12 BANDS OF CHRISTMAS VOL. 2 by John "Stoney" Cannon
After the success of lasts years 12 Bands of Christmas cd debut organizers Joe Stevenson, Coco Rubio and Ruskin Yeargain were left with the formidable task of not only living up to the impact of their first effort, but also trying to expand and take their concept to the next level. After hearing volume 2, the question is no longer how they will top the original but if it will be possible for volume 3 to come close to the magnificence of this year’s lokal holiday masterpiece.

Right off the bat it is obvious how much effort went into the recently released disc.

* PEDESTRIAN’s take on the Christmas classic “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is an uplifting rendition that represents all that the 12 Bands of Christmas should be about – hope, happiness, togetherness and most wonderful of all – Christmas cheer!

* How can ya have a Christmas party without those jolly ol’ fellow in THE VELLOTONES? These guys are what fun and hugs are all about and it shows as they romp & roll the heck outta “Santa Claus is Coming to town”. Full of the boogie woogie blues that the “tones” are known for, this version will keep ya boppin’ around straight up until new years.

* Presenting the disc’s first original composition, THE JOSH PIERCE GROUP blends rock & blues with traditional pop holiday styling in their ode to Christmas’ past via “For Christmas”. Filled with visions of traditional holiday themes, this track will have you thinking about all the special memories that keep the holidays special.

* “They Could Have Had His Room” is ERYN EUBANKS & THE FAMILY FOLD’s beautiful take on the story of the birth of Christ through the eyes of a Bethlehem inn guest that very eve. Elegantly done and filled with Eryn Eubanks haunting mandolin, “his Room” is one of the true masterpieces of volume 2.

* Beautifully dark and intensely powerful, “What Child is This” is given a modern facelift by SULCUS GROOVE. This lokal quintet manages to retain this classics’ original charm while pulling it full force into 2004. Possibly THE standout track from this years offering.

* JOHN KOLBECK brings a pop sensibility to “White Christmas” that takes this fun standard and put a soft side on it. Very soothing and for the romantic at heart.

* Once again PATRICK BLANCHARD rocks out the blues with true to original cover of “Merry Christmas Baby”. Not only musically charged but also filled with Mr. Blanchard’s soulful vocals, this track is downright sexy!

* If there is a disappointment on this years 12 Bands release, it would have to be CHELSEA LOGUE original “Empty Heart”. This pretty good down to basic track is tripped up by an overly slick production that covers up all that natural rawness that makes Ms. Logue’s music touching and mesmerizing.

* While last years SHAUN PIAZZA contribution was my least favorite track, the cover of “Please Come Home for Christmas” by this talented singer-songwriter on this years cd is plainly put – awesome. Mixing equal parts of the original version and original Piazza amounts to an incredibly beautiful tune.

*THE CUBISTS cover of “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” is arguable my favorite track this time. Raw rocking alt-blues with a Lou reed vocal twist spells fun fun fun!

* “the Reason” by THE REDBELLY BAND is a track that I’ve found it hard to latch on to. Fans of the band will love this true to form track and for that reason it really doesn’t matter if I can grab it’s groove.

* Who else but the HELLBLINKI SEXTET could pull off an “Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas Medley” complete with rocking “Riverbottom Band” crunch? NO ONE! Once again Andrew Benjamin & company go where only them Hellblinki’s can!

So! Still trying to decide if you should buy a copy? The real decision should not be if, but HOW MANY!

Listen to tracks from 12 Bands of Christmas Vol. 2 at the12 Band Website