WUMB December Program Guide

‘Tis/’Twas the Season

In his “Mid Winter Folktale,” Scott Alarik brought us back to the ancient roots of many Winter holidays, their songs and customs – and how they still have a hold on us today.

[Funny how many holidays’ roots have to do with either food and survival (harvest) or surviving a military action]

Modern technology has rendered receiving a letter an ”ancient” form of communication. But during holiday time, that mode returns. Writing and receiving letters is still barely alive in the form of…cards. Isn’t it nice to get something in the mail that is not a bill or well-intended junk? These days, you generally don’t get much more than that in your mailbox, right? But to get a card in the mail from a friend or former associate – with something written that shows they thought about their relationship with you in particular — it’s like sipping a hot drink on a frosty day. “We think of you often.” “Barley the dog misses you.” Whatever it may be.

Like the roots of holiday songs and customs, it fills you with warmth and makes you feel closer together.

What otherwise brings me “the holiday spirit” is a sense of fellowship and community. As I get older, that means more to me than presents.  Sorry, retail industry. Partly that’s a reflection of being 4,000 miles from my family. You notice these things at holiday time. But most of us don’t have far to look to realize we are very lucky. When you are at home, look up. I hope you’ll see the underside of a roof over your head. With that in mind, here’s a shout out to Chandler Travis and gobs of Boston area musicians. For 12 years, Chandler has led them in his Christmas Cavalcade for the Homeless concert. I’ve only been to the last two. It had always been at Johnny D’s. Now that Johnny D’s is gone, the show moved to Once Lounge. The music and performances create such a celebration of fellowship and community. All that fun and celebration, while at the same time helping those who have so little. Bravo, Travis and all.
Here’s to not nearly so many beloved artists (and other significant people) passing in 2017. With that in mind, here are a few positive memories related to a very few of those we lost in 2016 —

David Bowie: A friend texted me a photo of Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album cover two days after
Bowie’s birthday (I wish it had been for his birthday…).

Author Harper Lee: My surprise at enjoying required reading in school of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Merle Haggard: Hearing an informal Americana/Irish/Bluegrass jam at The Burren play “Mama Tried.”

Prince: Playing Peter Mulvey’s version of “Sign O’ The Times…and seeing Peter play it live that week.
Guy Clarke: How lucky I felt seeing him play with Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, and Joe Ely
(at the 2003 Newport Folk Festival).

Leonard Cohen: Watching Dan Blakeslee play “So Long, Marianne” at a Red Line subway station a
couple days after Cohen passed – as three people walked up to Dan…slowly realizing
what they were hearing. It was a very sweet moment.
Finally, what better way to look forward than by looking back at the year in music. Here are my Top 10 albums and songs. It’s exquisitely non-scientific:


1) Allen Touissant – American Tune
2) Aoife O’Donovan – In The Magic Hour
3) Lee Harvey Osmond – Beautiful Scars
4) Lucinda Williams – The Ghosts of Highway 20
5) Carrie Rodriguez – Lola
6) Dennis Brennan – Into This World
7) Sarah Jarosz – Undercurrent
8) Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math
9) Christian McNeill – Trapped On The Planet, Part 1
10) The Jayhawks – Paging Mr. Proust.

Songs…OK, more than 10 (ordered not by rank, but in what would be good sequencing for an album):

Dennis Brennan – Out of This World [Into This World]
Lucinda Williams – I Know All About It [The Ghosts of Highway 20]
Tim Easton – Right Before Your Own Eyes [American Fork]
Aoife O’Donovan – Detour Sign [The Magic Hour]
Mark Erelli – Look Up [For A Song]
The Jayhawks – Quiet Corners and Empty Spaces [Paging Mr. Proust]
Christian McNeill – Halfway To Never There [Trapped On The Planet, Pt 1]
Allen Toussaint w/Rhiannon Giddens – Rocks In My Bed [American Tunes]
Margaret Glaspy – No Matter Who [Emotions and Math]
The Lumineers – Angela [Cleopatra]
Wynonna Judd w/Jason Isbell – Things That I Lean On [Wynonna & The Big Noise]
Carrie Rodriguez – Z [Lola]
Birds of Chicago – Dim Star of the Palisades [Real Midnight]
The Avett Brothers – Smithsonian [True Sadness]
Lee Harvey Osmond – Blue Moon Drive [Beautiful Scars]
Session Americana w/Jefferson Hamer – Mississippi Mud [Great Shakes]
Mandolin Orange – Hard Travelin’ [Blindfaller]

And a bonus for my favorite song so far of 2017:
Jessca Hoop – The Lost Sky [Memories Are Now – due out Feb 17, 2017]


Wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year!
-Perry Persoff

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