The Green Room: Bill Kirchen
Bill Kirchen and his annual Honky-Tonk Holiday Show comes to Jammin' Java.
Singer Bill Kirchen has lived in Southern Maryland for the past 24 years, and has played an annual holiday show at Jammin' Java for many of them.
But this year, it was going on a tour with his band to the Middle East and Palestine that put him in the Christmas spirit.
"We played refugee camps and played with Israeli musicians, with Arabic musicians and with little kids. It was a extremely soulful experience," he said. "I went to Bethlehem and toured Old Jerusalem. I am not really a church guy but that's where three major religions grew up and it really puts me in the Christmas spirit."
Kirchen is back at Jammin' Java on Dec. 17 for the annual Honky-Tonk Holiday show, which will feature holiday songs and songs from Kirchen's new album "Word to the Wise."
"We're doing some largely less familiar songs from the old '50s-, '60s-country era, some rhythm and blues and some blues Christmas numbers," Kirchen said. "There will also be a Hawaiian Christmas number."
A former classmate of legend Iggy Pop and Deon Jackson, who scored a soul hit with "Love Makes the World Go Round," back in 1967, Kirchen has always loved music. Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Kirchen discovered some older country music and western swing in his late teens.
"I have been playing and drawing from that same well of music for over 40 years," he said.
Known best for this Telecaster sound on his 1972 collaboration with Commander Cody on "Hot Rod Lincoln," Kirchen has was a founding member of the legendary Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, has released eight critically acclaimed solo albums, and has played with a virtual who's who of the recording industry.
His latest release features duets with nearly a dozen guest artists who he's worked with in the past. It includes Norton Buffalo, Paul Carrack, Commander Cody, Elvis Costello, Blackie Farrell, Dan Hicks, Nick Lowe, Maria Muldaur and Asleep at the Wheel alumna Chris O'Connell.
"I wanted to do an album with people I share a musical connection with," he said. "I've worked with all of these people: I recorded with Nick Lowe, I've gigged with Elvis Costello, and with Maria Muldaur and Dan Hicks back in the day."
When Kirchen comes around, you can expect lots of forgotten classics from the golden age of country music, such as Red Simpson's "Truckin' Trees For Christmas," Hank Snow's "Reindeer Boogie," and Albert King's blues rarity "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'."
"We'll have selections from my back catalogue with Commander Cody, my own surf guitar instrumental "Silent Surfin' Night," Jimmy Donnely's swamp pop "Santa! Don't Pass Me By, and Christmas tunes from Chuck Berry, Merle Haggard, Elvis and much more."
Kirchen said he loves playing at Jammin' Java , "a destination joint, a place people go to hear music," and that his show will "rock out pretty well."
"I would love to see everyone who wants to come out. It's a joyous time of year and we have some really incredible stories for people," he said.
The show begins at 8 p.m. Dec. 17 at Jammin' Java. Tickets are $20.