Pop Rocks: 12 Bands holiday CD includes 9 gems this year

The 12 Bands of Christmas holiday CD, Instant Christmas Classics Vol. 1, is $5 from 12bands.org. Hear the music live from noon-6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 during the Christmas Light-Up Spectacular at Augusta Common.

Sometimes less is more.


In the interest of full disclosure, let me go on the record and admit that when I discovered Instant Christmas Classics Vol. 1, the annual 12 Bands Christmas compilation, wasn’t going to feature the traditional 12 bands, I was disappointed. It felt a little like a bait-and-switch. After so many years of delivering a dozen nicely wrapped tracks, the prospect of settling for nine felt like we were getting something less.

In terms of quantity, that is true. In regards to quality, nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is, previous editions of the 12 Bands CD, while excellent, have occasionally had some filler to go along with the killer. Not every track was a gem and, be it a questionable performance, odd production choices or misguided song choices, it wasn’t that uncommon to have a CD with a couple tunes that landed a little flat.

That doesn’t seem to be the case this year.

Part of the reason is a new approach taken with the project.

In addition to the local acts that have long been a 12 Bands mainstay, a few regional and national acts, some with Augusta ties and some without, have been recruited to participate. They include Niki Haris, jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, Kristian Bush of Sugarland, Blue Dogs and Patrick Davis.

Each track is a perfect short, sharp tree-trimming gem. It is interesting – and encouraging – however to discover that some of the most infectious and memorable moments belong to Augusta artists. Be it the opening track – a real slice of Augusta soul featuring both Augusta resident Niki Haris and local son Wycliffe Gordon; the infectious string band rock of local act Delta Cane or the Stones-inspired sound of The Remedy, the highlights all belong to Augusta.

Although I might argue that the title Instant Christmas Classics is a piece of poetic hyperbole, I will agree that there are four or five songs in this collection that could potentially fulfill that prophecy – at least locally. And at $5 apiece and proceeds going to children’s cancer causes, it’s at least worth a listen. For more information, go to 12bands.org.


HIDDEN TREASURE. In my last column, I highlighted a couple of local attractions – the GRU Film Series and Parade of Quartets – that I felt like often flew under the local radar. It was, it seems, subject matter that struck a chord. I was approached by readers about not only the subject matter, but the concept itself.

So I suggest we continue the conversation.

This week’s hidden treasure – the Collegium Musicum. The chamber choral group – under the direction of the talented Bill Toole, has been a mainstay in the Augusta arts community for many years.

It’s core audience, small but fervent, has allowed the group to continue presenting programs of challenging and significant choral works and annual events such as the Nine Lessons and Carols concert.

The Collegium’s next concert, featuring a selection of holiday songs, takes place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15, at Augusta Museum of History. Tickets are $10 for Collegium and museum members and $15 for the public. For more information, call (706) 722-8454.

 12 Bands

The 12 Bands of Christmas holiday CD, Instant Christmas Classics Vol. 1, is $5 from 12bands.org. Hear the music live from noon-6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 during the Christmas Light-Up Spectacular at Augusta Common.



Pop Rocks: Augusta, my Christmas wish list has one thing

My family often accuses me of being a difficult person to Christmas shop for. While it is true that my tastes run toward the particular and tend to lean heavily on easy-to-wrap standards such as books and records, I believe that as I get older, I’m less concerned with the item than the idea. Give me something I believe you have thought about and carefully considered, and I’m happy. The present clearly purchased at the drug store the day before is met with considerably less enthusiasm.

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