By Molly Barber
The days are getting shorter, the air is colder and that really only means one thing… Yup, the holiday season is right around the corner. Now as you might have guessed one of my favorite parts about this time of year is the music. I mean come on now, who doesn’t love those Christmas classics? Growing up at my house, the Big Guy (my dad), loved the classics- Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Gene Autry- you get the picture. My mom enjoyed a little more beat in her Christmas tunes, some Brenda Lee, Jose Feliciano, The Ronettes, and then her favorite, The Carpenters. Now my brother is a Burl Ives guy through and through. And I like it all, although I have to say Darlene Love might get a little more playtime at my house. But what I’m trying to get at is that everyone has their favorite holiday song that warms their heart, brings a smile to their face, and takes them back to holidays past.
Every year there seems to be bands who try and seal themselves into the Christmas playlist, either doing their own renditions of the classics or trying to create their own. But I’ve never heard of a band who dedicated their whole musical existence to the holiday season… That is until I met Marty Parker and his band the Yule Logs.
For 11 years the Yule Logs have been playing “sugar-spun arrangements of” Christmas favorites and originals all through the Golden State. During the holiday season the band reunites, sometimes playing up to 20 shows in little more than a month. Truly earning them their slogan, “The Hardest Working Band In Snow Business.”
The quartet is made up of lead singer Marty Parker, guitar player Maurice Spencer, bass guitar Kirt Lind and drummer Jacob Sprecher. “Expect British Invasion hooks, California Surf harmonies, and pop-notch craftsmanship,” Parker explained. “Easy on the eyes and dressed to kill, we bring fun, snarky and upbeat holiday music to masses.”
After listening to some of their music it was clear to me that the Yule Logs take their craft seriously but have a very good time doing it. They put their own spins on Christmas favorites and have catchy and funny originals. It was kind of shocking to me that a band this talented would only be around for a month out of the year. “I think it’s good for band relationships. I always say the Beatles would still be together if they only saw each other for a month out of the year,” Parker said. “ We have invested so much in this, we have like 70 (original) songs and we can put like four months of work into one season. We can record, we can make a video, we can rehearse our asses off and then play like 20 shows during the season. And the older I get, it’s like time accelerates and it really doesn’t feel like 11 months goes by between seasons.”
With the band being the brainchild of Parker, he had originally envisioned a quiet band that would play living rooms and private gigs. “You know in “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, the song where they’re singing “Fahoo fores dahoo dores welcome Christmas, Christmas day?” It just sounded so pretty to me. I thought nobody’s really doing that stuff faithfully,” Parker explained. “I thought that would blow people’s minds if I brought harmony, like people singing that silly song but very sincerely.” From there the band took off and so did Parker’s plan of being a quiet living room band. They’ve played venues like the Peppermill, Sierra Nevada’s Big Room, Walt Disney Family Museum, the City National Civic of San Jose and their live act was the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday Pick. “Most of our stuff happens in town because that’s where our fan base is. And if there’s more people, there’s more energy and it’s like a reciprocal thing.”
When this band puts on a show, they really put on a show. “I have a Liberace kind of impulse and I have this firm belief that if you put on a show it should be a show, you know?” Parker said. And after watching a couple of their videos on youtube and live shows, it’s a very true statement. They really seem to walk the line between irony and sincerity and do it really well. “I think it sits weird with people that these four grown men are singing really seriously about Santa Claus, and I think they are surprised that we put so much into it. You known when they hear a really sophisticated harmony or sophisticated arrangement, I think people appreciate the craftsmanship that has gone into it. And then there are the original songs we try to connect in the same way, where they try to be either funny or touching.” Some of my favorites from the band are “El Señor Frosty” a cool little ditty mashing up Christmas classics with new pizzazz, “Up All Night” a fun, early British Invasion sounding jam, and then they slowed down “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” to a sweet doo-wop tune sure to fit nicely into any Christmas playlist.
Those were just a few of the songs I enjoyed. All five of the Yule Log’s albums are available on iTunes. You can also listen to their music on youtube and don’t forget to check out their website www.yulelogsmusic.com for updates and upcoming shows.
Their catchy tunes, funny lyrics, sophisticated harmonies, and all around good time attitude are something that shouldn’t be missing from your Christmas playlist this year. This is the type of band that has at least one song out there for everyone. And keep them on your radar if you don’t catch them this year, they’ll be back for the next holiday season. I haven’t seen a Yule Log show live yet, but you can bet it’s on my Christmas list this year.