Cris Jacobs performs at The 8×10 in Baltimore on Dec. 20, 2021, the first of A Very Jerry Christmas, his annual series of holiday shows paying tribute to Jerry Garcia. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Admirable and arguably underappreciated is the local musician who’s become known across the country but is so multi-talented, enthusiastic and flexible as to wear a variety of hats to connect with hometown concertgoers in so many different ways.
Cris Jacobs emerged on the Baltimore circuit 20 years ago in the bluegrass group Smooth Kentucky — a squad that still performs locally — and he cut his teeth at a time the city was earning its reputation for having one of the nation’s very best music scenes. The leader of The Bridge, a beloved jam band blending a world of different sounds, Jacobs was right in the thick of it for a decade at the front of this colorful outfit, forging relationships near and far and all the while expanding his own influences.
Robert Earl Keen (Photo by EMG/Shutterstock)
Legendary Texas singer-songwriter Robert Ear Keen’s annual Christmas tour is highlight of the holiday season. Built around his fan-favorite “Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee,” every year REK and his band design a show around a theme.
Past themes have included “Country Gold” and the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. This year, the theme was “The Road to Christmas.” Each year’s show presents a collection of REK originals and cover songs fitted to theme, and his recent performance at the historic Lincoln Theatre in DC was no different. Costumes were a part of the deal, too; this year, all involved wore white jumpsuits, meant to suggest mechanics. It was truly a collective performance, as REK let his band members sing cover songs of their choice.
Alia Lene sings on YouTube. (Still courtesy Erika Tooker)
Alia Lene released a special version of “The Christmas Song” recently on YouTube. The track is taken from her Christmas Miracle EP released Dec. 11 on Contra Worldwide Recordings.
Red Wanting Blue (Photo courtesy Michael J. Media)
Midwestern rock band Red Wanting Blue recently covered “Christmas All Over Again” by Tom Petty! Give it a listen and get into the Christmas spirit with the Ohio-based Americana quintet.
A still from the video for Black Marble’s cover of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (Photo courtesy Motormouth)
Today Black Marble aka Chris Stewart announces the release of a very affectionate cover of Mariah Carey’s beloved 1994 classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Putting his signature on the track, the Black Marble version is synth-based and perfect for these winter months.
Engelbert Humperdinck (Photo by Greg Gorman)
Engelbert Humperdinck recently released his new studio version of “Blue Christmas.” The Elvis Presley classic has been updated by Engelbert with a Texas Two Step arrangement, released by OK!Good Records.
Sharon Van Etten (Photo by Ryan Pfluger)
To celebrate the holidays, Sharon Van Etten releases a pair of songs, “Silent Night” b/w “Blue Christmas.”
Sharon’s rendition of “Silent Night” is broody and minimalistic, emphasizing her muscular voice over droning synth.
Leah Belle Faser (Photo courtesy Michael J. Media Group)
Back in October, Atlanta singer-songwriter Leah Belle Faser impressed with her debut EP, Crossing Hermi’s Bridge. She now returns with “I Wonder What You Got for Me,” a charming country pop slice of Christmas wrapped neatly for your listening pleasure.
Limahl (center) and company (Photo courtesy Reybee Inc.)
UK music icon Limahl releases the festive single and video “One Wish For Christmas.” The holiday-themed track is an update to his previously -released song “London for Christmas” (originally released in 2012), reflecting the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had.
Tori Amos (Photo by Desmond Murray)
Tori Amos releases her brand new Christmastide EP, a special collection of four original tracks to celebrate the holiday season with her fans, Dec. 4 on Decca Records. In what has been an incredibly unexpected, turbulent and for many, a very divisive year, Tori wanted to create a safe space for her fans to reflect on the challenges the world has had to face.
Today, she has revealed a new song “Better Angels,” perfectly timed to lift you up and keep you warm during this unusual holiday season.