After years of performing at huge festivals like Kerrville and South by Southwest, folk musicians Milo and Rachel Deering decided to settle down in Preston Hollow.
“It became more about family,” says Milo, an accomplished instrumentalist who toured the country with famous artists such as LeAnn Rimes and Jack Ingram. “It’s hard to do both. There are a lot of break-ups.”
Milo and Rachel chose family and, to satisfy their musical appetite, they started a holiday tradition, the Christmas Jam. For the past nine years, they’ve been performing sold-out shows with their two daughters, Scarlett and Savannah. They’ve recorded three volumes of Christmas songs in their own folk and bluegrass style. For instance, the typically dramatic “O Holy Night” takes on a more upbeat tone.
“It’s not what you’d expect,” Rachel says. “It’s a family tradition. The holidays are about family. We argue about who’s going to sing what harmony.”
Milo has mastered every country and bluegrass instrument available, including the guitar, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, pedal steel guitar and harmonica.
Rachel does most of the singing.
“I never tried to sound like anyone,” she says. “I just tried to find my own voice.”
Milo grew up watching old cartoons from Warner Brothers and Looney Tunes and inadvertently drew some musical influences from them.
“A lot of the cartoon music is really creative,” he says. “I’ll write something and then realize I got it from a Popeye cartoon.”
Although the American music landscape has changed over the years, old-time folk music still has its place, Rachel says.
“Milo is really great because of the complexity of the instrumentals and how they harmonize so well with each other. And when performed for an audience, it’s absolutely relevant to today’s music.”
• To find out where Milo and Rachel Deering will perform this season, check their schedule at acoustickitchen.com. There, you also can buy a CD or a jar of Rachel Deering’s cranberry-jalapeño Christmas Jam.
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