’Tis the season of bad music. You’ll hear Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “I Believe in Father Christmas.” You’ll hear Billy Squier’s “Christmas Is a Time to Say I Love You.” You’ll hear Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” Then you’ll hear it again. And again.
Unless, of course, you buy A Holiday Feast, a collection of 22 mostly original yuletide tunes by local performers, the proceeds from which will benefit D.C.’s Hungry for Music (HFM). The organization, which started as an annual homeless benefit concert in 1992 and incorporated as a nonprofit two years later, released Hungry for Music, Vol. 1 in the fall of 1994. Like that disc, A Holiday Feast showcases an impressive array of local talent and includes tracks by buskers as well as established artists.
The disc, executive produced by HFM founder Jeff Campbell, is a virtual who’s who of area musicians. Livelier and more diverse than most Christmas compilations, Feast saves the best for first, opening with its strongest track, the Grave-
robbers’ “Come on Santa,” an infectious country-rock paean to holiday dispirit. (“No roarin’ fire can ever warm my heart up/Don’t tell me its snowin’/I don’t want to see/Without my baby, I don’t want Christmas/Come on Santa bring my baby back to me.”)
Most of the disc’s songs are nontraditional, and most of its nontraditional songs are funny. To wit: Bill Kirchen’s honky-tonk lament “Santa! Don’t Pass Me By,” the Grandsons’ Bible-story-with-a-sax-solo “Bethlehem Bound,” and Bob Devlin’s wry “I’m Broke Again This Christmas.” The genre-hopping Feast also includes rockabilly (Out Behind the Barn’s “New Year’s Resolution”), gospel (the Silvertones’ “Mary Had a Baby”), zydeco (Squeeze Bayou’s “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”), folk (Susan Graham White’s “Child of Mary”), and orthodox caroling (Eddie From Ohio’s “Silent Night.”)—Nicole Arthur
Feast is available at Tower Records and for $15 from Hungry for Music, 2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 384, Washington, DC 20006. (703) 516-0487.