VARIOUS ARTISTS – Ringin’ a Bell: A Christmas CD to Benefit the Salvation Army
(2005 Independent Release)
It’s the kind of “coming together” project that makes you glad to live in a place like Madison. Twelve tracks by as many artists – seven newly recorded this year, seven professional recording studios and a variety of sponsors – all coming together to produce a local Christmas music CD to benefit the Salvation Army. When area musician Joe Snare formulated the idea in March, he had no idea how vital the Salvation Army’s efforts would become in light of the Stoughton tornado and hurricane Katrina. This sense of urgency makes the disc even more enjoyable to listen to and I highly recommend going straight to ringinabell.com, Good-n-Loud Music, or the Center for Cosmetic Dentistry to pick up a copy.
The music presented on Ringin’ a Bell represents a cross-section of Madison-area performers and styles. Snare, who used to drum with the highly acclaimed rockabilly act Kevin Fayte and Rocket 8 performs on two tracks, Fayte’s very Elvis-influenced rendition of “Santa, Bring My Baby Back,” and Snare’s self-penned “Christmas Will Live On.” Other standouts include Sticky Fingers’ original cut “There Was a Rose,” a gorgeous folk track recorded at Randy Green’s Recording and featuring splendid three-part harmonies, gentle finger-picked guitar, mandolin and sweet cello from Tracy Jane Comer. Another excellent track comes from Cambridge Road Ensemble who perform an original arrangement of the Christmas traditional “We Three Kings.” CRE is a collection of members of the Heinecke family, including composer and arranger Kurt Heinecke who is celebrated for his work in video music production. The Dorothy Heralds’ Katy Rykken joins Christian rock ensemble the Pull for a lively and contemporary take on “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” The disc also benefits from some rocked-up versions of traditional Christmas tunes by Sunspot, Johnny Rocker & the High Rollers and PopSuicide. Arena Venus lends a track from their excellent 2004 CD Yuletide Swank (“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”) and the Moon Gypsies contribute “Go, Tell it on the Mountain” from the 1999 holiday compilation My Holiday Wish. Another original song from 2001, Ken Lonnquists’ “’Round Xmas Time” features a veritable who’s-who of Madison performers. Finally, co-sponsor Chris Kammer gets his kids on the disc with a rousing version of “Jingle Bells” from a CD they cut for their grandfather.
The cause should be enough to nudge you out of your hibernating state to get this CD but there is something for everybody here and some treasured performances. Hopefully this can become an annual project.