Readers’ Pick: Scott Miller, “Christmas Gift”

Scott Miller, Christmas Gift

READERS PICK: DECEMBER 2010

Twangville readers recognized Scott Miller’s “Christmas Gift” as their favorite holiday album of 2010 which also makes it our Readers’ pick for the month of December. When Miller was asked about it he plainly said “Why a Christmas record? Because I like Christmas, that’s why.” That seems like a good enough reason for me. With seven tracks it’s not a full-length but what it doesn’t have in quantity it makes up for in quality. A standout track for me is a cover of Neil Young’s “Star of Bethlehem” a version that could only make the legend proud. “Christmas in Prison”, also a cover (J. Prine), brings to mind the Pogues with it’s powerful but restrained delivery. Original track “Yes, Virginia” paints a picture of Christmas time at the Miller ranch which must be a trip if this song is any indication. Thanks for the gift, Scott. May your new year be full of peace and blessings. — Tom Osborne [★★★★/4.143]

Song Notes by Scott Miller

“The Kingdom Has Come/Journey of the Magi” (S. Miller, T.S. Eliot) – I knew I wanted R.B. Morris, fellow Knoxville artist, to read something, maybe the verses from Luke that everybody uses, but he pulled this T.S. Eliot poem from a copy of Hard Knox Reviews. I had written the song years ago for a WNCW Christmas CD not thinking then of the Eliot poem or that they could work together. (Now in reality, I just wanted to see my name next to that modernist poet who gave me such fits in school.)

“Yes, Virginia” (S. Miller) – I think this song explains why I wanted to make a Christmas record. Of course I love the baby Jesus, but this is the time of year when all of my family got together and if you grew up on a cattle farm in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, you would understand how special those times were.

“Christmas in Prison” (J. Prine) – Ain’t no secret I love the John Prine! I heard they did a tribute record to him, but nobody asked me. I would have done this song, Christmas or not.

“Joyful, Joyful” (p.d. arr. By S. Miller) – This is “Dueling Banjos” meets Ludwig van Beethoven. I have a video idea for this song that probably wouldn’t come across in print, but I hope to have it ready by the time this is released. John Taylor is the banjo player and was in a bluegrass band I formed way before the V-Roys. I think he’s awesome.

“Old Toy Trains” (R. Miller) – Todd Steed, who produced and recorded this EP at his Apeville Studio in Knoxville, had to convince me it was okay to do this song. This song is G R E A T and Roger’s version is G R E A T, but I got a chance to actually sing on this instead of yell, so I like it.

“Star of Bethlehem” (N. Young) – I do a show around the second week of December in Johnson City, TN every year and I always play this. The best part…to secure the rights to this song I had to write a check to NEIL YOUNG! It will be framed (if it doesn’t bounce).

“Holy, Holy, Holy” (p.d. arr. By S. Miller) – A hymn so nice, they named it thrice!

You can purchase Scott Miller’s “Christmas Gift” at his online store.

Win Over the Rhine’s “Snow Angels”, CD Giveaway

**NOTE: Contest is now closed. You can still participate but will no longer be eligible for the giveaway.**

snow angels Tis the season for holiday music and its time to giveaway another great recent release. This time around it comes to us via Cincinnati based Over the Rhine with their new Christmas album Snow Angels. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of OtR until I heard their earlier ’07 release The Trumpet Child (another solid release). Shame on me considering they’ve been making music since 1991 and have composed over 15 albums. But in my book, its never too late to discover great music.

The band consists primarily of married couple Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. One listen to Bergquist’s enchanting vocals and you’ll understand how Detweiler fell for her. Smoky, sultry, torchy… however you want to describe the sound anything remotely close to those three seems to fit. Listening to either The Trumpet Child or their Christmas record Snow Angels you’ll hear how they effortlessly move from folk to jazz to blues and even hit a pop rock groove on occasion. Lyrics from the first track “All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue” set the tone for the rest, “Saxophone on the radio / Recorded 40 years ago / All I ever get for Christmas is blue”. The second track, “Darlin”, is an endearing tune full of forgiveness and hope. In other words, all that crap you dealt with this year just forget it for a moment grab your love, enjoy the magic of Christmas and start anew next year. “Goodbye Charles” is an ode to Peanut’s creator, Charles Shultz and very obviously Vince Guaraldi inspired. A favorite track on the album is the sultry, bluesy “North Pole Man”: “Cold hands cold feet / Darn snow darn sleet / It takes good friction / To make good heat.” That one followed by the rockin’ “Here It Is” is the knock out punch on one of the best Christmas albums available this season.

Purchase “Snow Angels” at the Over the Rhine Store, Miles of Music, Amazon and iTunes.


Thanks to Over the Rhine, Great Speckled Dog Records and the fine folks at Music Allies, I’m pleased to offer my promo copy of Over the Rhine’s Snow Angels as a giveway from Twangville. Simply leave a comment below and name your favorite Over the Rhine song or any favorite holiday album (see Mike’s favorites) and we’ll randomly select a winner from the comment entries. Contest ends Friday, 12/07/07 at midnight EST.*


http://www.overtherhine.com/
http://www.myspace.com/overtherhine

*By participating in this contest you agree to allow Twangville to post your name and city on our web site. We will never use your info for any other reason than getting the giveaway to you (of course).

Win Mindy Smith’s “My Holiday”, CD Giveaway

**NOTE: Contest is now closed. You can still participate but will no longer be eligible for the giveaway.**

mindy smith

You could say that Mindy Smith was born to sing Christmas songs. The adopted daughter of a pastor and his wife who raised her in Long Island, NY. No doubt her Christian upbringing played into her interest to cut a Christmas record so early in her career. Prior to release this year’s My Holiday (released 10/09/2007), Smith had only released two previous records, the knockout debut album One Moment More featuring “Come to Jesus” and the solid follow up album Long Island Shores whose “I’m Not the Only One Asking” made one of my Best of ’06 playlists.

Now with the help of such artists as Alison Krauss (harmony vocals on “Away In A Manger”), Mindy Smith brings us her first holiday record consisting of five Christmas classics and six original tunes written or co-written by Smith herself to add to the countless number of songs that have been written for the holiday. So far, this is the Christmas album that excites me most in 2007. Listening to songs like “My Holiday”, “Santa Will Find You” and “I Know the Reason”, her vocals are simply breathtaking. The press release accompanying the album compares her to artists like Gillian Welch, The Sundays, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Lucinda Williams. I’d say that most of those comparisons are true from listening to her previous albums, but on My Holiday the folk pop comparisons are probably more accurate. There’s very little country here though there’s a few songs where she a dead ringer for Kathleen Edwards whose really more of a folk rocker anyway. The classic cuts “Away In a Manger”, “Silver Bells” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” are reason enough to buy this record, but you also have to love the original tunes like “Follow The Shepherd Dog” and “Come Around” the latter of which could easily sit next to some of the best alternative songs of the year.

Here’s a track from the record available for download:
Mindy Smith, “Santa Will Find You” (MP3)*

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Purchase “My Holiday” at Miles of Music, Amazon and iTunes


Thanks to Mindy Smith, Vanguard Records and the fine folks at On Target Media, I’m pleased to offer a promo copy of Mindy Smith’s “My Holiday” as a giveway from Twangville. Simply leave a comment below and name your favorite Mindy Smith song or any favorite holiday album (see Mike’s favorites) and we’ll randomly select a winner from the comment entries. Contest ends Wednesday, 12/05/07 at midnight EST.**


http://www.mindysmith.net/
http://www.myspace.com/mindysmith

*MP3 posted with permission from On Target Media.

*By participating in this contest you agree to allow Twangville to post your name and city on our web site. We will never use your info for any other reason than getting the giveaway to you (of course).