Each of the past 46 Decembers, Jim Watson has carried his acoustic guitar, songbooks and lyric sheet handouts to Chapel Hill’s Cave, and invited all to join in an evening of Yuletide cheer. Watson’s Christmas singalongs have helped make “the season to be merry” ever more so. Last year’s concert, recorded live by the Rubber Room’s Jerry Brown, is an early 18-track gift that will brighten days and nights leading to the arrival of Old St. Nick.
A founding member of the Red Clay Ramblers and current member of Robin and Linda’s Fine Group, Watson lends his distinctive tenor to an engaging set of classic and recently penned songs that celebrate the sacred and secular sides of the season. “Christmas at the Cave” features such familiar favorites as “Christmas Time’s a-Coming,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” “White Christmas” and “Away in a Manger.”
Watson also shares equally charming, if less well-known, “modern classics” including John McCutcheon’s poignant World War I tale “Christmas in the Trenches,” Steve Earle’s “Nothing but a Child,” Joe Newberry’s “On this Christmas Day,” and Tim O’Brien’s “Making Plans.” The album closes with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” a goal made easier with this singalong feast of seasonal cheer as pleasant and inviting as “Old Toy Trains.”
Jim Watson’s Christmas show will take place Dec. 21at the Cave, and Dec. 23 at the Depot in Hillsborough. To order “Christmas at the Cave,” send a $17 check to Jim Watson, 132 Justice St., Chapel Hill, N.C. 27516.
Correspondent Jack Bernhardt