Can New Orleans holiday music overcome the COVID blues?

While we celebrate a secular Christmas at our house, it is bound in tradition. As Tevye says, without tradition our lives are “as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.” And tradition involves music. So welcome to the 2020 Gumbo YaYa Winter Holiday Music Show!

Smoky Greenwell kicks off the show with a rollicking instrumental version of “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. ” Other seasonal standards follow such as “Santa Baby” (Lena Prima), “Jingle Bells” (Fats Domino), “O Tannebaum” (Ellis Marsalis), “Zat You Santa Claus” (Louis Armstrong), and “Santa, Let Me Call You a Cab” . . . Wait! What?

You’ll hear three numbers from this unique New Orleans holiday compilation

Well, I wouldn’t want the show to get bogged down in so many sentimental touchstones that it goes down like last year’s Christmas fruitcake. So I sprinkle in some fresher nuggets of holiday cheer including a few from A Very Threadhead Holiday.

In addition to Alex McMurray’s ballad of how to extricate a drunken Santa from your home, this show includes “Pimp My Sleigh” (Theryl DeClouet the “Houseman”), “Christmas Biya Mama (Andre Bouvier’s Royal Bohemians), “Christmas Like Ya Just Don’t Care” (Panorama Jazz Band), “Santa Won the Lottery” (Frankie Ford) and, of course since its a New Orleans music show, “12 Yats of Christmas” (Benny Grunch and the Bunch).

There’s some fine vocal performances including those by Debbie Davis, Sweet Cecilia, Aaron Neville and my favorite, the Zion Harmonizers doing “White Christmas.”

And for lagniappe, Kermit Ruffins, who you’ll hear early in the show doing “Crazy Cool Christmas,” closes the show with his real Christmas wish (it’s the same every year actually) – “A Saints Christmas” – the New Orleans Saints football team in the Super Bowl. As long as they don’t play like they did against the Chiefs this weekend, they just might make it.

Author: Tim Sweeney

Host of Sweeney's Gumbo YaYa - a two-hour radio show that featured the music of New Orleans. It aired from September 2014 through March 2022, broadcast live on KAOS in Olympia and as a recording KMRE Bellingham and some Pacifica Network stations. Maintaining blog for a while longer.

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