Goodnight everyone, and have a winter wonderland 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.

Since we got that foot of snow last weekend I guess we can say winter has really kicked in. OK, couldn’t resist, and I’m not sorry.

March 19th is the first day of spring. Till then, two months of winter that will seem like triple that. I despise winter. Too long. Too cold. Too dreary. But I’ll admit the season has its moments.

A personal challenge putting together this week’s feature. Could I find nice wintry music and mix in with some not at all yucky images?

You be the judge on how we did. Let’s get started with a Christmas song that has nothing to do with Christmas. The holiday is never mentioned. This is a light, easy, whimsical instrumental by saxman Dave Koz with trumpeter Rick Braun and guitarist Peter White that is appropriate before and after December 25.

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Of course that’s a look from beautiful Door County, WI.

Richard Smith wrote “Winter Wonderland” in 1934. His inspiration: a snowy Central park in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, seen here last month.

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One of the best contemporary jazz bands is Fourplay. This is an original composition by the group in 2009.

No photo description available.A picture print by Currier and Ives. Their lithographs were very popular wall hangings in 19th-century America that portrayed the history and customs of American people.

When it comes to wintry music Grammy-nominated composer David Arkenstone might be the best. His is a distinctive sound, combining  global, cinematic, and rock into his style of new age. Arkenstone’s music has been featured in film, television, and video game scores as well as dozens of his own albums.

At the time this blog was posted the snow is snowing and the wind is blowing.

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Arkenstone’s music has been described as Cinematic new age rock. “It is sometimes difficult to categorize my music and this is a term I can live with,” he said.

I stumbled upon this next album but know nothing about the performers. I do know this material fits our theme this week. The group is called WordHarmonic.

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

So, that was all good stuff. Pretty. Smooth. Pleasant.

Y’know what? I still can’t stand winter.

But I do agree with Tony Bennett and his daughter Antonia.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a soothing 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.

For the last several weeks our focus has been on Christmas music that I hope you enjoyed. This week we get more contemporary if you will with some recent recordings.

We begin with a talented smooth jazz pianist/vocalist. She’s Lisa Addeo whose single ”Listen To This” recently went to #3 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Chart.

Addeo has been described as a “world-class musician” and her music as “tenderly intimate, a joy to listen to.” Her fans have commented, “This is music that comes from the heart…with soul.”

Some masterful piano playing here.

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Addeo is an avid golfer and a qualified boat captain. She taught swimming and was a lifeguard at one time. And also on her resume is having played piano as Liberace’s protégé  at Radio City Music Hall. Here they are in 1985.

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Our next artist is originally from Paris. Emmanuel  Abiteboul, better known as U-Nam is a talented guitarist and producer.

U-Nam has a new album called “The Love Vault (Future Love Part 2),” a follow up to the smash “Future Love.”  Apparently U-Nam recorded so many tracks for the “Future Love album” that he had several songs that were left out. So they found their way onto “The Love Vault (Future Love Part 2).”

Let’s just say we are glad that U-Nam went back to revisit some of those songs. Once you take a listen, you will wonder why he did not release a double album to begin with!

On “Sexy Fresh” you’ll hear an interesting bassline and the definite influence of George Benson.


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BTW, U-Nam is Manu spelled backwards.

Now an instrumental with a Christmas-like title, but it’s not a Christmas tune.

Keyboardist Brian Culbertson’s latest release is entitled “Winter Stories,” the first in a series of albums where he’s paying  tribute to all of the year’s seasons. His inspiration came after walking the streets of Chicago last winter.

“Winter is a time for reflection for many people, myself included,” said Culbertson. “It’s a time to slow down from our crazy lives and enjoy what means the most to you. This winter, I spent part of the holidays writing music to capture my feelings. While this is not a ‘Christmas’ album, there’s definitely a feel of the holiday spirit included in this collection.”

“Ever take a sleigh ride in the middle of the city? Me neither,” Culbertson continued. “If you do however, I bet it’d be a bit bumpy. But for sure, an adventure!”

OK. Listen up. Can you hear them? The sleigh bells.

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Culbertson took up piano at the age of 8, added drums at 9, trombone at 10 then bass at 12. Before launching his solo recording career he completed musical studies at DePaul University and then went on to compose jingles for clients like United Airlines, Gatorade, Sears and McDonald’s.

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That’s Ethel Merman on the left, Irving Berlin on the right.

Jerome Kern once said “Irving Berlin has no place in American music — he is American music.”

Berlin immigrated to New York in 1893, published his first song in 1907 and in 1911 had his first major international hit — “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”

Five decades of hundreds of songs followed, including the standard “How Deep Is The Ocean?”

Berlin’s depression was his inspiration. He lost a great deal of his fortune in the 1929 stock market crash. His only son, Irving Berlin, Jr., died of sudden infant death syndrome on Christmas Day in 1928.

“I had gotten rusty as a songwriter. I developed an inferiority complex. No song I wrote seemed right. I struggled to pull off a hit,” said Berlin.

But he bounced back in 1932 with the #1 hit “How Deep Is The Ocean?”

How can I tell you
What is in my heart?
How can I measure
Each and every part?

How can I tell you
How much I love you?
How can I measure
Just how much I do?

How much do I love you?
I’ll tell you no lie
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

How many times a day
Do I think of you?
How many roses
Are sprinkled with dew?

How far would I travel
To be where you are?
How far is the journey
From here to a star?

And if I ever lost you
How much would I cry?
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

David Benoit (think “Linus and Lucy”) offers his rendition with guest artist, trumpeter Rick Braun.

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We pick up the tempo with Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot and Aubrey Logan performing an old Stevie Wonder hit.

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Goodnight everyone, and have an illuminating discovery this weekend!

Kevin, you’ve spent the past several Friday nights highlighting Christmas music.

That’s correct.

It was all lovely…

Thank you very much.

But you’re done, right? No more Christmas music this week, correct?



I’ll tell you why.

Christmas isn’t over.

It’s still Christmas which we’ll get into.

Churches around the world this weekend will celebrate the journey of the Magi. Thankfully there’s wonderful music to go along.

Here’s a repeat of a blog from this time last year that I enjoyed putting together and hope you like it, too.

Goodnight everyone, and have a SPECIAL Christmas 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.


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Christmas is special as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, “the reason for the season” as many say.

In of all places, Beef Magazine writes:

Christmas doesn’t ignore our sins, our imperfections or our mistakes. But it does, in a way, confirm the power of love and forgiveness. God knew who we were but he still sent his son into this world, knowing the pain, rejection and suffering he would incur just so we might have a personal relationship with him.   Our families know our faults and our weaknesses better than anybody, yet they love us anyway. 

Yes, special for so many other reasons. Family, food, decorations, parties, dressing up.

Our final Goodnight musical blog before Christmas features music I find special and I hope you will as well.

Wynton Marsalis’ bio is too expansive to list. In a nutshell, he’s an acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, and educator who also plays a mean trumpet.

In 1987 Marsalis co-founded Jazz at Lincoln Center where he’s now the Managing and Artistic Director. Last week the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Marsalis performed a Big Band Holiday show at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee.

Speaking of family, in October of 2017 Marsalis and his youngest child sat down in a studio with some of the orchestra members.

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Sweet stuff.

How good is Wynton Marsalis? He’s won nine Grammy Awards and is the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards in five consecutive years (1983-1987). That info is from his long, long, long list of accolades.

Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band has also won Grammy Awards. The18-piece jazz orchestra plays a number of styles including swing, Latin, blues, classical, and rock.

You’re familiar with the film “Home Alone.” When an eight-year-old boy is accidentally left behind by his family during Christmas vacation he must protect his house from a pair of burglars.

John Williams composed the film score. Leslie Bricusse wrote the lyrics for the theme song, a real gem.

Candles in the window
Shadows painting the ceiling
Gazing at the fire glow
Feeling that gingerbread feeling

Precious moments, special people
Happy faces, I can see

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Normally the Big Phat Band blows the doors right off. That’s a nice departure from their sassy brassy routine.

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of their iconic holiday recording “A Christmas Story” this year is Christian music vocal group Point of Grace.

Here they are at Central Community Church in Wichita, KS, in December 2015.

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Their bio is impressive: over 8 million recordings sold, 3 GRAMMY nominations, and multiple Dove awards.

What’s the best Christmas album?

For me that’s not a difficult question. A no-brainer.

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Karen’s angelic voice accompanied by her brother Richard’s lush arrangements.

Better yet. The CD that combines BOTH of the Carpenters’ Christmas albums.

Here’s a dramatic instrumental performance from the Carpenters’ 1977 Christmas TV special that put the amazing arrangement talent of Richard on display.

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Karen Carpenter died in 1983 at the age of 32.

Richard Carpenter is now 73. He conducted the Royal Philharmonic at Abbey Road for the album “Carpenters with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” that was released last December.

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That’s it for this week. More holiday music next Friday night.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

As I’ve grown older I confess I’ve become a bit of a snob when it comes to “Silent Night.”

For example, I just think it’s out of place when played so far in advance of Christmas. Doesn’t sound right.

Primarily I’ve come to really dislike the way many artists have butchered this magical composition. Stevie Nicks comes to mind who sounds like she’s gargling with razor blades.

For me the treatment can’t be simply good. It has to be real, real good, and I’ve got a great example.

Stirling Castle in Scotland was first mentioned around 1110. Perched high atop a volcanic rock, the castle guarded the lowest crossing point of the River Forth for centuries. Today it remains a symbol of Scottish independence and national pride.

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One of the many parts of the castle is The Great Hall, a banquet place that was used for feasts, dances and pageants. Built in 1503, the hall four pairs of tall windows at the dais end, where the king and queen sat, and was heated by five large fireplaces.

In 2012 Rod Stewart filmed a Christmas special in the hall where tickets for the exclusive evening were distributed via an online lottery and the dress code was “dinner jackets, kilts and cocktail dresses.”

It is impossible, I think, to watch and listen to this and not be moved.

Goodnight everyone, and have a Christmas weekend filled with interesting twists!

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.

We continue our weekly musical Christmas card with a theme that’s different. Repeat. different.

Here’s how it’ll work. We’ll start with a short snippet of a nice version of a popular Christmas tune. And then we’ll follow that up with the full selection of the same tune, only different. You’ll get the picture for sure.

Let’s begin with the Christmas String Quartet, an ensemble from the United Kingdom.


No doubt about it.

Now let’s add in some HO-HO-HO!

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Well, I’d say we’re off to a rollicking start!

Back on November 11, Setzer canceled his Christmas Rocks! Tour with his orchestra.  Setzer was diagnosed with a  severe case of tinnitus, a condition that causes sufferers to hear a constant noise or ringing in their ears, often tied to age-related hearing loss or an injury to the inner-ear hair cells.

“It’s heartbreaking to disappoint my fans who have shared my Christmas seasons with me for over fifteen years,” Setzer said. “I’m truly sorry for the inconvenience this has caused all of the amazing people who make my tour happen and to my unbelievably loyal and devoted fans. I hate to let you down and I hope you’ll understand.”

Setzer’s tour did not include Wisconsin, but did have stops in Chicago and Minneapolis scheduled.

Now we go back to 1994 and the country rock band “The Tractors.” In August that year they released their first album. Wanna guess what it was called?

On January 2, 1995, the group appeared on late night TV to perform their big hit single from that LP.

“Baby Likes to Rock It.”

That naturally led to this in late 1995.

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Image may contain: 2 people, night and outdoorCrowds gathered to watch The 2019 Canadian-Pacific Holiday Train as it traveled through Wisconsin Dec. 2-4. Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The writers of this next 1932 classic ran into a stone wall. No one wanted to produce it. That’s a kid’s song they were told. But after comedian Eddie Cantor sang it on his radio show, the tune took off.

Remember this 1970 animated film starring Fred Astaire?

Our next performer has a velvety smooth voice that lifts you to the heavens. Yes, another interesting twist from a 1990 album, and it’s funny, too.

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“I sang in a grade school choir at St. Dominic’s, and we sang morose Catholic songs all year,” said McGovern in a 2012 interview. “So we got to Christmas, and we got to sing something joyous, and I loved it. Everybody does their obligatory holiday album and I guess I was an elf in another age because I have hundreds of Christmas albums at home, so I approach these songs with a joy and sense of wonder and whimsy and great fun, and not as museum pieces.”

Time to get serious, if only momentarily.

Milwaukee Magazine wrote in 2018, “we see The Nutcracker to relax and celebrate, taking in a magical tale told through dance,” and that it’s “one of the most cherished holiday traditions in America.”

Wait a minute. Is that “Straight No Chaser” responding with a Bah Humbug?

Hooray it’s Christmas time
But there’s one lousy tradition
There’s a certain show that you will see
That is all and many would agree
It is time to find another show to substitute
For the Nutcracker
I’m watching the game
But something’s wrong
Staring is my wife
Her face looks long
I know that look, it must be me
It’s not our anniversary
I shrug, no clue
What did I do
She stands in disbelief (What?)
This holiday scene brings no laughter
Forced going to see The Nutcracker
I try to block it from my mind
Think fast, what reason can I find?
Got work to do, I’ll fake the flu
No chance, I’m done, I’m screwed (No!)
I’ve seen the Nutcracker twenty times
Sure it is fun if you are four (bum)
Don’t call me a Scrooge ’cause it’s a bore
The story’s dated and that Mouse King thing
Freaks me out (Ahh!)
Well, guess I’m a guy, what can I say
I’d rather watch football than ballet
I try my hardest not to groan
And pull the score up on my phone
As I complain, “It’s not the same”
We’re rushing out the door (Go!)
All holiday shoppers on the road
My holiday spirit might explode
Of course, there is no place to park
We’re late, the theatre’s in the dark
In no small feat, we find a seat
The show’s about to start (Shh)
Here’s that song from Tetris
And I know it’s the part
When I fight not to fall asleep
March the wooden soldiers
Bunch of mice start a fight
Land of sweets, man this stuff’s trippy
By the way, this story makes no sense
Still don’t know what it means
After all these years
So confusing, feel like snoozing
Eyes are heavy, as I start to dream
Woah, I’m awake, must have fallen asleep
Guess I didn’t snore or make a peep
‘Cause my wife had no clue I’d been out cold
Is the finale coming up
‘Cause there is no beer left in my cup
To make it through, I’ll need another drink
Snuck out to the lobby
Oh, look, I found a TV
I forgot the game was happening
It’s down to the wire
Time will soon expire
Down by one, this kick would win it
(Hut, hut) The ball snapped
(Oh, no) The kick’s bad
(Wide right) No
(We lost) No
How could this night get any worse?
Now I’m feeling all depressed
But I still have to act impressed
A pirouette, oh wow, that’s great
A six-year-old could do that, too
Saw my team lose at the bar
Now dancing dudes in leotards
Last Nutcracker hopefully
But my wife’s thinking differently
She leans in closely, whispers softly
“Can’t wait for you to take me next year.”

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The a cappella group was formed at Indiana University in 1996.

Now the year is 1977.

It was bit bizarre. Odd. But delightful and pleasant.

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Bing’s daughter Mary recalled, “The doors  (on the set) opened and David walked in with his wife. They were both wearing full-length mink coats, they have matching full makeup and their hair was bright red. We were thinking, ‘Oh my god.'”

Producers instructed Bowie to remove the lipstick and take the earring out. It was just incredible to see the contrast.”

Ian Fraser was there. He composed the “Peace on Earth” segment.

Bowie “came in and said, ‘I hate this song (Little Drummer Boy). Is there something else I could sing?’

“We didn’t know quite what to do.”

They eventually worked it out.

Now for the twist and it’s rather subtle. A new CD is out that has the voices of the late Crosby and Bowie accompanied by a famous orchestra.

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The duet was recorded on Sept. 11, 1977, for a TV broadcast scheduled for late November. Crosby never saw it. He died on October 14 of a heart attack on the golf course.

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

I HATE  “The 12 Days of Christmas.” BORING. Too repetitious. Like one giant skip in the record. Did I mention boring?

There are exceptions.

Frank, Frank Jr., Nancy and Tina.

Different. Thank goodness.

Here’s another rendition that breaks the mold, big time.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a Christmas cocktail this 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.

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More Christmas music in this week’s installment.

Tonight, the albums your father had that you thought weren’t cool…..

Turns out, they’re mighty cool.

More sounds of the seasons, wrapped with Christmas cocktails.

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We take you inside music from the Ultra-Lounge series, described by the record company as:

“An era batted in gimlets, hi-balls, straight up, on-the- rocks, shaken not stirred, hi-octane elixirs dressed in garish garni. A time viewed through the seductive daze of slow-burning lipstick-kissed cigarettes that end up dancing ashtray dancing with cigar stubs and cherry stems. The atmosphere mambos to the soundtrack of cool. Rumbling saxophones. Jazzy vibes, over-heated Hammonds, and the sexy chill of a brush a cross a cymbal. So pour yourself a cocktail, slip off your shoes, shuffle across the shag to your favorite easy chair and enjoy an intoxicating taste of the Ultra-Lounge.”

“Ultra-Lounge” is a series of 1950’s to 1960’s lounge music cds released by Capitol Records. It’s our feature tonight.

From the back cover notes of Christmas Cocktails-Part Two:

“Another Round Of Cool Holiday Spirits. Christmastime is here again and Santa’s mixed up another batch of intoxicating hi-fi holiday highballs, cooler than Jack Frost’s smile and sweeter than a candy cane swizzlestick. If these 18 hot chestnuts don’t jingle your bells, then you’re Scrooged, man. Fruitcake!”

Let’s get our Santa Claus’ party going with duel pianists, Ferrante and Teicher followed by Les Baxter.

That was from Christmas Cocktails Part Two.

We move to the first installment of the series. From the back cover notes:

“Hi-Fi Holiday Cheer From Santa’s Pad. It’s Christmastime and we’ve gone north for the holidays (North Pole that is!). These eighteen hot toddies will surely melt your snowcone. So deck the halls, spike the eggnog and hang the mistletoe, you’re in Yulesville, baby! Ho-Ho-Ho. Cheers!”

You’ve probably never heard of Al Caiola and Riz Ortolani. But you’ll love their “Holiday on Skis.”

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“The music captures the sultry, and sexy side of the 1950’s and early 1960’s. It’s kind of like a Mad Men soundtrack with a bit of jingle thrown in.

“All the women singers on this collection purr their songs, while the men croon like velvet and the big bands belt it out as only bands from that era can.

“The other great thing about this set is the variety of artists on the CD’s. You get classic Dean Martin and Nat King Cole singing some of their Christmas standards, but then you also get Lou Rawls, of all people, adding his own brand of swing to the mix. They’re the perfect CD’s for a Christmas party, and take the worry out of creating a mood for your get together.”

This ensemble has been highlighted in the past on our Friday night feature. Who knew an orchestra could be so cool.

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A review from blogger Saltyka:

“A perfect martini-and-mistletoe combo, Christmas Cocktails will gaily seduce you with its bevy of nostalgic and occasionally campy holiday fare. This CD features Christmas music from the 50s and 60s that would have been considered to be ‘adult pop’ at the time. That is to say, pop music for adults, instead of teenagers. In short, if you like lounge music–and especially pop Christmastime music from the 1950s and 1960s–you have got to get this album. It’s worth every penny you’ll spend on it. Overall, if you want some swingin’ lounge music for your Christmas party–whether there be cocktails served or not–you truly can’t afford to go without this fine CD. It’s chock full of great performances and I predict you’ll be listening to it over and over again.”

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The Capitol Studios, Studio A

This series features artists like Peggy Lee, Julie London, Kay Starr, Nancy Wilson, Lou Rawls, Dean Martin, and Nat “King” Cole. It is worth your purchase since you won’t hear most of these tracks if any on your FM radio.

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We close with Fred Waring.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a child-like Christmas 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 is sights, especially the sights of Christmas reflected in the eyes of a child.”
William Saroyan

“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”
Erma Bombeck

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.”
Larry Wilde

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”
Andy Rooney

“Nothing’s as mean as giving a little child something useful for Christmas.”
Kin Hubbard

“My first copies of Treasure Island and Huckleberry Finn still have some blue-spruce needles scattered in the pages. They smell of Christmas still.”
Charlton Heston

Let’s smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.

Tonight, we continue our musical march to Christmas.

We all know Christmas is about the kids. This week’s musical selections are for the children, and the child in all of us this time of year.

We begin with the beautiful voice of Maureen McGovern who asks a musical question.

Juan Martinez hoists his daughter Kamila Martinez, 6, up so she can get a better view of the tree during the Macy’s Tree Lighting Ceremony at Downtown Crossings in Boston on Nov. 29, 2013 (Photo: Essdras M Suarez/Boston Globe Staff)

In the mid-to-late 1970’s the Salsoul Orchestra had some huge disco recordings and, like all entertainers, eventually released their own Christmas album.|

The children sing in this selection.

People walk in the Light Labyrinth in the Wilanow Palace Garden in Warsaw, Poland, Dec. 6, 2013. The Labyrinth, made of over 150,000 color lamps and based on themes from “Alice in Wonderland” is a winter attraction for children. (Photo: Alik Keplicz/Associated Press)

Our next song is not about Christmas though it has become a Christmas song. Maybe because of the lyrics that include “Brown paper packages tied up with strings.”

Julie Andrews, and much, much later, Carrie Underwood sang it in “The Sound of Music.”

A legend does it more than justice here.

Children play during the opening ceremony of Christmas season at the main square of Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 29. The Mayor of Bogota, Gustavo Petro, inaugurated officially the Christmas season with millions of light bulbs in different parts of the city. (Photo: Fernando Vergara/Associated Press)

When I was a kid and we were buying records by Elvis and the Beatles it was our parents who were spending money on recordings by Bert Kaempfert, a composer of light, very popular melodies who hailed from Hamburg.

Kaempfert met Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best at the Top Ten Club on the Reeperbahn. They called themselves the “Beat Brothers” and did backup for British singer and guitarist Tony Sheridan. Kaempfert produced their single, “My Bonnie,” the first official recording ever made by the Fab Four.

On March 20, 1965, the Top Ten of the Billboard chart included artists like the Beatles, the Supremes, Roger Miller, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Temptations, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys.  Kaempfert was good enough to reach #11 with “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.”

His only Christmas album released in 1963 has the usual batch of Christmas tunes, and this original written by Kaempfert. The album notes predicted this would become a lasting favorite.

Kelly Orchard stops to look at trees that are illuminated at a preview for the Enchanted Christmas at the Forestry Commissions National Arboretum at Westonbirt, Gloucestershire on Nov. 27, 2013, in Tetbury, England. Enchanted Christmas, is Westonbirts signature winter event, aimed to inspire festive cheer with an illuminated one mile tree-lined trail. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

We’re not done yet.

At the Mouse House in Orlando, an undeniable favorite during the Christmas parade are the toy soldiers. It takes a special kind to march in that parade.

From 1961, here’s Tommy Sands & friends.
Christmas in Alaska came early to nearly 300 students attending school in the Yup’ik Eskimo village of Kwethluk. Thanks to the volunteer program coordinated by the Alaska National Guard, Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted children in the western Alaska community on December 11, 2013, and took pictures with them before helper elves handed out gifts. AP photo, Mark Thiessen

Listen to Christmas music on the radio and you’re certain to hear the same version of Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simeone Chorale. Let’s liven it up a bit, shall we.
Deployed troops share their Christmas stockings with children. Operation Give, a troop-support group, sends more than 20,000 stockings to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of its annual Operation Christmas Stocking collection in 2013.  Photo: US Defense Department

Here’s another Christmas classic you never hear on the radio, performed by Chicago and some special guests.

Young choristers take part in Bath Abbey’s candlelit Advent Procession on Dec. 1, in Bath, England. One of the most popular services of the historic Abbey’s year, which marks the beginning of Advent and the Christian year, takes the congregation from darkness into light with a mixture of readings and music supported by the Abbey’s choirs. (Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

That’s it for this week’s segment.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

For my money, the best Christmas album with angelic vocals and lush arrangements is by the Carpenters.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a Bring on the Holidays 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.

Usually on the Friday after Thanksgiving I post brand new Christmas music. But since the holiday is a bit late this year I’m going one week earlier with new material you can buy right now!

Now that’s something to toot some horns about!

We open with appropriate fanfare. From our first group’s website:

Under the direction of brass-icon, John Stevens, and comprised of the finest professional brass players in the Midwest, the Isthmus Brass is Wisconsin’s premiere large brass ensemble.  Named for a strip of land between the lakes of Mendota and Monona in Madison the IB was established in 2009 as some of the most high profile brass players in the region looked for a way to collaborate and perform together.  They initially decided on a course of performing charitable Christmas Concerts especially for the Porchlight Homeless Charity and at retirement homes in Madison.  Since then the group has taken off on the professional concert circuit and is currently being selected to perform on concert series and music festivals throughout the Midwest.

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The Isthmus Brass performs in Wisconsin next month. See where and when here.

Our next artist perfectly timed her latest release.

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The sequel opened in theaters this week.

And the voice of Elsa has recorded her second Christmas album.

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Menzel’s album is mostly Christmas songs even though she’s Jewish.

“If Barbra Streisand can make a Christmas album, I can,” Menzel said back in 2014 when she issued her first holiday recording.

Next up…

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Imagine having a voice that reminds folks of Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Norah Jones and Diana Krall.

That’s what people are saying about young Brynn Stanley.

Her website describes the singer as “warm, classic, timeless, inspiring and sincere.”

Stanley used to sing Beatles’ tunes with her father,  but only in the family’s house because she was nervous about vocalizing in public. That changed when Stanley went to Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. From her website:

One night, while sitting around a piano with friends singing Broadway show tunes, Brynn’s friends encouraged her to try out for the upcoming musical.  She eventually landed the lead role of ‘Sheila’ in the musical “Hair”.  The following year Brynn changed her major to pursue her newfound passion.

She decided after graduating that singing was definitely her vocation.

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Yes, that’s an Elvis original from 1957.

And no, the young soldier at the end of the video is not an acquaintance of Stanley’s. Just an actor playing the part for the video.

For six seasons Ana Gasteyer was a regular on Saturday Night Live. She left the show to star on Broadway in productions like “Wicked”and “Rocky Horror,” and performs a regular jazz act.

Now Gasteyer has a new Christmas album out that really swings. She wrote this original song, the title track, that for many this time of year is downright honest.

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NOTE: Celtic violinist Máiréad Nesbitt, seen in the above video, is no longer with the group that has seen several personnel changes over the years. Nesbitt left Celtic Woman in August of 2016 to pursue solo projects

Celtic Woman comes to Milwaukee on December 21 to perform at the Riverside Theater.

That’s it for this segment.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend. More Christmas music next Friday night.

We close with a favorite you’ll definitely hear on FM Radio in the weeks ahead, but probably not like this.

Strangely the world’s best-selling single has never reached number one in the UK charts.

Sales of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” are more than 50 million copies worldwide along with 1.8 billion streams. However popular the massive hit, again, has never been number one in the UK. The Crosby family wants that distinction to go away.

Just released today, “Bing At Christmas” features Bing’s original vocals set to newly-recorded orchestral arrangements performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Crosby’s widow Kathryn said, “Hearing Bing’s voice with these completely new, beautifully recorded, orchestral accompaniments makes it seem as though he’s back after all these years. It’s magic.”

On previous blogs I’ve featured past vocals paired with new instrumentation by the London Symphony Orchestra that has backed Elvis, The Beach Boys, and Roy Orbison and others.

This is their latest, with backing vocals by Pentatonix. The best Christmas song ever.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a Thank You 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.

In all the years I’ve been doing this Friday night musical round-up I’ve never put together a Thanksgiving. The reason is quite simple. There’s not exactly a plethora of great thanksgiving tunes. This week for the first time I’m taking a stab at it, and admitted some stuff is a reach, but it’s all good. Let’s get started.

The above video is from the Emmy award winner “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”
Charlie Brown wants to do something special for the gang but the dinner he arranges is a disaster when the caterers, Snoopy and Woodstock, prepare toast and popcorn as the main dish. The most memorable piece from the soundtrack is this one, a more up tempo version than the one from ” A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

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The cartoon classic airs on Wednesday night, November 27 at 7:00 Central Time. A special bonus cartoon from Charles M. Schulz, “This Is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers” can be seen right after. Charlie Brown and the Peanuts crew are with the Pilgrims to celebrate the first Thanksgiving.

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In October of 1863 America was engaged in a brutal Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln delivered a Thanksgiving proclamation that read in part:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

True, there’s not a Mayflower boatload of November holiday songs, but there are plenty that are built on the word “thank.”

We switch gears and turn back the clock 50 years to Sunday, May 25, 1969. C’mon Ed. Clap those hands.

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“Kisses so good I had to holler for help.”

No, they don’t write them like they used to. Isaac Hayes helped write the lyrics to “I Thank You” that peaked at #9 on the Billboard chart in 1968.

When I think of Thanksgiving The Beatles come to mind. You understand, right?

Between March 1962 and May 1965 The Beatles made 52 musical performances on a variety of BBC radio shows. This one is from June of 1963, just months before the Fab Four would take over America.

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The Lennon-McCartney tune was a tribute to the group’s many female admirers.

OK, time for something more traditional. This is the most famous Thanksgiving song. Written by the immortal Irving Berlin in 1954 it was featured in the film “White Christmas,” but never mentions the December holiday.

In 1952 Berlin wrote a letter to film studio executive Joseph Schenck:

I’m enclosing a lyric of a song I finished here and which I am going to publish immediately…You have always said that I commercial my emotions and many times you were wrong, but this particular song is based on what really happened.

The story is in its verse, which I don’t think I’ll publish.  As I say in the lyrics, some time ago, after the worst kind of a sleepless night, my doctor came to see me and after a lot of self-pity, belly-aching and complaining about my insomnia, he looked at me and said “speaking of doing something about insomnia, did you ever try counting your blessings?”

…Personally, I feel it’s the best song I have written in a long time and should be a hit.  I would have saved it for one of the pictures, but they’re too far off…”

The song was Berlin’s last hit. From 2005…

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Diana Krall has been married to fellow singer-songwriter Elvis Costello since 2003.


“The Big Broadcast of 1938” centers around  a transatlantic race from New York City to Cherbourg, France between two ocean liners. In his first full-length film Bob Hope plays radio announcer Buzz Fielding whose girl friend, Dorothy Wyndham (played by Dorothy Lamour) bails him out of jail, where he landed after skipping alimony payments to his three ex-wives, in time to board the S. S. Gigantic for the race against the S. S. Colossal.

Shirley Ross plays Cleo, one of the ex-wives. She reminisces with Buzz on what became Bob Hope’s theme song. Here’s a classic, especially since over many decades you rarely heard all the lyrics.

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We like to end with an upbeat, exciting video and we’ve got one.

Just out of high school in the early 1970’s Andrew Gold sang and played guitar on many Linda Ronstadt recordings.

Then in 1978 it took him about an hour to write this next song. But it took 40 takes to get it just right in the studio. Take #40 was selected for the 45.

Gold developed renal cancer and died in 2011. He was 59.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a thankful 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.

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Monday is Veterans Day.  The annual observance was approved by Congress in 1926 and  Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

Each branch of the military has talented musicians among their ranks. This week, the music of America’s military bands. Let’s get rolling.

From the website of the Great American Songbook:

Ira Gershwin wrote in his memoir Lyrics on Several Occasions that the final (or fifth) version of the music for the song “Strike Up the Band” was written by his brother George lying in bed during the middle of the night. It was the spring of 1927 and the brothers were in Atlantic City for a meeting with Edgar Selwyn, the producer of their show in progress, also titled Strike Up the Band. Ira had gone out to get the Sunday paper and upon returning to their adjoining rooms and seeing no light under the door assumed George was asleep; however, the door opened and the pajama clad composer informed his lyricist brother that he’d got it. When Ira pressed him to explain the “it,” he replied, “Why the march of course, I think I’ve finally got it. Come on in.”

Apparently George had thought he’d gotten it on four previous occasions but this time he assured Ira this was it, even though the first four were written while he was at the piano, this one in his head while he was in bed. George sat down at the piano (He always had a piano in his hotel room.) and played it almost exactly as the song is now known. Ira pressed his brother that this would indeed be “it,” that there would be no more “maybe I’ll come up with something better[s].” The fifth try did, in fact, turn out to be “it,” Ira went ahead and “wrote it up.”

The United States Coast Guard Band is the premier band representing the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. The 55-member ensemble has performed at some of the most prestigious venues in the nation including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

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This past August 10th  the Coast Guard Band performed at the Marcus Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee as part of their 2019 tour of the Great Lakes region. The concert was free and open to the public who had to reserve their tickets in advance, and was sponsored by WaterStone Bank.

We move on to the Marine Band.

From their official website:

“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band’s mission is to perform for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Founded in 1798 by an Act of Congress, the Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. Today, “The President’s Own” is celebrated for its role at the White House and its dynamic public performances, which total more than 500 annually.

This was Mrs. John Philip Sousa’s favorite march.

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Earlier this week the Marine Band performed at the White House as President Trump honored the 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals. The band was very quick to…adapt.

“Baby Shark” fans I’m sure caught the last few seconds of that video that captured people doing the hand motions that go along with the catchy children’s song sensation.

There’s a reason for my madness of including “Baby Shark” at the White House. As wonderful as those tunes are that the military bands play, the marches, the anthems, the historical compositions, all the glorious patriotic material, what’s also beautiful about these ensembles and a tribute to their major talent is that they’re not boxed in by what you’d assume they’d play. They venture off into all kinds of musical genres. Witness “Baby Shark.”

And we will finish the rest of this week’s blog with more examples.

Let’s see. On our program schedule I see on deck is the U.S. Army Field Band that provides musical support to strengthen the ties between the Army and civilian populations at home and abroad.

As the premier touring musical representative for the United States Army, this internationally-acclaimed organization travels thousands of miles each year presenting a variety of music to enthusiastic audiences throughout the nation and abroad. Through these concerts, the Field Band fosters the support of the American people for members of the armed forces and supports diplomatic efforts around the world.

We said our remaining bands would do what is considered non-traditional material for them, and we’ll start out slow.

Henry Mancini would be proud.

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Audrey Hepburn sang Mancini’s famous song in the 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but almost didn’t. Paramount Studio’s president  thought the movie was too long and wanted to cut Hepburn’s scene. The young actress reportedly responded, “Over my dead body!”

Time to move to the 70’s and heat things up.

The Ohio Players played funk, soul, and R&B, but were most famous for their series of rather provocative album covers, including this 1975 release.

The title track has a guy singing that he’s out of control.

“The way you swerve and curve, really wrecks my nerves
And I’m so excited…”

The Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force, honors those who have served, inspires American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and connects with the global community. Here, they really get down.

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“Fire” was a #1 hit for the Ohio Players in February 1975. Several members have died, but the latest edition of the band still tours.

That’s it for this week’s segment.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend and thank a veteran!

The United States Navy Band is the premier musical organization of the Navy. It’s been said  the band is “capable of playing any style of music in any setting.”

So true, joined here by the US Navy Sea Chanters.

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