It sounds like the opening of a very offensive joke: What do you get when you cram a few hundred Mormons, Jack Mormons, and so-called Utah gentiles of every persuasion into a Masonic Temple to celebrate the hymns of Christmas?
A one-of-a-kind, moving concert.
Most of the holiday music played at the Dec. 15 concert was developed for the Utah musical group Lower Lights’ Christmas CD, "Come Let Us Adore Us" and offered a twangy roots sound. The 20-member group somehow made the seasonal hymns and carols sound freshly authentic after years of mauling by the likes of Andy Williams, Mariah Carey, David Archuleta and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
"We wanted to hear our take on these songs that are kind of cultural wallpaper," musician Paul Jacobsen told The Tribune earlier this month.
It turns out the 20-member collective’s take is delightful and often moving. Fiddler Ryan Shupe killed in the performance of "Little Drummer Boy," if it’s possible, let alone appropriate, to "kill" on a Christmas song.
And vocalists Sarah Sample, Cherie Call and Debra Fotheringham blended the memory of the Andrews Sisters with that of Gene Autry to create the single best rendition of "White Christmas,"since it emerged in the classic 1942 movie "Holiday Inn."
Lower Lights took the audience on a fervent ride with "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (Jacobsen and Dominic Moore), and a knock-out version of Hank Williams "House of Gold."
Finally, the intimate Salt Lake Mason Temple auditorium was one of the stars of the show itself by providing a faux canopy of stars for standards like "Silent Night and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
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