Monday, November 25, 2013

holiday gift ideas

It is a season of celebration, of holiday gift giving, and holiday gift lists. Music always makes a fine gift to give and to receive. Still working on your holiday lists? Consider these ideas

note click on the album covers and text links to learn more about these recordings.

for you and your creative friends: help build an album, and receive a gift
Through 31 December, Carrie Newcomer is inviting contributions to help fund her next album, and in return, depending on the level of contribution, she’s offering autographed copies of the album, advance downloads of tracks, copies of her new book, a song written for you or someone you love, and other rewards. Read more music and community: Carrie Newcomer update: this album has been released -- it is called A Permeable Life

for those who love the music of Ireland
Cathie Ryan is often honored for the quality of her singing, and well deserved those honors are. Ryan is also a gifted songwriter and song collector, and a woman who interprets the stories of her Irish and American heritage with intelligence and grace. All of these things are found in her most recent album, Through Wind & Rain. The Farthest Wave is another recording of Ryan’s to consider

Irish Ways is a project which brings together tracks by many musicians of ireland, on song and tunes which, in keeping with the title, are focused on things particularly Irish. Lumiere, Luke Kelly, John Spillane, Dervish, At First Light, and Niamh Ni Charra are among the wide selection of folk represented.

note click on the album covers and text links to learn more about these recordings.

for those who love Scotland
The quiet side of the music of Scotland is the substance of Celtic Airs, a collection the people at the Greentrax label put together in response to requests for just such a focus for an album. Mediative and reflective, it makes a fine companion for winter’s quieter days, and includes music from Fiddlers’ Bid, Ian Hardie, Lorne MacDougall, The Cast, and Wendy Stuart.

Capercaillie’s latest album At the Heart of It All is a mix of song a tune, work song love song and through it all songs and tunes which evoke the land that is Scotland.

for those who love Ireland and Scotland both
Julie Fowlis is from the Western Isles of Scotland and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh is from west Kerry in Ireland. Both are fine singers and song collectors, and gifted instrumentalists as well. The two friends joined up for an album called Dual in which they share the connections through song of the their two languages and landscapes.

for the classical music lover
Tony McManus is a top notch Celtic guitarist. At a festival, he admired a friend's playing of a classical piece, and was challenged “Learn it then!” So he did, and that led to a side excursion from his Celtic path resulting in the album Mysterious Boundaries which includes pieces from Bach and Satie among others. “It’s not traditional classical guitar repertoire,” McManus says. “It’s very much a Celtic guitar player’s look at some pieces of classical music.”

for those who love country and Americana music
The mandolin is John Reischman’s instrument of choice, On Walk Along John he burns up bluegrass flavored pieces and takes turns toward reflective ones as well, and offers tasty original music woven in to a lively and engaging set.

Kathy Mattea has been thinking about her native West Virginia and the coal country in the Appalachian mountains lately. One result of her reflections is the recording Calling Me Home. Songs of change, songs of work, songs of faith, and through it all threads of love for the mountain landscape.

seasonal music
speaking of Mattea, she has two fine holiday albums out. Take a listen to Joy for Christmas Day and Good News.

and speaking of Americana, think Snowed In. That is the name of a five song seasonal EP Mindy Smith has out just in time to put on your holiday gift list. Tomorrow Is Christmas Day is a whimsical and welcoming original that catches the anticipation of the season. There are thoughtful versions of What Child Is This? and Silent Night. The title track, Snowed In, is a fine reflection on the quieter side of holiday joy, and smith looks to the new year with her take on Auld Lang Syne -- all these are among the gifts she offer on this fine seasonal journey.

note click on the album covers and text links to learn more about these recordings.

This is just a taste of the fine music there is to discover, for yourself and for those you’re putting on your holiday gift list. Take a listen to these, and explore the archives here at Music Road, too.

photograph by Kerry Dexter. it is copyrighted, and thank you for respecting that.

You may also wish to see
Cathie Ryan: teaching tradition
listening to Christmas: Shannon Heaton, Cathie Ryan, Mary Black, Hanneke Cassel

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Sheryl said...

These are such interesting genres that I wouldn't have thought about...thanks for bringing them to my attention! And happy holidays to you.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Roxanne said...

Thanks so much for these ideas. I've added a link to my pinterest board of holiday gift lists.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous ruth pennebaker said...

I'm amazed by all these choices -- and deeply impressed by your knowledge of music. How on earth do you do it? We need to talk one of these days.

5:53 PM  

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