Concert and Singalong” annually in their Brooklyn home – always teeming with friends and neighbors. This year they bring their midwinter mini pageant to Phoenicia, resplendent with a gorgeous set piece, a triptych of paper cut light boxes designed by illustrator Andrew Benincasa.
Early in 2014, Flying Cat Music hosted a concert with Robinson & Rohe centered on stunning, original, cross-genre and cross-cultural songs. On this occasion, Robinson & Rohe go deep into the Christmas repertoire: the mystical, the melancholic, the soulful, and the sublime. Expect songs you may not know: haunting melodies of old Europe, joyful singalongs of the Southern US, and modern takes on the strange and ancient Christmas tale. These performances have become an important Christmas ritual for Liam and Jean, one they feel moved to share with an expanding circle of community. In their own words, “We sing these carols every year to wrest this influential story from the grasp of the despots and the department stores. “
Jean Rohe and Liam Robinson were themselves brought together a decade ago by a love of participatory music-making and American and Anglo folk song. In 2013, Jean and Liam reinvented their collaboration as cowriters, developing an ever-expanding repertoire of original music that now lives alongside the old songs they hold dear. Their performances evidence their deepest values: fine song craft, detailed arrangements, and elegant harmonies.
Outside of Robinson & Rohe, Jean Rohe leads her own band, The End of the World Show, whose latest self-titled record won three Independent Music Awards in 2014. Jean was also honored by the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival audience in 2014, which voted her one of the ”Most Wanted” artists performing in the Emerging Artist Showcase that year. That recognition earned Jean Rohe a trip back to Falcon Ridge in 2015 where she graced the festival main stage.
When not performing with Jean Rohe, Liam Robinson tours internationally in the Becca Stevens Band, having done so since 2005, as their keyboardist/accordionist. It’s a combo that wins high critical praise with reviews such as these: “New York’s best kept secret” The New York Times; “Brilliant, catchy…Intimate, ruminative, jagged-edged originals with jouncy time signatures, rich with harmony and melody” Downbeat; “With their ability their exquisite arrangements, gorgeous vocal harmonies and an ability to make the bar line disappear, the Becca Stevens Band stole a lot of hearts” Jazzwize Magazine.
Robinson & Rohe’s recording of “The Longest Winter: A Christmas Concert and Singalong” released in 2014, includes some lovely lesser known Christmas jewels such as “Burgundian Carol” and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” The former is based on an eighteenth century French carol composed by Bernard LaMonnoye, translated to English by Oscar Brand. The later dates back to a German text thought to be penned by an anonymous author, with the piece first appearing in print in the late sixteenth century. The English translation was written by Theodore Baker in 1894.
Their recording also includes the darker “Coventry Carol” and the joyous “Mary Had a Baby”. The former is a sixteenth century English carol that was sung as part of a mystery play. It refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed. “Mary Had a Baby” is said by some to have originated in Trinidad. Others, though, believe it was composed on St. Helena Island, one of South Carolina’s Sea Islands, with portions perhaps dating back to the early eighteenth century, making it one of the few surviving slave-written carols. The recording, however, leads off with the title track, “The Longest Winter,” a lyrical contemporary piece composed by Robinson & Rohe in 2013, underscoring their belief that the themes interwoven throughout this musical program remain timeless in their appeal. In keeping with that sentiment they promise the audience “plenty of opportunities to join in.”
For this special performance of “The Longest Winter: A Christmas Concert and Singalong” there will be no intermission. Instead it will begin at 8:00 p.m. and run straight through to conclusion.