Recently, on Facebook, veteran of the Worcester music scene, Matt Robert, put out a call for holiday songs from local artists. Many of the songs posted were familiar to me – Brooks milgate, Thinner, the Curtain Society – and indeed, I posted a link to a summary of those songs I did a few years ago. Still, there were a few offers that I wasn’t familiar with, so here they are, along with other recent vacation offers that have fallen on my desk:
“He’s not coming to this town”, by Dougie Fur & the Garlands: This Christmas 2020-themed blues EP that features a number of local talent working incognito is insanely good. Obviously, there is an ironic element in songs like “Elf’s Lament”, but the deep blues groove on songs like “Inner City Snow” and the title track are downright irresistible.
“Jingle Bells”, by Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers: Harp and company find smoky notes and a lot of swing in this delta blues interpretation of the holiday favorite.
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town / The Little Red Rooster”, by Big Dawg: This little holiday swing blues track was recorded live, and there is a release and an energy that is just infectious, and the musicianship is top notch. The first track, of course, is a holiday classic, and the latter is the origin of Delbert McClinton, but both are songs that make the listener want to move.
“Airport” and “The Lucky Life”, by Kristen Ford: Kristen Ford, independent rocker from Boston-turned-Nashville, delivers two original holiday songs here: The first is an upbeat, whimsical song about being literally stranded at the airport while trying to get home for the holidays . The second song is more rhythmic, about being left by a lover during the holidays. It’s not a happy subject, but Ford finds bittersweet notes that advance the emotion of the song.
“It’s Christmas (Santa What Ya Bringin ‘me Tonight?)”, By Starr Faithful: This country blues track by local band Starr Faithful digs into a dirty groove as it goes, and the results are utterly delicious. “Can you bring me a guitar / all wrapped up in a bow,” sings singer-guitarist Jodee Frawlee. “Wrap me a man under the mistletoe / I’ve been a good girl / When I’m bad I’m so much better / Hey Santa Claus / Did you get my letter? The whole song is just a blast.
“Holler ‘N Holy”, by Annie Brobst: This Christmas 2020 EP from local country star Annie Brobst is an exceptionally enjoyable collection, starting with an upbeat, country take on “A Holly Jolly Christmas” and moving towards an austere and charming take on “Silent Night”. Next comes a charming rendition of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, and finally a discreet and emotionally charged version of “All I Want For Christmas”, which absolutely shines.
‘White Christmas’, by Boogie Chillin’: A pretty straightforward presentation of the song, except it was uploaded in December 2020, and everyone seems to have played on Zoom or something. That everything is still good under these conditions is amazing, but the fact that it goes so well is a Christmas miracle. It’s a moving and earthy listening experience.
“Christmas”, by Mauro DePasquale / the Jazzed Up Trio: A jazzy and piano number about the crass commercialism that infected the holidays. “Do your part and fuel the economy,” DePasquale sings, “you’re going to fall victim to the binge eating / this Christmas / another Wall Street gadget day. Of course, there’s a cynicism that drives the song, but it ends in a pretty positive place: “Let’s bring it back to peace and love.” “