I finally got around to getting my hair cut yesterday so that I may continue to participate in the human race. The stylist and I talked about Christmas music because I noticed they were playing a mix station rather than a holiday station. She said that some people were complaining about the Christmas music. I would never be one of those people.
In my house, we turn on Christmas music the Saturday after Thanksgiving and it plays every day until January 2nd when we take down our Christmas decorations. I would listen to it longer if I could stretch the season out longer. There are so many great Christmas albums out there.
First some classics that probably aren’t new to anyone but can be played all the way through without skipping a track – because they’re classics:
Henry Mancini – A Merry Mancini Christmas
Harry Connick, Jr. – When My Heart Found Christmas
Wynton Marsalis – Crescent City Christmas Card
Leon Redbone – Christmas Island
The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Dig that Crazy Christmas
Bing Crosby – Christmas
Brass Band of Battle Creek – Sounds of Christmas, Sleigh Bells and Brass
A couple of good ones for the kids:
Alvin & the Chipmunks – Chipmunks Christmas
A Christmas Together – John Denver and the Muppets
Recent additions to my collection:
James Taylor – James Taylor at Christmas
Michael Bublé – Christmas
Jake Speed and the Freddies – Losantaville
Individual tracks on my Spotify Christmas playlist:
José Feliciano – Feliz Navidad
Gayla Peevery – I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon
Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Sammy Davis, Jr. & Carmen McRae (best version of this song)
St. Patrick’s Day – John Mayer (maybe not a Christmas song but it works, trust me)
If you ask me, you can’t go wrong by this list.
Display at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix
I had the opportunity last month to visit the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. Let me just say that it exceeded expectations. I expected that I would enjoy seeing a variety of cool instruments but would be left wanting to play rather than just look. The first great surprise was that there is are listening stations all over the museum that allow you to hear examples of the instruments you’re viewing. You put on the headphones and approach one of the TVs next to the display and you hear the music. I would sit at one station and listen over and over. It was very cool. I didn’t have time to see the whole museum. I made a beeline for Europe and America and didn’t even get to see everything there I wanted to see.
MIM has more to offer besides a variety of every kind of instrument. There are instruments that belonged to famous musicians (John Lennon’s piano, Andy Summer’s guitar, etc.), a nice performance hall and a very large room with instruments you can PLAY! I had my kids with me, so I was able to spend a lot of time in that room and play – for the kids.
I spent a little time in the gift shop listening to some of the CDs there and came across a musician I’d never heard of who is apparently very well know, Lokua Kanza. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this man. I bought his ablum Nkolo and can’t stop listening to it. Here’s an example on YouTube:
My twins are old enough now to not need hands-on supervision one-hundred percent of the time. That coupled with the nine hours or so they are in preschool each week has allowed me to juggle a few musical projects.
I am completing work on a collections of songs that are a Christmas present. Because of that, I can’t say whose music it is until I after I give the gift. There are six or seven songs that consist mostly of old recordings that I have remastered. I have added new tracks to a couple and am making one entirely new recording of an old song. More on this project after Christmas.
I am in the middle of recording an EP of my own music. I have two recordings fully finished and a third mostly done. I’d like to have at least five songs before I publish it. A good friend recently pointed out that EPs and singles are the new way of things for independent artists. No one listens to whole albums any more. Better to keep producing songs and release a few at a time. Get them out there rather than wait for a full collection that hardly anyone will listen to as a whole.
I am keeping up my live chops. Although I have had to take a sabbatical from the Ohio Military Band due to a conflict with my son’s gymnastics schedule, I am still playing the the Vereins-Musikanten which gets more fun every year. I have also started a dixieland-inspired group that has begun rehearsing to work up a couple of sets worth of tunes.
I am very pleased to announce that Tubanjo is live and well. Although Kentucky Graham and I are separated by nearly a half a continent, we are still writing songs and arrangements. We plan to make a new, live recording in a yet-to-be-determined venue. Both of us are excited about this project.
Last but certainly not least, KentuckyJam.org is up and running. This is a non-profit with the mission of helping Kentucky area artists record and self-publish their music. Incorporation was completed in October and we have just completed our submission for 501c3 non-profit status. Once that is complete, we’ll raise some funds and hopefully start recording our first artist in April of 2016.
It’s a lot, especially when all of that takes a back seat to the privilege and enjoyment of raising three great kids and caring for a fantastic wife. It’s a lot but it’s good. Busy is not bad.
I have been a musician into four decades now. I was a music major in college before switching to German Studies. I have a BA from the University of Cincinnati Department of German Studies. I did one year of graduate school in the German department at UC and then left school in order to take care of my home and family full-time. I have taught music lessons. I have taught German language. I have managed a kennel at a veterinary hospital.
I have been a stay-at-home dad for nearly six years. I have a boy in grade school and I have twins, a boy and a girl, who are in the middle of toddlerhood.
My schedule is pretty tight these days but I manage to play about forty gigs a year and even get in a bit of studio time now and again. I have plans to expand my musical endeavors when the kids are older and need me around a little less. At the moment, it’s hard to imagine that day.