Sunday, November 27, 2022

A jolly Guaraldi holiday 2022

It's time once again for this annual round-up of Guaraldi-themed concerts taking place between now and the end of the year, most of which (of course!) are tied in to his music from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Following 2020's much smaller list of streaming-only performances, things initially looked more promising last year. Numerous artists and groups optimistically scheduled live performances, most of which took place as planned. Some, alas, were derailed by Covid's mid- to late December "winter bounce." 

Although we definitely aren't out of the woods yet — with hospitals and caregivers currently getting slammed by the terrible trio of Covid, annual flu and RSV — we seem to have decided, to borrow that wonderful phrase from the British, to keep calm and carry on. This year's roster of performances already is approaching the impressive pre-pandemic numbers. Some musicians no doubt will be masked; some clubs likely will insist that patrons take similar precautions. That said — to borrow yet another famous phrase — the shows will go on. Indeed, some groups have booked impressively lengthy schedules.

Even so, it'll be best to keep an eye on the web site(s) of any artist and/or venue that catches your fancy, to determine if the schedule has shifted.

I first traced the history and growth of this delightful annual tradition back in 2012, with a modest schedule that now seems quaint. This year's post will serve as a clearinghouse for any and all 2022 concerts that come to my attention. As always, I'll add to this schedule as new information becomes available, so you'll want to check back frequently. New entries and listings will be tagged as UPDATES

Let's dig in!

• The Eric Byrd Trio — Byrd, piano and vocals; Bhagwan Khalsa, acoustic bass; and Alphonso Young Jr., drums and percussion — has made a cottage industry of Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas music, having thus far released two cover albums: a 2009 studio project, and a 2021 live performance. Both are available here. Byrd's combo began its 10-show run on November 26, with upcoming performances in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., concluding Friday, December 23, at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, in Frederick, Maryland. Details.

Doc Watkins and his Orchestra began their month-long Christmas in Jazz tributes to the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas at San Antonio's JazzTX, Texas, on November 25. Upcoming shows include December 1-4, 8-11, 15-18 and 20-22. Details. They also scheduled a December 14 performance at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, also in San Antonio. Details. The icing on the cake: Watkins just released a terrific new album, The Music of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Check it out!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Publicity galore!

(Please forgive the total lack of modesty in what follows. I'll try to keep the bubbling enthusiasm under control, but — really — this is new territory.)

The recent — and still upcoming — releases of the new-and-improved score for It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, along with the Super Deluxe five-disc collection of music and studio sessions for A Charlie Brown Christmas, have generated a wholly unexpected degree of interest from some high-profile web and print publications.

I suddenly found myself in demand as a "hot get" interview subject ... which is to say, folks came after me, rather than — as was the case when my Guaraldi biography was published, back in 2012 — my having to cold-call jazz radio stations across the country, hoping to find sympathetic DJs willing to plug the book.

To borrow a marvelous line from Chuck Mangione back in the day, when confronted by a massive sold-out venue that he couldn't have imagined, even a few years earlier: "Mother never said there'd be a day like this."

Taking them in publication order:

I had fun chatting with Tony Sokol, at Den of Geek; some of his questions were a bit silly and arch — as befits their style — but they were just as fun to answer, as his more serious queries.

Erik Adams, at Indiewire, probed deep into the back-story of It's the Great Pumpkin, and he emerged with one of the best-researched, engaging and superbly written stories I've ever encountered.

Next up was something I didn't even realize was on my bucket list, until it occurred: Getting interviewed by Variety was an honor all by itself. The fact that the interviewer was Jon Burlingame — The Man, when it comes to soundtrack history and analysis, and author of numerous books including TV's Biggest Hits, The Music of James Bond, and the upcoming Music for Prime Time (all of which I own, or will own) — was akin to getting an audience with the Dalai Lama. Like, wow...

On a more local level, I shared microphones with Sean and Jason Mendelson for a captivating episode of the public affairs radio show Davisville, hosted by Bill Buchanan. (It's a shame the show couldn't have expanded to include the lively chatter before and after taping, which was just as entertaining and informative.)

And Fate had one more surprise in store. When I received the LP copies of Great Pumpkin and the double-disc Charlie Brown Christmas highlights, I was astonished to see that the promotional sticker, attached to the plastic wrap, cited me for the liner notes. How often does that happen?

My understanding is that one more major publicity/promotional event will live-stream toward the end of this month. Stay tuned...