What are some heartfelt Christmas gift ideas?

With all these global shipping delays, and with Christmas right around the corner, you might be struggling to find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list. To prevent you from seeming like the Grinch, or from having to put coal in the stockings of all your friends, relatives, and coworkers, we’ve come up with some unique gift ideas that won’t require any shipping at all! Don’t believe me, read for yourself:

Mason Jar Alcohol Infusion Kit 

You’ve probably seen these cute jars, filled with dried fruits, spices on Etsy, but did it ever occur to you that you could make one yourself? After all, it is just a mason jar full of herbs and dried fruit—you can buy all those items at your local health food store. All you need is a recipe and some creativity! 

Put dried cranberries, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and brown sugar into a mason jar and ta da, you just made a hot toddy spirit infusion kit! You might want to add that special touch with a red ribbon around the top, and maybe even a handwritten label that reads, Just add whiskey!

Digital Jazz Album 

No one really uses CDs anymore, so why not gift those music lovers in your life a new digital Christmas album that is sure to knock their socks off? Not to mention, you certainly won’t have to worry about any shipping fees or delays. Just print off a picture of the album and put it in an envelope, or if you really want to be cheeky, wrap it in inside a box with a bunch of tissue paper! And maybe if you’re giving this gift to a significant other, you could invite he or she to slow dance with you to one of the songs—what’s more romantic than that?

You’re in luck because we have quite a few digital albums available in our store right now. Christmas Ain’t Like It Used To Be offers fresh, new and heartwarming holiday songs, along with the stellar vocals of Andromeda Turre; Lorca Hart Trio’s Colors of Jazz takes you on a whirlwind adventure through the rainbow, exploring the vibrancy of contemporary jazz; WJ3 All-Stars’ Lovers and Love Songs sweeps you away on a romantic journey through the ages; and Cryin’ In My Whiskey, featuring Janis Siegel and John Di Martino, is the perfect mix of jazz standards and country classics! You really can’t go wrong with any of these choices.

Personalized Coupons

Grab some card stock, markers, and stickers and make some adorable, personalized coupons that show your loved ones that you really care. Some ideas for coupons: Good for one free hug, one free cuddle, back massage, ice cream date… The options are endless! Just get creative. Oh, and if you really want to have some fun with it, you could even put expiration dates on the coupons—just be ready to redeem them all when the time comes!

Concert Tickets 

Experiences can be more valuable than any tangible object, so, this holiday season, gift your friends, family, and coworkers with an early Christmas gift: tickets to the album concert for Christmas Ain’t Like It Used To Be

On Friday, December 17th at 8pm, Akron will be hosting some of the best musicians in New York City on the Knight Stage at the Civic Center. You and your loved ones won’t want to miss this joyful celebration of Christmas, Hannukah and jazz! To purchase tickets, please see the link below:

https://www.akroncivic.com/shows/370

What are some new Christmas albums?

The classic Christmas tunes are popular for a reason—they evoke family memories, you know the lyrics by heart, and they’ve withstood the test of time—but sometimes the classics can dare I say it, become a bit repetitive, especially if the same station or soundtrack is on loop all day at your work! Sometimes, it’s nice to spice things up and open the genre to new albums. Because remember, all classic songs were at one time, new releases! It’s time to make some room around the open fire for new friends. 

Dolly Parton – Holly Dolly Christmas

Her first Christmas album in thirty years, Holly Dolly Christmas does not disappoint. With a majority of new, original tracks, and some traditional favorites mixed in as well, this album is as charming and optimistic as the country star we all know and love. Including duets with Michael Bublé, Jimmy Fallon, Willie Nelson, and featuring Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Randy Parton, Holly Dolly Christmas keeps things exciting!

The song “Comin Home for Christmas,” which was released as a single in 2009, is particularly cozy and sweet, and sure to bring the family all together. Mama’s in the kitchen, Christmas on the stove, Daddy’s in the woodshed with ax and overcoat, everybody’s helpin’ to place and trim the tree…

Norah Jones – I Dream of Christmas

The wait for Norah Jones’s first full-length Christmas album was well worth it! Her velvety, crisp, and cool voice seems like it was just made for Christmas songs. These dreamy, elegant, and tranquil tracks offer a relaxed backdrop for family gatherings, dinner parties and cozying up by the fire. And with many originals, like “Christmas Calling” and “Christmas Glow,” you’re bound to discover a new favorite! 

Carrie Underwood – My Gift 

A somber, unadorned album, My Gift showcases Underwood’s voice and focuses on the religious underpinnings of the holiday. The slow, poignant songs create an atmosphere meant for deeper emotions and reflection. One of the tracks, “Little Drummer Boy,” even features the adorable vocals of Underwood’s eldest son, which speaks to the familial and spiritual themes of the album. But perhaps the most passionate and profound is “Let There Be Peace,” which was performed at this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

John Di Martino & Andromeda Turre – Christmas Ain’t Like It Used to Be

Last, but certainly not least, this jazz release truly reinvigorates the genre with a complete album of exclusively fresh and vibrant originals from some of the biggest stars in the industry—John Di Martino, Andromeda Turre, Wayne Escoffery, Lonnie Plaxico and Willie Jones III. Offering a lovely mixture of slow, touching songs, like “Star of Wonder;” upbeat, festive tracks like “Make December Stay;” and bluesy tunes like “Christmas Ain’t Like It Used to Be;” this album is extremely versatile and will fit any holiday moment, whether it be baking cookies, trimming the tree, or kissing beneath the mistletoe. 

Christmas Ain’t Like It Used to Be is available now in our store and on all major music platforms. And if you live in the northeast Ohio area, you’re in luck because these musicians will be coming to the Akron Civic Center to perform the album for one night only—December 17th at 8pm. To purchase tickets please see the link below: 

Why is Labor Day celebrated?

We all love that day off from school or work, that long weekend to go to the lake house, have a barbeque and visit with relatives, but let’s face it, most of us don’t really know why Labor Day is celebrated, or the history behind the holiday.

Labor Day, which is celebrated on the first Monday in September, honors and recognizes the American labor movement and the role of laborers in the development and achievements of the country. The holiday originated in the late 1800s, after the Industrial Revolution, when trade unions were growing steadily. Unionists thought that there should be a day to recognize labor, so the first parade was organized in New York City, and it became an official holiday in 1894.

You may be wondering, what kind of music did people listen to back then, in the late 19th century? Well, we’ve compiled a short list of historical tunes that are sure to impress your friends and family at your Labor Day celebration!

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad – 1894

With its lyrics about rising early in the morn to go work on the railroad, this American folk song embodies the spirit and history of Labor Day. Railroading was a career that many young men took up at around age 18 to 20. They began as shop laborers with the possibility of being promoted to the positions of skilled mechanic, brakeman, freight conductor and passenger conductor. And not only did the explosion of railways create jobs, but it also transformed many sectors of the U.S. economy, such as manufacturing, agriculture, and finance. 

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – 1872

This African American spiritual song was originally composed in 1865 by Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman, who had probably been inspired by the sight of the Red River, where he worked alongside. The river may have reminded him of the Jordan River and the Prophet Elijah, which are referenced in the song.

A minister at the Choctaw boarding school heard Willis singing the song, so he transcribed the lyrics and melodies, and sent it to the Jubilee Singers of the historically black Fisk University in Nashville, who popularized the song in the early 1900s.

While Strolling Through the Park One Day – 1884

Originally written and published by vaudeville performer Ed Haley, this tune has been featured in many films and was sung by Judy Garland. Interestingly enough, a few bars were also sung by the NASA astronauts when they landed on the moon with the Apollo 17 mission. I was strolling on the moon one day…” 

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue – Janis Siegel, John Di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico

The oldies are neat and everything, but after the novelty wears off, they’re probably not the type of music you want to listen to for hours on end. After the collective ride down American memory lane, maybe it’s time to change the playlist up and play something a bit more modern, like this 2020 jazz rendition of Crystal Gayle’s country hit!

If you’re looking for more jazzy country tunes to play at your Labor Day party, our new album Cryin’ In My Whiskey is available in our store and on all major music platforms now. And if you’d like to book one of our wonderful musicians for your event, please contact us today. 

Happy Mother’s Day! – 5 Jazz Songs to Warm Mom’s Heart

Are you feeling bombarded and overwhelmed by all of the advertisements for Mother’s Day gifts and flowers? Do you still not have a gift idea for mom? Maybe you weren’t able to visit with mom last year, due to concerns about COVID-19, and you want to make sure Mother’s Day 2021 is extra special. 

Well, don’t worry because sometimes it’s the simplest gifts that leave the longest lasting memories. Sometimes it’s about creating that perfect ambience by playing just the right songs. The songs that’ll speak to mom’s heart, get her eyes watering and her toes tapping.

Etta James – Tell Mama

This 1967 hit song still rocks out today! Etta James’s deep, powerful and gutsy vocals let you know that mama really is always on your side and always has your back, no matter what. This song is sure to get your Mother’s Day off to a groovy start! 

WJ3 All Stars – I’ve Never Been in Love Before

The jazz standard from 1950—recorded by stars like Bing Crosby, Doris Day and Chet Baker—has been brought back to life in this vivid rendition from Willie Jones III and his All-Stars! Whether this is the first time your mom is hearing this song, or if it’s a tune she knows and loves, the soft melody, saxophone and piano are sure to create a lovely atmosphere for chatting and reminiscing.

The Shirelles – Mama Said

This lively, poppy 1961 hit is a fun ode to all the moms out there who have given their children those unforgettable words of wisdom. And did you know that The Shirelles, famous for their rhythm & blues, doo-wop and soul music, are credited with the launch of the girl group genre? All I know is that I don’t worry ‘cause Mama said there’ll be days like this…

Gregory Porter – Mother’s Song

You probably recognize Gregory Porter from his albums, Liquid Spirit and Tame to the Alley, both of which won Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal Album, but I bet you haven’t heard this song from his 2012 album! Porter’s mellow and uplifting sound will make your mother feel cherished on her special day. Listen and gather ‘round me children, children of a mother whose life lifted up peace, a mother who taught all of her children to love and be loved by each other…

Lorca Hart Trio – Bye Ya

If your mom is anything like my mom, saying goodbye is an ordeal, an event, a process in which one gets initiated into another conversation, and gets just one more hug, before finally walking out the door. So, this Mother’s Day, say goodbye with a bang! “Bye Ya” comes from Lorca Hart Trio’s newest album Colors of Jazz. The swinging, upbeat tune represents the color orange and evokes the image of a jolly band leading a parade down a cobblestone street. Everyone is dancing merrily and marching happily to the beat of the drum solo. A cheering crowd lines the street, pressing together to watch the musicians pass, waving and laughing. Giggling children chase each other through the sea of legs. Now, that, to me, really sounds like the proper way to say goodbye to mom!

And if your mom is a lover of jazz music, you may want to browse around our store for some great gift ideas! “Colors of Jazz” and WJ3 All-Star’s album “Lover and Love Songs” are both available in our store right now, along with many other albums that’ll bring a bright smile to mom’s face. Or if you would like to book one of our lovely musicians for your Mother’s Day, please contact us today. 

5 Tunes to Get You Movin’ on International Dance Day

Whether it be Zumba, ballet, belly dance, hip hop, shuffle dance or the waltz, we all have a sweet spot, or secret talent, for some kind of dance style! And even if you don’t think of yourself as a great dancer, you have to admit, dancing makes you feel alive, so why not get your groove on this Thursday for International Dance Day?

WJ3 All Stars – I’m An Old Cow Hand

Originally sung by Bing Crosby in 1936 for the movie, Rhythm on the Range, this rollicking tune was a huge hit in its day and could always get people clapping and tapping their toes. Now, nearly a century later, the song is brought back to life by world-class artists, Willie Jones III and his All-Stars. This smooth and snazzy rendition is a great song to warm up those dancing muscles of yours!

Fred Astaire – The Way You Look Tonight

We all know and love the Frank Sinatra version of this song. It’s a staple at most weddings is a very popular first dance song. But did you know that “The Way You Look Tonight” was first performed by Fred Astaire in the 1936 movie “Swing Time” and that it won the Academy Award for the Best Original Song? Well, nothing says International Dance Day, like the famous dancer, Fred Astaire, for whom the ballroom dance franchise was named! You’ll definitely want to grab a partner and get on the dancefloor for this classic!

Little Willie John – I’m Shakin’ 

With the lyrics, I got a knocking in my knees and a wobble in my walk, I just don’t know how this song won’t motivate you to get up and bust a move! Little Willie John, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, was a notable figure in R&B music of the 1950s, and he certainly knows how to give your legs the jitters!  

Lorca Hart Trio – Dayne

As part of their new Colors of Jazz album, the Lorca Hart Trio have created a vivid tribute to Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter, who were certainly some jazz stars that could get you on your feet! This upbeat, fast-paced song evokes the image of a bright yellow sports car, speeding down the road, and will be sure to have you twistin’ and groovin’, or at the very least, snapping your fingers along to the beat! 

Etta Jones – Till There Was You

Let’s slow things down a bit with this last one. Etta Jones’s lovely version of this 1957 song is so soft and heartwarming that it’ll make you just want to melt into the arms of your sweetheart during a slow dance, which to me sounds like the very best way to end a long night of movin’ and shakin’. 

If the songs by Lorca Hart Trio and WJ3 All Stars caught your fancy, then look no further. Both of these groups newest albums are available right now in our shop. And if you’d like to book one of our musicians for an upcoming party or event, contact us today.