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.
No one knows for sure, but it’s a thing now.
This week, we’ve got Christmas music that seems to fit even though Independence Day was more than two weeks ago.
We get rolling with Mindi Abair who’s been recording and performing for the past 21 years. Known primarily for her work on the saxophone here she vocalizes about her December 25th anticipation.
Great way to open.
Abair mentioned Nat King Cole in that tune. When November rolls around we’ll hear why so many people start thinking Christmas in July as FM stations start playing tracks from your parents’ albums that suddenly are cool.
Like bandleader Percy Faith (“A Summer Place”) who created the so-called “easy listening” sound.
Lots of good reasons to long for Christmas.
That album was released in 1966.
Faith was a child piano prodigy, but his hands were burned in a fire at the age of 18. So he switched to conducting and arranging. That move cemented a successful career. He died died in 1976, just a few months before his disco version of “A Summer Place” became a Top 20 hit on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Finding it difficult to think about Christmas when the calendar says July? Imagine hot spots like Honolulu, Acapulco, or Rio. Last year on Christmas Day the high temperature in Rio de Janeiro was 77.
Piano duo Arthur Ferrante & Louis Teicher were one of the best-selling easy listening acts of the 1960s, offering light arrangements of easily recognizable classical pieces, movie soundtrack themes, and show tunes.
Ferrante’s manager Scott Smith said “They made beautiful music, but they were not easy listening. They were very dynamic.”
Ferrante died in 2009. He was 88. Teicher died the year before at 83.The duo recorded 150 albums, racking up 22 gold and platinum records and selling 90 million records worldwide. They performed 5,200 concerts before retiring in 1989.
More Mindi Abair. This time she joins with trumpet/flugelhorn player Rick Braun and guitarist Peter White on a Jingle Bells twist.
Forget Christmas in July. How about “Thanksgiving” in July?
Of course it’s quite clear there is no mention of Christmas or any other holiday in “Jingle Bells. According to the History Channel the song may have been first performed for a Thanksgiving church service. May have. Some lyrics may not have been appropriate. The less-known verses of the song describe picking up girls, drag-racing on snow and a high-speed crash. The lyrics “go it while you’re young” in the final verse of the secular standard definitely do not describe a holy or silent night.
For nearly 60 years “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has been broadcast annually on television. It almost didn’t make it into production.
From New Yorker Magazine:
For the music, the team (producer Lee Mendelson, animator Bill Melendez, Peanuts creator Bill Schulz) had courted up-and-coming jazz musician Vince Guaraldi, whose “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” seemed to strike the same balance of somber enlightenment and childlike buoyancy that Schulz achieved in his comic. But when they played the introduction song as the children skated on the frozen pond, Mendelson realized it was way too slow and solemn. It was missing something. He sat down at his kitchen table and wrote out the words to “Christmas Time Is here” on an envelope. Guaraldi enlisted the children’s choir of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael, California, to sing the lyrics.
Lyrics or not, the CBS executives didn’t think jazz belonged in a cartoon. They also challenged Schulz’s decision to use untrained children instead of professional adult voice actors. They especially couldn’t understand why children would use such big words. (Lucy: “We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big Eastern syndicate, you know.” Charlie Brown: “Don’t think of it as dust. Think of it as maybe the soil of some great past civilization. Maybe the soil of ancient Babylon. It staggers the imagination. Maybe carrying soil that was trod upon by Solomon, or even Nebuchadnezzar.”)
Schulz even got pushback from his own team. Mendelson suggested a laugh track would save the show and Schulz responded by standing up and walking out of the room. When Schulz, a Sunday school teacher, said Linus should recite from the Gospel of Luke, Mendelson and Melendez protested. “We looked at each other and said, ‘Well, there goes our careers right down the drain,’” Mendelson recalls. “Nobody had ever animated anything from the Bible before, and we knew it probably wouldn’t work. We were flabbergasted by it.”
When A Charlie Brown Christmas aired at 7:30 p.m. ET on December 9, 1965, half of American TV viewers tuned in. The reviews were outstanding. Washington Post TV critic Lawrence Laurent wrote, “Good old Charlie Brown, a natural born loser … finally turned up a winner.”
That’s it for this week.
Have a jolly weekend! The most wonderful time of the year is coming sooner than you think.
Brian Setzer & his Orchestra used to put on a helluva Christmas concert. But Setzer isn’t touring these days. In November of 2019, under doctor’s orders, Setzer was forced to cancel his 16th annual “Christmas Rocks! Tour” by THE BRIAN SETZER ORCHESTRA due to a severe case of tinnitus. we still have his rockin’ blow the roof off recordings to enjoy.
The Glencastle Irish Dancers including daughter Kyla, based where I live in Franklin, WI, at this past Sunday’s feis (dance competition. The theme was, you guessed it.