Friday, November 20, 2020

New Music: Anthony Lazaro - "A Minute to Midnight"

 Italian singer-songwriter Anthony Lazaro is gifting us with a new 5-song EP for this Christmas season.

"A Minute to Midnight" features the holiday standard "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" and four originals songs, the title track "A Minute to Midnight", XMas is Here", "I Won't Be Here", and "Santa for Hire".

As a followup to his previous releases such as the EP "Basement Love" and album "The Guest List", "A Minute to Midnight" is smartly arranged and performed with energy.   There's a lot of uke, some great horns, and upbeat tempos, and a smidgen of Italian crooner style added into the mix.  Until, that is,  "Santa for Hire", which is a dreamy, surreal, unabashedly seductive song.  Lots of style is wrapped into Mr. Lazaro's EP.

Anthony has strong collaborations with Anna Elizabeth Laube on "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" and R.V.A. on "XMas is Here.  Treat yourself to some original Christmas music this season with "A Minute to Midnight".

Anthony Lazaro website

To purchase, please visit your friendly neighborhood digital music outlet:

Buy "A Minute to Midnight"

Sunday, November 15, 2020

New Music: Don Pedigo - "Troubadour 364"

 "Troubadour 364" is one of the best new Christmas songs of the year.

Don Pedigo is a Nashville based singer-songwriter with a whole lotta cred in his resume. Giggin' with Sammy Kershaw.  Finalist in CMT's "Music City Madness Singer/Songwriters Competition".  Last album "The Cross Eyed Sessions" was in the Roots Rock Top 40 for over 2 years.  Playing the Nashville scene with The Coyotes.  And now, with "Troubadour 364" Don has graced us with an outstanding original Christmas song, backed with his take on the standard "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".

Don's voice has an edgy comfort quality to it, with a dash of soulful added in.  There's a bit of 'the road' in it, which lends to the theme and message of 'Troubadour 364".  The arrangement is excellent, with sax accompaniment that really brings the song to life. 

But it's the lyrics that are fantastic.  The theme of the song has been done before, but not like Don Pedigo.  I'm thinking - annual Christmas comp, and maybe even a spot in my annual guest DJ hour.

And, I'm not going to spoil it for anyone.  This is a song best heard fresh.  So, watch the video and have a listen, and then follow the links below to add it to your Christmas music collection.  I certainly am.

Official Video:

Don Pedigo Website

Listen and Buy:  click here

Friday, November 13, 2020

New Music: Running Lights - "This Xmas"

I'm going to kick off this season by featuring a few new Christmas releases starting to hit your favorite streaming and digital music outlets.

First up is "This Xmas" by the NYC trio Running Lights.  The group, Mike Squillante (guitar/vocals), Nick Squillante (keys), and Steve Ranellone (drums) have been around the music biz for years as performers and engineers, collectively working with Melanie Martinez, Gnash, 7-time Grammy winning engineer Michael Brauer, and giving the Warped Tour a go.  The guys came together as Running Lights a few years back, and have graced us with a Christmas song this year.

Running Lights

"This Xmas" (featuring Charisma) channels the ups and downs of Christmas when you are away from someone you love, which is especially apropos this year.  It can, of course, hold meaning any Christmas time when circumstances leave you away from your special one, but here in 2020 it seems to have additional meaning. 

For those of you who dig the modern pop sound, I think you'll enjoy Running Lights "This Xmas".

Listen to "This Xmas" on Spotify:


"This Xmas" dropped today (November 13), and is available at all the usual digital outlets.

Running Lights website
"This Xmas" on Amazon
"This Xmas" on iTunes
"This Xmas" on Apple Music

Thursday, November 12, 2020

'Tis the Season 2020

 Hello all!  I've noticed many of our friend blogs getting the season underway, and it's time for Merry and Bright! to join in.  Behind the scenes I've been doing prep work for another season of Christmas blogging - ripping some music, doing some interviews, pondering what to include in this year's fare.  It's safe to say that, as in years prior, there will be an assortment of things.

I've been working from home since March 16th this year, in my "home office", which is really the room where all my Christmas music and books are.  I'm happy to say that all of my family are safe and well, but we have had to adapt in many ways to a pandemic-altered lifestyle.  I hope all of you are well and secure also.

So, this post is just a quick welcome back to everyone who stops in for a little Christmas spirit.  I'll try to get the real posts going soon.

In the meantime, I'll just start with this:  If you haven't watched "Klaus" on Netflix, take some time this season and watch it.  It's one of the absolute best Christmas movies I've seen (ever!), and is so much in the spirit of Christmas.  I watched it last year, and again last night.  It's just a bit over an hour and a half - you'll love it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Christmas in July with My Merry Christmas!

Hi everyone!  Although here at Merry & Bright! we're not doing an official 'Christmas in July' thing, we fully support and appreciate those who do.  Our friends at My Merry Christmas do Christmas in July extremely well, and I'm happy to announce a partner event on Wednesday July 15.

I'll be online for a live chat with My Merry Christmas host Jeff Westover Wednesday July 15 from 6:00PM - 7:00PM Eastern time (5PM Central [Der Bingle time], 4PM Mountain, 3PM Pacific).  We'll be chatting about various Christmas topics and my blog for a bit, and then open it up for Q&A.  I hope you can join in!

Here's a link to the promo page - click for info:

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Crate Digging with Ernie

So, back in early March, before the world shut down, I traveled to Florida to attend my daughter's national dance competition in Orlando.  We left on March 4, returned home on March 9, and then everything closed.  Had the competition been a week later it would not have been at all.  Apart from the cobbled-together (although very well done) graduation-related events, that competition was the last hurrah for my daughter's Senior year in high school.

Since I don't get to Florida often, I had been planning to meet Ernie of Ernie (Not Bert) fame, well known to (nearly, I'm sure) all the regular readers of this blog.  Ernie drove to Orlando from his side of Florida, and off we went in search of Christmas music treasures to unearth.  Der Bingle and Ernie, together, scouring the crates.  The Christmas music force was strong in central Florida that day.

First item on the agenda was lunch.  We found an empanada place near a giant thrift store, so went in there for some food.  The cafe workers spoke Spanish, Ernie and I did not.  But through pointing and a mutual understanding of "beef" and "cheese" we each got a delicious plate of empanada-type cuisine.

Then it was off to the crates.  We hit up, if I recall right, three thrift stores and three record stores that day.  The record store folks were all wonderful.  They may have looked at us a bit quizzically when we said we were after Christmas music, but they all accommodated.  One in particular, Retro Records, hauled out multiple crates full of Christmas albums and CDs for us.  Ernie and I each scored a few great additions for our collections there and in the other stores.  I held back a bit, knowing that I had to haul them all back in my luggage, but still came away with some great stuff.

I've (of course) listened to all the CDs.  "Antlers" by Melanie is the best of the lot - a really good Christmas record.  Dion's is pretty solid, too.  Really, all are good, though the "Twelve Songs of December" is a promotional mix with just a couple Christmas songs on it.  Was only a buck though, so, ya know....

And, just a few vinyl records, too, some as a "Welcome to Florida" gift from Ernie the Man himself.  If you look closely you'll see vinyl Christmas favorites Lester Lanin, Williams Brothers, Norman Luboff, and Giselle.  There's an album from Lou Monte,  Christmas in Zitherland, the Trapp Family Singers, and the Trappist Monks of Gethsemene.  A good haul, natch.

But the best part of the day was meeting Ernie, a brother in Christmas music, and hanging out, driving around, getting to know one another, and sharing Christmas music knowledge. Although, the Christmas music knowledge flow of information was heavily one-way - lemme tell you - Ernie knows his stuff.  It was a really great day.

At the end of the day Ernie dropped me off at Animal Kingdom Lodge where I met up with my wife and we feasted for an hour at Boma, the best buffet in the world.

I hope that someday I can return the favor to Ernie and show him around Kansas City and hit up the local record stores.

In some ways, because we were all quarantined with shelter-in-place orders only a few days later, this trip seems so very long ago.  But as Christmas music season approaches (well, it never really goes away) and I throw these records on the turntable, I've got some great memories to go along with the music.

Thanks Ernie!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Yawn...Stretch...What's Up 2020?

Yawn!  <smack> <smack>  streeeeetch.......

Coming out of hibernation here since New Year's Day...

<eye rub>

What's up 2020?




Hello my good readers.  There's no intent to downplay the serious stuff that has come our way in 2020.  I'm certain that everyone reading this has been impacted in some way by the Covid-19 pandemic and/or the protests triggered by the death of George Floyd. 

I sincerely hope that Covid-19 has been more of an adaptation than a tragedy for you.  My family and I have had to work from home, teach Kindergarten from home, and finish high school and college from home (graduations included).  My daughter who works in an autism services agency has continued to work with children in-office, without incident.  So we have adapted, and are thankful that the impact has been minimal.  I'll be working from home until after Labor Day, most likely, so the changes continue.

I know you don't come here for political opinion, but I want to share a brief word regarding the protests that are occurring nation and world-wide.  I do fully support Black Lives Matter and the peaceful yet passionate efforts for change that are occurring, and am saddened by the hostility brought to the protests by those who intend to do harm.  I invite your comments, whether you agree or disagree, as long as they are civil.  At my discretion I'll remove any comments that stray from reasonable discourse.

So - back to the usual stuff...

I'm waking up the blog just a bit here for the next few weeks.  Nothing major, no big Christmas in July extravaganzas or music sharing.  But I'll bring you up to date on a few Christmas-related items here and there, just to inject some of the ol' Spirit of the Season into our 2020 existence.

And, keep an eye out here for an announcement of a July online event featuring yours truly.  Nothing to change your vacation plans over, but it should be fun if you can join in.  More to come...

Thanks for reading - I hope that all of you are well.  Stay safe, and avoid the Murder Hornets.

Speaking of Murder Hornets, there's a little beastie called the Executioner Wasp whose sting makes the murder hornet feel like a drip of ice cream.  If you have some spare time and dig science, google the executioner wasp.  When you see its picture, remember that nature colors things yellow and stripey for a reason.  Cool stuff...