August 12, 2020

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Hoe offers holiday CD to go under fans' trees

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Hoe puts the finishing touches on his upcoming album, Brighten Up the Night.</p></p>


Hoe puts the finishing touches on his upcoming album, Brighten Up the Night.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/12/2019 (244 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Almost a decade ago, JP Hoe, the singer-songwriter and local harbinger of the holidays, released a six-song EP of songs he often played at his annual JP Hoe Hoe Hoe Holiday Show.

At that time, the concert was still on its way to growing into what it has become now; a holiday tradition nearly 16 years deep for many in the city that is able to sell out the Burton Cummings Theatre in just a few days and spark festive feelings by way of silly skits, sentimental songs and stunning sets.

And at this year’s performance, which takes place Friday at the Burt, fans will see a little something special at the merch table — a new holiday album, this time a full-length CD, containing songs previously exclusive to the live show, some new spins on classic carols and a few familiar sounds from the original EP.

"The whole impetus of this album was, it was last minute and I reached out to everybody in the show and said, ‘Listen, would you guys want to go in and record?’ I never know if this is going to be the last year, I’m always cautious, because you never know. But it would really suck if this is the last year and we didn’t have a record of what we’ve done and all these songs we do every year that nobody ever gets to take home," says Hoe.

After two rehearsals, Hoe and his holiday crew — who perform with him on stage each year and include notable Winnipeg names such as Julie Penner, Matthew Harder, Ariane Jean and Jason Pankratz — headed to the studio to work with production duo Moonrise Music Club (Rusty Matyas and Lloyd Peterson) for one week to record the 11 tracks that make up the new record, Brighten Up the Night.

"It’s an album that for me, I don’t have any expectations for it, I just thought it would be a nice thing to do," Hoe says.

But those outside of Winnipeg hoping to snag a copy might be out of luck this year; Hoe has decided not to make Brighten Up the Night available on streaming services, instead only selling a physical copy of the album at the show as a special gift to his fans who have supported the holiday show so thoroughly.

"It’s a different mindset where we’re not going to stream it," Hoe says. "I think I’m looking at it more as like, this was made without grants, this was just a really crazy idea and investment in an industry where there’s no return but we are hoping the good faith we put into make this... we’re making 1,000 copies, so if we can sell 1,000 copies, great, but we’re not going to put it on the streamers this year."

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>JP Hoe (centre) share a laugh with Peterson (left) and Matyas during a recording session.</p></p>


JP Hoe (centre) share a laugh with Peterson (left) and Matyas during a recording session.

The album will be packaged as a little gift and includes additional little item Hoe is making to sweeten the deal. If it doesn’t sell out at the show Friday night, the remaining copies will be available to purchase from Hoe’s website (

"It’s going to be packaged so that you’ve already got a gift you can give to people for Christmas and it will have a download code in it because I know a lot of people don’t have CD players, but we just thought let’s do something in the vein of giving somebody a craft. It’s our audio tin of home-baked cookies we wanted to give, especially to the people who have been coming to the show for years," says Hoe.

"If we get to do this again next year, then we’ll stream it. This year, it’s a Winnipeg thing."

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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