Tag Archive | "christmas music"

SOUNDS OF THE SEASON: Five Unconventional Albums To Usher In The Holidays!

SOUNDS OF THE SEASON: Five Unconventional Albums To Usher In The Holidays!

It’s that time of the year once again! Even for someone who has been in the Christmas spirit since October, the big day creeps up faster every single year. No matter how many traditions you try to squeeze in, there never seems to be enough time, no matter how early you start. Thankfully one of my Holiday traditions can be completed completely on the go! We here at Icon Vs. Icon are huge fans of great Christmas jams! Now, we all love the classics, but this year I wanted to talk about a few Christmas albums that don’t quite get enough love. I wanted to mention a few Christmas albums that are a bit “different” from what you’re used to on the radio. So, I’ve compiled a list of 5 albums that are essential to my holiday listening. Honestly, I could have made a list made up of 50 of my favorite Christmas albums, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you. What follows is 5 Christmas albums that I think deserves at least one listen from our audience. So, break out the egg nog (or peppermint coffee!) and enjoy, 5 Alternative takes on the most wonderful time of the year!

Relient K Let it Snow, Baby… Let it Reindeer
This is the one album on this list that stays on my playlist until at least March. Relient K is a Christian alt-rock band that got their start in 1998. Any of our readers who were involved in “Youth Groups” are more than likely familiar with the hip “family friendly” jams these guys dished out. While I’ve listened to their other tunes in more recent years, this is the only Relient K album that has been in constant rotation since it’s release in 07. You’ve got the usually fast paced, pop punk Christmas covers you’d come to expect from an album such as this, however, the band also provides some of the most beautiful original tracks I’ve ever heard. I’ve never heard a song that truly embodies seasonal depression like “In Like a Lion”; a song built around that awful feeling we get every February. Specifically save this track for after the holidays, the rest of the album is fair game though!

Family Force 5 Christmas Pageant
Family Force 5, definitely the most unique band on this list. I’ve loved FF5 since high school and it wasn’t until recently that I completely stopped listening to them; a lineup change made me really bitter, but one day it’ll pass. The style this group brings is a mishmash of hip hop, rock, and new wave. It’s unlike anything you’ll hear anywhere else, and it surprisingly fits the festive season. You’ll have these “auto tune filled” covers stuck in your head for days after listening. Leave your judgement at the door though, because the hip hop version of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is right on the edge of cringey. I swear you’ll love every minute of it though.

August Burns Red Sleddin’ Hill
Now this is an album that I’m shocked does not receive more mainstream love during the holiday season. People are in love with the “hard rock” covers of holiday classics provided by staples such as Transiberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller, why not take it up a notch? August Burns Red is a metalcore band that got their start in 2003. They’re a phenomenal group of guys who became known in the scene every Christmas for dropping their heavy vocals and going straight for the instrumental jugular. In 2012, they decided to drop an entire album of Christmas cheer. Along with a few originals, the band took classic public domain Holiday tracks and gave them their signature heavy flair. If you’re a fan of those heavy instrumental covers mentioned before or alternative takes on holiday classics, this album is for you.

Hanson Snowed In
Yes, that Hanson. You’d be surprised, they’re selling out shows across the nation to this day. The band of brothers, mistakenly seen as “one hit wonders”, have been going strong since 1993. In 1997, fresh off the success of “Mmmbop”, they decided to follow the trend of other 90’s pop artists and drop a Christmas album. The difference? This album has staying power. I equate Hanson to an artist like Justin Bieber: no one likes to admit they have talent, but to deny it just shows ignorance. Each brother has incredible pipes and can truly rock their respective instrument. Don’t knock it until you try it, I guarantee their cover of “What Christmas Means to Me” will have you bustin’ a move all around the Christmas tree.

Chris FarrenLike A Gift From God or Whatever
Every year I try to find a new album to add to my holiday playlist, this year I may have found my favorite holiday album of all time. “Like a Gift from God or Whatever” is an “all-original” Christmas album by indie rock/punk vocalist Chris Farren. Guys I can’t stress enough, listening to this album has been the one thing to get me into the spirit this year. It’s Farren’s ability to write some of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard that truly makes this a great album rather than a holiday cash in. From songs about that perfect gift (Christmas Guitar) to songs about Holiday heartbreak (I’m Not Ready for Christmas) there is something for everybody. If you listen to one album from this list, make it Chris Farren’s “Like a Gift from God or Whatever”.

About The Writer: 
Dylan Lyles – Staff Writer
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason popping out of the water. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the MonsterMania Con on the east coast. You love him and he loves you!
Twitter: @thedylanlyles

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Cheap Trick To Release Their First Christmas Album On October 20th

Cheap Trick To Release Their First Christmas Album On October 20th

Legendary rockers Cheap Trick will rock in the Yuletide season with the release of their first holiday themed album CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS, out October 20 on Big Machine Records. Arriving mere months after their critically-acclaimed 18th studio album WE’RE ALL ALRIGHT!, Cheap Trick co-produced the holiday collection alongside their longtime collaborator, GRAMMY® Award winner Julian Raymond (Glen Campbell, Fastball). With CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS, Cheap Trick delivers a sleigh full of Rock & Roll Christmas classics and festive favorites by Wizzard, Slade, Chuck Berry, The Ramones and The Kinks as well as newly penned offerings like the joyous lead track, “Merry Christmas Darlings.” Explore Cheap Trick’s PledgeMusic campaign here: http://smarturl.it/CTChristmas.

‘CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS’ TRACK LIST
1. “Merry Christmas Darlings” | Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson
2. “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” | Roy Wood
3. “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” | Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz
4. “Merry Xmas Everybody” | Neville Holder, Jim Lea
5. “Please Come Home For Christmas” | Charles Brown, Jr., Gene Redd
6. “Remember Christmas” | Harry Nilsson
7. “Run Rudolph Run” | Marvin Brodie, Johnny Marks
8. “Father Christmas” | Ray Davies
9. “Silent Night” | Traditional – Franz Xaver Gruber, Joseph Mohr; Arrangement by Robin Zander, Julian Raymond
10. “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” | Joey Ramone
11. “Our Father Of Life” | Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson
12. “Christmas Christmas” | Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson

The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers – whose four decade-plus career has seen them play more than 5,000 shows and counting – remain on the road this fall for a string of U.S. headline dates, long awaited Canadian run as special guests on Nickelback’s “Feed The Machine” arena tour and a top-billed set at Pembroke Pines, FL’s upcoming Rockfest 80’s (November 4). Additional dates – including some very special CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS concerts – will be announced soon. For complete details and ticket availability, please visit CheapTrick.com.

Cheap Trick will also be among the icons performing at Rock Getaway 2017, an all-star, all-inclusive weekend event set for the Hard Rock Hotel in Rivera Maya, Mexico October 26-November 1. Set to appear on October 29, Cheap Trick joins a truly extraordinary lineup of legends including Steve Miller Band, Roger Daltrey, Foreigner, Blue Öyster Cult, Bad Company, Los Lobos, and many more. Limited packages are still available; for detail, please visit www.rockgetaway.com

CHEAP TRICK ON TOUR 2017
SEPTEMBER
23 – Saskatoon, SK – Sasktel Sports Centre *
26 – Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome *
28 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place *

OCTOBER
1 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena *
27 – Mahnomen, MN – Shooting Star Casino
29 – Riviera Maya, MX – Rock Getaway 2017 +

NOVEMBER
4 – Pembroke Pines, FL – Rockfest 80’s +
10 – Hampton Beach, NH – Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
11 – Shippensburg, PA – Luhrs Performing Arts Center
12 – Jim Thorpe, PA – Penn’s Peak
16 – Wilmington, DE – The Queen
18 – Port Chester, NY – The Capitol Theatre

* w/Nickelback
+ Festival Performance

Cheap Trick are an indisputable American institution, beloved around the globe since 1974 for their instantly identifiable, hugely influential, brand of pop rock ‘n’ roll. The band – Robin Zander (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar), Tom Petersson (bass guitar), and Daxx Nielsen (drums) – are true pioneers with an unparalleled streak of certifiably classic tunes, from “He’s A Whore,” “California Man” and “Dream Police” to “Surrender,” “I Want You To Want Me” and the worldwide #1 hit single, “The Flame.”

2016 saw Cheap Trick’s long awaited induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The induction honored both the band and the pioneering sound that has earned them total record sales well in excess of 20 million featured appearances and more than 40 international gold and platinum certifications. Cheap Trick closed the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony with an show-stealing performance of “Surrender,” “Dream Police,” and “I Want You To Want Me,” prompting Rolling Stone to rave, “Their smoking three-song set (was) played to perfection, with Zander hitting all the notes he hit at Budokan back in 1978.” Members of the evening’s other top inductees – including longtime friend Steve Miller – then joined the band for a memorable all-star jam on Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame” – a song famously featured on the immortal CHEAP TRICK AT BUDOKAN.

WE’RE ALL ALRIGHT!, with the album’s first single “Long Time Coming,” enjoying an unprecedented run of 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Mediabase Classic Rock chart and, received loud applause from the press following its June 2017 release, with Paste flat out raving, “Having been an active band for more than four decades, Cheap Trick continues to be a model of freakish consistency…Quick, think of any other American rock band formed in ’70s who is still putting out albums in the modern era that not only don’t embarrass the band but repeatedly revitalize their career. The list starts and stops with one name: Cheap Trick. They’re not going anywhere, so you might as well start listening.” “The energy levels are astounding,” shouted Classic Rock, “with producer Julian Raymond extracting a sonic attack that makes Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson and Daxx Nielsen sound like they’ve been locked in an industrial hangar with a bunch of AK-47s.” “If 2016’s terrific BANG ZOOM CRAZY…HELLO was a long awaited comeback after a seven year lapse, then this year’s rapid follow-up shows that was no anomaly,” declared American Songwriter. “Few acts inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as Cheap Trick deservedly was in 2016, are cranking out music as fresh, honest, energized and explosive as these guys have released in the past two years. And if this recent burst in activity keeps going, they will be the poster boys for how ageing rock and rollers can stay relevant without selling out or trying to be hip…Long Live Cheap Trick.”

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Matthew and Gunnar Nelson Ring In The Holidays With “Christmas with the Nelsons”

Matthew and Gunnar Nelson Ring In The Holidays With “Christmas with the Nelsons”

nelson-2015-1

Matthew and Gunnar Nelson have achieved international success, with a double-Platinum album, multiple top 40 hits, including a No. 1 single, and sold-out concerts around the world on their list of accomplishments. Now, the duo are looking ahead to the next chapter, which begins with their first-ever holiday release, This Christmas. The album, currently available for pre-sale on iTunes and Amazon, will be available digitally starting on Nov. 20 and in stores on Dec. 4. More than just a collection of holiday songs, the album, which was produced by Matthew and Gunnar, affirms the power of their unique bond and family heritage.

“In addition to our original single ‘THIS CHRISTMAS’, we were able to rearrange Christmas classics that people the world over have loved like family members for generations,” said Matthew. “We’ve made them sound fresh and new while at the same time respecting their integrity and history. We’re absolutely thrilled with the results, and hope our listeners will be too,” added Gunnar.

christmas-nelson-2015-albumartThis Christmas Track Listing:
1. This Christmas (ft. Alyssa Bonagura)
2. Joy To The World
3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town (ft. Molly Cherryholmes)
4. Oh Come All Ye Faithful
5. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
6. Mele Kelikimaka (ft. Molly Cherryholmes)
7. Away In A Manger
8. Holly Jolly Christmas
9. Blue Christmas (ft. Molly Cherryholmes)
10. Jingle Bells
11. We Wish You A Merry Christmas (ft. Molly Cherryholmes)
12. White Christmas

An all-star support team added depth and dimension to the brothers’ fundamental tracks, with Nashville studio veteran Ed Seay mixing and a lineup of musicians that included fiddle virtuoso Molly Cherryholmes and Michael Bonagura from Baillie & the Boys. Michael’s daughter, singer/songwriter Alyssa Bonagura, plays a prominent vocal role on the title track, written by Matthew, Gunnar, Alyssa and Michael with an unusual narrative twist.

“It’s a challenge to write a Christmas song that’s not like something people have heard a million times before,” Gunnar admitted. “So we started talking about this concept of two best friends that realize, on the night of miracles, that actually they’re in love with each other and always have been. If miracles can happen on Christmas, maybe that’s the night people in love can risk telling each other.”

For all the wonders conjured throughout This Christmas — the rich harmonies and imaginative thematic development in “Joy to the World,” the fresh rhythmic perspective on “O Come All Ye Faithful,” the intimacy of “White Christmas” – the title track most vividly forecasts what lies ahead.

Impeccably written, with a cascading motif adding a special shimmer to the story, it suggests that the Nelson brothers are about to pass their most significant career milestone since their debut.

“I believe we’ve reclaimed the same excitement we had before we made our first album,” Matthew offered. “We were firing on all cylinders. We knew exactly what we wanted. We’re there again — two brothers with a vision and a sound that no one else has.”

“We’ve made a conscious decision to come from the heart,” Gunnar summed up. “It’s amazing what happens when you stop fighting the universe and start doing what you were born to do.”

For so many around the world, Christmas means rebirth. For Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, This Christmas heralds an adventure that’s only beginning.

Nelson Tour Dates:
Nov 20 The Coach House – San Juan Capistrano, CA
Nov 21 The Cave – Big Bear Lake, CA *
Nov 22 Saint Rocke – Hermosa Beach, CA *
Nov 27 South Point Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV †
Nov 28 South Point Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV †
Nov 29 South Point Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV †
Dec 01 Green Valley Recreation Center – Green Valley, AZ *
Dec 02 Musical Instrument Museum – Phoenix, AZ *
Dec 04 McPherson Opera House – McPherson, KS *
Dec 05 McPherson Opera House – McPherson, KS *
Dec 06 Missouri Theater – St. Joseph, MO *
Dec 12 Williams Center for the Arts – Oelwein, IA *
Dec 13 Lucille Tack Center for the Arts – Spencer, WI *
Dec 14 Paramount Theatre – Saint Cloud, MN *
Dec 15 Paramount Theatre – Saint Cloud, MN *
Dec 16 Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts – Bloomington, IL *
Dec 17 Holly Springs Cultural Center – Holly Springs, NC *

* Christmas With The Nelsons
† Ricky Nelson Remembered

Social Media:
matthewandgunnarnelson.com
facebook.com/matthewandgunnarnelson
@MatthewandGun

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Home For Christmas: Tom Wopat On His New Collaboration With John Schneider

Home For Christmas: Tom Wopat On His New Collaboration With John Schneider

tom-wopat-feature-2014

JOHN SCHNEIDER and TOM WOPAT and a huge impact on pop culture when they exploded onto the scene decades ago as the stars of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” To celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the iconic TV show, along with their amazing friendship, the duo have released an amazing holiday album. ‘Home For Christmas’ captures them at their best and rings in the holiday season with a collection of magical tunes. Although they have performed in concert over the years, this release marks their first full recording together. Mixing immediately recognizable Christmas standards with lesser-known holiday songs, the album combines a bright and brassy big band, lush strings, and rustic country sounds and laces it all together with humorous banter that reflects over three decades of friendship. ‘Home for Christmas’ is produced by David Finck with arrangements by John Oddo, Tedd Firth and Rob Mounsey. The duo will celebrate with an exclusive CD release concert at New York’s Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater on Tuesday, December 2 at 9:30 PM. This concert marks their first time performing together in the city.

Tom Wopat’s engaging presence and warm baritone have taken him from his breakout role as Luke Duke in “The Dukes of Hazzard” to the recording studio, the Great White Way, and the silver screen, in addition to concert and nightclub stages around the world. After a series of popular country albums, he released a string of acclaimed pop/jazz albums featuring new arrangements of American Songbook classics, as well as contemporary songs by Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and James Taylor. The Still of the Night from Angel Records – which was praised for its “tender and elegant vocals, touched with jazz feeling” by The New York Times – was followed by Dissertation on the State of Bliss, Consider it Swung and I’ve Got Your Number (all available from LML Music). Other notable TV roles include “Cybill” – for which he shared a SAG Award nomination for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series – “Smallville” and “Blue Bloods.” As a Broadway leading man, he received Tony Award nominations for starring in Annie Get Your Gun (opposite Bernadette Peters) andA Catered Affair. Other major Broadway credits include Chicago, 42nd Street, Sondheim on Sondheim, Glengarry Glen Ross, Catch Me If You Can and last season’s Tony Award- winning play The Trip To Bountiful with Cicely Tyson.  In Hollywood, he appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and the upcoming dramatic feature Fair Haven.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Tom Wopat to discuss his career in entertainment, his musical influences, his collaboration with longtime friend and co-star John Schneider for this amazing holiday album and the challenges of bringing it to life. 

Tom Wopat

Tom Wopat

Music plays a huge role in your life. What are some of your earliest musical memories?

I sang a duet of “Daisy, Daisy” in second grade with a girl sitting on my knee. I sang five verses of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” that same year. Those were my first times singing in public and singing in front of friends and family.

When you were in your formative years and discovering your voice musically, who were some of your biggest influences?

I had plenty of mentors along the way. I had music teachers from the time I was a little kid. A really important one came along when I was around 11 or 12 years old. He was a public school teacher at Lodi Junior High and High School in Lodi, Wisconsin. He took me under his wing and started teaching me stuff. For example, when I was in high school, I learned a bunch of opera and art songs, Schubert and Moeller. By the time I got to the University of Wisconsin, I kind of knew all of the curriculum and all of the things they were supposed to teach me. I had people looking out for me the whole way. I had a great teacher in college as well. Dale Gilbert was his name. Of course, I also listened to the radio a lot. Back in those days, you would hear everything from Hank Williams to Andy Williams to Frank Sinatra to The Beatles, all on the same station. I had a pretty wide education.

They say a career in music or acting is not for the faint of heart. What made you take the plunge and pursue your passions instead of going a different route?

I kind of followed the work. I worked on musical comedy and studied voice at the university. I also had a mentor there that was a lighting designer who said, “If you wanted to, you could probably make a living at this in New York.” He hooked me up. He gave me some names and introduced me to some people. Sure enough, when I got to New York, I was pretty much working right away. I was on Broadway in 1978 in a show called “I Love My Wife” and in the fall of that year I read for “The Dukes of Hazzard.” All of a sudden that came along and landed in my lap. It was one thing after another! I have always enjoyed singing and the stage work. While I was doing “Dukes” I started recording and have been fortunate enough to do all of these things at a really high level.

Speaking of following the work, you teamed up with John Schneider to bring us a very unique Christmas album called “Home For Christmas.” What made now the time to do a collaboration of this sort?

'Home For Christmas'

‘Home For Christmas’

We have been talking about doing it for a while. Actually, we have done some concerts together over the last 20 years. They were always slapped together at the last minute but it was always an awful lot of fun. People kept asking why we didn’t record together. I have been making my own records now for about 10 years, I would say. The first one was the Harold Arlen record. I have a great producer, the bass player named Dave Finck, who has access to really fine arrangers and great musicians in New York City. He is also heavily involved with the musicians union, so everybody is interested in giving me a break and helping me make something sound great. When I came to talk to John about doing a Christmas record, it all came together kind of quick. We cut a couple of things in December of last year. At the same time, coincidentally, the Auto Trader people came along and asked us if we wanted to do some high profile TV ads. When that came about, I said, “Well, we have to get this out! We have to get it done!” We finished it this summer and it just came out!

There is definitely a lot of great music on this record.

Yeah, ya know, we are fortunate. David Finck has a wide vocabulary musically and has been exposed to a lot of great stuff. He is one of the best bass players in town and he has played with everybody over the years from Tony Bennett to George Michael. He has really spanned a wide range of jazz and pop. Between that, and my experience in country, we put together an interesting set of tunes, some that people will recognize and some that they won’t but all of them have something to say. That is how I like to make a record!

Did you have any expectations or goals for the album when you started the process?

The one thing I wanted to do was show people that John and I perform together at a high level. I think this is proof of that. We aren’t just a couple of TV guys who do this as a hobby. Both of us sing fairly seriously. I am not saying serious without comic overtones, but we both take it seriously and work hard at it. This album is a quality one. The other thing was that you don’t hear two guys singing together anymore. You don’t hear the kind of thing like Frank [Sinatra] and Dean [Martin] used to do or when Bing [Crosby] used to sing with different guys. You just aren’t hearing that much anymore. It is not necessarily that I am trying to sell a million of these, and I doubt that is going to happen, but it is nice to put something out there that is unique in its own way. We are the best of friends, John and I, so why not?!

You guys have been working together for so many years, do you remember when you discovered you both had a musical side?

The first day we met! Before we did the screen test, we both knew we had a mutual affinity for music!

What was the biggest challenge of bringing “Home For Christmas” to life?

It was really finding the time to get it done. I basically did all the scratch vocals when we recorded the basic tracks and then had to get John into town to get it done. He has a tight schedule, I am busy and David’s busy, so it is hard to get everybody together. That is the sum of it. Once you do, it’s a gas! It’s a lot of fun!

John Schneider and Tom Wopat still making their way the only way they know how.

John Schneider and Tom Wopat still making their way the only way they know how.

You and John are headed out on the road for a few select dates in support of this album. What can fans expect from the shows?

Obviously, we are going to cover the Christmas material because that is what those dates are all about but we also do some awkward stuff that you would never expect. We do The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” which is a gas. We do “Trouble” from “The Music Man,” where we both play the part of Harold Hill. We both know the whole rap, so we trade the lines and sing the harmonies in it. That is really unusual and odd but it’s a lot of fun. We also cover a couple of John’s big country hits. It’s definitely unscripted and I never know what the heck he is going to do! He’s totally unfiltered! [laughs] Unfortunately, I am the adult of the group! [laughs]

Do you see yourself collaborating again with John Schneider in the near future on another album?

I have a couple more ideas that I don’t want to spoil them by divulging too much. I will say that we have both done a lot of musical comedy. I think there are a few two-guy songs out there that haven’t been cut for a long time that would be a lot of fun to do. Also, I was thinking of TV theme songs or songs from movies. [laughs] You come down to the fact that we are two baritones singing together, which you don’t really hear. Who knows, we will see!

Tom Wopat

Tom Wopat

As you mentioned, you are no stranger to making records. When it comes to creating your own music, what can you tell us about your songwriting process?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen all that often. I’m not as dedicated a songsmith as a lot of guys are. A lot of people say you should write every day. Unfortunately for me, that is impossible. Especially if I am doing a musical because that music is in my head. You have to find a place where you have a clean slate where you can really let some kind of idea germinate. If you are singing a certain number of songs every day, it is really hard to find that empty space in your head. It is for me anyway, other guys may be different. For me, it is usually finding a lyrical phrase that gets me going or a groove on the guitar when I am just sitting around with the guitar. That is the best way, to find a groove and a certain phrase that I like and have the song grow from there.

When do you see yourself headed back into the studio and where might you see yourself headed?

I once read an interview with Bruce Hornsby, who is a friend of mine, and he said, “You know, I really want to leave a body of work.” When you are talking about a body of work, you look at guys like Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart, they did everything. They would write the pop music of their day, operas, symphonies and that sort of thing. In my situation, I have done some country stuff and I have written some country songs. I have done some jazz and that is a lot of fun. I have never written a jazz song but some of the songs I have written kind of fit that genre a little bit. What we have done in the past couple of records is been a little bit big band. That is especially true with my most recent solo record, “I’ve Got Your Number.” It has eight horns and 13 strings on it. When you count the basic musicians, you are talking about almost a 30-piece orchestra. That’s a big bunch! I think the next thing I am going to do is going to be small. Maybe it will be a little quartet. I want to focus on singer/songwriters. I have a few songs that I have written that I haven’t cut yet and I also want to go to friends of mine like Jimmy Webb and Bruce Hornsby to see what they might have in their back pocket that they may not have cut that I might have an interesting read on. So again, the next record is going to be a small one but it should be extremely interesting.

Tom Wopat: A Musical Force

Tom Wopat: A Musical Force

Looking back on your career, how have you evolved as an artist through the years?

I think what you do is develop an understanding of your strengths and what you are good at. For me, it’s interpretation, I think. It isn’t so much about creating something as much as it is about interpreting. For example, there is a song I cut a few albums ago, a Joni Mitchell tune called “Two Gray Rooms.” To be honest with you, I like my version better than hers! [laughs] That is what you hope to get to in some cases but you don’t always! My deal is that I really like to develop the material and deliver it in a way that resonates with whoever you are delivering it to. Another good example comes from the stage. Leading men in musicals, when you get down to it, they are a lot alike a lot of times. Curly from “Oklahoma,” Billy Bigelow from “Carousel” or Sid Sorokin from “The Pajama Game,” those guys all have a swagger and a certain point of view that is fairly consistent. When my agent asked me to do a small part, basically a schlepper, in “Glengarry Glen Ross,” I was like, “That isn’t what I really want to do.” She said, “Yeah, but you can do it. If you do it, you might find yourself doing a lot more interesting things instead of playing basically the same guy either urban or rural.” That is basically what it comes down to with these musical comedy guys. So, I played this guy in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” I had a friend who came to the show and said, “Were you in the first act?” [laughs] I said, “Yeah, I was. You just didn’t recognize me because I wasn’t playing my usual guy!” That to me opened a lot of doors and opened my mind to the idea of really concentrating on delivering what the character is and not worrying about my own persona involved in the character. Look at a guy like John Wayne. John Wayne was pretty much always John Wayne no matter who he was playing. The same thing goes for Cary Grant but it is interesting to see them if they step outside of that and do something that is a little outside their comfort zone. To me that is interesting! If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, how will you grow? You think that would be obvious but it’s not. [laughs]

A Must-See Live Event!

A Must-See Live Event!

What do you have going on when it comes to charity that we can help spread the word on?

I just did a thing for Pathfinders in Baltimore, Maryland. They are a group that helps in the research of Autism. That is a big one. The Children’s Miracle Network is also a big one and I try to help there when I can. I am doing a benefit in Wisconsin in the next couple of weeks for a high school who has a manual arts program where they teach kids manufacturing skills. I think that is important and a part of higher education that we have kind of let go away. I don’t have a lot of things I am intrinsically involved with but there are a few.

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you if there were any rumblings of a “Dukes of Hazzard” reunion of any sort, as you guys celebrated your 35th anniversary this year.

As far as doing more film stuff with all of us, it is hard to imagine what that would be. I mean, I have had a couple of ideas over the years. Auto Trader came to us with that idea of doing the commercial. It is one thing when someone comes to you and says, “Here is a big chunk of change and we are going to pay for the whole production. All you have to do is be your characters.” That is probably not going to happen with a film effort that would involve all of us. I can’t imagine that happening. At the same time, if you come and see John and I, you get a pretty healthy taste of it! [laughs]

Absolutely! Thanks for taking time out to chat with us today, Tom. The album is a lot of fun and a great way to ring in the holiday season!

Thanks so much, Jason! Ciao!

To get the latest new and dates for Tom Wopat, visit his official website at www.tomwopat.com.

Tom Wopat and John Schneider will celebrate with an exclusive CD release concert at New York’s Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater on Tuesday, December 2 at 9:30 PM. This concert marks their first time performing together in the city.

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John Schneider and Tom Wopat To Ring In The Holidays With ‘Home For Christmas’ Album

John Schneider and Tom Wopat To Ring In The Holidays With ‘Home For Christmas’ Album

John Schneider and Tom Pat's 'Home For Christmas'

John Schneider and Tom Pat’s ‘Home For Christmas’

JOHN SCHNEIDER and TOM WOPAT – the original stars of “The Dukes of Hazzard” – will release a special holiday album Home for Christmas to celebrate the 35th  Anniversary of the iconic TV show.  The recording will be available from D13 Entertainment in stores and online October 28.  The pair, currently starring in a national TV advertising campaign for AutoTrader.com, have performed in concert over the years, but this marks their first full recording together. Mixing immediately recognizable Christmas standards with lesser-known holiday songs, the album combines a bright and brassy big band, lush strings, and rustic country sounds and laces it all together with humorous banter that reflects over three decades of friendship. Home for Christmas is produced by David Finck with arrangements by John Oddo, Tedd Firth and Rob Mounsey. An online preview is available for the track “Cool  Yule.”

The duo will celebrate with an exclusive CD release concert at New York’s Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater on Tuesday, December 2 at 9:30 PM. This concert marks their first time performing together in the city.

Home for Christmas is a collection of swinging seasonable treats to get you ready for holiday cheer. “I think this is a fresh take on the Christmas album,” says Tom. “Jazz fans and serious musicians will appreciate what we’ve done with theses tunes. Our arranger John Oddo has a true affinity for that classic 50s and 60s sound. He really nails it. Tedd Firth is a major talent and a creative voice. And, of course, I love singing with John Schneider. The timbre of our voices match, the harmonies blend so easily. Plus, he’s a barrel of laughs.” Schneider adds, “Tom and I really bring out the best in each other. We may not sound alike when we talk, but when we sing sometimes you can’t tell us apart. In the studio, I put him first and he puts me first. If that’s not friendship, I don’t know what is.”

The record opens with a warm, crystalline duet of “Christmas Time Is Here,” followed by a smooth mid-tempo version of the beloved staple “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” which is highlighted by a deft call-and-response vocal arrangement. Their sizzling take on “Cool Yule” – written by famed “Tonight Show” host Steve Allen and memorably introduced by Louis Armstrong – has a distinctly retro flavor. “It’s a particular favorite of mine,” says John. “It has that great Rat Pack vibe that I never get to do.”

The wistful “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is an emotional solo turn for Wopat, crooning over a plush bed of stirring strings. “It’s such a gorgeous tune that I was inspired to do it” says Tom. “Tedd Firth’s arrangement is beautiful and evocative of another era.” John takes the spotlight in the charming “Even the Snow (Falls for You)” – one of those rare numbers that says “I love you” in a new and inventive way – by Chris Wallin, the noted Nashville songwriter who has penned #1 hits for Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and Montgomery Gentry. The song “Johnny, It’s Cold Outside” makes for a fine bromance, a wry and funny twist on Frank Loesser’s classic. Tom muses, “It’s such a clever song and one of my favorite duets of all time.” He wrote the original alternate lyric himself.

“The Secret of Christmas” – a tender ballad gorgeously rendered by John – was written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. They were considered Frank Sinatra’s personal songwriters, even though this number was introduced by Bing Crosby. The song celebrates “not the things you do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things you do all year through.”  Tom takes on “Blue Xmas” – a brooding lament by jazz iconoclast Bob Dorough that demonstrates the dark side of that most wonderful time of year, enhanced by a melancholy dissonant horn arrangement. “Bob is a really cool cat and you hear it in his songs,” says Tom. “I love how haunting our chart sounds.”

The infrequently performed “Holiday Season” – a joyous composition with an exciting rhythmic heft by Kay Thompson, the legendary doyenne of MGM’s music department – was recommended by John Oddo, who himself worked with many of the girl singers of the golden age.

Wopat and Schneider return to their country roots with a traditional take on “On a Quiet Christmas Morn,” featuring a prominent fiddle part and vocal harmonies that are pure Americana. Tom discovered the writers – Robin and Linda Williams – at New York’s Town Hall watching them perform on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion.” “I love story songs and this is a great one” says John. “It has fantastic words, a wonderful melody, and a very special message.” “Silver Bells” makes a soft and reverent finale to the album, with the duo’s voices delicately interweaving, laced with a twinge of twang.

“I’ve always loved Christmas music because it brings people together,” recalls John. “Everyone listens at the same time of year. It’s the great common denominator.” Home for Christmas has the relaxed tone and easy rhythm to make it an enduring holiday classic for multiple generations of music fans, with plenty of unique touches and original musical ideas to consistently satisfy and surprise. The album provides, to quote the timeless “Sleigh Ride” lyric, that “happy feeling nothing in the world can buy.”

JOHN SCHNEIDER was 18 when he was cast as Bo Duke in the hit CBS television series  “The Dukes of Hazzard.” He has gone on to a wide-ranging and accomplished career on stage, in music and on screen. Recent TV appearances include  “Glee,” “Hot in Cleveland,” “Smallville” (portraying Clark Kent’sadoptive father for ten seasons), “CSI: Miami,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (with his real-life son Chasen), “Nip/Tuck,” “Desperate Housewives” and hosting “Trick My What?” on Country Music Television. He is currently featured on Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and The Have Nots” on the OWN Network, which will return for a third season in January 2015. Schneider starred on Broadway in Chicago and Grand Hotel, in addition to crossing the country on the national tour of The Civil War. His ten solo albums have topped the Billboard Country charts since the 1970s, including four #1 Country Hits, eleven Top 20 Country Hits and the #1 Country Album “A Memory Like You.” More recent albums are available on his own Faith Works record label. His TV specials  include “John Schneider Back Home” and “John Schneider’s White Christmas.” In 1983 John Schneider and Marie Osmond co-founded the Children’s Miracle Network, a charity which raises funds for children’s hospitals throughout North America. Schneider and Osmond continue to tour together. His most recent film project, Smothered – which he wrote and directed – was released in May 2014.

TOM WOPAT’s engaging presence and warm baritone have taken him from his breakout role as Luke Duke in “The Dukes of Hazzard” to the recording studio, the Great White Way, and the silver screen, in addition to concert and nightclub stages around the world. After a series of popular country albums, he released a string of acclaimed pop/jazz albums featuring new arrangements of American Songbook classics, as well as contemporary songs by Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and James Taylor. The Still of the Night from Angel Records – which was praised for its “tender and elegant vocals, touched with jazz feeling” by The New York Times – was followed by Dissertation on the State of BlissConsider it Swung and I’ve Got Your Number (all available from LML Music). Other notable TV roles include “Cybill” – for which he shared a SAG Award nomination for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series – “Smallville” and “Blue Bloods.” As a Broadway leading man, he received Tony Award nominations for starring in Annie Get Your Gun (opposite Bernadette Peters) andA Catered Affair. Other major Broadway credits include Chicago42nd StreetSondheim on SondheimGlengarry Glen RossCatch Me If You Can and last season’s Tony Award- winning play The Trip To Bountiful with Cicely Tyson.  In Hollywood, he appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and the upcoming dramatic feature Fair Haven.

“Home for Christmas” Track List

  1. Merry Christmas (:17)
  2. “Christmas Time is Here”(3:14) DUET
  3. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”(3:05) DUET
  4. “Cool Yule”(3:21) DUET
  5. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (3:34) TOM
  6. “Even the Snow(Falls for You)” (3:13) JOHN
  7. Love (0:13)
  8. “Sleigh Ride”(3:56) DUET
  9. “Christmas Waltz”(3:23)
  10. “Johnny,It’s Cold Outside” (3:23) DUET
  11. “The Secret of Christmas”(3:08) JOHN
  12. Coal (0:05)
  13. “Blue Xmas”(2:53) TOM
  14. “Holiday Season”(2:48) DUET
  15. Ponch & John (0:13)
  16. “On a Quiet Christmas Morn” (2:55) DUET
  17. “Silver Bells”(2:48) DUET
  18. Egg Nog (0:11)

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Idina Menzel Announces Track-Listing For Christmas Album, ‘Holiday Wishes’

Idina Menzel Announces Track-Listing For Christmas Album, ‘Holiday Wishes’

Idina Menzel ' Holiday Wishes'

Idina Menzel ‘ Holiday Wishes’

Tony Award-winning singer/actor Idina Menzel has announced the track-listing for her upcoming Christmas album, entitled Holiday Wishes, which will be released on October 14th by Warner Bros. Records. The album was produced by Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff (Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey) and features such classic favorites as “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” as well as Joni Mitchell’s Christmas-themed “River,” one of Menzel’s favorites. An exclusive Target edition ofHoliday Wishes will feature two bonus tracks, including “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” Please see below for the full track-listing.

Menzel’s career has traversed stage, film, television, and music. She was most recently heard as Elsa in Disney’s global box office smash Frozen, in which she sings the film’s Oscar-winning song “Let It Go.” After Menzel’s performance of the multi-platinum song at the 86th annual Academy Awards, she made history as the first person with both a Billboard Top 10 hit and a Tony Award for acting.

Menzel earned her first Tony nomination as Maureen in the Pulitzer Prize- winning musical Rent, and won the award for her performance as Elphaba in Wicked. Other notable roles include Rachel Berry’s mother, Shelby Corcoran, on the hit television show Glee as well as starring opposite Susan Sarandon and Amy Adams in Disney’sEnchanted. Menzel starred in her own PBS special, Barefoot at the Symphony, with an accompanying live album of the same name, and her highly successful international concert tour recently included a sold-out performance at Radio City Music Hall. In addition to cast albums, Menzel’s prolific recording career includes the solo albums I StandHere and Still I Can’t Be Still.

Menzel can currently be seen on Broadway as Elizabeth in the original production If/Then, for which she earned critical acclaim and her third Tony nomination. She performed “Always Starting Over” from the musical at this year’s Tony Awards.

The track-listing for Holiday Wishes is as follows:

Do You Hear What I Hear?

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

All I Want For Christmas Is You

What Are You Doing On New Year’s Eve?

December Prayer

When You Wish Upon A Star

Silent Night

River

Holly Jolly Christmas

White Christmas

TARGET exclusive tracks:

Mothers Spiritual

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

 

www.idinamenzel.com

 

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Idina Menzel To Release Christmas Album, ‘Holiday Wishes,’ On October 14th

Idina Menzel To Release Christmas Album, ‘Holiday Wishes,’ On October 14th

Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel

Tony Award-winning singer/actor Idina Menzel will release a Christmas album, entitled Holiday Wishes, on October 14th on Warner Bros. Records. The album was produced by Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff (Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey) and features such classic favorites as “A Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” as well as Joni Mitchell’s Christmas-themed “River,” one of Menzel’s favorites. More info aboutHoliday Wishes, including the full track-listing and special guests, will be revealed soon.

Menzel’s career has traversed stage, film, television, and music. She was most recently heard as Elsa in Disney’s global box office smash Frozen, in which she sings the film’s Oscar-winning song “Let It Go.” After Menzel’s performance of the multi-platinum song at the 86th annual Academy Awards, she made history as the first person with both a Billboard Top 10 hit and a Tony Award for acting.

Menzel earned her first Tony nomination as Maureen in the Pulitzer Prize- winning musical Rent, and won the award for her performance as Elphaba in Wicked. Other notable roles include Rachel Berry’s mother, Shelby Corcoran, on the hit television show Glee as well as starring opposite Susan Sarandon and Amy Adams in Disney’sEnchanted. Menzel starred in her own PBS special, Barefoot at the Symphony, with an accompanying live album of the same name, and her highly successful international concert tour recently included a sold-out performance at Radio City Music Hall. In addition to cast albums, Menzel’s prolific recording career includes the solo albums I StandHere and Still I Can’t Be Still.

Menzel can currently be seen on Broadway as Elizabeth in the original production If/Then, for which she earned critical acclaim and her third Tony nomination, and performed “Always Starting Over” from the musical at this year’s Tony Awards.

www.idinamenzel.com

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Jim Breuer Unleashes New Christmas Song, “Santa Claus Ain’t Coming To Town”

Jim Breuer Unleashes New Christmas Song, “Santa Claus Ain’t Coming To Town”

Jim Breuer

Jim Breuer

Comedian Jim Breuer released his new heavy metal comedy single “Santa Claus Ain’t Coming to Town” on Monday, December 2. The song is the feature single from his highly-anticipated album, scheduled to hit stores nationwide in spring 2014. A pioneer in the “heavy-metal comedy” revolution, Breuer’s “Santa Claus Ain’t Coming to Town” serves as a stern warning from parents to their kids with a comedic twist just in time for the holidays. Fans can download the song on iTunes at http://smarturl.it/SantaAint.

Known for his impersonations of Metallica, Ozzy Osborne and AC/DC, Breuer showcased his metal-infused brand of frenetic comedy during last year’s “Heavy Metal Family Man” tour. In his new single, Breuer combines his love of rock ‘n’ roll and comedy, appropriate for fans of all ages.

Where comedy and heavy metal come together, Breuer’s live performances of his own brand of metal has put him on stages around the world—as special guest of Metallica and at both U.S. Orion Festivals, and at prestigious global festivals like Download (UK), Wacken (Germany) and Sonisphere (eur).  Jim has assembled world class players into a band that will more-than-deliver musically, and coupled with his vocals and lyrics, the metal world has already begun to welcome it with open arms and horns raised.

Named Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time,” Breuer is currently one of the top touring comedians in the country. After his renowned four year run on “Saturday Night Live” and starring role in the cult classic movie “Half Baked” alongside Dave Chappelle, Breuer was propelled into comedy stardom. Now all grown up and married with three daughters, Breuer continues to win over audiences with his charismatic stage antics, dead-on impressions, and signature family-friendly stand-up.

His latest one-hour comedy special “Jim Breuer: And Laughter for All” (released on DVD November 2013) was the #1 EPIX Original Program streamed on Netflix last month. In his special, Breuer grapples with the absurdities and annoyances of finding himself a middle aged father of three in suburban New Jersey.  In 2011, Breuer embarked on a national tour with three of the country’s top comedians, Dave Attell, Bill Burr, and Jim Norton, for “The Anti-Social Network” tour. That same year, Breuer’s acclaimed autobiography, “I’m Not High: (But I’ve Got a Lot of Crazy Stories about Life as a Goat Boy, a Dad, and a Spiritual Warrior),” was released on paperback. In the memoir, Breuer sheds light on his early struggles, his rise to fame and the many lessons he’s learned along in an extremely funny, yet personal and touching way that fans have never seen before.

Following his success in “Half Baked,” Breuer has since appeared in the popular films “Zookeeper,” “Dick,” “Titan A.E.” and “Beer League.” On the small screen, Breuer hosted MTV’s popular “Beach House” and VH1’s “Web Junk 20.” His other television appearances include “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and “The Marriage Ref.” Breuer is also a frequent guest on the Howard Stern Show.

For more information on Jim Breuer, visit www.OfficialJimBreuer.com.
Twitter: @JimBreuer
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JimBreuer

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Go Behind the Scenes of Scott Weiland’s Christmas Album

Go Behind the Scenes of Scott Weiland’s Christmas Album

Happy Holidays!

In a handful of brand new behind-the-scenes clips, Scott Weiland sits down to share his inspiration behind his Christmas album The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, as well as the techniques behind the making of the video for “Winter Wonderland.”

In one clip, Weiland discusses “White Christmas” and shares about how he first recorded the song on cassette tapes in the early 90s as gifts for his family: “My family members said that that was the best Christmas present that they had ever had.”  In a separate ‘Making Of’ clip for the “Winter Wonderland” video, the director revealed that they used old camera filters from the 50s to get that “glowing look,” and to create a genuine, vintage feel to compliment the song.

Grab the album in time for Christmas – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is available in stores and online at iTunes andAmazon. For more on the release, visit ScottWeiland.com.

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Scott Weiland Releases “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” Video, Performs on IHeartRadio

Scott Weiland Releases “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” Video, Performs on IHeartRadio

Happy Holidays!

Scott Weiland just released an official video for I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” the second single from his brand new holiday album, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The singer shared in his liner notes that many of the songs were first written and recorded in times of strife, and that their messages are just as relevant now to troops serving overseas.  The sepia-toned video pays tribute to this concept and stars Weiland in vintage military uniform, accompanied by footage of troops being reunited with loved ones. The song follows up the release of “Winter Wonderland,” Weiland’s tribute to Bing Crosby’s timeless version.

Weiland recently visited iHeartRadio’s New York City theater for live performances of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and is currently playing a series of intimate shows across the US (remaining dates are below).

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is available in stores and online at iTunes/Amazon. For more information, visit ScottWeiland.com.

Tour Dates:
December 16 – The Paramount, Huntington NY
December 17 – City Winery NYC, New York NY
December 19 – 9:30 Club, Washington DC
December 23 – Brixton, Redondo Beach CA

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