Santacular Christmas Song Countdown – #16 – Rusty Bladen

You will notice, if you are a longtime reader, I throw in a fair amount of unsubstantiated opinion on my way to passing along facts. In reality, if you have read the blog posts over the past year, you already know – via these little nuggets of insight that roll out of my brain, into my fingers and onto the computer – what I like. And trust me, this has everything to do with the song at #16.

If you listed the six (I needed six – five wasn’t enough) musical sounds/songs/albums/artists that are the influences behind this here Rockforward site, it would read like this:

1. The trio of Mellencamp albums in the mid 80’s – “Uh-Huh”, “Scarecrow” and “The Lonseome Jubilee”. Anyone who is 35+ that likes the music we do should recognize how much these albums – especially “Scarecrow” – influenced tons of Americana and roots-rock bands and fans.

2. Tom Petty. Anything Tom Petty.

3. Those late 80’s bands that came on the heels of Petty and Mellencamp (including Gear Daddies, Uncle Tupelo, BoDeans, Del Fuegos, Georgia Satellites, Jason & The Scorchers, Lone Justice, and regional/Indiana artists like Larry Crane, Duke Tomatoe, The Hammerheads, and Henry Lee Summer. That is some and there are more ) Alt-country before they called it that. Heartland rock at the time.

4. Springsteen – for the majesty of the rock and roll, the brilliance of the lyrics, and the passion of the live show. And for the lineage to bar band rock and R&B  (like the outstanding J. Geils Band)

5. Power Pop. I think Cheap Trick is woefully underappreciated. Rick Springfield’s “Working Class Dog ” album should be considered great power pop/rock. The Cars debut album is one of the best records in the rock music era. Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend ” record was killer. I saw the Romantics live at a bar in 1989 and they were loud, into the performance, and rocked hard, fast and righteously.

6. The current crop of bands that carry on the sounds: Bottle Rockets, Todd Snider, James McMurtry, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and Will Hoge among many more…

So that’s where I come from. And it leads to #16 on our countdown of 20 Christmas roots-rock songs. Indiana’s Rusty Bladen has been working for the past 20 years in the bars, clubs and parties throughout the state. I’ve known him that long, first meeting him when I was a radio jock down at WORX in Madison, Indiana – I was just out of college and had a Sunday night radio show and eventually did mornings for a couple years. He was just starting his solo career after a few years in cover bands. He now plays mainly solo live shows that are always high energy. His sound hits all of the influences I already cited.  His writing is blue collar.

About a year ago, he released “Feels Like Christmas”, a holiday album of 11 classic Christmas songs and one original – the title cut. That’s the one we have here. Mellencamp drummer Dane Clark produced the effort, and made it all sound really good.  A great country rock/heartland/Americana record. The record is simply my favorite Christmas album of all time. Overstatement? Nah.  Listen to the album.

Here’s the song, with it’s  fun, quaint, and homegrown video.

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