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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: It’s a white trash holiday with Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl Keen

It’s just 4 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

Nothing says Christmas than a box of tampons and some Marlboro Lights – at least that’s the story from Robert Earl Keen. This white trash Christmas tale has become a staple on The Night Before … easily one of my most-requested songs every year. So, in case you miss it next Wednesday, here ya go, complete with wishes of “Merry Christmas, From The Family.”

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: El Vez spices up “Little Drummer Boy”

el vez

It’s just 5 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

Every so often someone comes along and turns Christmas on its highly-decorated ear, and about a decade ago that honor went to El Vez, The Mexican Elvis and his Lovely Elvettes! If you ever get the chance to see El Vez live (especially his Merry Mex-mas show!) … GO!! He took one of the few Christmas songs I don’t like, chewed it up and spat it back to us in true El Vez fashion. Here he is – live and in color – from 2002 (being introduced to the stage by Dave Foley of Kids In The Hall fame)!  #Energy

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: Kay Starr introduces us to “The Man With the Bag”

Kay Starr

It’s just 6 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

Today we travel back to 1950, when Irving Taylor, Hal Stanley and Dudley Brooks penned this Christmas classic, “(Everybody’s Waitin’ for) The Man with the Bag”. Brooks is best known as a jazz pianist and arranger who spent years collaborated with Elvis Presley on some of his most famous albums and movies (including the Elvis’ Christmas Album!) Originally sung by Kay Starr – this song has been covered over and over … but in this case, nothing beats the original. Sadly no video of Kay singing this song exists – so this will have to do … and yes, Kay is alive and well at age 92!

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: Elvis Costello joins Stephen Colbert on “There Are Much Worse Things To Believe In”

elvis costello

It’s just 7 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

Today we keep it modern with a clip from the surprisingly funny 2008 TV Christmas special hosted by Stephen Colbert. With an impressive list of special guests, my favorite has to be a visit from Elvis Costello – together they perform a song that channels the spirit of Frank & Dean, preaching their message of holiday goodwill.  Here they are performing “There Are Much Worse Things To Believe In.”

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: Trip Shakespeare help us enjoy “Snow Days”

trip shakespeare

It’s just 8 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

Today’s song comes from a band that knows snow days, as they are from Minneapolis. Trip Shakespeare got picked up by A&M in 1990 and released Across The Universe. While a commercial flop (selling only 30,000 copies), it produced one of my favorite winter songs – period. I play it every Night Before since I started 21 years ago… it’s tradition! I give you “Snow Days” by Trip Shakespeare.

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: The Roches perform Christmas classic “Hallelujah” live

The Roaches
The Roaches

It’s just 9 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day! There are just a dozen or so MUST-HAVE recent Christmas CDs and one is We Three Kings by The Roches. Filled with beautiful harmonies and unique takes on classic songs – but nothing beats when The Roches perform “Hallelujah.” Fact is, they’ve been singing it for 40 years and, in 1979 at the behest of Paul Simon, The Roches were asked to perform it coast-to-coast on NBC’s Saturday Night Live … the rest is history.

Here they are just before that big break, performing the song that would put them on the radar – during the fall of 1978 at the Capitol Theare in Passaic, NJ.

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: Ilene Weiss sings her unique holiday song “Tree”

Ilene Weiss

 

It’s just 10 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day! There’s been songs of angels, Santa, snow and presents … but rarely do you hear a song sung from the perspective of the Christmas Tree. I give you Ilene Weiss and her unique holiday song “Tree.”

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: The Brett Domino Trio covers “Fairytale of New York”

Brett Domino Trio
Brett Domino Trio

It’s just 11 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

Today we spotlight a Christmas song that should NEVER be covered – as the original by The Pogues, featuring Kirsty MacColl, is one of my all-time favorites. However, a few years ago musician/comedian Rob J. Madin produced a quirky cover of “Fairytale Of New York” as his alter-ego Brett Domino and it has stuck with me ever since. I give you The Brett Domino Trio (yes, there’s just two of them) with English pop singer Alexa Goddard and their version of the classic.

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: Buster Poindexter kicks things off with “Zat You, Santa Claus?”

Buster Poindexter
Buster Poindexter

It’s just 12 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day! With twelve days to go, we start things off with the ghost of the New York Dolls, David Johansen, aka Buster Poindexter, with the holiday classic “Zat You, Santa Claus?”

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

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The Night Before: Holiday A Cappella with The GrooveBarbers

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Photo by Eric Schuman

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Robert Drake’s holiday marathon The Night Before, we invited The GrooveBarbers to the World Cafe Studios for a special live performance.

The GrooveBarbers are a veritable supergroup of a cappella veterans. Sean Altman, Steve Keyes and Charlie Evett were all previously members of the celebrated vocal group Rockapella (Altman co-wrote one of that group’s best-known songs: the theme to PBS’s Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, and both Altman and Keyes appeared in Spike Lee’s 1990 special Do It A Cappella). Rounding out the quartet is songwriter and TV producer Kevin Weist, and the guys were joined in this session by vocal percussionist Edward Chung of the New York a cappella group Duwende.

The GrooveBarbers’ session features many seasonal classics, as well as two Sean Altman originals. Many of these songs can also be heard on their 2005 album, Glory. Stream and download the session below, and catch The GrooveBarbers when they perform at Melodies Cafe in Ardmore on Friday, March 28th.

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