In my 10 years of living as a professional touring musician, I’ve learned a whole new appreciation of hospitality. Bands all over the world that play ska, punk, reggae or rockabilly know of a crash pad in Richmond Hills if they roll through California’s Bay Area. These bands know the musician haven as Strange Manor.
The house was originally claimed by a band from Honolulu, Hawaii called Red Session. The ska/punk band moved to the Bay Area in hopes of more tours and gaining a larger fan base. Over the years, the band became smaller as some members went back to the islands and eventually the name Red Session fizzled out. However the band’s remaining members continued to rent the house and kept the “Aloha Spirit” with their neighboring musicians.
With countless BBQ’s and other themed get-togethers, Strange Manor has gained a world-wide reputation with tattooed, pierced and multi-color haired musicians. Bands on tour know that the multi-leveled house welcomes musicians to crash a day or two while in town and even utilize the soundproofed practice/recording room.
This room is one of the key incentives for the tenants of Strange Manor. Being that majority of them are musicians themselves, their bands have a home base to practice and record demos. For the past 5 years now, it has been a tradition for the rotating cast of live-ins to collaborate on an annual Christmas album. The song selection is nothing new, consisting of traditional holiday cover tunes or some Weird Al-esque parody. What makes these albums brilliant is the multitude of genres in which they record these seasonal favorites. The arrangements on these volumes are what makes them original.
Strange Manor now has a library of 5 volumes, consisting of almost every holiday hit your local contemporary radio station will annually churn out. In the same giving spirit that Red Session once instituted, all of these volumes are free. Yes, volumes 1-5 can be downloaded here.
If you’re not sold on downloading some free music yet, these album covers alone should entice you for a listen.