Written by Chandler Travis
Benefit for the homeless is nearly a tradition
It’s almost time for the 7th or 8th Annual Cape Cod Christmas Cavalcade Benefit for the Homeless at the Jailhouse Tavern (28 West Road, Orleans; 508-255-5245) or at least it will be on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. Here’s a reflection or two:
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 Cape Cod Christmas Cavalcade.
Even with virtually all of the performers held to a song or two each (except the Chandler Travis Philharmonic, in our capacity of hosts), the Cavalcade has grown, in its seven- or eight-year existence (perhaps one day we’ll figure that out more precisely), to Ben Hur-like proportions, lasting four hours and then some. Each year there are surprises -this year’s show brings the inimitable Zoe Lewis, Polka Dan’s Beetbox Band, Christine Rathbun, Gip Hoppe, and Tad & Kate from Sidewalk Driver to the fold for their Cavalcade debuts; welcomes back some old favorites in the Parkington Sisters, Kami Lyle, and Carla Kihlstedt (from Tin Hat) and her husband Matthew Bossi (among others); and counts on some hardy perennials like Bruce Maclean, Toast & Jam, the Rip-It-Ups, myself, and the Ticks (whose annual Christmas pageants are always particularly dazzling – last year, they did a Classics Illustrated version of Jesus Christ Superstar, complete with costumes!)
Not to mention Sarah Swain & the Swain Sisters; last year, it was Sarah and her (then) 5-year old daughter, Lucy, bringing the house down; this year, (now) 5-year-old) Jesse joins the crew (with a vengeance, I’m told.)
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 NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, which receives every penny.
If you’ve never been, I recommend it highly.
Admission is by suggested donation of $20.