Adam Powell doesn't hate Christmas. In fact, he loves it. A member of indie-folk band Adams and Eves and a volunteer at the University Heights DIY venue The Park Gallery, he gets nostalgic for the holidays and longs for the merriment.
Alas, some of Powell's friends do hate Christmas.
"I know a lot of people who are very anti-Christmas because of the capitalism side of it," he says. "It comes holiday season, and they're, like, I hate this.'"
Five years ago, Powell came up with an idea to spread some Christmas cheer. Instead of scrambling to buy presents, he put out a call to his friends asking them to record a holiday song. He ended up with 16 tracks of originals and traditionals—including a twinkly tune Powell wrote himself— and released them on a compilation CD, The Christmas Friends, that he gave out to friends and family.
The response was so positive that he's assembled a new volume of the compilation almost every year since (he took a break in 2011). This year's version—which you can download for free at thechristmasfriends.bandcamp.com— features contributions from local bands like Sledding with Tigers along with non-locals like Stockton's A Movable West.
Powell accepts any songs with a general holiday theme, and he's rarely turned a track down. He's also reached out to Jewish friends, though he's yet to receive a Hanukkah song. This year's offerings range from wacky to heartfelt. One of the most delightful is Anachronism's "Get Behind Me Santa," in which Mr. Claus reassures a skeptical youngster that he's "just another regular guy." Meanwhile, Red Pony Clock's tropical-tinged "I'm Coming Out on Christmas" playfully depicts a young man telling his parents he's gay.
To Powell, The Christmas Friends is as much about gift-receiving as it is about holiday music.
"This is really just my Christmas present for myself, is everybody sending me music," he says. "My special treat is I get to listen to these songs before everybody else does."