Have You Heard? Christmas Edition 2015

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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
by Mike Little

Each year I try to keep you informed about new Christmas songs that have just come out. Sometimes, it becomes difficult as there are fewer seasonal albums released, and some seasonal music is not released until after publication deadlines. This year is no exception. Here are twelve new songs that you may want to consider playing for that special party for which you will be deejaying.





(You'll Never Be) Alone At Christmas by Mike Love.
Mike Love is one of the Boys, The Beach Boys, that is. As a member and co-founder of The Beach Boys, Mike collaborated with Brian Wilson and was a lyricist on some of the Beach Boys' singles, such as Fun, Fun, Fun and California Girls. In 1998, following the death of cousin Carl Wilson, Mike and longtime Beach Boy Bruce Johnston licensed the Beach Boys name and continued touring. The other surviving Beach Boys, Carl Wilson and Al Jardine, embarked on solo endeavors of their own.

Christmas Comes But Once A Year by Kenny Neal. Kenny Neal was born in New Orleans and was exposed to the swamp blues sound from day one. His father, Raful Neal, was a Baton Rouge blues mainstay, whose friends included Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo, the latter giving a harp to three year old Kenny as a toy. At 13, Kenny was playing in his father's band and picked up bass at 17 for Buddy Guy's band. His guitar work, sturdy harp and gravelly vocals have served him well over the years. He is best known in our arena for such hits as Deja Vu, Blues Stew and Don't Start Me Talking. Christmas Comes But Once A Year is part of Kenny Neal's new Christmas release, I'll Be Home For Christmas.

Hey There Mr. Santa Claus by Jumpin' Gene Anderson featuring Oliver Sain. Gene Anderson, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, started singing and dancing at a very early age. By the age of 12, he was cutting background tracks for artists such as Ike Turner. In his teen years, he was cutting records. He later entered the army, finding his niche as an entertainment specialist. Following the service, he performed with numerous artists before meeting and becoming close friends with Redd Foxx. He performed in Las Vegas with the Redd Foxx Show for more than seven years. He is known as the King of Hollywood Blues. Gene Anderson joined the late, great St. Louis sax legend Oliver Sain to record this original holiday song.

Holiday Lights by Toby Lightman. It wasn't until college that New Jersey violin player Toby Lightman began to seriously consider a career in music. In 2003, Toby signed with Lava/Atlantic, which led to the release of her first single. To date, she has now released five albums. In 2008, she released her first album under her own label, which provided us with the hit in our market, So Natural. Today, Toby Lightman, as an independent artist, has enjoyed tremendous success with the placement of her music in film and televisions. Holiday Lights is the title track of the EP released for this season.





I Want Some Christmas Cheer by Benny Turner. Benny Turner not only has given us a hit song in the Beach Music charts with Breakin' News, he also has graced us with a new Christmas single for us to play and dance to this year. Born in Gilmer, Texas, Benny and his older brother, Blues legend Freddie King, learned to play guitar from their mother. Over the years, Benny has played with a number of bands, but mostly in brother Freddie King's band, until Freddie's untimely death. Benny was devastated and went into seclusion for several years. Finally, bluesman Mighty Joe Young approached him, bringing him once again on stage. After eight fantastic years on the road together, Mighty Joe had to stop touring for health reasons. Benny's next move was to New Orleans where he joined the “Blues Queen of New Orleans” Marva Wright, serving as Marva's band leader and bass player. In 2008, Benny lost another friend and band mate when Marla suffered from two strokes and never recovered. Today, the deep roots and wide diversity of his musical influences has given Benny Turner and his band, Real Blues, a signature style of music.

If I Get Home For Christmas by 2 For Fun. Virginians Brian Bleakley and Steve Ambrose are 2 For Fun, and they released a Christmas album late last year titled Merry Christmas, 2 For Fun. The key songon the album, If I Get Hone For Christmas, is an original ballad. Other ballads on the release that you will want to check out are Alabama's Christmas In Dixie and the medley, Christmas Is Love, Most Of All. I also think you will like 2 For Fun's take on Bells Will Be Ringing, the duo's take on Charles Brown's Please Come Home For Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing). You should also listen to their instrumental version of Jingle Bells. In addition to performing and recording as 2 For Fun, Brian and Steve are lead vocalists for The Original Rhondells, formerly known as Bill Deal & The Rhondells. The Rhondells are known for the group's national and international hits, I've Been Hurt, May I, What Kind Of Fool Do You Think I Am, Nothing Succeeds Like Success and Swingin' Tight.

Jingle Bell Boogie by KC & The Sunshine Band. During the mid to late seventies, KC & The Sunshine Band, led by bandleaders Henry Wayne “KC” Casey and Richard Finch, racked up some of era's biggest and most recognized dance hits. Beginning in 1971, the group sustained an impressive run of disco hits, such as Get Down Tonight, That's The Way (I Like It), Shake Shake Shake (Your Booty) and Boogie Shoes, the latter being included in the huge selling soundtrack to John Travolta's disco movie, Saturday Night Fever. KC & The Sunshine Band's music has found its way into the Beach Music scene with Boogie Shoes and the Bus Stop number, Give It Up. Jingle Bell Boogie is part of the group's new release, A Sunshine Christmas.

Merry Christmas Everybody by Eugene Hideaway Bridges with Mickey Moody. Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges and English rock guitarist Mickey Moody teamed together at Blue Armadillo Records in London to record this holiday jewel. I look for it to be played quite frequently in the clubs and on radio during the season. Eugene Bridges was born in New Orleans, his father, Otheneil Bridges, being a blues guitarist who performed under the name of “Hideaway Slim”. In his early teens, Eugene began singing with his brother in a Gospel group and later formed his own Rhythm & Blues band. He eventually moved to Texas to join the United States Air Force and played in an Air Force band for three years. After leaving the service, he joined a gospel group, later joining The Mighty Cloud of Joy, who gave us the song (Ride The) Mighty High. He then moved to Houston, Texas, forming his own band under his name. After touring Europe in the mid-90's, he returned to the U.S., reforming his own band, The Eugene Hideaway Bridges Band. After recording his first album, he signed with British label Blue Armadillo and has released a series of albums for them. He moved from Houston to Australia several years ago and continues to tour internationally developing his own audiences. English guitarist Mickey Moody is a former member of the Rock bands, Juicy Lucy, Whitesnake and later, The Snakes.





Merry Christmas To My Baby by Thurl Bailey. Who? Yes! That Thurl Bailey! The Utah Jazz NBA basketball star made his debut in the music in 1999 with the release of his debut album which contains Rhythm & Blues style music with Contemporary Christian Music lyrics. With his wonderful bass vocals, Thurl's debut album was an immediate success. After taking a sabbatical from the NBA, he played professional basketball in Europe for three years. He later made a comeback with the Utah Jazz. Not only has Thurl Bailey fulfilled his dream playing professional basketball, he accomplished his childhood dream of singing music professionally. Merry Christmas to My Baby is a cut from his new album,The Gift Of Christmas.

Shagging In A Winter Wonderland by The Embers. As you know, Craig Woolard, along with Andy Swindell, has rejoined Bobby Tomlinson and company with the Embers. With the new lineup, several songs recorded live have been assembled with several studio recordings to comprise the new release, Merry Christmas, The Embers. Two bonus tracks have been added that were taken from The Embers' 1994 CD, Christmas Memories. The Embers was formed in 1958 when several enterprising high school students in Raleigh, North Carolina decided to form a band. This group went on to become one of the most prominent, successful and long-running bands playing Beach Music. The Embers has recorded seventeen albums over the years and numerous singles, including the ever-popular signature song I Love Beach Music. Over the years, there have been personnel changes in the band with long time lead vocalist Jackie Gore departing in 1994. Today's Embers are comprised of drummer Bobby Tomlinson, one of the Embers' founding members, and lead vocalist, saxophonist and flutist Craig Woolard, who spent 27 years with the Embers before forming his own band, The Craig Woolard Band. Guitarist, saxophonist and vocalist Jeff Grimes has been with The Embers for over twenty years. Prior to that, among many professional positions, Jeff played and recorded with The Jimmy Castor Bunch. Keyboardist Andy Swindell worked with The Embers for over ten years before joining The Craig Woolard Band. Before rejoining The Embers, he became proficient on drums, bass and guitarist. Andy has also released several albums of his own. Stephen Pachuta plays trumpet for The Embers. Stephen is formerly with The Coastline Band and The Main Events Band. Bassist Hugh “Tuff” Blanton joined in the formation of The Entertainers before moving on to play with The Breeze Band. Also with The Embers is trumpet player and vocalist Bobby Nantz, formerly with The Catalinas. The Embers continues to perform around three hundred concerts per year. Among the many awards the group has won over the years, they were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2014 and were voted Group of the Year in the 2015 Carolina Beach Music Awards, with Craig Woolard being selected as Male Vocalist of the Year.

What Does Christmas Mean To You by Maria Howell. Bill Bradfor of Spirit Records has released this seasonal single. Maria Howell was born in Gastornia, North Carolian and is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Maria is a talented and accomplished singer, giving us such hits as Love Flight 109 and her most recent Top 10 hit, Don't Give Up On Love. Not only is Maria a well known singer, but she is also a accomplished actress, making her film debut in The Color Purple. Since then she has appeared in numerous films and television productions. Her repertoire includes co-starring in such films as Daddy's Little Girl, The Blind Side and Mississippi Damned.

Wrapped Up My Love by The Catalinas. Since The Catalinas were formed in late 1956 in Charlotte, North Carolina, over sixty accomplished musicians and singers have been a part of the band. Statesville, North Carolina resident Gary Barker, who plays guitar and sings, leads The Catalinas, having started with the band in 1965. Gary attributes the group's long standing success to the ongoing popularity of Beach Music. Over the years, The Catalinas has given us numerous hit
recordings such as You Haven't The Right, The Facts Of Love, Dancin' Romancin', Hey Little Girl and their signature song, Summertime's Calling Me. Most recently, The Catalinas is enjoying success with the group's new release Dancin' Romancin' which carries the hit, Three Beers For Breakfast, and their current charted hit, Cool Breeze, in addition to the new holiday song, Wrapped Up My Love. Brothers Johnny Barker and Lynn Barker join Gary in The Catalinas.

From me and my family to you and your family, have a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.