Roots Report: An Annual Rant by John Fuzek
RANTS AND RAVES
As I write, I am actually listening to a new holiday CD. I know that it goes against everything that I just wrote. Believe it or not, I actually produced an alternative holiday compilation CD about 20 years ago and even had a (cynical) song on it. Well, the CD I am listening to now is strictly missionary. It is a collection of seasonal standards by local musicians Fred DeAngelis and Joe Caron titled The Wicked Awesome Acoustic Holiday. While the CD’s title is a bit odd, they do provide some nice arrangements and interpretations of 12 classic holiday compositions. DeAngelis and Caron handle the vocals and array of instruments including guitar, mandolin, ukulele, banjo, sitar and kazoo. Caron has been playing guitar professionally for over 40 years and performed with rock bands such as Touch and Run21. DeAngelis is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music educator and producer with more than 30 years of experience and has even performed for a US President.
The Wicked Awesome Acoustic Holiday starts with DeAngelis’ mellowish-jazzy version “Jingle Bells” followed by Caron’s guitar and sitar instrumental version of “Little Drummer Boy.” Caron also provides uniquely arranged and played instrumentals of “What Child Is This?,” “Last Christmas” and “Il est né, le divin Enfant (He is Born, the Divine Child)” to the disc. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Santa Baby” feature additional vocals by 16-year-old, Bangor, Maine, singer Catherine Howe. She sings with a combination of innocence and sultry tone that makes her performance stand out on both cuts. “Mele Kalikimaka” is a fun Hawaiian Christmas song complete with a modulation and kazoo solo. The recording also includes: “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and “Silver Bells.” I think the best track of the CD is the DeAngelis/Howe duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
This is truly a wonderful holiday CD with some fine singing, harmonies, and virtuosic playing. I guess you could call it wicked awesome — it is Rhode Island after all — but this disc is far beyond just a local recording; it is light years better than the versions of these tunes that the radio and store PAs will assault you with from now until December 25. If you need a soundtrack for your holiday, here it is. The CD is available from CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon. For more, jingle over to facebook.com/FrederickLewisDeAngelis
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!