Friday, August 29, 2008

Christmas on Labor Day Weekend (for some!)

I would be remiss if I didn't mention a major event in some people's homes this weekend. The 43rd Annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon will broadcast for 22 hours live from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Watching to see what celebrity shows up on the telethon is a huge draw and helping kids is always a plus. But let's get serious. Most tune in to see what kind of shenanigans Jerry is gonna pull next:

My friend Scott Marks runs an amazing blog entitled Emulsion Compulsion - a vast home of movie reviews, rants, and quite possibly one of the most extensive image vaults on the web (yes, including Christmas images!).

Scott is probably the biggest Jerry Lewis fan on the planet. He has an extensive collection of Jerry memorabilia including a rare 1976 "CBer's for Jerry" patch that was donated to him by yours truly. He has watched every Jerry movie extensively (no, not "The Day The Clown Cried") and not only has he interviewed Jerry more than once, he once babysat for his daughter Danielle!

Last year (as in years past), he stayed up every single hour of the telethon and blogged as he went. It was in those wee small hours of the morning that Scott thought he heard something on the way to the kitchen:

It's this kind of danger and spontaneity combined with the combustible Lewis that makes Scott going back for more. This is his Christmas.

22 1/2 hours of B-list celebrities (Julius LaRosa, Norm Crosby), appeals from Tony Orlando and Charo (whose face so botoxed it looks like she stood in a 95 MPH windstorm and lost), and an aging, broke Ed McMahon yelling "TIMPANI!".

Stop by Scott's blog this weekend to offer encouragement and/or professional help. While you're at it, why not take a moment to stop by and donate some $$$$ to Jerry's kids?

Walk on... walk on... with hope in your heart...


Relient K - Let It Snow Baby... Let It Reindeer

Last year I described how an unknown Christian rock Christmas CD found its way into my stocking. No one in my family owned up to its placement. Therefore, I determined that the one and only Santa Claus left it for me on Christmas Eve, 2006.

It happened again last Christmas Eve.

This CD you see before you was wedged into my stocking above all the little goodies Santa packed for me. My wife confessed to helping my cat Sasha and Maisey order some CDs for me (I never knew she spoke cat-o-nese) but was completely clueless as to where this came from.

Santa Claus feels I need some more Christian Christmas CDs for my collection. Who am I to argue with the Big Guy?

This isn't the only Relient K Christmas album in my collection. Several years ago, I purchased a used copy of "Two Lefts Don't Make A Right... But Three Do" in order to get the bonus CD entitled "Deck The Halls, Bruise Your Hand".

This was the group's first full Christmas album, had ten songs total, and featured three original songs by the group - one of which was first featured on "Happy Christmas V3". There was also a "bonus" track that lasted about 20 seconds long that I featured on my 2007 Christmas CD to family & friends.

For this album, Relient K added seven additional tracks, added the ten from the first album (*), and voila! Seventeen tracks in one easy containable package.


1.) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
This could have been disastrous but it's handled perfectly - easily listenable and rockable at the same time.

2.) Sleigh Ride
Solo piano & voice to start, add some jazzy drums & bass, then add the heavy guitars. 0 to 60 in 3:33 - nice!

3.) Merry Christmas, Here's To Many More
What sounds like a lonely Christmas song is actually devoted to Christ's love. Good Christmas song.

4.) Angels We Have Heard On High*
A heavy version of the Christmas standard - chuckling and tapping my feet at the same time!

5.) Deck The Halls*
Ditto (see number four).

6.) 12 Days Of Christmas*
Sung right after five golden rings: "What's a partridge? What's a pear tree? I don't know, so don't ask me. But I can bet those are terrible gifts to get!" EXACTLY!

7.) Medley: Silent Night/Away In a Manger*
Effective medley of the two songs that leads right into...

8.) I Celebrate The Day*
A Christmas conversation to Jesus. Touching.

9.) In Like a Lion (Always Winter)*
Inspired by C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe", this one describes winter and snow but not much Christmas.

10.) I'm Getting Nuttin' For Christmas
GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS! Take a kiddie song and give it the full rock treatment - a laff riot! This one's been tabbed for future Christmas CDs...

11.) We Wish You a Merry Christmas*
See number four above.

12.) Santa Claus Is Thumbing To Town*
"The toy shop is on fire, the toys melting on the shelves. And you can hear Mrs. Claus yelling, "I warned you! Not to trust those elves!" Santa's forced to hitchhike this Christmas... a headbanger and a hoot!

13.) Handel's Messiah*
Heavy metal version of the venerable classical piece - it lasts 1:09. Scratching my head...

14.) I Hate Christmas Parties*
Originally recorded on "Happy Christmas V3", this is a somber Christmas tune that's surprising to hear from a Christian band - excellent tune, btw!

15.) Boxing Day
The day after Christmas in Canada is Boxing Day. For some it's called Christmas Decoration Dismantling Day. A song with the same sad flavor as "I Hate Christmas Parties".

16.) Auld Lang Syne
Near note-perfect cover of The Beach Boys' version - which includes Relient K's greetings a la Brian Wilson!

17.) Good King Wenceslas (bonus track)
High solo voice & autoharp to start, then high solo voice and ukelele. Oh my lord, it's TINY TIM !!! Now it's high solo voice & guitar. WAIT A SECOND... now its DEEP voice & autoharp... he broke into laughter! Hold on... TINY TIM'S BACK... what the?

As Christian bands go, there's not that many I would listen to. But after hearing their Christmas albums repeatedly, I would give Relient K a serious shot. The original songs are thought provoking, easy listenable, and with the right amount of humor added.

Santa, thanks again for the gift left in the stocking. Thanks Relient K for the gift of music and laughter in this very good Christmas album!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Regina Plays The Nutcracker

Last December, I was receiving Christmas gifts from family members, cats, and friends. Yesterday's entry was devoted to The Living Christmas Tree and my friendship with my buddy Joel.

Not to be outdone last year, his wife Samantha (with whom I once shared a bed with for a play while Joel directed - only in America) snagged a FULL stack of Christmas CDs for me from a friend who didn't want them any more.

Most of the CDs in the stack I already owned but this CD and its simplistic cover caught my eye. The case was old, discolored and had medium sized cracks throughout. The weight of the case felt heavier than normal which made me wonder when this CD was made.

A quick look of the back cover confirmed my curiosities - the CD was produced and issued in 1989! As more and more CDs are going the way of the 8-track, the scarcity of any CD manufactured before 1998 is indeed a prize - even more so for Christmas CDs.

I originally thought "this is just another music box CD a la Rita Ford". But I was wrong. Not even close. Just ask Gustave Brachhausen.

Brachhausen worked for the Kuhro-Lochmann company in Germany in the late 1800s. His company was the first manufacturer of disc music boxes. Their Symphonion music boxes were produced in many sizes, types, styles, and were immensely popular.

Gustave left Kuhro-Lochmann around 1886 to create the Polyphon Company. He wanted to produce a line of strong interchangeable music boxes with mass produced discs for the masses. Polyphon music boxes along with a line of other musical objects were a hit with the general public but Gustave had other ideas in mind.

Setting his sights on America, Brachhausen sailed from Deutschland to Rahway, New Jersey to establish the Regina Music Box Company. What set Reginas apart from the rest was each of the interchangeable music disks would fit all of their boxes of the same size. Many people took their discs from parlor to parlor and were amazed by the rich sound from any of the music boxes.

The popularity of these boxes spanned from about 1890 to 1915. As the gramophone replaced these state of the art music boxes, the Regina firm produced a combination music box and phonograph from 1915 to 1920, but never experienced the success of its famed music boxes.

By the time the company closed in 1921, over 100,000 Regina music boxes were sold - many of which are still much sought after by antiques dealers and collectors.

I pulled my copy of Rita Ford's "A Music Box Christmas" which contained Polyphons, Symphonions, and a few Reginas as well for comparison. By far, the Reginas were the ones with the warmer tones and a full deep sound that was lacking on the others.

This CD contains all that interwoven into Tchaikovsky's lush "Nutcracker Suite". From its Overture to the Grand Waltz (Finale), the 1900 Regina music box (according to the liner notes) nary misses a bum note. This is how people heard it in the late 1800s without the benefit of an orchestra.

However, this CD isn't as rare as you think. Some deep digging on reveals that this entire album is available for download. If you get tired of the same ol', same ol' when it comes to Christmas music, try this one on for size.

Thank you Sam for the amazing disc! How about a Fort Wayne Philharmonic Christmas CD now?


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Living Christmas Tree 2007 – Let The Music Begin… Again!

Here's a Christmas gift that wasn't given to me from any of my cats or my immediate family. This CD found its way to me from my best friend Joel - my long-lost brother that I never had or wanted (it's his joke about me, folks!)

He and I have been best friends since our first encounter in Spring of 2004 at First Presbyterian Theater where he holds several jobs - production manager, full-time director, and part-time actor. When he's not working there, he's the technical director of the Scottish Rite Center here in Fort Wayne (more on that in a moment).

I first wrote about him when he presented me with a copy of Jana's "American Indian Christmas". Since then, Joel has joined me on several thrift store excursions of their record bins, searching for that second item I don't own in my collection.

Shortly before Christmas last year, Joel's schedule had him shuttling between the Scottish Rite and FPT. He was working himself to death simultaneously setting up and tearing down events at both places. Whenever my schedule permits, I go down to help Joel at either place.

Thus was the setting when I went to the Scottish Rite in early December, 2007. As I walked into the venue, I was greeted by the constant bustle of stage set-up with volunteers scrambling around working of different parts of the set. I was reminded of Santa's workshop as elves were working overtime to get the toys ready for Christmas Eve.

In the middle of the stage was a massive skeleton that was at least 30 feet high. In all my years building sets with Joel at FPT, nothing we ever built compared to this. Elaborate rows of risers all securely attached to the stage and braced at the proper places. What could this be?

"It's for the Living Christmas Tree" said Joel.

Joel also told me that the LCT was a Fort Wayne tradition for many years that was being revived. Joel and his crew managed to get the tree built in time for the show. The LCT had two performances to packed houses on December 1st & 2nd 2007, and got rave reviews from anyone who attended the show.

Several days later, the final piece of the structure was off the stage. Only the memories and the glitter that doubled as snow and wasn't swept up the fourth or fifth time remained.

Joel was grateful for the help and moral support for me. He then presented me with the CD you're looking at and a smile that said "Here's number two." Joel knew that I didn't own this CD and he had me dead to right. Thanks, pallie!

As I began to research this disc, I was astounded to find that Fort Wayne isn't the only place that the Living Christmas Tree is a tradition. A Google search reveals that cities all over the United States hold similar events and various companies are devoted to helping you build, light, and even program your computer for a living Christmas tree.

I visited the Living Christmas Tree for Fort Wayne. There you can find more pictures from the event held last year in the house that Joel runs. You can watch a video of the tree, read up on the history & tradition of the Fort Wayne LCT, and you can listen to every track of this CD and leave your own track reviews!

I enjoyed this CD quite a bit. So much in fact that I'm dying to see this event when it comes back to the Scottish Rite on December 6 & 7 of this year. Considering I work for the Scottish Rite under my best friend Joel, I'll probably be working this event. Helping to build the tree, stringing mic wires out of view, and sweeping up tons and tons of glitter afterwards. It's a living.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Smithereens - Christmas With

In yesterday's yuleblog entry, I revealed that one of my cats purchased a Christmas CD for me last December (that's what the gift tag read). In today's entry, my other cat Sasha gets equal time. It was her paws all over this package for me under the tree (that's what the gift tag read).

It's hard to believe I know... but I'm not complaining.

What's also hard to believe is The Smithereens have been around for nearly 30 years! Back in 1980, four mop-topped lads from New Jersey began playing music heavily influenced by the power pop genre - especially four mop-topped lads from Liverpool.

The boys kept busy in those early years; mainly sticking to the NYC bar circuit and earning some play on college radio. Despite notices from publications like Rolling Stone magazine, they still had trouble gaining an audience. They began touring and supporting traveling oldies groups like The Beau Brummels and Otis Blackwell, with whom they recorded an album's worth of material.

By 1985, the Smithereens were stuck in neutral as label after label passed on the band. Scott Vanderbilt, a former college DJ who was a fan of the band several years earlier, was working for Enigma Records, heard their demo, and signed the group. Vanderbilt called on Don Dixon to help produce their debut album Especially for You.

MTV began airing the video "Blood and Roses" in their rotation. The video was financed by a film studio that included the song in the B-movie Dangerously Close (the movie was the first film for the delectable Carey Lowell - Bond girl and Mrs. Richard Gere). College radio stations sat up and took notice, pushing the album to number 51 on the charts.

Capitol Records sat up and took notice as well. They signed The Smithereens to their label and supported the album with an extensive tour of the States and Europe that lasted the entire year of 1987. Two weeks after they completed the tour, they travelled to Hollywood & Vine to begin recording their next album Green Thoughts.

"Only a Memory" was their breakthrough hit. They began yet another tour throughout 1988 (including a memorable show at the Metro in Chicago - I was in attendance). After the tour stopped, they spent extra time in the studio with producer Ed Stasium and went for broke with their third album, 11.

"A Girl Like You" was a Top 40 hit despite being rejected as the theme for the John Cusack comedy "Say Anything". The album was a smash and reached gold status in 1989. It seemed the band was everywhere; they appeared on MTV Unplugged, The Arsenio Hall Show, and Saturday Night Live.

In 1991, the band continued its pattern of releasing an album (Blow Up - a moderate success) and extensively touring. So extensive was this tour that it kept them on the road throughout America and the world for over two years (Aug 1991 - Oct 1993)!

In the middle of all their tour insanity, Capitol asked for a possible Christmas single. The group quickly recorded their version of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and issued it to radio stations at Christmas, 1992 (DPRO-79572). With its distinctive cover, this promo CD is a hard find. So when one comes up for sale, you better grab it! If you do, let me know!

When the group began recording their fifth album, a new musical genre had emerged from Seattle. Grunge was in its heyday and if it didn't sound like Nirvana or Soundgarden, radio stations wouldn't play it. So in 1994, the group signed on with RCA Records and recorded album #6 - A Date with the Smithereens.

RCA asked the group to record some songs for their upcoming 1994 holiday promo "December Songs" (RJC 66546-2). They contributed two songs - "Blue Christmas" and "Waking Up On Christmas Morning", an excellent original from the band.

Not to be outdone, Capitol Records re-issued "Rudolph" on red colored vinyl as a jukebox single (Capitol/CEMA S7-18206 b/w "A Girl Like You") at Christmas 1994. If you're scoring at home, this made three Christmas songs done by The Smithereens.

A Date with The Smithereens failed to get radio airplay or sell in the record stores (grunge was pretty popular). Their recording career was limited to rarities and "best of" compilations around this time. Thanks to their loyal fan base established through their past tours, they continued to tour successfully into the late '90s.

In 1995, the band decided to cull all three Christmas singles onto one limited edition Christmas EP. D-Tone Records (DT-151) released it in the month of January, 1994. January? Wish I knew the reasoning behind that decision.

After a five-year recording hiatus with any record label, the group returned to the studio for 1999's 2-CD God Save the Smithereens on Koch Records. Another series of compilations and live recordings appeared between 2000 and 2006 (along with more touring along the way).

In January 2007, the group released their excellent album entitled Meet the Smithereens, a Beatles cover album from beginning to end. However this was the year the boys got into a Christmas kind of mood and we were rewarded with the album you see before you.


1.) Waking Up On Christmas Morning
One of the Christmas songs I would nominate for more radio airplay at Christmas without hesitation.

2.) Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
Elvis' signature Christmas tune gets a power pop tune-up!

3.) Merry Christmas, Baby
I'm not a Beach Boy fan but any group that can improve a Beach Boys tune is aces in my book.

4.) Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
Solid cover - play this one instead of Brenda Lee's original version!

5.) Christmas Time All Over The World
A Christmas remake of the Smithereens song "All Revved Up". All Christmased up here!

6.) Christmas
WOW! Outstanding cover of The Who's holiday song from "Tommy"! Better than the 1975 movie version with Ann-Margret & Oliver Reed!

7.) 'Twas The Night Before Christmas
Art Carney first recorded this version in 1954 - one drummer with a jazz beat, one singer selling Clement Moore's poem. The guys do a fantastic job!

8.) Run Rudolph Run
Nice, nice, nice cover of this venerable Christmas classic. Somewhere Chuck Berry is smiling.

9.) Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)
This one's so closely associated with The Ramones that this power pop version doesn't work for me.

10.) Christmas (I Remember)
A new Smithereens original! A wonderful power pop reminiscence of Christmas' past - a beaut!

11.) Auld Lang Syne
Starts off with Beach Boy-like harmonies and then goes into overdrive with Ventures-type fury! Whooooo!

12.) Christmas Time Is Here Again
They tackle the Beatles only original Christmas song... and perfectly capture the flavor of the Fab Four.

About a year ago, Dennis Diken wrote the following words for this album's liner notes:

When I dig out my holiday platters every December I feel like I'm visiting with some of my oldest and dearest friends. With that in mind, we humbly present Christmas With The Smithereens. We've taken what we've learned from some of our favorite Christmas records and did our best to make these numbers our own.

Congrats boys - you have succeeded and then some!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Raul Malo – Marshmallow World & Other Holiday Favorites

This Christmas CD was a present from a member of my family but I'm still trying to figure out how she ordered it. On Christmas morning, the tag read "To Rob, From Maisey". Maisey is the oldest of our two cats.

Maisey probably saw my printed list of new Christmas releases from Randy's Rodeo before the holidays. Randy ranked this CD pretty high on his list and had an exclusive bonus track with this album. How Maisey ordered this CD I'll never know (insert your own "cat clicked on the mouse" joke here).

So who is Raul Malo?

Malo was born August 7, 1965 to Cuban parents in Miami, Florida. Raul started playing bass guitar in high school and soon found his way into several HS bands. In 1987, he made his first recording with a group called Basics. Their one song, "Paperheart" appeared on a promotional album entitled appropriately "Unsigned".

A few years later, Malo and a high school friend, Robert Reynolds, joined together to form their own country band, based on their mutual love for Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Patsy Cline. Paul Deakin, with experience in several progressive rock bands, became the drummer, and the group chose the name The Mavericks.

The group released their debut self-titled album in the fall of 1990 and grabbed the attention of many big labels, including MCA Records who signed the band in May 1991. They soon picked up David Lee Holt who became the lead guitarist for the band. This left Malo to concentrate on the songwriting and vocals.

MCA released From Hell To Paradise in 1992 and released five more albums for the band during the '90s. Hell to Paradise was critically acclaimed, but sold less than expected. Their follow up album What A Crying Shame was released in 1994, its title track reached the Top 40, the album went platinum by spring 1995, and won their first Academy of Country Music Award for Top Vocal Group.

Holt was replaced with Nick Kane as lead guitarist for the next releases. Two of the bands singles ("O What A Thrill" and "There Goes My Heart") charted within the Top 20. The band was getting more radio airplay and building a loyal fan base.

Everything was in place when their next album Music For All Occasions was released in 1995. The album went gold and spawned two more Top 20 hit singles ("Here Comes The Rain" and "All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down"). The Mavericks eventually won both the Country Music Association & Academy Of Country Music Awards Top Vocal group in 1995, and picked up a Grammy for Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group.

As Malo began to integrate Latin rhythms into his songwriting during the latter part of the '90s, the albums picked up more Havana influence, leaving the country rhythms in the shadows. The band became an eclectic mix of rockabilly, honky tonk, tejano, native Cuban, and country (sweet!).

However, this had an effect on their sales and radio airplay and their 1998 album Trampoline wasn't a huge success. The following year, they released "Super Colossal Hits Of The 90s", a "best-of" album that didn't help as well.

As the 21st century began, MCA released their final compilation "20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Mavericks" in 2001. A change was needed and the group traded labels - MCA to Universal Music Group with a drummer to be named later.

By this time, The Mavericks quit playing gigs together and there was no acrimony, no squabbling, no tirades in the press. Still on very friendly terms with his fellow bandmates, Malo decided the time was right to branch out for a solo career. Between 2001 and 2007, he released five albums that mixed country, Cuban, salsa, and even calypso music.

After learning all of this, I was eager to listen to a full blown Christmas album!


1.) Marshmallow World
If you close your eyes, you'd swear it was indeed Dean Martin singing. No strings, no chorus, just Raul and his boys playing it straight. A single up the middle and we're off and running.

2.) Not So Merry Christmas
With its well-executed Beatle-like ballad arrangement, this somber song isn't that somber. Nice tune!

3.) Jingle Bells
Raul does his best mash of Elvis and Sinatra on the vocals. Backed by the sharp band, this one's a definite ring-a-ding, thanka very much!

4.) Silent Night
Out front with an acoustic guitar, Malo handles the vocals nicely with the proper touches from the organ and chimes, and drums.

5.) White Christmas
Heyyyyy! Think of Peggy Lee's "Fever" beat, add some jazz flute, and Raul on the vocals! Doubtful Irving Berlin would have had a beef with this one.

6.) Santa Claus Is Back In Town
Slow, brassy, blues beat drives this one home. Malo's diversity with music styles is on full display!

7.) I'll Be Home For Christmas
A nice slow Christmas clarinet (aka Pete Fountain) makes this one warm and Christmasy. Very, very nice.

8.) Blue Christmas
With its rockabilly and vintage R&B flavor, this one's not blue at all. What puts it over the top is the band solo on vocals - outstanding!

9.) Silver Bells
A tango tempo to start (TANGO?) and alternate some swingin' Louis Prima breaks in the middle, and you get the standout track of the CD.

10.) Feliz Navidad
Tejano anyone? Malo and his crew go to town with this one! Nice stuff.

11.) Winter Wonderland
Armed with ukelele and his own pucker to whistle with, this 52 second version is the perfect way to end the CD.

12.) Blue Christmas (LIVE)
This is the only track. Not getting anything more or less - just a live version.

No bad versions, a plethora of song styles, and great vocals throughout, Malo has a great Christmas album on his resume now. I'm hoping down the road Raul will visit the Christmas genre again and give us his take on Christmas carols and perhaps some original Christmas tunes.

Not a bad selection from a housepet, no?


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Yuleblog Comments Pt. 4

I've gone back and answered comments left here at the yuleblog over the past several months. If you've left a comment here during that time, the answer now awaits you at the post you left it at - click on the link to take you there. And awayyyy we go:

Jeff has left a new comment on your post "You haul Sixteen Tons, whadaya get?":

Congrats Capt! Start that ball rolling and all kinds of great stuff will be coming your way!

stubbysfears has left a new comment on your post "You haul Sixteen Tons, whadaya get?":

Congratulations! Now don't go spending it all on steam whistle Christmas records. ;-)

Ernie has left a new comment on your post "You haul Sixteen Tons, whadaya get?":

Can we just pay you $39 a week and you keep up the Christmas reviews?

Stephen has left a new comment on your post "You haul Sixteen Tons, whadaya get?":

Hey, Rob, thanks for posting this. My wife already dreads returning to work in a few years when our youngest is in school. Now I can tell her that I know someone who actually did it!

Candice Pardue has left a new comment on your post "You haul Sixteen Tons, whadaya get?":

It might be difficult for you to leave home and go back "out there" - I know from being a stay at home mom many years that it's addictive being able to be with my kids and love on them as it was meant to be. With homeschooling in between work and everything else, it can be hectic, but it's well worth the time spent. I don't regret it for one moment. Good luck!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "John Klein - A Christmas Sound Spectacular":

I also have the original LP with the woodcut entitled "The Story of the Bells". I have been looking for a way to get a digital recording of this LP as mine is so well used and worn out. I just returned from a Renaissance Fest in Apache Junction, AZ and was enthralled at a Carillon show by "Cast in Bronze". It's a traveling Carillon and is from the same area of the country that the Carillon Americana of the LP was manufactured,m Sellersville, PA. Check it out.

Soapy has left a new comment on your post "The Soulful Strings - The Magic Of Christmas":

Check here for the first Soulful Strings LP. And more on the way!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Shirley & Squirrely - Christmas With":

I am taking a trip down memory lane and encountered an old record of Christmas with Shirley and Squirrely. I am hoping someone can help me find this on CD. I would really like to share this particular part of my childhood with my children and record players just don't offer the sound quality that a CD does.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Wendy Rose - Snowflake":

I totally agree, I love it and listen to it every Christmas!

Bean has left a new comment on your post "The Yuleblog Welcome Wagon":

As a matter of fact, I do have one I think you'll like. At I post an mp3 of a Christmas song every day of the year. I went live last Thanksgiving Day. I already link to your site and will add the others you have written about here too.

So It Goes has left a new comment on your post "The Yuleblog Welcome Wagon":

Hi there, my name's Steve, and I found you through Santa's Working Overtime: I too have a Christmas blog with a UK flavour (since that's where I come from). I'm at Nice to meet you!

Christmas has left a new comment on your post "The Yuleblog Welcome Wagon":

Hello, I was wondering if you could add my Christmas Blog to your links? I would appreciate it. I've only recently started posting, but plan on posting more in the near future.

I thank you in advance. Sincerely, Susan/Christmas Forever

xmasbrains has left a new comment on your post "The Yuleblog Welcome Wagon":

Please include a link to

danatello has left a new comment on your post "Bob Ralston - Christmas Hymns & Carols":

Hey Capt, I have the stereo and I will post it for share unless either The King or yourself has already done so at a move recent date.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Rhodes Kids - Rock 'N Rhodes Christmas":

I am sure you mean well but your information is way off not to mention highly dramatized. Sign me as someone who has an inside scoop of reality

Danielle has left a new comment on your post "Eddie Dunstedter, We Hardly Knew Ye...":

'POP' is what I knew him as my entire life. Eddie Dunstedter is my great grandfather. My mother's grandfather. Pop's children are both still alive and living in California. They have it all! Every last bit.

Brandy has left a new comment on your post "Eddie Dunstedter, We Hardly Knew Ye...":

Well Well...Just as I think about him....So comes another Email from my Daughter Danielle(Pop's Greatgrandaughter) And I was serealy thinking how wonderful it is to know People still appreaciate him.....By the way....Christmas Candy came out when I was About 14 or so and the one song that is called Christmas Candy Has in one part of the song you can hear all the clocks chiming and the Coo-Coo Clock going and all those Clocks were my mothers Chime Clocks and in fact HER COO_COO CLOCK) there's a little tidbit no-body but all of us knew!!!!!!!! I have been at this sight and thought i had heard from the Editor of Yamaha Magazine......We all play music and Pop is Smiling down on us...I feel him Everday!!!!!!!!! Brandy (Pop's Very first Grandaughter who he taught to sing over those Pipe Organs!!!!!!LOL...I love sharing these memories...i know i gave Mother this sight??????

Luciano has left a new comment on your post "Ethel Smith - Silent Night-Holy Night":

I am from Brazil and I love Ethel's music so much! This is the only source I have found for this entire album, but now the link at rapidshare is broken... Could you please repost this album? I would be very thankful!

Andy has left a new comment on your post "Fogwell Flax & The Ankle Biters From Freehold Juni...":

I sang on that mate, I was one of the afore-mentioned ankle-biters. Glad you enjoyed my work...

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Pied Pipers - Favorite Christmas Carols":

Do you know how I can get a hold of this album? Lee Gotch was my grandfather.

Donald R. Resor has left a new comment on your post "O Tannenbaum - Christmas On The Rhine":

Does anyone know if the organ in these musical selections was a pipe organ or a electronic organ, and if so who was the manufacturer? Thanks

dancer5612004 has left a new comment on your post "The Cricketones - Christmas Is For Children":

Look for THE CRICKETONES on youtube that I'm posting. Feel free to leave comments on music post boards if you wish, thanks.

Bob has left a new comment on your post "The Alcoa Singers - An Old-Fashioned Christmas":

Are the Alcoa Singers actual employees of Alcoa?

frizzielady has left a new comment on your post "The Alcoa Singers - An Old-Fashioned Christmas":

It is so much fun to see this post! My father is Marlin A. Preus in the photo and my aunt is Diane Sabolic, who later married my uncle and also became a Preus. In response to Bob's question, currently the singers can also include spouses. My mom and dad were singing tonight at the Pirates game for the anthem by the Singers. I was looking for a recording of it which is how I happened upon this site. I grew up on this album!

Ernie has left a new comment on your post "Jimmy McGriff - Christmas With":

Hey Cap'n! I found an LP copy of this one, but it's got a different cover, and it's on the Trip label. I assume it's not the original, but it's got all the same tracks. Any clue when this one came out? The cover image is a cute black girl with a big afro wearing a Santa suit. Any ideas?

Ernie has left a new comment on your post "Jimmy McGriff - Christmas With":

I guess I can answer my own question now. I later found a Mistletoe Records version of the LP, and it's got the same cover, and, more telling, the same parent company as the mysterious Trip Records. So I've just got yet another budget reissue. But I recorded it anyway. :)

Richard Allen has left a new comment on your post "Bob Mantzke Choralaires - Christmas Songs":

I am the son of Bob's sister, Marilyn, who resides in Glendale Arizona. Bob and his music has touched many life's.
Bob's legacy lives on through his two daughters Kim and Tina. Google "Christia Mantzke" for information about Bob's youngest Tina.

Many (and I mean MANY) of the comments left here were for re-link requests. Some of these requests were for albums I've never shared or even own! However, there's still time to ask for the albums I've offered at the link above.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

As I was saying...

Guess whose kids went back to school today?

With these two handfuls starting a new school year, my youngest child in preschool three days a week (too shy for the group photo above), and some long overdue Christmas housecleaning duties now complete (keep reading), I am once again able to devote some time, energy, and/or wit to the yuleblog.

My last full entry here was back in February. Since that time, I have:

  • Started a new job
  • Helped my wife with her new career change
  • Continued my stay-at-home dad duties
  • Went on several extended family vacations while we could afford it
  • Help my wife's family when my mother-in-law experienced a stroke (she's 90% recovered thankfully)
  • Helped my son Alex celebrate his first Communion and all the brouhaha that goes with it
  • Helped my two oldest kids with their basketball / cheerleading / baseball / T-ball schedules
  • Helped build & paint several theater sets for a local theater
  • Created sound designs for several plays at the aforementioned local theater
  • Shuttle kids back & forth to their practices, games, and various zoo camps all summer
  • Travelled twice to Wrigley Field to watch my beloved Chicago Cubs

Normally, any free time I have inbetween all the daily routines of my life are spent here at the yuleblog. However, I had neglected my personal Christmas music collection far too long. So I spent my free time this summer:

  • Burning nearly 150 downloaded Christmas albums to CD dating back to 2006 (thanks to the King and everyone at FaLaLaLaLa, Ernie (not Bert), and the entire sharity network of love!)
  • Clearing my hard drive of nearly 2000 Christmas MP3s dating back to 2005 (34 discs total - wow!)
  • Cataloguing all the above mentioned discs into my master Christmas spreadsheet
  • Notating all the CDs I haven't reviewed here at the yuleblog (yet)
  • Organizing my Christmas albums and other Christmas material into one area of my basement for easy access
  • Starting to transfer a box of 50+ albums for the 2008 holiday sharity season (35 down, 15 to go)
  • Researching several libraries in two states for several upcoming yuleblog entries in 2008
  • Helping Mitchell Kezin by contributing some Christmas material for his "Jingle Bell Rocks" documentary
  • Compiling new material for my own 2008 Christmas comp for family & friends

Typing all that out, I wonder how I survived it all...

It's a strange feeling knowing that there is NOTHING on the "to-do" Christmas list. I spent the greater part of last week looking back at all of these accomplishments - both family & Christmas related - and reviewing all of my checklists thinking I had forgotten something. Alas, the cupboard is bare and I have time to type.

My first order of business will be answering the dozens of comments left for me here at the yuleblog in my absence. I will be answering those over the next day or two. After that, I can pickup where I left off in February reviewing Christmas CDs I received as gifts last December... yeah, it's been that long! Sad, really.

This house is quiet. Too quiet...