Today’s tunes come from a guy you may not be familiar with, but it’s someone who’s been a part of our Christmases for at least the last decade.
In 1996, Seattle guitarist Michael Powers released a Christmas album called “Frosty the Bluesman.” It’s billed as “holiday favorites from a bluesman’s perspective,” but there’s more to it than that. There are indeed 14 holiday favorites on the disc, but they go beyond the blues to encompass R&B, soul, jazz and reggae.
I hadn’t heard of Powers before I picked this up at the Exclusive Company, our local record store, all those years ago, and I’m not familiar with his work beyond this. According to Powers’ Web site, he’s been at it for 20 years. Three years ago, he released another Christmas record, “Frosty’s Funky Holiday,” which I haven’t heard.
However, “Frosty the Bluesman” is one of our favorites, and here are three tracks from it, along with some of Powers’ liner notes.
“Frosty the Bluesman” — “gives us a slow 12/8 blues take on the classic, with a little of my Hendrix influences shining through during the solo. Just grab a seat at the bar and sip a cool one.” Powers plays all the guitars on this one. Those Hendrix influences seem rather modest, though.
“Please Come Home for Christmas” — “is a faithful recreation of the Charles Brown classic.” Indeed, another slow blues take on which Powers plays all the guitars.
“God Rest Ye Funky Gentlemen” — “When I first wrote this arrangement, I played it for a young guitar student who was at my studio. He said, ‘This doesn’t sound like Christmas music. It sounds good!’ Nuff said. The feel is a funky shuffle.” Blues meets jazz on this one, on which Deon Estus, the bassist for Wham! and George Michael, plays electric bass. Powers plays the other guitars, horns and drums.
All from “Frosty the Bluesman,” Michael Powers, 1996.
(Update: The Savefile link to the first tune has been fixed.)