Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tonic Sōl-Fa - Sugarüe / Christmas

With eight days left before Christmas, I wanted to spend today looking at several new Christmas albums on the shelves this season - perhaps a last minute gift guide for those who love Christmas music.

This is review number seven today and one of several that arrived at my P.O. Box. Thanks to Guy McCain and Jen Onsum of Luck Media & Marketing, Inc for sending these to us.

I had never heard of this group before I received these. So I went to the bio notes sent to me and the paragraphs that caught my eye were these:

"Mega-popular Minnesota based four-piece vocal group sets the industry standard taking care of business completely DIY.

"Without any major label backing, they've earned sales of over a million albums (CAPT'S NOTE: Damn!), a popular annual PBS Christmas special, more than 100 tour dates annually, and an appearance on "The Today Show".

Tonic Sōl-Fa began with Mark McGowan (baritone) and lead vocalist Shaun Johnson, who both attended St. John's University in 1996. Shortly after forming, the two auditioned for a local entertainment agency which helped jump-start the group's performance and appearance schedule. Greg Bannwarth (tenor) and Jared Dove (bass) joined soon after, completing the group.

They've released several Christmas CDs, the first being "Carol" in 1997. Their second Christmas album came in 2002 with the release of "Sugarüe" - click on the link to hear samples of the entire album.

Featuring eight standards and two original songs ("Joseph's Song" and "Snō" - wow!), this a great accapella album and Christmas to boot!

All their hard work led them to 2006 when they taped their PBS special and began to get some well-deserved recognition, garnering write-ups in Newsweek and MediaStyle magazine.

Thanks in large part to this special, a new companion CD entitled "Christmas" is available this season. I must admit I've never seen the special on my local PBS station but after hearing the crystal clear melodies and hearing the audience worked up into a frenzy, I'm checking the local listings.

I have hardly any accapella Christmas music in my collection. I now own these and I can't think of a better start.


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