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Christmas lovers 'can hardly wait' to share their music

Rich Kuss is shown at a recent open house party at Lazy River Bar and Grill, celebrating the release of his CD, "I Can Hardly Wait: Songs of Christmas."

River Falls native Rich Kuss can hardly wait for Christmas. He loves the season of Christmas and all its music.

“It’s a time of year that, first of all, people find very meaningful, even if people aren’t Christians or have a spiritual connection,” he said. “They find that sense of family and coming together and wishes for peace and goodwill to be really attractive.”

Kuss said some of the “most beautiful melodies” are found in Christmas music.

So it’s fitting that his new CD is a Christmas album.

Kuss is excited about the CD, titled, “I Can Hardly Wait: Songs of Christmas.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.

For years, Kuss has been writing songs and performing them at Ezekiel Lutheran Church. Now, after years of encouragement from friends, family and especially his wife Barb, he has recorded his first solo CD.

Rich said it’s thanks to Barb that he finally recorded the album. She retired officially last Jan. 1 and the CD was the first big project she wanted to do.

So, they got to work.

Rich said it took awhile to choose the songs, make final arrangements of songs, and then start recording — he spent most of July doing that.

The CD contains seven original songs, penned by Kuss, as well as five cover songs. Three of those were in public domain, the other two, Kuss obtained a license to use.

Choosing the order of the songs wasn’t as hard as choosing the songs to put on the CD, Kuss said.

Rich said the songs on his CD don’t necessarily sound like a lot of Christmas songs.

“I really tried hard to make this original in its sound,” Rich said.

The songs, he added, have been described as having a pop feel, with flavors of other styles mixed in, like jazz, folk and country.

Rich worked with Drum Farm Studio in Menomonie to produce the CD.

Though he recorded the album with professional musicians hired by Drum Farm Studio, Rich himself played baritone ukulele and sang the lead vocals and most of the harmony vocals.

Rich said he’s very happy with how the CD turned out. He said he views the recording as a chance to let others listen to his music.

“Maybe they’ll be inspired by it,’ll cause them to think about something in a new way,” Rich said. “Maybe it will just be pleasant background music for them, but at least it’s out there.”

Everyone was great to work with, Rich said, but the best part was getting to work with his wife on the music.

“We’re really partners in the project,” he said.

Barb said she's very proud.

“I always tell him I’m his biggest fan,” she said.

Rich described himself and his wife as “Christmas lovers.” They even got married at Christmastime.

“We figured it was the perfect time for us, because family would be around,” Rich said. “It’s just the time of year we love.”

In addition to being a Christmas person, Rich said he’s always been a musical person.

“I remember loving music, sitting next to my grandmother in church and learning how to sing harmony with her,” Rich said, “because she sang harmony when other people were singing the melody...I was hooked really early.”

He later learned to play ukulele, eventually learning baritone ukulele. He was in band and choir through junior high and high school.

He reunited with his junior high choir director Bob Johnson at the CD release party he and his family held Saturday, Nov. 12, at Lazy River Bar & Grill, 115 W. Walnut St.

A 1977 River Falls High School grad, Rich also been involved with music at Ezekiel Lutheran church for years.

“I Can Hardly Wait” is available at Freeman Drug on Main Street through the end of December. It will be on sale at Garden Diva through Dec. 18.

During this Friday’s RiverDazzle, Rich will be at Riverwalk Square from noon to 2 p.m. playing music with a friend.

Rich and Barb will also be selling CDs Saturday, Dec. 3, at the St. Bridget Church’s Holiday Happenings Craft Fair. For more information on buying the CD, go to

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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