At the beginning of the week I decked the halls with New York’s own Twisted Sister who had once again set out to deliver their “Twisted Christmas Holiday Extravaganza” and this festive hoedown too place at The Nokia Theatre in Times Square. We documented all the fun from that night HERE, and that evening’s happenings were part of the reason that we were on point for this special occasion down on Wall Street today.
Today was the day of the 86th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting at the New York Stock Exchange and the ceremony around the actual lighting of the tree would feature musical entertainment that crossed a wide variety of genres and age groups. The Exchange had set up a small stage right on Broad Street under the shadow of a giant tree that was loaded with decorations and just waiting for its chance to shine for all those in attendance and throughout the holiday season. The tree itself was about 65′ feet high and some 34′ wide at its base. The evening was hosted by Valerie Smaldone and she brought out the first entertainer, Miss Victoria Cuomo.
The young miss Cuomo is a singer, and only eleven or twelve years old at best. She started us off with “White Christmas” and really did a fantastic job. Maybe one of these days we will see her auditioning for “American Idol” if the show is still on when she is old enough to audition. Of course, some record company might be smart enough to work with her growing talents before that time of course and we wish her well in this sure to be fascinating adventure. To see more photos of Victoria singing just click HERE. Coming up next was the Monsignor Donovan Choir.
The Monsignor Donovan Choir were a company of about 63 young ladies and gentlemen who kept the holiday cheer a coming with a couple of songs and the overall “bigness” of the choir was really great to experience by everyone. They all sported red knit caps, or at least the ladies of the bunch did while the guys braved the chilly air. Clearly this was half intent on being stylish and the other half on preventing anyone from being ill after the fun had ended. The addition of the Monsignor Donovan Choir brought a whole television Christmas Special feel to the affair and I felt like I was watching such a show from the sidelines. Coming up next Miss Kate Voegele.
I learned that the always charming Kate Voegele would be appearing at this event early yesterday and I felt that her voice was a welcome addition to the proceedings based on having actually caught her in concert over the last couple of years. She got a very nice introduction from the host of the event who mentioned Kate’s being a part of the One Tree Hill show and how she was only 23 years old. If you have never heard her before you should know that Kate V. has a very soulful sound to her vocal register and her material is rather catchy and offers her fans some well thought out Pop sense. She was bundled up pretty well to protect from the growing wind and dropping temperature and despite the chill that was in the air managed to warm the spirits with her renditions of the holiday classics “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Silver Bells”. Kate did so good at these numbers that it made me realize how well she would do on a holiday album of her own. I hope she chooses to record such a thing because I think it would sell rather well and if artists like Bob Dylan and REO Speedwagon can endeavor such a project the a promising artist such as Kate would be following in good footsteps. Let’s see what happens with that suggestion but in the meantime you can check out her existing albums “Don’t Look Away” and “A Fine Mess“.
Kate wouldn’t do any material from these albums but that was ok with me as we had caught her in concert before and preferred the chance to enjoy her Christmas tunes today. I had to say that this young lady continually impresses, and if you are not already aware of this fact, you can catch her as a member of the cast of the television series “One Tree Hill” where she plays the part of Mia. She also sings on the program as I am told. Coming up next would be violinist Joshua Bell who while I would have liked to see perform would end up missing because of a particularly cool opportunity coming up. You see it was closing in on 3:35pm and it was at about this time that the NYSE representatives offered the media folks the chance to go inside to the floor of the Stock Exchange and watch the Closing Bell as many of the performers present this afternoon would be taking part in the daily ceremony that ends the trading day. Pretty cool if you ask me, and since I was not too sure when I would get such a chance again I readily expressed my interest in joining in on the fun. Check out more shots of Kate Voegele’s performance by clicking HERE. You can also visit a couple of articles we did about the talented young singer by clicking this LINK.
That’s Munsey Ricci of Skateboard Marketing and a dude who we have known since launching the site back in early 2005. We’ve been lucky to participate in his annual CMJ Showcases over the past couple of years and articles about the bands performing and who attended those shindigs are easily searchable on the main PiercingMetal.com site. We were not really allowed to take any photos of the exchange floor and its trading desks so if you want to see what it looks like for yourself just watch CNBC or check them out online via http://www.cnbc.com – We did manage to get one of the other media guys to snap the shot you see of us both and I apologize for looking rather grim. I was still cold and am generally serious when it comes to money matters. The photographer who snapped it asked us if we were tourists and we quickly told him no, so I wondered aloud when this whole thing stopped being fun for him.
If you’ve ever watched the financial news networks like the one referenced above then you have seen the bell being rung by various political figures and visiting dignitaries but today was something that registered as a lot cooler for me based on it being musical personalities and a number of them that I enjoyed to boot. The space is not huge but we did manage to see the Stryper guys, Mendoza and French from Twisted Sister, Kate Voegele, Billy Ray Cyrus and the Collective Soul guys. The angle was not perfect for us from down below so I cannot confirm if anyone else was taking part in this. I had to say that it was very cool to be witnessing this and I got a kick out of how much Billy Ray was enjoying the use of the gavel which he hammered with some frenzy to a rousing bit of applause. One would normally expect such behavior from the Metal guys but today the country legend proved that he was as wild as they are. Good times. Check out a few more photos of the Closing Bell via this LINK.
We all got back outside and there seemed to be a little bit of a break going on so we took a slight wander to see what was going on and there were some nice folks handing out hot chocolate in one of those thermal long mugs you often see on the subway and while we managed to snare one for ourselves it would not have any hot chocolate in it. Oh well, there was a group of folks handing out hot cider and that did the trick for the now very cold afternoon. There was also a hotdog cart which solved the growing hunger issue and people handing out ornamental cookies. They were shaped like little presents and that was a nice touch but now it would be back to the music and David Nail was next on the roster.
I’ve never heard him before because his genre is not something I traditionally follow and he came off as a very Country-esque singer with a very soulful voice. He started us off with “White Christmas”, and did a nice job of it and followed it with another holiday standard of “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”. After hearing his rendition I was sure that Johnny Mathis was smiling down on him from above (and if you don’t remember the reference please note that the singer did nine Christmas albums of his own). He followed this fare with a song of his own and while I didn’t catch the title I was rather certain that it was coming from his album I’m About To Come Alive. Feel free to look into that one if smooth vocals and charm are what you seek. You can also check out more of David’s performance photos by clicking HERE. As soon as he walked off the stage we were besieged by those lovely ladies of the New York Jets Flight Crew who were all decked out in their Santa best. The girls were here to present to the crowd the one and only Manhattan Transfer who were celebrating forty years of recording. They didn’t mention any of the girls actual names but the smiles they delivered surely offered up some needed warmth to the day. Here is an example and should you like to see a few more photos of these lovelies you can do so by clicking HERE.
The Manhattan Transfer as a Jazz group is a legend in their time and has continually delivered some wonderful melodies but this was more for the older fans than it was for me even though I recognize their talent very much. I only have one of their releases in my own collection which I believe is a “Best Of” compilation. Today they would showcase their own holiday fare by doing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, a tune that I believe was called “Christmas Bells Are Ringing” and something new from their just released CD “ ”. One has to admire being able to continue to make people smile after forty years in this business, so if you like what they do just click the title of their new album and order it on Amazon.com. A few more photos of TMT can be found via this LINK.
Moving right along came the reason that we were all here in the first place and that was to light the NYSE Euronext Holiday Tree. The ceremony was officiated by the NYSE CEO Duncan Neiderauer and he brought out members of the McDonald family to flip the switch after the audience counted down the five, four, three, two, one – hit it. I had to say that this was really something when it finally came to light.
Kym Johnson from the hit television series “Dancing With The Stars” announced the next performer and it was a man who really needed no introduction even though he got a hell of a long one. Yes it was the father of Miley Cyrus and the man who told the world about his “Achy Breaky Heart” Mr. Billy Ray Cyrus. I got a kick out of how many times that the “Hannah Montana” show was mentioned in the singers lead in by the hostess for while he might be a key figure on the show he has done a lot of good on his own.
Cyrus would perform what appeared to be a new original number called “Get By Somehow” and this was a really moving tune with a powerful message. After the tune he told the crowd that no matter how tough the times were that we would all be able to get by somehow, and how he is thankful for all he has received based on the grace of the Lord above. After this light prayer he would get back into the holiday mode and do a very rousing “Run, Run Rudolph” and he had the whole crowd dancing around for this one. The Country legend has a new album out called “Back To Tennessee” and this was released in April of this year. The interesting cavalcade of musical genres continued as a band called The Honor Society came up next. Before you head down to some information about them, you might want to check out a few more Billy Ray Cyrus images which are available HERE.
The young lads of The Honor Society got a lot of cheering from the gathered young girls and apparently they are well known for doing some touring with The Jonas Brothers. Lucky for them those gigs got them a fair amount of attention for themselves which never hurts in the music business. The band would play three songs and the first would be their own original hit “Over You” and they would follow this with some holiday fare ala “Jingle Bell Rock” and “White Christmas”. They were all smiles during their set and I am sure that bigger things are to come for their catchy pop sensibility. As soon as they walked off the stage it was time to get the party in gear as the rockers who I had come to see were finally getting down to business. If you would like to see more photos of The Honor Society you can do so by clicking HERE.
“Whoa, Heaven let your light shine down” as Ed Roland and Joel Kosche from the 90’s Alternative Rock band Collective Soul were next up on the menu and delivered a holiday song that I think was entitled “Marshmallow World” first. I had never heard the song before today but I did enjoy the melody and found that it worked within the context of the day’s event. They also played “The World That I Know” and “You”, the latter being a song that I really liked to hear since it was new. It actually comes from the bands newest release which is self-titled and released on Loud and Proud Records, a division of Roadrunner Records. Even though I am sure that they are tired of playing the tune, I would have loved to hear them deliver “Shine” as this was the song that put them on the map so many years ago. Collective Soul would perform acoustically and showed how good their material sounded in a stripped down sense. There were drums up on the stage but they would not be used by the guys as they appeared to belong to Robert Sweet of Stryper based on their design. They would be coming up next and I was very happy to have them present today because it was just so different. Check out a larger gallery of Collective Soul photos by clicking HERE. We apologize for the shots being rather similar, but there is not much more than great music going on when bands are playing acoustically.
Leaders in the pack of the Christian Metal bands of the world, Stryper were as I mentioned a very unexpected surprise, but a good one. We recently enjoyed their 25th Anniversary Tour that hit the Big Apple back in September and you can be read about that in a little more detail by clicking HERE. The guys hit the ground running and started off their three-song fun by doing “Winter Wonderland”. If you’ve never heard this version by the band before then I recommend you look into it because it’s a rock ‘em sock ‘em version with some kicking double bass drums to it on top of ripping guitar leads and harmonies.
The guys would continue along and do something from their album “Soldiers Under Command” but instead of the title track which I would have enjoyed they did “Reach Out”. It’s still a solid track from the bands catalog and one that had the crowd singing along. They would toss out some bibles to the crowd as is a normal practice for the bands performances and since I had actually caught one a number of years ago I let those around me dive for them. They would close out with something a little new at least to my ears in the Stryper material sense and that was their own heavy version of “Little Drummer Boy”. It was super heavy in my opinion and fantastic as the drums echoed through the brick buildings on Broad Street in front of the Exchange. Sadly this would be the last from the guys but before they left they tossed out their guitar picks to the eager hands and gave those that caught them a true Rock & Roll souvenir. Time was growing short for the event and the closing act was up as Eighties Hard Rock meets the Broadway Stage as members of Twisted Sister joined forces with cast members from the musical “Rock Of Ages”. Before moving on of course you can check out a lot more photos of Stryper’s set by clicking HERE.
From Twisted we had guitarist J.J. French and bassist Mark “The Animal” Mendoza along with drummer A.J. Pero. Guitarist Eddie Ojeda was not present and that made sense since the dude needed some rest after the back surgery that he had only days before his New York City show last week. I was amazed that he was able to perform at it so well under such conditions but that is an article for another blog and can be read HERE if you like. Singer Dee Snider had a prior commitment to his “House Of Hair” program and would not be present either but in his place would be the “Rock Of Ages” star Constantine Maroulis. Maroulis was also known for being a contestant on “American Idol” and while he did not win the competition its safe to assume that he is doing rather well for himself by being in a hit Broadway show. The show itself features a lot of classic eighties Rock and its something that I would enjoy seeing one of these days.
Constantine definitely appears to be someone who loves being up on the stage and he gets very animated when he performs. At least he is making sure that we enjoy ourselves as opposed to boring us. He would get the crowd going on the Twisted Sister version of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” which hails from that bands “Twisted Christmas” CD. If you don’t own a copy of that one yet then I must make a suggestion that you look into it because it is quite a hoot. The entire premise seems weird but works in some fashion when you get to absorb the full release. Also joining Constantine from the musical were James Carpinello & Kerry Butler. Kerry is the current female lead for the show and together with the Twisted ones did “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. This is another tune from the “Twisted Christmas” album but it sounds very different with a female voice than it does with Dee Snider’s.
Constantine was back on point and asking the crowd what they wanted to do and of course the obvious answer to the question was “Rock” at the top of their lungs. He asked a few times to their response before the band kicked in with this Twisted Sister staple and of course this famous tune is also used in the musical. It was a very exciting way to close out a very interesting afternoon of music and by now the wind had picked up so it was time to get moving to warmer surroundings and perhaps some hot chocolate or cider since the appetite had been teased by such things a few hours earlier. Check out a lot more photos of the grand finale by clicking HERE. The full Twisted Sister band would be taking that Christmas show we mentioned to Las Vegas in a couple of days and I am pretty sure that the region will be perfect for this sort of fare, even if it does leave them a little stunned after the show. There is already a live DVD of this holiday gig but it was from the first one and that makes a newer release something pretty necessary. Let’s hope they release another soon.
When all was said and done this was just like taking part in a televised Christmas Special based on the wide variety of talent that had walked across the stage and did their best to entertain all those that had braved the cold. My hope is that something equally interesting gets planned for next year because I would surely attend again and with that I bid you and yours a very Happy Holiday. If you wish to see more shots of the tree from reasonably close and from afar you may do so by clicking HERE. While we admit that it looks nice in the photos, you should see it up close and if you are down around the Wall Street Area in NYC please be sure to check it out for yourself.
Links To Check Out For The Talent Discussed Above:
Official Website: http://www.nyse.com
Official Website: http://www.twistedsister.com
Official Website: http://www.stryper.com
Official Website: http://www.collectivesoul.com
Official Website: http://www.honorsociety.com
Official Website: http://www.katevoegele.com
Official Website: http://www.rockofagesmusical.com
Official Website: http://www.davidnail.com
Official Website: http://www.billyraycyrus.com
Official Website: http://www.manhattantransfer.org
Official Website: http://www.nyjets.com/flight_crew