First Tracks: Chamomile and Whiskey Premieres New Christmas Song

Chamomile and Whiskey set a lonesome scene in “First Christmas Without You,” a live single being released for the holidays that premieres today at Blue Ridge Outdoors.

The sad country ballad was written by band front man Koda Kerl’s late father, who penned the song following a break-up. The mournful tune contains vivid imagery of passing time during the holidays alone after a relationship ends, with the sentiment enhanced by Kerl’s somber vocals and fiddler Marie Borgman’s plaintive bow work.

“After he passed away the song took on a new meaning for me and I thought it would be cathartic to play it,” Kerl said of adding his father’s tune to his Virginia-based group’s repertoire. “I recorded a version last year that we released online, and my bandmates all liked it so much that we decided to do a live version.”

The fresh take on “First Christmas Without You” was recorded in the band’s hometown of Charlottesville at long-standing local dive bar Durty Nelly’s Pub, and the performance was filmed by well-known photographer Rich Tarbell. Of the laid-back session Kerl said the band “stoked the fire and poured a little whiskey (and) once we hit record it only took a couple of takes.”

Known for roots-based genre blending, Chamomile and Whiskey released their latest full-length album, “Red Clay Heart,” last year. That effort was recorded in Nashville with producer Ken Coomer, known for his time with Wilco and Uncle Tupelo. 

The group will end 2021 with a special hometown show at Charlottesville’s Fry’s Spring Beach Club. The performance, billed as A Heartbreaker’s New Year’s Eve, will feature special guests and a Tom Petty tribute set. Tickets are available here.

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