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B-Sides: Sugarland and Rob Thomas at "Christmas in Washington"

SugarlandJennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush of Sugarland perform as part of the "Christmas in Washington" special. (Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda)

Last weekend, I visited the National Building Museum for the taping of “Christmas in Washington,” the annual holiday concert airing Sunday on TNT. The first family was set to attend the gig, but I was reporting on a particular 15-year-old singing sensation who was also scheduled to appear (check Click Track later today for more on that). I also had the opportunity to lurk around the green room and chat with the performers as they noshed on Christmas cookies. Country duo Sugarland and rock-bro Rob Thomas were both kind enough to speak with me about the science of classic Christmas songs and the “best Italian food” in D.C.

(Visits to the shopping mall and the National Mall, after the jump.)

Sugarland has a new Christmas album titled “Gold and Green” – the title track of which they performed on Sunday. I asked bandmates Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush about the daunting task of trying to launch an original song into the Christmas music canon…

Nettles: “When we set out to do this record, and thought to put originals on there, we thought, Let’s set the bar where it needs to be. Let's try to write a Christmas classic. And the fact that we have this 80-piece orchestra here with us tonight -- it fits perfectly with this song and the sort of Bing Crosby-esque vibe we were going for.”

Bush: “To me, it's all melodies. When you think of Christmas songs, you're walking around the mall shopping. Or you're in the car. You're doing something else and the melody happens behind you. It isn't something that's happening in front of you. And it has to be so compelling, you want it to keep going and you whistle it to yourself. And that was kind of the inspiration.”

Matchbox 20 singer Rob Thomas was also on hand to reflect on Sunday’s gig, his favorite place to get a meal in Washington, and our new president...

On why “Christmas in Washington” is unique: “That's what's so great about these shows -- as opposed to a radio show that's just one format. This is so eclectic. It's the one time where you can say, Well, I'm on a show with Mary J. Blige and Neil Diamond.”

On how he spends his downtime in D.C.: “I've done the night-time tourist walk probably three or four times. I love to go to Cafe Milano when I'm here because I think that's the best Italian food. Unfortunately, that's the thing: You never have enough time. And then when you do come back, you go to the place that you already know you like.”

On playing for the POTUS: “Last year I played at the Kennedy Center for Bush. I'm a little more stoked this year, I’m not gonna lie… You always respect the office of President, but when it's the guy you voted for, you feel a little more excited.”

“Christmas In Washington” airs on TNT this Sunday at 8 p.m.

By Chris Richards  |  December 18, 2009; 10:32 AM ET
Categories:  B-sides  | Tags: Rob Thomas, Sugarland  
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