Sometimes all it takes for me to find a little Christmas spirit is hearing a great holiday song.

Sure, I adore the classics by the likes of Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Mathis. Then there’s my always and forever favorite Christmas song, “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues’ with Kirsty MacColl (rest in peace, Shane MacGowan).

But you know where else you can find fantastic Christmas music? Right here in Maine!

From fresh takes on treasured chestnuts to an original that I know will stand the test of time, Maine musicians have delivered with gifts of music, and I’m here to unwrap them for you.

Cover of the Low and Behold EP by An Overnight Low.

“Ornaments” is this year’s holiday single from An Overnight Low, an annual tradition the Portland pop-rock act started a couple of years ago. Chad Walls (lyrics, bass, percussion) said that “Ornaments” conveys a message of hope and goodwill that’s represented by holiday light displays. “Just as the winter solstice reminds us that the darkest days are behind us, so the glow of Christmas lights signifies that brighter moments lie just ahead.” The song features these lines: “I bought a few more strings/So carolers find their way/My neighbors lose a little worry/And gain a bit of day.” The upbeat, acoustic tune is catchy at first listen. Hear and purchase the track exclusively on Bandcamp.

“Run Rudolph Run” by Neon Gypsy. Design by Jennifer Kosinchuk

Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run” was released in 1958 and is still a rock ‘n roll banger. Neon Gypsy, the project of Portland-based singer-songwriter Jennifer Kosinchuk, has just released a red-hot cover of it. It’s a sped-up, blistering take that is three minutes of pure Christmas punk-rock gold.


On the Neon Gypsy version of “Run Rudolph Run,” you’ll hear Kosinchuk on vocals and rhythm guitar, Brian Andreason on lead guitar and Keoni Ben on bass. “We stepped up the tempo, and when singing and playing this tune, we envisioned Rudolph chomping at the bit ready to blaze across the sky,” she said. “I believe that the godfather of rock ‘n’ roll, Chuck Berry, would be proud.”

Cover art for Jennifer Porter’s “Winter Wonderland.” Design by Billy Mitchell

Singer Jennifer Porter, who lives in Buxton, is set to release her next album “YES, I DO!” in February. It was during the recording sessions for it that she realized there was time left in the schedule. So when producer Jonathan Wyman asked Porter if she had anything up her sleeve she’d like to record, Porter knew in an instant that “Winter Wonderland” was it. “I always thought the song adapted well to being played in a New Orleans blues stride piano style,” Porter said about the tune, which has been part of her live show during the holiday season for years.

The breezy “Winter Wonderland” was penned in the mid-1930s by Felix Bernard and Richard Bernhard Smith. Since then, it’s been recorded by dozens of artists, including Guy Lombardo, Johnny Mercer, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald and Eurythmics, to name a few.

Porter can now count herself among those who have turned in a wonderful “Winter Wonderland.” The piano, played by Porter, dances like a sprite, and the horns from Steve Jankowski and Doug DeHayes flow freely through the song. What’s more, George Naha, who has played with the likes of Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, drops in for a bit with electric guitar. Porter’s vocals are as bright and clear as snow on Christmas Day, and her goal to put a ’70s-era Memphis soul spin on the track certainly was successful.

For these and more local holiday songs, check out the Spotify playlist I put together, called A Very Maine Christmas, which also features The Fogcutters, Don Campbell, The High Road, Alejandra O’Leary and other Mainers.

Merry Christmas and happy listening!

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