Christian Artists To Know: The Welcome Wagon


The Welcome Wagon
Genre: Country/Folk
Styles: Americana, Indie Folk, Gospel
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Label: Asthmatic Kitty
Christian Label: No
Category: The Spiritual whats this?

When the modern worship movement began way back In the sixties, the modernizing of the gospel felt like a fresh approach for a generation feeling alienated by their hymnals.  As time progressed, so did the way we worshiped. Larger bands and more vocals aloud worship services to build to a crescendo never felt before in church.  Like all good things though, an over saturation of highly produced, commercialized praise music began to leave some of the intimacy out of the process.  A need has begun to grow for music that not only is able to be relevant to the current generation, but also never lose the heart of praise, and the sweetness of a seeking believer. It is in this need that we find The Welcome Wagon.

The band is made (primarily) up of Monique and Reverend Thomas “Vito” Aiuto, a pastor and wife team out of Brooklyn.  Neither are trained musicians, but that did not deter the couple from playing music in their home. Since they weren’t able to read music, their early sessions were simply made up renditions of old church songs. Time went on, and they began to write their own songs and experiment more and more. Thus the beginnings of  The Welcome Wagon were in place.   It was with the help of friend, neighbor, and church member Sufjan Stevens that Welcome To The Welcome Wagon was recorded however; with the Aiutos writing the core of the songs and arrangements for the tracks,  and Stevens producing and fleshing out the couple’s sound.  Sufjan released the album through his label, Asthmatic Kitty, and the critics loved it. Welcome To The Welcome Wagon was in the top of most people’s “Best Of 08″ lists, and the album has been well received by anybody lucky enough to hear it.

So what is so special about THIS album? How can a couple out of New York with no musical ability make songs that everybody, inside and out of the church, seems to love?  Two things: sincerity and quality.  The Welcome Wagon lead a new brand of worshipful music that does its best to remain honest in front of God. Not all the songs are originals, some are older than people playing them, but the new arrangements make every track The Welcome Wagon‘s. This allows their original songs to flow seamlessly with the cover songs, and for the collection of tracks to work as a body.  Thoughtful but simple lyrics populate their original songs, uncluttered by “church speak”.  At times it almost sound like the type of songs that a child might write to God on a rainy night.

Don’t take that to mean that the songs are not deep, Vito is a pastor remember, but the ideas are never presented in a way that only believers could understand. The music that accompanies the words moves along the same lines, blending elements of country, folk, and Steven’s unique indie touch. There are horns, soaring vocals, and a little piano jazz in there. At no times are you ever thinking that this band made this is a studio though, it is safer to assume that they might be in a living room, all sitting around on the floor recording. This allows the album to draw the listener into an intimate atmosphere with the band and their Creator.

A perfect illustration of this intimacy is the song “Up On A Mountain” , recorded beautifully here in late 2008

The Welcome Wagon are a breath of fresh air. Their light-hearted but deeply intelligent approach to music is one rarely seen in a world of T-Pain and Three Doors Down.  Their music will make your heart soar and your mind happy.  Their is a undeniable sweetness that just makes you want to listen them over and over.  We are featuring Vito as one of our “Voices Of The Underground”, and so far he has contributed some of our best responses. Maybe with all the attention, The Welcome Wagon will make a lot more music over the next few years. Maybe they wont.  My prayer is that everybody gets to listen to this cool little couple’s music and smile like I did the first time I heard The Welcome Wagon.

You can buy The Welcome Wagon‘s music digitally on The Welcome Wagon

You can also buy their CD on Amazon:

Welcome To The Welcome Wagon


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