Feels Like Christmas To Me

December 13, 2017

Liz Longley started writing songs at a very early age and first performed an original song in front of a crowd when she was nine. She began recording a demo record while performing in clubs, competitions and local festivals while in high school (where she also played clarinet and was a drum major in the marching band).

She attended Berklee College of Music and was taught by Livingston Taylor (James Taylor’s younger brother) and John Mayer. During her time with Mayer, all of the students had the opportunity to play an original tune for him.  No pressure right?

“I got so nervous I didn’t know what the heck to play for him,” Longley excitedly recalled. “So I played this song (called “Queen,” available on 2009’s Somewhere in the Middle) that was kind of new. … But he gave me advice on how to restructure it and where to change a chord. And then the next day I remember we were in the studio and he came in and it was a morning where we’re all just like eating our breakfast and he was like spinning around in his studio chair and started singing one of my songs that was on my MySpace page (that still exists) and it was just unreal to hear someone like John Mayer singing back one of my songs, saying he couldn’t get it out of his head. I think I cried right on the spot. … I had to text my mom right away.”

Longley has won several songwriting competitions including the BMI John Lennon Songwriting Scholarship, the International Acoustic Music Awards and the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest.

Her music has also been featured on several TV shows including Army Wives, Switched At Birth and MTV’s Scream: The TV Series.

In December 2013 Longley released Feels Like Christmas To Me. It’s a lovely song available only via her bandcamp site (for a buck). I’ll feature it tonight.

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Happy Hanukkah

December 12, 2017

Holly Montgomery is a singer/songwriter/bass player from the Washington DC area via Louisville and L.A.

Last year Montgomery wrote and released a project called Eve Rising. The project came about when Montgomery decided she wanted “an alternative to the dreidel dreidel dreidel song to teach kids at Hanukkah.” According to the liner notes, “The songs range from sounding like Alice in Chains and/or Weezer and/or Renaissance madrigals. Her Jewish-themed music is completely modern, completely original and in English.”

I’ll feature a couple songs from Eve Rising tonight.

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Official Website
iTunes

Eve Rising – Light The Lights

Eve Rising – The Miracle of Hanukkah

Little Drummer Boy Featuring Doggies

December 11, 2017

You read it right. Little Drummer Boy featuring Doggies (from Walk Off The Earth).

And then one from Beard Guy (from Walk Off The Earth).

Talented and very creative bunch.
Walk Off The Earth Music Here.
Walkofftheearth.com
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Walk Off The Earth – Little Drummer Boy featuring Doggies

Beard Guy (Walk Off The Earth) Have Yourself A Merry Christmas

Odd Metered Christmas

December 10, 2017

During the holiday season of 2015, a singer named Shannon Soderlund decided to make a new video nearly every day, rearranging Christmas standards into odd meters.  As you’ll see, she records each part and then syncs them all together on-screen Pretty cool. And then she did it again last year. All of 2015 here. 2016 here. I produce video — to produce one nearly every day for a month (in addition to everything else she’s doing) is pretty amazing.

She also produced a Christmas record Sing We Now of Christmas. You can stream it or purchase it on her bandcamp site. (On Spotify hereiTunes, google play.)

Her song, Winter Savings, is a humorous take on Christmas shopping – “this year I insist we buy all our presents right after Christmas”.

In addition to all this she’s very active in the music scene in NYC.

Her odd-metered takes on the classics aren’t for everyone but Lord she can sing.

http://www.shannonsoderlund.com/

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O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – Shannon Söderlund – Odd-Metered Christmas

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Shannon Söderlund

Winter Savings

Sia’s All Original Christmas Record

December 9, 2017

I first heard Sia sing Little Black Sandals on a KRCW ‘live in studio’ compilation record way back in 2006 (or 7). It’s a great tune.

Then somewhere I discovered Zero 7 and realized Sia was the vocalist on their song, Destiny. Again… so good.

She has received an array of accolades including ARIA awards, and MTV Music Award and eight Grammy nominations. In total, Sia has been nominated for 167 awards and has won 50. She’s a bit of an odd duck but she is very talented.

In November of this year, Sia released her first record on Atlantic Records, Everyday Is Christmas. Sia wrote or co-wrote every song on the record with her producer, Greg Kurstin. Kustin has produced records for the Foo Fighters, Adele, Pink, Kelly Clarkson and many, many other artists.

In an article from billboard.com, Sia describes how she and Kurstin ended up writing the all-original 10-song album. In an interview with Zane Lowe she said, “I thought we had a bit of a shortage of good Christmas music. There’s obviously the classics and stuff, but anything new, I wasn’t vibing that much on it,” she said.

“I just was having so much fun, because it’s already there, all of the concepts, you just have to expand on them. It’s not like you have to have an original idea to begin with. It’s like, Christmas, mistletoe, ho-ho-ho, Santa Claus, Christmas list, elves. You’ve got all of the subject matter,” she explained.

“It was easy and fun. So, we did it in two weeks. And I couldn’t stop writing new songs — so, I ended up with an original album by accident.”

Not all of it is my cup of tea, but lots of points for all original material.

YOU HAVE TO CHECK OUT HER WEBSITE

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Everyday Is Christmas – iTunes
Everyday Is Christmas – Amazon
Everyday Is Christmas – Spotify

Sia – Candy Cane Lane

Sia – Snowman

Infamous Stringdusters and JJ Grey

December 8, 2017

I found a HuffPo list featuring their top performers of 2015 — The list included Humming House (see Dec 2), The Wailin Jenny’s (see Dec 12 2016) and Jorma Kaukonen (from Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna) and then 12 other I had never heard of, including the bluegrass band, The Infamous Stringdusters.

A little secret: when I find lists like these, I google the band or artist and the word Christmas (or holiday) and check results. Sometimes you find stuff. Sometimes you don’t. When I googled The Infamous Stringdusters the #1 result was a cover of jingle bells featuring this odd, stiff dude standing in the middle of the band singing the song.

That odd, stiff dude just happened to be JJ Grey – a singer who is truly an amazing talent (discovering people like Grey is a huge benefit of researching this blog).

The Infamous Stringdusters are a bluegrass band from Boston (seriously). They formed in 2006, have released eight records.

John Higginbotham, aka JJ Grey is from Jacksonville, FL. He and his band Mofro formed in 2001 and have released nine records. Their music is described as “southern swamp” but I think it’s really so much more than that. Grey is an outstanding vocalist and songwriter.

I’ll feature the two bands singing/performing Jingle Bells then follow it with some cuts from JJ Grey and Mofro. Not much info on the Jingle Bells collaboration. It was recorded to promote a concert featuring both bands at Red Rocks in Colorado in May of 2016. The song isn’t available anywhere except youtube (and you can probably figure out how to download it from there).
Fun version of the old Christmas classic.

Stringdusters – Facebook
Stringdusters Official Website
Stringdusters – Spotify

JJ Grey & Mofro – Facebook
JJ Grey & Mofro Official Site
JJ Grey & Mofro – Spotify

The Infamous Stringdusters with JJ Grey & Mofro – Jingle Bells (You need to click this one twice — embed code seems to be off. The link works despite the grayed out icon)

JJ Grey – Brighter Days (solo)

JJ Grey & Mofro – Tic Tac Toe

JJ Grey & Mofro – The Sun Is Shining Down

 

You, Me & A Christmas Tree – Elise LeGrow

December 7, 2017

Elise LeGrow is a Canadian singer/songwriter. Her first record was released in December of 2012 (Elise LeGrow EP) – it’s a digital only release and I can’t locate it anywhere.

And other than it was released just a few days after her EP, I can’t find out any additional information on her Christmas single, You, Me and a Christmas Tree.

  • it’s not available on iTunes (in the US anyway)
  • not available at Amazon
  • but you can find it on Spotify

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EliseLeGrow.com

Elise LeGrow – You, Me and a Christmas Tree

What If The Box-Tops Wrote A Christmas Song?

December 6, 2017

Alex Chilton was just 16-years old when he and his band-mates, known as The Box Tops, recorded The Letter in 1966. The Letter was the band’s biggest hit and was the #2 song of 1967 topped only by Light My Fire from The Doors. The band broke up in 1970.

Over the next four decades, Chilton continued to write and record and eventually formed a band called Big Star, a group Peter Buck of R.E.M. called a “major influence” on their music. Additionally, Chilton penned the theme song for That 70’s Show.

In 1975, Chilton released his second solo album, Bach’s Bottom. On it was a tune he wrote titled Jesus Christ. I actually heard a version by The Decemberists from Holidays Rule Volume 2. And only after doing some research on the song did I discover its connection to Chilton.

R.E.M. also covered it. All three below.

Alex Chilton – Jesus Christ

The Decemberists – Jesus Christ

R.E.M. – Jesus Christ

Two Really Catchy Original Christmas Tunes From Canada’s Sloan

December 5, 2017

Sloan is a Canadian rock/power pop band from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Over that past 25 years, they have released 11 LPs, two EPs, a live album and more than 30 singles. They’ve nominated for nine Juno awards (Canada’s equivalent to our Grammy awards) and received one (2007 Rock Recording of the Year for Never Hear The End Of It)..

Last year they released what the band described as a ” galloping, acoustic driven future-holiday-classic “Kids Come Back Again at Christmas” backed by “a snowy piano song suitable for a slow skate called “December 25.”

I had originally slated Kids Come Back Again At Christmas for December 23rd, the day I generally schedule traveling tunes (or more recently empty-nester themed songs).  And with lyrics like this, you can see why:

pretty soon they’re up and out.
let them run
let them experience
the world.
kids come back again at christmas.

and so we celebrate the season.
they’re gone again
they have their reasons.

they didn’t mean to do this to you.
you did this to someone yourself too
but did it ever cross your mind
call them up
it would really mean the world…

But, I really like the flip side December 25 a lot and wanted to feature both songs early. So here they on December 5.

Both are very catchy, power pop tunes and both are in heavy rotation on my playlist.

Find it here:
Amazon
iTunes
Spotify

Official Website
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Sloan – Kids Come Back At Christmas Studio

Sloan – Kids Come Back At Christmas Live
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/kids-come-back-again-at-christmas-single/1172400465
Sloan – December 25

The Wonderfully Talented Brooke Waggoner

December 4, 2017

Admittedly up until a few weeks ago I had not heard of Brooke Waggoner. Noticing she’s based in Nashville I assumed she must be some relation to the late country star, Porter Waggoner. She’s not.

Ms. Waggoner was born in Houston, TX and is a classically trained pianist. In 2006, she graduated from LSU with a degree in music composition and orchestration. Since 2007 she has released four records, all independently with all of the music being fully written, arranged and orchestrated by herself. That’s a feat!

In a review of her album, Originator, Indie Vision Music said Waggoner “…tends to craft all of her music using live instruments in lieu of loops and electronic elements. Her songs are (obviously) piano driven, play heavy of atmosphere and have a whimsical air to them.” Adding, “Her music is a bit hard to pin down.” And while her style may not check a designated box, she is a very talented singer/songwriter.

I’ll feature two songs from Waggoner tonight, Christmas Moon, a single she released in 2008 and her tremendous cover of the Christmas classic, Oh Christmas Tree.

Find Christmas Moon here:
Amazon
iTunes
Spotify

Waggoner’s cover of Christmas Tree is available free from NoiseTrade.

Official Website
Facebook

Brooke Waggoner – Christmas Moon

Brooke Waggoner – Oh Christmas Tree

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