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Santa Stefanowicz's gift

Steve Stefanowicz releases new album, Midlife Christmas

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I wasn’t quite ready for the holiday season this year. It seems impossible that it could be time for Christmas shopping and Thanksgiving celebrations already. No matter how many commercials for diamond pendants and sport utility crossovers I saw on television; I just couldn’t seem to get into the holiday spirit at all. But then I received my first present of the year, a Christmas CD titled Midlife Christmas by Steve Stefanowicz.

I’ve been a fan of his music for many years so I was tickled to receive an advance.

Stefanowicz’s deft and seemingly effortless guitar skills and his clear and gentle vocals make his Christmas CD the perfect easy listening for this season.

The CD has 21 wonderful tracks, some traditional songs, some lesser known holiday songs, a couple of instrumentals and lots of personal touches and guest appearances by his friends and family. Lucky for us, his friends and family are a talented bunch.

The CD is full of both humor and poignancy. For instance on Track 4, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Stefanowicz and guest vocalist Amanda Holbrook (pictured with Stefanowicz on the CD cover) break from song lyrics into some dialog where they discuss his new car (also featured on the CD cover).

“I plan on driving it too,” claims Stefanowicz, which is an inside joke for those who know him.

Sarah Thornton plays violin and Rich Wetzel plays trumpet on Track 7, “I Believe in Father Christmas.” 

Holbrook appears again on Track 9, “Ava Maria” showcasing her lovely lilting voice.

The title track, number 10, “Midlife Christmas” is a new original country-style Christmas song by Stefanowicz. It seems to be a very frank account of where he’s been, where he is and where he intends to go in his life. I think a lot of people will relate.

I love the way Stefanowicz twists and bends the old songs into something fresh and fun to hear. Track 11 is a fun, bluesy rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Track 12 is a scat-infused jazz version of “Silver Bells” full of air tight harmonies. This song is so catchy that I think it might be stuck in my head until well after New Years Day. After the toe-tapping fun of the last three songs, I wasn’t emotionally prepared for Track 13, “Christmas in the Trenches,” which Stefanowicz dedicated to Spec. Michael Holbrook. Thornton’s violin is also heard on this song.

When I heard it for the first time, I was driving my car wishing I had windshield wipers for my eyes. The song tells the true story of a temporary truce that occurred on a World War I battlefield because one German soldier started singing a Christmas song and pretty soon all the soldiers were singing along, which led to a respite from the war. The soldiers from both sides drank brandy together, played soccer and shared stories about their families making it nearly impossible to return to the business of war the following day. Sniff.

Stefanowicz rocks out on electric guitar during the solo of Track 18, “Winter Wonderland.” I also really enjoyed Stefanowicz’s twanged-out version of “Jingle Bells.” I never thought of “Jingle Bells” as a bad-ass cowboy song. I tell ya, the creativity on this album is incredible.

Stefanowicz’s son helps out with “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” — so cute. On the last track on the CD, James Holbrook joins Stefanowicz in a dramatic (and comical) reading of the poem “The Night Before Christmas.” Holbrook reads lines from the poem, and Stefanowicz attempts to recall from memory each following line. He doesn’t always get it right, but the commentary asides are hilarious.

If you’re feeling a little holiday resistant this year, I recommend you light some candles, pull out those boxes of Christmas decorations and listen to this CD while you deck the halls and trim the tree. You’ll be in the Christmas spirit in no time flat.

Buy online at: Or hear it live and buy in person at the gigs listed below.

[The Harmon, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m., no cover, 1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.2739]

[HG Bistro, Saturday, Dec. 1, 9:45 p.m., no cover, 1618 E. Main, Puyallup, 253.845.5747]

[Cedarwood Dome, Sunday Dec. 9, 7 p.m., with Darren Motamedy, $7.50, 7404 Pacific Hwy. E., Milton, 253.922.5727]

My name is Angie and I’m just a shot away — If you can’t rock me, somebody will.


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