San Francisco singer/songwriter Tom Casino covers “Santa Baby” with a gravelly rasp a la Tom Waits
(San Francisco) – The sultriness and playful innocence of Eartha Kitt’s original rendition of “Santa Baby,” often erroneously credited to Marilyn Monroe, has since defined how that song should be covered.
However, Bay Area artist Tom Casino wasn’t listening.
Casino has released his own version of “Santa Baby” as a single, one that most likely will not conjure up images of a sex kitten. Unless, of course, your vision of a sex kitten has a beer belly, a beard, and the voice of asphalt. Best known for his cult hit “Chopstick Blues,” Casino has laid his hands on “Santa Baby,” and the result is the sound of a chestnut roasting over an open fire. In other words, Casino has tailored the Yuletide staple to his own drunken persona.
Combine the bluesy swagger of Jim Morrison with the gravel-pit crooning of Tom Waits and the soulful rasp of Louis Armstrong, and you have the ingredients that form Tom Casino (http://www.tomcasinoblues.com). Born in a shotgun shack somewhere east of Little Italy, Casino developed a mad love for music at the age of 10, when he was given a Dobro by his uncle. At the time, Casino dreamt of becoming a jazz player; feeling the fire in his belly, Casino was determined to master the art of the riff.
Then something happened which startled him, shook his world: The British Invasion. Suddenly, Casino’s imagination was alive with sonic possibilities as English rock groups such as the Beatles and Cream took guitars to another level, and the teenaged Casino gradually realized that music should have no stylistic boundaries. Casino was mesmerized by the explosion of craft, skill, and artistry surrounding him, from Eric Clapton to B.B. King to Mike Bloomfield.
After many years performing with other, more established musicians, Casino decided it was time to let his talents be tossed into the spotlight and released his debut album, Lucky in Love, in 2008.
On “Santa Baby,” Casino is reunited with Terry Carleton, his producer and co-songwriter on “Lucky in Love.” Together the two take an irreverent spin on holiday tradition, giving “Santa Baby” a king’s feast serving of the blues while wallowing in the tongue-in-cheek humor that gave Lucky in Love its color.