Amazing how the late Sharon Jones seems to have sung a perfect song for almost any occasion. Over time, people have forgotten that Woody Guthrie wrote this as a protest song. Sharon restores it to its original purpose.
Have you ever seen a chart of traffic at a Christmas music website? I ask because it's as funny as it is predictable. More and more people come to the website more and more often leading up to Christmas. It builds and builds and builds. And then, Christmas day, it's like the balloon pops and the number of people visiting just drops off a cliff. I think it's funny. But to be expected.
Point is that I should have said this sooner, when folks were actually here. But I didn't want to spoil Christmas, nor do I want to be the first bad thing in the new year. I'll move this back to the top after New Years and you'd have to assume it'll get read eventually.
I know I've said this before, but I'm closing up shop here at Stubbys. This time, it's for real. I mentioned yesterday that I was clearly running on fumes much of the season and those fumes ran out before Christmas day. I'm old, I'm tired, my health is not great, and I honestly believe another year of this would put me in the ground. I don't sleep right and I don't eat right. I've been living the last month and a half on frozen pizza and 5-hour energy. People say, "Well, just do less. You don't have to feed the beast every day." I only know one way to do things and that's to dive in with both feet and drown before I cry uncle. Aside from that, my eyesight has gotten really bad. I can't hardly see the letters on the keyboard anymore (you may have noticed the many many typos that I miss even after extensive proof-reading. The technology has passed me by. It's all tablets and smart phones now. And the music industry, including the way it operates on-line, has changed completely in just the few years we've been doing this. As one example, I had all the distributors bookmarked because I'd get early notice of releases that way, but they're all gone now (well, pretty much all); they went belly-up. Forum web sites--same thing for different reasons. I used to get a lot of leads from Absolute Punk, for example, but it's been dead since they became Chorus.fm. I'm an old dog who can neither learn nor afford new tricks.
Although the site never became what I wanted it to be, I think we managed to do some good work along the way. I hope that we've done some good for both artists and collectors. Maybe we've even done some good for the general category of "Christmas music". Made some friends along the way and discovered some artists I will continue to follow until I cantz foller them no more. And I'm not the only one hanging them up. The Alternative Julekalandar announced that they are done, after a decade. And Kissing Party, our friends from Colorado, are also moving on from the Christmas music.
The site, as incompatible as it may be with the new media, will likely stay up. It's a free host afterall. The first thing that goes will be the PO Box, which expires in April. The domain is paid up through October, I believe. I'll try to post the non-domain URL before the domain expires. You know, not that it matters, really. And, who knows, there might be a thing or two I might still do. Maybe I'll feel like doing The List or that Hanukkah page I was always threatening. But don't hold your breath and, as a going and timely source of information, I'm toast.
Hopefully, our Festive Friends will continue onward. Christmas A-Go-Go, Christmas Underground, Lie In The Sound and Mistletunes (to name a few) all do a hell of a job. And I'm sure that new Christmas music sites will appear.
I want to thank you for spending some time with us over the years, for your support and your very very kind words. It's been an interesting journey.
Still gotta finish up the 8 Nights of Hanukkah and New Year's. And the Stubby's House collection stays up through January 6. But, after that, it's peace out, and....
I've made no secret of the fact that I feel it's time for me to stop buying Christmas albums and CDs and start selling what I've got. I've also told friends that, pretty much, any Christmas music I ever wanted, I have. Outside of an unissued test pressing of a very old Blues recording (30s-40s) and a couple of other equally scarce Blues Christmas records, there's only one single that has eluded my grasp. And it's a fairly recent vintage, too.
13 Stories was an Atlanta based Pop group. They made a huge splash, here in the south, when their song "Beep Beep" was chosen for a regional Ford advertisement. It was a blessing and a curse. It sure got their name and sound out there. But a lot of people found the ad (and thus the song and the group)....mmmmm.....let's say "irritating". Me, I loved it. It was pure Bubblegum Pop, albeit on a gallon of espresso, and the lead singer was a cute blonde in a short skirt. What's not to love? I dutifully bought their debut album, "FunkyPopSexyHouseRap", unaware that it would also be their last.
Near as I can tell, the lead singer of 13 Stories--Cheri D--left (or at least took a break) to pursue other things. She hung out a shingle as a therapist (LCSW) specializing in stress relief. She's married with kids. She's an author, now, too. And she still sings, but mostly in support of Songs For Kids. I suspect there was plenty of overlap between 13 Stories and the things she's doing now. Life is very rarely a straight line. The rest of the group? I'm not sure. Maybe they all "grew up" and got "real" jobs, too.
In 2006, 13 Stories recorded a Christmas song, "Christmas Makes Me Hot". I loved it instantly. The tune was available for a bit as a free download on MySpace. But they had also pressed a small number of promotional (DJ) CD-singles. Got the free download, obviously, and then waited for someone to dump their promotional CD-single on eBay. But no one ever did.
Today, my eBay alert got a hit. Apparently, at some point in the last two years, "Christmas Makes Me Hot" was released as a CD-R single. It's on Amazon (I seriously doubt it was there any earlier than last year because I'm always looking for it). I'm not a fan of CD-Rs--and the price was way higher than it should be...even for a CD CD (for what it's worth, the eBay listing was also a CD-R and for an even higher price). But I had to have it. Had to. Call it finishing up unfinished business. The CD-R single also includes the song "Joy", which is not a Christmas song but more a philosophy of life song. But, really, it's all about "Christmas Makes Me Hot". Buy it, don't buy it...your choice. But, for me, it was an easy choice. Having the song on hard copy--even as a CD-R--makes me feel complete.
For the record we got a big sheet of ice and a very light dusting of snow. Not 10". Not 6". Not 5". Not 2". Not 1". We got a dusting that, at best, would top out around a quarter inch.
If you've got kids, raise them to be meterologists. They get to be wrong every day--on television, no less--and keep their jobs. What a racket.
Let's dig up a couple of "No Snow" Christmas tunes, eh? First up, Nashville based Americana Alt Folkie Stephen Simmons with his late December Christmas song release, "No Snow On The Ground", available at Amazon, Bandcamp and CD Baby.
Of course, there are lots of places on Earth that never see snow at Christmas time. And, when you hear the vaguely Hawaiian sound of this 2016 single from Maureen McElheron, that's what you'll be thinking. But that ain't it (no spoilers). If the name Maureen McElheron sounds familiar to you, it might be because she wrote the songs for the Cartoon Channel's "12 Tiny Christmas Tales" several years back. "No Snow For Christmas" is available at Amazon and CD Baby.
Not sure how we managed to miss this one, but we did. Canadian Dance Pop/EDM band Neon Dreams--and they've been hot recently--dropped "Christmas Without Snow" way back in November. Well, we can't catch 'em all, but I confess I'm a little embarrassed we missed this. Oh, well. Never too late to set things right. Get the Neon Dreams Christmas single at Amazon or iTunes.
If you'll allow me a moment of nostalgia, we covered this "No Snow" tune back in our first year...2010. And, honestly, I think it was right about then people started to say, "Hey, this Stubby guy may not be so lame afterall." The fabulous Lola Dutronic (another Canadian band) and "(Another) Christmas Without Snow", still available from Amazon.
And I know what you're thinking. Stubby, how can we miss you when you won't go away? Yeah, I get that. Just winding down is all. In the course of a day, no matter what happens or how late it is or how tired I am, it takes me two hours to unwind before I can go to bed or return to normal or whatever. So you can imagine that, as Stubbys has been here for several years, it might take me a month or so to unwind. Always been tough for me to put my toys away.
Anyway, let's close up with a nice "No Snow" rocker. Celine Rae & The 20-73 are a Dutch band who have largely built a following through YouTube. But their singles "He Said" and "Done Fighting For This" show plenty of promise for a very bright future. "Christmas Without Snow", an original Christmas tune, was released on December 6 and you'll find it on Amazon, which is a wee bit closer than the Netherlands.
Keep warm, everybody.
The Stubby's House Christmas collection has now been retired. I hope everyone who wanted it got it.
Here in the Carolinas, we're supposed to be getting our first snow of the season. When I lived up north, my tradition was buying a tree upon the first snow of the season. Sometimes that meant getting it a little too early, but, most years, it meant waiting longer than I wanted to. In the long run, that was a good thing, though. Built some anticipation. Here, though, I'd pretty much never have a tree at Christmas if I waited for snow (hmm, maybe I should go out tomorrow and see if anyone's just getting rid of their's).
I think I mentioned this song earlier this year. From Boston's Bleu and the album "Bing Bang Holidang", but I didn't play it, did I? "Snow Day".
Anyway, the trend isn't great. A few days ago, my town was smack in the middle of 6-12 inches projected, but that's been dropping steadily. Right now, it stands at 2-5 inches. But add in the fact that the change over from rain to snow time keeps getting pushed back (in the last couple of days, it's gone from 8 PM on the 6th to 10 AM on the 7th), and I'm not so sure we'll be getting any at all. Hope we do. I don't like the cold weather as much as I did when I was younger. But, if it's going to be cold, there might as well be snow. And it is definitely going to be cold this weekend. Single digits even. Yeah, I know.
Anyway, always liked this song. So, if you've got nowhere to be and nothing to do, enjoy a little "Snow". On the house (and on the car, on the lawn, on Mrs. Katz--not her real name--oooh, she doesn't much like snow).
Still a few days left to grab "A Stubby's House Christmas & Hanukah 2016". 2 discs, 44 tunes, 2 and a half hours of holiday music hand selected by your's truly. And it can be yours for the low price of nothing, nothing at all...free! But hurry, this offer expires at Midnight January 6. (physical discs and batteries not included; void where prohibited by Grinch or Scrooge) Go here for more details.
Minutes to Midnight. A few of my favorite New Years videos...even if they aren't. Let's see if I can get this posted before 2017.
Nope. 12:01. Well, I tried. Happy New Year!
Always late on Night Eight. It's practically a tradition. But there is a massive Hanukkah post ahead. As we go along, tonight, we'll revisit some of our earlier Hanukkah offerings from years past. And, this year, I forgot to have Hanukkah cats help us along, so we'll bring them back tonight, too. Like the image on the right, here.
If you ask me, the single hardest thing to find in holiday music (not including Kwanzaa, Ramadan, or other holidays for which there is little to no music at all) is Bluegrass Hanukkah. I suppose it's surprising that there's any at all. But there is some. That's why I enjoyed these recordings from Nefesh Mountain. Neither "Hanukkah Dance" or "Hanukkah's Flame" are available for purchase or download, which is too bad, but at least we got videos. These are both Woody Guthrie numbers, btw, if you want to track down the originals.
Fair to say "Hanukkah's Flame" is more Folk than Bluegrass. I get that. Woody Guthrie, btw, had more Hanukkah arrows in his quiver, having also written "Happy Joyous Hanukkah", covered by the Indigo Girls a few years back.
And, before we move on from the particular corner of Hanukkah music, here's one from our first year of Hanukkah from then JDub recording artists, Girls In Trouble.
And, from our second year of Hanukkah in 2011, here's David Rael's "Your Stocking's Filled With Candy, But A Pencil Sharpener's Handy".
From our third year of Hanukkah, this poppin' frash Hanukkah song, "It's Chanukah!" from Jeffrey Paul Bobrick that you can still download free, if you join the mailing list.
Lenny Solomon and Etan G. are two members of the group Schlock Rock. Many years ago, I bought a CD that I thought was credited to Lenny & The Schlockers. And several of the tunes from that CD--though not, strictly speaking, Hanukkah songs--have found their way into my Hanukkah mixes over the years, from "Rockin' Rabbi" to "Am Y'isroel Chai". I had no idea that the band was Schlock Rock and "Lenny and The Schlockers" was the CD title. Now I've got a lot of back catalog to go over. Here are a couple of Schlock Rock favorites.
We were barely here in our fourth year of Hanukkah, but we did manage to post Six13's "Thanksgivukkah Anthem".
We've spoken about using tunes recorded by Israeli artists in your Hanukkah mixtapes, from time to time, whether they're directly Hanukkah songs or not. I think it adds an air of authenticity and respect. It'll certainly set you apart from the folks who attempt a Hanukkah mixtape that is little more than covers of Adam Sandler's "The Hanukkah Song". I've got nothing against including Sarah Silverman's "Give The Jew Girl Toys" in your mix, but an entire mix like that seems, to me, disrespectful. I feel the same about a Christmas mix that's all Bob Rivers and Weird Al. Here are a couple of tracks from Israel for consideration.
Micha Gamerman's "Bazman Haze" was a popular Hanukkah track in Israeli music circles a couple of years back, and was briefly available as a free download. You can grab the track a la carte from Gamerman's "Micha II" album at Amazon. Good energy with legitimate Hebrew flare. This one does relate to Hanukkah, on some level, as the lyrics speak of miracles, heroism, and salvation--then and now.
If you go to Amazon and search "Hanukkah" in the digital section, then sort by "Release Date", the first listing you'll get is "Light Songs Collection For Hanukkah". These are Pop Hanukkah hits from Israel (and, by Pop, I mean the equivalent of Justin Beiber and Mariah Carey, pretty much), or at least it seems that way to me. Haven't explored the whole thing, yet, but I dig Amit & Joni's "Mashup Hanukkah" because it's got a bit (just a bit) of that Radio Disney feel I'm partial to--just the Israeli version of that feel.
During our fifth year of Hanukkah celebration, this was probably my favorite song and video, Naomi Less with "8 Nights".
We hear Hanukkah songs about Judah Maccabee all the time (as we would, of course), but Judy Tellerman has recorded a song about one of the unsung heroes of Hanukkah--"Judith (Yehudit)". I swear I saw this for sale somewhere, but I can't locate it, now. Might have imagined it. Judy does have other Hanukkah tunes available, though, including "Happy Hanukkah" and "We Keep The Flame". I'll let Judy Tellerman tell the tale.
As this is only the seventh year of Stubbys and, as 2014 was such a good year for our Hanukkah shares, we're sticking in our fifth year for a moment. The song in question was actually from years earlier--2000 to be precise. It's probably the best Indie Alt Rock Hanukkah tune I've ever heard (okay, the Slackers have to be up there, too). Sub Pop recording artists Damon & Naomi's song, "Judah And The Maccabees". Word to the wise. Damon & Naomi's back catalog has been rolled out on Bandcamp over the years. If you want to buy just the one track, it'll cost you a buck. BUT, if you will download the whole album, it's name-your-price" (or free, if you want to look at it that way). "Judah And The Maccabees" appears on both the original album and the duo's collection "The Sub Pop Years". This year, Damon & Naomi released a collection of B-sides and other rarities, "Spirit of Love", and, on that one, you'll find their take on "White Christmas". Same pricing instructions apply.
Seventh Night: Shir Soul - Hanukkah, Oh, Hanukkah (Pentatonix style Mashup)
Y-Studs - Don't Let Me Down
Julie Geller - Rekindle The Light
Well, crap, it's 11:00 PM already. So let's speed things along with a trio of fun videos. Two of the songs we've already shared this year--Lenny Beige's "I Wanna Do Chanukah Wit' Jew" and The Macaroons "10 Days of Hanukkah". But, first, here's one we haven't shared, though we spoke about the album a few years ago. These are The Jimmies, ostensibly a Kids music group, from their album "Mama Said Nog You Out". It's been said there's no reason why this song should exist...but it does. "I Want A Hippopotamus For Hanukkah". Oh yeah, they also do a Kwanzaa version.
From last year, our sixth year of Hanukkah, lots of good choices, but I, personally, love this one from Rachael Sage, "Hanukkah In The Village".
As this is our final Hanukkah celebration at Stubbys, I want to go back to the beginning. This was the very first Hanukkah song I can ever remember wanting to own. "Chanukah Chase" by The Short Sisters (neither sisters nor especially short). It was a 1986 track on a "Fast Folk Season's Greetings" LP. Fast Folk was a magazine that, at the time, came with a record...or vice versa. They eventually moved to CDs, but the CDs weren't nearly as popular and Fast Folk has been a remnant of the past for quite some time, now. Too bad. Like any magazine, you could only get the LP as a subscriber. I wasn't. I heard the song on the radio (Vin Scelsa played some great holiday stuff). It took me decades to track down a copy. The Short Sisters are still singing. Their 1991 CD (which, believe me, you couldn't find in 1991), "A Planet Dancing Slow", is considered their "holiday" album (though at least one Christmas song appears on another). And "Chanukah Chase" is on it, except it's now titled "My Candles". You can get that album from CD Baby, but you can't buy tracks a la carte. It's always something.
And last, but not least, here's another song that spurred my enjoyment of Hanukkah music (though, by the time this was released, I was already fairly deep into it--deep enough to be ordering albums from specialty Jewish Music mail order companies). This was Eric Schwartz, the notorious Smooth-E, with "Hanukkah Hey Ya". I know the record is still available on Google Play, but I'm not sure where else. Hope your Hanukkah was magical. Shalom.
Went lookin' for new New Years tunes and these are the ones I liked.
The Doo Dah Beasties. OK. First of all, how can you not love that band name? Second of all, the band's got a very pretty woman in the mix. Smile, short shorts, skateboard, balloons, and hauling your old Christmas tree away (she was looking for one just like that, I'm sure). And, third, it's an original Indie Pop tune that's kinda sunny and bright. Kinda says, "Forget the mess that was last year. It's a fresh start!" Of course, it never really is a fresh start, but you let that truth lay there until January 2nd, at least. And, last, the one line that's borderline genius (if you ask me, which, of course, you didn't) is "If, last night, you missed me, it's not too late to kiss me". Hope springs eternal. I love it. A little Twee, but I love it. And, hey, pretty woman in short shorts with balloons. Did I mention that already? Amazon's got your Doo Dah Beasties' "New Year's Day" right here.
Rob Clarke & The Wooltones, a British band that's been around a few years, bring us "New Year New Day". This one's got a nice 60s Hollies/Byrds vibe to it. It's a little more somber than the entry from the Doo Dah Beasties, but it kinda makes sense if you're dealing with a New Year's hangover. The B-side is really cool, too. In fact, "Ashton Labor Club Chariy Bingo Interval" may be my favorite of the two sides. It's basically an instrumental version of the A-side, but with a hip organ and the sound of revelers (or Bingo callers and players) thrown in. And that organ makes a world of difference. Plus the weird title is a feature, not a bug. I'm lovin' the B-side more and more. Let's get that video up here. Hey, isn't that Korla Pandit? They apparently did a Christmas single, too, last year. I think I must have missed it. Same basic 60s Byrds/Hollies sound on "Another Wooltones Xmas Record". But, once again, the flip version is what delights as they go all Garage Psych. I'm gonna have to start paying attention to these guys. Get yer Rob Clarke & The Wooltones fix at either Amazon or Bandcamp. The latter offers limited edition CD singles, if you're a hard copy sort of person.
We lost a lot of bright lights this past year, but Dobie Gray is still going strong and sounding good (though I have to admit...the picture kinda creeps me out a bit; I liked him better with the fro). Dobie first hit the charts in 1963, so that's over half a century of soulful sides from the man. The biggies, of course, being "The In Crowd" and "Drift Away". Dobie released a Christmas album in 2001 or thereabouts, "Songs For The Season", but there's no New Year's song on the album. He takes care of that this year with the single "May I Spend Every New Year's With You". It's a very nice and soulful romantic slow dance number. Might even be a waltz. I was never good at picking that up. But, I'll tell you what. I bet the Beach music people here in the Carolinas will be all over this one. Grab it from Amazon.
Of course, somebody's always going to have to do "Auld Lang Syne". Quite a few somenodies, in fact. Looking for a nice Folk version? David C. Clements does it up good (and FREE). Looking for a version done in Electropunk Vaporwave style? Yes, we do have that from Kentucky's N64 (and it's FREE). How bout a Gypsy Jazz version? You'd be hard pressed to come up with better than the version from Lost Fingers (NOT free, alas). Stick with it, they really start to cook about a minute in. How 'bout some Ambient Chill Electro Pop? Rie Sinclair and Lea Cappelli have just what you're looking for (and FREE). It's actually a fairly nice arrangement, though it wouldn't be my first choice. Celtic Folk? Try this one on from Siobhan Owen (NOT free, alas). Shoegaze? Josh O'Hara has just what you need (FREE). Just going through some of the new ones is all. The one I liked was the Indie Pop version from The Daybreaks. For some reason, they're calling theirs "Auld Lang Silent Night", but there ain't no "Silent Night" in there...just "Auld Lang Syne". The Daybreaks single is also at Amazon (look, I know these things are everywhere, but I don't have the energy to go looking everywhere; if you hate Amazon--and there's no reason you shouldn't--I'm sure you'll find these things at iTunes or CDBaby or, hell, CD Universe...throw them a bone).
What's that? A new Rock N Roll "Auld Lang Syne"? You mean I didn't mention one up above? Oh, well, try this one on for size. Not even sure it is "Auld Lang Syne", but that's the title Patent Pending put on it and that's good enough for me. Patent Pending is a Pop Punk band from Brooklyn and "Auld Lang Syne" comes off their 2016 holiday EP "Season's Greetings". You can find this one on Bandcamp (and, yeah, Amazon).
But the best of the 2016 New Year's songs has to be the one from Superchunk front man Mac McCaughan. You've seen it on the other blogs and websites, I'm sure. And it deserves every bit of the attention it's getting because it is the one and only new New Year's tune that's looking for a pony in the crap pile of a year that was 2016. A little silver lining to go with the massive cloud we got stuck with. Just trying to shed a little hopeful light on the year ahead. Mac's song is a free download at Bandcamp and comes in a clean version and a Parental Advisory version. I'm usually touchy about language--trying to run a family blog, here--but only the Parental Advosory version is going to exorcise the demons of 2016. Closing out, this morning, with Mac McCaughan and "Happy New Year (Prince Can't Die Again)".
While other Jewish a cappella groups were doing take-offs on the Hip Hop musical Hamilton, Shir Soul demonstrated that they actually have a handle on popular culture by directing their Hanukkah take-off at Pentatonix. And these dudes are on fire! That's not a metaphor. Check near the end of the video. Who's on extinguisher duty?
To whom it may concern: Yeah, we've all heard of Hamilton. I'm sure its great. But the vast majority of people in this country have never seen it and probably never will. We'll wait for the movie. But anyone who hasn't heard or seen Pentatonix must be living in a cave (hopefully with enough oil to last a little over a week). And what was with all that colonial garb in a Hanukkah video anyway? OK, the painted dreidel eyelids are kinda creepy. But seriously. Pop culture, by its nature, is something derived from a widely shared experience. While Hamilton may have a 100% satisfaction rate, it it still an experience a very small percentage of Americans have shared. Just sayin'. (Just call me Mr. Coffee.)
Anyway, Shir Soul has long been a favorite around here. And this year's single is included on their new CD, "Holiday Shir". The album contains tracks for other Jewish holidays, too. But, in addition to this year's "Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah" MashUP, "Holiday Shir" contains some of their previous Hanukkah singles, "Dreidel", "Lift Yourself Up" and "Timeless As The Stars". Always wished Shir Soul would put these beauties on a hard copy CD and now they've done so. Hanukkah Harry must have gotten my letter. You can get the CD through CD Baby (Amazon only has the digital version).
Of this year's a cappella offerings, I think this is my favorite. The Y-Studs went the popular song route, performing a Hanukkah song to the music of the Chainsmokers ("Don't Let Me Down" and "Closer"). "Don't Let Me Down" has got the "drama" of some of the better Hanukkah remakes of popular tunes, and the vocals are top notch. Y-Studs is short for "Yeshiva students" as the group was born at New York's Yeshiva University. Among the Jewish a cappella groups, the Y-Studs are the new kids on the block (though definitely not the New Kids On The Block......not that there's anything wrong with that). "Don't Let Me Down" is available through Amazon and iTunes.
Moving on from the a cappella, Indie Folk, Rock, and Jewish music artist Julie Geller challenged herself, several years back, to write an original Hanukkah song every year. I believe we're on year 5, now. Sometimes, the songs are available for sale, sometimes as free downloads, and sometimes, we just get the YouTube video. That's the case this year with "Rekindle The Light". This is another case where I hope Julie will, at some point, gather her Hanukkah tunes together for a hard copy CD. If the Killers are the template, we may have to wait another 5 or 6 years. Until then, here's the video for "Rekindle The Light" from Julie Geller.
Big Hanukkah wrap-up tomorrow. And it's New Year's Eve to boot. We'll see if we can't give 2016 the send off it deserves (everyone, stand by to flush your toilets...that's the send off this stinkin' year deserves).
I love Christmas, music, and cats. What more do you need to know?