Blue Yodel #11 – Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Before we get to this year’s list, I’d like to clean up a couple of loose ends from 2010.

Last year you left me the wrong Homer & Jethro LP. I requested Cool Crazy Christmas; I got Old Crusty Minstrels. Normally, I wouldn’t complain but I already have three copies of that.

Also, I asked for a few bucks so I could finish my book, An Intimate History of Bluegrass Festival Porta-Potties Vol. 1 (1965–1978), which I believe is now #2,369,325 on Amazon. I appreciate the help, but your pan of the book sent sales plummeting.

When you wrote in the Comments section, “This book belongs in every porta-potty in America—in place of tp.” Well, let’s just say I think it showed a certain unprofessionalism, considering your position.

I should let you know, however, that the sack of coal you left increased in value 300% and I was able to dump it at the height of the energy crisis for a tidy profit. Not what you intended, but thanks.

Let’s put all that behind us, though, and begin fresh for 2011.

This year I have some ideas for gifts that haven’t been created yet, or that need some tweaking. So, basically, I’m making work for the elves. I assume you’re still not a union shop.

1) GPS Capo. I’ve had it with losing capos. Surely, someone has invented a capo with a GPS system that allows you to track it. I see big money in this and a whole line of products: GPS set lists, GPS gig bags, and if you can get the technology small and cheap enough—GPS picks.

2) Autotune guitar. I know these exist, but they look like someone attached an old VHS tape to the headstock. I need something small and light that reacts to voice commands. I want to be able to say, “Guitar! Tune!” and voila. I would also like to be able to say, “Mandolin player! Tune!” An iPhone app would be ideal. Eventually, I would like not to have to pay a band and just tell the iPhone, “Siri, sing tenor!”

3) 3D Bluegrass Instructional Video. I don’t know why this hasn’t been done yet. Get that guy in Woodstock on it. What I envisage is a 3D world where I get to play with Alison Krauss & Union Station. I could look over Jerry Douglas’s shoulder and learn how to play dobro. Or I could watch Ron Block’s killer timing up close. I’d probably spend all my time hanging out with Alison, though. Maybe she’d sign on to this if you gave her superpowers to put up with people like me. I already have 3D glasses, so just need the video. Thanks.

3) Cracker Barrel. I’m about to tap out the saddest sentence in the history of typing. We don’t have Cracker Barrel restaurants in California. Get on it.

4) Merle Haggard Vocal Filter. What I would like is to be able to put my voice through a sound filter that would make me sound like any number of great singers. “I’d like the George Jones 1965 filter, please.” With sampling, this should be easy, though you may have to figure out how to digitize the whiskey and cigarettes.

5) Bluegrass Lyrics Brain Implant. One that works. The one you gave me two years ago was a demo model and it keeps messing up. Plus, I still have a nasty scar from where they inserted the thumb drive. Sure, I can remember all the lyrics to all the Stanley Brothers songs, but sometimes they come out all jumbled, like “I hear a Choo Choo better off now that you’re Little Benny back in Roane County.” Sometimes, I even get the idea that you’re controlling it from somewhere. I am a man of constant ramblin’ letters. Stop that!

6) World Peace. Just kidding. Ha ha.

7) Flight Attendant Spell. This would be a few words I could use to turn a flight attendant that is frothing at the mouth to stow a $10,000 guitar in a freezing luggage compartment into someone who offers to toss the kicky 8-year-old next to me so the guitar can have its own seat.

8) Exploding bass player. Sometimes if a show is going slow, I think, if I could just blow up the bass player, I could at least get away in all the smoke and confusion. Please include wireless remote and batteries.

9) Christmas Tree Van Freshener. One that has at least a four-bean rating. That’s all I’m saying.

10) A hit Christmas song. Everyone is putting out Christmas songs this year, so if you could jot something down that would bring in, say, sales of half a million, that would be great. So far, this is all I have:

On the twelfth day of bluegrass Christmas, my true love gave to me,

Twelve drummers hiding,

Eleven agents hyping,

Ten maids a weeping,

A nine-pound hammer,

Eight more miles to Louisville,

Seven nights in Branson,

Six sidemen playing,


Four mando nerds,

Three Uncle Pens,

Two White Doves,

And a Homer & Jethro LP.

11) Reader Wishes. Santa, below you may find reader comments on things that the bluegrass community would like or need this year. Please fulfill these requests. Thank you.

12) Safe Travels. What I’d really like for Christmas this year is for everyone in and around bluegrass to be safe in their journeys this season and all next year.

Merry Christmas. Or as we say in California, Happy Whatever!


Chris Stuart

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About the Author

Chris Stuart

Chris Stuart is a writer and songwriter living in San Diego. He was the 2008 recipient of the IBMA Print Media Person of the Year award, co-writer of the 2009 IBMA Song of the Year, and past winner of the Merlefest Chris Austin Songwriting contest in bluegrass and gospel categories. You can follow him on Twitter @cvstuart, on Facebook, and at On Tuesdays you can find him having fish tacos at Roberto’s in Del Mar.