Puzzled for Presents? Here's George Maida's Gift Giving Smorgasbord
'Tis the season for gift giving - and, to make your lives easier, we thought we'd share some gift ideas and wish lists from our station insiders here at the Community Idea Stations.
George Maida has established a name for himself as the host of the Electric Croude, WCVE Public Radio's weekly show highlighting epic and moody music of guitar greats old and new. This Saturday - Christmas eve/morning the Electric Croude will metamorphose into the 27th annual celebration of the Christmas Croude - George's annual Christmas show. George also hosts our Classical Evening show every weeknight. George has eclectic tastes in music - and his diverse holiday gift list ideas reflect this. If your giftee loves music or powerful storytelling, regardless of the label, take a look at George's list for some picks that will get them in the mood for the season *:
From amazon: There are a number of Nutcracker recordings - none more passionate, vibrant or joyous than Stephen Bennett's. -George Maida of WCVE NPR in Richmond, VA
From amazon: This is not your father's Christmas album. Loreena McKennitt's primary instrument is the harp, but her primary technique is to take a traditional folk song and supersize it with strings, modern rhythms, and lush orchestration. It's a style that works ideally with this material. Her takes on "The Wexford Carol" and "The Stockford Carol" will make you rethink holiday songs. Other highlights include "The Seasons" and "In Praise of Christmas," all songs that are weepy enough to please Grandma but never so sappy they sound fake. Add two cups of hot cider and a roaring fire, and this album will turn Scrooge into a fan of the season. --Charles R. Cross
From amazon: Special two CD edition of this holiday release from the veteran Rockers featuring the original Jethro Tull Christmas Album (2003) plus the more recent recording Jethro Tull - Live At St Brides. Last Christmas, Jethro Tull performed and recorded a live concert at St Bride's Church in London. The profits from all tickets sold for the service, went to The Connection at St Martins, a charitable facility for the care of London's homeless community. Ian Anderson's view is that "we all have a duty of care and responsibility to help the less fortunate." EMI.
From npr: This [album] shows off [Getz's] full talents, with some Christmastime originals as well as rich folk-rock arrangements of lesser-performed carols.
From amazon: The 1970s was the decade that saw, at the height of the prog-rock movement, the pushing of the existing artistic and progressive boundaries and the expanding of the experimental. One of the most experimental bands of the time was Gentle Giant. The band was comprised of the Scottish brothers Phil, Derek and Ray Shulman, with Gary Green and Kerry Minnear. Lyrically they were inspired by personal tragedy, philosophy and the writings of the avant-garde, French Renaissance writer, doctor and satirist François Rabelais. The purpose of their musical composition was -- according to the sleeve notes on their second album Acquiring the Taste -- to "expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of becoming very unpopular." This album is the Japanese reissue of the progressive rock act's 1972 album.
From amazon: Is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Eve and Other Stories a holiday rock opera? Or perhaps just a holiday prog-rock disc? Or maybe it's New Age? Whatever the case may be, this isn't your typical Christmas album. Filled with electric guitar solos, plenty of synthesized keyboards, a children's choir, and lively drumming, Christmas Eve can only be compared to one other record, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's other holiday disc, The Christmas Attic. On this CD, angelic vocal solos (on numbers such as "The Prince of Peace") are interspersed with driving instrumentals. Sentimental, occasionally bombastic, but as high-concept as holiday albums can be. --Jason Verlinde
From amazon: A Christmas Collection is a 2-volume recording designed to present to the public one man's private collection of rare and unusual stringed instruments. Collector, recording artist, and "armchair musicologist" Gregg Miner has drawn on his diverse musical experience and his avid interest in stringed instruments of every description to produce this project. To accomplish it, Miner systematically restored, re-strung, and researched playing techniques of each of his 100 instruments, most rare, and some, truly one-of-a-kind. He then performed on each in a solo, duet, or ensemble setting. Encompassing two volumes of music, these 27 unique holiday arrangements are just part of the package; in addition, each instrument is pictured in full color and described with whimsical affection by Miner in each of the 52-page companion booklets (one for each volume). This unprecedented recording and book have captured the attention of a surprisingly wide audience, from musical instrument enthusiasts to people of all interests. Definitely not just another Christmas album!
An inspired performance of Monteverdi's "Vespro della Beata Vergine" by the Monteverdi singers the Basilica of San Marco, Venice
From amazon: After 30 years of a splendid career and exploring a variety of styles, Al Di Meola still ranks among the most popular guitar-masters of jazz and jazz-rock. Here, on his first 'electric' DVD, Di Meola shows up with 'Speak A Volcano' in Leverkusen
3) A Christmas Romance (1994) [drama]
From amazon: Times are tough for Julia Stonecypher (Olivia Newton-John) and her family. A widow with two young daughters, Julia has struggled to keep up financially. To make matters worse, she loses her job just days before Christmas. So when Brian Harding (Gregory Harrison), an upscale banker from the city, comes to collect on her outstanding bills, Julia is unable to pay. After informing her that she will lose her house, Brian takes off into the snowstorm, but doesn't make it far. When he crashes his car and injures himself, Julia allows him into her home despite his surly attitude. But as they wait out the storm together, Brian seems to have a change of heart and it looks as though this might be a merry Christmas for Julia after all.
From amazon: Spock s Beard is regarded as one the greatest live bands in the Progressive Rock scene today. Any attendee of a Beard show would agree that they truly are Prog Rock masters. If you have yet to experience the magic that is a Spock s Beard concert, worry no more. Spock s Beard Live features a breathtaking live performance from Today s Prog Rock Kings. Available in both a 2 disc CD and a DVD, this release is sure to please Spock s Beard fans, as well as newcomers to the Spock s Beard universe.
From amazon: Jack and Frank Baker are stuck in a rut. Playing the same tired tunes night after night, the brothers are in desperate need of change. So when they meet a sultry songbird named Susie Diamond, their future starts to sparkle. But when life in the limelight brings old rivalries to the surface as Jack and SusieÂ's relationship heats up, the Baker boys soon find their act Â– and their lives Â– growing more entertaining than either of them may be able to handle! With Jeff Bridges, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Beau Bridges.
6) Christmas movie: Midnight Clear (1992)[drama]
From amazon: William Wharton's autobiographical novel of World War II becomes a moving portrait of war's madness in the microcosm of a small intelligence patrol on the German front in 1944. The unit, composed of high IQ soldiers, is sent to scout ahead. They discover a small platoon of Germans hiding in the forest, but these soldiers would rather fight with snowballs than guns and exchange Christmas presents instead of mortar fire. The young, rather unsoldierly Americans are offered the opportunity to "capture" the Germans without a fight--until a fatal misunderstanding plunges their efforts into tragedy. Director Keith Gordon, who also penned the screenplay, creates an unusually eloquent, offbeat platoon drama shot amidst the tranquil beauty of a snow-covered forest. His excellent cast includes future stars Ethan Hawke and Gary Sinise, with Frank Whaley, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross, and Peter Berg rounding out the platoon. Though little seen upon its 1992 release, this moving drama received high praise for its vivid characters and delicately wrought imagery and remains one of the most powerful pacifist dramas of the post-war era. --Sean Axmaker
7) Drama series including special Christmas episode--one of the greatest TV series ever created: Nowhere Man - The Complete Series (1995)
From amazon: Unknown forces conspire to erase the identity of photographer Thomas Veil (Bruce Greenwood, I, Robot), and without warning, every aspect of his life is erased during the course of one evening. His wife acts as if he's a stranger, his credit cards are suddenly invalid, his keys no longer fit the door to his home and in one way or another, his family and friends are silenced. Completely alone, Veil sets out on a desperate cross-country quest for an answer while eluding his powerful and unknown enemy. His only clue to the possible motivation behind the harrowing ordeal is the disappearance of one of his photographs, "Hidden Agenda," which depicts the execution of natives in a war-torn Third World country. SPECIAL FEATURES: - Audio and video commentaries (Larry Hertzog, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Dunne, Steve Rodman, Art Monterastelli and Ian Toynton) - Interviews (Larry Hertzog, Art Monterastelli, Guy Magar, Steve Rodman, Bruce Greenwood, Michael Levine, Megan Gallagher) - Deleted and extended scenes - Promotional spots - Outtakes - Featurette -- "Networking" (UPN executive Mike Sullivan and series creator Larry Hertzog reminisce) - Featurette -- "Fact or Fiction?" (an anonymous ex-CIA operative reveals real world government conspiracies, mind control techniques and how fragile our identity really is)
* Click on the images above to purchase the item(s) on amazon.com. If you use our link to purchase the albums (or even to start your shopping journey on amazon for *any* item) the station receives a small financial benefit. Your cost is the same.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
The Electric Croude airs late Saturday at midnight EST on WCVE Public Radio - except this Saturday, Christmas Eve/morning, when George will present the 27th annual Christmas Croude.
Follow George on twitter: @wcvegeorgemaida
If you want more gift ideas, try:
- Gifts for the Garden Lover in Your Life, Part I
- Out of the box gift ideas from our own Master Gardener Richard Nunnally
- Top Gifts for World Music Fans
- Classic Gift Ideas from Our Music Director Bobbie Barajas
- Go Local for the Holidays! Charlottesville Shopping Ideas
- Gift Ideas for Someone Who Has Everything