This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Oh dear. Here we go again. Let's see what heartwarming Christmas tunes I can come up with this year. I like songs that you won't hear in your neighborhood mall, so let's see what Santa has packed in his bag this year.
We'll start with the most famous reindeer of them all. You know the one, or at least you probably think you do. We have JUSTIN WILSON performing Randolph, the Rouge Nosed Reindeer.
Okay, it wasn't quite the one you thought it was, but it's more entertaining than the other one and sounds rather like it.
ROOMFUL OF BLUES is a blues and swing band who formed in the unlikely blues state of Rhode Island.
They began way back in 1967 and are still going strong. One of their founder members is the great Duke Robillard, who's not with them anymore. Some other interesting performers have been in the group – Ronnie Earl, Lou Ann Barton, Ron Levy amongst them.
The current incarnation of the group wonders: Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get the Blues?
AMOS MILBURN is a regular in my columns.
He's a particular favorite of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist. Amos made a career performing songs about drinking, partying and generally having a good time. Well, at this time of the year he has it all covered.
This one is rather a slow song, but his heart's in the right place: Let's Make Christmas Merry, Baby.
LORD BEGINNER was from Trinidad and was known to his mum and dad as Egbert Moore. Egbert? No wonder he took a pseudonym.
Lord (or Egbert) emigrated to England in the late forties where he established his musical career based on the sound of his native land. It seems he imbibed a little too much, as he says that Christmas Morning the Rum Had Me Yawning.
EDDIE CAMPBELL was from Mississippi but like many who were musically adept from that state, he moved to Chicago (in his case his family did the moving, Eddie went along as he was quite young).
He was another cog in the wheel that invented Chicago blues, one of the finest genres of music from the twentieth century. He played in the bands of musicians such as Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and others before striking out on his own.
Eddie thinks that Santa's Messin' With the Kid.
Continuing in the heavy blues vein, we have TEXAS PETE MAYES.
You can probably guess whence Pete hails. He was also called T-Bone Man, as he played guitar rather like T-Bone Walker (but not nearly as well, in my opinion. Of course, no one played guitar as well as Mr Walker did). Pete's contribution today is Christmas Holidays.
Okay, we're on a roll here with some more blues. It's pretty much the theme of the year, after all. Next up is HARRY CRAFTON with the Doc Bagby Orchestra.
Harry is rather upset as his baby has nicked his Cadillac, apparently on Christmas Eve. That's not a good thing to do and he is asking her to Bring That Cadillac Back.
A slight change of pace. MARCIA BALL is also known as a blues performer, and a really good one too, but she does something a little different today.
She's channelling some Zydeco music. Not too surprising as she's from Louisiana, so she knows all about that type of music. Here is Christmas Fais Do Do. This will get you all up rocking around the Christmas tree.
Back to the blues – I couldn't keep away from them this year. FLOYD DIXON is really laid back and rather resigned to being alone on Christmas day.
Floyd was another Texas blues man, in his case the piano was his main instrument. He took over from Charles Brown when he left the Three Blazers, one of the great cool blues groups.
Floyd eventually tired of the performing life and retired to Texas, emerging now and then to play a concert or two. Floyd has the Empty Stocking Blues.
I'll end with my traditional moment of couth. This is SEQUENTIA.
They recorded an album of Christmas music from Aquitanian Monasteries from 12th Century. The composers of this music are long forgotten but the music lives on. This is really gorgeous so get a glass of Champagne or eggnog and listen. O Maria, Deu mai.