Jingle bell rock
The Yule Logs rock the halls with boughs of harmony
“I like to feel the feelings, smell the smells [of Christmas],” said Marty Parker, lead vocalist and founder of The Yule Logs, a local quartet of young men who sing Christmas tunes in engagingly sweet and robust harmony.
Parker explained the recently formed group’s genesis this way: “It’s actually been my dream for a couple of years. I tried for three years, but I finally got it going this year. … I never really outgrew the special feelings I get when I watch the old Claymation videos.”
Parker said he was originally inspired by Marin County “genius curmudgeon recluse” (as he’s been called) musician Dan Hicks’ annual Christmas show at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Parker praises Hicks’ “perfect mix of sincerity and humor, and irony.”
The Yule Logs, which includes Parker, drummer and vocalist Jake Sprecher, bassist/vocalist KC Ellis and guitarist/vocalist Josh Kerr, were sitting in my living room on a recent chilly evening, Parker dressed in a furry red-and-white Santa Claus suit, and Sprecher’s long hair flowing from beneath his festive Santa hat. My 4-year-old daughter Lydia, fresh from the high of just having bought and put up the household Christmas tree with Mommy, was fascinated.
The four very likable guys spoke animatedly, and without any trace of sarcasm or dishonesty, of their love of Christmas.
“We all have really fond memories of Christmas,” Ellis said.
Parker chimed in. “A Christmas Carol; I love that story. It’s a huge influence on me.”
Knowing that all four have been or currently are in rock bands—Sprecher is in La Dolce Vita, Parker and Ellis are former members of Electric Pie Band and Kerr was in The Stuff and Moblad—might make one wonder: “What’s this stuff gonna sound like? Is it going to be pretty or is it going to have an edge to it, or what?”
And Lydia is my litmus test for the soothing quality of any particular music. When I would rehearse at my house with musician Dan Cohen, known for his eerie and disturbing musical output, Lydia simply started crying.
I rounded up a guitar for Kerr, and then The Yule Logs sang their lively, cheery, even bordering on a little sassy at times, version of “Winter Wonderland” for us.
The Yule Logs made Lydia very happy.
My brother Scott, who was downstairs in his basement bedroom while The Yule Logs performed several songs for Lydia and me, including a particularly nice-on-the-ears version of North Carolina ‘80s rock band The dB’s, “Home for the Holidays,” told me the next day, “Those guys sounded great!”
The Yule Logs, together since July, told me that their “first official gig” was Parker’s recent birthday party.
“Yeah, we wanted to make sure we wouldn’t get booed out on the streets,” explained Kerr, who is a music student (in recording engineering) at Chico State.
Since then, The Yule Logs have a four-hour stint at the Downtown Christmas Preview under their belts, and just recorded at Chico State.
“Yeah, our first hit single!” Ellis joked. “'Up On the Housetop'.”
"'Up On the Housie Top',” Parker jumped in, emphasizing the “z” sound in “housie top.” “Our flagship song is not ‘Up On the House Top', it’s ‘Up On the Housie Top'.” (You can hear it on the group’s MySpace page).
When asked if they plan to make a full-length CD, the members of The Yule Logs answer, almost simultaneously, “No, our big dream is to get a gig at Duffy’s.”
In the meantime, you can catch The Yule Logs spreading Christmas cheer throughout Chico.