A Local Holiday Music Compilation

the fifth edition of this fun project deserves your yuletide attention

I start humming Christmas tunes sometime in February and don’t stop until the hangover sets in on January 1. Xmas tunes were such a part of my youth – caroling the nursing home circuit, Charlie Brown TV specials, wandering around the mall listening to muzak while lusting after the latest fad toy – that they are now as likely pop up on my internal iPod as Springsteen, the Stones, or Spoon. Granted, I’m not talking O Come All Ye Faithful and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. But certainly Little Drummer Boy (Bing+Bowie), Blue Christmas (Elvis), and Let It Snow (King of Cool). 

Actually, it’s the nontraditional holiday songs – original tunes by The Flaming Lips, The Ramones, and Run-D.M.C. – that stick with me as an adult. After all, one can only hear Rudolph done up the same way so many times before it begins to grate on the nerves, right? That’s why I was excited to learn of Andy Plank’s compilation of Christmas tunes as covered by local folks. For the past four years, Plank, who used to play with local rockers Meridene, has put together a new collection of holiday covers and released them to the public via the Volume One website. The cuts from last year’s comp, like Auld Lang Syne by The Heart Pills or Silent Night by Laarks guitarist Kyle Flater, are refreshing in their uniquely adapted arrangements – perfect to mix in to your standard Xmas playlist to spice things up. 

“It was me and Kyle Flater that put it together,” Plank says of the origins of the project. “It went from three songs the first couple years to six or eight in the last couple years. In the first year, we printed up postcards with a picture of me and Flater and Trevor Ives on the front – we were the only three who did it – holding ukuleles. We tried to do it like a Christmas card, stuffed the CDs inside an envelope, paid for special fragile shipping, and every single one of them still got snapped in half in the mail. So we didn’t do that the next year. Now it’s just a free download.”

This year the songs will again be hosted on the Volume One site and available for streaming and download. In the past, Plank has been personal curator for the compilation, but this time around he wants to open things up to the greater community. He encourages bands and artists in the region to submit their own Christmas cover song for inclusion on the compilation. The deadline for bands to e-mail an mp3 file of their song to Plank is Dec. 4. For more info on participating, e-mail Plank at eauclairechristmas@gmail.com