This is about the time of year when we start hearing about the lineup of upcoming holiday releases. On the schedule, so far, are seasonal projects from Kelly Clarkson, Pat Benatar, Patty Smyth & Scandal, Meatloaf ("Hot Holidays"), Kim Wilde, Gretchen Wilson, Mary J. Blige ("A Very Mary Christmas"), Anthony Hamilton, Leona Lewis (yeah, fer realz), Restless Heart (well, we've been waiting on that one for a long, long time), Shania Twain (also fer realz, though she's being quite mysterious about the whole thing--just do it, Shania, I promise we'll love it), Martina McBride, Diane Schuur, Jason Catron, Terry Bradshaw and a comp from Fearless Records called "Punk Goes Christmas". There's even a release planned for those Duck Dynasty people. Smokey Robinson's Xmas CD is still floating around in the pre-release atmosphere as well, as are some others that planned their release last year, but missed the window (Matthew Morrison of "Glee" fame springs readily to mind). And, oh yeah, the album I'm MOST excited to hear--the third record in the Jillaine Christmas trilogy, "Jazzy Christmas To You III". Last year's is going to be tough to beat. On top of all that, we are expecting the Greatest Movie Ever Made (tm) to drop this year--JINGLE BELL ROCKS! So much excitement in the air (Is that what that is? I thought it was pollen.)!
But here's the project that inspired me to put on my blogging cap for the first time in many months. The Bowmans are twin sisters from Cali (fornia, that is). Sarah writes wonderful lyrics and Claire is quite the artist. Their music tends to fall in that Country/Folk category, with a touch of Blues--Americana, really--and they've got that harmony that only sisters seem to have (The Bowmans are frequently compared to The Roches). You'll find their albums (featuring Claire's amazing cover art) in The Bowmans Merch Store (https://sites.google.com/site/thebowmansmerchstore/) and you can listen to a few of their songs on ReverbNation (http://www.reverbnation.com/thebowmansmusic).
Anyway, The Bowmans are hoping to put out a Christmas CD and accompanying illustrated book this year and they're raising money for the project on--where else--Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thebowmans/the-bowmans-christmas-album-and-illustrated-book). Now, I'm a big fan of Christmas music and of Kickstarter. But what was the added spice that had me sipping egg nog and humming "White Christmas" on the 4th of July?
Check the amazing illustration from Claire to the right. Hmm? Ain't that great?
But wait! There's more! As with all Kickstarter campaigns, there are various levels of support and corresponding incentives. Me, I'd have been happy with the autographed CD and the book in digital form, myself (a mere $25). But Mrs. Katz (not her real name) would have none of it. Every time I turned away from the keyboard, she'd scroll down to the "Art & Animal Lover" package--which includes a signed print of a Claire Bowman illustration of your pet or the animal of your choice. "No," I'd tell Mrs. Katz, "it's not in the budget." But, before I knew it, she'd punched the mouse (I've got a bone to pick with whomever named that thing) and I was pledged. Ah, well, she'll get her print and I'll get the CD. At least Mrs. Katz respected my poverty enough to not select the "Iconographic Animal" package. These personalized packages are very limited, so either hurry on over to Kickstarter or keep your pet away from the computer for a few days. It's the music you want. Here's a rough mix of some of it.
Now for the bad news. Those of you as old as I may recognize the title of this entry as part of an old Lewis Carroll poem, "The Walrus and the Carpenter".
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings"
Well, the time has come to speak about this here particular blog. In brief, I think we're done. I wish I'd started this blog 15 years ago; then maybe we would have reached the Christmas music Nirvana I hoped for. As it is, I think we had a good run and I'm pretty happy with what we did. I wish I could say there were just one reason why I'm hanging up my keyboard, but there isn't "just one reason." Not to get all spiritual on you but, being as I'm pretty thick and stubborn, the universe (or God or whatever) has always laid out the choices very clearly for me. I'm very lucky like that. I'm always (or almost always) shown what the "right thing" to do is. On one side are all the realities and on the other is just thick, stubborn me. The choice is mine, of course, but--most of the time--I come to my senses and take the path that's been presented clearly as the "right thing". Right now, there is the family health issue that has always been priority one. It's even more demanding than it was last Christmas. In addition to time issues, there are monetary issues.
And there's this whole computer thing--and this is a pretty big factor for me. Two years ago, my computer was top of the line; it's already completely obsolete. And I know some of you tech-savvy younger folks are thinking "of course it is", but I can't afford to drop 2 grand on a new computer every other year. And, no, I'm not interested in computing or blogging "via phone" (if I may... f#@% that!). This whole "cloud" business is a trap and a cancer. Don't say you weren't warned. What business presents as a "convenience" always is revealed later on as a scheme to separate you from your money. Technology, I'm afraid, is advancing so fast at this point, that the benefits the Internet presented us--the democratization of information, if you will--is being stolen right back quicker than you can say "Dude, you're gettin' a...". It's so bad, now, that I can't purchase from iTunes on a MAC. Think about how absurd that is. I call them up and they say, "Maybe its your browser; how you tried Chrome?" Dudes. The browser shouldn't matter in the first place--its freakin' iTunes--but Safari is YOUR browser; you created Safari just for MAC and MAC programs. If your own browser can't handle your own programs anymore, maybe you're in the wrong line of work. And, just for the record, I couldn't buy from iTunes using Chrome either. So there. Pfffttt. Always been a big MAC fan. But, since Steve Jobs died, they have ceased caring about their loyal customers. Any Apple Head will tell you the same. I know one guy who has been with them since the beginning. Bought every new phone and pad and pod and, basically, anything Apple ever made. Steve Jobs dies and, suddenly, he can't access his MAC email account of 20 years or more. What's up with that?
As it is, as you can see, I can't presently even format properly for this blog. And THIS computer (not MY computer, but the one I'm working with most often at present) doesn't even have a soundcard. How am I supposed to do a Christmas music blog without a soundcard?
There's the whole Storage Wars thing going on, too. Soundcloud has been deleting my tracks, here, one by one. Mind you, I never made them available for downloading, just streaming. But God forbid a blogger try to do what everybody and his mother do on YouTube--share music so people can hear it. Its a losing war, on their part, anyway. But small, honest bloggers will be the casualties of that war--not the actual thieves and pirates. It's kind of like the War on Drugs; there's a bunch of poor folks doing hard time for smoking a J while the mega-dealers live in mansions and the politicians and agents cracking down are snorting lines off their girlfriends' stomachs in the back room.
And might I just add, here, that I'm sick and tired of emails from companies that want to "optimize" my web site and make Stubby's #1 on Google. I know its your job and all, but, seriously, piss off! If I cared about that, I have places I could go and people I could ask. But I don't care about that and never did. I just wanted to be Stubby's. Let some other fool worry about being #1. I don't make money doing this and never really wanted to, alright?
Anyway, rant off.
You never know, of course, so its my intention to leave Stubby's up for awhile. I'll likely renew the domain and the PO Box, when they come due. Maybe some day, I'll have something to say. Or maybe, some day, I'll have the time and technology to move forward. I doubt it, personally. But you never know. And there are lots of good folks carrying on the Christmas music hunt. There's a bunch of them in that list of Festive Friends over to the right. Those are good folks--the ones I know are, certainly--and they've done some damn fine work in the genre long before I got here and they'll be doing it long after I'm gone, I suspect. Go check them out now. I'll wait.
But, hey, its been a blast. Really, it has. Hope we turned you on to some cool stuff you'd have otherwise missed. God's honest truth: finding Jillaine--and doing my small part to get other people to find her--was worth the whole trip for me. And, yeah, the Stubby's House mixes were a lot of fun to do, too. Hope you enjoyed them (but don't ask; I'm not reposting them).
There's some great Christmas music out there. Go get it.