Christmas is always a bittersweet time of year for us—we get to play the songs off our Christmas album, but usually only once or twice! This year we managed to squeeze in four Christmas shows, including two in new venues: the Little Washington Theatre, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (aka the Rocky museum). Our Philly show had a theme: it was an ugly Christmas sweater party! We did have to do a little shopping for the event, but we are proud to say that our sweaters were among the ugliest on site.
We are delighted to announce the release of our eighth album: The Lock & the Key. There are eleven cuts on it: nine originals and two covers. It took just about a year to make, and we are quite proud of it. One of Charlie’s favorite tracks is “The Sweet Ride Home,” for which singer Marilyn Older wrote a lyric about the moments just after a wonderful date. It’s driven by a groove from drummer Tommy Barrick, and the melody is ghosted a fourth down by Joe Jackson’s trombone. Tutti ensemble section in the middle is the full-on Chaise Lounge statement. Another fave: “The Earl.” Sax player Gary Gregg routinely stuns our live audiences with his ultra-melodic solos, and we captured a hot one on this track, named for one of Gary’s saxophone heroes, Earl Bostic. Bass (and tambourine) player Pete Ostle shines on “Mozambique.” We may be especially proud of the last song on the record, “I Grew a Rose,” because we tried to get a very retro Harry Belafonte sound, and we think we hit the nail on the head. In concert, we sometimes use male backing vocals as comic relief, but on this cut we are nothing but sincere. The artwork for the album is by Adriana Cordero.
Chaise Lounge acted as an emissary between two musical countries last weekend–and the odd and somewhat schizophrenic nature of what we do was brought into sharp focus. On Saturday night, we played at Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia, the jazziest of East Coast Jazz clubs. On Sunday, we played at Godfrey Daniels, a quintessential folk club in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Jazz and folk: Could Chaise Lounge really find common ground between those two ideologies? At Chris’ we brought a folksinger’s love of storytelling to the coolest cats in Philly. And at Godfrey Daniels, we brought our sharp suits and sharp chops and swung our as*** off for the salt-of-the-earth folksters of Bethlehem. And hooray, it felt like we brought a little bit of peace, love, and understanding to both sides, at a time when our country can use as much peace, love, and understanding as we can get.
Charlie heard his first Christmas carol of the year on the speakers at Home Depot before Thanksgiving. Ugh, he thought. But he is probably like a lot of us…conflicted about these chestnuts. If you examine the traditional carols one by one, they are usually pretty good hymns—well crafted and perfectly seasonal. Too bad we get so sick of them. And yet we need them, and not just to make a living as musicians during the season the public wants to hear them. We need them for how they connect us through the years, both with our younger selves and with carolers who have gone before. This week, Chaise Lounge will perform our annual Christmas show, with tunes from our Christmas album. One song we always play is “Good King Wenceslas.” It is a sci-fi-tale of the Duke of Bohemia in the 13th century, who leaves heated footprints in the snow as he travels on foot to give alms to a peasant. The melody might be Finnish from the 1600’s. The version we usually sing dates from the mid-19th century. What is astonishing to us is how the fiery silver nugget of wonder in this song burns its way through the centuries to have fresh meaning every time it’s sung. That is some powerful Christmas hoodoo. If you’re in the DC area, consider coming to our show at Blues Alley.