This eagerly-awaited sequel to "An Altared Christmas, Volume 1"
sets us down into the midst of a typical holiday party.

When a fragrant, delicious fruitcake mysteriously appears, the unsuspecting revelers find it simply too hard to resist, and with each bite finding their minds and ears mysteriously opening, they are slowly carried into a musical world wherein the holiday songs of yore, with their original lyrics, are somehow transformed into something odd and new.

You too, can be witness to that same alchemy, for you can have in your hand that magical set of songs, transformed to a higher power, skewed and skewered yet reproduced with reverence, once again brought to you from that long-unknown musical universe we now know as
... The Altared Zone!
RHAN WILSON: The Return of An Altared Christmas $12.99
RHAN WILSON: An Altared Christmas $12.99
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This is a partial list of radio stations that have played
"The Return of An Altared Christmas"

KPIG, Santa Cruz, CA
KUSP, Santa Cruz, CA
KPFA, Berkeley, CA
KBOO, Portland, OR
KLCC, Eugene, OR

"The strangest disc of all, however, is Rhan Wilson’s “The Return of An Altared Christmas”, wherein Rhan takes Christmas lightweights such as that awful “grandma” song and twists them into much darker, often jazzier numbers.  It is one of my must-haves this year."

From The Post-Crescent,
Appleton-Menasha-Neenah, Wisconsin

Click here to read the whole article.

"Rhan Wilson has put out another album of his altared Christmas songs... really interesting stuff... okay, that's pretty weird and wonderful I must say. ... a whole new collection of twisted versions of familiar tunes. Really, really fun stuff..."

– David Gans

Regarding the track "Grandma Got Runover By A Reindeer" that he played on his KPFA Public Radio show "Dead To The World

Listen to it here!

Rhan Wilson's minor-key muse rages on, unabated:

In his previous release, An Altared Christmas, Wilson sandwiched a few novelty songs between several other minor-key but otherwise straight renditions of well-known songs. (His weird, haunting Jingle Bells is unforgettable.) This time around he has abandoned any semblance of normalcy. In The Return of an Altared Christmas, a lowly fruitcake launches a magical mystery tour through a set of holiday standards, standards performed by Wilson and his cohorts in a decidedly non-standard way.

Wilson enjoys the interplay between music and spoken word performance. In spite of its Rod Serling, Twilight Zone style introduction, the work is best understood as a radio play. Informed by The Firesign Theatre, his production juxtaposes familiar songs and holiday images with absurd situations and ironic arrangements embedded in the vehicle of linear radio drama. A master of wry irony, Wilson uses pop, R&B and Klezmer arrangements to tell an outlandish Christmas Story. The ensemble cast are wonderful, but the mood is helped along primarily by instrumentalists Bob Burnett, mandolin and guitar, Gary Regina, saxophone, Mark Sowlakis, clarinets, and The Great Morgani, accordion. The highlight of The Return is an extended semi-hip hop retelling of the tragic Dr. Elmo classic, Grandmother Got Run Over By A Reindeer, with Rhan playing the grieving grandson and Dana Hutson his suspicious interlocutor.

Never background music, Wilson's exorcism plays out as serious farce meant to challenge and entertain self-aware post-modern listeners of all ages. The only thing necessary to enjoying The Return of an Altared Christmas is the ability to suspend disbelief that San Francisco hipsters eat fruitcakes.

--Richard Banks


“The Return of an Altared Christmas”
Rhan Wilson

Exceedingly more cerebral than anything Weird Al Yankovic has ever done, Rhan Wilson’s subtle send up of Christmas standards, “The Return of an Altared Christmas,” is a fresh, often hilarious and sometimes brilliant take on familiar holiday favorites.
Wilson, who resides in NEPA for part of the year and did most of the mixing for the CD in his home studio, uses original lyrics and components of known tunes, changing the tone of each song by playing it in a minor key and altering its arrangement, tempo and style.
At his best, Wilson uses the subtle subtext of each song to pull it inside out, focusing on such things as a young child’s fear of Santa Claus (“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”), or the true tragedy of a loved one’s death (“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”) for rich comic fodder.
Other instances merely present songs in a different genre using Middle Eastern, jazz and polka style music to spin modern classics into a parallel, Bizzaro musical realm.
While the entire collection is intended as a themed play -blaming a special fruitcake for the odd interpretations- most of the selections stand well on their own, much like oddly colored ornaments on an upside down Christmas tree.

Rating: B
-Joe Student, Weekender Editor

From The Weekender, Wilkes-Barre, PA


While most associate the lilting, frolicking tone of the spoof Christmas song "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" with comedy, musician Rhan Wilson hears it differently.

On his latest CD release "The Return of an Altared Christmas," available at all Gallery of Sound stores, Wilson, 45, presents well known Christmas songs like "Grandma," and others, all in minor keys, radically altering the delivery of the selections with humorous results.

"People see (the song) as this peppy and happy tale, but it's actually an awful, tragic story of Grandma being struck and killed on Christmas Eve," Wilson said.

"We brought out the 'true meaning' of the song."

A native Californian, Wilson, who spends half of each year at a home near Sweet Valley, tells the story in spoken-word style, while the backing vocal/commentary of Dana Hutson is completely over-the-top -just as Wilson intended.

"It's basically a back-up singer gone wrong," Wilson said while laughing.

"I told her to step all over me and she did. It turned out to be hilarious."

Wilson also uses Middle Eastern and Klezmer arrangements on many of the songs on "Return."

On "Santa Claus is Coming To Town," on which Wilson uses childhood fears as his mantra, the end result is more Halloween than Christmas.
'Santa Claus is Coming To Town' ..well, is that a threat or a promise? It didn't start out down that path, but eventually it became very creepy...," Wilson said.

His first CD, "An Altared Christmas" used similar tweaking with similar results.

"I just got tired of hearing god-awful Christmas songs. There are so many out there that are just made to sell records and they're so unoriginal... I thought people would appreciate a different sound."

-Joe Student, Weekender Editor

From The Weekender, Wilkes-Barre, PA