A Community Holiday Party

Mid December is upon us with its muddled madness of shopping, work, family visits and celebrations, and of course…. the company Holiday Parties. What exactly is the purpose of a holiday party? Saying goodbye to a good year, taking a moment to have fun with folks that normally have to be all business, showing up to watch the boss get drunk. Personally, in a world that is quite isolating at times, holiday celebrations are those kind of traditional moments to come together as a community: whether it be as a work community, church community, or youth group.

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Chelsey Louise (Fairy Bones) and Ryan Abel (Bear Ghost)

 

One of the things that has leaped out to me over the last year and a half of covering the local Arizona Indie Music scene, is that these bands work. They travel, they drive vans, they change tires, and deal with mechanical issues, they play small clubs, and they bring their best show regardless of how many people show up to be entertained. It is grueling. Even on my own scale, as a writer not a performer, but still a creator, a maker of something, that process can take a toll. It is an emotional roller coaster. One show, or one story might totally work, and you feel unconquerable, And then a downer show, or a rude awakening at writer’s group, and you can start to question why you even play this game in the first place. It is a constant self psychological analysis between believing in your self with absolute conviction, and questioning whether you are throwing all of your efforts to foolishness.

Sometimes I think that is why we care about calendars and years. Just as a way to break up the journey, mark its points of interests, and plan out our route. So really, in the end, musicians, writers, artists…. are no different than anyone else. 

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The Annual Bear Ghost Yuletide Wondershow at Last Exit Live is that holiday party…. for the Arizona Indie Community, and you are invited!  Follow the Link FOR TICKETS…… 12 bucks!

Brandon Decker, who has been touring relentlessly with his band promoting the new decker. record Born to Wake Up, put this into a very precise perspective:

Somewhere I coined the phrase, “the only thing worse than being on tour is not being on tour.” At whatever nebulous stage in the game decker. presently finds itself, the fact remains – touring is a grind. I have perspective on how life can look, but nevertheless it is a sometimes grueling and draining endeavor. That said, the true currency is and always has been the overwhelming and humbling degree of love and support and connection which we find on the road. Relationships are one of the true treasures and enduring legacies which we have in life.”

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Courtesy of Luxicon Photography

Thinking about that grind, that constant work of self motivation to make something out of nothing, and thinking of it in the context of planning out a year, allowed me to start seeing the December 15 Bear Ghost Christmas Jam, presented by KWSS 93.9 FM as not really just another local concert. Sure, as Dani Cutler of KWSS told me, “Local holiday shows are always a great idea. A celebration of some kind (like Christmas) brings people together because they are familiar with the content, and it gives the band a chance to also introduce people to their original music. It’s also why cover shows (like the Petty vs. Fleetwood Mac show) are always very popular too.” That is certainly very true; the one time one of my friends came out with me to a local show was the draw of the Tom Petty vs. Fleetwood Mac Battle of the Bands. And yes, these kind of events are fantastic opportunities for local artists to grow their audience. Many folks are already feeling festive…. or as Thomas Knight of Bear Ghost calls it: people are heavily under the influence of the ‘Winter Wonderland Effect’. However, even the band headlining the Christmas Jam, cares more about the celebration rather than the business motivations that may or may not lie behind it.

Well, one of my favorite things about Christmas is what I affectionately refer to as the “Winter Wonderland Effect”. This is when people are possessed by the holiday spirit and spend ludicrous amounts time and money to compulsively decorate every conceivable thing in sight. Every single member of Bear Ghost, including our manager and now the staff of 80/20, have been possessed by this spirit. So it is with sheer and unabated glee that I say we are all helplessly compelled to orchestrate this annual celebration. Whether or not it is good for the community or a fun way to show our appreciation for those who have supported us is of no relevance to us.”

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Bear Ghost @ Apache Lake Music Festival

Suddenly, a show like The Christmas Jam, felt even stronger. Sure, it has great potential to be a success, certainly for all of the reasons that KWSS would choose to promote it, but, the more I talked to the artists who were actually participating in it a deeper reason started to emerge. I have seen Bear Ghost numerous times, and if there is a constant to those performances, it is that these guys know how to throw a party! But even coming from them, their normal antics are usually not possessed with the Winter Wonderland Effect. This concert started to feel like a musical Christmas card, that bands were going to share with their friends and fans in the most elaborate way possible.

And many of the folks here in the Phoenix music scene have had one heck of a year to celebrate! Ali Adkins, of Ali A & the Agency put this into a great perspective showing the growth that local artists realize:

“I personally feel it just goes back to the foundation of the importance of the holidays in the first place which is uniting with the ones you care about the most and being thankful for your many blessings. I know we are definitely thankful for the Phoenix music community who has embraced us with open arms. This time last year we couldn’t get a show to save our lives and now look at us; the difference nine months make. Folks either love holiday music or they hate holiday music but the one thing that holiday music does do is trigger a response and so we hope the show on 15 December speaks to the community from a place of love and warmth and compassion. It’s a fantastic way to cap off an incredible year for AAA and we could not be more proud to participate on such an incredible build with Bear Ghost, decker and Fairy Bones.” 

Ali A & the Agency

Speaking of Fairy Bones!  Talk about a band that is all about giving to the community.  Chelsey Louise and crew have played a Benefit show for the Arizona Human Society, in just the last couple of months, and will be playing The Music United Against Teen Bullying & Suicide Benefit Series in February.  Moreover, when my most recent book, Kindred Spirits & Mirrored Souls came out, a book of poetry that benefits the National Suicide Awareness Fund, Chelsey had no problem volunteering her services to help support the books release. 

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Fairy Bones @ Phoenix Fall Festival

We have an amazing community for the Arts here in Phoenix, and the Indie Music Community is absolutely something to celebrate.  Here’s to hoping to see as many of you as possible at this year’s shindig!  Besides, as Brandon Decker says, “I love any excuse to see Bear Ghost.”

 

You should too!

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Happy Holidays, Amigos! 

Keep the Greasy Side Down

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