Christmas n' July

Are you done with your holiday shopping yet? Then log off of Amazon for a few minutes, because it’s time for another newsletter!

2023 was a very enjoyable year for me. The highlight was at the end of July, when I attended the “Jazz and Blues Weekend” in Ellicottville, NY. I had a delightful weekend, although I was a little surprised at their choice for a headlining act: an Eagles tribute band!

Tribute bands are everywhere nowadays. Here in northwest Pennsylvania, there are regularly gigging tribute bands to Tom Petty, the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, AC/DC, and Jimmy Buffett.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that tribute bands suck. Quite the contrary; many of them are quite good; as least as good as the acts they represent (who, as often as not, are down to one original member anyway). Tribute bands to the Beatles and Led Zeppelin tackle songs those groups never attempted live, and we have no chance of seeing Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin anymore.

As I said, many tribute bands are quite good… and that, I think, is where the problem lies. By playing in tribute bands, these gifted musicians are, in a sense, “robbing” the music scene of the great original music they might have produced otherwise.

“So… what have you done for me lately?” Well, for the past month or so I’ve been rehearsing Christmas songs for a couple of holiday gigs I played in Erie:

12/8 – Voices for Independence

12/21 – Luminary Distilling

My experience is that, this time of year, people either want to hear (1) no Christmas music, or (2) all Christmas music. For these gigs, I played a mixture of holiday and non-holiday songs. So, I'm sure that, at some point in the evening, every member of the audience was angry!

Christmas songs are a strange animal. You start rehearsing them in November, you perform them throughout December, and then in January you forget about them until the following November. The result is that, when I start rehearsing these songs in November, it’s like learning new songs from scratch!

Last year around this time I released No “L” in Christmas, an EP of holiday songs performed in a jazz guitar style. It’s available for free download at my website:

This seems like the perfect way to thank you for your support and encouragement during the past year. Keep checking the website, as 2024 will have many nice surprises.

Happy holidays,


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