Anti-Christmas 2013: Waiting For Christmas

Waiting For Christmas 2013

So there we are another year. Older, wiser & richer? – Well, at least one of those is true. It has been a pretty good year. The Ironbath has travelled the equivalent of around the globe in search of music. He has seen something like 200 sets by some of the hottest new acts (John Fullbright, Milk Carton Kids, Shovels & Rope) and some of the legends (Richard Thompson, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell).  Whichever way you look things are brighter. Not necessarily bright, but getting brighter.

This is still an austerity Christmas, though, so the Ironbath’s selection for his annual anti-Christmas fest are suitably sparse. Plenty of classic Christmas songs have been recycled with a sombre twist – Heck, Liz Longley has even recycled a couple within her own composition!

This is a reflective compilation that looks back on the Christmas that we all remember when we were young. We look back with more confidence than we look forward. This is best summed up by Rosabella Gregory’s beautiful song ‘Hello Christmas’.

Last Christmas the Ironbath heard the Goodnight Lenin track on late night radio and was awe struck by it. The two songs by the Choir Of Angels featuring Rumer & Kristina Train, along with the amazing cover by Amy Macdonald were recorded specially for the radio and are far too good to not feature on a more permanent medium.

Every year the compilation must include a version of River. The Ironbath had four covers that could have been featured, and chose the simple Rachael Yamagata piano version.

So until next year, whatever that year might hold, have a merry Christmas and try to stay safe.


The full track listing is below, and you can download a Zip of the compilation & cover art at the bottom. (With apologies to any musicians who would rather that their songs didn’t feature here – Please contact me to have them removed).

Waiting For Christmas 2013 Listing

Anti-Christmas 2013: Waiting For Christmas

Compilations from previous years are also available.

Anti-Christmas 2012: Future Like Snow

Anti-Christmas 2011: Please Don’t Chop Another Christmas Tree


Posted in Adelee & Gentry, Amy Macdonald, Anti-Christmas, Choir Of Angels, Christmas Music, Dan Wilson, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Emmylou Harris, Goodnight Lenin, Hope & Social, Invisible Flock, John Fullbright, Kensington Prairie, Kristina Train, Liz Longley, Milk Carton Kids, Norah Jones, Rachael Yamagata, Richard Thompson, Rodney Crowell, Rosabella Gregory, Rosanne Cash, Rumer, Shelby Lynne, Shovels & Rope, Smith & Burrows, You & Her | 2 Comments

Anti-Christmas 2012: A Future Like Snow

The year is nearly over but and it is the season to look back on the past 12 months with disdain and disappointment, feel sorrow for what could have been and desperation for what was. But it is tougher this year.

As years go, 2012 was not the worst. The world didn’t end, the economies of Europe didn’t totally collapse, Americans didn’t make the worst decision when they voted, nuclear power stations weren’t hit by earthquake & tsunami, and there are (just may be) slightly fewer wars than last year.

The pageantry of the Olympics and Jubilee really did lift the country (and hopefully the world). For those that care we even have a future royal birth on the horizon.

Musically the year was pretty good. There perhaps weren’t the standout albums that 2011 gave us, but there were a great number that would rank as very good. (The Ironbath promises to tell you his favourites in the near future.) However, live music was unsurpassed with Cayamo 2012 markedly the best boat ride ever, Cambridge Folk Festival had one of the best line ups in its 48 year history. The Ironbath visited the Shrewsbury Folk Festival vicariously through its wonderful live streaming, And there were about 20 other live gigs that the Ironbath attended over the year. (The Ironbath also promises to tell you which ones he enjoyed most).

The Ironbath also had a wonderful visit to Houston – where he got to tread on the infamous red brick floor of Anderson Fair and visited the nearest to a Texas Roadhouse that exists within the metropolitan district; And then on to Austin where the Continental Club became his home and he lost his heart to Elena James before it was torn apart by The Whiskey Sisters.

Still there is a tortuous quantum of pain around us this year. More people are suffering in ways that are unimaginable. despicable atrocities occurred on every continent, and in nearly every country. Human and natural disasters stole the lives or livelihoods of ordinary people around the world. For the terrorized this horror has become their normal.

It has been a good year for the Ironbath but still he ends the year financially and emotionally poorer than when he started it.

The future is like snow. It’s innocence is quickly blemished and the only future that snow ever has is to turn in to slush, and whatever it is that you think you have will just disappear in to the drain.

This is the fifth year that the Ironbath has made an anti-Christmas compilation. It is Christmas from the perspective of the people who are on the wrong side of the window that looks in on the fun and frivolities that other people associate with this season. It is pure yuletide melancholy.

There are several rules that are observed in this and every anti-christmas compilation. The most important being that it must feature a recording of the ultimate anti-Christmas song: Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’, and this year’s inclusion is probably the best that there has ever been.

Aside from the rules there are no rules. There are traditional songs alongside new songs. This year there is a version of The Pretenders’ Christmas classic, ‘2000 miles’. It is hard to imagine that 4 previous compilations have gone by with that song. It is also the first year that features a recording of ‘Silent Night’ – Well, actually, there are 4 different interpretations.

Another highlight is Reid Jamieson’s …the Ironbath hadn’t heard of him either… excellent cover of Tori Amos’ ‘Winter’ that was found via Cover Lay Down. Calexico take a song that is attributed to King Henry VIII and make it sound like a thoroughly modern song.

Often the Ironbath’s compilations mirror the excellent Fuel/Friends Christmas Mix. To such an extent that the Ironbath tries not to look at Heather’s picks. This year both featured Joshua Hyslops’ ‘Winter’s Night’, and once he’d heard the Prairie Empire’s take on ‘Silent Night’ the Ironbath had to find space for that as well.

Songs are taken from whatever source is available. There are well-known names, and names you’ve never heard of. There are tracks from iTunes, tracks taken from the radio and tracks found in the nether-regions of the internet. The Ironbath is contradicted about publishing other people’s music on the internet but does so under the anticipation that if you like any of these songs you’ll support these artists, or other similar artists in the coming year.

1             Silent Night  –  Matt Coleman
2             Christmas Time Is Here  –  Emily Barker
3             2000 Miles  –  Catie Curtis
4             Green Grows The Holly  –  Calexico
5             Future Like Snow  –  Trent Dabbs Ft. Lori McKenna
6             I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day  –  The Civil Wars
7             Winter  –  Reid Jamieson
8             Silent Night  –  Christmas Piano Masters
9             Silent Night  –  Katie Herzig
10           Christmas Moon  –  Brooke Waggoner
11           River  –  Tracey Thorn
12           Freezing  –  Nick Lowe
13           I’ll Be Home For Christmas  –  Doris Day
14           You Never Come Home for Christmas  –  Caitlin Rose & Keegan Dewitt
15           Snow, Snow & Mistletoe  –  Shelley Adams
16           Walking In The Air  –  Megan Henwood
17           Winter Wonderland  –  The Rainbow Collections
18           Like A Snowman  –  Tracey Thorn
19           The Day After Christmas  –  Kate Miller-Heidke
20           Winter’s Night  –  Joshua Hyslop
21           Winter Lights  –  Saints Of Valory
22           Silent Night  –  Prairie Empire

You can download a zip of all the songs & artwork HERE, and if you need an extra dose of yuletide melancholy you can listen to last year’s Anti-Christmas compilation, ‘Please Don’t Chop Another Christmas Tree’.

Posted in Anderson Fair, Anti-Christmas, Brooke Waggoner, Caitlin Rose, Calexico, Cambridge Folk Festival, Catie Curtis, Cayamo, Choir Of Angels, Cover Lay Down, Doris Day, Elena James, Emily Baker & The Red Clay Halo, Fuel/Friends, Joni Mitchell, Joshua Hyslop, Kate Miller-Heidke, Katie Herzig, Keegan Dewitt, Lori McKenna, Matt Coleman, Megan Henwood, Nick Lowe, Prairie Empire, Reid Jamieson, Saints Of Valory, Shelley Adams, Shrewsbury Folk Festival, The Civil Wars, The Continental Club, The Hot Club Of Cowtown, The Pretenders, The Whiskey Sisters, Tori Amos, Tracey Thorn, Trent Dabbs | 2 Comments

The ‘Frock Rockers’ raid the dressing up box

It seems like the term ‘Frock Rockers’ is an apt description of sibling groups, First Aid Kit & The Staves, but both have recently published new videos were they have forsaken their dresses.

First Aid Kit went deep into the forest of their native Sweden to dance around in white gowns to promote their song “Wolf”.


Meanwhile, The Staves are promoting their new album, ‘Dead & Born & Grown’ due in November with their own spaghetti western for ‘Tongue Behind My Teeth’. Between summer festivals they flew out to the desert in Spain for this moody epic.


Both groups are touring this autumn and the Ironbath has tickets!

Posted in First Aid Kit, The Staves | Leave a comment

Charlene Soraia – Live from the crypt

Yesterday the Ironbath introduced you to Charlene Soraia of tea drinking fame. But the video of Charlene singing in the tea commercial doesn’t do justice to her guitar playing or her own song writing. Whilst doing a little research the Ironbath stumbled across an internet gem – The Crypt Sessions – a kind of English version of Daytrotter.

A few months ago Charlene recorded a session at the Crypt, that is so well put together I thought I would replay it in full. It starts with a brief interview, and then 3 original tunes.

Interview with Charlene Soraia.


Wishing You Well






I know that I’ve said it before but truly Charlene Soraia is something very special. When the Ironbath saw her at Cambridge she volunteered to sign CDs at the end of the show: nothing strange about that perhaps. Except that it was literally the whole population of the venue that joined the line to meet Charlene. She was still there when the next act was waiting to come on stage, so she and the remaining line moved outside. Inevitably she sold out CDs but still spoke to everyone. Later she tweeted that it was the 3rd festival in a row where that had happened.

The Ironbath is willing to stake whatever is left of his reputation that by this time next year a far greater number of people will know Charlene Soraia, and that she’ll still be selling out CDs everytime she appears on stage.

Posted in Charlene Soraia, Daytrotter, The Crypt Sessions | Leave a comment

Sharing a cup of tea with Lissie and Charlene Soraia

Once upon a time back in the real world the Ironbath used to make tea for a living. With hindsight it was an inevitable career path after he became a championship tea maker at a very tender age during a cub scout activity week. The promotion – presumably sponsored by Tetley or PG Tips – involved making the most cups of tea during the course of a week. The Ironbath has a hazy memory of bygone days but there is the faintest recollection of brewing 156 cups of tea. There wasn’t any prize but the Ironbath was awarded an orange plastic badge in the shape of a tea pot that proclaimed him as Championship Tea Maker.

30 years later and sat in the interview at Twinings this fact flashed across the Ironbath’s mind. “And why do you think you’ll be the right person for this role?” the HR interviewer asked. There was a pantheon of potential answers ranging from: “I’ll do anything for sufficient money” to “This is the role that I have lived my whole life for”. But the only thing that the Ironbath could think of saying was: “I was awarded the Championship Tea Maker badge when I was a cub scout”.

Making tea for a living had its advantages. Walking through the raw material warehouse where the air was heavy with a multitude of delicate aromas: rose hip, lavender, honey, strawberry, camomile. Watching the machines produce individual tea bags faster than your eyes could see was hypnotizing. However not everything was rosy in the world of tea making and 9 months after starting my assignment I had moved on.

Today it is still hard to drink a cup of morello cherry & vanilla without thinking about what could have been. So it is ironic that after I left they started running a promotion that featured our friend from Cayamo, Lissie with a version of Fleetwood Mac’s, ‘Go Your Own Way’.


Lissie also produced a ‘making of’ video where she discusses her love of “a good cup of tea”.


Then the Ironbath was at Cambridge Folk Festival the other day when he found himself at The Den. A poorly named venue that featured emerging acts. Already that day the Ironbath had witnessed one his best days of live music with Gretchen Peters, Keb’ Mo’, Nanci Griffith and The Unthanks spectacular show that featured a 28 piece colliery  brass band. But just when he thought the day could not be bettered he met Charlene Soraia.

Charlene Soraia is an incredible young musician. It is fair to say that she is the most talented young musician the Ironbath has ever heard. She has a self-deprecating personality reminiscent of Adele – She was at the infamous BRIT stage school alongside Adele. A guitar playing ability reminiscent of Richard Thompson – She started playing when she was 5 so has picked up a skill or two. As a songwriter she has a thoroughly unique style, and a style that is still evolving.

The similarity with the Ironbath though, was the fact that we were both unceremoniously dropped by Twinings. She was featured in the promotion before Lissie took over. She performed a version of The Calling’s, ‘Wherever You Will Go’.


At the show she told a story about how she wrote to the PR department at Twinings when her free supply of tea ran out, but they declined to send her any more. It seems she was just as impressed with Twinings as the Ironbath.

On this video she explains her musical genesis.


You can stream a couple of songs from her album ‘Moonchild’ on her website. She is already recording another album, and judging by the songs she played at Cambridge it will feature more of her seriously impressive guitar work that is less evident in ‘Moonchild’.

Making any kind of prediction in this business is fraught with disappointment but the Ironbath thinks that Charlene has a good chance of being named in the BBC end of year list for “Sound of 2013”.

Posted in Adele, Cambridge Folk Festival, Cayamo, Charlene Soraia, Fleetwood Mac, Gretchen Peters, Keb' Mo, Lissie, Nanci Griffith, Richard Thompson, The Calling, The Unthanks | Leave a comment

Top 5 new names for Cayamo (PS they’re all girls!)

The Ironbath thought he would think outside the box – or should that be boat – and try to discover some potential new talent for Cayamo. Some of these names may have had an occassional mention but they haven’t featured significantly before. They represent a broad range of Cayamo styles from those that lean towards country, those that are more indie and those that tend towards something a little bit pop. What they all have in common is style, originality and, above all, talent.


Amber Rubarth

There is a sassy sparkle in Amber’s eyes and also in her sharp lyrics. She is the other half of The Paper Raincoat along with former Cayamoan, Alex Wong, who accompanied Vienna Teng during her sets. On her own Amber Rubarth has released a clutch of albums including last year’s ‘A Common Case Of Disappearing’ which features the track ‘Letter from My Lonelier Self’ that won Amber the Mountain Stage New Song contest in 2010.


You can replay her Mountain Stage session here. And you can download a 5 song sampler from her Bandcamp page.


Angel Snow

If you are looking for a recommendation it doesn’t come much better than the quote from Alison Krauss that features prominently on Angel Snow’s website: “When she sings I hold my breath.” Angel is the lyricist who worked with Viktor Krauss (Alison’s brother) to provide 3 songs for Alison’s global hit album ‘Paper Airplane’.

Viktor Krauss is producing Angel’s second solo effort due in August, but you needn’t wait till then as she has released a live album recorded at Eddie’s Attic through NoiseTrade. It is a pay-what-you-please deal and you can stream it for free.


Hannah Cohen

Hannah Cohen is a very serious girl.

Her music is sparse and follows along the traditions laid down by Laura Viers, Kathryn Williams and Laura Marling. But sparse can also be delicate, and these songs have a quality to them that calls out to be listened to. You might not appreciate them on the first listen, but listen again, and then again, and then you’ll find the melody is firmly rooted in your head.

Her debut album, ‘Child Bride’ was released in April.

She has had two appropriately spartan videos made to support her release – both are shot in black and white and only feature headshots – albeit in one she appears to be laying down in a puddle. The Ironbath can’t imagine how they sold her that idea!

You can download her recent Daytrotter session for a nominal fee.



The Pierces

The sisters, Allison and Catherine Pierce from Alabama, resident in New York, made quite a stir in the UK last summer where their song ‘Kissing You Goodbye’ achieved frequent radio rotation and earnt them billing amongst much better known pop acts at a charity concert in Hyde Park broadcast live on BBC Radio.

Their overnight success was a product of 11 years touring and 5 albums. But they have finally found their recognition, and it looks as if their bandwagon is continuing to roll. They are supporting Coldplay on a world-wide tour and have recently performed on Letterman and Jay Leno.



Jesca Hoop

There are all kinds of ways to get your break in the music industry. Jesca Hoop found a more unique route in. She was the nanny to Tom Waits’ children, and lo and behold Tom made a call on her behalf describing her music as “like going swimming in a lake at night.”

Her latest album, ‘The House That Jack Built’ is released today.


Jesca Hoop has traded the California sun for the Manchester mist and has integrated some northern phrases into this song. Wikipedia catalogues her music as Folk, Jazz, Blues, Pop and Experimental. This track falls into the latter category, but don’t let that put you off! Indeed if there is only one video on this blog that you watch today, the Ironbath recommends this one.

Posted in Alex Wong, Alison Krauss, Amber Rubarth, Angel Snow, Cayamo, Coldplay, Hannah Cohen, Jesca Hoop, Kathryn Williams, Laura Marling, Laura Viers, The Pierces, Top 5, Vienna Tang, Viktor Krauss | Leave a comment

Meghan Arias – The blurry junction between music, poetry & love

The Ironbath has previously mentioned Meghan Coffee when he listed the Top 5 songs from the first Cayamo Journey Through Song. However now the Ironbath has some exciting news to pass on from Meghan.

#1 she is now trading under her married name of Meghan Arias and, #2, she is set to release her first new music since 2008. “The Cracks And The Crevices” EP will be released on July 10th. #3 she will be playing at the Eddie Owen Presents benefit at the Red Clay Theatre in Duluth on Sunday.

Eddie’s Attic – back in the days when it was controlled by Eddie – played an important role in her musical life. In 2005 she played a gig there that directly led to her joining Edwin McCain on tour and on a TV special hosted by Edwin filmed on the same stage. For a time they shared the same manager, and so when Edwin was invited on to Cayamo in 2008, Meghan was invited as well.

The song that had such an impact on the Ironbath back in 2008 was ‘Not Easy To Love’. It is a love ballad wrapped up in a letter written to a former lover. It captures the moment in a failing relationship when the final words are spoken. 4 and a half years later it still shuffles the hairs on the back of the Ironbath’s neck. You can hear a snippet on Amazon and it’ll only cost you 99 cents to download, which the Ironbath promises is well worth the investment.

Shortly after the first Cayamo returned to shore, Meghan released ‘Songs To Sail By’. It is a cinematic album that conjures beautiful images caught in moments of time. These are not songs about things but songs about emotions and feelings.

In her lyrics there is not a single misplaced word, and when she sings there is a fluidity in her vocal that melts into the instrumentation. Most start with Meghan at the piano and gradually develop into an enveloping soundscape.


Oh, and #4. In anticipation of ‘The Cracks And The Crevices’ Meghan has posted the entire ‘Songs To Sail By’ album on her BandCamp page where you can stream it or download on a pay-what-you-please basis. So pour a large glass of whatever you please, turn down the lights and let Meghan Arias take you to a world where music and poetry and love combine. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.


PS – It is worth reading this short blog by Andy Levine, CEO of Sixthman (organisers of Cayamo), after he finally got to hear Meghan perform back in 2008.



Posted in Cayamo, Edwin McCain, Meghan Arias, Meghan Coffee | 2 Comments