The 2015 Season’s Greetings Compilation
Andy Williams was the host of a American variety show called the Andy Williams Show. The show aired from 1962 until 1971 and was probably most noted for being the birth place of the Osmonds of Donny and Marie fame. Andy was a soft shoe crooner of the nth degree and his show featured many contemporaries, such as Phil Harris, Steve Lawrence, Johnny Mathis and Lawrence Welk, just to name a few. Here, we have Andy kick starting our 2015 Holiday Compilation with his fabulous version of “Happy Holidays”.
Leon Redbone (born Dickran Gobalian, August 26, 1949) is an Canadian/American singer-songwriter and guitarist specializing in interpretations of early 20th-century music, including jazz and blues standards and Tin Pan Alley classics. “Let It Snow” by Leo Redbone is Steve Warrenfeltz’ favorite holiday song of all time.
Faron Young (February 25, 1932 – December 10, 1996) was an American country music singer and songwriter from the early 1950s into the mid-1980s and one of its most successful and colorful stars. Hits including “If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’)” and “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young” marked him as a honky-tonk singer in sound and personal style; and his chart-topping singles “Hello Walls” and “It’s Four in the Morning” showed his versatility as a vocalist. Known as the Hillbilly Heartthrob, and following a movie role, the Young Sheriff, Young’s singles reliably charted for more than 30 years. Young is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Marcia Ball (born March 20, 1949, Orange, Texas) is an American blues singer and pianist, born in Orange, Texas who was raised in Vinton, Louisiana. She was described in USA Today as “a sensation, saucy singer and superb pianist… where Texas stomp-rock and Louisiana blues-swamp meet.” The Boston Globe described her music as “an irresistible celebratory blend of rollicking, two-fisted New Orleans piano, Louisiana swamp rock and smoldering Texas blues from a contemporary storyteller.” Marcia is a Blues On The Fox festival vet.
Blind Boys of Alabama are an American, five-time Grammy Award winning gospel group, from Alabama. They first sang together in 1944. Since then, the group’s output has spanned seven decades of tours and appearances, and produced a successful discography.
The performing core of the group consists of eight musicians, including four blind singers, original founding member Jimmy Carter, Ben Moore, Eric “Ricky” McKinnie, and Paul Beasley, the guitarist and musical director, Joey Williams, and a keyboard player, a bass player, and a drummer.
Since their formation, Blind Boys of Alabama have made it their self-proclaimed goal to “spiritually uplift audiences”. The gospel group has been a source of inspiration for those with disabilities. In the words of one of the group’s blind members, Ricky McKinnie, “Our disability doesn’t have to be a handicap. It’s not about what you can’t do. It’s about what you do. And what we do is sing good gospel music.”
The Brian Setzer Orchestra (sometimes known by its initials BSO) is a swing and jump blues band formed in 1990 by Stray Cats frontman Brian Setzer. The group covered Louis Prima’s “Jump Jive an’ Wail”, which appeared on Prima’s 1957 album The Wildest!. The BSO’s follow up single was “Gettin’ In the Mood.”
“Father Christmas” is a 1977 single by English group The Kinks.
It tells of a department store Father Christmas who is beaten up by a gang of poor kids who tell him to give them money instead of toys, as toys are impractical; and asks that the toys be given “to the little rich boys.” At one point, a child asks the narrator to give his/her father a job for Christmas—or, if he must deliver a toy, a machine gun. Typical twist that you would expect of the Kinks Ray Davies!?
The Ronettes were an American R&B/Pop girl group from New York City. One of the most popular groups from the 1960s, they placed nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100, five of which became Top 40 hits. The trio from Spanish Harlem, New York, consisted of lead singer Veronica Bennett (later known as Ronnie Spector), her older sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley. Among the Ronettes’ most famous songs are “Be My Baby”, “Baby, I Love You”, “(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up”, and “Walking in the Rain”, all of which charted on the Billboard Hot 100. “Walking in the Rain” won a Grammy Award in 1965, and “Be My Baby” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
The Shells were an American doo wop ensemble formed in Brooklyn in 1956.
The group scored a US pop hit in 1957 with the song “Baby Oh Baby”, released on Johnson Records; the song cracked the Top 30. Further singles passed with little success until 1960, when producers Donn Fileti and Wayne Stierle re-issued “Baby Oh Baby”; the tune hit #21 on the US Billboard Hot 100 upon rerelease.The group issued several further singles, as well as a split LP with The Dubs in 1963.
The Fab Four is a California-based tribute band paying homage to The Beatles. Founded in 1997 by Ron McNeil, John Lennon impersonator and President of The Fab Four Corp., the group began performing Beatles music throughout Southern California. The band’s beginning included regular performances at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland Terrace, The Hop and Scruffy O’Sheas.
The original group, which includes McNeil, along with Ardy Sarraf, Rolo Sandoval and Michael Amador, have performed together as The Fab Four for the past 12 years, covering nearly the entire Beatles songbook, plus solo material as well.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) is an American progressive rock band founded in 1996 by producer, composer, and lyricist Paul O’Neill, who brought together Jon Oliva and Al Pitrelli (both members of Savatage) and keyboardist and co-producer Robert Kinkel to form the core of the creative team. The band gained in popularity when they began touring in 1999 after completing their second album, The Christmas Attic the year previous. In 2007, the Washington Postreferred to them as “an arena-rock juggernaut” and described their music as “Pink Floyd meets Yes and The Who at Radio City Music Hall.” TSO has sold more than 10 million concert tickets and over 10 million albums. The band has released a series of rock operas: Christmas Eve and Other Stories, The Christmas Attic, Beethoven’s Last Night,The Lost Christmas Eve , their two-disc Night Castle and Letters From the Labyrinth. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is also known for their extensive charity work and elaborate concerts, which include a string section, a light show, lasers, “enough pyro to be seen from the international space station”, moving trusses, video screens, and effects synchronized to music.
The Blue Hawaiians are a surf rock group from Los Angeles. They formed in 1994 to play at the opening of their friend Michelle’s club, The Lava Lounge. They rose to fame soon thereafter due to the rise of one of their earliest fans,Quentin Tarantino, and an appearance on the soundtrack of the hit TV show Friends and the 1996 film Underworld. The group have since released several albums which have generally fared well with critics. The band also does music for the hit cartoon series SpongeBob SquarePants and their song A Cheat was featured in an advert for Guess Jeans. Current band members include: Mark Fontana, Erik Godal, Mark Sproull, Maxwellvision, Gary Brandin. The band are in a self-described “semi-hiatus” but continue to play infrequent live shows, including appearances at the annual Tiki Oasis music festival.
Jorma Ludwik Kaukonen, Jr. (born December 23, 1940) is an American blues, folk and rock guitarist,best known for his work with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #54 on its list of 100 Greatest Guitarists.
“Downhill Sleigh Ride” appears on an album Jorma album called Christmas, which is a studio album released in July 1996. It was the only themed album Kaukonen recorded and was a departure from the usual Rev. Gary Davis influenced tunes. It included new Christmas-themed compositions as well old hymns such as “Silent Night.” Like the previous album, The Land of Heroes, Christmas incorporated the work of Michael Falzarano and Fred Bogert. Kaukonen’s wife Vanessa also performed vocals and co-wrote one song. It was also the only time Kaukonen performed keyboards on an album.
Koko Taylor (September 28, 1928 – June 3, 2009) was an American Chicago blues singer, whose style also encompassed many genres including electric blues, rhythm and blues and blues and soul blues popularly she was known as the “Queen of the Blues.” She was known primarily for her rough, powerful vocals and traditional blues stylings.
Born Cora Walton in Millington, Tennessee, Taylor was the daughter of a sharecropper. She left Tennessee forChicago, Illinois, in 1952 with her husband, truck driver Robert “Pops” Taylor. In the late 1950s she began singing inChicago blues clubs. She was spotted by Willie Dixon in 1962, and this led to wider performances and her first recording contract. In 1965, Taylor was signed by Chess Records subsidiary Checker Records where she recorded “Wang Dang Doodle”, a song written by Dixon and recorded by Howlin’ Wolf five years earlier. The record became a hit, reaching number four on the R&B charts and number 58 on the pop charts in 1966, and selling a million copies.Taylor recorded several versions of “Wang Dang Doodle” over the years, including a live version at the 1967 American Folk Blues Festival with harmonica player Little Walter and guitarist Hound Dog Taylor. Taylor subsequently recorded more material, both original and covers, but never repeated that initial chart success.
A name like Doc Bagby has the ring of an insider and the keyboardist who is sometimes credited as the less-distinctive sounding Hank Bagby was the perfect studio insider, the session man’s session man. Harry Crafton was one of the better — and, ultimately, unfairly neglected — guitarists to come out of the postwar era. He carved a small but special niche for himself in Philadelphia beginning soon after World War II, cutting for a string of indepedent labels with a guitar sound that was heavily influenced by Tiny Grimes and a singing style reminscent of Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson.
“The First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time (although some may vote for Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday). Blessed with a beautiful voice and a wide range,Fitzgerald could outswing anyone, was a brilliant scat singer, and had near-perfect elocution; one could always understand the words she sang. The one fault was that, since she always sounded so happy to be singing, Fitzgerald did not always dig below the surface of the lyrics she interpreted and she even made a downbeat song such as “Love for Sale” sound joyous. However, when one evaluates her career on a whole, there is simply no one else in her class.
Effervescent saxophonist Louis Jordan was one of the chief architects and prime progenitors of the R&B idiom. His pioneering use of jumping shuffle rhythms in a small combo context was copied far and wide during the 1940s.
Easily the most important harmonica player of the prewar era, John Lee Williamson almost single-handedly made the humble mouth organ a worthy lead instrument for blues bands — leading the way for the amazing innovations of Little Walter and a platoon of others to follow. If not for his tragic murder in 1948 while on his way home from a Chicago gin mill, Williamson would doubtless have been right there alongside them, exploring new and exciting directions.
It can safely be noted that Williamson made the most of his limited time on the planet. Already a harp virtuoso in his teens, the first Sonny Boy (Rice Miller would adopt the same moniker down in the Delta) learned from Hammie Nixon and Noah Lewis and rambled with Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell before settling in Chicago in 1934.
Williamson’s extreme versatility and consistent ingenuity won him a Bluebird recording contract in 1937. Under the direction of the ubiquitous Lester Melrose, Sonny Boy Williamson recorded prolifically for Victor both as a leader and behind others in the vast Melrose stable (including Robert Lee McCoy and Big Joe Williams, who in turn played on some of Williamson’s sides).
Williamson commenced his sensational recording career with a resounding bang. His first vocal offering on Bluebird was the seminal “Good Morning School Girl,” covered countless times across the decades. That same auspicious date also produced “Sugar Mama Blues” and “Blue Bird Blues,” both of them every bit as classic in their own right.
Christmas Morning Blues was recorded in the Sky Club atop the Leland Hotel in downtown Aurora, Illinois in December of 1938 as a part of the now famous Bluebird Leland Recording Sessions that produced over 300 tracks from the likes of Tampa Red, Washboard Sam, Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Lee McCoy, Big Joe Williams, Sweet Peas Spivey, Merline Johnson, Walter Davis and One Arm Slim just to name a few.
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Tracks 18 through 22 were originally recorded for an Aurora, Illinois holiday music recording project produced by Benjie Hughes of BackThird Audio and Steve Warrenfeltz of Waterloo Sunset Records and the Kiss The Sky record store. The participants in the project included some of the finest singers and musicians from the greater Fox River Valley area of Illinois. The album was a second installment of sessions that took place in 2011 that were part of a limited vinyl release aptly dubbed Made In Aurora.