Some Jamestown-area residents begin blasting Christmas tunes early in November. They pack up Halloween decorations to the sounds of these songs and look for the light-and-bulb-filled cardboard boxes marked "Christmas." Others wait until after Thanksgiving or Dec. 1. Either way, many lovers of the holiday season have Christmas songs or CDs they like to break out on the days prior to Dec. 25.
The partners behind Frewsburg's Glarner Group After Dark hope to add 14 new tracks to your holiday playlist this year with their soon-to-be-released CD, "Chautauqua To Allegheny Mountain Christmas 2: A Compilation Of Singers And Musicians For The Benefit of Non-Profits."
"They're exceptional Christmas songs," said Joe Glarner, one of the group's two partners along with Matt Ekstrom. "There's a bunch of local and regional artists on there. It's a really good hour of Christmas music."
Joe Glarner — of Glarner Group After Dark, which specializes in audio and video creation — has worked with his partner, Matt Ekstrom, to create a Christmas CD featuring tracks from four “American Idol” finalists and several local musicians. The album will be released by Monday, and proceeds will benefit seven local charities.
P-J photo by Scott Shelters
Four nationally known musicians also appear on the disc, including Amy Davis, Frenchy Davis, Nikki McKibbin and Trenyce, who were all finalists on "American Idol." Glarner explained how the project came together.
"I was working with Chenoa Music on a project for a bunch of their American Idols, and I had a bunch of Christmas music left over," he said. "Instead of just throwing it in the can for licensing, we decided to do a benefit CD for non-profits and charities in the region. Out of our own pocket, we put up the money to duplicate the CDs."
In 2010, the group's inaugural Christmas disc raised about $3,000 for six organizations. This year, seven non-profits will benefit from the CD sales - including The Spire of Jamestown, Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church of Warren, St. Susan Center, Infinity Visual and Performing Arts Inc., Community Helping Hands, United Christian Advocacy Network, and the Boonies International Film Festival.
"We have roughly $20,000 into this project, but that's not why we did this," Ekstrom said. "Our first thought wasn't, 'Let's produce a Christmas CD and try to sell it.' It was, 'Why don't we bring in local musicians, make a CD and try to do something with the money.' I have a lot of time into this. Joe has an insane amount of time into this. With our sweat equity, we proved this could work."
Glarner Group received funding from Community Development Association, which sponsored 1,000 of this year's CDs. In the coming years, Ekstrom believes his group can continue producing Christmas albums, while increasing the amount of money sent to local organizations. "This year, we have the potential to raise four or five times what we did last year, and there's no reason we can't do that again next year," he said. "Depending on the response from the community, this could be a ($10,000) to $15,000 fundraiser for these organizations and possibly more."
The group's CD will hit shelves by Monday at the seven locations benefiting from the sales. The price will be $15. "The charities are going to receive $10 from each CD, and $5 goes to make sure they get another CD next year," Ekstrom said. "We have visions of this being a ($25,000) to $50,000 fundraiser for the area. This is a forever thing."
According to Ekstrom, the album's quality sets it apart from other charitable fundraisers in the area. "It's a tangible product. We're not just asking people to reach into their pockets and donate," he said. "They're getting a professionally mastered CD of incredible quality with both professional local musicians and national recording artists. It really is a win-win for everybody."
TRACKS, ARTISTS AND CONCERTS
Nikki McKibbin contributed "All Alone With The Christmas Lights," which Glarner call his favorite track on the album. Amy Davis' rendition of "The First Noel" and Frenchy Davis' version of "Silent Night" are two more of the album's 14 tracks, and Trenyce's cover of "Joy to the World" finishes off the quartet of songs from American Idol finalists.
Infinity's Stephanie Rogers and The Collective Groove each provided a track for the album. Rogers' performance of "Away in a Manger" and The Collective Groove's rendition of "Jingle Bells" both made the cut. Jim Cheronis channeled a Led Zeppelin-like sound into his version of "We Three Kings," while April Lindquist's cover of "What Child is This?" is the album's first track.
Charles Fredrick contributed two songs to the album: "Save Me" and "I Will Praise." Matt Homan added "In the Bleak Mid Winter" to the disc, and Rob Notez contributed the song "Thank You." A version of "Bells Reprise" by Angelo and Ylsa Giuffre and The Peavy Bandits' "Auld Lang Sync" are the disc's final two tracks.
Glarner put together two concerts in support of the CD release and has a possible third show in the works. He finalized the lineup for the "Christmas at The Crown" show at The Crown Theater on Friday, Dec. 16. The show will begin at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10. The Collective Groove, Matt Homan, Charles Fredrick, and Pete Pepke and Friends will perform.
Glarner has begun planning for a Dec. 9 show at Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, which will feature various gospel musicians, but the full lineup has not yet been finalized. "The whole idea is to bring the artists in front of the community, so the community can see the artists, buy the CD and learn about the charities. Their information will be available there," Ekstrom said.
Glarner Group After Dark specializes in the production of jingles and theme songs, voice-over work, music and video creation, and free artist consultation. Visit www.ggadnews.com or call 569-3913 for more information on the group, the shows or where to purchase a CD.