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For Immediate Release

‘Christmas by the Lake’ Volume XI features over 200 homegrown musicians,
Including an original song mastered at Abbey Road Studios in London


DULUTH, Minn. – It’s pretty great when we hear stories about area musicians who have made the big time, but it’s even better when they give back to their hometown that they love and never forgot.

Many such examples can be found on Volume XI of the annual “Christmas by the Lake” CD, which will be released from 5-9 p.m. Wednesday, November 15,, at a CD Release Party at the Clyde Event Center, 2920 W. Michigan St. in Duluth. One highlight of the CD will be an original song mastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London, home of many recordings by the Beatles.

Throughout the Christmas season, the CD will be available at all Super One Foods customer service counters, Gary Milk House, Big Daddy’s Burgers, Holiday Spirit in the Lights, Lake It and Schmitt Music in the Miller Hill Mall, Engwall Florist & Gifts in Hermantown and Superior, and discoverpc.net in Superior. “Christmas by the Lake,” proceeds from which benefit the Bluebird Foundation, will also be available by download.

Three of the “local kids who made good” are Dane Schmidt, Kim Olson and Will Caesar, Duluth natives who have found success on the national stage and have contributed songs for this year’s CD.

Schmidt, better known by his stage name Jamestown Story, now resides in Nashville. Previously the main vocalist and songwriter of a band also named Jamestown Story, Schmidt chose to keep the band's name and continue on after the band dissolved in 2007. He released his first album under the name “And Then I Turned Seven” in late 2003 and has since released four albums and seven EPs, as well as numerous singles and split EPs. His song on the “Christmas by the Lake” CD is written by his brother, Jordan Schmidt. Jordan has co-written, produced, engineered or mixed songs for Florida Georgia LineJason AldeanGranger SmithKane Brown and Chris Lane, to name a few. He also resides in Nashville.

Olson performed at Disneyland Resort in California for over 20 years, and entertained for Showtime Networks for 10 years. He also performs at special events all across the USA and Canada, Originally from Duluth, Olson started singing in his early teens. He had a regional Top 10 Record in the ‘70s called “Paradise”and then moved to California and started working in a movie with Bette Davis, called “White Mama.” He went on to work in many movies and commercials, including a KFC commercial with the real Colonel Sanders.

Caesar currently lives in the Twin Cities and performs with a top act that regularly appears at the Pourhouse in downtown Minneapolis.  He still occasionally tours with Quiet Drive, a group that scored a Top 40 hit with a remake of Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time.” Caesar also is the Senior Copywriter at FRWD, a Twin Cities-based marketing firm.

Other musicians include Bill Sandwick, a well-established regional musician and songwriter who penned the song, “Turn it Up Higher” for this year’s CD. Performing the song with Sandwick are George and John Zissos from the Centerville All-Stars, with background vocals by Tracy Lundeen. The “Turn it Up Higher” recording was produced by George Zissos and was mastered at Abbey Road Studios.

The real story of “Christmas by the Lake,” though, is the participation by so many local and regional musicians, ranging from high school choirs to singer/songwriters and bands. The CD features many traditional holiday favorites. School choirs from Proctor, Hermantown, Denfeld and East all contributed to the CD, and there are a number of new contributors, including: Whiskey Trail, Otiz Mac from RageNCountry, Laura Velvet and the Bookhouse Boys, the Mackie Brothers and Tony Don Tracy.

“The CD features enormously talented people who have penned over a half dozen original songs for this year’s collection,” said Austan Lundeen, Marketing Director for the Bluebird Foundation. “What started humbly 11 years ago has grown to be a tradition with many musicians, and we’re very grateful for their generous contributions to the CD and the talented students it helps support.”

All proceeds from the sale of “Christmas by the Lake” benefit the Bluebird Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) organization that was founded four years ago to support regional, high school aged youth in the performing arts with grants and scholarships. To date, nearly $20,000 has been awarded. The recipient of the Audrey Lundeen $2,000 Scholarship will be announced at the CD Release Party.