Not long ago, Nick Lowe was approached by his American record label about releasing a Christmas album. The esteemed UK songwriter, who gave the world "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" and "Cruel to Be Kind," says the idea seemed laughable.
"But I was confused by how snooty I felt when they asked me about doing it," Lowe says. "I think it's a Brit thing, really: Making Christmas records is seen as a not very cool thing to do. And I thinkg it's all bound up with strange ideas from the 1960s, about selling out and things like that."
Texas Matters: While Gov. Rick Perry has continued his hard line on Medicaid expansion under the ACA, a new study finds that Texas taxpayers will end up paying billions for the other states that do. Never fear, it is now totally fine to say "Merry Christmas" in Texas public schools. Also on this show: Amy Tan talks about the inspiration behind her new book, "The Valley of Amazement."
Every year, radio stations are deluged with new Christmas albums, and Texas Public Radio is no different. This year, I came across one that made its way to the top of my listening stack. The Canadian group Ensemble Polaris boasts diverse instrumentation, including guitar, banjo, mandolin, bagpipe, musical saw, recorders and winds.
San Antonio's performing arts group Urban-15 is known for its driving drumbeats and wildly creative costuming. Their longevity and unique calling has made them one of the city’s iconic puro San Antonio aspects. But every December they put away the drums and costumes, put on holiday music, and turn on the lasers.
"The holiday laser show is multiple lasers that are choreographed to some of the holiday favorites," said Urban-15 Music and Media Director George Cisneros.
As it has done for the past 16 years, the Embassy of Norway decorated a Christmas tree at Union Station in Washington, D.C. — a gift to the American people to say thanks for helping Norway during World War II.
This year is no different. The tree was lit in a ceremony Tuesday evening, but what stands out is the nature of the ornaments that adorn the artificial tree: In addition to small American and Norwegian flags, the tree is decked out with 700 shining decorations with the iconic image from Norwegian Edvard Munch's painting The Scream.
Conspirare is a professional chamber choir from Austin that sings different types of music, from medieval to modern. The word itself may sound like it has sinister undertones, but Craig Hella Johnson, the group's artistic director, said it means, "to breathe together."
"We are so thrilled about our visit to San Antonio," Johnson said. "We are returning to a venue that we really enjoy singing in -- Laurel Heights United Methodist Church -- and we are singing this Friday."