Listen to the Philly Local Home for the Holidays special

The 6th Annual Philly Local Home for the Holidays show was recorded at Morning Star Studios in Montgomery County PA. It was a return visit to this studio and once again Glenn Barratt recorded the session. It’s always a wonderful day of music. A time for getting together with friends and making new friendships in the music community. I love hearing the artists warming up and working on arrangements.

One of my favorite holiday songs is “Carol of the Bells.” I mentioned this to the artists and it didn’t seem like my Christmas wish of having this song recorded was going to be able to happen. Ah that is until John Conahan decided it was possible with a special arrangement. This was John’s comment on the song…..

CAROL OF THE BELLS brought a very unique challenge to the show. Such a fast-paced song with spitfire lyrics was going to set a high bar. However, it was exciting and fun to bring a new color and twist to a traditional song, and such a pleasure to come together with so many other artists and bring that song to life in a new way.

John has a show coming up this Friday, December 19th 8pm at Burlap and Bean Coffeehouse in Newtown Square. And he has been programmed twice at Carnegie Hall in the Spring of 2015!

I also talked with a few of the artists about song choices for the show

Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf: “I decided to sing River by Joni Mitchell, because the melody reminds me of my mother. River is her favorite song. Also, I remember being alone on Christmas when I was sixteen because I was going on tour and listening to Joni Mitchell’s Blue album over and over again. I chose The Christmas Song because Nat King Cole did it.

“A favorite holiday moment would be playing piano with my Grandmother, who helped me learn music. Every year during Christmas, we would play piano together. Holidays were my favorite because it meant I could play piano at my Grandmom’s house, when my family didn’t own a piano.

‘Special projects for 2015, we will be going on tour in March for three and a half weeks, fitting in SXSW in Austin Texas. New music is for sure on the way. I am working on demos right now and plan on recording next year with Alex Santilli at Spice House Sound. We will be playing Brooklyn Bowl January 8th in Brooklyn and then Milkboy in PHL February 6th. The new EP should be out hopefully in the Fall of 2015!”

Dan May: “I chose O Come, O Come Emmanuel because it was always one of my favorite Christmas songs. First, it’s in a minor key, which I tend to gravitate towards, and second, it speaks of longing and anticipation, it’s all about yearning for what’s to come. I’ve always enjoyed the weeks prior to Christmas more than Christmas day. I love anticipation.

“I chose Winter Wonderland because as a kid, my favorite Christmas albums were Andy William’s Christmas records. And this was one that stuck in my head. Although I put a little different spin on it than Andy did.

“I grew up in a family of 7 kids, so I loved Christmas. We would go to 5 o’clock mass on Christmas Eve and then come home, have dinner and then open presents. As if church wasn’t long enough, throw in the idea of knowing there were presents waiting at home made it interminable. But oddly enough, those memories of sitting in Church listening to the Christmas hymns are another fond memory of mine. It’s all about anticipation.”

Lizanne Knott: “My favorite tradition (from my childhood) would be Christmas caroling around the neighborhood and on horseback from farm to neighboring farms. Beautiful, great fun and very, very cold!

Cole Redding: “It was simple. I chose songs I loved…Songs that have given me Joy. I wanted to give others that feeling.

“Every Christmas Eve my family and I would drive around the city with bagged lunches, clothes, blankets etc. and give them to people in need. I’m glad that was instilled in me as a kid. It’s so important. It’s something I’ve continued to hold closely as an adult.

“I’ve been in the studio working on my debut LP. My whole life has been a build up to making this album. I want it to be right. I want it to reflect everything I am about. I’m so so proud of it. We’re mixing in Nashville the last week of December. The timing is perfect. I’m excited to start 2015.”

Jen Creed: “The older I get, the more and more I crave spending my downtime at home. Nowadays with our hectic, planned-to-the-second lives, the simplest things, like spending time at home, have become a luxury. ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ reminds me that it’s important to slow down, nest, savor, and be grateful for those you love. And isn’t that what Christmas really should be? The definition of ‘home’ is different for everyone. My wish is that wherever – and with whomever – you feel most at home, you will be this holiday season.

“When people ask me my favorite song to sing, I am quick to respond with  ‘O Holy Night’ (even if it’s June!). It’s a masterpiece and a joy to sing. Hope you enjoy this rendition with John Conahan on piano.”

Eric Bazilian:I was looking for a really good gnarly Christmas duet to do with Alexis, something not all hearts and flowers. The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale Of New York’ is probably the gnarliest Christmas song ever written but it has a real heart beating underneath. It was also a good showcase for our voices separately and together, as well as for me to scratch my ubiquitous Celtic itch.

“Who doesn’t love ‘2000 Miles’? Chrissie Hynde wrote it to Ray Davies when they were together and he was on the road.

“Alexis brought ‘Christmases When You Were Mine’ in and it’s amazing how she brings such a different spin to Taylor Swift.”

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