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Dec. 2015: Various – Christmas Monkey On My Back

Merry Holiday Greetings to you all!

It is time for yet another Jolly Xmas album from top-notch Pacific Northwest Artists. As usual, there was not much of a plan. I sent out my“who wants to play” email in October and fourteen excellent holiday gifts made it our way. Some are from old-time regulars who send us something fresh and frothy every year like Jeff Kelly, 3 Ninjas and The Elf-tones, while rookies like Burnseer and The Navins tee up their Xmas best for the first time. We thank them all for their contributions. A bunch of last minute mixing and editing later, we now share this festiveness with you!

To take the sharing business one step further we strongly encourage you to download here and enjoy this year’s album everywhere – all money we take in from this album goes to MusiCares, a very fine charity that helps music people in need and to which we are proud to contribute.

Don’t forget – if you are looking for quality stocking stuffers this year, nothing looks (and sounds) mo’ better sticking out that Xmas stocking than a broad assortment of GMR releases! We so firmly espouse this Xmas principal that I’ll make you this Super-Deal – buy any 3 GMR releases at once and I will throw in an extra CD or download album of your HOLIDAY CHOOSING!

Yes, that does include my own “Xmas-30 Years In The Making” which recently got a damn fine review in “Merry and Bright”!

MusicaresUpcoming: THE FUZZ Saturday, Dec. 5 at The Valley 1206 Puyallup Ave, Tacoma, AND Friday, Dec. 19 – Funhouse in Seattle! Everyone else is too lazy to play right now.

Have a great Xmas – see you in January!


December 2015

Christmas Monkey On My Back: GMR Xmas 6 (GMX2015)

Produced by Tom Dyer. Cover by Rosie Faith Trobough. GMX2015

1. Tom’s New Pagan Choraliers  – Little Blair’s Unpleasant ChristmasChristmas Monkey On My Back – GMR Xmas 6
2. Kat Dyer – I Heard The Bells
3. Sheila Powers – Santa Left Me (On Our Last Date)
4. Zelda Starfire – Next Year
5. Jeff Kelly – Christmas 1995
6. The Elf-tones – I See Reindeer In The Clouds
7. Fur For Fairies – Cherry Tree Carol
8. Pleasure Island – Merry Gentlemen
9. 3 Ninjas – It’s An Agonizingly Slow Death
10. The GMR Chamber Ensemble – A Saucy Holiday Indeed!
11. Cassandra Sky – Here He Comes
12. Burnseer – The Little Refugee Boy
13. The Navins – Jesus Under My Tree
14. Glamourpuss – Christmas For Everyone
15. Toxic Socket – Santy Claws
16. Tom Nook – Best Darn Christmas Ever

The Details:

1. Tom’s New Pagan Choraliers  – Little Blair’s Unpleasant Christmas (T. Dyer/Half the World Publishing)New Pagan Choraliers

Tom Dyer – Guitar, Vox, Keys; Scott Vanderpool – Drums; Joe Ross – Bass; Scott Muhlbeier – Lead Guitar; Kat Dyer – Backing Vocals, Sheila Powers as “Mummy”.
Basic tracks recorded at Casa Vanderpool, overdubs and mixing at TDS. Produced by TD.

This song was written last year for our GMR Xmas show. One of the prizes in our fundraiser we did was that I would write a new song and play it at the show. We had a taker and this is it. Exact same band as played it at the show (2 PJ’s + 2 KCQs = 3), except I sang it this time. Lucky you. This is the second song I have written that involves murder, and the first murder Xmas song GMR has put out. Bodes well for the future, dontcha think?

2. Kat Dyer – I Heard The Bells (Traditional)

Kat Dyer – Vox, Bass, Melodica. Tom Dyer – Guitar, Fake Bells.
Recorded at TDS. Produced by Kat.

One Friday Kate came over and said can we record this song? We did it the next day.The song dates back to the Civil War and has a mighty long and good shelf life. I know I am highly prejudiced, but I love Kate’s vocal on this.Sheila Powers & friends

3. Sheila Powers – Santa Left Me (On Our Last Date) (Powers)

Sheila Powers – Vox; Glenn Slater – Keyboards; Scott Kaplin – Wah Wah Guitar; Rick Yust – Bass; Kat Dyer – Backing Vox; Tom Dyer – Rhythm Guitar, Drum programming.
Recorded at TDS. Produced by Tom Dyer.

Sheila was over at the Secret TDS Studios singing on some other Holiday songs and said she had this R&B-ish Xmas song she had written but didn’t know how to do anything but sing it. I said ok – sing it into my phone, which she did. Whipped up a basic arrangement and got cool people to play on it which made it very fun to do. I think Sheila did a fabulous job on the vocal (don’t you?), much more her style the the wacko stuff I usually ask her to do.

4. Zelda Starfire – Next Year (Sandy J. Buchner)Zelda Starfire

Zelda Starfire – Vox & uke. Recorded by Zelda (I think).

Last year Christine Bowen sent me a Soundcloud link and said you should check this out. Downloaded it and a year later I had no idea where it came from. Fortunately I figured it out last week and we are all set. Ms. Starfire seems to be mostly a rocker from what I can tell, so this is a particularly nice bit of heartfelt Christmas longing!

5. Jeff Kelly – Christmas 1995 (Kelly – St. Brigid Publishing)

Jeff Kelly – all noises.
Produced by Jeff.Jeff Kelly

Recorded by Jeff for two girls who were young and sweet at the time. They are all grown up twenty years later and still pretty nice. Jeff discovered this while wandering through his archives this year and asked if I’d include it. I said yes!

6. The Elftones – I See Reindeer In The Clouds (Trettevik – Nordling)

Steve Trettevik – Vox, guitars, bass; Sherrie Nordling – Vox, Keys; Tom Dyer Drum programming.
Mixed by Tom Dyer at TDS. Produced by Steve.

Steve (and sometimes Sherrie) makes us a fine holiday number each and every year and this is a tasty one as usual. Or perhaps unusual, even Icelandic (are there reindeers in Iceland?). If you plan your twelve days of Christmas properly you should be able to eat every food item mentioned in this song!

7. Fur For Fairies – Cherry Tree Carol (Traditional)

Susanne Kelly – Vox.
Produced by Jeff Kelly.

A traditional holiday number given the Fairies treatment. Moody and slow – what’s not to like! If you haven’t got their wonderful debut album yet, I think you should do that right away. Get two copies and give one to your hippest friend for Christmas.

8. Pleasure Island – Merry Gentlemen (Traditional)Pleasure Island

Phil Bentz –  Guitar; Stafford Warner – Drums; Johnny Horn – Bass. Recorded at 48th Avenue Studios by Bill Paterson.
From the Endless Xmas EP.

Phil is the former singer for Slamm Suzannne who plays in a variety of bands, including this rockin’ Xmas surf band! They have an Xmas Mini-tour going – Fri. Dec 12 at Darrell’s in Shoreline, Sat. Dec 13 at the Funhouse in Seattle, Fri Dec. 19 at the Mirkwood in Arlington and Sat. the 20th at Slim’s down in Georgetown. Phil is a guitar/amp connoisseur and will no doubt drag out some interesting gear for you entertainment. Attend them all or mix-n-match!

9. 3 Ninjas – It’s An Agonizingly Slow Death (Brunet)

Jason Brunet – Guitar, bass, drums, vox Scott Muhlbeier – Electric guitar, Steve Shives: Christmas cheer

WARNING: F-Bomb used in a hostile manner toward a certain Xmas holiday in this song. Just sayin’.

Jason is a regular member of our Xmas crew. He is our #1 morose dude, with a consistent series of holiday bummer songs. This one is no more happy than usual,but it does have a snappy beat. We love Jason’s stuff and can’t wait until next year to see what he does next (He has lots of releases out at his website, including an Xmas one). On a hell yeah note, for the show last year Jason played his tunes with the GMR house band out at Darrells, which included Scott M. Looks like they had so much fun they needed a rerun!

10. The GMR Chamber Ensemble – A Saucy Holiday Indeed (T. Dyer/Half the World Publishing)

Tom Dyer – Vox; Sheila Powers – Vox; Jeff Kelly – Harpsichord; Phil Herschi – Cello.
Produced by Tom Dyer.

I had this idea kicking around as a guitar lick based around a flatted 9th (Zoot Horn Rollo said I would like that note and he was quite right), for six months or maybe eight – going nowhere. Woke up one day and decided to turn it into a holiday number with harpsichord and cello. What could be more natural? I was trying to embrace my inner Oscar Wilde for the lyrics.

11. Cassandra Sky – Here He Comes (Words – Cansdra Sky Portnow/Music Ed Portnow)

Cassandra Sky Portnow – Vox; Tom Dyer – Bass;  Ed Portnow – All other instruments.
Produced by Tom Dyer. Recorded by Ed Portnow and Tom Dyer.

Ed sent me this song a year ago, but I didn’t do an album last year so it sat around collecting digital dust. I finally got around to hearing his six-minute-thirty-second opus this year. I quite liked it but figured it could use a little sprucing up. Some buffing. And a bass. At four plus minutes, it is still epic, Pink Floyd high on spiked eggnog. Go Ed!

12. Burnseer – The Little Refugee Boy (Traditional-ish)

Frankie G., Guitars, Vocals, Sleigh Bells; Eric Norberg, Bass; Norman Scott, Drums; Graham McIntyre, Cello;Burnseer Nathaniel Warren, Marching Snare.
Recorded by Conrad Uno at Egg Studios like two weeks ago.

Burnseer is keepin’ it real in the present holiday world with their take on the hoary Xmas chestnut, The Little Drummer Boy.

The band: Nothing says Merry Christmas like a good ‘ol political bent on a classic! The Little Refugee Boy is born out of humanity for those displaced by the current refugee crisis and the lack of goodwill and compassion from many of the world leaders.

As Lady Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

13. The Navins – Jesus Under My Tree (Morehead)

Cain Morehead – Guitar, Lead Vox; Ron Garcia – Bass, Drums, Backing Vox; Ron Nine  – Pedal Steel
Produced by The NavinsRon Nine, Recorded at Ron Nine’s studio

The Navins almost put out a record with us a year ago or so but there were personnel changes blah, blah, blah and it never happened. That’s the music biz, baby! However, they have kindly consented to let us use this brisk Xmas number. If I listened to the words correctly, I believe they have guaranteed Little Baby Jesus delivering world peace for Xmas, but that may be an overreach. We at Green Monkey are (of course) down with World Peace!

14. Glamourpuss – Christmas For Everyone (Evan Schoenfeld, Joe Ross)

Evan: Vox, Guitar, Bass; Joe: Vox, Drums, Keys, Bells, etc.Glamourpuss
From “A Glamourpuss Christmas” cassette recorded in December 1989

The Return of Glamourpuss to the GMR Holiday tableau, last seen on our first GMR holiday album in 2009.

Joe: In the late 80s/early 90s Evan and I called our duo Glamourpuss.  It seemed like a good name at the time.  We wrote and recorded many songs together on our 4 tracks; our zenith being the Glamourpuss Christmas cassette which was given to friends and family for Christmas 1989.

Tom: This particular tune is pretty epic in its scope and execution – I can’t think of one more thing to add that will further define its cosmic relevance. Stick a fork in it.

15. Toxic Socket – Santy Claws (Hibbard)

Duane Hibbard – Vox, Bass and Bells; Marco Duarte – Drums; Ewen Williams – Guitar.
Recorded by Michael Parnin at blAcksound Studios and mixed at LAFX Recording Studios assisted by Spencer Guerra. That’s a lot of credits isn’t it. They all did it for a free dinner.

Duane is our old pal and a Xmas album regular. Sometimes Duane likes to rage against commercialism or other injustice in Xmas form. I don’t even know what this one is about yet cuz I got it late BUT IT SOUNDS GREAT.

16. Tom Nook – Best Darn Christmas Ever (Lyrics: Owen Burr, Julian Tennyson, Lindsay Vanderpool & Audrey Burr, Music: Nook)Tom Nook

Owen Burr – Vox, Guitar;  Julian Tennyson – Drums; Lindsay Vanderpool – Bass.
Recorded by Tom Nook somewhere last Sunday or so.

The Nooksters make their second epic Holiday appearance. Last time they were West Seattle High School punks making their public debut. Now they are men and women of the world – off to college and have their own bandcamp page and everything.  Can’t wait to see what’s next.

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