John Driskell Hopkins - '“Someday at Christmas'
Review by Ionas Finser & Staff
It’s so difficult to create a convincing Christmas hit; a song that becomes immortalized in hearts and minds every time the snow starts falling (think “Jingle Bell Rock” or “All I Want for Christmas”). After listening to “Someday at Christmas” by John Driskell Hopkins, I am convinced that this song is one of those hits.
Every element of this piece of music is in complete balance, including the tight, explosive brass, the relaxed drum groove, the sweet holiday bells, the soaring sax solos, and the sweeping strings in the background. Above it all soars the confident, vibrant vocals. Both voices (Hopkins and Velle) act in duet and shine through the mix in a fashion that seems to continually grow in terms of soul and expression. As backup vocals rise more and more to the foreground, the song swells to a climactic finale. “Someday at Christmas” leaves the listener satisfied and inspired.
Hopkins’ lyrics speak to the artist’s dream of a time in the future where the world is at peace and humanity as a whole operates with empathy and love as its central principle. It is made clear that this time is a long ways off. However, by writing a Christmas song, that serves as a vehicle for this message, Hopkins is able to draw upon the peace and love we all associate with the holidays and turn these feelings into a model for the rest of the year.
“Someday at Christmas man will not fail / Hate will be gone and love will prevail / Someday a new world that we can start / With hope in every heart”
“Someday at Christmas” is remarkably catchy and awe-inspiring. The grand nature of the song speaks to the image of people coming together for the holidays, turning congregation into a power for change and hope. The feelings the song evokes resonate in one’s ears for quite some time after the song has ended. As the dust settles, it is clear to say that John Driskell Hopkins has created a true Christmas miracle this year.
About John Driskell Hopkins
The musical career of JOHN DRISKELL HOPKINS spans more than 20 years. As a member of several rock bands, Hopkins first rooted himself in the Atlanta music scene in 1995 — but he is most well-known as a founding member, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter of the GRAMMY Award-winning Zac Brown Band.
Hopkins became a founding member of the Zac Brown Band (ZBB) in 2005 as a bass player and has enjoyed engineering and songwriting credits on hit songs including “Toes,” “It’s Not OK,” and “Sic Em On A Chicken,” from the triple-platinum selling record The Foundation, as well as “Nothing,” “I Play The Road,” and “Settle Me Down,” from the platinum selling record, You Get What You Give. Hopkins also co-wrote the second single from the Zac Brown Band’s third platinum album, Uncaged, entitled “Goodbye in Her Eyes” — which was the group’s ninth Billboard No. 1 single. Hopkins met Zac Brown while hosting an open mic night at the Atlanta. Over the next several years, they remained friends and with Hopkins lending a production hand, they released the first Zac Brown album, Home Grown, in 2004.
As ZBB continues to garner critical and public success through numerous awards — including three GRAMMY Awards — Hopkins continues to share the spotlight on stage with his band of fellow songwriters and friends. He has added the title of multi-instrumentalist to his ZBB resume, playing Banjo on the single “Homegrown,’’ which became their 11th No. 1 hit on the Billboard country charts in March 2015, from the album Jekyll and Hyde. Hopkins is also a contributing writer on that album’s second single, “Heavy Is The Head” featuring Chris Cornell, which debuted at No. 37 on Billboard mainstream rock chart — marking their first appearance on that chart. The band played both singles as musical guests on “Saturday Night Live” on March 7, 2015.
In 2019, the film “Adolescence” was released, directed by Ashley Avi. Hopkins plays the role of guitarist/sing “Spider," alongside Tommy Flannagan (“Sons of Anarchy”) as a member of The Bloody Wolves of Venice — a rock band created for the film which plays original music created and sung by Hopkins. A hard rock EP of this music was released in January 2019. Hopkins can also be seen and heard in the 2015 internationally-released film “Careful What You Wish For,” featuring Nick Jonas, Paul Sorvin and Dermot Mulroney, produced by Elizabeth Allen. Having always been heavily involved in theatre throughout high school, he graduated from Florida State University with a degree in General Theatre.
In 2015, Hopkins was elected as an advisor to the Recording Academy, Atlanta ChapteMarchr, and was subsequently voted in to a Governor Seat for two consecutive terms from 2015-2019. In 2019, he became a National Trustee for The Recording Academy and will hold that office until 2021.
In late summer, 2015, Hopkins fulfilled a dream when he collaborated with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra on a Christmas album entitled, In The Spirit: A Celebration of the Holidays. Featuring 12 tracks of timeless holiday tunes, the album features soaring arrangements and wonderful special guests such as the Indigo Girls, Balsam Range, and actress/singer extraordinaire Laura Bell Bundy. The album was released in November 2015, and a vinyl edition was released in 2016.
In 2017, Hopkins released his second holiday album, You Better Watch Out, a collaboration with The Joe Gransden Big Band featuring special guests including: Aoife O’Donovan, Bela Fleck, and Clay Cook and Daniel de los Reyes (of the Zac Brown Band). His third holiday album, entitled Our Finest Gifts, was released in November 2019 — this time he collaborated with ATL Collective, and it features special guests including: Trombone Shorty, Ruby Velle, Dionne Farris, David Ryan Harris, Jason Eskridge and Maureen Murphy.
When he’s not touring, Hopkins works out of his Brighter Shade Studios songwriting and producing a growing crop of talent. Hop continues to perform at music festivals and venues across the country with his original six-piece band, The John Driskell Hopkins Band, which includes: Mike Rizzi on drums/vocals; Sean McIntyre on bass/vocals; Leah Calvert on fiddle/vocals; Greg Earnest on banjo; and Brian Bisky on keyboard/vocals. There are 11 episodes available of Hopkins’ ongoing Podcast, “Under The Influence with John Driskell Hopkins” on iTunes — most of which were recorded while on the road with other bandmates or fellow tourmates. Another favorite activity is taking his Harley out for a lap of the city du jour.
Hopkins shares his life, on and off the road, with his amazing wife and three beautiful daughters.
For more information, please visit John Driskell Hopkin's website.
This Music Review was brought to you by BWH Music Group.