If you know me, you know I'm not one for holiday shows. Still, how could I not resist the lineup, and with Eric Gorfain arranging the evening (not to mention the actual material), I knew it would be fun. The band opened with Silent Night, a rare (for this show) traditional song. But as a warning of things to come, I suppose, they took it in a new direction with Daphne Chen playing the melody on her theremin (think "Good Vibrations" or almost any old horror movie). It gave the song a bit of a spooky feel. It is always amazing to watch Daphne perform on the theremin; pulling sounds literally out of thin air.
The biggest surprise of the night and one of my favorite moments came a couple of songs later. Sarah Silverman sang "Give The Jew Girl Toys". If you haven't heard this hysterically funny song, you should check it out on Youtube. Be warned though, it is standard Sarah material (it will offend those who are easily offended).
Before each singer appeared, David "Gruber" Allen would introduce one of the Section players along with himself and then introduce the guest artist. They were going for a bad Oscars feel where the offstage Gruber mimicked the offstage announcers at the awards shows and then the two of them would tell bad jokes while introducing the next artist. Those of us who got it, loved it. David has great timing and is generally just a very funny guy. His rap in the middle of Silver Bells had us rolling in the aisles.
The band and singers moved away from the traditional songs, singing more modern favorites. The Section Quartet did a lovely version of "Christmas Time is Here" (the Vince Guaraldi classic from "A Charlie Brown Christmas"). Joe Henry did "Blue Christmas". Vivian Campbell (Yes, that heavy metal giant) did "Merry Christmas Everybody" (originally sung by Slade). And Mike Viola (Candy Butchers along with plenty of solo stuff) did "Father Christmas". The most traditional song was performed by Sam Phillips, singing "Away in a Manager". It was easily the most beautiful moment of the evening. Sam took this traditional song and gave it the warmth and passion that so few singers can do these days. The song appears on her new EP "Cold Dark Night", by the way.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, Addi, the balloon guy, brought out his bass balloon and played the bass line to The Dreidel song. You just have to see him play that balloon to really get how cool the whole thing is. Daphne did the arrangement for this traditional song, changing the style a few times mid song. It was a the most unique and maybe my favorite version ever of this song that I've been singing since I was a child. Also appearing was Jim Hodgson who played his concept video of "Jolly Filter". I'm not going to try and explain this. Just go to Youtube (this version doesn't have the sound... there may be a better version somewhere, but you'll get the idea).
The evening ended with most everyone on stage singing "Happy Christmas (War is Over)", the Lennon classic. It was a touching end to a very fun evening. Below is the full set list:
Silent Night - TSQ
Do They Know it is Christmas - TSQ
Give the Jew Girl Toys - Sarah Silverman
Christmastime is here - TSQ
Blue Christmas - Joe Henry
Wonderful Christmas - TSQ
Away in a Manger - Sam Phillips
Jolly Filter Film - Jim Hodgson
Silver Bells - Dave "Gruber" Allen
Dreidel Song - Addi
Last Christmas - TSQ
Merry Christmas Everybody - Vivian Campbell
Father Christmas - Mike Viola
Happy Christmas (War is Over) - Almost everyone