Tag Archives: christmas

Mark PanfilWell, it’s getting a little cold up here in Buffalo this December but time spent with loved ones shopping and singing carols is making it “the most wonderful time of the year”.  My days are full of Christmas concerts and first grade plays at my little elementary school on the shores of Lake Erie. Most mornings, I stand at the door of my classroom with my dobro playing Christmas songs like “Joy to the World” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or whatever they request as they enter the building on their way to their classrooms. The young kids that I teach know my Dobro as “the Sponge Bob guitar” because of the smooth Hawaiian flavored sounds they recognize from the sound track of the popular cartoon.

If you’re shopping for a Dobro player on your list, maybe I can make some suggestions. Andy Hall has a new CD on Sugar Hill Records, The Sound of the Slide Guitar which has been in constant rotation for me since I bought it this year IBMA convention. [Note: it won Instrumental Album of the Year]  It is a very simply produced elegant project that really does present the Dobro in the forefront without a lot of studio bells and whistles.

The new Jerry Douglas CD, Glide is also a must have for all Dobro players. His compositions are some of the most significant modern music across all genres of instrumental composition. Listen to it at Jerry's MySpace page. [Also worthy of mention is that Earl Scruggs makes an appearance on a lovely version of his classic "Home Sweet Home."]

I happened upon a very cool CD at the local bookstore last month, Charlie Haden, Family and Friends, Ramblin’ Boy. Of course, Jerry Douglas’s playing drew me right in and I sure enjoyed the place I ended up in. Needless to say, this is one of my new favorites. Listen to a sample at Charlie Haden's website.

If you are looking for a real lasting gift for that special Dobro player, how about the stainless steel Scheerhorn Dobro slide. It is a bit more than other slides, but it lasts much longer. They sell for about $80 at Elderly Instruments.

If your favorite Dobro player is just a beginner, remember the Beginning Dobro DVD that I did for the Murphy Method gets you started on the right foot. I have made some supplemental DVD lessons that you can find at my website.

Hope your Holiday Season is full of music, love and joy.


Casey HenryThis year is remarkable in that two new banjo Christmas albums were released, and both are wonderful, though you have to have a bit of an adventurous musical spirit to appreciate them. First, Evergreen, from the Alison Brown Quartet. Alison offers up beautiful, somewhat jazzy arrangements of traditional favorites, along with more recent additions to the Christmas canon, such as "Welcome Christmas" from Dr. Suess's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and "Christmas Don't Be Late" from Alvin and the Chipmunks. Her sound is what I imagine the Vince Guaraldi Trio would have sounded like with a banjo.

Next we have Jingle All The Way from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. This is not your average Christmas album, and it has some stunning playing on it. Their version of "Sleigh Ride" has just been nominated for a Grammy. They do "Twelve Days of Christmas" in twelve different keys, and twelve different time signatures. You pretty much have to hear it to believe it. And Victor Wooten's solo rendition of "The Christmas Song" is so amazing you won't believe it is being played on a bass. And Christmas really wouldn't be Christmas without some Tuvan throat singing, don't you agree?

And two of my all-time favorite Christmas CD staples are Tony Trischka's Glory Shone Around, and Bobby Horton's Songs of the Christmas Season. Tony's has a great variety of cuts from an all-out bluegrass "Precious Child," to shape-note singing, to solo minstrel banjo, to a wonderful story, read by John Hartford. Bobby Horton is a musical historian and renders Cival War-era carols on mostly period instruments, as they would have been played in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. It is lovely, peaceful music. I highly recommend it.

Casey HenryThis is quite possibly the best version of Jingle Bells ever! Check out Earl's syncopation on the melody, and he does some pretty nifty backup, too! You can hear the banjo great all the way through.