Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lorne Greene: Have a Happy Holiday

Just last week I was hit like a lightning bolt with the thought "Why haven't I shared Lorne Greene before?"  Lorne Greene's "Have a Happy Holiday" was one of the four Christmas records we had when I was growing up, along with a Bing Crosby, Firestone Vol. 5, and a country music collection.  I played Lorne Greene and Bing Crosby over and over.

I think there are two reasons why I haven't shared this yet.  First, it has been shared before on other blogs, and I try not to duplicate efforts too often.  So I just never moved it into the ripping queue.



Second, and maybe I knew this before and subsequently forgot, "A Christmas Cantata" on side 2 of the album has a significant scratch.  A scratch that, despite my efforts, prevented me from ripping the whole album.  Still, I wanted to share out my copy of this great record from 1965.  So, I ripped all that I could (everything except "A Christmas Cantata"), cleaned the rips, removed the noise and prepped them to share.  For the Cantata, I went to my archives and found the files I had downloaded a few years back, and included the Cantata from that share.  So, thanks to the festive friend who shared this out previously.  Although I don't recall the source, I want to give credit where credit is due.

So, it is with great pleasure that I bring you Lorne Greene's "Have a Happy Holiday".  This is a terrific record.  Lorne's strong baritone voice is perfect for the song selections and readings.  His recital of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" is especially good, and one of the reasons I loved this record in childhood.  Lorne recites the poem with jingly cheer, much animation in his voice, and is accompanied by a Joe Reisman score. 

I'm also very partial to "Christmas is A-Comin'", one of the four songs on the album (except for the ones that are part of the Cantata).  It's a very nice rendition of a classic song, and once again Lorne shows his talent as an interpreter of the whimsical aspects of the piece.

This is one of my favorite a;bums.  Please enjoy "Have a Happy Holiday", courtesy of Der Bingle and the unnamed contributor of "A Christmas Cantata", the final track on the record.

<link removed>

Sorry folks!  This is available now on CD, so have to remove the link.

Friday, November 29, 2013

CD Review: "Let Your Heart Be Light" by Andrea Hamilton


The heart and soul of a musician shine in their Christmas albums, especially, it seems to me, for those who are not in the mainstream.  Such is the case with Andrea Hamilton and her new release “Let Your Heart Be Light”, a beautiful new record this Christmas season.
 
 
Andrea Hamilton has channeled her talents into Christian recordings with her previous albums “Deciding What to Keep”, “Salvation Come”, and “Slow Miracle”.  In 2013, the LA-based Olathe, Kansas native (a local gal!) turned to Christmas music to deliver her message of spirituality and joy.  “Let Your Heart Be Light” is a collection of 12 traditional and original Christmas songs that is certain brighten your holiday season.

Andrea’s arrangements of “O Come All Ye Faithful”, titled simply “O Come”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, and “Silent Night” are unique and superbly refreshing, without losing the reverence for the season.  “O Come” is upbeat and lively, turned in to a light pop version of the Christmas classic.   “Silent Night” is an especially pleasing performance, tweaking the melody just enough to make it interesting and provocative, and then returning to the song's traditional form.


The original songs are exceptional.  “Christmas Clock”, “Love Came Down”, and “Waiting for Christmas Morn”, written or co-written by Andrea, show her accomplished skills as a songwriter.  “Every Time”, written by Andrea and Kip Fox, is my favorite song on the album.  It captures the meaning of Christmas as few songs do.  The line  “It’s not what I got but what I got for you” perfectly frames the spirit of the holiday, that of giving and bringing joy to the ones we love.

Andrea’s light, ethereal, crisp vocals are beautiful throughout the album, expertly complemented by her piano playing.  Her musicians – Emanuel Cervantes, Corey Witt, James Grey, Daniel Roberts, and Brendan Bennett – blend and accompany perfectly throughout the record.  

Andrea Hamilton is another artist I found via a Kickstarter campaign.  This year has produced some amazing Christmas music through Kickstarter – Elizabeth Chan, The Bowmans, and Andrea Hamilton.  I encourage all of my readers to visit Kickstarter and help fund these artists, even with a modest contribution.  Every donation helps these tremendous musicians, and it’s a great feeling to play a small part in a successful project.


“Let Your Heart Be Light” is available on Spotify.  Give it a listen, and if you like it, support the artist by purchasing her CD.  This and Andrea’s other albums are available on Amazon as well as her website, hopefulpop.com.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'd like to wish all my readers a very Happy and Peaceful Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow the music sharing season will start.  I hope that you enjoy what I have for you this year.  And, I also have another CD or two to review, in addition to the usual miscellaneous holiday posts.  I'm also hoping to have another artist interview completed and posted for your enjoyment.

All that's to come, but for now, enjoy the holiday!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Cheesy CD Giveaway!

Earlier this year I made a contribution to become a backer for Richard Cheese's Kickstarter project, a new Christmas CD from Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine titled "Cocktails with Santa".  I was a big fan of his previous Christmas release "Silent Nightclub", so I jumped at the chance to back a new Cheese Christmas CD.



The package I chose as a backer included not only an autographed CD from Senor Queso himself (yahoo!), but also 5 other copies of the CD to give away to friends and family.

So, I've decided to give one copy away to a lucky Merry and Bright reader!

Well, a lucky and skilled Merry and Bright reader...

What skills, you may ask?  Well, it should be pretty easy for my internet-savvy readers.  I believe in supporting independent artists, those out of the mainstream and giving it all to earn a living as a musician. Some of the small things I can do to help is give them exposure here in this blog, and also provide links to their websites.  So, in order to be eligible to win your very own copy of "Cocktails with Santa", you will need to visit Richard's website and find a piece of information, and send it to me via e-mail.  The winner will be selected at random from all of the e-mails I receive with the correct information.

Ready?  OK - here's what you need to do.  Visit Richard Cheese's website, www.richardcheese.com, and find his "Latest News" page.  Then, find the list of CDs that are out of print and will no longer be produced once the current stock is sold out.  Then, find the second album on the list.  Once you have the name of the album, send me an e-mail at derbingle42@gmail.com with "I Want Some Cheese" in the subject line, and in the body of the e-mail, write the title of the album from the website.  Also, please include your name and city of residence.  The contest will run through December 1st, then the winner will be selected.  I'll contact the winner via e-mail for a mailing address.

Contest rules:
1.  No purchase necessary.  I don't sell anything, so this is easy.
2.  One entry per e-mail address please.  Multiple entries from the same e-mail will be disqualified.
3.  I will identify the winner in the blog by first name and city of residence, like "Bob from Toluca Lake, CA".
4.  I will not disclose the winner's e-mail address, with one exception.  If Richard Cheese contacts me and would like the e-mail address, I will provide it to him.  Otherwise, your e-mail is safe with me.
5.  This contest is not endorsed by nor connected in any way to Richard Cheese, LoungeMart, or anyone except the author of this blog.
6.  The CD I am giving away is from my personal collection, and was obtained via the Kickstarter campaign.
7.  Please do not make unauthorized copies of the CD to give away.  Support the artist with legal music purchases.
8.  All contest rules, decisions, and actions are under the sole discretion of the author of this blog.

Ok - ready - go get Cheesy!

Richard Cheese website

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Artist Interview: Elizabeth Chan

Today I am proud to bring you an exclusive Merry and Bright interview with Christmas recording artist Elizabeth Chan.  Very few musicians can lay claim to the very specific title "Christmas recording artist", but Elizabeth has focused her creative energies and passions solely on Christmas music.  And for that, we thank her.  Elizabeth's first full-length album "Everyday Holidays" is available from Amazon, iTunes, and other outlets, and her first single "Fa La La" is getting airplay on Christmas music stations around the country.  Without further ado, here is my conversation with Elizabeth Chan.

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Merry and Bright:  Hello Elizabeth.  Welcome to Merry and Bright! 

Elizabeth Chan: Hello! I'm so happy to be here! :) 

MB:   Elizabeth, you’re one of the most Christmassy artists out there.  Where did your passion for Christmas, and especially Christmas music, come from?

EC:   When I was a little girl and throughout my entire life, I loved Christmas. Growing up, my sister and I would listen to Christmas music 24/7 in our house. Listening to Christmas music can instantly transport you to a warm happy place, which is a testament of the power of music. It has been a life dream of mine to write a holiday song that would become a standard that would become part of people's happy holiday memories. Christmas is the only time throughout the year that my family is reunited.
MB:  You’ve written, literally, hundreds of Christmas songs.  Tell us a little bit about your process – where do your ideas for Christmas songs come from?  And how do you develop the ideas into the final, polished songs?

EC:   In life, I always knew I wanted to be a musician. For some reason I had ignored this early on - and had lived a non-musical life, which I was pretty successful at, but spent many days lamenting and daydreaming about songwriting. When days would be really bad I would turn to my friends and family and ask them what they thought if I just dedicated my life to writing a Christmas song. Most people would just chuckle - and I would go into the motions of my regular life.

        By the grace of incredible luck, I had the opportunity to embark on my dream to write a Christmas song and an amazing thing happened. Despite not knowing how to play an instrument, despite having never written a Christmas song... the songs just started to pour out. They flooded out so fast. It's almost like I go into a trance. All it takes is for me to pinpoint a few key chords I like and then to build an idea, it will make me think of a story and I'll start to scribble down phrases. When I'm in this moment, I can sometimes envision how I hear the song in my mind and try best to capture the song to share with others. I become rather transfixed when I'm in this zone. I don't stop until the song stops. This can take minutes, hours or days. I went from having no instruments in my home to having two guitars, two keyboards, a ukulele, a voice harmonizer, 3 recorders and a pro tools setup - all to help me catch the songs I hear in my head. 

        The inspiration for my Christmas music is mostly my family. I really do not see my entire family in one place except for Christmas. Sometimes life isn't the way you planned, and the ones you love the most are the farthest away from you - even if they are not so far away. For me presents are secondary to presence as true Christmas gifts. This is the core motivating message I try to evoke in my songs. How to bring people together with my music is key, because it’s the story of my Christmas life and it’s this idea that I've dedicated my life to. Eventually the way I live my life will probably become a song in itself. More like a symphony! That isn't over yet! :) 

MB:   Who are your main influences as a musician? 

EC:  When I was 6 years old, my parents used to record me singing to Whitney Houston. I have my favorite bands, most of which I only knew because of sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car. I love the Carpenters, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys. I was taught to sing by listening to the radio. I still listen to the radio EVERY morning. No matter what. I love the radio. For example, this past record was partially inspired by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis "Can't Hold Us," and Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas." 

        My dad purchased my first keyboard when I was about the same age, but it only had a few octaves of keys. I would play him what I heard on the radio and turn to him and say "this key I need - is here [point off the keyboard], but it’s not here." Before anyone knew it I came home to a big grand piano and had all the keys. When I was about 7 I took a few ear training and solfège classes, but I taught myself to play piano. I didn't know the keys by their standard names (CDEFG) or have any proper piano training. I only knew solfège (Do, Re Mi). So I really struggled with reading. I took a piece of music and would write "Do, Mi, So" on the music paper to learn how to play piano. I remember finally learning a piece of music and playing it at school the way I learned - and then a classmate saying, "That's not how you play it!" After that moment, I kind of decided learning piano wasn't my thing. I loved my piano though. So even though I didn't know what I was playing - I would continue to play. Match the chords in my head that sounded right and would compose my own music, instead of trying to read other music. I'm musically illiterate but I am a prolific songwriter. Apparently I'm in good company, the one artist i hold in my pocket as an example is Paul McCartney. 

        Looking back, it was probably this idea that because I didn't know how to read music that helped me to stay away from music for so long. Sometimes the music is just in you, and for me it is truly my calling. 

        My main musical influence is a need to get these songs out of my head, I write music and sing songs and parts every day. I need a release valve for the inspiration!  
        I had one guitar lesson that changed my life with Mike Doughty. He was gracious enough to teach me how to play guitar and taught me how to tune a guitar to open chords. He told me to just make sounds I like. I took that single lesson and never looked back. Since then I've written over 300+ songs. 


MB:   And who are some of your primary inspirations in the Christmas music genre?

EC:   I look up to Irving Berlin and carry his biography everywhere I go, and leave his biography on my nightstand. His story is one I love reading. Without a doubt, my primary musical inspiration in the Christmas music genre is Stevie Wonder. I listen to all his Christmas records year round. Like everyone I have my favorite songs "Merry Christmas Darling," "Last Christmas," "Happy X'Mas (War is Over)." I cannot name all my favorite songs. I listen to Christmas music all year round and keep up with people who put out new Christmas records every year. I spend a lot of time studying the Christmas music genre that I am somewhat of a historian. I'm also very lucky to live in New York City, where many of the standards we love were penned. I'm still able to see the inspiration that has inspired those before me in my day to day life. 

MB:  You reached out to your friends and fans via Kickstarter to help fund the production of “Everyday Holidays”.  Tell us how you felt the day your funding goal was attained.

EC:   I was truly reluctant to start a Kickstarter campaign. I'm not the kind of person to ask for help, and in a way I'm still learning how to ask for help. I had written songs that I knew I wanted on my EP and was confronted with the fact that I could not afford the recording of the record unless I had help. After letting Steve Lillywhite listen to the initial scratch demos of the songs, he suggested that I start a Kickstarter campaign, that if people heard the songs they would help. I ignored that suggestion for a bit, but then realized that this record would not come out if I didn't have help. When I launched the Kickstarter I really thought it would never get funded, but was just happy to see that people did truly support the making of this record. I knew that even if I didn't fund the Kickstarter I would try to make the record in any way I could. Then someone named Santa Claus backed the Kickstarter and before I knew it, as the clock started to close in on the deadline - my entire record was funded. 
        This whole experience taught me a very important lesson. That if I let this fear of asking for help in my way - I would have never put out "Everyday Holidays" or have been able to continue on my journey. 

MB:   Besides funding, what were some of your challenges in making “Everyday Holidays” a reality?

EC:   The music business is possibly one of the toughest industries to be in. The funding only took care of the recording costs of the record. It didn't include making the design of the album cover, manufacturing, the music video, marketing the record. There are a lot of things that go into getting music out into the world. There is such a deluge of holiday music that comes out every year that it’s very hard to cut through the noise. I would list out all the slammed doors and failures that I had this year - but that would depress people and demotivate other aspiring musicians and artists! :) The bad is part of what makes good - well.. Great ;)
MB:  Well, I think “Everyday Holidays” is fantastic.  Although it’s only been released for a few weeks, is it too soon to ask what we might expect next from Elizabeth Chan?  Do you hope to record and release another Christmas CD?
EC:   God willing, I will continue to make new holiday records every year. I will be as committed to this as life will let me stay committed to my dream of penning a Christmas classic. My first single “Fa La La” has already charted on radio stations across the nation. It is a small step but an important one for me. 
MB:  Here’s a tough question:  What’s the one best thing about Christmas in New York City?

EC:   Not that hard! My family! :) My favorite thing in NYC is the Snowflake on 57th street. My ultimate favorite holiday thing. I saw it the other night, I was so excited.
MB:   Do you have a favorite Christmas song, or a favorite recording of a song by a specific artist?

EC:   This question is MUCH tougher than the last one! How can I choose a favorite Christmas song? It is almost like asking, "What is your favorite Christmas light?" Can you really only admire just one Christmas light? It's the string that makes it beautiful. Lucky for me, I have quite a long string of favorite Christmas records of my own! I do absolutely love "This Christmas" by Donny Hathaway. I listen to the song in the summer and feel really Christmassy. I guess to be fair, I love "A Christmas Song," by Elizabeth Chan ;) Not because I wrote it, but because it is a real reminder and an artifact of someone who has gone for their dream. I'm sad this song will probably never be on the radio. 
MB:   Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans, both current and future?

EC:   To my fans, thank you for taking the time to listen to my records. The words are autobiographical and sometimes not so easy to share, so I don't take for granted the moment that you choose to listen to my song. I hope that my songs are the kind that you'll turn back to every holiday season and share with your family. I promise to continue sharing my journey through my Christmas songs with you as life will allow. :) 

MB:   Thanks for spending this time here at Merry and Bright!  Have a very Merry Christmas, Elizabeth!
EC:    Merry Christmas and Thank you for having me!!!! :D 
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

CD Reviews: "Duck the Halls" and "Slower Than Christmas"

Since we're still in the pre-music-sharing season, I thought I'd instead share my take on "Duck the Halls", the Christmas CD from the Robertson family of Louisiana Duckmen fame, and, most recently, of course, Duck Dynasty.

I had never seen Duck Dynasty until this past Summer, and wondered how the heck a show about a family that made duck calls could be any good.  My kids started watching it, and, unlike they other shows they watch about tattoos, tattoo removal, opening up storage bins, and building aquariums, I actually got sucked in to the phenomenon.  I find Duck Dynasty to be very funny and very entertaining.  Why, you ask?  Well, sure, it's not a reality show.  The situations are "suggested" by the producers.  It's half sitcom and half reality, but it's funny.  The Robertsons have a collective great sense of humor, have natural comic timing, and the looks the teen-aged Robertson kids give are precious.  But the main thing it that it's refreshingly clean.  There are no language bleeps.  No swearing.  No more than the brothers calling each other idiots.  And, every episode ends with the family around the dinner table, with Phil Robertson saying a prayer.  It's good, clean, entertaining TV.



Ok, so, how's the CD?  I like it.  I think it's darned entertaining, and it makes me laugh and smile.  The music is surprisingly good, though there are peaks and valleys.  Is it a timeless Christmas classic?  Nah.  It is fun?  Yes, definitely.  It makes me happy, happy, happy.

Missy Robertson is featured on three of the songs, and has a very good voice, pleasantly delivering on "I'll Be Home for Christmas", "Baby, It's Cold Outside", and "Why I Love Christmas".  Sadie Robertson, Willie's daughter, is joined by the other Robertson children on "Away in a Manger" (also featuring the totally awesome Alison Krauss) and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer", and gives fine, earnest, and sweet performances.

"Christmas Cookies", with Phil Robertson and special guest George Straight, is a great little song about Miss Kay's Christmas cookies (yep, you guessed it).  It's a happy, fun, and superbly seasonal song, and one of the best on the album.

Let's get back to "Baby, It's Cold Outside", with Missy and Jase Robertson.  Ha!  This one cracks me up.  Jase's mainly spoken performance is funny, just in his delivery and timing.  I love this version of a song that is really hit or miss.  This take is a definite hit (even though it doesn't get "bone-chillin'" in Louisiana).

The biggest surprise is "Camouflage and Christmas Lights", performed by Reed Roberston, Jase and Missy's son.  When I first listened to this, I checked the liner notes to see who the guest singer was.  Reed has a fine voice, the best on the record.  I'd like to hear more from Reed, in more traditional Christmas carols and songs.

And, of course, there's the title track, complete with duck calls replacing the Fa La La La Las.  And, Uncle Si chimes in on three songs, adding his unique vocal talents to the record.

Classic, no.  Loads of fun, yes indeed.

Now, there is one more Duck Dynasty-related Christmas CD that has not gotten the press and hype that accompanied "Duck the Halls".  Mountain Man, one of the best and funniest neighbors on Duck Dynasty, released a Christmas record called "Slower Than Christmas".  Mountain Man has a well-deserved reputation for not moving at too fast a pace.  Nor, talking too fast.  So, "Slower Than Christmas" is themed around Mountain Man's pace of life.



I listened to some of the tracks from "Slower Than Christmas" on Spotify, as a try-before-you-buy.  I didn't buy.  It's a gimmick of an album, and, for me, the gimmick doesn't work.  I couldn't get into this record.  Mountain Man, love ya on the tube, but the record, not so much.

Just my opinions - your mileage may vary :-)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Free EP from Brad McNett & Jake Reichbart

One of the best aspects of running this little ol' Christmas Music blog is that artists will occasionally contact me about their music.  A few days ago I heard from the duo Brad McNett and Jake Reichbart.  Brad and Jake have a 6-song Christmas EP available on Bandcamp as a free download. 



Brad and Jake deliver an "unplugged" (is "unplugged" just too '90's?) collection of traditional Christmas songs that I think you'll enjoy.  I especially like their acoustic arrangement of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year".

Follow the links below to download their EP "Please Come Home for Christmas", and to find out more about these two fine musicians.

Brad and Jake on Bandcamp

Brad McNett artist website

Jake Reichbart website

Friday, November 8, 2013

CD Review: Elizabeth Chan "Everyday Holidays"


Elizabeth Chan: Everyday Holidays

Let’s get right to it: I really love this record.

Many readers of Merry and Bright, being the internet-savvy, Christmas music loving folk that they are, may already be familiar with Elizabeth Chan.  In 2012 Elizabeth released an EP titled “Naughty & Nice”, with 5 original Christmas songs.  Elizabeth, who lives and breathes Christmas every day of the year, has a goal to write and record a modern classic Christmas song.  To this end, she has written over 300 seasonal songs to date.  In 2013, Elizabeth went to Kickstarter to help fund a full-length CD, and at the end of the funding period 95 backers had committed over $10,000 to support her project.  And now, after all is said and done, we have a full CD from Elizabeth, with 10 original songs, plus a remix cut, for a total of eleven happenin’ holiday tunes. 


Elizabeth’s songs tend toward a blend of Christmas with pop arrangements.  “Fa La La” is the best of the bunch, and it is her first single from the album.  “Fa La La” is a catchy, energetic song with a driving snare drum beat.  You’ll be tapping your feet and nodding your head along as you listen, and you’ll find yourself singing along.

“A Christmas Song” is a wonderful cornucopia of Christmas song tidbits, expertly woven together with an upbeat, jingly arrangement.  A few years ago Rocky and Balls (aka Sophie Madeleine and Hannah-Rei) achieved perfection with their “Christmas Song Song”, creating a kazoo-accompanied homage to what seemed like every popular Christmas song ever.  But while Rocky and Balls created a work of pure whimsy, Elizabeth has married the joy of hearing Christmas songs with the feelings of love for that one special person.  It’s a truly great song that gives us a glimpse into Elizabeth’s passions and soul. 

“Vixen” debuted on “Naughty & Nice” and makes a return on this CD.  It’s a sexy little song about Santa’s favorite girl who may, just may, edge over into the realm of the naughty J  “Vixen” is totally unique and attention-getting, while remaining radio-friendly.  Now if only Christmas radio would play it!

On “Only On Christmas Time”, Elizabeth explores her range as a vocalist, particularly into her lower register, with wonderful results.  It’s a dance-beat celebration of the season, and very enjoyable.

“Tis the Season” is a rockin’, drivin’ force of a song with powerful drumming by John Benthal, shredding guitar by Nik Chinboukas, and sleighbells – what a great mix!

I find this collection of songs to be truly inspirational.  Elizabeth has not relied on covers and interpretations of classic Christmas songs to get our attention.  This is an artist truly following her dream, which is not just performing Christmas songs, but writing, performing, and recording her own Christmas songs.  Folks, this is inspiring artistry at its best.  And she’s good, too, friends, really good. 
And, I have to give a quick shout-out to Elizabeth's musicians who helped make this record:  Tony Lauria, Dylan Wissing, Yan Falmagne, Andy Snitzer, Kent Smith, Pemberton Roach, and Steve Addabbo.
To me, this is what Christmas music is all about.  It comes straight from the heart of an artist.  It’s a direct connection to the passions of a musician.  Elizabeth’s love of Christmas shines through on every song.

Please visit Elizabeth’s website to learn more, and to hear samples of her music.  Then surf on over to Amazon or iTunes and support an inspirational artist.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Welcome to the Season!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Holidays, 2013 edition! 

As I sit here this morning, the first day of our return to standard time, after forgetting to set my clocks back last night and joyfully realizing it this morning, I wanted to write a quick post to welcome everyone back to Merry and Bright for a new season of Christmas music, books, and whatever else comes to the mind of ol' Der Bingle.

I'm hoping for a great year here - more mini-reviews of new Christmas releases, a few full reviews of Christmas records from artists you won't find at Target.  Perhaps some artist interviews.  Salute!s for the work done by the some of the friends of Merry and Bright.  And, of course, sharing out Christmas music that is out of print and unavailable in digital format.

To wind up this first post of the new season, I want to give a quick shout out to Ronald Lankford's new book, "Sleigh Rides, Jingle Bells, and Silent Nights:  A Cultural History of American Christmas Songs".  Ronald is the curator of his own Christmas music site, and has published a marvelous book about the music we all love so dearly.  I started reading it this morning, and will post a more extensive review later in the season.  Ronald's research and work is exceptional, and the artwork included in his book and on his site is simply fantastic.  I have a great fondness for the nostalgic Christmas art of the past, and just love the vintage images he posts. 

Sleigh Rides, Jingle Bells, and Silent Nights website

Amazon link to the book

 
 
So, here we go!  The start of a new and joyous season!