The Vernatones | A Toast to the Family

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Country: Country Folk Folk: Traditional Folk Moods: Type: Acoustic
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A Toast to the Family

by The Vernatones

Classic country folk songs featuring a family band of sweet vocal harmonies, acoustic guitars, cello, piano and percussion. Plus two original songs that honor family ("A Toast to the Family")and 50th wedding anniversaries ("Through the Years").
Genre: Country: Country Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?
3:52 $0.99
2. Toast to the Family
4:17 $0.99
3. Red River Valley
3:46 $0.99
4. Somewhere my Love
2:56 $0.99
5. Blowin in the Wind
4:23 $0.99
6. Where Have all the Flowers Gone
3:51 $0.99
7. Through the Years
3:31 $0.99
8. I Walk the Line
1:59 $0.99
9. Satisfied Mind
4:00 $0.99
10. Tennessee Waltz
2:38 $0.99
11. Today
3:20 $0.99
12. You are my Sunshine
2:48 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"A Toast to the Family" by the Vernatones:

"A Toast to the Family" is a genuine, heartfelt, acoustic compilation of songs from years gone by. We've had a great time hearing from folks who say that various tunes take them back to a calmer, quieter time in their lives...

Our mission is--remembering the music!

This CD Project began as a way to honor our Mom on her 80th birthday. Our Mom's name is Verna so we decided to call ourselves the Vernatones. The guitar on the cover is the one Joan and Mary learned on. It belonged to their Dad (now deceased).

In our family of 14, music and dancing was the highlight of our everyday life while growing up on the farm. The songs on this CD have great memories attached to them! We are thrilled to share some of these old favorites with you and we hope they bring back as many good memories for you as they do for us each time we play them! We would also like to hear what your old favorites are for future projects so please--send us an email--(

The Vernatones consist of Joan & Mary, who are sisters; Mary and Tara who are mother and daughter; and Joan & Denton who are husband and wife. Rick Oltman, Bruce Rieks and Jacque Fowler are, in addition to being wonderful musicians and all-around nice people, friends of the family.

Tara, the youngest member of The Vernatones, is a concert cellist and did an amazing job improvising this project. Tara is a recent graduate from the Professional Studies program at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She received her Masters degree in cello performance from the University of Miami, and her Bachelors degree in cello performance from the University of Michigan. Tara has performed on tours and shows with Kanye West, the Trans Siberian Orchestra, Josh Groban, and Smokey Robinson. She has also performed with Yo-Yo Ma, Leonard Slatkin, Benjamin Zander, Diana Krall, Christian McBride, Sarah Chang, Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D'Rivera, James Newton Howard, Randy Newman, and John Corigliano.

Read more about "Amazing Tara" on her website or just click on The MySpace website on the left of this page.
(** Tara was recently named one of the TOP THREE finalists to perform with the Foo Fighters at the 2008 Grammy Awards in LA! It was so wonderful to see her perform on national televsion on the GRAMMYS!!)

Special stories about some of the songs:

1. Toast to the Family

My husband (Denton) wrote this song in one sitting the night of my dad’s funeral.I was amazed how he captured every wonderful quality that I remember about my Dad in this song. The chorus included everything Dad loved:
His “sweet swing” (Dad loved to play golf),
“lift a glass high,” (Dad toasted to everything),
“deal ‘em three at a time,” (our family lived to play cards—and mom was the card queen),
and “waltz with the girls,” (my favorite memory—dancing a waltz with my Dad). Denton gave this song to me (the copyright is in my name) for my 40th birthday. I turned 40 one month after Dad died. What an amazing gift! [Joan]

2. Red River Valley:

When I was in 3rd grade, my grandpa (Mom’s dad) was in the hospital and he asked for me to visit and sing “Red River Valley” for him. At the time (early 60’s) hospitals did not allow children to see patients! He had his leg amputated and wasn’t doing so well. So Mom and Dad snuck me into the hospital room literally under their coats!
I remember how happy grandpa was to see me. I stood beside his bed holding his hands and sang Red River Valley. He had the strangest look on his face. He seemed to be completely at peace. And I remember thinking I was sure glad to be able to help him smile—because he had lost a leg—and I wasn’t at all sure I would be smiling if I were him. Grandpa died about 3 days later.

Even after all these years, every time I sing Red River Valley, I can still see Grandpa’s lovely, serene face as he listened to an 8 year old sing in that hospital room so many years ago. [Joan]

3. Through the Years: (how this song was written)

Dad died about four months before what would have been Mom & Dad’s 50th anniversary. My parents raised 12 kids and farmed all of their lives and plans were in progress for a big celebration. Unfortunately, and without warning, dad died the night of my oldest sister’s 25th wedding anniversary party. That day was a perfect day with many of the kids and grandkids home to help celebrate. I remember giving dad a hug as we were leaving and he seemed like he didn’t want the day to end…At 2 AM the phone rang and my sister said dad had died of a heart attack. That was just a few short hours after my last hug with him.

Several weeks later, after the funeral and all of the dark formalities were done, I was sitting outside with Dad’s “Grand Old Opry” baseball cap on (Note: Mom and Dad went to Nashville on their honeymoon 50 years earlier). I was thinking about my family when I started to hear words. It was almost as if I had a headset on and someone was talking to me. I grabbed a notepad and started writing the words I heard. The lyrics of this song are the exact words I heard that day. I truly believe it was my Dad wanting to say those words to my Mom. I just happened to be “plugged in” that day for some reason (probably that darn baseball cap!) Those words were the lyrics to what eventually became the song “Through the Years.”

Then, one night about a week later, I woke up from a dead sleep at about 3 AM and heard music. I don’t read a lick of music so I generally keep a tape recorder on the piano for when I get so inspired. I dragged myself out of bed and sat at the piano and started finding the notes I was hearing in my head. It ended up being a real nice waltz. And I remember thinking—man, dad would really like that!

A few days later I was sitting at the piano playing that waltz when I remembered those words I heard. Didn’t take long to realize that the lyrics and the music were meant to go together! It was a love song for my Mom from Dad for their 50th wedding anniversary. No getting around it. I truly believe this was the love song my Dad always wanted to write for my Mom—but he just didn’t get it done before he left…

Here are the lyrics (copyright, 2006--Joan Ketels)

Through the years
You were there, my darling
You stood by me and raised our family
And I know it wasn't always easy
Through the years
You were an angel to me

Your wings were strong
When they needed to be
And so soft when I needed to see
That you loved me completely
And they're wrapped in [gold]
on this anniversary.

Thanks for spending the time to read about these songs and learn more about this CD. We hope that "Through the Years" soon becomes a 50th Wedding Anniversary song favorite.
I was compelled to write it and welcome the opportunity to share it with all of those wonderful couples out there who are lucky enough to celebrate 25, 50, 75+ years together! Good for you guys!! This song is for all of you!! Happy Anniversary!

Note: You can download "Through the Years" or any of the other individual songs through i-tunes.
Here's what Ron4 says on i-tunes:
"If you are looking for some wonderfully mellow and soft vocalizations then this is the music for you. Probably the calmest and most crisp rendition of 'Today' on the market today and all of the songs have well thought out arrangements and melodies."

And finally, we have had lots of people tell us that they take our music into long term care facilities, nursing homes, or use it with Alzheimer's patients. There is something about hearing the old songs that is soothing and wonderful for these folks!



to write a review


Comfort and Peace in one CD
Excellent harmony and stories. Very heartfelt, relaxing and comfortable with songs that make you want to sink into your own memories! Great job!

Barbara Usher

This is a GREAT CD
The quality and quantity of music content is excellant. The songs are all very well done, original songs are very special, arrangements are unique, voices are wonderful! Would love to hear more!!

Todd McFadden

What a great CD!!!!
I love this CD!! It's fast becoming one of my favorites. How relaxing to listen to these great songs with a little candle light while sipping on my favorite Pinot........

Linda Petersen

A touching tribute to family!!
This is a CD that will touch all ages. The Veratones have put together an ensemble of oldies but goodies ... and some very special originals that reflect the love of their family and their life growing up. You can tell this was a labor of love!!

Teri Rokusek

Beautiful music from beautiful people with a beautiful message!
CD is a perfect gift for anyone - especially yourself!

Jan Kruse

This CD is very easy and relaxing to listen too.. Anyone can listen to this CD and enjoy it...Its GREAT...One of a kind.

Trisha H.

Tender harmonizing of family and music
Powerful yet soft. This CD really touches the heart by identifying with the family and songs of years gone by. The cello and vocal harmony add so much. Bravo!

Paul R. Klein

Emotional, fluid and three-dimensional, this album never fails to conjure some of the most vivid memories of my youth--time spent at our family cabin on Higgins Lake, surrounded by the sounds of other singer/songwriters with something to say.

Particular favorites are A Toast to the Family, Red River Valley, and Blowin' in the Wind.