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Holiday Traditions from Dan Wilson, Mason Jennings, and more

Dan Wilson, Mason Jennings, Justin Pierre, Kevin Bowe
Dan Wilson, Mason Jennings, Justin Pierre, Kevin Bowe

December is quickly coming to a close and local musicians are helping us give a new definition to the term, "Jingle Bell Rock." No matter if they celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or just the spirit of the season, many area artists shared their holiday traditions with me. For some, long-standing traditions come into play, for others, it's a chance to reflect on the past year and celebrate the new one.

Dozens of local musicians took the time to speak to Gimme Noise about what they are looking forward to this holiday season, including the songs that they are most grateful for.


Mason Jennings

Favorite holiday memory: Christmas eve with my wife and boys, coming home from church and the feeling in the house.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? There are a ton. My wife's parents always make lefse for us and that's been pretty amazing. Growing up in Pittsburgh, I had never heard of lefse...


What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Being with family, being at church a lot, community, friends, God's love, hope, conversations about faith, conversations about Jesus, music, the smiles on my kid's faces, spending time with my wife.

Favorite holiday song: "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear"

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Dan Wilson of Dan Wilson/Semisonic/Trip Shakespeare

Favorite holiday memory: When my brother Matt and I were very young, we were in Appleton, Minnesota for Christmas, at my grandparents' house. This house was where our Mom had grown up. It was tiny by our suburban Minneapolis standards, and the two bedrooms upstairs were all eaves, no ceiling, very cozy. When we visited, Matt and I shared the bed with our Grandpa Duke (Grandma slept in a bedroom on the first floor). Duke was a big, strong ex-carpenter and soldier who had built lots of the houses in this small town. He had a huge, resonant speaking voice, with a slight but still-recognizable accent from his childhood in Germany.

Anyway, this Christmas Eve, Matt and I were upstairs excitedly trying to fall asleep in our Grandpa's bed while the adults were all still in the kitchen preparing for the next day's feasting. Suddenly there was a banging sound and a very loud, deep and resonant "Ho! Ho! Ho!" from down the stairs. Matt and I jumped up in the bed. We ran down to the living room, which was empty. But there was a scattering of snow in the fireplace, leading in a trail to the Christmas tree. And under the tree was a pile of extra presents which we hadn't seen earlier. The adults, bless them, at this point all came bustling out from the kitchen, saying, "Did you hear that? What was that? It sounded like someone saying, 'Ho! Ho! Ho!' Who could it have been? Look at the snow in the fireplace!" etc. I vividly remember that a small part of my brain thought that the "Ho! Ho! Ho!" sounded suspiciously like my Grandpa Duke's amazingly resonant voice. But a much bigger part of my little brain wanted to believe it had been Santa Claus, and so for years I was able to believe that I'd heard Santa Claus' actual laugh.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? My holiday traditions used to include a lot of TV shows: "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" with its great songs, probably some Charlie Brown holiday special too. My extended family was always willing to sing Christmas carols together, so when I got old enough to play those songs on the piano, I was sometimes the ringleader for family singing. Even though I'm not religious, I like religious rituals, the more ritualized the better. So after I married into a Catholic family, going to Mass on Christmas became a comforting tradition.

My family also had a tradition of serving a "flaming plum duff" on Christmas dinner. It was a British-looking pudding or pie soaked in rum (or brandy?) and set aflame on the way to the table. The flames were always kind of fleeting and pale blue - very unsatisfying for any kid born after 1960 and weaned on Star Wars explosions. My brother and sister and I would have been more impressed if the plum duff had exploded like the death star, I'm sure. This plum duff had a butter-and-brandy sauce which I would have drunk directly from the pitcher if that had been socially acceptable. Instead I soaked my portion of pudding in sauce as though pouring milk into a bowl of cheerios.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? I can't wait to see my extended family.

Favorite holiday song: "Joy! to the World." That D major seventh chord of the second note of the song ("to") kills me every time. Followed closely by "The Christmas Song," the one with chestnuts roasting on an open fire. (It's a hoggish title, I have to add - what kind of world would we live in if every egomaniac who wrote a Christmas song called their song "The Christmas Song"? Would there be dozens of identically-titled entries in the Christmas songbook?) Followed heartrendingly by "Silent Night." Oh man, don't get me started; "White Christmas," "Silver Bells," "2,000 Miles" -- it's too much! I used to think that the Christmas songs were like a Top 40 countdown of the last 500 years. They've been weeded out for so long that the only ones left are these amazing, super-concise, hokey-as-hell gems.

***
Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack

Favorite holiday memory: One of my favorite holiday memories is the Halloween blizzard of '91. A group of friends had planned to go out and cause trouble with eggs, but it got really cold and started to snow. So we ditched that idea, went to some rich girl's house that one of us knew, and watched MTV all night (we got snowed in). That was the night I first saw Nirvana's video for Smells Like Teen Spirit. Not the greatest story in and of itself, but the fact that an act of nature set in motion a series of events that led me to Nirvana and changed my life musically, is pretty wild when you think about it.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Strangely enough, up until this year my family has always celebrated what I like to call: Drunk Christmas. A lot of our extended family lived near us and for some reason Christmas was celebrated at our house on Christmas eve, after those who went to church were able to get there. The night would start around 9pm and go until all hours of the night. Upwards of 30 people would be there at any given moment and kids take a long time opening presents since they have to play with everything immediately. By 2am the adults were all totally smashed and the house was destroyed. I have no idea how my parents cleaned up and played Santa Claus before 6am when my siblings and I got up. Now that they are grandparents, we are starting at 4pm for the little ones. Things were certainly different in the '80s.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? I'm looking forward to spending time with my wife and our families and getting to see my niece and nephews. 

Favorite holiday song: Anything from Burl Ives' Christmas Album or "Christmas At The Zoo" by The Flaming Lips.


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Kevin Bowe of The Okemah Prophets

Favorite holiday memory: My favorite holiday memory is when I first started dating my (now) wife, Ruth Whitney. She had just opened the Fine Line, so of course she had the alarm code to bust in. On Christmas morning 1987, we snuck in and made breakfast in the kitchen; it was amazing.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Pistachios.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? The day it's over. Christmas is cool, but by the end of it all I'm spent.

Favorite holiday song: We always have the Beatles White album playing in rotation, I don't know why but we always do. Guess I have to go with "Helter Skelter." If you knew my family you'd understand.

 ***

Seth Duin
Seth Duin

Seth Duin of General B and The Wiz

Favorite holiday memory: When I was a lad my parents and grandparents got me a Fisher Price guitar. That thing's vibrato button had a ridiculous tone that most guitarist's fingers can't muster.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Getting together with my Norwegian family over lutefisk and lefse. Pro Tip for all of the Norwegians out there: drown your lutefisk in potatoes and meatballs, and you'll never be able to taste the lye.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Heading over to Stillwater to see my favorite holiday-themed band, Steamhand Meatroller, perform holiday hits. Snow. Watching the new Hobbit movie over and over

Favorite holiday song: Sharon Van Etten and Rufus Wainwright's performance of "Baby, It's Cold Outside." They recorded an amazing arrangement of a song I didn't previously enjoy. Props!

***

Michael Lipset of The Level Heads Band 

Favorite holiday memory: I remember leaving cookies, milk, and carrots out for Santa and his reindeer. Then, every Christmas morning my brother and I would examine the bite-marks on the carrots to make sure that the marks came from a reindeer and not a human. Turns out we were wrong.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Every year my brother and I played dreidel on Hannukah and he always won! Since it was a game of chance, I figured it was because he always cheated. Once I got hip to his trickery I started stealing his gold chocolate coins back at the end of the game every year!

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? You know Hanukkah already came and went, right?

Favorite holiday song: Adam Sandler's "Hannukkah Song," no one's done it better.

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Ross Kleiner of Ross Kleiner & The Thrill Band 

Favorite holiday memory: When I was about 16 I climbed up on the roof on Christmas Eve and ran around with sleigh bells to freak out all of my little cousins. My dad wasn't happy with me, but I thought it was fun.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Drinking whiskey and watching It's A Wonderful Life with my family.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Relaxation and spending time with my family.

Favorite holiday song: "Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley.

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Mark Andrew Pudas of Mark Andrew Band 

Favorite holiday memory: I remember getting my first guitar when I was 12-years-old for Christmas. It was a Fender Squire, black with a white pick guard. I don't think I put it down for days. I played random notes and made lots of nonsense noises with Jimi Hendrix in my headphones.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? My family loves food. We prepare lots of fantastic dishes for our Christmas meal. My favorite dishes are the prime rib my mother prepares which I eat with lots of au ju and horseradish and also my grandmothers very rich cheese potatoes that are so rich you can only really eat them once a year.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? This holiday season our family is awaiting the arrival of my brothers twin babies. His family has decided to keep the genders a surprise, and we are all very excited to great the new members of the family!

Favorite holiday song: "Oh Holy Night."

 ***

Cobey Rouse
Cobey Rouse

Cobey Rouse of batteryboy

Favorite holiday memory: This should probably be something deeply emotional or spiritual, but in all honesty, it's the Christmas that my parents must've robbed a K-mart because I got a Nintendo, the Star Wars Ewok Village, and Jabba the Hutt's palace all at the same time.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Past: Watching the holiday specials -- Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown -- the one time they would air on network TV during the season. Present: Eating my wife's sugar cookies -- 90% of my annual December diet.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Seeing my twin 8-year-old boys genuinely believe in Santa for what might be the last time. They've heard a lot of rumors lately, and my 11-year-old daughter caught me last year. I kind of suck at being Santa.

Favorite holiday song: Easy. "The Christmas Song" performed by Nat King Cole. There isn't even a close second. It's the first vinyl I throw down every season.

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Alison Scott
Alison Scott

Alison Scott 

Favorite holiday memory: One year on Christmas a goose somehow flew down our chimney and proceeded to fly laps around our first floor. Watching my parents try to catch it while simultaneously yelling at us to get out of the room was pretty entertaining!

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Caramel making. I wouldn't say it's the most fun for me, but it's the most fun for my friends when they eat them. If I miss a year Kevin Bowe gets very mad at me! 

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Watching my 8-month-old daughter, Grace, enjoy her first presents (even if she only cares about the wrapping paper). 

Favorite holiday song: "Oh Holy Night" or anything from Charlie Brown.

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Graham Barton of Some Pulp

Favorite holiday memory: Eating all the cookies Santa left behind when he came to our house for Christmas, and after all those years, we never heard him on the roof.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Finding the Christmas pickle. Whichever kid finds the Christmas pickle received unlimited mana from Santa and acquires defensive aura skill.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? A very merry punk Christmas.

Favorite holiday song: King Diamond's "No Presents For Christmas."

***

Luke Darger of The Word Party Band 

Favorite holiday memory: Honestly, getting a Gameboy Color and Pokemon Silver when I was eight. That one moment probably determined the rest of my life so far. Though, some jackass deleted my file (with all 16 badges -- all I had to do was beat Red) when I let him play it on a camping trip and I've never quite gotten over that loss. It's a good thing City Pages offers these free therapy sessions.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? On New Year's Eve a couple years ago we began playing the Jackie Chan drinking game. The rules are: whenever you think about Jackie Chan, you have to drink. We actually haven't ever stopped playing that game. You'd be surprised how much one thinks about Jackie Chan in the course of week. You could call it alcoholism, but I call it a holiday tradition the whole family can enjoy.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Actually, we are going to play our last show on the 30th at the Entry. It's kind of bittersweet anticipation, but I hope it can be a proper celebration of the four years we've played together with many of the people who we shared life and music with during that time. Hell, maybe some strangers'll be there too. It'll be the last time many of The Word Party's songs are performed, and while that is sad to leave such good friends behind, we all acknowledge it's time to move on. So, I'm looking forward to putting it out in style.

Favorite holiday song: Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is all I want forever.

 ***

Travis Erickson of A Piano In Every Home

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Nobody opens presents until dad tells his lamest jokes from the year.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Nostalgia.

Favorite holiday song: Chris Isaak's "Blue Christmas"

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Michael Ferrier
Michael Ferrier

Michael Ferrier of Fathom Lane

Favorite holiday memory: Christmas down at Grandma and Grandpa Ferrier's farm in southeastern Minnesota was always pretty amazing. The farm was a magical place for us suburban kids; it was pretty much "anything goes," comparatively, and we took full advantage. Grandpa had a couple of nice snowmobiles for getting around the farm, and he let us have carte blanche. We built crazy jumps and obstacle courses in the snowdrifty field just over the rise where you couldn't see from the house. I'm sure they could hear us, though. I'm surprised there were no Christmas decapitations, in retrospect. And Grandma and Grandpa didn't just give us gifts, they most years created a sort of treasure hunt, complete with clues that were poetically rhymed and metered, leading us all over the house with small presents and candy, and then leading to the big reveal.

I remember one year it was a 1/6 scale pool table, which we proceeded to play with until the felt was bare. I can close my eyes and remember the olive green carpet, the plasticky tablecloth, the incredible food, the TV cart with the squeaky clear plastic wheels, the candy dish in every room, those flowery lamps that have a glass globe on the bottom and the top, the sound the gravel driveway made when our aunts and uncles drove up, the groan of Grandpa's red leather chair -- and the work. They worked hard.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Breaking out the holiday records -- the good ones.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Seeing it through my young son's eyes this year. He's a little over two, so the wonder of everything is so fun to see.

Favorite holiday song: The ones that always get me are the sad ones in the minor keys. Go figure. I am really partial to Harry Belafonte's record "To Wish You A Merry Christmas." If I have to narrow it down to a song, I'd pick his "A Star In the East." It's haunting and uplifting at the same time. 

***

Jamison Murphy 

Favorite holiday memory: When I was super little, my sister and I got a Sega Genesis for Christmas. Logged a lot of hours on that thing together! Sonic The Hedgehog was everything.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Every year after Christmas, my friends and I go up to a cabin in the middle-of-nowhere, upstate Minnesota for New Year's -- it's the best.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Spending time with friends and family. I'm releasing my debut record in the new year, so it'll be nice to get quality time in now!

Favorite holiday song: "O Holy Night," for sure.

***

Jake Pavek of A Piano In Every Home 

Favorite holiday memory: Being a kid, staying up all night with my big sister in her room listening for Santa Claus. Pretty stock memory, huh? But I haven't had such immense anticipation for anything else since.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Drinking Jameson and eating Maine lobsters.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Spending time with my grandmother. Her husband of 74 years, my grandfather, passed away two weeks ago.

Favorite holiday song: "Christmas Shoes" 

 ***

Tommy Rehbein of Farewell Continental + other stuff

Favorite holiday memory: Sledding off the garage roof with my older brothers! Not particularly safe. We had a big hill in the back yard, so we'd spray it down with a hose to get it really icy. Then we'd sled off the roof onto the hill (about a five foot drop, since we made a powdery snow pike to soften the landing) and go exceedingly fast down the hill! 

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? I always listen to Low's Christmas album. Also, I'm recently married so I hope we can start a tradition of watching Gremlins each year. Putting up the tree is one, as well.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Having time off work and just laying low, reading, etc. Maybe I'll get sick from ODing on eggnog, as well. Additionally, I'm a fan of dogs and cats dressed up like elves and such!

Favorite holiday song: "If You Were Born Today" by Low

***

Eric Stainbrook of The Sunny Era

Favorite holiday memory: The year my grandparents found a huge bees nest inside the ceiling directly above where they put their Christmas tree. They couldn't get to it to pull it out so every single year more and more honey would seep through to the living room and the "honey spot" on the ceiling would get bigger and bigger.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Breaking out the Christmas vinyl!

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Spending time with the people we love, drinking, reminiscing, and looking forward to the best year yet.

Favorite holiday song: "Cantique de Noël"

***

Brianna Kocka AKA CAETANI of Sun Gods to Gamma Rays 

Favorite holiday memory: When I was a kid, my cousins, siblings and I used to put on a holiday play every Christmas eve. My favorite memory is my cousin Jane dressed up as Scrooge for our annual production. She fell into the Christmas tree and knocked it over, ornaments and presents going everywhere. For some reason the idea of a 12 or 13 year old girl dressed up like a crabby old man, falling over into a full decorated Christmas tree is hilarious to me. We talk about it every year during the holidays now.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours?I'm part Latvian and part Irish. My grandmother, Balva Caffrey (who's pen name was CAETANI, by the way, more on that another time) came from Riga, and brought over the tradition of making Pīrāgi, a little bacon and onion croissant like food. Her husband Joesph Caffrey was Boston-Irish and made a killer clam chowder. Every Christmas Eve the Caffrey side of the family makes these items (plus a ton of others) in memory of them. Then we eat until we can't eat anymore. I think it's the best way to preserve their memories now that they've both passed away.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season?  Peter (Sun Gods' Rhodes player, and my fiance) and I bought a house this year. This is our first time celebrating the holidays in our new home. I'm really excited to make new traditions with him. 

Favorite holiday album: I may be mocked for this, but whatever. Sting's "If On a Winters Night" album is one of my favorites to listen to as the snow falls outside. His lyrics throughout the record have a ton of interesting Pagan influence, I'm really into that right now. Peter has also told me I have to stop listening to it, and my sister now posts semi-nude pictures of Sting on my facebook wall. How's that for a holiday tradition?

***

Oni Sakti of Geodesic, Geodesique, Ephedream, Proximiti 

Favorite holiday memory: My favorite memory would have to be giving Zoe Sakti her first Christmas Stocking, she never had one before, so I went all out and filled it with some candy, a lot of nail polish, eye shadow and other make up -- plus there were all the other gifts as well. It was our first Christmas together so I had to go overboard, but the look on her face was worth all of it.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Definitely eating a large amount of food with Zoe and watching It's A Wonderful Life in the evening, that and going to holiday parties before.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Spending time with the lady, seeing some good friends and finding new recipes and making new food for the lady.

Favorite holiday song: I am not really sure, maybe David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing "The Little Drummer Boy," because whoever had that idea had to have been cracking up when they did it.


 

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Brian Just
Brian Just

Brian Just of Brian Just Band 

Favorite holiday memory: My brothers and my uncle and I love to light off fireworks late at night after a lot of egg nog and whiskey cokes.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? My dad can't cook and neither can I, so he likes to take the family out out to the China Buffet as they are the only place open on the holidays. The place is surprisingly busy.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? I'll be visiting my Mother in Mankato, and she got a new dog! A schnauzer named Mary. I can't wait to meet her.

Favorite holiday song: Vince Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy" or "Skating." I can't decide. Let's just say that entire Charlie Brown Christmas album to be safe.

***

Nick Costa
Nick Costa

Nick Costa of The Person & The People 

Favorite holiday memory: The best thing I can remember didn't actually happen to me. My older brother was the first in our family to get a guitar. I was all about the Foo Fighters at the time, and Blink 182 had just released Enema Of The State. There was nothing I wanted more than to be able to play guitar. After he got one for Christmas, I'd sneak into his room when he wasn't home and try to play it. That was definitely one of the coolest things to happen to me, and it didn't even actually happen to me.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? My favorite holiday tradition would have to be my family's absolute lack of tradition. We show up, eat, open presents, and then just hang out. We all get a day off together, which is rare, so to spend the time together doing anything is awesome for all of us.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Seeing my family. I have a gigantic family who are spread all over the place, so seeing them is always awesome.

Favorite holiday song: I really don't enjoy holiday music. I think it's campy, redundant and boring. But I'll be damned if "All I Want For Christmas Is You" isn't one of the best songs ever. I'd say Mariah is a guilty pleasure of mine, but I feel no shame in admitting that.

***

The Persian Leaps
The Persian Leaps

The Persian Leaps

Favorite holiday memory:  Brad - When I was a kid, my grandpa would treat my extended family to an overnight at the Amana Colonies in Iowa every Christmas.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Mike - Every Christmas Eve, my family has fondue. We've been doing that for 15 years! 

Brad - We watch the 1951 version of The Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim (the only TRUE edition).

Drew - We watch The Shop Around the Corner (1940) with Jimmy Stewart.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Brad - I just got married this fall. I'm looking forward to spending my first Christmas with my wife and son in our new house.

Favorite holiday song: Mike - "Jingle Bell Rock." Drew: "Fairytale Of New York" (The Pogues). "Brad" - "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"

***

Dan Israel

Favorite holiday memory: I have a lot of favorite memories, but I think one that sticks out in my mind is when I was about 5 years old or so, I decided I wanted to try to spot Santa and his reindeer flying through the sky, knowing full well that as a Jewish kid, he wasn't going to come to my house. I didn't care, I just thought it would be cool to see him. I stared out that window a long time, but, strangely enough, never did see Santa.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Now that I have kids, the holidays all revolve around them, in a very good way. We celebrate Hanukkah, so I love lighting the candles with them, playing dreidel, and of course, giving them gifts. It sounds so cliche to say that it brings more joy to give gifts than to receive them, but with my kids, it's really true.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Getting a little extra time off of work and getting to spend extra time with my kids. To add a personal (too personal?) note to all of this, I'm going through a separation and it's been very painful and difficult, so any extra time with my kids right now is extra-meaningful and special.

Favorite holiday song: Honestly? "Jingle Bell Rock." Is that lame? Probably. There aren't many good Hanukkah songs, and most Christmas songs don't do much for me either. For some reason, I love the melody and chord progression on that one, so I'm going with it. Scorn me if you must.

 ***

Sam Johnson of Bethany Larson and the Bees Knees

Favorite holiday memory: Quiet humble rides out on a snow swept Hwy 7 to my parents' house in Hutchinson with MPR playing quietly on the radio. My twin brother, Pat, trying to nap in spite of the cold seeping in through the floorboards and the whip of the lonely wind shoving the car now and again.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Playing the same songs every Thanksgiving with my Uncle Mike. He likes telling stories that never happened of meeting Hank Williams and other old country singers.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Refuge.

Favorite holiday song: Just Bing Crosby. Whatever he's singing.

***

David Priebe of Maudlin

Favorite holiday memory: I hate this question! Honestly don't know . My wife, Priscilla, caught me sitting with our daughter, Henri, on my lap singing along to Christmas music and said that was her favorite Christmas thing. That being her's sort of made it mine,  if that makes sense? I'm super excited to help make Henri's holiday memories filled with the things we looked forward to -- like Legos and pie and stuff like that.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? I mean, with all the time I put into it, you'd think that it would be the Maudlin Presents the Worst Christmas Pageant Ever -- which was so bad this year it was a year late -- but honestly I like the IDEA of that just enough that I'm willing to put up with the reality of it, and no more. I like the most mundane and uneventful parts: family, food, songs, lights, days off of work.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? I'm looking forward to someone else taking care of my baby for any amount of time I can score -- seeing some relative or acquaintance at the festivities and saying, "Here," as I hand her over and walk away to look for some relations questionably made baked goods that I can regret eating later. That and the 15 year holiday themed reunion of my high school band, The Funky But%nuts. The baby won't be there either. December 28th at Ed's in Winona, 9pm, no cover.

Favorite holiday song: I'm a glutton for holiday music. The hymns, old classic stuff, remakes, The Chipmunks, all of it. I don't have any excuses for myself. I've been digging Sufjan Stevens' giant Christmas album lately. Anything Johnny Cash is always good, and always Dino over Frank if I have a choice.

***

Mike Hannah
Mike Hannah

Michael Hannah of Mike Dreams

Favorite holiday memory: My favorite holiday memory was acting and singing in the holiday play at my church when I was 8-years-old. I played the lead, and it was a great experience. We did the story of when Christ was born with a modern day twist. We even had a real donkey and everything!

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Watching Home Alone 1 and 2

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Peace, blessing, and love. It's been a rough year for me, but this time of year always cheers me up.

Favorite holiday song: Stevie Wonder's "Someday at Christmas." 

 ***

Mason Butler of Awkward Bodies 

Favorite holiday memory: My parents once bought me a telescope for Christmas. Because they are in the habit of buying gifts months in advance and stashing them in any available space around the house, they bought this telescope in July and hid it deep in the garage. Sometime between July and Christmas morning, a colony of ants decided to seek winter shelter in the telescope's box. When I finally opened my gifts, hundreds of rudely awoken ants spilled out onto the floor and started crawling everywhere. In short, my favorite holiday memory is of my dad swearing and stomping out an entire ant colony in our living room.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? For the past few years, my friends and I have recorded holiday tunes and distributed them on Christmas morning via the internet. Okay, I didn't actually do it last year, but we're doing it this year and it feels good to not skip out on tradition.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? The holiday compilation! Also, leftover ham.

Favorite holiday song: Martin Mull's (or Sonic Youth) "Santa Doesn't Cop Out On Dope."

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Vanessa Walrath of Il Neige 

Favorite holiday memory: My dad made an Advent log? Don't worry, most people have never heard of this either. Basically he took a big log and carved out a candle-holder spot for each day of Advent into it. We would light a new candle each day of Advent (the four Sundays, or about three or four weeks, leading up to Christmas). So, every year that's different, but somewhere between 21 and 28 candles. On fire. On a dried out chunk of wood. Huge fire hazard, but really fun.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Well, I don't really have an Advent log, but I still like to celebrate Advent. It's actually one of my favorite times of year, because in the midst of this really dark time of year (winter solstice is December 21st), you're slowly adding more light through your candle-lighting each week leading up to Christmas. And in such a sleepy, light-less season in Minnesota, I find it's a great time of year to really think about who I want to be and how I can add more love and light to the world.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? I'm looking forward to hanging out on Christmas with my niece and nephews. There's just something really right about kids in pajamas by the Christmas tree on Christmas. Also, my whole immediate family will be there, which means spontaneous singing -- probably lots of singing.

Favorite holiday song: Yeah, so it's a toss up. I like this obscure Christmas hymn (that's historically inaccurate, but the sentiment is nice): "In the Bleak Midwinter." One of my favorite Christmas albums of all time is "Darkest Night of the Year" by Over the Rhine. It's so dark and broody. But the one song I end up singing the most this time of year is "Let it Snow." I can't help it. I'm truly Canadian/Minnesotan; I love snow.

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Ryan Smith of The Melismatics

Favorite holiday memory: My favorite Holiday memory is when we were little kids and some weird dude showed up to my grandma's house dressed up as Santa and brought us all candy canes. I don't know if we ever figured out who that guy was. 

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? My favorite tradition of the holidays in my youth was going to my grandma's house in North Saint Paul for Christmas Eve. We'd all cram around the living room table and consume large amounts of soup and Swedish food. Then we'd exchange gifts which usually ended with wrapping paper fights. We no longer have this tradition, but I still love to stop by my grandma's house on Christmas Eve to visit her and throw wrapping paper.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? We've been on the road so much over the past ten years that I'm really looking forward to the fact that we will not be touring at all during this holiday season. I'm really just glad to be home and having time to visit friends and family. Cheesy? Maybe, but it's true.

Favorite holiday song: Being the Brian Wilson fanatic that I am, I love the entire Beach Boys Christmas album.

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Sara Horishnyk of Bethany Larson and the Bees Knees 

Favorite holiday memory: As a little girl I remember gong to see Santa at Bachman's on Lyndale. I was always very excited for this annual event.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? I always enjoy baking Christmas cookies with my mom and grandma. We make at least four kinds each year. This years favorite is ginger snap cookies.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? A little break from my busy schedule.

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Marvel Anne Devitt of Southside Desire

Favorite holiday memory: Of all the things I could mention or recall, I must say that the best memory was when I was about 9-years-old. We were flat broke and expecting nothing. There was a pantry next to the kitchen that usually worked as a holding space for not yet wrapped presents. After a visit from some kind hearted friends, I stumbled upon a room full of gifts that were specially selected for my siblings and me. I was so amazed and grateful that I held my tongue and opened them with excitement a week later, knowing well that we owed the blessing to real angels who took the time and care to quietly display such kindness. I will never forget it.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? My siblings and I were raised by sarcastic young adults. In place of milk and cookies, we always left a tall boy of beer (less common in that era) and baby carrots for Santa's reindeer to nibble on. Without fail, each Christmas morning we found the carrots to have been chewed to nubs, and there was always a nice note from Santa (in Mom's handwriting) thanking us for the beer. Oh, and they always left the empty crushed can, too.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? It has been a hard year for my family. With the recent passing of my dear Aunt Anne, we are faced with a holiday that demands more quality time together to cry, laugh, and love one another dearly. It will surely be a season to remember, and I am welcoming the occasion to nurture and care for each other with deepened support and thoughtfulness.

Favorite holiday song: "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love. Lovely and heart-aching in it's own right, but I loved it from an early age not due to the classic Phil Spector sound, but because of it's haunting placement in the movie Gremlins.

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Reina del Cid 

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Back in high school, some friends and I use to go caroling in nursing homes around my hometown. We lugged these big binders around with hundreds of songs in them and took requests from people, and before we got started, we passed out hot chocolate to set the ambience. Sometimes folks got really into it and you could see their faces light up. It was always such a great way to end the year, and it put things in perspective.

Favorite holiday song: My favorite holiday song has always been "Auld Lang Syne." I love the original Robert Burns poem and wish more people knew the rest of the lines; they're so beautiful!

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Mike Fisher 

Favorite holiday memory: At the age of 5 or 6 on Christmas Eve, I was at my grandma's house with my whole family and across the street was a blinking red light in the neighbors yard. It was a little to far and dark in the night to make out what it was but I was convinced from the moment I saw it that it was indeed Rudolf. That meant Santa was there too at the neighbors house. Well they were there for a quite a while, so I remember thinking maybe Santa got stuck in the chimney. To my surprise, it was just before everyone was about to leave and go to bed that we heard a knock on the door. I went to the door with my aunt and there at the door was no one, but below on the front step was a collar of sleigh bells. This was indeed Rudolf's and from then on and even still, I feel like I am the luckiest kid to have Rudolf's very own sleigh bell collar.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? I'm not sure my family have ever had a tradition, but I would suppose it is spending the holidays with my parents and grandparents and loved ones.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Being with family. It may be cliche, but it's true. I know some people that aren't so lucky as to even have a family to spend the holidays with and that makes me want to invite them on over if distance was no issue.

Favorite holiday song: It is "Christmas Time Is Here" (vocal version) off of the Charlie Brown Christmas album by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. It used to be Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You," but for me once I found the Charlie Brown album, I don't think anything else is gonna beat that for me.

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Inga Roberts of The Parlour Suite 

Favorite holiday memory: My favorite holiday memories involve spontaneous fun: Christmas morning kickball on ice, bar close at the 331 Club for holiday martinis, my brother showing up from college break in a limo (limos were still cool in the 90's), sleepovers with my sisters, hittin' the skating rink with my cousins as a kid, down the street from my parents house, everyone putting on skates in the warming house, a combination of being freezing from the cold but sweaty from outdoor games, sugar high and excited.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Going to the movie theater on Christmas Day with Joel Roberts (my husband and band mate)

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Spending time with my family.

Favorite holiday song: "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole or "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" by Bruce Springsteen.

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Jake Dilley of The Color Pharmacy 

Favorite holiday memory: I don't know if it's my favorite holiday memory, but it was definitely memorable. When I was in high school, my uncle hired me to play music for his annual Christmas party. I was not the only entertainment, however, and once the bulk of the crowd cleared out I spent the rest of the evening nursing a bottle of peppermint schnapps with the other performer, a middle-aged German yodeler wearing Lederhosen. It was one of the first times I got paid to play music, and also the first time I got the spins. Either that or the memory of teaching my niece to make snow angels. Nah, I'm gonna go with the pep schnapps with the yodeler.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? On Christmas night, I usually go see at least one film. Not only is it a great time of year for movies, but it makes for a memorable movie-going experience since I go with friends or family I don't get to see as much as I'd like throughout the year.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? I'm looking forward to spending time with loved ones and catching up on movies I've been meaning to check out. And the food. My god, THE FOOD!

Favorite holiday song: "Christmas At The Zoo" by The Flaming Lips.

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Joey Verskotzi of Verskotzi 

Favorite holiday memory: The last few years have been my grandparent's last Christmases and each year the whole family just keeps growing closer and closer. Just being with family and learning what family means changes each holiday, and I love that.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? My mom makes a wicked homemade Irish cream holiday drink, and I love having a glass with her when I get home every year.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? I'm actually getting married two days after Christmas. It'll be the biggest holiday party I've ever been to, and I'm so excited for it.

Favorite holiday song: "So This is Christmas."

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Casey Call
Casey Call

Casey Call of Enemy Planes 

Favorite holiday memory: Growing up, my family was never big on Christmas so, they would take my brother and me to the store to pick out gifts instead of the typical presents under a tree method. The first time this took place, I was in the second grade and my dad casually mentioned we were going on a shopping spree. Unbeknownst to my parents, I had just seen a rerun of one of those shopping-spree game shows and, naturally, I assumed that this was what was going down. Upon arrival, my parents made the mistake of letting me have my own cart, and I took off down the toy aisle and proceeded to enthusiastically fill it to the brim. When they finally realized what I was doing and tried to explain that it wasn't like the TV show, my 7 year old brain couldn't begin to fathom why this was not ok. At the time, I didn't realize how little money we had growing up; my parents both worked low income factory jobs, but apparently a bleary-eyed mini-me was all it took for them to buy everything I had one-armed into my moving cart. Best Christmas ever.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Watching Gremlins (the movie).

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Watching Gremlins.

Favorite holiday song: "I Believe In Father Christmas" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

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Chris Harrington
Chris Harrington

Chris Harrington of Virtual CH 

Favorite holiday memory: I accidentally dropped the F-bomb at the first Christmas dinner with my (now) in-laws. At the time, I'd only known them for a couple of months. I was embarrassed, but they laughed and passed the wine bottle. They are some mighty fine and laid-back personages.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Making homemade Irish cream AND Gluehwein (mulled wine). Gluehwein before Christmas dinner and Irish cream after Christmas dinner. Your home smells amazing from cooking the Gluehwein with all the spices.

Favorite holiday song: My new discovery from the "Christmas with the Beach Boys" recording: "Morning Christmas." The music is haunting and gorgeous.

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Monica LaPlante 

Favorite holiday memory: One year I got a Lego version of Hogwarts. I built it while sitting in front of the TV, zoning in and out of watching A Christmas Story on repeat. I seriously sat there so long I had most of the lines in the movie memorized. I don't remember doing anything else. Now that I'm typing this, all I can't think is "What the hell was wrong with me?/I wonder if I could rebuild that Lego set?"

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Sitting around in my pajamas playing video games with my brother. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only times I feel okay doing that.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Not checking my email/ TWO DAYS OFF.

Favorite holiday song: Charlie Brown Christmas. That's not the name of a song, but seriously anything from that.

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Sexy Delicious
Sexy Delicious

Jamie Quinn of Sexy Delicious

Favorite holiday memory: Perfecting Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" for a Christmas Eve Show at the Fine Line, only to watch the band right before us play a way cooler version than what we were about to play.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Getting the whole band together to play on Nicollet Mall late at night in the snow. It's a cold, dangerous, magical experience.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Having an excuse to play cheesy Christmas songs every show. All the best melodies were reserved for holiday songs, and it just makes them that much sweeter to play only once a year.

Favorite holiday song: "What Are You Doing New Years Eve?"

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Homeless & The van Gobots 

Favorite holiday memory: One year our drummer walked in on his mommy kissing Santa Claus, underneath the mistletoe. Santa was pretty into it. 

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? Taking the brandy away from Aunt Edna. 

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? Eating lutefisk filled carmel rolls.

Favorite holiday song: "Christmas I'll be Steppin' " by R. Kelly off the 'Best Man Holiday' soundtrack

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Dave Steglich of Umbrella Bed  

Favorite holiday memory: We played a private party in the basement of Nye's -- who knew they had a basement party room? We stumbled upstairs ten years ago after the gig and it was holiday mayhem in the piano bar. We created some crazy memories that night and a new Umbrella Bed holiday tradition.

What is a favorite holiday tradition of yours? We have an annual band white elephant gift exchange at Nye's (this year's highlight was a blow-up bust of Madame Curie), a gradual move from Old Fashioneds to White Russians and a heartfelt rendition of "Blue Christmas" at the piano bar.

What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season? The chance that Mike, the old piano player at Nye's, will return. Also, White Russians. We put out a new EP "Refill" this fall and are excited to continue playing the new material in Dec/Jan.

Favorite holiday song: "Blue Christmas" the Elvis version. We invest heavily in the backup singers.

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