"A Blues Christmas" finally arrives on November 6. If you're a regular around here, I'm sure you own the CDs and know the songs and artists well--the late Koko Taylor, Roomful Of Blues, Shemekia Copeland, Charlie Musselwhite, the Holmes Brothers. It's an All-Star line-up for sure. Would've been nice of them to include an unreleased track or something, but, still... Blues is a live music; you don't really get the full flavor until you're sitting in a dark, hot, noisy, over-crowded Blues club. But, next to live, Blues sounds best on vinyl. Blues on CD...something gets lost. For me, anyway. So, yes, on my extremely abbreviated buying list this year, "A Blues Christmas" must appear.
And a little bit of trivia for you. Both Koko Taylor's "Merry Merry Christmas" and "I'm Your Santa" by Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials were used in the soundtrack for the season one Christmas episode of "Early Edition". If you don't remember that show, it was about a guy who gets tomorrow's newspaper today, and one of the stars was the cat who accompanied the paper everyday. So, yeah, I was a fan.
1. Koko Taylor - Merry, Merry Christmas
2. Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials - I'm Your Santa
3. Shemekia Copeland - Stay A Little Longer, Santa
4. The Holmes Brothers - Back Door Santa
5. Katie Webster - Deck The Halls With Boogie Woogie
6. Charlie Musselwhite - Silent Night
1. Little Charlie & The Nightcats - Santa Claus
2. Michael "Iron Man" Burks - Christmas Snow
3. Marcia Ball - Christmas Fais Do Do
4. Roomful Of Blues - Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get The Blues?
5. Tinsley Ellis - Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'
6. Elvin Bishop - The Little Drummer Boy
2. Larry McCray - Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'
3. Steve Cropper - Let's Make Christmas Merry, Baby
4. Popa Chubby - Back Door Santa
5. Paul Nelson (Johnny Winter Band) - Christmas Tears
6. Kenny Neal - I'll Be Home For Christmas
7. Eric Gales - Little Drummer Boy
8. Chris Spedding - Blue Christmas
9. Pat Travers - Happy Christmas
10. Leslie West - Silent Night
11. Foghat - Run Run Rudolph
12. Wolf Mail - I Want To Spend Christmas With You
13. James Montgomery Band - Deck The Halls
14. Chris Thomas King - The First Noel
15. Debbie Davies - Boogie Woogie Santa Claus
16. Lightnin' Hopkins - Santa
17. Freddy King - Christmas Tears
18. Charles Johnson - Merry Christmas, Baby
Johnny Pierre has been making the Long Island Blues Rock scene for some 25 years. He lived for a long while in New Orleans, so he picked all that music up. His gravely vocals can remind you of Tom Waits on the slower stuff and he can bring on Howlin' Wolf on the stuff that cooks. Johnny's opened for some of the greats--Albert King, Paul Butterfield, and NRBQ to name a few. In making a Christmas record, Johnny decided not to simply spit out the same tunes everyone else does.
Every song on "Johnny Pierre's Holiday Jamboree" is an original. The music isn't breaking any new ground, it's just a rockin' good time, pretty much. Excellent for a pub or a party. For whatever reason, I was actually drawn more to the weird stuff, here, than the blues rockers. "Christmas Night" is an under 2 minute diddy in which the vocals don't come in until the second minute. It's weird and kind of beautiful, all at once. I'm still not entirely sure what's going on in "Christmas Eve @ Santa's Workshop". But I like it. And I dug "New Year's Party" because, to me at least, it's got a Doug & The Slugs vibe. And I was a big Doug & The Slugs fan. And, if it is the Blues Rock you came for, you can't go wrong with "It's Christmastime Again".
"johnny Pierre's Holiday Jamboree" is coming your way October 30. Right now, Amazon only has a listing for the digital version, but I know there will be hard copies which you'll probably find on CDBaby and at Johnny's own web site. Cheers, Santa.
1. It's Christmastime Again
2. Christmas Cards
3. I Wanna Be Your Santa Claus
4. Christmas Eve @ Santa's Workshop
5. Hey Santa Claus
6. Santa's Housetop Blues
7. Christmas Night
8. North Pole Hop
9. Have A Happy New Year
10. New Year's Party
"Christmas Time" is Rhonda's second Christmas album, her first being "Beautiful Star" in 2006. She penned four all new songs for this one, including "Dreaming of Christmas" and the title track. And she got to put together her dream version of "Twelve Days of Christmas" featuring a different Country star for each line. And a lot of your favorite traditional carols are included in the closing medley, which features Rhonda--for the first time ever--accompanied only by piano. I don't know if its what she's going for, but I could see Rhonda as a torch singer.
2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
3. Twelve Days of Christmas (Featuring The Oak Ridge Boys, Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, Bill Anderson, Dolly Parton, Ronnie Milsap, Gene Watson, Larry Gatlin, Jeannie Seely, Lorrie Morgan, Pam Tillis, and EmiSunshine)
4. Angels We Have Heard On High
5. Milk & Cookies
6. Christmas Time
7. Christmas Time At Home
8. Away In A Manger
9. Jingle Bells
10. Silent Night
11. O Little Town of Bethlehem
12. Christmas Medley
Country's Family Reunion was the idea of Larry Black, a long time disc jockey, and he founded Gabriel Communications in 1996 to bring his concept to life. The idea was simple enough. Get a bunch of classic Country artists together to talk about their music and careers, share stories, and maybe sing a song or two. Film the proceedings and sell the videos. The very first video in the series was "Country's Family Reunion Christmas" in 1998. It came on VHS at the time and was re-issued on DVD in 2005. The company, itself, is going strong with dozens of such videos (non-Christmas) having been issued.
I could say a lot more, but I think the video clip above and the track list below is about all the information you need. The "Country's Family Reunion Christmas" DVD (with a lower price than the last time out) is scheduled to be released September 29. Keep in mind there are stories in addition to the songs. The running time on this sucker is two hours.
1. Bill Anderson - Christmas Time's A-Comin'
2. Johnny Russell - Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
3. Brother Oswald - Silent Night (instrumental)
4. Bill Carlisle - Silent Night
5. Jack Greene - Blue Christmas
6. Margo Smith - Sittin' On Santa's Knee
7. Jim Ed Brown - An Old Christmas Card
8. Kitty Wells - Jingle Bells
9. Sheb Wooley - Bingle Jells
10. Jean Shepard - O Come All Ye Faithful
11. Skeeter Davis - C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S
12. Mac Wiseman - Away In A Manger
1. Del Reeves - Little Say Joe
2. Jan Howard - White Christmas
3. Little Jimmy Dickens - There's No Place Like Home On Christmas
4. Grandpa Jones - The Christmas Guest
5. Bill Anderson (with Jan Howard and Carol Lee) - Christmas In Your Heart
6. Dickey Lee - I'll Be Home For Christmas
7. Billy Walker - Winter Wonderland
8. Jeannie Seely - Shake Me, I Rattle
9. Merle Kilgore - Baby Rocked Her Dolly
10. Jimmy C. Newman - Joyeux Noel
11. Jeanne Pruett - Christmas Is For Kids
Fetal Records started out as a punk and ska label in the 80s, featuring DC area bands like Law & Order and Bollocks. Not too long ago the label was revived and, while you can still find some punk and ska, Fetal is pursuing music of all kinds...and Blues in particular.
On the downside, it's not always easy to keep up on the progress of these projects. Indy labels just don't have the huge PR machines of the majors at their fingertips. But at least you have a fighting shot if you know its out there.
So Fetal doesn't tell us much in the way of release date, format, etc. But they have posted a full list of the tracks they're working on (with genres included). Much of it is original. And, whatever else this album has going for it, its got Christmas music from Charlie Sayles (4 tracks on this working track list!) and, man, I would kill to have some Christmas tracks from Charlie Sayles. Charlie's a legendary singer and Blues harp player (self taught) whose 1976 album "Raw Harmonica Blues" is an under-appreciated classic. He spent years playing on street corners for tips, but built a following by traveling and hitting street corners everywhere. If you've got some free time, check out "Laughin' and Grinning" on SoundCloud.
Fetal Records' Christmas album is expected later this year. And, with all the Blues I see on that track list, I'm all in, brother.
Curious Christmas Boy - Law and Order. Feat. Ken Wenzel. Post Punk/Folk
All This Happened on Christmas Day - Subsidiarity/Tony Fazio. Feat. Greg Phillips and Bella Howard. Folk
Homeless Christmas - Subsidiarity/Tony Fazio. Feat. Scott Taylor. R&B
Children’s Christmas Gloria - Jane Kraemer. Feat Richard Schletty. Choral
Christmas Memories - Jane Kraemer. Feat. Jubilate!. Choral
Sleep Baby Sleep - Richard Schletty. Choral
Child of Eternal Love - Richard Schletty. Choral/Folk/Contemporary
I’m Blessed (To See Christmas One More Time)- Scott Taylor. Blues
Christmas Everyday - Scott Taylor. Blues
The Spirit of Christmas - Scott Taylor. Blues
Jingle Bells - Scott Taylor. Blues (cover)
Old Saint Nick - Scott Taylor. Blues (cover)
Noel - Scott Taylor. Blues (cover)
Silent Night - Charlie Sayles. Traditional (cover)
Christmas Lights - Charlie Sayles. Blues
On Christmas Day - Charlie Sayles. R&B/Rap
It's not the Presents - Charlie Sayles. Blues/Rock
O Come Emanuel - Tony Fazio. Rock/Blues (cover)
Angels on High - Tony Fazio. Rock/Blues (cover)
Little Drummer Boy - Greg Phillips. Rock/R&B (cover)
Peppermint Milkshake - Run Little Elephant. Pop
Robson is not an a cappella artist in the way that Pentatonix or Straight No Chaser are. He's more along the lines of Bobby McFerrin--layering his own voice for the effect. And he does it very well. As the Huffington Post put it last year, "Sam Robson proves that you only need one person to make a choir." They went on to call him "chillingly good." If you've heard his version of "The Circle of Life" (from The Lion King), then you're already a fan. You might find Sam's album over in the Classical section--his music even has a certain Ambient character--but one look at the track list for "A cappella Christmas" let's you know this is not entirely a silent night outing. "A cappella Christmas" launches November 6.
2. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
3. Away In A Manger
4. I Believe In Father Christmas
6. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
7. We Three Kings
8. Wonderful Christmastime
9. Fairytale of New York
10. In The Bleak Midwinter
11. Walking In The Air
12. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
13. O Holy Night
14. The Christmas Song
We still don't have a track list, but we've got cover art for "Sunshine Christmas" from KC & The Sunshine Band, coming to a virtual store near you October 16.
"On A Cold Winter's Night: The Kingston Trio Holiday Concert" is scheduled for release on November 6. The Kingston Trio were very big in my house growing up and I always preferred their live albums. Just sayin'.
The Kingston Trio's "Last Month of the Year" from 1960, has stood the test of time well. And the current lineup thought that it was about time for another in 2013 (yeah, I'd say 53 years is long enough for a follow-up), releasing "Glad Tidings". As you might expect from an actual Trio Christmas live show, the Christmas songs on this new one are intermingled with "MTA", "Tijuana Jail", "Tom Dooley" and the like. And that ain't a bad thing (though I do miss "Scotch & Soda" and "The Merry Minuet").
"On A Cold Winter's Night: The Kingston Trio Holiday Concert" is expected November 3. And, if you're worried about the group not putting forth the classic Kingston Trio sound, you can check the samples on Amazon's mp3 listing.
1. Darlin' Corey
2. Tijuana Jail
3. Last Month of the Year
4. Go Tell It On The Mountain
5. Early Morning Rain
7. Glorious Kingdom
8. All Through The Night
9. All The Hard Days Are Gone
11. Sommerset Gloucester Wassail
1. Road To Freedom
2. Go Where I Send Thee
3. Goodnight My Baby
4. Reuben James
6. White Snows of Winter
7. Reverend Mr. Black
8. Tom Dooley
9. A Round About Christmas
10. Worried Man
11. Where Have All The Flowers Gone
12. We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Bonus: We Three Kings
Bonus: O Holy Night