The ever-earlier onslaught of the holiday shopping season is an annual occurrence I’ve come to dread with every box-store door-buster item on November's nightly news. But when the Internet’s seasonal media hype bears mention of a Yuletide offering by a consistently great Hudson Valley recording artist? Well, let’s just say that takes much of the humbug out of the holi-daze. Case in point: The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs in and out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook, the brand-new album by Woodstock family folk great Elizabeth Mitchell.
Attributed to Elizabeth Mitchell and Friends, the all-star disc has been released on the legendary Smithsonian Folkways imprint and comprises 24 ditties drawn from American Folk Songs for Christmas, a songbook assembled by composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, the sister of Pete Seeger. Accompanying Mitchell on this sweet set are her husband and collaborator in the indie band Ida, Dan Littleton; the couple’s daughter, Storey Littleton; Natalie Merchant, who contributes liner notes; Peggy Seeger; Mike & Ruthy; Jay Ungar and Molly Mason; John Sebastian; Amy Helm; Dan Zanes; Chris Wood; Happy Traum; Marco Benevento; Aoife O’Donovan; Larry Campbell; Teresa Williams; Simi Stone, and others.
This 2012 video features Elizabeth, Storey, Daniel, and a friend performing the Woody Guthrie chestnut “Who’s My Pretty Baby”:
The Sounding Joy is out now on Smithsonian Folkways Records. For audio samples and more information, visit http://www.folkways.si.edu/.