What inspired you to record a holiday song?
I have always known at some point I would do a Christmas album, it is something I think every artist wants to do at some point. I mean we have Christmas music from Wham, to The Pretenders, to Weezer to Billy Idol to more expected artists like Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, and Straight No Chaser ETC, so it is clear that in the heart of every artist is a musical Santa that just wants to kick out some Christmas jams!
For some reason, I just never had the time or impetus to get a Christmas recording done. However, this year, my agent and another music supervisor friend both reached out to me asking if I had any Christmas music. I told them I didn’t, but as I work as a full-time producer and own my own state-of-the-art recording studio www.shadowsoundstudio.com getting some Christmas music to them wouldn’t be a problem. I recorded three songs, “Jingle Bells”, “Let It Snow” and then decided to write my first Christmas composition “Santa That Plays Guitar”.
The response was so overwhelmingly positive with people asking if I had more, I decided I just had enough time to record 3 more songs and release an EP “A Santa That Plays Guitar”. The other tracks are, “O Holy Night”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”
Do you still get excited about seeing gifts under the tree? What was your most favorite surprise?
Well, as a blind guy, I don’t really “see gifts under the tree” LOL but I will admit I am very much still a child at heart and I do love the presents around the tree, the festive music, and holiday food!
Most of my early childhood was focused on just surviving as I am a blind brain tumor survivor. However, one year, and I still can’t believe my parents did this, I had gone to a party during the summer at a Showbiz Pizza or Chucky Cheese, something like that. They had a sit-down Star Wars video game where you were in an X wing pilot as Luke and you did the Death Star trench run. It was amazing as it was a game you climbed into like a real spaceship and it had music and sound effects and even dialog from the film!
Well, as you might imagine, blind people aren’t really very good at video games, but for some reason, I had more success with this game than others and once and a while would clear the first board and destroy the Death Star. I just had a blast playing the game, though of course, I never came anywhere close to beating the game and I think it was just random chance as to if I got passed the first board or not, but I had so much fun!!!
Well, that Christmas, my Dad, and Mom brought me into our game room and there, in a corner of honor, was the actual arcade Star Wars video game. I still have it, though It doesn’t work correctly anymore. I would so love to restore it, but at any rate, this was a true once in a lifetime present and just real magic to a sick child and Star Wars fan!
What are your fondest musical memories associated with the holiday season?
I love the idea of caroling around town and bringing the joy and healing power of music to people! My band used to get together with our wives and children, if any, and go to nursing homes and the like caroling for several hours every year.
We did this for about 3 years or so, but eventually, people got busy doing other stuff, so we haven’t done it in about 10 years or so, but I loved it! I do also like doing Christmas parties with my jazz trio at public events or corporate parties. It is just so much fun and it is so nice to be around people really embracing the holiday spirit!
Do you believe in Santa?
Of course! The archetype of a kind spirit that only wants to bring joy, love and a sense of wonder is a powerful one and one we should all embrace! Anytime we can pause and take stock and remember to be grateful and kind to our fellow man is a time to cherish and celebrate!
What message do you want people to hear when they listen to your song?
Mostly, I just want them to have fun and smile! My original song isn’t a great philosophical masterpiece, but it is fun and a catchy tune and I hope it just brings a little laughter and fun to the listener! One of my favorite people, who was one of my professors at Berklee Online, Ellen Francese, once said that we should all remember to be silly as the original meaning of the word was blessed. I love that and remember that every day! So, please enjoy my silly song LOL!
What do you enjoy more? Receiving gifts or giving them?
Oh, both of course LOL.
I do love shopping and finding something special for those dear to me. But, I love getting gifts as well, so I think like in most things in this life, a healthy balance of both is the way to go.
What are your top 5 favorite holiday songs?
Okay, honesty here, I can’t get it down to just 5! However, at the moment, these are the ones, in no particular order, that are finding their way on to my holiday playlist!
1. Baby It’s Cold Outside.
2. Walking in a Winter Wonderland.
3. Oh Come All Ye Faithful
4. Last Christmas
5. A Charlie Brown Christmas—the entire album, yeah, I know I am cheating here LOL.
Have you ever gotten a lump of coal in your stocking?
Oh, is that what that was?! I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that!
Do you have any holiday recipes you would like to share?
So, I was banned from cookin’ after I blew up the toaster when I was about 13 years old! Also, being blind isn’t the easiest way to cook, though I have heard that there some blind people that doit quite well. I am not one of those.
My holiday recipe is simple and with a low likelihood of destroying your kitchen LOL.
1/4 cup orange juice
In a medium sauce pan, combine orange juice, orange zest, sugar and water over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and then stir until thickened. Refrigerate overnight.