Album Spotlight – “A Charlie Brown Christmas” Performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio

I love Christmas music. As a kid, we always started listening to Christmas records (a Readers Digest compilation album, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby) right after we watched the Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving Day and didn’t stop until after dinner on Christmas Day. And every year we anxiously awaited for the night that our favorite Christmas song-based holiday shows would be on – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Frosty the Snowman, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. 

It’s hard to remember now, but A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) was the first television special based on the Peanuts comic strip. Every year my sister and I would scour the TV Guide for it because we didn’t want to miss Charlie Brown trying to put together a community Christmas play and Linus telling us about the true meaning of Christmas. As a kid, I didn’t know what jazz music was exactly, but I knew that I loved the music in this show. From the iconic “Linus and Lucy” to the lovely “O Tannenbaum” to the unforgettable “Christmas Time is Here,” every note perfectly matched the tone and message of the special.

One of the greatest things about the music that the Vince Guarldi Trio created for A Charlie Brown Christmas is the fact that the music can stand all on its own. While listening to the soundtrack does at points evoke scenes from the show, overall it goes beyond just being a soundtrack for a TV special and instead becomes the soundtrack for the season. As the days leading up to Christmas take on an even more frenetic pace and everyone’s patience becomes thin, take a few minutes to sit back and enjoy the soothing sounds of A Charlie Brown Christmas. (Oh, and speaking of albums, have you seen the LP for this one? It’s on green vinyl!!) 

Revvin’ Up the Reindeer performed by Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that Christmas is only two weeks away. It feels like we were just getting ready for Halloween and now 2018 is just around the corner. So, with the holiday season quickly approaching, the final children’s album that I would like to shine a spotlight on is Revvin’ Up the Reindeer from Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could.

This collection of 13 all original songs is a joy to listen to from beginning to end. The amazing musicianship of Rymer and the band is evident in every song as they bring a rock feel to songs such as “Revvin’ Up the Reindeer” and “Hanukkah Rocks,” a little bit of Americana to “Trim the Tree,” and an almost old school country/western vibe to “Peace Be to All.” Delightfully, the lyrics are as well written as the music with “Christmas Peace” retelling the Christian story of Christmas, “Rainbow Candle” capturing the quieter moments of Hanukkah, and “Baby New Year” introducing listeners to that pudgy little baby who wears a top hat, diaper, and a sash.

While this album wouldn’t work in most school or library program settings, it is a must have for all libraries that have circulating holiday music collections. This new set of holiday songs are tunes that families can enjoy listening to together and parents won’t mind visiting again and again. For a little taste of what to expect, check out the video below or visit Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could on YouTube to see additional videos from the album.

 

It’s the Holidays! Performed by Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already reached the time of year when the stores put all of the Thanksgiving items on clearance, the pre-Black Friday sales begin, and local radio stations start playing Christmas music. And all of that before the family has even arrived to enjoy the abundance of deliciousness known as Thanksgiving dinner. So, since all signs point to it being “that time of year,” over the next month I’ll be highlighting several new family albums that celebrate the holidays.

First up is the delightful It’s the Holidays! from Brooklyn-based Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats. This collection of five jazz age inspired originals celebrates the holidays between Halloween and New Year’s. The album kicks things off with the clever “My Mommy is a Mummy” (keep this one in mind for Halloween 2018) and is followed by “Grateful,” a rare song about Thanksgiving. This is a lovely tune about family and food, but also about the importance of putting aside our differences and acknowledging those things in life for which we are grateful. Take a listen.

Just as the seasons transition from fall to winter, so do the songs on this album. “It’s Snowing” gets listeners thinking about how fun it is to get all bundled up to go outside and of all the exciting things children can do in the snow when they get there. This fast-paced song would work great in winter-themed storytimes as kids dance to the various activities described in the song like stomp, jump, run, slide, and climb. “It’s Snowing” also acts as a nice bridge to the final two songs on the album.

The title track, “It’s the Holidays!” is a bouncy celebration of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and a lovely New Year. The refrain, “It’s the holidays in our community/we celebrate all in unity,” encourages listeners to take the time to honor our differences. Finally, the album is capped off with “That’s a Wrap!” a short (1:37 min.) tune that tells listeners “Let’s wrap up this year and say goodbye” and would be a great addition to any New Year’s Eve programs.

While shorter than the average album, Kalantari, backed by a group of amazing musicians, has created an album that families will listen to again and again. It’s the Holidays! is the perfect start to “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Some Holiday Fun with Laurie Berkner

Looking for some kid friendly holiday songs to share during your family gatherings? Try this compilation of four of Laurie’s videos that are perfect for the holidays- “Candy Cane Jane,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “Jingle Bells” and the Laurie and Brady Rymer duet, “Children Go Where I Send Thee.” Do you have any favorite children’s holiday songs?

Wake Up It’s Christmas Time – Sara Lovell

On Saturday, Sara Lovell debuted this video for her new holiday song, “Wake Up It’s Christmas Time.” If you’re looking for a new tune to share with your kids that seamlessly talks about the excitement of Santa’s arrival as well as the importance of listening to the stories of those who might believe in holidays different than yours, then this song is for you. I love the lyrics toward the end, “And if you family celebrates another holiday, tell me all about it, I’ll come over when you call, We’ll sing the songs you sing and I’ll listen when you tell me what matters to you most of all.”  Enjoy this catchy, beautiful song of the season!