Fans with careful eyes and ears might have noticed that this year's 12 Bands of Christmas compilation CD is out. The release was pushed up to get the CD into as many hands as possible and, as it follows, proceeds into charity pockets.
The 12 Bands CD and concert (Sunday, Dec. 21, at the Imperial Theatre) benefit the MCG Health Children's Medical Center.
In years past, purchase of the CD also included tickets to the concert, but this year CDs and tickets will be sold separately. The math didn't work, in selling a couple of thousand seats to an 800-seat theater.
Concert admission costs $15, and the CD costs $12, available at retailers including Borders and Circle K locations.
A listening party will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Sky City.
The CD sounds good, a professional product that Team 12 Bands can be proud of, with few missteps. Below are my impressions:
Whosehouse: Silver Bells: The band pulls off a difficult trick, making a familiar song sound fresh while still paying tribute to the things that make this Christmas classic so beloved. I would argue against the inclusion of the Latin guitar break toward the end. It seemed odd and out of place.
Crosstie Walkers: Red Lights (Merry Christmas): This is a traditional holiday song arrangement - perhaps too traditional. Still, there are things to be acknowledged and embraced - a subtle mandolin line and near-surf-guitar-twang guitar break, in particular.
Tara Scheyer and the Mud Puppy Band: Red & Yellow, Black & White: A Mud Puppy mini-symphony, this simple song is elevated by ambitious production and Ms. Scheyer's always appealing reading of a lyric.
Grady Nickel: Decoration Day: Mr. Nickel's tune finds common ground for both jingle-jangle bell-ringing holiday fare and his guitar-driven American roots rock. Think equal parts Neil Young and Burl Ives.
Greg Hester: Back Door Santa: Soulful, funky and fun, this inspired take on a Clarence Carter tune reminds you that songs of good tidings can be just a little naughty. Look out for some killer guitar work by Keith Jenkins.
Jennifer Daniels: O Holy Night: Many of the acts focus on expanding the sonic definition of what a holiday song can be, so it's nice to see there's a place for a traditional tune sung beautifully. Listeners not instantly enamored with the timbre of Ms. Daniels' voice clearly aren't paying close enough attention.
Swanee Quintet: In Bethlehem: Christmas tunes, with the exception of Santa songs, are in fact gospel numbers. Few acts, local or otherwise, navigate a gospel tune with as much skill as the Swanee Quintet, and this track is proof positive. I'm really looking forward to hearing it live.
Say Vandelay: Last Christmas: The first few bars of this Wham! cover made me giggle with ironic 1980s glee. Then the guitars came in.
A great, rocking, rendition of what could have easily been a throwaway track. Who knew George Michael was so emo?
Debt of Nature: Santa Claus is DUI (of Love): Forgive me while I wipe away a sentimental tear. Just knowing that this Augusta indie rock act is back in action is a gift in itself. That the band is still cranking out killer tracks makes it that much sweeter.
G-City Rockers: Up on the House Top: This propulsive garage rock take on a Christmas classic serves as a Yule reminder that a simple song played with abandon always has its place. This track is a rock band making a truly joyful noise, and that's saying a lot.
48Volt: Lights on the Boulevard (For Stoney and Jean): This would be a great track were it a simple fiction. That it's based on local music man Stoney Cannon and his wife facing their first Christmas without daughter Alexis, who died this year, makes it a true tearjerker. This is the most emotionally honest track on this, or any, 12 Bands release.
Ed Turner and Number 9: Christmas Time is Here Again/My Sweet Lord: Although a fan of both The Beatles and George Harrison solo tunes covered and the performances by Mr. Turner and company, I have to admit I was thrown by the transition between the two songs. Yes, it is only a couple of awkward seconds in an otherwise exceptional track, but it stuck with me. I hope I'm in the minority.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.