Playlist provides seasonal soundtrack with local flair

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

l The “An Ohio Christmas” Spotify playlist continues to grow.

There are now 33 songs and close to two hours of music on a playlist featuring holiday songs by acts with Ohio ties, and the overwhelming majority are from the Mahoning Valley.

I’m embarrassed that I forgot about Leavittsburg native and dobro master Jerry Douglas when compiling the original list. Douglas has a whole holiday album to pick from with 2009’s “Jerry Christmas,” so I picked something kind of traditional — an instrumental version of “Christmas Time Is Here” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” — along with what may be the weirdest song in Douglas’ extensive catalog. Douglas channels his inner Tom Waits on a rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” that fits in well with some of the other oddball selections on the list.

Black Wolf & the Thief recorded a great, rollicking version of “Run Rudolph Run” (check out the socially distanced video on YouTube). The band led by the husband-and-wife duo of Clay and Carolyn Colley also released a version of “White Christmas” this year, but I decided to add a jazzy version of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” the band put out in 2019.

And since one of the holiday traditions lost this year due to COVID-19 is the annual Christmas concert featuring the Big Band Sound of Packard backing Akron vocalist Helen Welch at Packard Music Hall, I added Welch to the playlist. I picked her rendition of “Merry Christmas Darling,” originally recorded by The Carpenters, from Welch’s 2016 album “Home for Christmas.”

The playlist is public on my Spotify playlist (agray-ticket). Feel free to use it as a local soundtrack for your Christmas Eve and Christmas day celebrations.

l Another Valley native has a new Christmas song out, but it’s not available on Spotify.

Songwriter Bob DiPiero, a Liberty native and Dana School of Music grad, released “Too Fat to Fly,” which imagines Santa’s reindeer as a fat-shaming crew that balks at hauling around hefty ol’ St. Nick this holiday season.

DiPiero’s songs have been sung by such stars as Tim McGraw, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, George Strait, Books & Dunn, Tanya Tucker and many others through the years. DiPiero handles the vocals on the solo acoustic performance, which can be found on YouTube.

l While the playlist above proves you can listen local, apparently we don’t watch local.

According to a press release that arrived this week, the most popular Christmas movie in Ohio is “White Christmas,” the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney.

Not to diss a holiday classic, but “White Christmas” takes place in Vermont. There are a few worthy contenders closer to home.

The obvious pick is “A Christmas Story,” which was filmed in part in Cleveland. The house that was used for the exterior shots of the Parker’s home even is a tourist attraction now. It’s the holiday favorite in neighboring Indiana as well as Montana.

Folks in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina love “Gremlins” while “Home Alone” is the favorite in North Carolina. “Gremlins,” of course, was written by Chris Columbus of Champion, and he directed “Home Alone” and its sequel.

And we have a new contender this year with “Worst. Christmas. Ever.,” which was shot locally, features local actors and was written and directed by Youngstown’s Johnny Chechitelli.

C’mon, Ohio, give “White Christmas” a rest and celebrate the season with homegrown holiday fare.

Andy Gray is the entertainment editor of Ticket. Write to him at agray@tribtoday.com


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