Novelist A.S. Peterson Presents a Christmas Playlist

“Redcoats, pirates, orphans — and Fin Button, a passionate and savvy young woman who is a treasure all by herself. Here is high adventure that feels like truth."That's what novelist Jonathan Rogers said about The Fiddler's Gun. Then he added, "Three huzzahs for A.S. Peterson: The Fiddler’s Gun is an achievement.”And he's only scratching the surface of A. S. Peterson, who is much more than just an adventure novelist. … [Read more...]

Sarah Masen Presents a Christmas Playlist

I began listening to this post's guest DJ late, and by a rather circuitous route. First, I discovered the writing of David Dark, whose books are among some of my favorite cultural commentaries. Then I began hearing about his immensely talented "better half": Sarah Dark.Or, as she is better known: Sarah Masen.The name Sarah Masen rang a bell, but I still, to this day, do not understand how I missed her idiosyncratic art-pop records. Her distinctively ethereal vocal style, her meditative … [Read more...]

Chris Willman Presents a Christmas Playlist

I was already a fan of Chris Willman's work in the early '90s when he singled out U2's greatly misunderstood, hastily dismissed album Pop as the #1 record of that year. I was glad to find somebody who was listening closely enough to appreciate the complexity and stylistic audacity of the record. I already knew about his appreciation for Bruce Cockburn. Many years later, I'd have the privilege of meeting him during a press junket for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in L.A.So I wa … [Read more...]

Agents of Future Present a Christmas Playlist

Ready for another Christmas playlist? This one's full of surprises.So far, we've heard from Joe Henry, Ashley Cleveland, Sara Zarr, Alissa Wilkinson, and Over the Rhine.The Portland improvisational punk-rockers and worship-songleaders Agents of Future are hard to sum up. Their Bandcamp description describes them as... Jesus-loving, jalopy-gospel way-backers get 2gether & do cre8ive things: Shrieking, speaking, flailing, failing, storytelling, fear-quelling. In the process, songs &a … [Read more...]

Over the Rhine Presents a Christmas Playlist

Looking Closer's month-long celebration of Christmas music continues with a new Christmas music playlist as imagined by Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist of Over the Rhine.If you're just joining us, we're well along in our playlist series. So far, I've published imaginative programs of music from Joe Henry, Ashley Cleveland, Sara Zarr, and Alissa Wilkinson.Then, yesterday, I interviewed Linford Detweiler about Over the Rhine's new Christmas album.Here now, is what Over the Rhine … [Read more...]

Alissa Wilkinson Presents a Christmas Playlist

When inquiring of my favorite writers and artists about the Christmas music that means the most to them, I turned habitually to someone I tend to ask about "the best" in almost everything. … [Read more...]

Sara Zarr Presents a Christmas Playlist

2014 marked the tenth anniversary of my friendship with YA novelist Sara Zarr.In the decade since we happened to sit down at the same table for a fiction workshop led by author Erin McGraw, Sara has written five of the best-reviewed new YA novels. (She became a National Book Award finalist for her first. Not too shabby.) She's also collaborated on, or contributed to, a variety of multi-author books (Jesus Girls, edited by poet and writer Hannah Faith Notess) and journals (including Image … [Read more...]

Ashley Cleveland Presents a Christmas Playlist

Our Christmas Playlist Party continues!Did you miss our first guest? Producer and songwriter Joe Henry joined us earlier and offered a bunch of tracks for us to enjoy with him.Now, here's one of the most soulful musicians I've ever had the pleasure of seeing live: Grammy award-winning gospel singer Ashley Cleveland.I took this picture (left) of Ashley playing a show with her husband, the legendary bassist Kenny Greenberg, at Laity Lodge in front of an extraordinary triptych by artist … [Read more...]

Joe Henry Presents a Christmas Playlist

I've wanted to do this for a long time now. Oh, how I love it when a plan comes together.As I was growing up, my family watched holiday television specials that featured a variety of beloved artists performing favorite Christmas songs. I may not have the stuff to host a TV show, but I have website, and I've been blessed by some generous musicians who have agreed to participate in a Playlist party.So grab your headphones.This post is the first of several playlists I've requested from … [Read more...]

Christmas in Seattle, through the eyes of a poet

Anne writes poetry.But lately, she's been asked to write a few essays. Some of them appear between the poetry collections in her new book Delicate Machinery Suspended.And one of them is published today at Christianity Today: An eyewitness testimony about what it's like to celebrate Christmas in Seattle. … [Read more...]