Off White Christmas is a full-length collaboration between roots rockers Bob Wire and Chip Whitson. The two guitar-slinging songwriters have been thrilling crowds in several bands for more than 20 years, and they both have their stories about what brought them to the idea of recording an album of all-original Christmas music.
Chip's story: Chip moved from Denver to Missoula, Montana at the age of 13. At that point he was just a guy who dreamed about playing guitar and being in a band. It was after that move that he discovered a thriving music scene in Missoula. With a little help from his Dad he scored his first Strat copy and started his first band immediately. (Knowing how to play guitar seemed secondary at that point).
With some lessons and direction from Montana guitar legend Erik “Fingers” Ray, Chip began his life as a band guy, songwriter, and dead end job worker. He played in several fairly successful bands throughout the eighties, covering INXS, Billy Idol, Talking Heads, etc. No matter the venue the gig always closed with some Chuck Berry, Stray Cats, or Jerry Lee Lewis. It was the rootsy, rockabilly, blues-laced stuff that he loved most, and seemed to be the “11″ when faced with the need to turn it up to 11 for the crowd.
It was sometime in the nineties that he first hooked up with Bob Wire. They both shared a love of roots based rock and honky tonk. The pairing seemed a natural, and shortly after hooking up they recorded and released the eleven song rockabilly cassette “Tremblin’ In My Boots.” The local release garnered a rave review from the publication Blue Suede News. In the past decade or so Chip has moved from Missoula to Idaho, then to Hawaii, and then to Washington. Married a beautiful woman, and fathered boys that are very musical in their own right. He currently enjoys playing rockabilly in Spokane, WA with his trio The SpoCats.
Chip and Bob have stayed in touch the whole time and finally decided to pull the trigger on doing a full length album project. Not just any album, but a Christmas record. Hoping you pick up a copy and enjoy some great rootsy, driving, fun, clever, all new original Christmas songs.
Bob's story: Part hillbilly, part beatnik, part ball hog, part tug boat, Bob Wire wears many hats in his pursuit of entertaining the masses.
As a musician, Bob hit the scene in Missoula, Montana around 1993, where he moved from Seattle just as grunge was breaking. At that time no one in Seattle wanted anything to do with a guy who wore vintage cowboy shirts and played old songs by Buck, Johnny, Hank and Merle. So Bob came East and settled in the mountain-ringed railroad town where his daddy grew up.
Shortly after arriving, Bob placed an ad in the local weekly: “Singer/guitarist seeks band. Style: Johnny Cash shoves an M-80 up Hank Williams’ ass and Elvis lights the fuse.” He soon got a phone call from Chip Whitson, who invited Bob down to the club to see his three-piece band, the Small Town Deputies. Chip told Bob they weren’t looking for a fourth, they just wanted to see who wrote the ad.
Two years later Chip, Bob and Chip’s brother Garth recorded the ten song cassette, Tremblin’ In My Boots, as a rockabilly experiment. Before they could take it any further, Chip was snapped up by a lucrative show band, and Bob and Garth formed Missoula’s legendary Fencemenders. That band went on to rule the scene in Missoula for nearly ten years, being voted Best Local Band by the Missoula Independent reader’s poll twice (it would have been three times if Bob’s bass player and wife had bothered to vote!)
In 2005 Bob formed a new band, the Magnificent Bastards, and in the next five years wrote and recorded three CDs of original material, in a style he dubbed “Maximum Honky Tonk.” He continued to play clubs and festivals throughout western Montana, and was named Missoula’s Enterainer of the Year in 2007.
Throughout the years, Bob maintained contact with his good friend Chip. During a fortuitous summertime lunch at Waddell’s burger joint in Spokane, they decided to write a Christmas album together. They spent the summer writing songs, and Bob recruited a handful of musicians in Missoula to help them record in the fall. During a songwriting session at Chip’s Spokane home in September, the two friends even wrote a duet, “I Can’t Believe It’s Christmastime Again,” designed specifically for Bob and his wife to sing. The song also features Bob’s kids, Rusty and Speaker, playing bass and viola, respectively.
Off White Christmas was recorded in Missoula in Bob’s home studio, the Hilltop Basement Recording Complex and Grille.
Other musicians performing on the album are Rick Waldorf of the Live Wire Choir on bass, "Cousin" Bob Sularz of the Magnificent Bastards on drums, Russ Parsons on piano, and the "Snow Angels" on backing vocals.