Goodnight everyone, and have a 2021 Christmas in July weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Christmas in July reportedly began on July 24th and 25th in 1933 at a girl’s camp called Keystone Camp in Brevard, North Carolina.  There was a Christmas tree, snow made from cotton, laundry bags used as makeshift stockings, and even Santa Claus.

Or did the tradition start at Yellowstone Park when a stagecoach ran into a freak summer blizzard. Stranded in the Rocky Mountains at the Old Faithful Inn, the riders refused to be distraught, and celebrated Christmas.

C’mon Kev. Who are you tryin’ to kid? Obviously some marketing team on Madison Avenue dreamed up this summertime opportunity.

If not them, had to be Hallmark, or the Hallmark Channel.

No one knows for sure, but it’s a thing now.

This week, we’ve got Christmas music that is definitely Christmas music that doesn’t really or immediately sound like Christmas.

Admit it. You’re curious. What do we have up our sleeve to pull this off?

And you think it’s absolutely nuts. Why, whoever heard of Jingle Bells when it’s in the 70’s or 80’s and not a snowflake in sight. Crazy, right?

No, no. no. Trust me. All you’ve got to do is embrace the music.

Take the December music in month #7 and just welcome it!

The Hollyridge Strings, an orchestra of studio musicians that recorded easy-listening covers for Capitol Records in the 1960s and 1970s. They became quite popular after releasing an album totally devoted to the Beatles that led to more Beatle renditions and tributes to other artists.

The following ensemble was a group of studio musicians who recorded a series of easy listening instrumental albums for Capitol Records at the peak of the British Invasion era. The band of musicians covered tunes from just about anybody who was big.

This is an original Christmas song for a 1966 album written by the group founder Stu Phillips.

If you listen to The Beatle Brunch Radio Show on WRIT-FM in Milwaukee every Sunday morning at 8:00 for an hour of music and interviews with The Beatles you’ll often hear the “Hollyridge Strings” being played underneath as background music while host Joe Johnson narrates certain segments.

Time now for the quintessential Christmas song that’s not a Christmas song but has become a Christmas song.

From a famous movie musical the song has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, save for the lyric “Brown paper packages tied up with strings.” And c’mon. BROWN paper? I don’t think so.

Here’s lovely country star Lorrie Morgan in a video with an unexpected twist.

Morgan still records and tour today.

“Where I am in my life right now, I’m not afraid to express what I feel, or what I don’t feel,” she said. “I’m not afraid to express my views on anything, especially on being a woman. I have been a daughter, a bride, a mother, a divorcee, a widow, a single mother, a breadwinner and, ultimately, a survivor. In many ways, I am a living, breathing country song.”

Back into the vault of Christmas music that isn’t really Christmas music but actually is.

I explain. There’s not a single mention of Christmas or anything Christmas-related here, and the reason is simple. There are no words. It’s an instrumental, and a pretty popular one at that. Vince Guaraldi’s classic is performed marvelously here with a brief Beethoven surprise tossed in.

The Mid-Century Mystic: The Charlie Brown Christmas Dance - a little  discussion on those moves ...

Guaraldi composed “Linus and Lucy” for “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”  Lee Mendelson was the animated special’s executive producer of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Mendelson recalled a phone conversation he had with Guaraldi.

“He said he wanted to play something he had just written,” Mendelson said. recalled. “I told him that I would prefer to come hear it at his studio rather than over the telephone, but he said he couldn’t wait, ‘I’ve got to play this for someone right now or I’ll explode!’ he said. I told him to go ahead, and what I heard over the next two minutes stunned me. It was perfect for the Peanuts characters! When he returned to the phone, I asked him what he was going to call it. He said, ‘Linus and Lucy.’ Little did we know that years later this piece would become a jazz standard throughout the world.”

David Benoit credited “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for sparking his love of playing jazz piano.

“That was the first time that jazz piano has been used in animation, which helped make it a really groundbreaking show,” Benoit said in a book written by Mendelson. “I agree with a lot of people who believe that a big part of the success of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ was Vince’s music.”

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend, and hey, Merry Christmas!

If I was to write down a bucket list (I haven’t) I would surely include a trip to New York to see trumpeter Wynton Marsalis leading a program at Lincoln Center.

Here, from 2015, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra along with guest vocalists Denzal Sinclaire and Audrey Shakir perform the greatest sacred Christmas classic in a way you’ve never heard before. Also featured is Dan Nimmer on piano, a Milwaukee native.

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