For over a decade, I was in charge of a booking/curating/promoting a major holiday concert in Philadelphia called Jaxon's Mistletoe Jam. When I retired that concert series after 2017 in order to focus on writing my book, it was bittersweet. While I was thrilled to shift my creative focus into new and uncharted territory, I was sad to see the end of an era. What I didn't realize I'd miss so much was the fact that I could always count on this December gathering of kindred spirits, musicians, and music fans to counteract some pretty lingering negative memories of the holidays that I experienced as a kid. That's a story for the book, but the bottom line is that when I was offered the opening slot for a Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg concert happening just five days before Christmas, I had no choice but to accept, not simply because I couldn't turn down the chance to share a stage with a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, the drummer of one of my favorite bands ever, but because I couldn't pass up the chance to feel that feeling again - the feeling of pure joy while making music with people I love and respect, and sharing that music with an audience. The band I was lucky enough to put together for the show is NO JOKE. My old IKE-mate Brett Talley and Meddling Kid Joey DiTullio on dual lead guitar, Mike O' Brien (who has been my staunch ally in my "no shorts onstage" campaign for many years) on bass, Ron DiSilvestro (my old friend with whom I've played in bands and co-produced records) on drums, and the lovely Grrl Friday (who had a huge 2018 with two of her singles spun on Little Steven's Underground Garage and elsewhere) singing back-up vocals. Our one rehearsal was a 4-hour marathon, complete with bum notes, missed cues, and the utter confidence that everything was going to sound great in the end. Oh, and buffalo wings, lots of fucking buffalo wings. We eat in this band. We need our energy. As I write this, I'm going through all my usual pre-show rituals, which usually take up the entire day leading up to the show. My set lists are done, my pants are in the dryer, I'm going to eat some pineapple to prep the ol' vocal cords. I don't even have to change my guitar strings this time because all I have to do is sing. This is the life! And I've been lucky enough that music has been my life for over thirty years, of course with its fair share of ups, downs, drama, comedy, and tragedy, but all of it combined is what makes life interesting. The set tonight is a pretty decent mix of older and more recent material. We're even playing "Devil's Diary," the Caulfields song that, for all intents and purposes, kickstarted it all for me. Joey learned Mike Simpson's insane guitar solo note-for-note, and all I have to worry about is coming up with the most blasphemous shit I can say to introduce the song. My candidates thus far are: "Hey, you guys wanna hear a Christmas song?" OR "Here's a song that begs the question: What would Satan do?" First World front man problems..