State Forty-Three: Colorado

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
The big one you’ve probably heard in this department is “Colorado Christmas” popularized by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  This is the classic homesick hallelujah that puts L.A. in its place (damn you to hell, comfortable climates!) and elevates the Rockies to Heaven (‘cuz the air’s so thin, i guess). I honestly prefer many of the female versions (like Meredith Grenfell-Bird‘s vocals for The Clear Creek No Name Band’s cover) of this tune to these gritsters. Been there, don we now our cliched ugly sweaters.
Now i am not going to count most of John Denver’s ouevre, including “Aspenglow,” as it doesn’t really yell The Nativity in The Centennial State. I need the words said (preferably in the title). But please listen with half an ear to these lesser known songs i found and see’n iffen you can’t detect a trace of that spherical-headed troubadour’s influence.
More homegrown (if awfully familiar in that way) is Melinda Trondson’s “Colorado Christmas,” a young, happy strummer of a song with old country harmony and comfortably worn (out) literary devices.
Steve Martin has observed that nothing played on the banjo can be sad–it’s so chipper! Working hard against this hypotheis is Ashleigh Caudill’s “Colorado Christmas Eve” about new love snuggled indoors during the holidays. This mournful maundering muzzles Joyeux Noelle in all its glee.
Christmas Colorado Cowboy” by Jill and Allen Kirkham also measures the season in its severity by the hard labor of the keeper of the herd. But the guitar/fiddle gravitas here seems earned and reverential. Like one of those prayers where you keep your head down just an extra minute
Contrarily, Mark Putt Explosion plays with the whole legalized pot whoop-de-doo for Colorado with “Mile High Santa,” Ha ha, Santa’s in trouble with the police. Ho ho… hum.
Naw naw naw, I’m going to stay sticky-sweet sincere here. “Colorado Christmas Cowboy,” by Dan Schafer, plays that 1970s country styling… you know, the kind that had a story unfold so that the refrain changed its meaning a little bit after each verse, but the melody was a bit more pop than it shoulda been… you know? Remember when ‘loving country before country was cool’ was actually a pop song that was hardly country at all? Good times. Oh yeah, and near death experiences are pretty relatable this time of year.

State Thirty-Four: Kansas

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS

The most Kansas friendly Please-Come-Visit-Us rendition would have to be Paul Ritchie’s “Kansas Merry Christmas,” basically commissioned by the mayor to the visiting ASCAP award winner and resort and cruise ship singer. You’re going to need some crackers for the cheese. Ritchie has a hobby of cozying up to his favorite spots with holiday hymns for Kentucky and Michigan as well.

Just as maudlin middle of the road pop is “Christmas in Kansas City” by Brad Millison. It’s so retro 1985 cool i’m flashing back to liking Christopher Cross songs. For an updating with sweet soul see Heartland Men’s Chorus backing Dustin Rapier in one of those poignant Christmas concert moments that makes fat bankers’ wives cry.

The most playful Kansas carol is from Prairie Rose Rangers. “Christmas in Kansas” is boot kickin’ fun and you can get a glimpse of this tune on the ‘tube where they’re all bedecked in enormous plaid. Sadly, it’s only a glimpse.
My favorite Wintertime Singing for the Sunflower State is down-home Kristie Stremel belaboring being snowed in with her “Kansas Snow Song.” She’s clever and talented and generous (I guess: she holds a Favorite Snow Photo Contest in the middle of the video on the ‘tube). The song focuses on a late snowfall when Spring is supposed to be here. But it’s so honest and beautiful I have to put it first.

State Thirty: Arkansas

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
Now this is what I am talking about: some grade school teacher at Iglesia(?) somewhere in AK. She apparently makes up songs on her own youtube channel (like Kate Micucci’s character in Raising Hope) and here she’s got kids singing and acting out for “Arkansas Christmas.” It’s a madhouse, a MADHOUSE! Somewhere in there is some message about shopping on Black Friday and AR’s Xmas being “natural.”
O Little Town of Boggy Creek” is Sam Stokes’s stab at local lore, some creature hiding in the swamps (at least the subject matter of D-list movies like the one Mystery Science Theater 3000 made sport of). How droll to use Christian music to madcap the monster’s tale!
More legitly, Dan Schafer (from that great compilation Christmas Across America) sings “Arkansas Angel.” It’s barely a Christmas reference, but it’s soooo pretty with tenored up tones and fantastic fiddlin’ i want to open it again and again.
Now to prove that news shows love the local carols, i present you with “Christmas Time In Arkansas.” Ned Perme, the song’s creator, is a weatherman from Little Rock, who rocks in his spare time. You can find his version on the ‘tube. Here, as intro’d by an actual anchor, Terry Rose sings. I know–it sounds like a warmed over Lifetime movie soundtrack. But this song was nominated for a regional Emmy. And its album, Songs for the Season, raised money for National Kidney Foundation of Arkansas and The Amercian Heart Association. Channel 7, Little Rock, On Your Side!

State Twenty-Nine: Missouri

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
I’m not upset that the Bible Belt here has so little Christmas to sing about Branson (except for Lallie Bridges’s laughable copycat Christmas jingle), Springfield, Jeff CIty, or the Show Me State itself. I am not mad, but i am disappointed.
Christmas Across America has the chameleonic Diedre Jenkins’s number “Missouri Christmas Card,” which soulfully beatifies family and friendship, beating on the guitar-box Indigo Girls style. It’s an “anywhere” song and doesn’t make you yearn for MO.
Christmas in Kansas City” by Brad Millison is so Christopher Cross cool it makes me nestle up in my thick shawl necked sweater and look thoughfully into the distance. KC, for me, has always been half in half out (Kansas, too, you know). This piece of merry pop is from one of those FM radio compilations, but KCKC Star 102 seems to have gone under. The song still underplays local good morning shows every December.
Let’s just focus on the capitol. “Christmas in St. Louis” is sung by Randy Mayfield, an ordained minister who just has to sing! His bigs are national anthems for local sports, opening for Christian acts, and worldwide tours with other countries’ symphonies. Sing it, Rand-man! And make it all ‘Eighties pop country with tremulo backed up by harsh electric guitar riffs. ‘Cause that’s what Missourians do.

State Nineteen: Mississippi

Welcome back to

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
–our national tour of noels dedicated to our fifty favorite states of America.
Now, before you decide I won’t allow for famous folk on my x-country Xmas excursion, let’s consider talent. Many headliners rashly cash in with a seasonal sale (look up the numbers, December-dedicated disks hardly chart, but bring in great frankincense and myrrh over the long run) without a whole lotta litany nor agape.
Odd times, however, a true musician makes the rites right with passion and poinsettia-scented poise.
Carolers and God-resters, I give you Mr. Charlie Daniels’s “Mississippi Christmas” from his album Christmas Time Down South. This musician is the quintessential Southerner from his belt buckle to his hat. He wrote for Elvis and played backup for Dylan. But, yer right, this particular entry ain’t country before country was cool–it’s more pop banjo-ism. In 1990 blue grass was tickle-me Emo, after mainstream had mostly wrecked what Bill Monroe had wrought, but slightly before rock-a-billy was redeemed by traditionalists like Skaggs and Thile. Still, listening to those fingers a-picking here makes me think of elves making presents. Sorry, didn’t mean to get all ho-ier than ho…

State Eighteen: Alabama

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
Now the standard here should be “Christmas in Dixie” by the band Alabama (also covered by Kenny Chesney and others). But that does not play by my rules. It does not celebrate the High Mass via a particular locale, whether state or famous city within (state of mind doesn’t count). And my selection needs to be off the beaten path a bit. And not blow that hard.
So, consider Christmas Across America‘s “An Alabama Moon for Christmas” by Scat Sprigs. It’s all jazz band high life which reminds me more of some late night talk show in-house group, rather than Montgomery Blues. Finger snapping more than hallelujahing.
I love the internet. For it was here I found another song by that group Alabama about Christmas in the state of Tennessee sung by a teen blondie who changed the lyrics to fit her state of Alabama. She’s a Nashville Rising Star, though she’s since taken down this homemade recording. What this lacks in quality it makes up for in volume. Look for Lillian Glanton around Joe’s Crab Shack in Nashville, or the Athens Saturday Market in Athens, GA. She’s a serious, perky, spunky Southern Belle.

State Sixteen: Georgia

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
No ATL holiday raps… no Georgia Christmas on My Mind…
The carol canon is awash with a wealth of Christmas in the South selections, but I’m not finding much for the Cracker State. [Errgahyun, i guess there’s that Lallie Bridges’s smelly stepped on fruitcake of a song: “Georgia at Christmas.” Even if she hadn’t xeroxed that song on to the locations of Carolina, Tennessee, Nashville, and Branson, i can’t abide it’s synthesized elevator mushiness.]
Now i did notice an odd tendency of funsters to parodize ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia.’ These parodeuses mention GA okay, so they need honorable mentions here. “Santa Went Down to Georgia” is one of those i-can’t-blieve-my-church-is-so-cool performances from North Point Community Church Alpharetta, Georgia. It may not be Godly, but it’s inspired and it rocks. (A Very Similar bit by Bob Phelan does not mention Georgia and is called “Santa Went down the Chimney.”) Jonathan and Corben goof on “Frosty the Snowman” with the actual lyrics of the Charlie Daniels fiddle-exercise. It’s a couppla millennials amusing each other hoping to do so with you. It takes its time, and does all right.
Now, without further frustration, welcome Diane Durrett, a smoky-voiced, blue-eyed soulstress. For the last 25 years or so she’s been opening for Tina Turner, Little Feat… playing alongside Sting, The Indigo Girls. Talented, got it? The hollerin’ here is mature and earthy, real country (or a tribute to Bonnie Tyler). The lyrics are fine… I’d hoped for some revelational tell-alling about Jimmy Carter, MLK, Coca-Cola and Stone Mountain. It’s just peaches. Do check out Durrett’s Xmas album, tho.

State Thirteen: Virginia

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
Let’s get country!
Sweet Virginia Christmas” is sweetly popped bluegrass country. Dana Spencer seems to be channeling The Judds with purdy harmonies. It’s from Christmas Across America and worth a little listen.
Christmas in Virginia” by Lost & Found is even sweeter, quieter, more personal and intimate. It feels like family snowbound with you and maybe one present each.
Christmas in Virginia” by Clinton Gregory, however, is my guilty pleasure.  His dad moved him to Nashville and played the Grand Ole Opry. He noodled on guitar from childhood to backing up Suzy Boguss. He’s known for “Play, Ruby, Play,” and has had all the unfortunate haircuts of the famous country acts. Mostly in his favor, he’s one of the few Independent acts to break into the country charts. (I knew Country Music was all Corporate hocus pocus like in that TV show.)
His album For Country has another contender for Fifty Days: “Christmas in Texas” but it’s nowhere near as heartfelt as this crooning, crowing, cotton-candy carol. Twangy the Halls!