The Farleys

Madison singer Jen Farley (left) and her husband, musician-publicist Michael Farley (right), are performing and recording as (what else?) The Farleys. 

The Farleys’ “Christmas Time” is a holiday tune 30 years in the making.

Well, sort of. Mike Farley, a local musician and publicist, said he had written the song around 1990, and then completely forgotten about it. Then he discovered it one day when he was cleaning the basement.

“I came across two folders of lyrics, like from the ‘80s and ‘90s,” Farley said. “Then I found that Christmas song. I remembered writing it, and it being pretty decent. I had even recorded it as a demo. But I had to refigure out how to play it because I didn't write any chords down.”

The song, now newly recorded for the first time by Farley and his wife Jen, is part of the new compilation album “A Rock by The Sea Christmas, Vol. 12,” available on Bandcamp. Rock by the Sea is a Florida-based coalition of musicians, including several that Farley represents, that raises money for cancer charities through concerts and compilation albums.

Farley said he doesn’t remember much about the circumstances under which he wrote the song, other than that he was living in New York City at the time. (Hence the lyric about street vendors selling "chestnuts and assorted Christmas treats.") He said the cheery song was something of an outlier for him at the time, when he was writing and performing in a rock band.

He thought the song would be a perfect one to record with his wife, Jen Farley, who is one-third of the local Americana trio Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockers with Beth Kille and Shawndell Marks.

“I always talked about recording and doing Christmas songs and giving them as gifts to friends and family,” Jen Farley said. “And we never did. I love Christmas music, which is ironic since I’m Jewish. When Mike brought it up and said, ‘Take a listen to this,” I was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty good.'”

When they were first dating 20 years ago, Mike and Jen Farley used to perform as a duo together in coffee shops and bars all the time, and even recorded an EP. But that dropped off in recent years as they each got busy pursuing their own careers.

“Every year we do our family resolutions, and every year one of our resolutions that we would have for us as a couple is to play out at least once,” Jen Farley said. “And every year we would not do that.”

What changed that was the pandemic. With Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets unable to perform live for over a year, the trio began doing livestream shows on Facebook, setting up a virtual tip jar for fans to contribute. Occasionally, Mike Farley would sit in to play guitar along with the three singers.

The format got so comfortable that Mike and Jen Farley did a couple of livestream shows themselves. And now they’ve started going back out and performing live for the first time in two decades. They’ll perform a show at the Verona wine bar Toot + Kate’s, 109 S. Main St., on Friday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m.

And, brought together in the studio by a forgotten 30-year-old song, they’re even thinking of recording another EP together as The Farleys.

“It’s kind of like second nature, even though we don’t do it all the time,” Mike Farley said. “We definitely have good harmony.”

“I guess when you’ve been together for 20 years, that’s what happens,” Jen Farley added.