Monthly Archives: December 2012

A smaller Christmas, Day 19

As our smaller Christmas rolls along, I’ve been trying to post some things that our five or six regular readers haven’t heard here before.

Today, we have another. Arriving fresh within the hour is a cool gift from our friend Derek over at the faaaaaaabulous Derek’s Daily 45.

When not disguised as Derek, mild-mannered curator of obscure but wonderful ’60s and ’70s R&B and soul singles, he’s one of the movers and shakers behind the Bang Girl Group Revue, which is indeed super. Three female singers, including Derek’s lovely wife Angeline, are backed by a four-piece combo led by Derek on guitar. Delightful throwbacks all.

bang girl group revue soul shangri la lp

The Bang Girl Group Revue is just out with its first LP, “Soul Shangri-La,” which is chock full of throwback originals and nice covers.

My red vinyl copy from the sold-out limited pressing arrived the other day, making its way from the San Francisco Bay Area to our corner of Wisconsin. Did I mention it’s on red vinyl?

The gift that arrived from Derek today is this acoustic version of a Christmas soul classic.

bang girl group revue xmas 45

“(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home,” the Bang Girl Group Revue, 2012. Free digital download.

Because this is Derek’s gift, and not mine, only the audio is presented here.

“It’s meant for sharing,” Derek assures me.

So to grab the free download and to get the story behind this wonderful cover, please head over to Derek’s Daily 45. It’s worth the short trip.

Your Christmas music requests in the comments, please.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds

A smaller Christmas, Day 18

Those who have stopped here over the past six Christmas seasons know that we try to stay away from novelty tunes.

(I realize “Snoopy’s Christmas” may come close. Too bad.)

But a friend has shared something that’s just too much fun to resist.

Scott was a couple of years ahead of me in high school. We didn’t run in the same circles, though we knew many of the same people. I have a hunch he had more adventures than I did. He’s had a long, successful career in broadcasting, though he likely would characterize it as a long, strange trip.

Anyhow, today on Facebook, he wrote:

“From the archives. It was 20 years ago this holiday season that this little ditty aired on WSCX-FM Detroit.”

“Polish Night Before Christmas,” Scott Chapin, 1992.

The other day, I wrote of the Packers-Bears football rivalry and how it’s deeply rooted in Wisconsin culture. Well, Scott and I grew up in central Wisconsin in the ’70s, and Polish culture is deeply rooted in us, too. We grew up with lots of Polacks, and they would be the first to call themselves that. A big part of being Polish (or appreciating Polish culture) is having a gentle, self-deprecating sense of humor (and a thirst for beer).

That, and digging polka music, which Scott does here. Here’s the story behind that little ditty from the self-proclaimed “Poseur of Polka.”

“In the early ’90s, I was doing the morning show on the classic rock station in Detroit. (WCSX-FM, Chapin and McBean.) I did a lot of characters, and one was Stosh Ponatoski. I drew a lot of Stosh from growing up around Wausau (Hatley, Bevent, Ringle, etc.). Detroit also has a large Polish population in Hamtramck. … It was just basically a rewrite of ‘The Night before Christmas’ from Stosh’s perspective.”

They played it on the “Friday Morning Polka Party” on Scott’s show.

“I’d take a well-known song and record it polka style. … This was when people were starting to use sampling, and I kind of sampled my own polka band and played all the music on the stuff as well. Great memories.”

Your Christmas music requests in the comments, please.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds

A smaller Christmas, Day 17

There was no post here yesterday, on the 17th day of December, because there was no time for a post.

Taking care of some business in the morning and early afternoon, then working, then peeling away for the East High School winter band concert, then back to work until midnight.

Evan plays percussion in Band 2. He played tympani with his typical flair and intensity on their last number, “An English Christmas.” It was described in the program as an arrangement based on three old (and familiar) English carols: “I Saw Three Ships,” “The Wassail Song” and “What Child Is This?”

And thus, a song from yesterday.

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“What Child Is This?” Ardelio Gomez, from “Christmas On The Border,” 1994. It’s out of print and apparently not available digitally.

This has a nice chunky groove as it chugs along. It’s from a Christmas record by a bunch of Nashville session musicians. It’s described as “a spicy holiday recipe of Texas blues, hot country and Mexican salsa” but other than this song and one other, it doesn’t quite live up to that billing.

I went in search of Ardelio Gomez and found nothing. That is, nothing but an intriguing bit of speculation that this actually is gospel singer Russ Taff performing under an assumed name because of a contract issue.

Your Christmas music requests in the comments, please.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds

A smaller Christmas, Day 16

Went back to work today, and was whipsawed between two big stories.

For most of the day, it was the Packers and the Bears, an NFL grudge match that goes back decades. Yet that football game — only a game, but so important to so many, so deeply etched in our culture — faded to insignificance when it came time for the story out of Newtown, Connecticut.

It was like going through a portal, stepping from the roar of the stadium into the silence of church, especially during the evening vigil at which the president spoke.

Trying to reconcile all that, I thought back to what a friend wrote Friday, as everyone tried to process the news out of Connecticut.

“Peace, love and art is the beacon.”

So here is a song about peace and love at Christmas.

A beacon cutting through the darkness.

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“Glorious,” Melissa Etheridge, from “A New Thought For Christmas,” 2008. Also available digitally.

You hear echoes of the “Gloria” chorus of “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

“Love, love, love, it’s glorious.”

“Believe in heavenly, in heavenly peace.”

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A smaller Christmas, Day 15

Was there snow at Christmas when we lived in Columbia, Missouri, in the early ’60s? I think so.

But we also spent a couple of those Christmases in Wisconsin, splitting time between both sets of grandparents. There certainly was snow in Wisconsin then, and certainly snow after we moved back for good in 1965.

Now, though, there seems to be uncertainty every year about whether we’ll have snow for Christmas in Wisconsin. Maybe it’s global warming. Maybe not. We often wind up with a little snow on the ground at Christmas. But at the moment, late on a Saturday night, it’s 42 degrees, foggy and misty.

Having lived in a place where there usually is snow for Christmas, I wonder what it’s like in a place where there never is snow for Christmas.

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“Christmas Island,” Leon Redbone, from “Christmas Island,” 1989. Also available digitally.

The song dates to 1946, when the Andrews Sisters first recorded it with Guy Lombardo. It also has been covered by Jimmy Buffett. But I heard Redbone’s version first, so that’s the definitive one for me.

Your Christmas music requests in the comments, please.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds

A smaller Christmas, Day 14

After today’s news out of Newtown, Connecticut, what can you say?

No words today. No visuals, either.

Just this.

“Amazing Grace,” Jeff Beck, 1997.

This comes from a record partially titled “A Guitar Christmas.” It’s out of print, but is available digitally.

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A smaller Christmas, Day 13

In the mail this morning is a note from Clay Eals, who is Steve Goodman’s biographer. Clay’s note is long. They usually are.

So is his book on Goodman, the beloved Chicago folk singer. Clay is thorough. He would like to remind you that “Steve Goodman: Facing The Music,” now in its third printing, is available via his website.

But the best part of Clay’s note, albeit a bittersweet one, is word that Goodman’s mother, Minnette, died last week. She was 85. Dave Hoekstra of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a wonderful tribute. She was a familiar sight at Chicago shows almost until her death.

“It wasn’t a gig if Minnette wasn’t there,” said the great folk singer John Prine, who was Steve Goodman’s best friend. She never missed a Jimmy Buffett show, either. When she went to last summer’s show, Buffett had her park her Honda Civic right next to his tour bus.

I met Steve Goodman in 1983, a year before he died of leukemia. He’d released a live solo acoustic album and was touring to support it. I bought that record after his show in Madison, Wisconsin. He signed it this way: “Joe — Hello, Steve Goodman.” That’s a story in itself.

That record, “Artistic Hair,” has another of our favorite Christmas songs on it. You never hear it. Then again, when was the last time you heard anything by Steve Goodman?

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“Winter Wonderland,” Steve Goodman, from “Artistic Hair,” 1983. It’s also available digitally.

In which Mr. Goodman takes a request from the audience, then realizes he’s not sure he knows the lyrics.

“You gonna feed me the words?” he asks.

It’s kind of absurd.

Your Christmas music requests in the comments, please.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds