Ring in the New Year on a Lonely Note
Welcome 2009 with Los Lonely Boys at the Sky Ute Casino Resort on New Year’s Eve. These guys made a splash with their chart-topping hit “Heaven” a few years back, but they’re much more than a one-hit wonder. Heavyweights like Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana and Alejandro Escovedo are fans of the brothers Garza. Their music lies at the intersection of rock, R&B, blues, country and Conjunto, the Mexican genre popular in the Texas border country.
Dave Chesney, Surrey Now
Published: Friday, December 19, 2008
It’s that time of year again. On a daily basis, Christmas CDs have been arriving at our local record stores for the past month.
The long list of new CDs this year includes a wide variety of musical offerings from varied musical styles and artists.
One of the most interesting CDs I came across this year is the new collection of festive songs by LOS LONELY BOYS. The three Garza brothers from Austin, Texas have chosen a collection of favourites, and a couple of originals, to lend their southern-rock styling to.Read More
Scholarship remembers student
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That’s why dozens of people pulled together to preserve the memory of the 15-year-old after he died in 2007.
“He was just one of those kids who had a lot of friends,” Dueñas said. “He didn’t stick to one circle. Everyone knew who Michael was.”
This February, Dueñas and others close to Rutledge will have a fundraiser for a scholarship they’ve created in his memory.
This year’s event will mark the second time they’ve had the auction, which features wooden hearts that have been artistically decorated by members of the community.
“Last year, we had to kind of search people out and say, ‘Could you do this heart?'” Dueñas said. “This year, the word got out. We have people contacting us.”
The event is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Texas Theater in downtown Pharr. Last year, more than 200 people attended and Dueñas said she expects that number to climb this year.
She’s even lined up celebrities to autograph wooden hearts for the auction, including the bands Los Lonely Boys and Def Leppard, members of the Dallas Cowboys and comedian Paul Rodrgiuez.
Rutledge’s friends thought hearts would be an appropriate theme for the fundraiser, since his organs were donated after the 2007 car accident.
“We were overwhelmed by his parents’ strength and their ability to recognize other people could be saved by his accident,” Dueñas said.
Rutledge was a member of PSJA North High School’s dual language program, which seeks to make students proficient in both English and Spanish. The small group of students in the program has grown close over the years and will graduate this spring.
Dueñas taught Rutledge’s English class when he was a sixth-grade student at Liberty Middle School. Her husband Ernesto Dueñas, who is also organizing the fundraiser, taught him Spanish and World History.
Rutledge was a sophomore when he died.
The fundraiser will provide for scholarships for dual language students graduating from the district.
Dueñas said Rutledge was a dedicated student who sacrificed the chance to be a member of the school’s most elite band class so that he could focus on his dual-language studies.
Organizing the fundraiser and painting the hearts has given students a valuable outlet as they still deal with their grief, Dueñas said.
“I’m glad we can show the kids the things they can do constructively with their emotions,” she said.
For more information on the fundraiser, call (956) 884-9776 or e-mail michaelslegacy @yahoo.com
Ryan Holeywell covers McAllen, PSJA, the Mid-Valley and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956) 683-4446.
Best of the rest
Los Lonely Boys, ‘Christmas Spirit’
As anybody who attended last summer’s LLB/Los Lobos show at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park can attest, anything this brotherly trio touches turns to rock ‘n’ blues gold. So it is with their first holiday CD, boasting a couple of fine originals (“She’ll Be My Everything for Christmas”) and standards such as “Feliz Navidad” and “Run Run Rudolph.” (Epic Records)
The fourth full-length album from Texas-based Los Lonely Boys is “Christmas Spirit” (Sony Records) a 10-song collection that features outstanding takes at “Run Run Rudolph” and “Away in a Manger,” as well as a flamenco-flavored instrumental take on “Cancion de las Campanas (Carol of the Bells).”
What’s New on The Sound Christmas Spirit � Los Lonely Boys (Epic) � Christmas CDs are like Christmas ties� never a hot seller in any one year but a steady seller over time. With that cynical attitude out there for you�here�s my look at Christmas Spirit by Los Lonely Boys. Who knew the Garza boys could be shlocky??? Check out their three-part harmony on “Away in a Manger” sung to only electric piano accompaniment that definitely won�t be rockin� too many Christmas house parties. But get away from that and their instrumental takes on a couple of Christmas standards and you�ll find the highlights are delivered in the Tex-Mex inspired blues-rock we expect from Los Lonely Boys � the SRV “Pride & Joy” influenced “Feliz Navidad” (the one Christmas tune this year that could threaten your woofers), a joyous romp thru Chuck Berry�s “Run Run Rudolph,” and a “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” delivered with such bravado you�re not too sure if it�s you or Santa who�s been naughty. This is like most Christmas discs� some tracks you�ll listen to once and never again� and others you�ll gladly come back to in Christmas seasons to come.
These albums rock
Last Modified: Friday, December 5, 2008 at 2:24 p.m.
The glut of Christmas-themed albums released each year makes it difficult to find the ones that transcend that split. But some do.
We’ve selected a short list of the worthiest of 2008.
Los Lonely Boys, “Christmas Spirit” (Epic)
The aforementioned boring/schmaltzy divide is neatly skirted with soulful performances and arrangements from this Grammy-winning Tex-Mex band.
Go-go get these Christmas CDs
Music critic Patrick MacDonald recommends a whole stocking-full of Christmas CDs, including releases by Steven Van Zandt, Tony Bennett, Yo-Yo Ma and more.
Seattle Times music critic
The disc kicks off with Keith Richards’ take on “Run Rudolph Run,” followed by Bob Seger’s funky, James Brown-like “Sock It To Me Santa.” The Ramones blast out “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight),” Darlene Love channels Springsteen on “All Alone on Christmas” (dig the sax solo!) and the Kinks’ “Father Christmas” ends with the old guy getting mugged.
Other highlights: Joe Pesci warns “If It Doesn’t Snow On Christmas” in menacing Brooklynese, Rufus Thomas gets sexy promising “I’ll Be Your Santa” and the Chesterfield Kings manage to sound like Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones on “Hey, Santa Claus.”
For a more traditional, but still hip, collection, try “The Essential Now That’s What I Call Christmas” (UMG), with Berry’s original “Run Rudolph Run” and other classics, like Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas,” Dean Martin’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Gene Autry’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The stellar collection is the perfect CD to listen to while wrapping presents.
Other new holiday recordings
“Christmas Duets,” Elvis Presley (Sony BMG). Elvis loved Christmas, and he probably would approve of this album, which pairs him with country artists including Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood and Gretchen Wilson. Through overdubbing, they add their voices to his originals, highlighted by the rocking “Santa Claus Is Back in Town” with Wynonna (their voices blend well); a hymnlike “O Little Town of Bethlehem” with Little Big Town; and “White Christmas” with Amy Grant, who plays against type by cooing, “Come on now, big boy!”
“Joy To The World,” Faith Hill (Warner Bros.) Joy is right! The country singer captures the celebration, and contemplation, of the season with spirited, mostly orchestral versions of holiday classics, from “Winter Wonderland” to “What Child Is This?” Her voice is pure and beautiful, and the arrangements are superb.
“What A Night! A Christmas Album,” Harry Connick, Jr. (Columbia). Hip, jazzy, heartfelt and cool, the singer-pianist and his big band do it up right, imbuing holiday classics and originals with energy, originality and passion. There’s lots of fun, too, especially “Zat You Santa Claus?” and a rollicking new one called “Santarrific.”
“A Swingin’ Christmas,” Tony Bennett, featuring the Count Basie Big Band (Columbia). A finger-snapping, toe-tapping, totally satisfying collection by the greatest living male pop singer. “My Favorite Things” is joyous, “Christmas Time Is Here” is majestic and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is top-notch big-band fun. This one will put a smile on your face as big as Tony’s.
“Home For Christmas,” Sheryl Crow (Hallmark). Available only at Hallmark stores, this is another impressive holiday release by the greeting-card company. Crow’s “White Christmas” is a slow-rocking ballad with horns, “The Bells of St. Mary’s” is dramatic and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is drenched in sentiment. Her impressive new original song, “There Is A Star That Shines Tonight,” is peaceful and sweet.
“Songs of Joy & Peace,” Yo-Yo Ma & Friends (Sony Classical). Varied, challenging, artful and different, this 22-cut collection ranges from the familiar to the exotic. The wonderful Alison Krauss adds her sweet voice to “The Wexford Carol,” saxman Joshua Redman plays beautifully on “My One And Only Love” and ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro contributes a lovely simple “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” Cellist Ma teams with a variety of musicians for some fascinating jams.
“A Night Before Christmas,” Spyro Gyra (Heads Up). The cutting-edge jazz group is surprisingly traditional on this 11-song set, which features guest vocalists on five songs. Christine Ebersole does a nice job on the “It Won’t Feel Like Christmas” vocal, and Janis Siegel and Bonny B have fun with “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” “Silent Night” is moody, while “The Christmas Song,” another Bonny B vocal, is unusually cheery.
“Come Darkness, Come Light,” Mary Chapin Carpenter (Zoe). Chapin Carpenter takes a bold leap with her first Christmas album, devoting half of the 12 cuts to new songs, all of them marked by her intelligence, thoughtfulness, passion and songcraft. It’s not a background album; it’s one you have to listen to, with moving songs about the meaning of Christmas and the holidays. The six other songs are obscure seasonal offerings, all thoughtful and touching.
“All Wrapped Up!” (Hollywood). A seven-song stocking-stuffer EP for the youngsters featuring the Jonas Brothers’ “Joyful Kings” and Miley Cyrus’ “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.”
“A Midwinter Night’s Dream,” Lorenna McKennitt (QR). Five tracks from her 1995 EP, “A Winter Garden,” and eight new songs from the dramatic, arty singer. Includes a mystical, Celtic “The Holly & The Ivy,” a Middle Eastern-flavored “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Emmanuel” in Latin and “Noel Nouvelet!” in Old French. Interesting and exotic, it adds zest to this season’s offerings.
“We Wish You A Metal Christmas And A Headbanging New Year” (Armoury). A mostly B-list of metal musicians trash familiar carols, with guitars screeching and drums pounding. Leave it to Alice Cooper to show them how it should be done, with a hilarious take on “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” “He knows where you live, he knows what’s under your bed,” he sings, before gleefully setting fire to the Christmas tree.
More Christmas releases
“Christmas Spirit,” Los Lonely Boys (Epic). Holiday songs with a slow-rocking “Texican” feel, including “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” “Feliz Navidad” and two new fun and lively songs, “I’ve Longed for Christmas” and “She’ll Be My Everything.”
“This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 1” (Brushfire). Jack Johnson, G. Love, Money Mark and other Brushfire label recording artists in simple, mellow, mostly acoustic carols and new songs. Very laid-back.
“A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas,” Kristin Chenoweth (Sony). The actress/singer presents her pop versions of familiar seasonal songs along with two new ones, both dramatic and mellow, “Home on Christmas Day” and “Born On Christmas Day.”
“Caroling, Caroling: Christmas with Natalie Cole” (Elektra/Rhino). Eight-song selection from her two seasonal releases, 1994’s “Holly & Ivy” and 1999’s “The Magic of Christmas.” Includes a duet of “The Christmas Song” with her father, Nat “King” Cole.
“Bishop T.D. Jakes presents The Gift That Remains” (Rhino/Dexterity). Soulful, gospelly collection featuring Mary Mary, Brian McKnight, Kirk Whalum and BeBe & CeCe Winans singing traditional seasonal favorites and new songs, interspersed with musings by Jakes.
“And There Was Christmas!” (Zomba). Gospel versions of carols and some new songs from Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Sapp and others.
“Christmas,” Al Jarreau (Rhino). In his first holiday album, the mellow pop/jazz/R&B vocalist puts his spin on a dozen classics, as well as “Gloria In Excelsis,” from the Roman Catholic Mass.
“The Miracle of Christmas,” Neil Sedaka (Razor & Tie). His first holiday release comes in the sixth decade of his career, available in one- or two-disc sets. The 22-cut double edition includes a dozen originals along with 10 classics. The new ones show that Sedaka still has a gift for writing light, pleasant pop songs.
“Sacred Arias,” Katherine Jenkins (Decca). “Silent Night,” “Ave Maria” and “Agnus Dei,” along with other pieces with a spiritual theme, from the mezzo soprano opera star.
Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312 or [email protected]
The music industry keeps shrinking, but the amount of music released continues to grow. This is never more apparent than during the holiday season, when the wave of Christmas CDs rises higher each year. This season, part of the blame goes to Josh Groban, with an assist from Oprah Winfrey. The two of them saw to it that Groban’s Noël was the biggest-selling album of 2007, ensuring that everyone from Faith Hill to Neil Sedaka to Sheryl Crow to Enya to Brian McKnight to Elvis Presley would have a new holiday album in stores in 2008.
And part of the credit goes to the growing digital-music marketplace, where it’s easier than ever for artists to deliver a seasonal treat to fans by serving up a single or EP without the cost of producing a full-length album.
What follows is a CD-length Christmas music playlist, with all songs, even the old ones, drawn from 2008 releases. All are available on iTunes, many of the songs can be streamed at the artists’ MySpace sites, and you can find the complete playlist up on my blog, at http://go.philly.com/inthemix.
1. “Jingle Bells,” Bela Fleck & the Flecktones. Banjo master and his band of merry pranksters enlist Tuvan throat singers on a deliriously inventive reinterpretation. From Jingle All the Way.
2. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Weezer. Amped-up 18th-century hymn, recorded for iPhone app and now available on iTunes.
3. “Christmas Is Coming Soon,” Blitzen Trapper. Sweetly folkie rumination from Portland indie rockers, from the digital-only I’ll Stay ‘Til After Christmas.
4. “Another Winter in a Summer Town,” No Kids. “The beach is empty, they covered the pools.” December melancholy in Canadian trio’s take on a tune from Grey Gardens, the Broadway musical. Also from I’ll Stay ‘Til After Christmas.
5. “Stuck at the Airport,” Money Mark. Chiming lament from the Beastie Boys’ keyboardist, stranded with a broken iPod. Appears with Jack Johnson and G. Love on This Warm December: A Brushfire Christmas, Vol. 1.
6. “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas,” The Boxmasters. Billy Bob Thornton’s roots-country band, stuck in the big house in this standout track from Christmas Cheer.
7. “A Christmas Duel,” The Hives & Cyndi Lauper. Unlikely duo of Swede singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist and Lauper in an over-the-top insult contest. He sleeps with her sister, she one-ups him.
8. “Come On Santa,” The Raveonettes. Sexy wall of sound from Danish rock duo’s EP Wishing You a Rave Christmas.
9. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Keyshia Cole. R&B and BET reality TV star cheers up bummed-out perennial.
10. Elvis Presley & LeAnn Rimes, “Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane).” Best of the hokey Christmas Duets, pairing mostly contemporary country acts with the posthumous King.
11. “Frosty the Snowman,” Fiona Apple. Sprightly ditty stands out on the female-only The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs, also featuring Sara Bareilles, Priscilla Ahn and Nicole Atkins.
12. “Blue Christmas,” Sheryl Crow. Crow’s Hallmark-store exclusive, Home for Christmas, is unadventurous, but she has a little fun with this nod to Presley.
13. “Back Door Santa,” Clarence Carter. You’ve heard those horns before, sampled on Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis.” Soul man’s sneakin’ around song is one of many winners on the highly recommended Little Steven-curated compilation Christmas A Go-Go, along with the Kinks, Joe Pesci (!), and the Chevelles’ “O Come All Ye Faithful Surfer Girls.”
14. “Christmas Eve,” Jim Jones & Skull Gang. Dark but not entirely unsentimental Christmas point of view, from rapper’s second holiday release, A Tribute to Bad Santa. “I can’t be with my honey on Christmas Eve, ’cause I’m thinkin’ about robbin’ you.”
15. “Nutmeg,” John Legend & Stephen Colbert. Soul man plays it straight, promises to “nog the egg” of his loved one. From A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All.
16. “Christmas Ain’t Christmas (Without the One You Love),” Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul takes on a Gamble and Huff tune, originally done by the O’Jays, on her first-ever holiday album.
17. “Can I Interest You in Hannukah?” Stephen Colbert & Jon Stewart, from A Colbert Christmas. Daily Show host makes singing debut, teaches Colbert about dreidels and latkes.
18. “Dreidel,” Erran Baron Cohen, featuring Jules Brookes. Borat’s brother gets the dance floor moving with Jewish holiday tunes, Songs in the Key of Hannukah.
19. “Mr. Santa Claus,” The Fleshtones. Garage-punk stalwarts gets their jingle on. From Stocking Stuffer.
20. “Santa Claws is Coming to Town,” Alice Cooper and others. Cooper makes Kris Kringles’ expedition sound ominous. From We Wish You a Metal Xmas . . . and a Headbanging New Year.
21. “Careful What You Wish For,” Glasvegas. Cautionary tale from Glaswegian rockers’ A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like a Kiss).
22. “Santa’s Blues,” Charles Brown. Jazzy piano man swings, on the excellent Putumayo Presents: A Jazz & Blues Christmas, alongside Ray Charles and B.B. King.
23. “What a Night!,” Harry Connick Jr. New Orleans piano man delivers his third classy holiday album with What A Night! A Christmas Album.
24. “Winter Wonderland,” Tony Bennett. Octogenarian saloon singer makes good on the title of A Swingin’ Christmas.
25. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” The Pretenders. Acoustic mischief from Chrissie Hynde, on a four-song digital Holiday EP.
26. “Away in a Manger,” Los Lonely Boys. Texas’ Garza brothers deliver heartfelt harmony singing on otherwise upbeat Christmas Spirit.
27. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” Julian Koster. Indie multi-instrumentalist Koster sticks to the musical saw on The Singing Saw at Christmas Time. Moving in small doses, perfect for driving relatives from the room when the volume is turned up.