Like a “Whitman’s Sampler of chocolate that offers a little bit of everything” is how musician Tom Lindsay of Lost Radio Rounders describes the Americana trio’s upcoming holiday show at Caffè Lena on Thursday, Dec. 8.
Similar to how the well-loved boxes of assorted chocolates contain tasty treats for everyone, the first public performance of the “Lost Radio Rounders Holiday Sampler” program promises everything from winter songs to traditional carols to obscure Christmas and Hanukkah folk songs.
The driving force behind Lost Radio Rounders is Lindsay, who has a background in teaching students about New York State history and America’s cultural past. The band’s primary vocalist and guitarist, Lindsay curates an epic catalog of over 500 songs, and he researches the history behind each one to provide educational and entertaining introductions.
“Lost Radio Rounders is a little different from other bands in that we do a lot of themed shows. We’re engaged in musical archeology—we try to find hidden gems of songs from the past,” Lindsay says. “We take each song and put them together like chapters in a book.”
In 2009, Lindsay founded Lost Radio Rounders as an acoustic duo with musician and songwriter Michael Eck, a longtime fixture on the area music scene. The pair previously played together in the 1980s in the rootsy Capital Region rock band Chefs of the Future.
Lost Radio Rounders found a niche assembling programs of songs to perform at libraries and historical societies on topics ranging from New York state history and the American Revolution to cowboy songs and campfire ballads.
“When Michael and I started Lost Radio Rounders, we loved a good song — but a good song with a good story behind it was just better,” Lindsay says.
“We’re trying to give people an idea of what music was like in the past, but we give them a bridge to get there.”
“We cast a big net,” he adds. “We try to find songs people haven’t heard before. If they have heard the song, we try to put a twist on it.”
At the Caffè Lena holiday show on Dec. 8, for instance, the group plans to play quite an assortment of songs spanning generations. The trio has taken a 1922 Robert Frost poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and set it to the 450-year-old folk melody, “Greensleeves.”
There will also be more “recent” songs like “Christmas for Cowboys,” recorded by John Denver in the 1970s and the 1967 Christmas novelty song “Snoopy’s Christmas” by The Royal Guardsmen, an American rock group inspired by the British Invasion that recorded several Peanuts themed songs.
Lost Radio Rounders will also present the traditional Christmas carol “We Three Kings of Orient Are” as an upbeat bluegrass rave up featuring banjo player Paul “Bowtie” Jossman, who joined the group in 2021 after Eck suffered a stroke.
Eck had played mandolin beside Jossman for 15 years in Ramblin Jug Stompers, and prior to that Jossman was a founding member of two Albany-based national touring acts: the bluegrass-comedy combo Star Spangled Washboard Band and MTV darlings Blotto. With Jossman’s addition, Lost Radio Rounders is the only local act to feature two separately inducted Eddies Award Hall of Famers.
“After Michael had the stroke, we needed some help. Paul saved us. It was good for him too because he had lost his musical home,” Lindsay says.
Ramblin Jug Stompers ended after the death of musician and longtime local arts journalist Greg Haymes. “It was tremendous that Paul joined us. The fact that we have this lineup now is wonderful. It’s been a blast of energy.”
Catch Lost Radio Rounders performing “Songs of Our Empire State,” a New York State history program, on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. at Wyman Osterhout Community Center (7 Old New Salem Road, Voorheesville) presented by the New Scotland Historical Association. And don’t miss the holiday show at Caffè Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.
Reach Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected]