Canadian Screen Award Nominations for Jingle Bell Rocks!

Some incredible news to share this morning: Jingle Bell Rocks! has been NOMINATED for TWO Canadian Screen Awards (Canada’s Oscars) for BEST Biography or Arts Documentary Program or Series + BEST Picture Editing in a Documentary Program or Series for the amazing Ryan Mullins!

The Awards Ceremony which is hosted this year by the inimitable Edith Prickly (aka Andrea Martin) will broadcast LIVE March 1st on CBC.

For more information, please download the Canadian Screen Awards Electronic Press Kit


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NYC Premiere and one more screening!

We’re thrilled to have our New York debut as part of DOC NYC. This fest wraps up an amazing almost two month festival tour for me that started at NOFF in New Orleans, took me to Barcelona, Spain for the In-EDIT festival, then back stateside for the Vermont International Film Fest, and down to Kentucky to River’s Edge.

Our second screening at DOC NYC is Wednesday November 19. Check it out if you have a chance!

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World premiere at IDFA!

I’m thrilled to announce that Jingle Bell Rocks will have its world premiere at IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), the biggest documentary festival in the world.

It will screen as part of the Music Program, at the famous Melkweg Cinema in Amsterdam on Sunday, November 24, 2 pm.

The film is also being screened in major cities across Canada. Times and dates are not all confirmed, so please see individual cinemas for showtimes, or check this page for updates.

Montreal DEC 6 Cinema Du Parc

Toronto DEC 6 Bloor Cinema

Vancouver / Calgary / Winnipeg
Christmas 2013 Dates TBA

And …. we’re going to be on TV, too! The BC Television Premiere will be on Knowledge Network, Tuesday, Dec 17.

And in Ontario you can catch it on TVO, dates TBA

The USA Theatrical Premiere Tour is scheduled for Christmas 2014, with dates and cities TBA

A great Canadian … musician

He was the greatest Canadian musician and the most devoted to our country. I will miss him dearly. It is a sad, sad loss. But, to keep things upbeat, as I am sure Tom would wish it to be, I offer you THIS amazing Christmas song, Down on Christmas one which should definitely have been included in the Globe and Mails’ BEST 12 songs list. They truly F*KD up on this one!

Xmas On The Bayou

Of the many great unsung heroes of the underground Xmas music world I wish I could have met and interviewed, the late great Sidney Simien aka Rockin’ Sidney and Count Rockin’ Sidney, one of the most intriguing R&B/Zydeco/Soul cats who became very well know, beginning in the late 50s, across the bayou as one of the most intriguing zydeco musicians of his era. Sadly, he passed away (15 years ago today) at just 60 years of age.

Check out THIS cut, “Party This Christmas” one of a dozen off of Rockin’ Sidney’s MUST HAVE Xmas LP “A Christmas Celebration With Rockin’ Sidney.” Check out our Facebook page for the fabulous cover image!

What Q did for Christmas


 
Today marks the 27th Anniversary of this overwrought Christmas charity effort, produced by Quincy Jones. (Was there a bunch of fanfare over the 25th?…oh yeah, there was the Benefit for Haiti!

Even tho “WATW” is a tune I pretty much loathed from its inception, it did end up raising 45 million for African Famine Relief and — as The Globe and Mail’s music writer, Brad Wheeler writes: Today, response songs tend to be musical retorts from feuding, offended rappers, involving shows of disrespect. But one night, back in 1985, celebrated singers put their voices to something more significant – an American gospel-pop reaction to an earlier (and arguably much better) British benefit single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”…resulting in not only a victory for music, charity and pop culture, but a better connotation to the term “Band-Aid solution”.

Its one saving grace (for me anyway) is that they included Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson & Ray Charles!

Here’s Part ONE & Part TWO of the Behind-The-Scenes “Making Of” video for anyone who cares.

Checking out “Christmas in Hollis”


Whew! Finally coming up for air after a whirlwind week of shoots in Baton Rouge, Saddle River, NJ, Brooklyn, Manhattan (four) and Hoboken. 

The crew are shooting B-Roll in Hollis, Queens and Harlem while I stayed back to catch up on some much needed housekeeping and updates like this one.

Tonite we’re off the Maxwell’s Bar in Hoboken, where we’ve got tix (and will meet) YO LA TENGO, one of my favorite bands in the world. I’ll be posting separately about them later on the FB Fan Page !

This post is all about what is indisputably the finest & freshest rhyme ever to be written for the holidays: “Christmas In Hollis” by Joseph “Reverend Run DMC” Simmons!

Sunday we spent the morning with the hip hop legend  who was the funniest, most gracious host & subject I’ve interviewed in the three years we’ve been making out little movie. He shared stories about his childhood Christmases in Hollis, Queens, getting his first purple Speed Racer bike, his distaste for mittens, he told us the story of how “Christmas In Hollis” was written whilst inhaling bacon & eggs, he even rapped the entire song for me, sans the “Back Door Sample” from  Clarence Carter… and we talked at length about the more serious side of the holidays: the pain that so many go thru during what for most is the happiest time of the year, and the weight the Reverend feels to comfort his nearly 4 million Twitter followers, who receive Run’s daily “Words of Wisdom” or WOW’s as he called them. If yer not already a disciple, go here to become one.

We ended the interview with a discussion about God & Santa Claus and whether the two were one in the same…You’ll have to wait until the movie’s released next year to find out what Rev Run’s true feelings are, but in the meantime, if you’d like a hint at his distinct POV, let me just share this with you: 

One of the last things he said to me will become, I think, the cut-line for the movie: “Everything is Santa Claus”…What a day, what an inspiring man. Praise Be to Reverend Run!

Jingle Bell Rocks on BBC Radio!

The good folks at BBC RADIO 4 have created a special programme on Alternative Christmas Music. Yours truly gave one of the best interviews of his life, but they cut me out entirely…OK by me cuz that means more room for Bob Dorough and Andy Cirzan to discuss Blue Xmas, Jingle Bell Rocks! and the other great songs featured in our movie! 

BBC Radio 4
Tuesday December 11 at 11h30 GMT. 
Sparklab On Air
An Alternative Christmas – BBC Radio 4 TX 11th December 2012. Rev. Richard Coles uncovers a treasure trove of Christmas tracks that were recorded but remained unplayed and forgotten, until now.

Live with Back Door Santa!

We are moments away from the Sound Check for the fabulous and LIVE Clarence Carter Holiday Show! comin’ at ya from Baton Rouge, Louisiana!

I arrived late last night, and my producer Mila is her with me too. We’ve got a great local crew (Loui & Julius) and we are raring to go.

Clarence Carter is an artist I’ve loved for decades – and also someone whose music I played constantly during my brief three year stint as a wedding DJ.  [Read more…]

Hola! El Vez Fans!

As many of you know, I’ve been a huge El VEZ booster ever since a very kind old friend Ron took me to my first Merry Mex-Mas show at the now long gone Club Soda in 1999…I was blown away by how goddam sexy EL was (and still is) not to mention his energy & ingeniousness in terms of performance  — with the extraordinarily lovely El-Vettes & The Spiders Of Mars + all its set pieces and glamorous Bowie-esque costume changes — but also how inventive the Xmas Song Mashups were…This was WAAAY before DJs were mashing songs together to create something new and engaging. [Read more…]

Ho Ho Howdy Xmess Music Lovers!

Many thanks for everyone who contributed dough yesterday, we’re off to a great start on our Indiegogo campaign. A lot of folks are sharing the LINK and posting to their respective Facebook Pages, Tweeting & re-Tweeting the news and SIGNING-UP for the exclusive Backstage Pass (which you can find at BOTTOM RIGHT of the website’s home PAGE!

Help save Christmas! (music)

Its the official launch of our Indie Go Go campaign … check out our brand new demo, meet some of our fascinating characters, and help us save Christmas …one song at a time!

Le Fin du Vinyle? Heavens, no!

OMGWD! I just stepped back in time and straight onto the set of the great Stephen Frears film “High Fidelity” … but instead of starring John Cusack, this version of the movie featured my new pal Otis Fodder, and is set in Montreal, still circa 1985 at an incredible record store called “Death of Vinyl”.

Otis brought me here after weeks of hyping the place and its two lovely owners Steve & Dan. And lemme tell you, this shop did not disappoint. As happens often to me, I dropped in at just the right time because Steve had only the day before, dug up all their Christmas stock leftover from last season, and placed it in the bins atop which sits a marijuana leaf and Xmas stocking.

I knew I was in for for some treasures when, three LPs in, I found a copy of Canadian jazz icon Guido Basso’s sweet 70s instrumental Christmas album. Not MINT by any stretch, but fine enough that i can now preview both sides and determine if it’s worth shelling out the $ 200+ it usually goes for on eBay or GEMM. Price I paid? $ 1.49 ;P

La Fin Du Vinyle was named the best of the TEN BEST!

Bienvenue a Whoville

We’re here in Montreal setting up for the filming of my PITCH PORTION of our upcoming Indie Go Go Campaign. Last night, while everyone else was partying up a storm at the World Premiere of my partners’ latest opus The Fruit Hunters, I was busy as an elf decorating my editor, Ryan Mullin’s, office to reflect that Whoville vibe we’re going for… whadya think ?

All Aboard!

WOW! The shortest and one of the most worthwhile trips I’ve taken to this fabulous city. Found an incredible bargoon at the newly renovated (and very clean) Days Inn on Broadway in the upper West Side. I highly recommend it to anyone travelling to The Big Apple on a budget (isn’t that everyone these days? 😉  

Met with bebop pioneer Bob Dorough to cull thru the hundreds of fabulous archival photos and other memorabilia he has from 8 decades playing music. EIGHT decades, you read that correctly. What an inspiration! As I write this Bob is in Chattanooga, for a week long solo gig. The man is turning 89 in December and still travels and plays several times a month wherever and with whomever will have the courage to book him. His longtime collaborator, left-hand man and stellar guitarist, Steve Berger and I spent a fabulous evening watching footage and reminiscing about Bob’s incredible career.

Anywhoo, as is amply evident, I could gush about Mr. Dorough for hours. But this post is meant to wish Gotham a fine farewell and say Bonjour to Montreal where I am heading now on the Amtrak Line thru the stunning Adirondacks!

Miles Davis in Scrooged? Bah, humbug!

After all these years I finally watched SCROOGED (starring Bill Murray)  for the first time on my flight to JFK. I’ve been dying to see it for years, esp. since there is an infamous scene with Miles Davis, David Sanborn & Paul Shaffer (who composed the music for the film and who I am certain was the driving force behind persuading Miles to actually APPEAR in the film!) … Hard to believe Miles agreed to appear as a “starving” jazz player, even allowing the filmmakers to position him on a New York City street corner with a suitcase begging for donations!

There’s ANOTHER. much cooler connection that Miles Davis has to Christmas and New York City. It concerns a song that holds the distinction of being the only tune Miles ever recorded with a vocalist, “Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)” the hippest jazz xmas tune ever recorded, and likely the most obscure of Miles Davis distinguished and varied oeuvre.

I’ll be dropping a soecific post about this song a little later, but suffice to say, the folks behind the creation of Scrooged (tho a fine film it is) could have truly upped the Xmas ante by having Miles Davis play BOB’s Song, instead of the royalty free ancient carol that was chosen for that street corner performance of “We Three Kings”.

Sirfjam CONQUERS Christmas!

Well, this is a dream come true…The inimitable Jewish Xmas music lover is embarking upon a full-fledged XMAS tour this coming November & December… Sadly, there are NO Canadian dates, but he is in Seattle on Dec 8th for all you West Coasters.

TIX go on sale for MOST venues this Friday at 12 noon EST. Grab em or be forever doomed to a lacklustre Christmas season ! Find out more here.

The Free Design

Greetings all. I’m traveling an hour or so north of Toronto to interview Sandy Dedrick of The Free Design. Incredible band with the best Xmas song title of all-time: “Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas)”

Back in 1968, when it was recorded, they called it The NOW SOUND of Christmas…but the NOW sound (and the philosophy behind it) still prevails today !

Chris Dedrick and the band take Christmas music seriously, but not in an overtly religious sense. They recognize the holiday for its importance as a time for reflection, for telling those you love how you feel about them, to paying attention to your fellow man … pretty basic concepts. But those ideals of the holiday are getting lost, and what Chris espouses is that we need to take a moment and reflect upon what matters most.

And to me, their music does just that. It takes us to that place where we can feel a “spiritual” connection to the holiday and its inherent rituals and themes of family, togetherness, kindness and hope.

Sadly, I missed sitting down with Christopher Dedrick, who passed away in July of 2010. If you’ve never heard of Free Design before, you must check them out!

Jingle Bell Rocks! in the news

In an interview with culture writer Steve Burgess of thetyee.ca, I tell the story of how John Waters got involved in our film.

Steve gets it. He writes: “Many factors can make a Christmas hater — choking on Lego, early exposure to the Star Wars Christmas Special, Fox News. But for some it’s the music. Like the third-rate candy that briefly goes mainstream to fill Halloween demand, the likes of Burl Ives and Andy Williams re-emerge to set up camp in your ear canal come the holiday season. Even John and Yoko get tiresome after awhile.”

Read the story here.

Jingle Bell Rocks crew in Chicago

We’re in Chicago today interviewing and shooting with Andy Cirzan, Christmas music collector extraordinaire (and VP of Jam Productions), as he guests on WBEZ Radio’s annual Sound Opinions Christmas Spectacular.

Listen right now, or download the podcast from the Sound Opinions site. Holiday blues and soul are the specialty of this year’s show.