Chimneyside Chats with Starpainter

by - December 21, 2021

Graphic created by Lucas Seidel Design

Gather 'round the open fire for Chimneyside Chats - a monthly feature with holiday stories from our favorite artists. See what's in their stockings this year as they reminisce on Christmas memories, share their favorite recipe and more! Here's what Starpainter frontman Joel Stretch had to say: 

Here’s the scene: I’m 8 years old riding in the back seat of a turquoise Aerostar. It’s dark outside and very snowy. I’m traveling down Highway 53 for the annual Carol Sing at the Scrivens’ acreage. Upon entering the house: crock pots, shrimp rings, cans of sardines. These are for later; do not touch.

Grownups stand around and visit while people arrive. Eventually some kind of verbal signal is given and everyone piles into the living room - grownups on couches and chairs, kids on the floor. Laminated binders saved from year to year are passed out and shared between friends and family members. Mrs. Zepick sits down at the piano and starts to play. Kids get to request the fun ones off the top (Rudolph, Frosty, etc.). After a few of these, we get into prettier and more serious holiday tunes.

It’s this part of the evening I remember the clearest. The sound of a room full of people singing along with an upright piano made my hair stand on end. Even now, thinking about it makes me feel something. There are millions of moments in my life that have made me want to sing and play and write, but these Carol Sings are some of the earliest memories I have of being electrified by music. The songs were communal and heartfelt and shared between friends and family. It sounded loud and beautiful and human.

After singing, food and drinks are served. Us kids tear around downstairs and the grownups talk upstairs til late. Eventually my family bundles up and piles back into our van and drives back to town. These memories seem too good to be real - in fact, I’m not sure my wife believes any of this actually happened. But the sounds, smells, tastes of the Carol Sing come back to me across the decades with a vividness purified by time. Yes, this really happened to me and yes, it was the best.

The song I’ve included for the Chimneyside Chats playlist is a new one called "Good Ol’ Fashioned Cheer" by my friend Max Hopkins. This song embodies a communal and celebratory spirit I love and admire. Max has written and recorded at least one Christmas tune every year for I don’t know how many years now - enough for the various recordings to be compiled into a lovely full-length record called O, The Holidays Are Near!, which you can find in the usual places. Happy Holidays, everybody!

Learn more about Starpainter and listen to the song Joel chose for our Chimneyside Chats playlist!
"Good Ol' Fashioned Cheer" by Max Hopkins

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