On the Beat

“Happy Christmas,” from The Brantley Family Band

As ghastly a year as 2016 has been, it’s nice to have some actual good news. So it made for a nice pick-me-up today when one of the most charming annual holiday-season traditions I know of hit my inbox, the latest edition of “The Brantley Family Band Christmas Album.”

“The Brantley Family Christmas Album” goes back to 2004, when former Bull City/Ashley Stove guitarist Jim Brantley started teaming up with friends and family to record Christmas songs and send them out into the world. Brantley and his wife Heidi lived in Durham at the time, and they’ve kept it up every year since even after moving out to California.

In recent years, the performing cast has expanded with the arrival of their children, 2-year-old Louise and 4-year-old twins Bo and Sam. The kids take center-stage on this year’s recording, the 1972 John Lennon/Yoko Ono classic “Happy Christmas.”

This brings the total number of Christmas songs in their repertoire to 41 (!), and you can listen to them all here. It’s also cool to see a dozen years worth of their Christmas-card cover art.

All 41 songs are also free for downloading. I think my favorite is still the Brantleys’ 2009 cover of the old Vincent Guaraldi “Charlie Brown Christmas” soundtrack theme “Linus and Lucy,” which bounces from acoustic jingle-jangle to heavy riffage worthy of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi