It’s no secret that a certain hit-making Vernon singer-songwriter loves the holiday season.
About to share his fondness for Christmas and all it brings with 700 or so of his hometown fans, Andrew Allen is back at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre for his annual All Hearts Come Home concert.
This year’s performance, Dec. 12, comes on the heels of a Christmas album released last year and a brand, new single (You and I), which Allen is releasing to raise funds for the Canadian Humanitarian and Kids Hope Ethiopia organizations.
Allen has another reason to celebrate the season.
He and his wife, Julia, also from Vernon, recently became parents to a daughter, seven-week-old London Hartley Allen, in October.
“She’s our little peanut,” said Allen, on the phone from his home in Port Moody, where he is now based after spending the past four years travelling back and forth from Los Angeles.
“We are creeping closer and closer back to Vernon.”
Last in L.A. at the beginning of September, Allen has been writing for a handful of artists including Kenzie Nimmo, who is a star on entertainment network Vine, as well as for Toronto DJ/producer duo Project 46.
He also has a song about to be released on Italian singer Marco Mengoni’s album in January.
However, Allen’s own music hasn’t taken a back seat. In fact, he has a new project, with fellow Vancouver musician Cole Friesen, called Hudson Station.
“We found that we meshed well together as two guitarists (besides acoustic guitars, the men also share percussion duties with Allen on stompbox and Friesen on kick drum).
“He flew to L.A. and we started writing together. So far we have been well received. All the songs we’ve been writing are in the lower-voice register. My voice is a bit more smokier, and he’s up range,” said Allen.
With their songs currently being pitched to TV shows, Hudson Station has also been busy playing live. They just wrapped up a performance at the Surrey tree lighting ceremony and also played a headlining set at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern in October.
On Nov. 20, the duo performed Jingle Bells on CTV Vancouver’s Morning Live program.
“We are trying to arrange grants to record and have a studio set up,” said Allen.
On the solo front, Allen has been working with Vancouver producer Ryan Stewart, who produced Allen’s top 40 hits Loving You Tonight, I Want You, and I Wanna Be Your Christmas. The latter song can be found on Allen’s All Hearts Come Home Christmas album, released last year, which also features some traditional holiday songs.
Stewart also engineered Allen’s new single You and I, which was partially recorded in Ethiopia last spring. (A video of the recording can be found on YouTube, and will be available on iTunes.)
“The lion’s share of the recording was done in Canada, but we also recorded the kids singing at a concert I gave in Ethiopia,” said Allen.
Allen raised $4,000 from his All Hearts Come Home concert in Vernon last year and more funds from other events and donations to go towards his trip to Ethiopia, which was arranged by Canadian Humanitarian.
The charity has a music without boundaries initiative, which helps the most at-risk youth in the East African nation find a voice.
“Humanitarian artists recognize that all of us can do something and we don’t have to be bound by corporate interests to have an effect,” said Allen, adding that artists such as Magic!, Tyler Shaw and Project 46 have come on board.
Locals are sure to hear more about Allen’s trip to Ethiopia at his upcoming Christmas concert.
Allen has had some major talent join him at his Vernon concerts in the past (Carly Rae Jepsen and Shawn Hook among them) and this year is no exception.
On the roster is Windmills (Vernon’s Cory Myraas), who has a new album out and recently took part in the Peak Performance Project.
Also performing is Vancouver singer-songwriter Laurell, whose hits include Can’t Stop Falling, produced and written by Ryan Stewart, Unbreakable and the Christmas song All Wrapped Up in You.
“We also have students joining us on stage, some of whom have been with us before,” said Allen, adding the crew will sing a number of Christmas carols and holiday favourites. “We like to change up the songs. We do Deck the Hall that mocks a soca-Caribbean sound with percussive breaks. It starts with a bang.”
Joining Allen in his band will be his Hudson Station cohort Friesen on guitar, Vernon-raised drummer Dan Oldfield, and bassist Natalie Lalonde from Salmon Arm.
“I love Vernon. We have so much fun and the people here are so supportive,” said Allen.
Allen’s all Hearts Come Home Christmas show starts at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30/adult and $25 student/senior, available at the Ticket Seller box office, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.