John Driskell Hopkins (of the Zac Brown Band) has released his second Christmas album. While 2015’s In The Spirit was recorded with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, You Better Watch Out is a collaboration with Atlanta’s esteemed Joe Gransden Big Band. The new holiday album also features appearances by Bela Fleck, Aofie O’Donovan, Daniel de los Reyes and fellow Zac Brown Band member Clay Cook. The songs are mostly familiar Christmas classics – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and so forth.
You Better Watch Out is the first album to come from Hopkins’ new Brighter Shade recording studio. The 2,500 square foot Atlanta facility includes a main recording space large enough to hold a 30-piece orchestra, a voice-over booth, mixing room, lounge and full-service bar (with song lyrics carved into the wood!) The space is decorated with hallmarks of Hopkins’ career – guitars, awards, photos and memorabilia.
“Brighter Shade Studios is a space I look forward to making music in for the rest of my life. For me, it is very creative and comfortable – I like that it’s private, yet functional on a professional level,” says Hopkins, pictured here with Gransden. “When I’m in this space, I feel as if I’ve transported to another place, another world. I plan to record my music there, as well as the music of my favorite musicians, friends and family. It’s the kind of spot I’ll be using as a producer, writer and engineer – all facets of my musical life. This is where I want to hone my craft and continue to actively contribute to the Atlanta musical community.”