Have you been wanting to experience a sampling of Charleston's vibrant independent music scene in a venue that doesn't require parking downtown or fighting off barflies to get a drink? Are you already longing for another excuse to dress up, even though Halloween was less than two months ago? Most importantly, do you believe in the giving, loving, (and let's just be honest, boozing) spirit of the holidays?
Well, Kevin Hanley and his Chord & Pedal collective are looking out for you, not to mention those less fortunate. For the third year in a row, a diverse group of Charleston bands and musicians (including Cary Ann Hearst, The Specs, White Boy Crazy, Bill Carson and His Checkered Past, L. Brown Odyssey, Clint4, The Defilers, The Explorers Club, Commander Cool, and more -- to see a full list, check the website at www.chordandpedal.com) will join together and make merry, all for a good cause.
This variety results in what has become the Charleston musical event of the year -- the jam-packed lineup insures that fans of all types of tunes will be sated; as Hanley sagely mentions, "if you don't like a particular band or song, wait five minutes."
Expect to hear a wide range of holiday ditties both obscure (Philip Estes' inspired 2003 performance of "What's This?" from The Nightmare Before Christmas) and well-known (The Ex-Lovers' version of "Father Christmas" brought the gingerbread house down last year) and newly-minted original songs (the Illuminated Donkeys' soon-to-be classic "Hip-Hip-Hanukah" was a highlight in 2003) -- but come with open ears for a whole new lineup of songs this year.
"People are going out of their way to never copy anything," Hanley says, "not only from what the other bands are playing, but from songs that have been performed in previous years."
There will be a costume contest this year ("think weird holidays, not so much sexy, slutty Christmas," Hanley says), so all the good little girls and boys can dress up to get down on the Map Room's brand-new hardwood dance floor for the sporadic dance contests held for cash and bar tab prizes. The audience can also wander through a "forest" of Christmas trees, have a photo taken on Santa's lap, or corner that special someone under the mistletoe.
This year, all proceeds from the Holiday Pageant go directly to the DMBQ/Michelle Cable Medical Relief Fund. Japanese noise-rockers DMBQ, recently in town to perform at the Sawaguzo Festival, were involved in a serious car accident in early November that resulted in the death of DMBQ drummer Mana "China" Nishiura, major head and back injuries for the uninsured Cable, founder of Panache magazine, and the cancellation of DMBQ's national tour, which had barely started.
"It's not that giving a lump sum of money to a large organization isn't effective," Hanley says, "it's just that it can go a lot further directly and quickly to someone this way, and it makes it a little more personal. Michelle's probably brought 20 different bands to this town, where she's not making a dime at all."
It's definitely a good idea to head to West Ashley early on Saturday night for the Pageant, as the previous shows have been well-attended affairs that start (*gasp!*) on time.
"Fashionably late doesn't really work with this event," Hanley warns. "Fashionably late might mean that you don't get in." -- Sara Miller
Chord & Pedal's Third Annual Holiday Pageant takes place at the Map Room on Sat. Dec. 17 at 8 p.m.. Admission is $10.