The Holy Hootenanners: It’s Time To Let It Go

Paul Whyte

I saw this band on the final day of Homegrown 2014. It was a warm sunny Sunday and the sunlight beamed through the floor to almost ceiling level windows of Canal Park Brewery. The music was mostly original, but unmistakably traditional gospel in its feel. Some might be thinking, “Paul, you like hardcore punk, experimental and metal music, how can you say you can appreciate a traditional gospel/Christian band?” Well, the answer to that is because it’s good.

My personal beliefs do not really come into play with a band like this. I’ve always felt that if a person’s faith helps them be a better person, then more power to them. I’ll save the debate of what God is right and if there even is one. If one were to just lay down their beliefs for a second and listen to this, there’s plenty of wisdom and uplifting things that people might be able to just get out of themselves, or if they believe, from a higher power.

Music is about understanding in a way. Grief, anger, love…there is often some weight behind the message that music delivers. This album’s message is ultimately one of hope. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong because I don’t really know. Overall, one’s faith and interpretation of life and what gets them through is up to them.  What I do know is that this group is impressive and they’ve captured the soul of what this music is supposed to be very well. In the end, that’s what counts in my book.

The song begins with the title track “It’s Time To Let It Go.” It really doesn’t matter what you believe in, but this is pretty sound advice. This band has a lot of members and the intensity from the vocal harmonies is locked in. The group comes from the Mahtowa Salem Lutheran Church. There are around a dozen members in the group and they create a mesmerizing sound.

The feel of this album isn’t overly preachy. If someone has a closed mind, then perhaps they’ll dislike this music. For what it is, I find it to be well done and open to be appreciated by almost anyone who might believe that a man named Jesus at one time did exist.

There is something undeniably human to the music. This isn’t music that’s just trying to make it seem like they are “holier than thou.” The track “Understand it Better By & By” illustrates this well. Most of the tracks actually have a recognition of human weakness while looking towards the higher powers of Jesus and God. This aspect creates something that many can at least relate to. No matter what one believes, no one is really perfect.

The group brings in traditional tunes such as “Eyes on the Prize.” This version has a little bit of a funky vibe. There are plenty of vocal harmonies and decent musicianship throughout the album, but on this track the old time saloon feeling piano/key work by Caleb Anderson really shines.

Sometimes the album does turn a little preachy with tracks like “Just a Little Talk With Jesus.” Again, it’s fine if having faith is helping someone out, I’d enjoy to talk to Jesus if I had the chance, but that is more or less impossible. If I get to talk to Buddha someday, I’d also gladly share what he has to say. We’re left with the writings that use him as an example. I’m not going to fault anyone on doing that, in fact I’d actually encourage people to follow Christ’s teachings. The world would be a lot better place if all those who said they were Christian actually were. That’s the thing that gets me, is there’s a lot of people who say they follow him and they are kind of awful people. Not kind of, they have countless innocents on their hands. This isn’t really about this band, but more about all of the corruption and horrible things that have happened in Christ’s name.

In a way The Holy Hootenanners makes me think about Christianity the way it should be looked at. We’re imperfect, we all make mistakes and maybe, just maybe, there’s something better if we just have some faith.

Although this band is Lutheran, I’d suggest it to anyone with Christian beliefs or even those who want a fresh and lively album to listen to. It’s a dozen people singing and playing some truly inspirational songs that truly pulls on some relatable issues that might happen in life. Yes, I am recommending that you listen to a Christian band.