Have You Heard? Special Christmas Edition

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  Mike Little is a member of the Electric City Shag Club in Anderson, South Carolina.  He is also a member of the Association of Beach & Shag Club DJ’s and the National Association of Rhythm & Blues Deejays.  He hosted for 3-1/2 years The Saturday Morning Beach Party on WANS, 1280 AM in Anderson, which was rated by Arbitron as the highest rated AM show listened to and number three overall for that time slot.  In 2004, he was awarded the Rufus Oates Award by the National Association of Rhythm & Blues Dee Jays for his writing contributions.  He now serves on the Board of Directors of the NARBDJ.

Have You Heard...

A Special Christmas Edition


Mike Little


  Have you heard about the new Christmas songs that have come out.  Sometimes, it becomes difficult to find new holiday songs, as there are fewer seasonal albums released.  And some of this music is not released until after publication deadlines.  However, here are twelve new or relatively new songs that you may want to consider playing for that special party for which you will be deejaying.  Some were released late last year, and some were released this year.



Ain't Santa Cool by Alabama.  The song comes from the newly released Alabama album, American Christmas.  This is the fourth Christmas album released by the trio.  The Country and Southern Rock band was in Fort Payne, Alabama in 1969.  The band was founded by singer and rhythm guitarist Randy Owen and his cousin Teddy Gentry, bass guitarist and background vocalist.  They were soon joined by their cousin Jeff Cook, who also handles lead guitar, as well as fiddle and keyboards.  Over the years the band has scored with over 30 number one Country records and sold over 75 million records, making them one of America's best-selling bands of all time.  Alabama also scored big in the Beach Music Market in 1997 with Dancin', Shaggin' On The Boulevard.  The group's song, Wonderful Waste Of Time, that was recorded in 2001, became a big hit for The Fantastic Shakers.




Baby Please Come Home by The Mavericks.  This one was released on a min-CD along with Christmas Time (Is Comin' 'Round Again), which is the title track.  The Grammy Award winning Americana Country Rock band was formed in 1989 in Miami, Florida.  Among the founding members was lead singer Raul Malo, who later pursued his solo career and gave us It Only Hurts When I Cry.  Among the many songs recorded, the group gave us several Beach Music hits, including My Secret Flame.  The band split up in 2004, but reunited in 2013, recording several albums since then.  


Baby It's Cold Outside by Fantasia with Cee Lo Green.   This one is for the smooth steppers.  The song was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, using it as a closing song during the colder months at clubs where he and his wife performed.  The song became popular in our market when the song was rerecorded by Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves.  The newly released song by Fantasia and Cee Lo Green comes from Fantasia's new Christmas album, Christmas After Midnight.  Fantasia Barrino Taylor was born in High Point, North Carolina and rose to fame when she won top honors in the third year of American Idol in 2004.  She is probably best known in the Beach Music world for her hit, Chain Of Fools.  A niece of members of The Barrino Brother (Trapped In A Love), Fantasia was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2014.  Cee Lo Green, who was born Thomas DeCarlo Callaway in Atlanta, Georgia, is best known in our market for his hit, Forget You.  He is also known for his Soul work, his most popular song being with Gnarls Barkley with the 2006 worldwide hit, Crazy.  Cee Lo Green joined up with deejay Brian Joseph Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, to create the duo.


Christmas Everyday by Smokey Robinson with Us The Duo.  The album, released last Christmas season and available only through Amazon, contains previously released songs, as well as some new material.  Smokey Robinson & The Miracles had recorded Christmas Everyday before, beginning in 1963, but this version, which is the title track of the album, features Us The Duo.  Us The Duo is a Folk/Pop husband and wife team from Los Angeles, California.  Michael and Carissa met on the set of a musical video in 2011 and married the following year.  We all know Smokey Robinson, beginning when he was lead vocalist of The Miracles, of which he founded.  Smokey Robinson met Berry Gordy after a failed audition, later joining together on Gordy's Tamla Records, which later was re-incorporated as Motown.  The Miracles' Shop Around was Motown's first million-selling record.  Between 1962 and 1966, Smokey was one of the major songwriters and producers for the record company.  After numerous recorded hits with The Miracles, Smokey left the group in 1972, starting his highly successful solo career.  William Robinson, Jr. got his name as a child from his uncle, who called him “Smokey Joe”.


Cool Yule by Colin James & The Little Big Band.  The song comes from the newly released Colin James seasonal album, Little Big Band Christmas.  Born Colin James Munn Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, he got his break opening for Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1984.  According to the story, when his name was announced over arena P.A, systems, “Munn” sounded it “Mud”.  Stevie Ray Vaughan suggested he drop his last name, thereby he and his band eventually became Colin James & The Little Big Band. In 1988, he released his debut self-titled album. His sophomore release, Sudden Stop, brought us the Beach & Shag hit, Give It Up.  Colin James & his band also later gathered attention along the coastlines with his remake of Jackie Wilson's Baby Workout, titled Let's Shout.


In A Holiday Mood by Bigg Robb.  This new song comes from Bigg Robb's new 2017 release, Bigg Robb's Christmas Party.  There is more to choose from that may work even better in your market area.  Check out Christmas With You and the classic Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'.  The latter was composed by the late Sir Mack Rice (Money Talks).  Born Robert Smith in Cincinnati, Ohio, Bigg Robb began his musical journey as a teenage disk jockey at a small radio station.  Eventually, he began to hang out with Funk and Soul stars in recording studios, eventually becoming the driver for Robert Troutman, then a member of Troutman's band, Zapp.  After Troutman's death in 1999, Smith took on the Bigg Rob moniker and set out on a solo career.    


Jingle Jingle Jingle My Bell by Little Kim Stewart.  This new Christmas release was written and produced by Mark “Mr. X” Stafford.  She attended Alabama State University studying Music Education, Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona studying Elementary  Education and is a 2012 graduate in Early Childhood Education from Ashford University in Britannica, British Columbia, Canada.  Little Kim resides in Montgomery, Alabama.




My Christmas Is You by Lomax.  Released last December, this get-close song is guaranteed to bring them onto the floor in droves.  The tune was first recorded by the late Bill Coday and Karen Wolfe.   As a Georgia native, Lomax Spaulding took interest in music at an early age, learning to play the guitar and the piano, as well as singing.   His performances began at church.  After high school, he moved to Atlanta to embark on a singing career, joining up with a group called Cashflow.  Cashflow released several albums, thereby performing and touring with a number of groups, including Sheila E., Atlantic Star, Luther Vandross, Alexander O'Neal and Jermaine Jackson.  In 2004, Lomax began working on a Gospel project.  Through this, he was introduced to the National Congress of Black Women, for which he performed on several occasions.  Lomax began looking to broaden his musical career and turned to Southern Soul, where he found his home.  His music reached out into the Beach Music market over the past several years, bringing us hits like Baby It's You, Swing It and his current hit, Why You Wanna Do That. 




Pull That Sleigh by Mark Black. 

This single release was made known late last year and should fit right in with the holiday music you are expected to play.  If there was a Christmas music chart for our genre, this one would be near the top.  The Gastonia, North Carolina native graduated from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and, upon graduation, joined The Fabulous Kays playing singing and playing saxophone.  From there, Mark found a home with The Embers.  After spending eight years with one of the most popular Beach bands, Mark left the group, thereby spending more time with his family.  While teaching music at the Horry County School System, he joined the East Coast Party, shortly thereafter becoming musical director for the popular band.   


Season Of Love by 98.  The song comes from the newly released seasonal album, Let It Snow.  98 consists of four vocalists, brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons.  The group was formed in Los Angeles, California, yet all of its members come from Ohio.  The four signed with Motown Records and released their first album in 1997.  98 is best known in the Shag world for the hit, Because Of You.  The quartet disbanded in 2002, but reunited for a one-time performance for a festival in 2012, which led to a new album.  In 2016, they re-grouped again to headline the My2K Tour, their first headline tour in fifteen years.  Let It Snow is the second Christmas album for 98.



Slim Down Santa by Jim Koeppel.  The 2017 single release is very fitting for the Blues lovers, as well as for the Carolina Shaggers.  The song was written by Jim and co-produced by him and Cash McCall (That Lucky Old Sun, When You Wake Up).  Jim Koeppel is a music veteran of various combos of Roots Blues, Blues and Country.  He also led his own band in the New York area, opening for such acts as Taj Mahal, Doc Watson and David Bromberg.  Jim Koeppel released his first album in 1998.  His songs have also appeared in the film industry.


Slip Away For Christmas by Mr. X.  This is another single that was released late in the 2016 season.  However, it is a also re-release of his 2008 song, Can You Slip Away For Christmas that was a part of  his Sit Down On It album.  In the music industry, every artist has to start somewhere.  Every artist starts as an unknown. From Selma, Alabama, Mark Stafford started out as the unknown, “Mr. X”, eventually quite a name for himself as a singer and songwriter.  He started out by submitting songs to Lewis Clark, aka The Love Doctor, a fellow Gospel singer who helped jump-start the whole Southern Soul movement.  Mr. X made his debut as a singer in 2008, later catching the ear of the Beach/Shag crowd with Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle.  He is currently enjoying success in our market with his charted I Gotta Walk.     



Stocking Stuffer




  The Embers released a Christmas album last December, missing the publication deadline for my last year's seasnal article.  The album, The Embers Featuring Craig Woolard:  Merry Christmas, features eleven songs for the holiday season, including Beautiful Memories, Blue Decorations and White Christmas.  The release also has The Embers' version of Otis Redding's Merry Christmas Baby and  the band's take on Alabama's Christmas In Dixie.  The Embers were formed in 1958.  Drummer Bobby Tomlinson is the only remaining original member.  Craig Woolard fronts the band, also playing saxophone and flute. Keyboardist Andy Swindell also takes lead on vocals, as does some other band members, including Jeff Grimes, Bobby Nantz, Gerald Davis and Stephen Pachuta.  Over the years, The Embers have won numerous awards including the South Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.  The group has also won numerous Carolina Beach Music Awards, with Craig Woolard winning the Male Vocalist of the Year a number of times.  The Embers serve as North Carolina's Official Ambassadors of Music.  The Embers featuring Craig Woolard:  Merry Christmas is a must.



CDS Records released the compilation, Southern Soul Christmas in November of 2015, releasing it again in 2016 with a slight title change.  We missed it the first time, but this will make a great stocking stuffer for your favorite Southern Soul music fan.  The album, Southern Soul Christmas Mix Vol. 1 carries several tunes that will work well for the parties for which you'll be playing this year. I Fell In Love Over The Holidays by Carl Marshall is one you should add to your playlist.   Born in Independence, Louisiana, Carl grew up in the music streets of New Orleans.  During the last number of years, Carl Marshall's popularity in the Southern Soul market has grown rapidly.  Over the years, he has perfected his musical skills on guitar, bass, keyboards and drums.  In the early 1980's, Carl worked for K-Tel Records, where he learned to recreate songs for the company.  One of the highlights of his career came in 2010 when he was named Vice President of CDR Records.  You probably will find Sir Jonathan Burton's Christmas Inside The Hole At The Hole In The Wall.  Jonathan Burton was born and raised in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  He got his musical training at an early age from his father who taught him to play the guitar.  His father played weekends with local bands in the surrounding areas.  Early in his career, Jonathan Burton landed a position with The Manhattans, ending up in Detroit.  In the studios around Detroit, his name and fame spread, making him one of the most sought after talent in the area.  Moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, Jonathan is enjoying even more success for his expertise on guitar, keyboards and vocals.  Over the years, he has given us some great music, such as Beach Music Lover, Too Much Booty Shaking and Give It Up, Turn It Loose.  It was after his success with Too Much Booty Shaking that a name change was explored.  Because there are so many Jonathan Burton's in the world, Jonathan was self-knighted Sir Jonathan Burton.  Other songs you need to check out from Southern  Soul Christmas Mix Vol. 1 are Christmas Southern Soul Style by Rue Davis (Cutie) and Carl Marshall and the ballad, Family, by Garland Green. (Ain't That Good Enough).  Other notables featured on the album are Christmas In Memphis (Without My Baby) by Charles Wilson and Simeo and Shuffle For Christ by The Sisters Of Vision.  Southern Soul Christmas Mix Vol. 1...get your copy now.