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Some Local Yuletide Sounds for Your Pleasure...

December 19, 2007 - Jim Price

If you're looking to add to your Christmas music library this holiday season, there are a number of Christmas music CD releases from right here in your own backyard, from area and regional musicians.

Probably the best-known of those CD's locally is Zupe's popular 1998 Christmas album, called Christmas Piano. Zupe recorded the album one snowy morning when the inspiration hit him to play piano, with "a steaming cup of coffee and a snoozing dog" by his side. The album features a dozen Christmas season favorites, and is perfect for relaxing by the fireplace or Christmas tree. This album can be obtained from, through Zupe's website, or at several store locations in the Altoona area.

Johnstown's David Single has issued several Christmas CD's. Single, currently a keyboard player and singer in the Johnstown-based dance-rock band Ribbon Grass, first released the 1998 album Carols, a piano set featuring 25 different Christmas songs and hymns, including his own original composition, "Guided by a Star." For the following Christmas season in 1999, Single formed the Dave Single Trio with bassist Scott James Lill and drummer Mark Vatavuk, and released a Christmas jazz album called Yule Tides, featuring a dozen jazz instrumental holiday favorites. And in 2001, Single released another solo Christmas album, A Cathedral Christmas. All three albums can be purchased at Bo Moore's Music Store in downtown Johnstown.

Lords-a-Leaping is a group of Clearfield County musicians who have issued two Christmas albums to date, the 2002 self-titled Lords-a-Leaping debut, and a 2004 follow-up, Lords-a-Leaping Volume II. Both albums feature a mixture of styles and sounds, as Lords-a-Leaping - singers Adam and Jennifer Bell, guitarist, bassist and singer John Cimino, keyboardist Brett Albert, drummer Michael Hughes and mulit-instrumentalist and engineer John Wagoner - perform original Christmas compositions and renditions of holiday favorites. The first Lords-a-Leaping CD was issued in limited quantity and is difficult to find; Volume II is still available at select Clearfield County store locations, or through John Cimino's Thunderbox website.

For acoustic guitar fans, eastern Pennsylvania's Sterling Koch issued a holiday CD called Acoustic Christmas in 2000. This album features Koch's reverent interpretations of traditional Christmas hymns and standards, plus two of his own original Christmas compositions. The CD can be purchased through Koch's website.

A Christmas album featuring a variety of regional bands and artists is The Central-PA Christmas Compilation, first issued in 2004. Released by Harrisburg-based Susquehanna Entertainment and Scott Wray Studios, this album features fourteen Christmas songs redone in a variety of styles by a wide range of statewide musical talent. Some of the highlights include Harrisburg rockabilly favorites the Martini Bros.' bold and bluesy rendition of Leiber & Stoller's "Santa Claus Is Back in Town," State College favorite J.R. Mangan's spin on "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," popular party band the Poptart Monkeys' rendition of Don Ho's Hawaiian Christmas tune "Mele Kalikimaka," and Lancaster rock band Negative Space's original ode to a soldier's holiday homecoming, "I'll Be Home." The Central-PA Christmas Compilation can be obtained through Susquehanna Entertainment's website.

And if you like your Christmas music with mischief and a naughty grin, popular Harrisburg area-based party band Emily's Toybox issued several Christmas albums; 2000's Mistletoe & Mayonnaise, 2001's Christmas Candy and 2002's Merry Kiss-Mass. All three albums feature Emily's Toybox's irreverent and fractured send-ups of Christmas standards, as well as some original Toybox Christmas numbers. Caution, though - these are best suited for adult holiday parties, and not for sharing with your little ones around the Christmas tree (translation - adult themes and language). All three CD's are sold out and not available; however, the music from all three CD's can be downloaded by joining Emily's Toybox's fan website,

Finally, for more downloadable local Christmas music, Hollidaysburg-based praise group The Red Letter Band issued a three-song Christmas EP during the 2006 Christmas season. All three songs from the EP; "Silent Night," "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "The Promise," can be downloaded for free from the group's website,

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