Santa Cause: Rock by the Sea

‘Tis the season of giving, but for Tallahassee-based Rock by the Sea, that’s true all day, err day. For 11 years, the community-organization has devoted time, resources and over $500,000 to worthy charities ranging from the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and the Polycystic Kidney Disease foundation to local libraries and families in need. Eight of their years in operation have also seen the release of an annual Christmas music CD, as conceived by Rock by the Sea’s Tod Elmore. We caught up with Tod to get the scoop on the organization and this season’s holiday music nuggets.

“We’re doing very serious work. We take it very seriously, but we have a good time doing it. It’s very rewarding. We do music festivals that are small and intimate–a thousand people, 3 different events a year… We do a fall event that’s also a golf tournament. The annual CD is accompanied by its own concert. “It’s funny– the charity is called Rock by the Sea, but we do the Christmas show in Nashville, nowhere near the water. We celebrate the release. Some of the artists who contribute to the CD come play the show, and other artists who are sort of part of the community play.”  Alongside the festive concerts, the organization lays claim to less conventional fundraising: “Two weeks ago, several of our charity board members went to Washington, D.C. and repelled down a 30-story building. It was sort of like, if you recall the old March of Dimes walk-a-thon. You get people to sponsor you, and they give you money and you go on your walk; it was a similar premise.  We had people sponsor our board members (who flew from all over the U.S.) and we had board members repel down a 30-floor building in Washington D.C. and we raised $15,000 doing just doing that.”

As for this year’s CD, Elmore speaks excitedly about the offerings. “Most of these artists are friends of mine, or run in my circle. One guy here in Atlanta, he and his wife (The Hot Hearts) delivered this song I had never heard of my whole life…completely, completely unfamiliar with.  (“In The Bleak Midwinter”) 8 years in, we have a really deep catalog of really diverse music.  An, now in a Spotify world, it is sort of evergreen. Every year these songs sort of pop back up and pop back on.  This song in particular gets 200-300,000 streams on Spotify every Christmas and I had never even heard of it.”

This year’s offerings include original and standard gems from Keaton Simons, Pat McGee, Carly Burruss, and more, including the The Wealthy West’s version of “Carol Of The Bells” (“haunting”, as described by Mr. Elmore). “I chose ‘Carol Of The Bells’ because I thought it would be a fun challenge,” reports Brandon Kinder of The Wealthy West. “I LOVE Christmas music, and I felt like I hadn’t really heard many non-choral versions of the song. I think it turned out pretty special, and hope you do, too.”

As Elmore shared, “People give their own interpretations of really familiar songs and some are really really creative.”  FRIENDSWITHBENEFITS, the synth-pop side project of The Rocketboys’ Justin Wiseman, contributed”‘Ding Dong Merrily On High.’ “I chose (it) because it’s got such a cool, upbeat melody and it’s a little more obscure than other Christmas carols,” Wise shared. “I heard the song originally from a rendition by Canadian Brass. And synthesizers make similar sounds, bright sounds to brass instruments, so I thought it would be awesome to combine that vibe with a nice, fun groove!”

Rock by the Sea Volume 8 also provides the traditional New Year’s offering, “Auld Lang Syne”

“I began arranging my version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ a few years ago as the holidays had come and gone,” Lang Freeman opines “The new year was swiftly approaching and I, like so many folks around late December, was struggling with a previous year’s worth of laments.  I took some creative liberties with the tune (given that it’s 300 or so years old) and penned a few of my own verses, allowing me to personalize the song a bit.  I think what came out is a beautiful song about joy, sorrow, happiness and regret all occupying the same space at the same time.”

You can check out those and the rest of the holiday treats in your Play MPE account, just click here!

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