Goodnight everyone, and have a glistening 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.

It’s tradition on this blog feature on the Friday after Thanksgiving we highlight new Christmas releases. And we have some beauties again this year.

Let’s get started.

This is an unlikely duet. Dion, he of “Runaround Sue” and “The Wanderer” fame, teams up with country and Christian star Amy Grant in what is the quintessential Christmas song for 2020.

“I was talking with a friend about how the world this year can use a little life-giving love and harmony,” said Dion.

“I told him that Christmas was the grace that changed my life and that I was looking forward to a shot of that this year. The next day, I got together with [co-writer] Mike [Aquilina] and I picked up the guitar, started singing and words started to flow. Later I was walking with my buddy [and co-writer] Steve Bottari and he started singing along — with some new words. The song just seemed to write itself, a gift to finish off this challenging year. From the start I heard Amy Grant’s voice on it; she just sounds like Christmas to me. I sent the track to her and she fell in love with it and added a beautiful counter-melody which makes it really sublime.”

Dion also released another yuletide-themed tune last Friday, November 20, a blues-flavored song called “You Know It’s Christmas,” featuring lead guitar by blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa.

Christmas Rat Pack-style is next with the Doug Hume Orchestra and Bob Francis doing a spot-on Sinatra. Dig these cool cat lyrics.

Of course Las Vegas is no different than any other holiday destination in 2020. This week Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced new restrictions, including the reduction of capacity down to 25% in casinos, bars, restaurants, museums, art galleries and other businesses and facilities, and the reduction of maximum capacity in showrooms and theaters from 250 to 50.

Saxophonist Marion Meadows has been performing for 30 years but has finally released his first Christmas album. Listen for the just the right amount of R&B, soul, and jazz.

In October PBS broadcast a Ken Burns documentary, “driving While Black.” meadows played on the soundtrack.

“Canada’s Prince of Piano” – that’s how the Beijing Times, China’s leading English-language newspaper, described Canadian pianist and composer Martin Mayer.

This classic was arranged by Emmy-winning musician John Tesh and Grammy-winning violinist Charlie Bisharat. It will remind you of David Foster’s booming version you often hear on the radio this time of year.

Canada’s National Post predicts that Mayer is “Poised to take over the world stage.”

How about another duet? You know. A twosome.

“People will find this surprising; they might not even like it. It might not be as sexy, but it’s the truth,” said Dolly Parton. “I wrote this while I was cuddling up and cozying down with one of my little nieces and nephews, just thinking about mothers and their babies.” 

Nice, but Parton admits her new song needed something more romantic.

“And I cuddled up with Michael Buble on this one! And he did a great job on it. So, it made it sexy. I can only fantasize, cuddlin’ up and cozying down with him.”

Back in April Parton made a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee to help fund the early stages of research for a coronavirus vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Moderna. Thus far, the research looks very promising.

Our next selection is very exciting, done in a style you’ve never heard before on a Christmas classic.

The artist is Warren Wolf, a multi-instrumentalist from Baltimore. His lengthy, impressive resume started at the age of 3 when he was trained on the Vibraphone/Marimba, Drums, and Piano. Wolf studied classical composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Paganini, Brahms, Vivaldi and Shostakovich. In jazz he paid close attention to Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Weather Report, Wynton Marsalis and many others.

You’d swear the opening on this track is “Jingle Bells” and you’d be correct because it is. But then it quickly segues into something else.

That’s it for this week.

More Christmas music next Friday.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We close with saxophonist Dave Koz and guitarist Jonathan Butler who answer the musical question, “What’s going on out there?”

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Irving Berlin

Last Sunday night the American Music Awards were broadcast on ABC. I chose to watch NFL football for lots of reasons. Try the AMA winners:

Taylor Swift

Doja Cat

Dan + Shay

Justin Bieber

Dua Lipa “Don’t Start Now”

Kane Brown

Maren Morris

Juice WRLD

The Weeknd

Bad Bunny

Becky G

Lauren Daigle

Fogey Alert! Who the hell are they??!!

The American Music Awards program was created by Dick Clark for ABC after the network’s contract to broadcast the Grammy awards expired. And the AMAs used to be very good. Not anymore.

One of my FB friends, Darlene Wink commented last Sunday:

Watching American Music Awards – the audience is made up of cardboard cutouts. Actually appropriate for this group – I have not known one song or one group yet. Music sure has changed and not for the better.

I switched it off it was terrible. I love music – but this isn’t music.

As mentioned the show used to be worthwhile and entertaining. Let’s go back to 1976. Olivia Newton-John was having a tremendous year and was quite prominent on the awards show.

Beautifully orchestrated and sung, this medley featured two lovely songs written by Irving Berlin (“God Bless America”, “White Christmas”) who was presented a Merit Award at the 1976 event.

The first is from 1923. Berlin was engaged to socialite Ellin MacKay whose wealthy father disapproved of their relationship and sent his daughter to Europe hoping she’d give up on Berlin.

And the second song in the medley came in 1925 when Berlin wrote it as a
wedding gift to MacKay. Her father’s sabotage plan had backfired.

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS 1976 SIGNED SCRIPT

Newton-John won three AMAs in 1976.




 



Today’s highly interesting read (11/27/20): Democrats Want Unity Only on Their Terms

For more than 42 years I’ve been involved with politics in one form or another: Reporter, news manager, radio talk show host, TV pundit panelist, legislative aide/spokesman, party activist, blogger, FB contributor.

For as long as I can remember whenever a Democrat (or the Democrat’s puppets in the media) has called for bipartisanship, what he or she really meant is that Republicans move over to the left side of the aisle, and never vice versa.

Now the Left is clamoring for unity.

Political Cartoons by AF Branco

Today’s read comes from author and columnist David Limbaugh. Here’s an excerpt:

As a Christian, I firmly believe in reconciliation and healing. I believe it’s wrong for us to hold grudges for past wrongs. But there’s a difference between harboring a grudge and responding to ongoing smears. If you want to heal, stop calling us haters and bigots simply because we strongly disagree with you on policies. Quit suppressing our speech, and quit canceling us from culture. Most of all quit pretending your calls for unity are anything other than a demand that we surrender to your radical agenda.

That’s not going to happen

Read the entire column here.


Crushing crime wave in Minneapolis

Crime in south Minneapolis is out of control, the writer says.

Photo: Minneapolis Star Tribune

My family is keeping close tabs on the violence in Minneapolis that hasn’t subsided since summer when riots broke out along with calls to defund the police.

Our cousin is married to a police officer in Minneapolis where the couple lives. So we watch. And we worry, especially since the climate isn’t improving.

Crime statistics up to mid-September in Minneapolis are seen in orange, compared to 2019 figures in blue.

From an opinion piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

“Today you can’t go to the grocery store without fear of being attacked.”

Take a look.

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

Today’s highly interesting read (11/26/20): Give Thanks and Tell the Turkey Fascists to Go Gnaw on a Drumstick

https://twt-media.washtimes.com/media/image/2015/11/25/11252015_2015-11-25-12-22-458201.jpg

Today’s read is from one of my favorite columnists, Kurt Schlichter. Here’s an excerpt:

So, have you noticed that where our leaders have been following the dictates of these dorks, like in Maryland and California, the result is a freaking disaster? Maryland’s Governor Co-Morbidity and Cali’s Governor Hairstyle look at their exploding case numbers and think, “Well, we should do more of the same things that have already failed and destroy millions of people’s livelihoods at the same time.” Their argument is that they have failed so badly that we must give them even more power to do more of the things that have failed.

Read the entire column here.

Culinary no-no #678

Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.

Frozen Turkey Dinner — Stock Photo

Culinary no-no on a Wednesday? When it normally gets published on a Sunday?

Had to be. These couldn’t wait till the weekend. Thanksgiving you understand.

How can I cut back on food waste during Thanksgiving? Skip the bird? get bent.

13 MUST-HAVES FOR HOSTING THANKSGIVING OUTSIDE. How about #14. Skip the 13 and just go inside.

Today’s highly interesting read (11/25/20): Could Trump Have Been Our First 100 Million-Vote President?

A large crowd sits around Air Force One as President Trump speaks.

Today’s read is from Wayne Allyn Root, a nationally syndicated conservative TV and radio host.

Here’s an excerpt:

Trump won the biggest upset in U.S. presidential history in 2016. And in 2020, he added over 10 million votes!

Did you know that? I’m guessing not, because the lying, “fake news,” mainstream media never mentions it. But Trump got over 10 million more votes than last time — when he won. That’s definitely the definition of a remarkable winner.

But that’s not the really amazing part.

What is? Read the entire column here.

Grammy realities

Amazon.com: Musiox Zinc Alloy Grammy Awards, Metal American Grammy Awards, Grammy  Trophy: Home & Kitchen

The Grammy Award nominees were announced today.

For Song of the Year, one of the nominees:

I CAN’T BREATHE
Performed by H.E.R.
Dernst Emile II, H.E.R. & Tiara Thomas, songwriters


I’d bet my house it wins.

Ponder this. How much Grammy TV time do you think will be given to Dolly Parton, nominated for “There Was Jesus” in the category of Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song?

Today’s highly interesting read (11/24/20): Closing down schools is not the solution during pandemic

Schools choose between bad online learning and unsafe classrooms - Business  Insider

Today’s read is from attorney Christine Flowers. Here’s an excerpt:

We are watching as young boys and girls are not only missing out on the benefits of proximity and kinship, of interaction and reaction, but are becoming fearful little vessels of apprehension.

This is wrong.  And the fact that it is being done under the guise of “protecting children” and reducing the spread is as dishonest as it is reprehensible.

Read the entire column here.