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Playing For Christmas Dinner...


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Chris, John and I—what you’d call the core of “Deathgrass,” I guess—have been asked to play at the City and Port of Garibaldi’s Christmas potluck dinner, on 16 December, three days before the Christmas show. We (and our spouses) are all invitees to the dinner: John’s the city administrator, Chris works for the Port, and I’m on the Urban Renewal District’s budget committee. We’ll have a keyboard player—Bruce, the husband of Mary the city finance officer.

And I’m told these City and Port folks want to hear Christmas songs. I’m still expecting the only one who’s going to be singing is me, and that means we’ll have to have Christmas songs I can sing. There aren’t many. Besides the three of mine, I know “White Christmas” (famoused by Bing Crosby) and “Blue Christmas” (famoused by Elvis); both were done by very good singers, but just happen to be in a narrow range that I can sing.

I found a couple of others. There’s a blues number Elvis did on one of his later Christmas albums (during his let’s-see-how-many-drugs-we-can-take-before-we-pass-out period) that was really cute, if a little raunchy, and I found the lyrics; hight “Santa Claus Is Back in Town,” it was originally done by a band called The Mavericks, and I can sing it. I found I can also sing “Santa Baby,” which Eartha Kitt made famous—yes, another one of those songs that really needs to be sung by a girl. After recording Polly Hager’s “Cougars and Cub Scouts,” which came across, somebody said, like “Hugh Hefner drooling over the pool boy,” I’m quite comfortable doing “Santa Baby.” I wonder how a generally staid audience would take it.

One traditional Christmas carol I know I can play (but am not sure I can sing) is “Silent Night.” A couple of years ago, I worked out a lead to it on the banjo (and I now have an Electric Banjo)—just out of perversity, because “Silent Night” was originally written for the guitar. I also found you can make “Silent Night” really danceable (and still recognizable) if it’s played as a two-step instead of a waltz. I should probably include it just for shock value (as if the audience weren’t going to be shocked enough).

And there’s the song daughter Kimberly and I co-wrote, “Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire.” I think everybody’ll recognize the old Mel Torme melody, even though that’s not what I’m playing—I had to do it as country music, because I couldn’t play those jazz chords. However, I bet if the keyboard player were picking (or whatever it is keyboard players do) the Mel Torme notes, they’d pretty much fit the chords I’m playing. I did get real close—deliberately.

We’ll have to do my Christmas songs, of course—I know I can sing those. I figure people would request “I’m Giving Mom a Dead Dog for Christmas” if we didn’t play it, so we’ll play it and save them the trouble. I don’t know if they’d request “Santa’s Fallen and He Can’t Get Up,” so we’ll play it and avoid the question. And most of them have not heard “(This Time of Year) Even Roadkill Gets the Blues.”

So… three of mine, one co-write, one traditional Christmas carol, and four covers (three of them recognizable Christmas hits)--two Elvises, one Bing, and one Eartha Kitt. That’s 40 minutes. I wonder how long they want us to play for?

On other fronts: the Christmas Show poster is done—I did use the Depression-era photo of the kids gathered around the scraggly-looking little fir tree, and it came out okay. I’ll show it around a bit before distributing it. And the newspaper wants me to start covering Garibaldi City Council meetings. They’re paying only a pittance, but it’s a pittance more than I had. And I’m getting paid for writing. How cool is that?

Joe

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