Making it a musical merry Christmas
Sunday, December 15, 2013 12:00 AM
Still got some shopping to do before Christmas Day arrives? And it is very nearly here, you know.
You also know that whenever you can, shopping locally is the way to go. Think of it as doubling the Christmas giving you have. How's that?
Well, if you buy locally, you're not only picking up a nice gift for someone on your list, you're also helping local merchants who employ local people, who pay local taxes and ... well, you get the idea. More of your money remains local, helping your local economy.
Besides, even though gas prices are dropping yet again, think of the money you'll save and the hassle you'll avoid by staying close to home.
With that in mind, I thought I'd offer a gift suggestion or two. Or three.
Not everyone is a music fan, but it is hard to find someone who loves Christmas but does not enjoy good Christmas music. Sure, the holiday tunes do seem to get cranking up a bit early and can get tiresome, but you have choices on whether to leave the all-Christmas, all-day station on or be more selective. I know it was a bit much for me when Christmas music started playing on Columbus Day. Or was it Labor Day?
Anyway, if you had a chance to attend either Thursday or Friday night's Christmas concert at Greenwood Community Theatre, you already know — and probably already bought — about the great holiday CD fresh off the press by The Colly Birds.
No, that's not a typo. Ashby Stokes, one of Greenwood's finest, thought it would be cute to name the group The Calling Birds, a nod to "The Twelve Days of Christmas," but learned originally they were colly birds, with "colly" being an ancient English word for "black" birds.
Colly Birds consists of Stokes and three other Greenwood music circuit regulars, Jake Bartley, Will Thompson and Keller Ridgeway.
This is the foursome's first CD, but let's hope it's not their last. Since they won't be known as The Calling Birds, Stokes figures the group has a good shot at producing more secular works.
But for Christmas, the eight-song CD is a great introduction and, as I said, makes a great gift. Confession here: I've never been a fan of "The Little Drummer Boy," but their version of this holiday staple has to be my favorite. You might feel like you're right there in Bethlehem.
Other tunes are "The First Noel," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Joy to the World," "Away in a Manger/Silent Night," "What Child is This," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." The latter, by the way, is a cappella. And beautifully done.
Great guitar work by Stokes, Ridgeway and Bartley, along with excellent percussion by Thompson. All provide vocals on the CD. Seriously, you'd think these guys were working together a long time; yet, this is their first CD.
Another holiday favorite, if you haven't already snagged a copy for yourself and as a gift for someone, is Stokes' "Acoustic Christmas." That's a beautiful one that is sure to get and keep you in a Christmas frame of mind.
These two CDs are available at Fretworks, Howard's On Main, Uptown Pizzazz, T.W. Boons and Flynn's on Maxwell.
If Christmas music still isn't on the list, then consider a copy of Ashby Stokes and Becky Greene's first CD, "Junction 221."
The duo wrote all but one song on the CD. If you have ever caught them performing Uptown, you've no doubt heard some of the songs. So why not get a copy of the CD, and give one — or two — as a gift to someone on your list.
Check out www.ashbystokes.com for details.
And make this a merry, local, musical Christmas this year.
Whiting is executive editor of the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-2522; email firstname.lastname@example.org ,or follow him on Twitter at IJEDITOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.