An already twisted holiday classic gets a new twist, as The Handsome Devils do a contemporary riff on Grandma-related Yuletide warnings.
Picking up on the undercurrent of skepticism surrounding COVID-19 and its transmission, musician Bill Hamilton started kicking around a tune based on the 1979 Elmo & Patsy novelty classic, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”
“When the original song hit back in the day, it was a huge hit where I grew up—Jackson, Mississippi,” said Hamilton. “Sometime after Thanksgiving of this year I was walking to work at the Neumann Leather Building, and it was running through my head, but with a twist.”
Bill Hamilton is an instrumental fixture in the Hudson County music scene. Among other things, he hosts his own online variety program, “Bill’s Space Show,” shot primarily at his studio within the Neumann Leather Building. With Corornavirus, a.k.a. “The ‘Rona,” still running rampant across the country, Hamilton wanted to do a send-up of the pushback against warnings related to COVID-19’s ongoing spread. After sharing the lyrics, the tune caught on.
“I posted the lyrics to the chorus I’d come up with on social media and asked if I should record it,” said Hamilton. “The slightly warmer-than-tepid response was just enough that I had to indulge both myself and my band—The Handsome Devils.”
The Handsome Devils feature Hamilton on guitar, with Liam Brown on keys, Tom Costagliola on drums, David Ribyat on guitar, and Damien Marianucci on bass.
“Liam and I had been talking about putting something together for a couple of years,” said Hamilton. “Tom I’ve been playing with for a good while, and he was into it and ready to go. While I had played in several bands over the years with David (or Dr Ribs as he’s known in the band) he was rarely on guitar. He is a brilliant multi-instrumentalist, but guitar is his main instrument, so that’s been a lot of fun. Rounding out the sound is Damien who I hadn’t had the chance to play with before, so that’s been a real treat.”
Unfortunately for all of us, The Handsome Devils haven’t been able to show their faces anywhere over the past few months.
“We played all of one gig in December of 2019 at Finnegan’s. Our next gig was to be on March 14, 2020.”
On March 14, Hoboken announced that bars and restaurants were to close due to COVID-19.
“I actually had two gigs to play that day, and it was going to be the launch of a spring season of Bill’s Space Show concerts and events,” said Hamilton. “Obviously, that didn’t happen.”
Quarantine has been hard on all of us—particularly difficult for musicians and artists who now have limited options when it comes to performing.
“People are tired of it, but we have to keep on staying physically distant,” said Hamilton. “So I thought it would be nice to take a breath and hopefully laugh a bit in these tough times.”
The video was shot at Bill’s otherwise empty studio in Hoboken.
“Before the lockdown started I outfitted the Space with a new PA and some additional recording equipment so that we could more easily document our shows,” he said. “While we can’t have an audience yet, we can have a band come in, record and shoot video or do a live stream of their performance.”
Bill recognizes that the sooner we all get the ‘Rona under control, the sooner we can all go back to enjoying the creativity and company of those around us. In the meantime, he’s doing what he can with the resources he has.
“I hope we can do more of this kind of stuff with my bands and others until the day we can have a fully attended concert in the Space.”
We’re all looking forward to that…
Here are The Handsome Devils, with “Grandma”: