Somewhere where Skeptical and Surly meet, you can find my December “seasonal spirit”. Cold winds, dark days, and the tinsel-deep repetition of glazed tradition hammer me into a brittle brassy hrmphingness. Yes, I realize that the return of all this cheers many people, and I realize that I want to coax, then celebrate, the sun’s return – we all do, and that underlies (without implying that it covers much of the meaning of) Christmas/Chanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus/Solstice… which I’ll call, as a convenient metonomy based on my background rather than a form of exclusion, Christmas.
Well, some good news. On December 8, after I wrote this but before you read it, the sun will set a few seconds later in New York, rather than earlier, as it has for six months. So that’s the first sign of spring, something I always celebrate as the beginning of Christmas. And the definition of cold comfort, mutters Surly.
To deal with that dude, I turn to music. Lily Sparks is a bluesy, rocking local band I’ve heard play a couple of times. They’re well-suited for a Sunday BBQ at LIC Bar, accompanied by beer, burgers, sunshine, and humidity. Knowing that they’re working on a new disc, I wanted to check out a recent show - indoors, pasta, chill gusts through the door, but still bluesy and rockin. Afterward, their lead singer Niamh Hyland handed me what could have been a credit card (she didn’t have to fight any line forming to do that these days), but in reality provided access to download their new single, “Bright Christmas”. Skeptical and Surly sauntered over.
And promptly got their asses kicked. The tune is refreshingly different from any Christmas song I’ve heard. It deals directly with holiday malaise, noticing that connecting our childhood joy with the joy of people in the city allows us to draw what we want and need from Christmas. There’s nothing preachy or sanctimonious about this mid-tempo blues shouter, fringed with a swinging horn section; it’s fun.
The musicality of its rhythm, melody, lyrics and harmony have a single rival in the genre, Ralph Blane’s original “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Yes, it’s a thin field, but that’s no damnation via faint praise. If you’re skeptical (or Skeptical), our tech folks have provided a nearby, convenient link so you can download it. No, I’m not going to hand out credit cards – I’m always a bit surly anyway.
Lily Sparks' latest, Cooper Cobra, is also available on iTunes.
The Silver Shark is always moving, just under the surface of the LIC scene. He comes up suddenly to snap up some wine and music, and perhaps bare his teeth at nearby lovely mermaids – though he generally doesn't bite. You can catch an occasional glimpse of him at your favorite LIC venue, and regularly here at his blog.