Get up and dance!

Christine Ohlman and Rebel Montez providing the soul-shaking soundtrack for a holiday dance party

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2019 was quite a year for Christine Ohlman, though it seems that every year is a special one for the adventurous soul singer, songwriter, guitarist, recording artist, and music scholar.

Followers of the "Beehive Queen," who will be returning for her annual dance party on Saturday, Jan. 4 at Next Stage Arts in Putney, know that her musical tentacles reach way beyond her steady gig as the lead vocalist for the Saturday Night Live Band since 1991.

Over the past 12 months, Ohlman recorded with The Rolling Stones, landing in Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon A Time in Hollywood," toured Belgium and The U.K., sang with Jennifer Lopez, joined a memorial concert in Muscle Shoals for the late, great songwriter Donnie Fritts, collaborated with the Radiators in New Orleans, and worked on a long-awaited new record with the Subdudes and Paul Thorn.

In an email exchange, I asked the Beehive Queen to reflect on her 2019 journey, starting with the Stones.

"I had recorded a while back with Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham, who is a dear friend to this day, on a series of tracks collected on an LP called Metamorphosis. We added backup vocals and in some cases tracked over vocals and instruments on existing Stones masters. One of these songs was "Out of Time" ... We think that Tarantino must have had the Metamorphosis LP in his vinyl collection and plucked the track for a standalone usage as a plane was landing toward the end of the film. I was thrilled when Andrew contacted me to tell me ... and it was an even bigger thrill to hear a great, re-mastered version on the soundtrack."

As for the Fritts memorial, "Muscle Shoals is a true second musical home for me, and Donnie Fritts was one of my strongest collaborators there," Ohlman said. "An underappreciated American treasure,

he wrote 'We Had It All,' which was covered by the Stones and Ray Charles, and so many more. Donnie and I loved to sing together every chance we got.

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"Donnie's passing in September brought Nashville and the Shoals together in front of a crowd of over 1,000 with me the sole 'northerner,' " Ohlman said. "It seemed such a blessing to be caught between my two homes as I helped to tribute my dear friend."

Speaking of friends, Ohlman ended up joining some pals in what could very well be considered her third home — The Big Easy.

"I'll be in New Orleans in January, right after the Next Stage show, to collaborate with some of my friends in the Radiators and the Subdudes. NOLA is another of my musical homes and I'm honored to be one of the national musician spokespersons for The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic."

The Beehive Queen was also excited to collaborate with another of her musical cronies, "the amazing guitarist and blue-eyed-soul vocalist Big Al Anderson."

"Al comes back to the Northeast from Nashville every year at holiday time for shows that are so incredible," Ohlman said. "We've known each other forever, since before his legendary stand in NRBQ, and I've been getting up and singing with him for the past 10 years or so. It's always a soulful thrill."

Ohlman is raring to kick off her 2020 right here in Southern Vermont for a show that promises to be a soulful thrill for attendees.

"We love Next Stage Arts and just adore all the great changes that came about with the 2015 renovation," she said. "I always ask that our yearly show be billed as a dance party, because we want everyone to feel free to get up and hip shake. And hey, we are within the 12 days of Christmas, so there's plenty of holiday celebration yet to be done!"


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