Todd Maul – Pairing Holiday Tunes and Cocktails

So, It’s the holiday season. For many its holiday party time and the cheer flows and the music plays. I figure I would give you a bit of help in the holiday music and drink category. For me being born in the late 60’s my Mom and Dad listened to a great deal of early 60’s music especially around the holidays.  Several such records / discs that hold a special place in my heart are:

  1. Ray Conniff’s “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”
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To me this is perfectly paired with an aged rum. In particular I would suggest: El Dorado 12. Demerara rum that ages beautifully. The smoothness of the rum with go magnificently with the camp of the music. I would suggest listening and drinking this in a smoking jacket by the fire.

2. My next music selection is Robert Goulet’s “Wonderful World of Christmas”

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To me this is perfectly paired with a bone dry Beefeater Martini. Preferably stirred and served in a chilled martini glass.  I would suggest the drink be made 16 to one with dry vermouth and a dash of orange bitters. The most important part is that the lemon twist is misted across the the top of the drink. You want to hold your channel knife at a 45% angle and aim the opening of the knife toward the surface of the beverage – to the point that you can see the top of the drink actually move.

I suggest you drink this wearing a madman suit smoking a pipe after building a snowman.

3. Lastly I would suggest Burl Ives “the Christmas Collections”

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To me this is best paired with eggnog.  Homemade eggnog made with both rum and cognac. I recommend that you whip both the egg whites and the egg yokes. You want to make sure the cinnamon content is in balance so that the cream and the dryness of the spice work in tandem.

I would suggest drinking this while watching Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer in Black and white, while wearing a black turtleneck.

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Todd Maul is Co-Founder of Cafe ArtScience in Cambridge, MA and an amazing mixologist who has revolutionized the way we see cocktails.

John Aylward – Living Arts

We all need time out of doors and away from it all, not just because we need to unplug, but because we need the quiet solitude of something beyond culture to inspire. Ask the greats, and quiet time is necessary. I take my quiet time, whenever I can, at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. It’s an hour from the city, but a best-kept secret. Few realize its one of our country’s largest bird sanctuaries.

The Atlantic offers a particular kind of meditation that is healing and inspiring all at once. And while that’s true no matter what time of year, for me that best time is August. The water is as warm as it will be. Maybe just as essential as having a passion that drives you is having a passion for what rejuvenates you.

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Wave Traces. Sandy Point, Plum Island.

John Aylward

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John Aylward is a composer, performer and writer who lives in Cambridge, MA.

Andrew Churchman – Album Cover Design

As digital music services such as Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music compete for our attention, as an artist and musician I often lament the slow disappearance of physical media.  Sure, I love my Spotify Premium subscription as much as anyone but do you remember what it was like to go into a record store and browse through the racks of LPs, CDs, or cassettes?  Over the last few years there have been plenty of reports proclaiming the resurgence of vinyl records (even Whole Foods has begun to sell LPs) but 2016 has in fact been the worst year for overall album sales since 1991 (via Spin.com).

What we gain from the immediate satisfaction of streaming a song, we lose in of the enjoyment of the physical packaging of recorded music.  Have you ever taken a chance on an album just because the artwork struck you?  I have.  While it’s been said that you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can judge an album by its sleeve.  For me, an album cover enhances the listening experience and colors the music.  I want to highlight three designers that I feel have elevated the medium of album design not only as a result of their unique visual aesthetics but also the quality of the music with which they were involved.

Peter Saville:  As a young art student in Manchester, England in the late ‘70s, Saville would define the look and feel of the lauded record label Factory Records.

Home to groups such as Joy Division, New Order, and A Certain Ratio, Saville broke away from the raw, Xeroxed look of first wave punk albums and began to appropriate highbrow influences such as classical imagery and modern typography into his album designs.

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His dedication to his craft has reached mythical proportions, with stories of the artist delivering posters for gigs after they occurred, because he was not yet happy with the finished product, and designing an album cover comprised of sandpaper.

Vaughan Olivier:  Like Peter Saville at Factory Records, Vaughan Oliver’s design work would become synonymous with the London record label 4AD.

While Factory incorporated additional designers aside from Saville, Oliver was essentially 4AD’s exclusive designer throughout the entirety of the 1980’s.  What this meant was that each record released by the label bore Oliver’s unique, dreamlike aesthetic.  A customer could identify an album as being released by 4AD just by looking at the sleeve.  For groups such as the Cocteau Twins, Pixies, and Red House Painters, Olivier created a visual world that was almost inseparable from the music.

Mark Robinson:  A musician, designer, and founder of Teenbeat Records, Robinson was influenced by both Saville and Olivier but put his own distinctively American spin on his work.   From his home in Washington, DC in the mid-‘80s, Robinson’s designs for Teenbeat Records began as Xeroxed tape covers and evolved into magnificently quirky and engaging artwork.

The designs for his own groups Unrest, Air Miami, and Flin Flon are pillars of American indie-rock design.  A dedicated archivist, I encourage you to browse the Teenbeat website, a massive design achievement in itself, where Mark has documented an exhaustive amount of label ephemera (including toothbrushes and drink coasters).  When not making music or releasing records, Mark can be found designing book covers for Houghton Mifflin.

Andrew Churchman

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Andrew Churchman is a musician living in Cambridge, MA.