Johl Chato has released a five-song Christmas album titled Dreaming of a Green Christmas that features cannabis-themed parody songs of classic Christmas tunes. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Grand Forks artist plays pot riff on classic Christmas carols

‘Rudolph the Red-Eyed Reindeer,’ ‘Let it Grow’ and ‘Green Christmas’ are on Johl Chato’s holiday album

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, but do you know Chronic and Que-P and Doobie and Blitzy? Or perhaps even the most notorious of them all, Rudolph the red-eyed reindeer?

Grand Forks musician Johl Chato, known to friends as Jam, is hoping to introduce the alternative team of reindeer and his pot-based parody songs to new audiences this holiday season by releasing his holiday album, Dreaming of a Green Christmas.

Chato, who produces songs through the name Blaze of Grass, said that he’d been kicking around the idea for a Christmas parody album for more than a decade before he enlisted the help of a jazz singer from Victoria (who goes by the name High Grade on Chato’s project), a drummer from Vancouver and local music producer Sacha Pétulli to reimagine the classic sounds of malls and coffee shops at Christmas time.

“I’m hungry for a little bit of change and a little bit of evolution with our Christmas carols,” Chato said. “Like, who’s ready for breath fresh air here?”

“Rudolph the Red-Eyed Reindeer,” “Let it Grow,” Little Trimmer Boy,” “Sativa is Coming Around” and “Green Christmas” (based off the classic “White Christmas” and not Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas,” to be clear) round out a jazzy album that, were it not for its lyrical content, could well be played alongside Michael Bublé at a mall.

Oddly enough, that’s how the idea first came to Chato.

Listening to radio playing at the store, he said, “It just happens off the cuff,” and the words begin to replace themselves. Though, Chato said, he tries to “match the spirit of the original” with every parody.

“’Rudolph the Red-Eyed Reindeer’, it sort of just fell into place,” Chato said. While his version keeps the melody and general premise, the reggae infusion at the first chorus sets Chato’s song apart from the Christmas canon.

Painting the character through a hashy haze, Chato said, is his version of the chants that carollers mimicked as children – the “like Monopoly!” line-ender in original version of the song he parodied, or even like the “Jingle bells, Batman smells,” version of the holiday classic.

The other four songs on his debut Christmas album released online, though sung with a wry smile, came from a more serious place.

“I decided that I needed to do an album to really substantiate my platform that I’m not a one hit wonder like, I really am a cannabis parody man.”

So, he thought through other Christmas songs and compared them to cannabis-based stories, language and humour and weeded out the ones that just wouldn’t fit the bill.

“When it comes down to it,” Chato explained, “you only have so many synonyms and adjectives for cannabis.” Some expressions just didn’t fit. Nevertheless, the lyricist said, “Sometimes I’ll give up on them, but sometimes I’ll just build and chip and chip and then it just comes out.”

Chato’s repertoire expands beyond December songs too – he’s also got a parody of The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” (“Behind Green Highs”) and the theme song to the 1970s sitcom Happy Days (“Hashy Daze”).

For the “Weed Al” of Grand Forks, cannabis-related riffs on old classics is part of legalization and a second coming of social acceptance for pot, which was criminalized in Canada in 1923.

“I’m hoping that [cannabis] will sort of be an industry that will grow – no pun intended – to have these spin-off industries too,” Chato said.


@jensenedw
Jensen.edwards@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford mosque gets online hate for exhibit on Jesus

Event meant to bring community together gets attacked teaching religous differences

Hail to the chief: Mission names new top firefighter

Mark Goddard is Mission’s new fire chief

Homeless count is coming to the Fraser Valley to help track the numbers

Training Feb. 27 in Chilliwack to help volunteers adopt respectful and compassionate approach

Photos of masked-marijuana-clinic robber released by Abbotsford police

Gunman robbed dispensary for cash and weed, still at large

Woman in Fraser Health region confirmed as sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

VIDEO: Abbotsford senior recalls ‘crazy’ decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Petition slams Victoria councillor who chastised police after Wetsuweten protest

Ben Isitt calls effort to get him suspended is not a ‘reliable barometer of public opinion’

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

PHOTOS: 2020 BC Winter Games kick off in Fort St. John

More than 1,000 of B.C.’s best athletes will be competing over the next three days

Kara-Kata Afrobeat Band coming to Mission

Celebrate Black History Month with a special event planned for Saturday, Feb. 29 at The Railyard

LETTER: Thanks to our first responders

Need to stop complaining about them and offer thanks to them all.

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

‘Usain Bolt he was not’: B.C. gang police seize drugs, cash after foot chase

‘The man took off running when he saw our officers approaching,’ CFSEU BC says

Most Read