There is nothing that captures the mood of the yuletide season like hearing your favorite Christmas songs. The opening notes of holiday classics instantly elicit fond memories of past Christmases with family and friends, as well as adding to the excitement and enjoyment of the current season.
No Christmas parade, tree lighting ceremony or holiday event would be complete without live music from local performers. Fortunately, Hendersonville is home to a large number of talented musical artists who happily share their gifts each holiday season.
One of the most popular local performing groups is Rockland Road. Comprised of Paul and Jamie Martin and their four children, March (22), Kell (19), Texas (15) and Tallant (13), Rockland Road is well-known for providing exciting shows filled with melodic vocals and rich instrumentation.
The Martin family is a product of a rich heritage that spans four generations of country, pop and gospel music. Paul is a Grammy-winning musician who was the lead singer for country and pop music supergroup Exile. Subsequently, he performed with a variety of other entertainers, including Country Music Hall of Fame members Marty Stuart and the Oak Ridge Boys, before forming Rockland Road.
Jamie Martin also comes from deep musical roots. The daughter of Oak Ridge Boy and Country Music Hall of Fame member Duane Allen, Jamie practically grew up in her parent’s recording studio, which was located on Rockland Road in Hendersonville. Constantly surrounded by vocalists and instrumentalists, Jamie was destined to pursue a musical career.
After their marriage, Paul and Jamie continued on their musical journey, even after their four children were born. Over time, they discovered that their family’s musical lineage had been passed on to their children, as each demonstrated strong vocal and instrumental talents. This realization led to the formation of their family band in 2010.
“When Jamie and I saw the talent and passion that our children had for music, we knew that we wanted to perform with them as a family – there was no other choice,” says Paul. “From the very beginning, we considered March, Kell, Texas and Tallant to be fellow performers, not just our kids.”
Originally, the band was called the Martin Family Circus, in acknowledgement of the group’s familial relationships. However, in 2018, the Martins decided to change the band’s name to Rockland Road.
“After talking with several industry friends, we became concerned that Martin Family Circus sounded like the name of a novelty band, and that it could limit our reach,” says Paul. “After considering several other names, we settled on Rockland Road, in recognition of a part of Hendersonville that has great meaning for us.”
Over the years, the group has performed at many famous venues, including the White House, the Library of Congress, the Grand Old Opry and even a country music cruise. However, the group always loves to perform close to home whenever possible, particularly during the holiday season.
“There’s just something special about performing Christmas music in your own backyard before a crowd filled with smiling friends and neighbors,” says Jamie. “Although the pandemic has limited our shows this year, we still were able to schedule the Hometown Jam Benefit for Christmas 4 Kids on Nov. 7 and a holiday concert at the Palace Theater in Gallatin on Dec. 22.”
Every year, Rockland Road develops Christmas set lists that includes songs meant to delight both young and old.
“Our Christmas shows contain a blend of traditional favorites, new songs by contemporary artists and fresh music written by some of our songwriter friends,” says Jamie. “We try to keep things upbeat, fresh and fun for our audiences,” says Jamie.
Like most families, the Martins have a number of holiday customs that they look forward to each year. One of their favorite traditions is going Christmas caroling.
“Growing up, Mom and Dad always taught us that the greatest gift that we can give is not a tangible, purchased thing, but rather our time,” says March. “Every year, we love to pile up in our car, drive over to our friends’ houses unsolicited, knock on their doors and sing Christmas carols for them. Sometimes, we even pick out random homes around town and surprise the residents with our songs.”
As 2020 draws near to a close, Rockland Road would like to make a special wish for the world.
“We hope and pray that everyone will learn to love their lives right where they are, love the families they have and enjoy the time they have been given,” says Jamie. “People need to remember that here in the present, we are building the memories that we will treasure together in the future.”
Sidebar: Rockland Road’s Three Favorite Christmas Songs To Perform
· The Christ Child Lullaby
“Kathy Mattea used to perform this song during her holiday shows when I toured with her,” says Paul. “We developed our own version which includes complex harmonies that really showcase the vocal talents of our kids.”
· The Christmas Song
“We perform a very simple version of this Christmas classic featuring the pure sweet voice of Tallant,” says March. “The only instrumentation is Dad accompanying Tallant on guitar.”
· Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
“We have a very special version of this old song,” says Jamie. “Our arrangement features a lot of doo-wop style harmonies blended with heavy guitar riffs.”