Friday, December 13, 2019

Happiest of Holidays - You Need More Great Music!!

Are you sure you don't want to sit on my lap?
(Well, here we are at the tail end of another year barreling towards the next. I’m already busy working on blog entries for 2020 with a goal to drop 300 over the 366 days that will make up the year. Let’s see how far I make it.
In the meantime, I’m turning today’s blog over to that grand old man of the holidays, the one and only Santa Blues!)/ 
Happy Holidays to everyone from the North Poe Juke Joint! Forgive me for shouting, but it gets a little loud around here when the elves are blowing off steam. If it sometimes gets noisy around your place and you need to settle your nerves by playing some sweet and soulful music, here are some that I keep on the jukebox. Some are new, some are timeless, and it’s by no means exhaustive. In fact, if you want to recommend some cool holiday music to me, feel free to drop me a line here.  

First up is a new release from Texas-based label Connor Ray Music that features a total of five tracks from two of their top acts, Trudy Lynn and the Steve Krase Band. The disc is aptly named Connor Ray Christmas and the wonderful Lynn delivers her spine tingling vocals on the traditional song Go Tell It On The Mountain and a beautiful version of Oh Holy Night. Krase, who founded and runs the company, plays a wicked harp and sings the two oldest secular Christmas songs, Jingle Bells and Up On The House Top, and turns Auld Lang Syne into a gorgeous instrumental with just guitar and harp. Sweet sounds from some very talented artists.
Another recent release is from a spirited band that never fails to deliver a high-energy performance. We’ve featured music from the last couple of CDs from Michele D’Amour & The Love Dealers, and greatly enjoyed their latest, Christmas In Blue. A mix of eight original songs and two covers of classic holiday tunes is sure to give the listener a break from the same old same old. I love D’Amour’s voice and hope that either they’ll take a trip east or my reindeer will drop me off in their neck of the woods so I can catch them live.
One great disc that landed on my desk a little too late to share with the fans of time From The Blues came from barrelhouse pianist Eden Brent titled An Eden Brent Christmas With Bob Dowell. The twelve tracks feature a mix of mostly well known holiday songs, but with a little twist from Brent’s great piano and rollicking good time vocals. Dowell provides some vocals and some swinging trombone. If you like your Christmas music with a touch of jazzy big band sounds, this is a great one to add to your collection.
Staying with that swinging sound, how about pulling out the 1997 Roomful Of Blues classic, Roomful Of Christmas? The ten songs on the album are all classic tunes, some better known that others, but all of them rock, roll, dip, and stroll. I’m a big fan of all the incarnations of Roomful Of Blues, and this album has always been one of my go-tos during the holiday season.
While we’re looking at some older titles, I recently stumbled onto Ted Wulfers’ brilliant 2010 release What Would Santa Do. The eight original titles include the title track, Xmas In A Bar, Ukulele Xmas, and the one I discovered that led me to Wulfers’ music, The Hanukkah Blues. If you like your blues with blistering guitar and slightly twisted lyrics, Wulfer is the guy for you. Thanks Ted, for sending me a copy so quickly, along with your other releases. I’ll be listening deeply and sharing your work with our audience PDQ.
Before I forget, be sure to check out Erin Harpe & The Delta Swingers with The Christmas Swing and Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers with All I Got For Christmas Is The Blues.
Here are a few other compilations that feature blues, rhythm & blues, and soul holiday songs. They are usually comprised of a variety of great artists and short songs that will provide you with a perfect sonic backdrop to setting up trees, writing Christmas cards (Santa Blues does all his by himself – if you want to get on his mailing list, drop a line to the super secret email listed above), wrapping present, or even vegging out while sipping your favorite beverage.
·       24 Greatest R&B Christmas Hits includes songs from Charles Brown, Lowell Fulson, Mabel Scott, Carla Thomas, and Freddie King. Easy to find online and worth the purchase.
·       Mojo Blue Christmas is where we found Purple Snowflakes by Marvin Gaye. There are also cuts from BB King, The Staple Sisters, and James Brown. There are also several rock acts on the album that you may like. Check ebay for this one.
·       Bullseye Blues Christmas is eleven songs from some of Bullseye’s best artist including Little Jimmy King joining forces with The Memphis Horns, The Smokin’ Joe Kubek Band Featuring Bnois King, Champion Jack Dupree, and one of our favorites, Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson singing Five Pound Box Of AMoney.
·       Blues Christmas by Cleopatra Blues features work from Steve Cropper (STAX and Blues Brothers), Popa Chubby, Kenny Neal, Eric Gales, and Debbie Davies. A seriously good investment for your year end entertainment.
·       American Blues Christmas is along those same lines. My copy just arrived so I need to dive into its 24 songs asap to see what’s naughty and what’s nice.
·       The Alligator Records Christmas Collection and Genuine Houserockin’ Christmas are both from Alligator and well worth it to have in your collection.
·       A Blue Élan Christmas features stellar work from several of their artists. As soon as I can find out where my elves have hidden my copy, I’ll share some of the tracks with you. You can get a copy online fairly easily.
So there you go, a whole bunch of blues for this time of year. I guarantee that if you are a fan of the holidays and you’re looking for a little break from the same dozen songs on repeat, these albums will deliver some sweet sweet sounds for you.
Until we meet again, keep playing, keep listening, and just keep on.