Curtis & Loretta; Bittersweet Christmas Band (Double CD-Release)

Longtime stalwarts of the local folk community Curtis Teague and Loretta Simonet are rich in tools that can vividly etch one of Loretta's highly detailed contemporary tales, as well as transport listeners back to 16th-century England. Loretta's lovely, crystalline voice entwines with Curtis's rich, velvety tenor to create enthralling harmonies while they each adeptly strum and pick away at a host of stringed instruments. This holiday show will feature the couple in Victorian attire performing an array of seasonal classics. It also marks the re-release of their 1991 album Christmastide with Curtis & Loretta (Haymarket), now re-mastered and on CD. Sporting a dozen Christmas standards in distinctive C&L arrangements, Christmastide sometimes evokes street-corner caroling in Dickensian London. There are also playful versions of tunes such as "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" with a jewel-like quality thanks to the remarkable combination of Curtis's harmonica and Loretta's celeste (an ancient keyboard that plays bells). They'll be joined by Chicago's Bittersweet Christmas Band, a seasonal outfit bringing together the traditional folk trio of Phil Cooper, Margaret Nelson, and Kate Early with contemporary singer-songwriter Susan Urban. They apply four-part harmonies and acoustic arrangements to standards like "The Holly and the Ivy," while Urban's originals juggle the pleasures, sadness, and humorous twists of the holidays that justify the band's name. Each group will perform a set before joining together. The show moves on to Red Wing Saturday and St. Cloud Sunday.
Fri., Dec. 12, 7 p.m., 2008

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