Drummer Zeigler's take on Christmas, the Rams and Frosty the Snowman
Welcome to the first edition of “Music from Three Rivers,” a weekly compendium of local musical news, odds and ends. First up: A Q&A with drummer Nick Zeigler, the Monaca, Beaver Country ex-patriate who now lives in Los Angeles. Ziegler and his band, The Forty Nineteens, recently released a most excellent cover of the holiday chestnut “Frosty the Snowman” on Bongo Boy Records' annual Christmas compilation.
You can hear The Forty Nineteens version at thefortynineteens.com, and download it on iTunes and CD Baby.
Question: “Why Frosty the Snowman”? What was it about the song that made it seem due for another version?
Answer: We were looking for a cool Christmas song to cover. Our guitarist Chuck Gorian had the idea to cover “Frosty.” The song was penned in 1950, but I think that the 1969 Jimmy Durante cartoon version is the one we are most familiar with. To me, Frosty is a super-cool anti-hero. The kids put the magic hat on his head and get a new friend. Hinkle all of a sudden wants the hat back; the parents don't believe Frosty exists. One thing leads to another and finally Frosty teaches Hinkle and the parents about Christmas and all that is good in the world.
We then sent it to Bongo Boy Records in New Jersey for their yearly Christmas compilation. Gar Francis (head of Bongo Boy) asked them to put it out as a stand-alone single. …To have him rooting for us many years later is a testament to his Underground Garage mission.
Q: You've been in California for many years. What's the holiday season like in L.A.?
A: I do miss the Pittsburgh holidays for sure, but we do get to see snow-covered mountains in the winter, and it recently snowed in Burbank! One thing that makes the holiday special is to meet friends at vintage diners or have drinks at Tom Bergin's, the oldest Irish bar in LA.
Q: Do you come back home for Christmas? If so, what are some of the traditions here you enjoy or miss?
A: I don't make it back home for Christmas very often, but I come home a lot. I used to enjoy going to Downtown Pittsburgh with my family and look at all the department store displays, and eat Farkleberry cookies! When I am home during winter months, the cold weather takes me back to being a kid.
Q: Your favorite Christmas memory as a kid growing up in Beaver County?
A: Christmas Day, looking out the window and seeing everything covered in 2 feet of snow, with icicles on the telephone wires. Waking up my older brother and sister to go open presents. Then hearing mom and dad coming over to watch the look on our faces. I can still hear their voices like it was yesterday.
Q: L.A. now has a football team. Are people excited about the Rams? Does the excitement at all compare to what goes on here in Western Pennsylvania with the Steelers?
A: Yes, everybody was waiting for the Rams to return home. ... I'd say there is an incredible amount of enthusiasm for football in L.A., but the roots appear to be a few feet deeper in Western Pennsylvania. It's crazy nonetheless, and USC football is something to experience.
Q: Your top three Christmas carols are:
A: ”Silent Night,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me” by Elvis Presley
Q: All you want for Christmas this year is:
A: A return of the art of debating. I'd be happy for just a little bit of peace, love and understanding.
Shows of note
Street Corner Symphony, Dec. 1, Mr. Small's, Millvale: A capella fans — we know you're out there — will love this Nashville ensemble that was the runner-up on the second season of “The Sing-Off” on NBC. Their covers include Lorde's “Royals” and “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray. The group released an album of original songs, “Southern Autumn Nostalgia,” in 2013. 412-821-4447, mrsmalls.com
Subdudes, Dec. 3, Carnegie Lecture Hall, Oakland: These, well, dudes have been making music since forming in New Orleans almost 30 years ago. Their sound springs naturally from the fount of American music, with blues, rock, soul and R&B part of their mix. The concert is hosted by Calliope. 412-361-1915, calliopehouse.org
Queensryche, Dec. 7, Rex Theater, South Side: Queensryche falls into the progressive side of heavy metal, with wide-ranging themes and an original sound that transcends the genre. Original lead singer Geoff Tate was dismissed from the band four years ago, but his replacement, Todd Le Torre, formerly of Crimson Glory, more than holds up the vocal end. 412-381-6811, rextheater.com
Matt Pond PA, Dec. 7, Club Cafe, South Side: Matt Pond writes deliriously infectious pop music that's hard to resist. The New York-based musician — he's not from the Keystone State despite the “PA” attached to his touring ensemble — has just released a new seasonal album, “Winter Lives,” which features wonderfully titled songs including “The Forest of Frost on the Windshield” and “Leggings in the Living Room.” 412-431-4950, clubcafe.com
Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.