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Celebrating a misfits' Christmas
Tinderbox give new meaning to the term Secret Santa
Tinderbox Christmas Jam
Sunday, December 21 (2-6 p.m.)
Ship & Anchor
You'd think that an interview with a local musician about his band's Christmas concert would be a pretty safe assignment. I mean it's not as if I'm trying to trip anyone up and get a scoop or make them break down and cry (but at the same time, if it happens...). It's Christmas time: joyeux noel, goodwill towards any of the small handful of things I don't want to see die a hideous, painful death and all that shit.
That's why it was a little disconcerting to talk to Tinderbox's Kris Wenzel about his folk band's third annual Xmas bash at the Ship & Anchor in the presence of his unnamed handler, who apparently went to the Alan Dershowitz school of local band management (I say "unnamed" only because I don't need a lawsuit in my stocking come the 25th). "I object!" "Don't answer that!" and "Do you have a warrant?" were the most frequently used quotes - you'd think I was talking to The Tea Party.
What I could piece together from all the denials and the few on-the-record responses was that apparently Tinderbox are having some kind of celebration with a few of their friends: Anne Loree, Lorrie Matheson, Tim Leacock, Maud, Tariq and more. Each artist will perform two seasonal songs of their own choosing - be it twisted traditionals or originals with an Xmas twist.
"No Tom Jackson allowed," laughs Wenzel, alluding to the fact that the afternoon should be full of surprises.
The one common theme - besides Christmas (duh) - is that most of the artists performing, including Tinderbox, wander Calgary's less obvious musical landscape. They're singer/songwriters or bands that are too out there for most folk clubs or too normal for the rest - it's the wretched refuse of the local scene and what better way to celebrate than as one big happily outside family?
"It's a misfits' Christmas party," Wenzel's companion says (in a signed affidavit after a five-minute hushed huddle).
"Over the years," says Kris, "you get to know the other musicians in town and it's nice that you can get them together - that's part of the idea."
Another welcome aspect of the show for Wenzel is that it's an entirely no-pressure gig. After an eventful year that had Tinderbox hopping with a busy schedule (which was highlighted by three recent shows with Jann Arden) and also saw them release their debut CD, it's a great way to wind down.
As the musician says (and his manager allows), it's entirely void of business business in favor of having a good time.
"The reason we're looking forward to the Christmas thing," says Wenzel, "is it takes the focus from the fact that you're trying to impress people with your own stuff all the time and trying to worry about career and making money all the time - it's just to have a bit of fun."
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