Best Holiday Performances

From classic SNL skits to MTV’s Christmas Specials, great holiday performances abound. We culled together a few of our favorites the other morning while commiserating in the kitchen in the wake of our company holiday party (tequila was a bad choice). Grab your coconut waters and get your groove on.

Bing & Bowie, “Little Drummer Boy” 1977

There has never been a sweeter meet-cute than when Bing and Bowie met to sing Little Drummer Boy. Perhaps this performance really is the key to peace on earth.

Hall & Oates, “Jingle Bell Rock”, 1983

It’s so kitschy you cant help but love it. Daryl Hall and John Oates host a Christmas party, complete with Santa and the whole band dressed as rockin’ old people. Grandma can shred!

Frank & Bing, “Jingle Bells”, 1957

The holidays aren’t complete without some classic croons from ol’ Blue Eyes and Mr. White Christmas himself. Watch the two share a few laughs over what looks like very strong punch…

Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, 1984

Recorded by English artists as a fundraiser to aid the Ethiopian famine of 1984, the hope was that “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” would raise £70,000 for Ethiopia. It raised £8 million within twelve months of release. That’s the spirit of the holidays at its finest.

Mariah Carey, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, “All I Want for Christmas is You”, 2012

You either love or hate this Mariah Carey Christmas hit. But there is no question that Jimmy Fallon and The Roots make this song 10x better by using classroom instruments. Everyone needs a kazoo this Christmas.

Twisted Sister, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, 2006

The holidays suffer from a lack of head banging. So thank goodness for Twisted Sister. In case you need more, they also do amazing renditions of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Silver Bells”. Killer.

Ray Charles, “Merry Christmas Baby”, 1979

In an old church in Germany, Ray Charles may take the fruitcake as the King of Christmas. Soulful, spirited and jolly, but in that cool, Ray Charles kinda way.

Day 6 Advent: Jingle Your Socks Off Holiday Playlist

 

Forget a blue christmas, get ready to deck the Hall & Oates and rock your jingle-bell socks off! For Day 6 of our 25 Days of Toad Advent Calendar we’re sharing our Rockin’ Spotify Playlist. Check back tomorrow for a new goody as our advent continue and in the meantime, enjoy the tunes because this ain’t your grandma’s Holiday mixtape!

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The Holiday Starter Pack

 

Well folks, it’s November. Tis the season for comfort food and flannels, lounging around, facing the elements, and knockin’ a few back with old friends. However you holiday, it’s time to belly up. We’re just here to get ya started. Here’s what you need to get your holiday season off to a running start.

Slow Cookin’ Tunes
It all starts with good food. But good food starts with a swingin’ kitchen. Keep the kitchen crew groovin’ with our Slow Cookin Tunes playlist – consider it food for the soul (without the dishes part). Add these to your holiday playlist:

Build Me Up, Buttercup – The Foundations
Mess Around – Ray Charles
Mashed Potato Love – Chubby Checker
Carolina Peach – The California Honeydrops
Country Pie –  Bob Dylan
Green Onions – Booker T. & The MG’s
Sweet Potato Pie – James Taylor
Spoonful – Etta james
All that Meat and No Potatoes – Louis Armstrong
Mack the Knife – Frank Sinatra
Tennessee Whiskey – Chris Stapleton
Tequila – The Champs

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Crowd Pleasing Recipes 
With the aforementioned tunes cranking, it’s hight time you got to perfecting that one recipe that you’ll come to be synonymous with. You can never go wrong with Baked Brie, Roasted Brussel Sprout Dip, or Ricotta Stuffed Figs. But if you’re feeling ambitious, do as Grandma would do and break out Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Pick one of Julia Child’s 524 recipes and get to chopping. Just make sure you have enough butter on hand.

Festive Flannels
Where there’s smoke, there’s flannel. Spend your nights by the fire wrapped in buttery soft flannel (we like the Flannagan and the Lightfoot) or face the elements with double-ply flannel – equally suited for the rigors of the trail or the tavern. Gentleman, you can’t go wrong with the Watchdog, known for it’s killer warmth-to-weight ratio. And for the ladies, the double layer Mojacette is known for it’s warmth-to-cute ratio. Pair with boots and a flask for tailgate parties or dinner at the in-laws.

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DIY Thank You Notes
The holidays are all about giving thanks – thanks for the invite, thanks for the gift, thanks for your unwavering friendship over all these years. So give thanks in your own way with homemade Thank You notes. Get a fun stamp and go to town on some colored paper, or buy local post cards and scribble down a note of thanks. It’s a tradition you’ll grow to appreciate when you’re on the receiving end. So spread the joy, the old-school way.

Hot-to-Trot Cocoa
The right kind of cocoa will put some hair on your chest. Some involve booze (lookin at you, El Dorado Hot Chocolate), some involve ancho chiles (thank you Mexican Hot Chocolate), and some involve a flask of peppermint schnapps and a to-go cup of Nestlé. And if you like your cocoa with a side of bourbon and bacon, well we’ll raise a glass to that.

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The Ultiamte Homemade Shotski
There are few things we love more than a great ski weekend – fresh pow, cozy nights, meaningful time with friends, and the hazy memories of the great shotski. And if you build it, they will come. Because friends don’t let friends shotski alone. Invest in a shotski now and it’ll serve you well  from first run of the season to the last run of spring. Here’s our tried and true guide on How To Build the Perfect Shotski.

“I’ll Have Seconds” Leggings 
The holidays are a marathon, not a sprint. So keep your joints limber and your spirits bright with stretchy, comfortable (yet still totally socially acceptable) leggings that are ready for morning yoga and family dinner. Here’s how we see our perfect holiday day: Wake up, lounge around, grab coffee with a friend, get in a walk or quick run, back to the house to whip up a side-dish, off to the family’s house for dinner, then spend the evening reminiscing about holidays past and present. One pair of leggings, endless possibilities.

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Deck O’ Cards
You know the uncle who always has a good joke and a fresh pack of cards? You could be that uncle. Brush up on a few knock-knock jokes and get yourself familiar with the basics – Rummy, Crazy Eights, Bridge, and Presidents. Bring some chips and watch grandma school the young’uns in a game of Texas Hold’em. Just remember the golden rule: The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket!

The Old Pigskin
Red nose, chapped lips, and the unbridled right to tackle your cousins are what holiday dreams are made of. Keep it civil, but by all means hash out family feuds with a rousing game of down home, Americana football. Keep your elbows in, keep your whits about you, and don’t forget to pass. Here’s a quick refresher on the rules so you don’t get too rowdy before dinner.

 

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Free Summer Concerts You Can’t Miss

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Summer! The weather’s getting warmer, the produce is perfect, the kids are out of school and there’s no shortage of things to do with your longer days. The sky is the limit, and even a lack of sun in the sky can’t dampen your summer spirit. On any given evening when the sun begins to set, outdoor music venues across the country host concert series featuring local and world-famous artists—for free. We’ve got a few in our hometown of Santa Barbara (jazz on Wednesdays, bluegrass on Sundays) and we’re willing to bet your town has a free summer concert series, too. So pack a picnic and head to the local park, pavilion or amphitheater for a no-cost, people-watching, frisbee-throwing, outdoor-dancing, beer-sampling good time.

And since not all free concerts are created equal, here’s a few of our favorites in some great cities across the country. Use these incredible outdoor concert series as an excuse to plan the summer road trip you’ve been daydreaming about…

Nightfall Concert Series in Chattanooga

Nightfall Concert Series, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Nightfall Concert Series, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Nightfall Music Series

 

With nearly three decades under their belts, the organizers of Chattanooga’s free Nightfall Series know how to put together a summer concert lineup. Every Friday from May – August, head to Miller Plaza to watch a local band open for a national headliner—many of whom will play in Chattanooga for the first time in 2016. This summer’s diverse lineup runs the gamut from bluegrass to Afro-pop, and no matter who’s playing, admission is always free. In addition to the varied musical selection, come to Nightfall prepared to please your palate with grub from local food trucks and local booze vendors. The 2016 Nightfall Concert Series has a special twist, too: on the first Friday of each month, crowds will gather at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, then “Rock the Block” down to Miller Plaza—enjoying a parade of antique motorcycles, cars, and bikes, collected by local hobbyists, along the way. Get your Chattanooga choo-choo on!

Millennium Park in Chicago

Millennium Park Series, Chicago, Illinois.
Millennium Park Series, Chicago, Illinois. John Menard

 

Visit Chicago’s 24.5-acre Millennium Park today, and you’d never guess it was an industrial wasteland for nearly a century and a half. With some help from world-renowned architect Frank Gehry—whose other notable designs include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles—the seminal park took shape in 1997, and is now home to one of the country’s best-known summer concert series. The 2016 Millennium Park Series lineup is as genre-defying as the park’s architecture, and includes free twice-weekly concerts (Mondays and Thursdays) from June through August.

City Park Jazz in Denver

City Park Jazz, Denver, Colorado.
City Park Jazz, Denver, Colorado. jess melgey

 

Whether you get there by bike (there’s a free corral), public transit, on foot, or by car, arrive early for the City Park Jazz series and enjoy some time exploring the Park before the show. There’s the Denver Zoo, or the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which features rotating natural history exhibits, a planetarium, and a terrace featuring some of the city’s best views of the Colorado Front Range. Adventurous park visitors can rent cruiser bikes, surreys, pedal boats, and kayaks to explore the park.When the sun goes down each Sunday between June and August, head to the pavilion—rain or shine—for a diverse cultural mix of music and local cuisine.

Concerts at the Mural in Seattle

Pickwick – Hacienda Motel (Live at the Mural) from KEXP RADIO on Vimeo. During KEXP & Seattle Center’s Concerts at the Mural series at the Mural Amphitheater. Recorded 8/26/11. Video courtesy of KEXP.

The music scene that brought you Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, and countless others brings you free concerts every Friday in August at the Seattle Center.The beautiful Mural Amphitheater was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, which also featured artwork by contemporary American painters like Georgia O’Keefe and Jackson Pollock, as well a performance by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and a concert by Ella Fitzgerald. Today, you can enjoy free Live at the Mural shows with the backdrop of that quintessential Seattle symbol, the Space Needle. In a city with a music history as rich and colorful as Seattle’s, you know the free concert scene will knock (or rock)  your socks off.

Twilight Concerts in Santa Monica

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Few outdoor venues have the staying power of the century-old Santa Monica Pier. You know the one: located just north of Muscle Beach, the iconic pier has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, and was once considered the best fishing spot in Santa Monica Bay. Several makeovers later, the modern-day pier is home to an amusement park, complete with a giant solar-powered ferris wheel, the original 1920s carousel, and an aquarium. This year’s Twilight Concerts lineup runs Thursdays from July through September and features a diverse lineup of bands from across the country. Tip: skip pricey parking near the pier and opt for public transit—or bike valet—instead.

Whatever free concert series you visit this summer, make sure you spend it with good company. Let us know which concerts we missed!

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co. Featured image provided by Nightfall Music Series.

Good Vibes with Reverend Tall Tree

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Good luck not tappin’ your foot and bobbin’ your head the moment you hear the good vibes of Reverend Tall Tree. Born out of late night jam seshes in a small saloon in East Los Angeles, Reverend Tall Tree serves up a piping hot helping of smoky rhythm and blues with a swingin’ beat and healthy dose of rocking chair harmonica. It’s a sound that begs to be listened to in the presence of good company and front man Chris Pierce knows just how to set the tone.

Chris is an old friend of the Toads. With a voice like hot buttered rum and a disposition like Southern sweet tea, we knew we liked Chris from day one. We met him back in the early 2000’s on the beach in Venice, CA when we were shooting our first brand video – a mutual friend brought him along to provide some background beach jams and he ended up scoring our theme song, “Everyday is an Adventure” in 15 minutes. He’s represented Toad at various musics festivals and played over the years at the Lizard Lounge in Portland, bringing the spirit of Toad to the stage. He’s hit the road as an accomplished solo act, toured with big names in the biz, and crooned his way through a TedxTalk on the healing power of music. In a nutshell, Chris is one cool dude.

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Reverend Tall Tree is Chris’ latest creative endeavor, and naturally we can’t get enough of it.  In early 2013, Pierce wandered into the Sassafras Saloon, a new blues bar that opened just a few blocks from his house. Word on the street was the Sassafras was looking for a new house band to kick things off. So with a few old buddies, a dusty harmonica and a songbook of standards, Chris and the gang started performing as Reverend Tall Tree on Saturday nights. The rest, as they say, is history.

With Professor Lovejoy on the drums, Old Parker on guitar, Dr. Cooper on double bass and Pierce himself laying down the vocals and harmonica, Reverend Tall Tree’s self titled debut album is all about good company. “Music is a way to celebrate togetherness,” Pierce says, “a congregation, a connection. It lends itself to inclusion and adds to the overall rhythm.”

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And that’s obvious in both their live shows and their studio album. They recorded the LP in the gritty style of the old viynl greats like Bo Diddley and Sam Cooke – one take, no headphones, no individual mics, recorded live to 2” thick tape and mixed on the spot with a 1956 tape machine. Or as Pierce describes, “We let the vibe roll and we let the tape roll.”

When asked what kind of dish Reverend Tall Tree’s music would be, Pierce said, “A Reverend Tall Tree experience is like a pot luck – everyone brings something to share.” So shout, stomp, moan, shuffle, whoop and holler because Reverend Tall Tree is certainly bringin’ something to the table.