As the old song goes, ’tis the season to be jolly. And also to be seasonally depressed, drunk, overextended on your credit limit, gorged on unhealthy food, watching Jimmy Stewart or Bing Crosby flicks, decking out your house with lights like Clark Griswold on an eggnog bender, listening to increasingly obnoxious music — looking at you, Mariah Carey — and donning gay apparel — still looking at you, Mariah Carey. Fa la la la la, la la la la.
It’s Christmas, folks. Can ya feel it?
It may come as a surprise to regular readers, who perhaps expect Grinchier tidings from this column, but I actually enjoy this time of year. It’s not so much that I dig Christmas, per se. But I do love Christmas parties. And with just about two weeks to go until we celebrate Santa’s birthday, the Christmas-party season is in full swing. In particular, there are two holly-jolly fêtes on deck this week that could go a long way toward determining whether you make the naughty or nice list this year. Actually, if you attend either one, I can almost guarantee you’ll end up on the former. But I digress.
First up, we have what’s become a tradition ’round these parts: the third annual Crapulous Christmas Party at the Monkey House on Saturday, December 17. Spearheaded by Rebecca Kopycinski (aka songwriter Nuda Veritas ), the show is a benefit for the Vermont Foodbank .
In a normal year, the VT Foodbank serves as many as 86,000 meals. But this is not a normal year, thanks to that little spate of inclement weather a few months ago, and the need is greater than ever. Based on the haul from previous Crapulous Christmases, Kopycinski expects this year’s party to bring in around $800. That doesn’t sound like a lot, until you consider that, with $10, the Foodbank can provide 25 meals. That works out to 2000 meals for one little night of yuletide rocking and/or rolling. How’s that for a Christmas miracle?
As always, the party gets under way with an ugly-Christmas-sweater contest — grand prize is a Snuggie! — followed by a raffle with prizes ranging from restaurant gift certificates to movie passes. Capping off the evening, Kopycinksi and her elves — including JB Ledoux, Kelly Ravin and others — will dust off some boot-scootin’ holiday classics with the Crapulous Honky Tonk Christmas Band.
Next up, we have a new addition to our series of boozy holiday traditions, courtesy of Burlington-based all-star folk outfit the Wee Folkestra . The nine-member collective is putting a yuletide spin on its typical brand of freewheelin’ indie-folk at Radio Bean this Friday, December 16. Typically, the ensemble dresses in red and white. But Folkestra honcho Joe Adler promises more seasonally appropriate attire — red and green, perhaps? — as well as some unusual holiday tunes. These include a version of “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes, which is kind of like the hipster generation’s equivalent of “White Christmas.” Or something.
As a music critic, I have a love-hate relationship with battle-of-the-bands competitions. On the one hand, they’re typically a pretty easy, fun way for fans to check out a bunch of bands in one fell swoop. That’s a good thing. On the other hand, the competitive nature of such contests seems to run counter to the whole point of creating art. Especially considering that the folks who judge such competitions — often people like me — are asked to do so via arbitrary means of scoring, based on even more arbitrary categories, such as (my all-time favorite) “tightness.” On still another hand, assessing music is pretty much what I do on a daily basis, so what the hell am I bitching about? I’m confused.
Anyway, the point of all this is that on Wednesday, December 14, you can see a massive battle of the bands go down at both Nectar’s and Club Metronome. It features a slew of great bands from just about every corner of the local scene. Presented by Broke in Burlington  and new local culture rag Thread magazine , “I Make Music” is probably the biggest, most comprehensive BOTB this town has seen in a decade or more.
The show is somewhat split by genre. Upstairs, you’ll find electronic-based music and hip-hop from the likes of K-Spitz , Y-DNA , Memaranda , Jakob Es , Cake Effect , Lynguistic Civilians  and Principal Dean , with 2K Deep ’s DJ Haitian  taking the stage, in a noncompetitive role, to close out the night. Meanwhile, Nectar’s boasts a slew of indie and rock, including Hello Shark , Tommy Goldman , Gang of Thieves , the Zack duPont Band , Dr. Ruckus , Parmaga  and Spit Jack . Rough Francis  oblige as the evening’s (noncompeting) headliners.
I’ll be judging downstairs alongside Mike McKinley from State of Mind , Signal Kitchen ’s Dave DeCristo and Alex Lalli, Matt Rogers from MSR Presents , and the boys from Rough Francis. Upstairs, Alex Budney from Nectar’s, Ian Campbell from MyMusicIsBetterThanYours.com , Mike Labita from Signal Kitchen and Mushpost , Craig Mitchell  and DJ Haitian swing the gavels. However, unlike most such battles, the audience actually has a say in who comes out on top. Fans can vote for their favorites throughout the night, as well as on Signal Kitchen’s Facebook page leading up to the show.
The grand prize is recording time at Signal Kitchen and a feature in an upcoming issue of Thread. So choose wisely, music fans.
A few months ago, we reported  on a forthcoming Irene benefit CD called Good Night Irene: A Music Tribute to Vermont of Flood Relief . Well, guess what? The album is done. And it’s spectacular. The comp features tunes from some notable locals, including Tammy Fletcher’s Mountain Girl , the Eames Brothers Band  and Joshua Panda . But it’s got tracks by some pretty major dudes, as well. Dudes like Taj Majal , Lowell George from Little Feat and some guy named Willie Nelson , who offers a take on the classic “Moonlight in Vermont.” This Friday, December 16, the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge hosts a release party for the comp. No, Willie probably won’t be there, but the Eames Brothers, Louie Brown, Colleen Mari , Last October , Rising Tribe , One Over Zero  and Memaranda all will be. Oh, and the evening’s ticket also scores you a copy of the CD.
The Occupy Burlington movement may have been displaced, but it seems its spirit lives on. Following a pair of successful “Occupy Metronome” showcases in support of the movement, a new series debuts at Metronome this Thursday, December 15, called Conscious Thursdays. Each monthly showcase will serve as a benefit for a deserving local organization. This month’s proceeds go to aid the Root Center, and the show will include performances by One Over Zero, Workingman’s Army , Andy Lugo , Soulstice and local high-minded hip-hop supergroup the Mindfully Discontent Hip-Hop All Stars, which features MCs Rajnii, Humble, Mud Buddha and Mister Modou. And if you can’t make the show, it will be streamed live via freevermontradio.com.
Band Name of the Week: Doomf*ck. Yet another virtually un-Google-able BNOTW winner, this Plattsburgh-based (I think) band plays the Monopole this Thursday, December 15. Out of curiosity, am I allowed back in Plattsburgh yet?
Last but not least, we haven’t heard from Alexandria Hall (aka tooth ache .) in a hot minute or two, most likely because she’s been touring for the last few months, bringing her irresistible lo-fi electro bedroom pop to audiences all over the country. Though she won’t be home for a little while longer, fans can check in with her when she drops by Daytrotter for a live session that broadcasts this Thursday, December 15, on daytrotter.com .
Once again, this week’s totally self-indulgent column segment, in which I share a random sampling of what was on my iPod, turntable, CD player, 8-track player, etc., this week.
The Black Keys, El Camino
Bitch Magnet, Ben Hur (Deluxe Edition)
Kate Bush, 50 Words for Snow
Amy Winehouse, Lioness: Hidden Treasures
Various Artists, A Colbert Christmas