I have a post I want to write for sprite’s Virtual Advent but it would take too much time and too much emotional energy to happen in any time frame that is reasonable. So she suggested this prompt from across the room (read: 3 feet away):
“What if you could have a fantasy holiday concert, sort of in the guise of the ‘Spotify Unwrapped’ lists folks share this time of year?”
OK, that works. And as a person whose “Instafest” looks like this:
you can tell that I’d need to branch out a bit.
(FWIW, I only use Spotify for two reasons: listening prescriptively to specific album releases; and for their holiday mixes that make nice background music at parties. Otherwise I’m mostly an Apple Music user.)
As this is a fantasy concert I’m not limited by whether the artists are alive or dead – or even real, for that matter. So let’s see where this goes…
Opening Act 1: El Vez
Why not El Vez, the most excellent Mexican Elvis impersonator? Pardon the hideous quality of this video, but I was actually at this show at the (late and lamented) U Street Music Hall 10 years ago.
Why El Vez? He is fun, he brings the show and gets folks in a jovial mood. And during the holidays – when things can be truly depressing and maudlin – why not have an energetic, raucous, happy opener?
Opening Act 2: Bing Crosby
Yeah, a classic. “Old Blue Eyes” could buh-buh-buh his way through a mayonnaise ingredient list and still bring about the holiday spirit.
Opening Act 3: John Denver and The Muppets
Because a guy with beady eyes and wire-rimmed glasses countered with the chaos of The Muppets always brings the show.
Opening Act 4/MC: Robin Williams
Before we hit the main stage acts for the evening we get a set from Robin Williams. I got to see him once while working at Georgetown University and bearing witness to his comic talents, intelligence, kindness, and wit was truly being in the presence of genius. This clip from a USO Holiday Tour show he did in Kuwait back in 2007 is classic improvisational material from Robin and has a bugle piece I hear frequently wafting its way downhill from the U.S. Naval Observatory at sunset every day as they lower the flag.
Main Act 1: The Beach Boys (1960s lineup)
This is not the current “Beach Boys product” that Mike Love and Bruce Johnston parade around as the “official” band. Rather, this is the original lineup of Love, Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, David Marks, and Dennis Wilson – i.e. before Brian retreated from touring. They recorded some amazing holiday stuff back in the day – and they were a tight little band on stage in the pre-Pet Sounds days, as well.
Yes, I realize this video is them miming along to the studio record. They actually could – and did – play their instruments back in 1964.
Main Act 2: Glen Miller and his Orchestra, circa 1941
The World War II era iteration of Glen Miller’s Orchestra was truly hot jazz. So let’s have them play a song for us.
This is from a 78rpm record that, well, hasn’t aged well in terms of being politically correct. But the band’s performance is tight – and that’s the feeling I’m going for here.
Main Act 3: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
You know what song they’ll be doing here…
Main Act 4: Vince Guaraldi Trio (featuring tributes to A Charlie Brown Christmas)
I mean… how can you not close with what’s possibly one of the finest jazz works of all time? Critics thought that Charles Schultz was bonkers for choosing a well-heeled jazz composer to write and perform the soundtracks for the Peanuts TV specials.
Those critics can suck eggs because Guaraldi’s compositions and performances rocked.
Of course there are many other artists here to pay respect to Vince’s awesome work. First off, let’s hear from the drummer in the classic trio, Jerry Granelli, as they cover the classic “Linus and Lucy.”
Next a cover of “Christmas Is Coming” by The Peanuts Gang Trio – whose main focus is covering Guaraldi’s songs for the Peanuts specials.
Y’know what? That song is so good that we should hear it again, performed this time by Chris Thile, Cory Wong, and friends on “Live From Here” back in 2019.
Next up: a medley of assorted tracks from A Charlie Brown Christmas performed by Josh Turner and… Josh Turner and… umm… Josh Turner.
To close this out, Josh Turner brings out his friend, Allison Young, to perform a lovely rendition of “Skating.”
Thanks for coming! Be sure to get home safely!