STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
email@example.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitter
The Oh Hellos principals Tyler and Maggie Heath have great memories of “lots of Heath family traditions” throughout their lives. Most of them good.
That’s why the brother-sister duo and their band have launched what’s planned to be an annual Christmas Extravaganza tour, not only playing music — which is a big part of the family gatherings — but also dancing, bad jokes and maybe the odd holiday-centric cocktail or two. And they have “The Oh Hellos Family Christmas Album” to take home as well.
The tour catches the folky duo in-between projects. Its last album “Dear Wormwood,” came out in 2015, and new music is in the offering. For now, however, it’s taking back seat to some unapologetic seasonal revelry…
• The Christmas Extravaganza is something the Heaths have wanted to take on the road for quite some time. “Three years ago we put out the (‘Family Christmas Album’). We had a great time recording it and we really liked the music, and we never really got a chance to play it,” says Maggie, 24. Tyler, 28, adds that, “Every years since we recorded it we said to ourselves, ‘This should be the year we do a Christmas tour. It never panned out until this year. We began to demand from our team, ‘Can we please set this up? This will be so much fun.’ It finally came together, and we’re really excited about it.”
• So what’s a Heath family Christmas really like? “Our family is very encouraging but in kind of a bullying way,” Tyler says. “When Mag and I were growing up, when we would have big, extended family gatherings on our mom side, there was a point in the evening where in the middle of everyone having fun, people would say, ‘Play for us!’ So everyone would get out their French horns or sit at the piano and break out their songbook and performing for everyone. We would have many recitals, little concerts of all us kids doing our darndest to play our instruments. And then our whole family would go to Christmas Eve services together.
• The Christmas Extravaganza show, then, “is trying to capture the spirit of what it felt like being a child for Christmas in a family like that,” says Maggie. There is one other regular tradition, however, that Tyler refuses to divulge “because there’s an element of crowd participation that we want to keep a surprise.”
• The Heaths will be back in their native San Marcos, Texas, to spend the holidays with families — only now the performance part is a bit different since they became a recording and touring act. “It’s required of us that’s going to happen, which is fine,” he says. “Now there are specific requests. It’s just flattering our family appreciates and supports what we do.”
• A third full-length Oh Hellos! album is in motion, but both Heaths caution against fans holding their breath too long waiting for it to surface. “We’ve started the process of writing again,” Maggie says. “It’s pretty early stages, not enough form for it for us to start talking about what we’re doing. But we are writing. And we’re excited about what we’ve got so far. But we’re not in a hurry — yet.”
If You Go:
• The Oh Hellos! Christmas Extravaganza
• Friday, Dec. 16. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show is at 8:30
• Union Transfer in Philadelphia.
• Tickets and more information: http://www.utphilly.com/