Scott Moreau is one of 11 Maine artists contributing to a holiday compilation album to benefit the Chocolate Church Arts Center. Courtesy / Chocolate Church Arts Center

BATH — A new holiday compilation album from the Chocolate Church Arts Center is featuring new recordings of original works and classic holiday music by artists that fans of the center will recognize.

The compilation is available on the center’s website at chocolatechurcharts.org and features 11 Maine artists. It may be streamed for free or downloaded for $10, with all proceeds benefiting the center. William Lederer, the center’s executive director, said the center usually hosts multiple in-person concerts during the holiday season. With the pandemic, he said, that’s not possible, hence the album, which is a first for the center.

“We were looking for other ways to get music out, shine some lights on local artists,” he said.

Lederer said he put out the call to local artists who had performed over the summer in a series of outdoor concerts connected with the center. Rock guitarist Peter Blachley, who performs under the stage name Peter Alexander, is one of the album’s contributors, and said agreeing to take part was easy.

“I jumped at the opportunity,” he said. “I definitely want to support them.”

Blachley did a recording of “City of Bath Christmas,” a lighthearted original tune he wrote back in 2014.

“I had it put away and had completely forgotten about it,” he said.

Pianist Heather Pierson also welcomed the chance to record music to support the center.

“I love the Chocolate Church,” she said. “It’s a great center. I’ve loved performing there.”

Pierson, together with her partner Shawn Nadeau on bass, did a jazzy recording of the classic Christmas carol, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” Pierson said she has been playing with Nadeau for 10 years now, and the duo’s instrumental take on the carol fits their musical style.

“A lot of what we do is flavored with jazz,” she said.

Pierson understands how the pandemic has limited opportunities for musical artists. She said in a typical year she will tour nationwide, but in 2020 she, like other artists, has been forced to adapt to livestreaming music instead of traditional tours.

“We’re all finding these ways to stay creative,” she said.

Scott Moreau, who has found local fame as a Johnny Cash tribute artist, said the compilation was a chance for him to break out of the usual soul, rock and country hybrid music he is used to.

“I really wanted to do something different,” he said.

Moreau did a rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” in what he described as more of an American folk/rock style, in line with folk singers/songwriters such as Rodney Crowell or Emmylou Harris.

The song, he said, has a personal meaning for him. A native of Bath, he said he still remembers his first professional touring job, starting when he was 21 years old in 2001 with the Nebraska Theater Caravan. The carol opened the show and just hearing it now, let alone performing it, brings back memories.

“That show meant a lot to me,” he said.

Moreau said Lederer came to him just after he bought some new home recording equipment and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” was the first professional performance he recorded.

“It was definitely a little bit challenging,” he said.

But doing it for the center was a no-brainer, Moreau said. He can still remember his first voice recital, which he gave at the center in 1995, when he was 16 years old.

“The Chocolate Church has always been a part of my musical life,” he said.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

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