One of our most treasured holiday traditions returns to Johnny D’s this year, Thursday Dec. 15, the 7th or 8th Annual Boston Christmas Cavalcade Benefit for the Homeless. We asked its founder/leader/pajama-clad madman Chandler Travis what the season and the event mean to him and he e-mailed us: “Christmas is the lamest, most shameless, crass, inane, frustrating, blood-chilling, shattering holiday there is; also the most touching, mystical, and occasionally even noblest… it’s somewhere between suicide and a kick-ass good time, and the only holiday that comes with its own ridiculously extensive catalog of music, one that flaunts all these attributes and vices. Obviously, both the holiday and the music associated with it dote on the extremes of human endeavor, and encompass both the highest highs and the lowest lows. Which means you get Darlene Love singing ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),’ plus (or minus) the Wilder Brothers’ immortal classic, ‘I Want A Goat For Christmas.’ In short, Christmas is a workout, and so is the Boston Christmas Cavalcade.”
This year’s paraded includes (of course) the Chandler Travis Philharmonic and Philharmonic Trombone Shout Band, Liv Taylor, Jen D’Angora, the Upper Crust, the Conolly / Conley Christmas Singers (with Mission of Burma’s Clint Conley and the Lyres’ Jeff Conolly), Merrie Amsterberg, Jennifer Kimball, the Darlings, Miriam, Shaun Wolf Wortis, Factory Seconds, Alastair Moock, Greg Greenway and the Athol Thingerth, plus one of our favorite groups, TBA.
Travis continues, “Even with virtually all of the performers held to a song or two each, the Cavalcade has grown, in its 7 or 8 year existence (perhaps one day we’ll figure that out more precisely), to Ben Hur-like proportions, lasting 4 hours and then some. Each year there are surprises -this year’s show brings the Upper Crust, Factory Seconds, and the Conolly / Conley Christmas Singers, Clint and Jeff, who have never performed together before now as far as I know) to the fold; welcomes back some old favorites in Jennifer Kimball, Livingston Taylor, Ramona Silver (among others); and counts on some hardy perennials like Merrie Amsterburg, Alastair Moock, Jen D’Angora, Shaun Wortis, and myself; hell, for the Philharmonic Trombone Shout Band and our chorus, the Athol Thingerth, this is the only gig we’ll play all year! This last, the Philharmonic Trombone Shout Band, is a particularly special annual Xmas experience, comprised as it is of 15 or so of Boston’s best and loudest trombonists, plus the immortal Mike Milnarik on tuba and and the CTP’s own Keiichi Hashimoto on trumpet, plus members of the CTP’s rhythm section. They can’t even fit on the stage, and the magnitude of the blast is always felt for days afterward.”
“One of the other factors that makes the Cavalcade great is that it’s all holiday music, which generally means all the acts are performing music they very rarely get a shot at; chance is definitely a factor, as none of us are really walking on firm ground here. Folks get nervous, and the atmosphere’s kinda giddy. At this point, there’s almost a class reunion aspect -a lot of us are friends, and glad to see each other; coziness prevails; some drinks gets drunk; occasionally, a mayor is elected.
“I don’t know, it’s cheesy, terrifying, gorgeous, horrendous, raucous, dreamy, and sentimental; a total nightmare to produce, but nonetheless still sort of a treat to myself and my friends at the end of the year, and at this point I’d hate to go a year without. And, oh, yeah, it’s also for a terrific cause, the Somerville Homeless Coalition, which receives every penny.”
Starts at 8. Tix: $20.
17 Highland Ave., Somerville; 617-776-6450 www.johnnyds.com