Music : Holiday sounds
"Silent Night" is a collection of Christmas stories told by the Island's preeminent storyteller in residence, Susan Klein. Between Clement Moore's "The Night Before Christmas" and a Susan Klein story ending with the Island Community Chorus singing "Silent Night" are two Klein original stories and one other favorite of hers written by Louise Moeri. This album was released 10 years ago, and should be a part of all Islanders collections. It is available at The Bunch of Grapes, Rainy Day, and from her website www.susanklein.net.
"Chestnuts and Redemption"
Pat Guadagno's masterful guitar work and moving vocal covers of just about the full range of the contemporary folk and rock songbooks keep his Island shows packed. The Redbank, New Jersey, folk singer/rocker has played the Island summers for more than 20 years. His Oak Bluffs visits are anticipated by a hard corps group of admirers. He has just released two new albums.
"Chestnuts and Redemption" is an unusual collection of songs, a 12-track CD that contains a number of Christmas songs, seasonal songs, and a few spiritual songs. Most are moving, one is just plain funny, and without a doubt all are songs that are meaningful to the long-time troubadour.
The first song, "On Christmas I Got Nothin'," a funny country piece, asks the question: "Jesus was a Jew so won't that make Santa one too?" Guadagno then plays a moving instrumental guitar version of "Little Drummer Boy." The seasonal standard "Winter Wonderland" is followed by Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," then "O Holy Night." One of my favorites is his version of Van Morrison's "Full Force Gale." The CD's final song is "The Christmas Song" sung by Richard Blackwell to Guadagno's guitar stylings. Blackwell's voice is strikingly similar to that of Nat King Cole.
Guadagno's second release is a double CD set, "That's a Bob Dylan song, Bob-Fest '09." For more than ten years Guadagno has put together a reverential concert of Bob Dylan songs to celebrate Dylan's birthday. Thirty-one songs recorded live in May at the Dylan tribute at the Two River Theater in Red Bank are included. Guadagno and his band, Tired Horses, bring the full range of Dylan's genius to the stage. Before listening, I thought why would anyone listen to a cover of Dylan when they could listen to a recording of the real thing? Now I know. This is a beautiful album. The recording is clean, among the best live albums I have heard.
Both Guadagno albums are available from his website PatGuadagno.com.
"All Though the Night, Lullabyes for All Ages"
Almost 15 years ago, West Tisbury resident Joyce Maxner and her Vienna-based sister, Leila Thigpen, recorded lullabies remembered from their childhood and one written by Joyce's husband, Steve. They first put together a collection of nine songs on tape, then converted it to a CD called, "All Though the Night, Lullabyes for All Ages." They both sing. Leila plays some keyboards and flute and Steve is on guitar. It is now available at Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven and at State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury. It is a beautiful collection that Ms. Maxner says, "hopes will help people relax." But rather than making me sleepy, I found that even after listening to it twice, I wanted to stay awake to listen again. Every dollar from the sale of this CD goes directly to Habitat for Humanity of Martha's Vineyard, according to Joyce Maxner, who said she wants to thank Habitat for Humanity for what they are doing on the Island.