Holiday greetings and whatnot to well-wishers everywhere!
Another December is upon us and as usual we have a slug o’ holiday enjoyment for you. First off, we have a new Christmas single by The True Olympians – “Christmas Train” and “Lonely Little Christmas Tree.” Danny Kelly of The Hinges was sporting enuff to add many guitar notes to “Christmas Train” and I am confident you will enjoy each one of them. Yes of course you can get these songs on the next two things I’m gonna talk about, but me no care – me like to make a pretty single. And all True Olympian Completists will consider it a must have. And yes, since you asked, I did the cover art myself. Perhaps I will put the originals up for auction. Is that Sotheby’s calling?
Next up, it is time for Tom & Kat’s Excellent Christmas Adventure. All the GM acolytes among you know in 2013, I released Christmas 30 Years In The Making, which was a collection of my Christmas songs to that point (minus the “Christmas Wrapper” which mightily “sampled” Run DMC). Since then I have been doing 1 to 3 Christmas songs a year. I don’t know why but I do them. I realized I had enough this year for another album and then decided to add Kat’s songs to the pile – it’s a family affair. TKECA has 4 songs that are brand new this year – the two True Olympians songs, a new solo Tom and a new solo Kat tune. Plus a new mix of “A Saucy Holiday!” Consumer warning: all these songs are available on the last five years Xmas comps. The only thing exclusive to this is the “Saucy” mix. Oh, and the secret thing. But if you want to que up, a nice collection that is all mastered to sound sweet together you are set. Plus a pretty cover by Rosie. When I came up with the album title, Kat said “Bill and Ted” so of course we had to go there. We found the last deserted phone booth on a country road in Olympia and off we went. Now you can enjoy the whole thing while you sit next to the holiday fire.
And now, it is time for the comp, A Green Monkey Christmas For Martians Up On Mars! As you have no doubt ascertained having purchased and listened to The True Olympians single several times, the title comes from the final line of “Christmas Train”. Martians need love too. This October I put out the word as I do each year and this year we have 18 slices of Christmas love for you – a new record! We have some of our regulars, some old friends coming back to visit and some new kids that just want to jingle. You know – the usual. As always, all the money we take in from this album goes to MusiCares, a great charity that helps music people in need. We don’t keep a dime. I have sent folks that needed help to MusiCares and they got helped. Straight up. So we are happy to make our (and yours) little bit of difference. Thanks to everyone who contributed a song this year – we hope you will do it again – and thanks to Rosie for a sweet cover!!
In other business, it’s been another typically swell GMR year, seven albums of previously unreleased material, a PJs re-release, four singles. I am very happy with this year’s pile, it has all been satisfying material to work on. For next year, in January I will be putting out an album with Maggie Neatherlin, an eighteen year-old Olympia musician who is quite fabulous. I have a TD duets album that I have been working on for a few years that I am going to wrap up this winter/spring. I may finally get around to reissuing my first album from 1983, Truth or Consequences with a couple hundred bonus tracks, which I have threatened to do for a while now. And of course, there will be a new True Olympians album, which I haven’t even started writing for yet. It’s a concept album, so that should be easy, right? I know Mr. Kelly is working on some new material that we shall see where that goes. In my que I am going to remaster the Green Pajamas – All Clues Lead To Megan’s Bed shortly for LP release with Sugarbush and digital with Green Monkey. Beyond that, the future remains to be determined. If there is something you want us to put out, drop a line and let us know.
td Dec. 2018
A Green Monkey Christmas For Martians Up On Mars
All sales go to MusiCares.
1. Tom Dyer – T’was The Night Before Christmas
Music by Tom.
This musical version of Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 poem was inspired by the 7th chords of The Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon” which The True Olympians learned for our album debut show this fall. I played everything on this, and it was a fun mess to make. This is the second (or third) GMR take on this holiday favorite. Gary Heffern did a fantastic version on our 2011 Xmas Comp It Crawled Down the Chimney. More recently (a year or three ago), Joe Ross played me his idea for T’was, which I promptly forgot about (more about that below). Also available on Tom & Kat’s Excellent Christmas Adventure!
2. Donovan’s Brain / Gray Whiskers (Winter Cats)
Music – Ron Sanchez Words – Kris Wilkinson Hughes Published by: Loaded Deluxe Songs/BMI and For Kate’s Sake Songs/BMI
Kris Hughes – vocals; Ron Sanchez – guitars, piano, organ, keyboards vocal; Bobby Sutliff – guitar solo; Tom Stevens – bass; Ric Parnell – drums.
Recorded and mixed at GLEA Bozeman, Montana Additional Recording: Happenstance Recording and Super Tiny Records
Donovan’s Brain is a very fine psych-pop outfit from Bozeman that we featured as AotM (Album of the Month) in November of 2014. They have lots of fine releases you can buy at http://www.careerrecords.com and you should do that now.
3. Super Z Attack Team – We 3 Super Kings
Super Z Attack Team: Jon Davis – Stick, samples; Jim DeJoie – Baritone saxophone, effects; Randy Doak – Drums
Arranged, recorded, and mixed by Jon Davis.
Jon is a Seattle prog-rock dude (and Expose’ everything dude) whose Zhongyu album made my top ten a couple years ago. He is the only Chapman Stick player I know. For this “borderline psychotic arrangement” of “We Three Kings of Orient Are” the fellows just improved it and Jon added some sweet samples. Very festive. http://zhongyuband.net
4. The Holiday Bloch-busters – It’s A War On Christmas
Music: Tom Dyer Words: Joni Brill & Tom Dyer
Tom Dyer – Vocals, Guitar, Bass: Kurt Bloch – Guitar, Vocals; Al Bloch – iPhone Vocals.
I saw The Cheaters reunion at the Croc this year and it was fabulous. We featured the most entertaining Cheaters album, a Fastbacks album and a Kurt solo album as AotMs a year or two ago. We featured the 1984 Fastbacks on our two-years-back jolly Xmas album. We just released the long-lost Wenis album, starring Al Bloch. Such a great Christmas gift for family and friends.
So when I got this idea for yet another Xmas song after I had wrapped the Tom & Kat’s Excellent Christmas Adventure album, what was I to do? Obvious – contact Kurt and Al. Bang! Al doesn’t have a recording set up, so he just sang into his phone and sent it to me. Kurt did his mighty parts and sent ‘em in. (see if you can figure out which guitar is which) Ain’t technology grand? If you want to read the words that I have subtly/suitably buried beneath the guitars somewhat, they are available on the bandcamp page.
5. Emily Bishton – Toyland
(D. McDonough/V. Herbert)
Emily Bishton – Vocals; Jon Olufs- Guitars. Recorded and Produced by Conrad Uno August 2017 at Egg Studios, Seattle WA. This lovely “Toyland” comes from an album Emily released this year, The Road Vol.1, with just her and long-time colleague and Red Dress member Jon. Emily: “As a child, it’s the last line that made me sad, yet I’ve been lucky to return again and again to the natural world. Dedicated to ‘nature kids’ everywhere.” She also released another album this year (with the Hank Williams Honky Tonk Revuue), HANKIN’. Both are available as CD at the Arivaca Artist Co-op or “just about anywhere you like on the intertubes”. This is the second version of this great song for us– Earl Thunders did a nicely psychotic one last year.
6. Kline’s 57 – Happy New Year
Music and Lyrics by Joey Kline 2004 Jokeline Music BMI
Joey Kline – Guitar, Vocals; Davy Wilson- Guitar, Vocals; Pat Gray- Bass, Guitar; Rolando Robles- Drums, Tambourine, Backing Vocals; Richard Mockler- Magic Happy Organ.
Produced by Pat Gray Engineer Brad Wilson Mastered by Jackson Pickens
Joey is a fixture, nay, a bastion of Northwest Rock. His discography is long, going back to his 80’s GMR releases with Prudence Dredge and he is a regular foil in the forever running Squirrels unit. We feature Joey as AotM recently with his lovely Forever Blowing Bubbles! This song rocks like the devil and uses some of his favorite words!
7. Tom Dyer & The True Olympians – (I’m A) Lonely Little Christmas Tree
Tom Dyer – Vocals, Guitar; Joe Cason – Keyboards, Vocals; Gene Tveden – Bass, Vocals. Tom Shoblom – drums.
From the second Christmas single from The True Olympians. I am quite happy that these fellas are willing to rock out on my songs. Keeps them out of trouble. No Christmas trees were harmed in the making of this song.
8. Richard Stuverud – Empty Branches
Richard Stuverud – Piano, Vocals; Alexander Veikos Stuverud – Backing Vocals; Rachel Elginsmith -Cello. Music by Richard Stuverud. Lyrics by Derek McCulloch Recorded By Bart Thurber @ House Of Faith Studios Oakland, CA.
This is Richard’s 2nd GMR holiday appearance (2013’s Merry Krampus). I go back to 1983 with Richard when he drummed for the Fastbacks on the first GMR release Local Product. He has been in many bands since:discogs.com/artist/783422-Richard-Stuverud Recently he has been posting piano versions of Fastbacks songs on Facebook that are delightful. His Drummed Out video series on Face Book is pretty funny if you can find it.
9. Kat Dyer – Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel
Kat Dyer – Vocals, Organ; Tom Dyer – Other Stuff. This is Kat’s third or sixth GMR Xmas song, all of which are great. She learned this song to sing with a small vocal group that she works in, singing to vets and other groups. So we worked it up. This one is also featured on Tom & Kat’s Excellent Christmas Adventure.
10. The Elf-tones – New Year’s Day
Song by Steve Trettevik. Steve- Guitar, Vocals; Sheri Nordling – Bass, Keys’ Vocals. Recorded by Steve Mixed by Tom D.
Steve is a freaking Xmas regular. Out of nine GMR Xmas albums he’s gotta be on at least six. As always, I love this Steve song. So simple and good.
11. Toiling Midgets – Snowshoe and Weasel
Tom Mallon – Drums, and Recording: Craig Gray – Guitar: Paul Hood – Guitar; Erich Werner – Bass. Recorded at Tom Mallon Studios San Francisco 1996
The Toiling Midgets are (were?) a San Francisco combo with a couple former Seattleites – Paul Hood – (Meyce, The Enemy) and Erich Werner (The Telepaths). Me and Howie ran into Paul at the Bird Reunion show this year at the Crocodile where Paul was playing with The Enemy for a night. (and of course Kurt and Al Bloch were there for a mighty blast of The Cheaters). Howie worked the record stores (Peaches Music & Video) with Paul long ago and one thing led to another – now we have a Toiling Midgets Xmas song. It’s a damn miracle I tell ya!
12. Kaz Murphy – Christmas Was Yesterday
Words and Music by Kaz Murphy/ASCAP/2018
Kaz Murphy – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Tremolo Electric Guitar; Gar Robertson – Bass, Electric Guitar, Piano, Percussion; Jacqueline Grad – Back up Vocals.
Recorded at Red Barn Recorders, Morongo Valley, CA
Kaz and Jacque were part of a band called Mad Mad Nomad that we put out a single and a cassette with way back in the Mach I days of GMR. Through the miracle of Facebook we connected again (thanks Mr. Z!) and now you have a poignant holiday tale to tug at those tender heartstrings. Welcome back! Kaz is going to be up in Washington over the holidays and if he gets his dates nailed down, we will post them here.
13. The Swaggerlies – All I Want For Christmas (Is To Be Left Alone)
Earle Thunders- Vox, Backing Vox, Guitars; Ron “Rontrose” Heathman – Guitars; Jeromy Leonard- Bass Guitar, Jingle Bells, Backing Vox; Jon Rydeen- Drums.
Written by Earle Thunders Recorded and mixed by Kenan Kelley at E-Town Sounds, Edmonds WA
Produced by Earle Thunders and Kenan Kelley
This is Earle’s third GMR contribution – he’s starting to look like a regular! Last year he gave us a nearly terrifying Toyland. This year, he is a man craving solitude. That seems reasonable. So come on. Do your part, leave him alone! But just for Christmas. The Swaggerlies also have this excellent video for you!
14. Duane Hibbard – Blame It On The Nog
Duane – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Jingle Bells. Everything.
Duane has come up with the perfect holiday solution for any unpleasant situation. Blame it on the Nog. Sounds quite reasonable. As regular listeners all know, Duane gives a jolly holiday song nearly every year, sometimes using names like Unkle Tiki or Toxic Socket, but they are all 100% Duane. He may be working toward his first assemblage of his many holiday works, but that is only casual speculation. I swear. Duane Hibbard Music
15. Tom Dyer & The True Olympians – Christmas Train
Same True Olympians as the last one, plus an extra guest. Danny Kelly, electrical guitar. Danny is a Olympia musical fixture and currently plays in The Hinges who put out a fine new album a few months back. I invited Danny over to add some “note-age” to the tune. He figured that meant sing. I of course meant play guitar, which he did not bring. I handed him one of mine and presto – note-age! Thanks Danny!
16. Ed Portnow – Wintertime is Christmas Time
Written by : Ed All instruments & Vocals performed by : Ed
Ed hides under the rug all year without a peep. Nothing. The week or so before the GMR Christmas album is off to the masses, he drops a casual line. Ed: Christmas album this year? Tom: Yes. Then he sends this year’s model. Fellow Christmatologists, consider yourself blessed because Brother Ed, a goat herder, has struck again.
17. Jeff Kelly / Christmas At The End Of Time
Written by Jeff Kelly St. Brigid Publishing
Jeff could not find anything positive to say this Christmas and you know what your mom says.
18. The Freewheelin’ Joe Ross – T’was The Night Before Christmas
Joe Ross – Vocals and Guitar.
And here we are. Joe is great at missing deadlines when it comes to this sort of thing. Not because he is mean-spirited, no – he is just a busy man. I send him a little reminder a week ago – Xmas songs are due – and he sez – I will have it to you by the end of Monday or you can sail that ship without me. Monday comes and goes – no Joe. I finish the master and move ahead. Tuesday evening, I hear form Joe – “I’ve got it – can you still squeeze it in?” Sure sez I. And surprise – it is “The Night Before Christmas,” which I did a version of this year. (I had completely forgotten Joe had played me a Dylanesque version of “Night” a couple years back – and yes that is his very spirited young daughter yelling in the background). So now you have two versions on one album – bookends!
I think this is a great opportunity for all of you to play “battle of the bands” with all your friends at this year’s Christmas party! Step one. Get everyone there. Step two. Party up! Step three. Hit the dance floor and do the St. Nick boogey. Step four. Vote. It’s just that simple.
That concludes this year’s holiday classic. I hope you enjoy it.