A Down Home Christmas comes to the Fredericton Playhouse

John and Lisa McLaggan make up Tomato/Tomato, a wife and husband musical duo based out of Saint John, N.B. (Submitted: Tomato/Tomato)

As part of its signature series, the Fredericton Playhouse will be hosting Tomato/Tomato and their holiday tour A Down Home Christmas on Dec. 16. 

Tomato/Tomato is a wife and husband musical duo based out of Saint John, New Brunswick. The band released their first album in 2014 and introduced the world to their folk-based sound.

“I would describe our energy as kind of rootsy, definitely fun and washboard-infused with lots and lots of vocal harmony. I would say it’s quite original,” said Lisa McLaggan, one of the singers and the percussionist for Tomato/Tomato. 

While Tomato/Tomato is usually a two-person show, their holiday tour is different. For A Down Home Christmas, they bring a full band along with them. This year, they will be featuring Ray Legere, a N.B.-based fiddler and mandolinist. 

“It is a family friendly holiday tradition. We play our own original holiday music as well as traditional and newly-arranged standards. So there’s definitely something for everyone,” said McLaggan. 

The Christmas tour began in 2017 after the release of Tomato/Tomato’s holiday album Pinecones and Cinnamon in November of that year. They’ve been presenting it annually ever since. 

For McLaggan, the tour is special, because it is the only time that she and her husband ever bring their daughter on stage with them. 

“It’s definitely a special treat when our daughter joins us on stage,” said McLaggan. “She travels with us quite a bit, but the only time she ever performed with us is during these Christmas shows. So it’s kind of a special moment when she’s up on stage singing with us.”

As a result of this family performance, being with the full band and the holiday spirit, McLaggan said the Christmas tour always is memorable. 

“In a way, there’s a little bit of magic to [the Christmas tour] that we only get to experience during the holidays. It’s that special feeling that only the holidays can bring,” she said. 

McLaggan is especially excited for this year’s tour, as it was originally booked to take place in 2020 before being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It feels like an extra special homecoming … I get the feeling that people are ready to go see live music again. It would be quite an honour to be one of the first shows that people come to see as they’re venturing out of their homes again for the first time in the last two years,” she said. 

Tim Yerxa, director of the Fredericton Playhouse, is also excited for the performance and for people to see the duo in-person.

“Tomato/Tomato are really well-known for their live show … Because they’re a husband and wife team, they bring a certain kind of dynamic to the stage and they’re a lot of fun,” said Yerxa. 

Yerxa said concerts like this one play a huge part in Christmas. He hopes that A Down Home Christmas will bring people joy and remind them of the “festive elements” of the busy season. 

“Christmas and music are intrinsically tied together and also going to live shows. Whether those are plays or going to the Nutcracker, or a Christmas concert,” he said. “It’s culturally part of how we celebrate the season from a very young age.”