• Bryon Harris

'Lets Have A Rockin Christmas Vol. 3 by Various Artists' (Bongo Boy Records)

Bongo Boy Records has released the 2018 holiday album of the year with 'Lets Have A Rockin Christmas Vol. 3 by Various Artists.' In 2016, the label launched Volume One to critical acclaim and this years album is equally exciting and engaging. With a variety of songs in multiple genres including rock, pop, blues, electronic, symphonic and more,'Lets Have A Rockin Chrismas Vol. 3 by Various Artists' makes for a great addition to any holiday music collection or a great gift. The album offers up new renditions of classic holiday songs as well as original compositions to enjoy all season.

The album opens with Doug Ferony who is an accomplished vocalist. Doug treats listeners to a jazzy, big-band/big-heart version of the beloved seasonal song, Jingle Bells. The introduction presents the melody played on horn against a snappy arrangement that swings performed by a very polished band. Doug enters with an impressive, lyrical baritone voice. When he sings, you can picture a music hall, a band decked out in tuxedo’s, and couples dancing the night away. Doug is a first-class singer who can take a simple classic like Jingle Bells and turn into a magical number you won’t soon forget.

The next song is “The Christmas Song” by Robert Slap feat. Buddy Smith and Larry Minne. The song’s arrangement fully utilizes the textures and colors of guitar harmony to paint the sentimental feeling of this classic Christmas song. Instrumental effects and rhythmic creativity yield an engaging rendition. Buddy Smith’s vocals compliment the jazzy overtones with a wonderful R & B vibe. Buddy sings with convincing emotion. An improvisational section showcases Larry Minne on harmonica and Robert on lead guitar. “Although it’s been said many times, many ways….” It has never been said, musically, like this - kudos for a truly original version of a classic holiday song.

Track 3 is “A Christmas Heart” by SEAY. “A Christmas Heart” could easily become a radio hit with SEAY’s stellar performance and great production work. SEAY’s vocals are outstanding: warm, inviting, tender and powerful. From the lyrics to the melody, this song captures the true meaning of Christmas. “Each day that we are living, another chance at giving. A tender word, a helping hand, can change the world today.” “A Christmas Heart” is all heart - vocally, musically and lyrically.

The Forty Nineteens change things up with their rockin’ song “It's Christmas Time Again.” This warm, upbeat song ushers in a good mood filled with good times and good friends during the holidays. It’s about hanging out at home, having a drink or two, reminiscing about life and living to the fullest during the holiday. The chorus is incredibly infectious and will have you singing along. "It's Christmas time again, let's get together my good friend, and celebrate another year a of living." With lyrics everyone can relate to and a great rock n’ roll vibe, “It’s Christmas Time Again” will be your go to song for ringing in the holidays and the New Year with close friends and family.

Track 5 by Studeo, “Spend Christmas With You”, is a romantic and happy song about celebrating the season and the holiday with someone you love. “It’s cold outside but I don’t mind as long as we're together.” The arrangement has a nice pop-rock bounce with a steady beat that will get your feet tapping. The vocals and harmonies are sweet and charming with plenty of ooo’s for an irresistible nostalgic vibe. “You may be miles away, but I’ll drive all day, hey, hey, hey…all I want to do is spend Christmas with you.” This is a song to snuggle up to.

Doug Ferony is back on track 6 with “It’s Christmas.” Doug enters telling a story about spreading holiday cheer in the winter against solo piano playing. Soon, the band joins him with a stellar, top-notch jazz arrangement as the piano continues to showcase its chops. Doug creates an entertaining and engaging performance alternating between singing and story-telling. This is a song about unplugging and appreciating the spirit of Christmas. Doug's excellent articulation and phrasing take center stage and steal the show. As Doug grabs your attention and holds it from beginning to end, you'll have every reason to unplug and listen.

Track 7 presents Barley Station’s song,” Hear the Christmas Call.” This is one of my favorite songs on the album. It is warm and inviting with strong melodic sensibilities and a memorable hook. Barley Station has created a classic Christmas folk song mixing elements of Americana, folk and rock. The song opens with a gentle folk-rock feel and builds brilliantly. The lyrics stick to the classic Christmas story, yet the song sounds refreshingly new. The “Christmas Call” is an invitation to gather “one and all” and folks will be gathering around this song for years to come.

Angeles’ “Coming To Our Town” is a solid rock and roll Christmas song that features emotive guitar playing on both acoustic and electric guitar. Half-way through, the arrangement builds then bursts open to an all-out jam featuring crying guitar, heavy percussion and layers of harmonies for a rockin’ holiday party of music. The lead vocalist of Angeles has a great edgy sound. A clever and surprising outro pays tribute to many classic Christmas songs weaving them together for a grand finale.

SEAY returns on track 9 with “All Around The World.” The song welcomes listeners with a “Merry Christmas” spoken in multiple languages. SEAY delivers an artistic vocal performance; her tone is lovely and pure. The composition and arrangement are well-written and produced. Attention has been given to every nuance. “Let there by hope. Let there by joy. Let there by peace. Let there be love.” Each line is sung with warmth, thoughtful articulation and poise. Without a doubt, SEAY could bring her song ”all around the world” and it would be greeted joyfully by all.

Katie Garibaldi’s “The Times I Love the Most (California Christmas)” is up next with a song that lights up the season. It's about driving down the coast of California during the holidays. This song will fill your winter skies with pop-rock sunshine. “They can have themselves a white Christmas in the cold. We’ll dig our feet in the sand…and when it gets to hot we’ll take the boat. These are the times I love the most.” The arrangement has nice twangy guitars riffs that create a surf vibe. The vocals are charming as they deliver the fun lyrics. Whether you live on the west coast or in the snowy northern states, "The Time I love the Most (California Christmas)" will put a smile on your face and warm you up.

DocRock1007’s "Bells" is a unique and engaging electro-pop composition. The song commences with percussion and vocals setting the stage. Each verse is separated by wider and more open funky percussive and electronic interludes. It is l glued together by a synthesized arrangement that grooves. DocRock1007 song is highlighted by attentive vocal layering making for an interesting chorus effect. The lyrics are about getting ready for Christmas day and the anticipation of celebrating Christmas day together.

Margie Balter & Shea Welsh's "Secret Santa feat. La Mer" is a blast. This song is fun and upbeat. The music is while the lyrics are witty and contemporary. It has a sing-along and dance-along track that is incredibly contagious and will put a smile on your face. The vocals are pop-sweet. Expert harmonies enhance the arrangement and give the song an old-school 1950’s vibe that is highly appealing. Lyrically the song is simply charming. “This year I’ve been so darn good. I’ve done everything a good girl should, but I want to be naughty instead of nice. Don’t you think it’s time to add a little spice? I just want to be your Secret Santa.” Something tells me this song could be a hit.

Ann M. Wolf presents the beautiful Christmas classic “Mary, Did You Know?” The song commences gently like a lullaby with quiet piano. Ann sings with emotional conviction for a performance that is wonderfully tender and grows powerful. The arrangement builds up slowly with a bit of percussion and electric guitar that soulfully plays n the background. Ann’s vocals demonstrate the power of dynamics and phrasing as she builds up the emotion then reigns it in for a very moving performance.

“Christmas Ain't No Time for The Blues” lives up to its title with an upbeat holiday blues number. The song is sung by the dynamic duo of Clifford Curry and Ashley Townsend. Together, the vocalists deliver a down-to-earth performance that has the grit of the blues and the smoothness of holiday pop. The arrangement, a standard 12-bar blues, is thick and juicy for fans who love the blues with a walking bass-line and percussion that are in the pocket. Electric guitar riffs weave in and out. “Christmas Ain’t No Time for The Blues” will take your holiday blues away with fun lyrics and a track you can move to. “If you think you got nothin’, nothin’ to be happy about…Santa’s gonna come knockin’ on your door to help you out, so shake the bad times loose…‘cause Christmas ain’t no time for the blues.”

Velinski’s “Christmas Is A Time for Everyone” is up next with a stately and inviting symphonic arrangement. The opening grabs your attention with a fanfare of horns. Velinsky enters singing, “I feel the magic in the skies. I see the wonder in the children’s eyes.” As the lyrics progress, a deeper meaning develops. Among church bells ringing, choirs of angels singing and this special time of year, Velinski gently reminds listeners that there are people who may be suffering or in despair. “Remember those who suffer.” This song is about love and it asks us to remember that “Christmas a time for everyone.” The composition is highlighted with choral harmonies and special holiday sounds including chimes and church bells.

Les Fradkin, who is a pioneer in the MIDI Guitar arena, ends the album with an energetic rocked-out version of “Ode to Joy.” The classical melody is played on a Ztar yielding a wide breath of prog-rock timbres and colors. Les' futuristic playing techniques shine through. Rock drumming adds to the excitement. The sound is dense and diverse as it builds up into a full-scale extravaganza while holding onto the core melodic content. A wonderful way to end the album, this spirited version of “Ode to Joy” will get you pumped up for Christmas!

'Lets Have A Rockin Christmas Vol. 3 by Various Artists' packs a lot of great Christmas music into one volume featuring 16 songs that have something for everyone from classic to contemporary, spirited and rocking to sweet and charming, jazzy and bluesy and everything in-between.

For more information on 'Lets Have A Rockin Christmas Vol. 3 by Various', please visit Bongo Boy Records.

Public streaming is available on all major media platforms including Spotify.

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