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{December 14, 2012}   “Tis the Season: Favorite Music!

Time to pull out the old holiday favorites: music, books, and films. Everybody has them. The Christmas music CDs that we love to hear, once a year, no matter how old they are; the movies we’ve seen a bazillion times, but it won’t seem like Christmas if we don’t watch them one more time.

My family has a 25-disc CD changer in our living room, which I usually load up with the Christmas CDs that I have acquired over the years. This year I had to break from tradition; unfortunately the receiver broke a while ago and we haven’t replaced it. My husband tends to be content with just turning to a music station on the TV, but I want to hear my favorite songs, so I decided I would load a few of my holiday CDs into my car, which  forced me to choose my favorites. Without further ado, here’s what I chose.

AmyGrantAmy Grant’s first Christmas Album satisfies my spiritual needs with a little bit of country; she combines gospel songs with some traditional, more commercial Christmas songs, into a very enjoyable collection.

JohnDenverAnother favorite oldy but goody for me is John Denver’s Rocky Mountain Christmas Album. I think his voice and singing style are perfect for Christmas hymn-type songs, and I get the “western” feel.

ChristmasWishesI had to throw in a “various” CD with some really old carols. It’s not Christmas to me without hearing Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole, the songs my parents played, reminding me of my childhood.

80'sMy guilty pleasure: The Big 80’s Christmas compilation because some of the songs and versions are pretty obscure (like the Squeeze song, , and I discovered and enjoyed them at a memorable time in my life.

BareNakedLadiesFinally, something more recent, the Bare Naked Ladies Christmas CD, mostly because I absolutely LOVE their version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” recorded live with Sarah McLachlan. A little wacky, like going to  your cousin’s Christmas party.

Obviously there are many other holiday CDs that I like (more than enough for me to fill the whole 25-CD changer — my honorable mention: Loreena McKennitt and Aimee Mann), and there are new Christmas CDs coming out all the time, but favorites are favorites. What are yours?



{November 28, 2012}   The Orpheum Theater, Boston

Orpheum Theater, Boston

Orpheum Theater, Boston

Deciding to become a volunteer usher at the Orpheum Theater after my first season at Concerts on the Common was one of the best decisions I ever made. Julie and I decided when we started there to branch out and make other friends (we spent so much time together). We picked different aisles to work so we could meet new people; it was healthy and exciting. (Little did I know that working there would be my ONLY social life at times.)

If you read its history, the theater is quite old. Some performers liked that aspect…I overheard some call it a dump. If you take a look on the Orpheum official web site, there’s a list of the shows scrolling on the right-hand side by date. I love that they have this so I can remember it all. I saw so many bands over the years, and also some comedians and oddball events: even a wedding! (Two of the ushers who met there, got married there.)

Orpheum wedding

Orpheum wedding

My husband used to say that we saw “bands on the way up and bands on the way down.”  This was because of the size of the venue: not a club, but a small theater seating approximately 2800 (this is a generous estimate). It seemed like there were always broken seats. They were pretty difficult to repair after a time…too many holes drilled over and over in the wooden backs of the same ancient velvet seats; I always pitied the maintenance guy working with all those old bits and pieces.

But the Orpheum has great acoustics. Many live shows were recorded there during my time including James Taylor and the Allman Brothers (we called them the “house band” because they played there so often).

Allman Brothers Live at the Orpheum

Allman Brothers Live at the Orpheum

As volunteer ushers, we finished working officially not too long after the headline band began to play. Once we were “released” everyone would scramble to find a seat on the aisle steps in the mezzanine — the best place to see the show. You were close to the stage, but with an unobstructed view from above. And structurally it was designed to “give” or move, which made it an adventure sitting there for some shows. You could “feel” the music. When the B52’s played there and everyone was dancing, some people were frightened because you could actually see the mezzanine moving up and down. You could barely walk from one side to the other in a straight line; it was like trying to walk on a wave-tossed boat.

And it had that old smell — like mustiness, sweat, and old beer. But I’ll always have a soft spot for the old place.



et cetera
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